Most cyclists look forward to Christmas on account of the promise of quiet roads and an unusual sense of bonhomie amongst the general populace of car drivers. As such, it’s a perfect opportunity to bust out the winter bike and rack up the base miles. My good friends at Rapha sponsor the ‘festive 500′. It’s one of the things Rapha do very well, along with sponsoring several cycling events, backing a pro-tour team and providing expensive garms to legions of hapless choppers with more money than sense. You need to ride 311 miles between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. Simple. 39 miles a day. I’ve managed 95 miles thus far, leaving a paltry 224 to turn in by Wednesday. If i’m lucky, I might make it an imperial festive 100. If you can’t beat ’em, start your own competition and win that. I think I will award myself a third chocolate orange on completion of this epic feat.
On the way back from the ‘Nham I came across some genuine Europro wannabes. Tommeke doesn’t count: he’s wearing sponsored kit from a team. He’s earned that look, and it’s more hardcore domestic pro with stripes than Eurosmasher. He has won road races and moved up through the categories as a result of hard work and diligence. Unlike the two Castelli head-to-footers on summer bongo-rockets who couldn’t even manage to lift a finger from the bars to acknowledge the presence of a fellow cyclist on the road to Uley at Christmas. Shame on them. I shall carry on waving, not drowning.
I apologise if you’re one of two people who have been waiting for a new post. it’s not for want of trying, more that the blog has been collateral damage in the relentless surge of Christmas and work and tiredness. I have been riding, mostly in the early mornings. I stop occasionally to marvel at the Stygian gloom; or sometimes to observe the curious goings-on at stupid o’ clock of an Advent morning.
Base club has been continuing with and without me. Today we went out on an extended jaunt into the Mendips. I opted for fixed. I say ‘opted’, I have yet to ride gears this winter. The others all had multiple cadences and weightings available to them. It was an oscillating experience, I was on and off the back more times than a Cat 4 mixing it with the 2s and 3s for the first time. Tom was the only one with full mudguards and a mudflap. My mudguards lacked the floor-to-ceiling face saver. This is because I have been riding on my own for such a long time that i didn’t bother duct-taping a homely solution. As a result, Tom seemed to get far filthier than anyone else, although we all looked like we’d been liberally pebbledashed by a loose-ringed norovirus sufferer. It was grim.
We did around 50 miles with some tasty climbs. By the end my legs were complaining vociferously which i take to be a positive sign. It would be nice sometimes to have the luxury of gears, on the descents or flat tailwind sections perhaps. Long descents hurt in all sorts of ways; arms, shoulders and neck remain tense and tighten, the derriere chafes through the saddle-bouncing motion.
At the end of the ride I had to nip to North Street on an errand which involved the purchase of two free-range chickens and a wedge of Yarg. By that point I was beginning to hallucinate through hunger. I bumped into some chums after purchasing the Yarg and they looked at me quizzically. I attempted to convince them that my stock training method is to grab a slice of yarg and head out into the hills for 3 hours on a fixed wheel. Once I’d picked up the chickens i then had to make my way back across Bedminster like a chopper coming back from Asda, carrier bag dangling precariously from the handlebar. It was going fine until one of the chicken corpses stuck a leg into the spokes and nearly took me out. It would have been a hard one to explain: i crashed after a dead chicken in a carrier bag stuck a leg into my spokes. We made it back in one piece, just about. It surprised me how heavy two chickens could be. I’ve never bought a chicken and haven’t eaten any for about 25 years. Like computers and time trial bike design, a lot has changed in the world of chickens since then.
I am contemplating the purchase of a turbo trainer. The simple reason is the specificity of the interval session. sigh. If you are one of the previously mentioned readers, then you will know that this is something of a turnaround. In fact, it’s on a par with the volte-face taken by the liberal shitocrats when they decided that power and a lust for office was singularly more important than any sense of principals, morals or ethics. Belle has cautioned me against doing such a heinous thing. In fact, her words were:
“You told me that if you were ever considering buying a turbo trainer that i should do everything in my power to prevent this from happening’.
I found myself fumbling and dropping words like a dyspraxic in a button factory. I tried to suggest that the specificity offered by the turbo was the one thing i needed, but there was a hollowness to my pronouncements and I knew she was right. I shall simply find a shallow and consistent gradient and wallop it in steadily increasing gaps of time until my eyeballs bleed and lungs collapse in on themselves.
I managed to get out on the open road this morning for a quick blast in the rain with two other BSCC chums, Sam and Ed. The ride was made more eventful by Sam’s extremely shonky and useless disc brake set-up, worn away by 2000 miles of heavy commuting. We had to ride on ahead on faster sections and shout warnings to give him enough braking time.
Most of the club’s road race contingent are out in Majorca enjoying the sun (or snow, judging by today’s pics, hahaha) and wearing their best pro kit. It looks terrific and i’d really like to head over there* one day to get some sunny winter miles in, mixing it up with the pros. Well, hitting max heart rate in order to tag along on their recovery rides.
Despite the persistent rain and grimy filth encrusting the lanes, it was a really enjoyable ride. The weather might be closing in tomorrow, in which case it’s back to the rollers. I’m more than a little bit alarmed that the start sheet for the first race of the season has now been issued. I have both speed to find and weight to lose.
*apologies to any early readers for the horrific typo (even worser than usual)