Thursday, 17 December 2015

How to be a Bad Example of Everything At Christmas Part II - Disqualifying Dad

Part II sticks with the boxing day 10 mile time trial theme... because it's the only other bad example I have that's cycling related and we can't stray too far from the topic of cycling.

Just as the previous post, I can't remember many details. It was definitely boxing day, it was a ten mile TT and took place quite a few years ago when I was much much fitter than I am now.

Because I was in the midst of winter training I decided to make it hard for myself and borrow my mum's heavy mountain bike. I made a few minor adaptations, actually one was quite major - I sawed the handlebars down to a ridiculously narrow width (if I'm honest I over did it, rendering the bike a bit of a tricky steer after that) mum wasn't pleased. I've never been very good at measuring things... I work strictly by eye.

Anyway, the bike was now more streamline. Being a bit of a poser I made sure I dressed the part with my Animal hat and Oakley's - important to impress the sheep and one goose spectating around the course. The sartorial theme didn't stop there; my dad and his club mates (of a certain age) had come up with a code of conduct that at the very least had to include a collar and tie - the basic theme was in the style of the Hovis Advert.

Dad went the whole way: suit and tie, bicycle clips and flat cap. He also borrowed a bike from my mum, this time her shopper, and he made a few adaptations, taking off anything shopping related and fixing on a pair of tri-bars (she wasn't pleased with what was happening to her bikes that Christmas)

The course was as before: muddy, gritty, lots of water, tricky down hill section, tricky uphill section - a bit bloody hard as you went round about 4 times - plus some farm animals and dogs, stuff like that. Again, I'll forgo any details about the race, for me there were probably a few hairy steering moments on the tricky descent but it's a bit of a blur.

So straight to the Apres section of the event, which again took place in the pub where the results were read out and prizes awarded (everyone got a prize). I had a lovely glass of red wine, maybe two but this year I managed not to overdo it so I was well in control of the mountain bike (surprisingly so) as myself, dad and my brother set off on the few miles home to my dad's house. 

As we approached the village one of us (I can't remember who) called a sprint to the sign, which meant there was going to be a very silly and aggressive inter-family race to be the first one into the village. In these pointless wars, rules are limited: boxing, drifting (safely) off your line, team work, elbows, throwing the bike dangerously - are all permitted (for the record, I would have never behaved like this in a proper sprint) but this was family, the rules are different.

Just after the village sign is a big junction where the road splits around an island. It's a blind corner so we would be braking hard straight after the sprint - we all knew this, it wasn't a problem. I don't remember who jumped first but I think myself and my brother probably found ourselves in a position to squeeze dad right out of it and fight it out between ourselves, but the next thing that happened was dad, having dropped back, came charging past cutting the corner off and taking a shortened route around the traffic island on the wrong side of the road. I can't remember if he won - maybe in his mind he did. Luckily the road was a quiet one and clear of traffic... My brother and I just looked at each other as if to say, look at our dad - what a typically bad example - then we disqualified him.

Monday, 14 December 2015

How to be a Bad Example of Everything At Christmas – Part I

I have two cycling memories at Christmas time both of which involve my dad's old cycling club and the 'fun' 10 mile time trial, held every boxing day.

I can't remember exactly how many times I have ridden it over the years, but when I was fit and in the midst of winter training it was a little bit of fun, a good little lung opener.

The first Christmas related incident happened after the event, which conveniently started and finished in a pub car park. On a crisp Boxing Day morning my brother myself and my dad rode the few miles from my dad's house to the start. Everyone was is good spirits and raring to go so plenty of jokes and competitive verbals were flying around.

The course was a tough circuit, always covered with water, gravel and potholes on the steep descent, which really notched up the fun stakes, but not as much fun as the rest, which consisted of a long leg burning drag and dead flat section. If you were fit, it was a nice test: you couldn't help but belt around as fast as you could.

At this point I have to skip to the apres section of the event, which took place in the pub. Here the times were read out, prizes given, and alcohol played a part. In my case, a lovely glass of red wine was consumed. Then another. These were large glasses – before people realised the measure of one glass equalled your weekly intake. Then possibly another and then maybe another after that. I really can't remember, it might not have been that many but they were large glasses and I was a small woman back in those days (before I ballooned) and the alcohol seemed to enjoy its speedy journey to the brain.

I came out of the pub, got on my bike – somehow – and merrily cycled straight across what was luckily a quiet road and set off homeward in the opposite direction. Me, a finely tuned athlete was roaring drunk (some [many] would dispute 'finely tuned' or 'athlete'). If I'm honest I couldn't really stand up, but I could ride my bike. I couldn't steer it but I could pedal... I couldn't see where I was going... I don't know how I got down a really steep hill, but it was certainly with the aid of my dad and my brother, and a fairly astonished club mate of my dad's, pinning me to the correct side of the road.

I don't remember the race or what time I did or where my prize went (everyone got one). What is quite vivid is the blue porcelain printed words Armitage Shanks, which I spent the next half hour studying quite closely.

Part II of how to be a bad example of everything at Christmas coming soon...

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Christmas Stocking Fillers - Gifts for cyclists

This is just one of our splendid stocking fillers... many things are half price or a tenner so please drop by online, wish us a Merry Something and we will certainly wish you a fabulous New Wotsit!

We are here.....

NEW Cycle Instructions Card

Another new card... inspired by our collection of washing labels. In the SHOP

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

My Big Success - Twelve Hour Time Trial - I Won £20 and did 204.636 miles

Having remembered my first Twelve Hour Time Trial, I then thought about the last one I rode back in August 1985. By this time I had reached the age of 50 and whilst I still rode fairly regularly I had just taken early retirement from work and had not yet succumbed to the urge to start training properly, as a man of leisure.

The last twelve came about as a result of a late night in the pub after club night in November 1984. Having had a few pints myself, me and nine other club members (with the help of the beer) managed to convince each other that anyone could ride the local Kent Cycling Association 12 Hour event. In our drink inspired wisdom someone suggested all that was needed was a small cash incentive as we felt that to ride for 12 hours just for a medal (even though none of us was capable of making the top 20 finishers let alone the first three) was just not enough reward.

It was unanimously decided that the 10 of us would each sign our name on a ten pound note (which was handed to the elected treasurer) and that the resulting Hundred Pounds would be shared among those who managed to finish. The only other rule was that to qualify as a finisher you had to complete at least 200 miles.

I can’t speak for the others but my 1985 racing season was very hit and miss so when it came time to enter the twelve I still imagined I would be able to spend a leisurely day riding around the Kentish lanes and so I filled in the entry form as an act of good faith. It transpired that five of the ten actually lost their “bottle” at this time and so we now had the kitty to share between the remaining five assuming we all managed to finish.

Having decided to ride my time trial bike (with a single front 56 tooth chain ring) I started like a rocket and had caught two of my club mates well before 100 miles but then my legs just ceased to work and by the time I got to the A20 about to head toward the coast I had had enough so I stopped and sat on the side of the road to give a cheer to the two that I had passed earlier. However neither of them appeared, meaning that if they had packed and I didn’t finish, the two club riders that had started before me and were further up the road would be on for a prize of fifty pounds each.

The legs just about to stop working

There was no way that I could continue with the massive geared time trial bike but as luck would have it my son who had been riding a Kent League Road Race in the local area turned up with his road bike on top of his car. He suggested that I use his bike with its lower gearing, wait until the cut off timekeeper would allow me to miss out the coastal leg and just ride slowly back to the finishing circuit and try to reach the required 200 miles.

Here the story gets complicated as unbeknown to me one of riders preceding me had already been turned early, and the two behind me likewise had been given a shortened course and all three were already heading for the finishing circuit. In fact only one rider from the club did the ride along the A20 and having seen no sign of any of us he assumed he was now riding for a prize of 100 Hundred Pounds.

Amazingly, because four of us had not had to do the hard leg down to the coast and back it mean't that all five starters managed to finish over the 200 mile target and our reward was £20 each. So my last twelve was a kind of success even though I only managed to complete 204.636 miles.

I can't go into some of the murkier aspects... like my son handing up gravel in a bag to one of the five other lunatics (disguised as something lovely to eat) or the sub-category of 'shirt and tie' finisher as it might make the whole thing look ridiculous and not the serious race that it clearly was.