Got to keep on moving

A recently retired professional sporting acquaintance of mine says his body feels dreadful this year as it has finally realises it is able to take it easy and even shut down from time to time.

No more batterings in training sessions or matches, no more trying to disguise or ignore the knocks, no more physio or massage, no more adrenlin pulsing through to act as a camouflage. And, most important of all, no more ‘buzz’ to build up to, live through and then recover from.

Left to its own devices, his body appears to be getting its own back.

It is a warning I should have taken more seriously.

I came back to cycling after a 14-year for no other reason than I like to ride my bike and it seems I have finally found the time again to do so. Now, after a few months back in the saddle, it seems I have to keep getting back on the bike.

The only way to remove the aches and pains from yesterday’s time on the bike is to get back out on the bike today. Tomorrow I know I will be riding to remove the after-effects of today. The day after I will do my best to remove tomorrow’s stresses and strains. And this is just from me riding alone, without competition, without targets, and without any raceday ‘buzz’.

Miss a day and suddenly the hands, wrists, shoulders, neck, thighs and calf muscles take turns in reminding me that I need my fix. By late evening they come together with a more orchestrated reminder, especially when attempting to negotiate stairs.

Everything aches, except when I’m actually putting them under stress on the bike.

No one said it would actually be like this. But it’s the best way, surely, of ensuring you get back out on the road.

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Music to my ears

The sound of cycling is a joy to the ears:

Grooooooaaaaaannnn

Grooooaaann

Click

Whir

Click

Whirrrrrr

Click

Whirrrrrrrrrrrrr

Whirrrrrrrrrrrrr

Whirrrrrrrrrrrrr

Shout (Sunday driver)

Whirrrrrrrrrrrrr

Hi (Sunday rider)

Whirrrrrrrrrrrrr

Aye aye (everyday rider)

Click

Whirrrrrrrrrrrrr

Whirrrrrrrrrrrrr

Whirrrrrrrrrrrrr

Whoosh

Whooooosh

Cllllllick

Whirrrrrr

Grooooaaaaann

Ooooooosh

Click

Whirrrrrrrrrrrrr

Whirrrrrrrrrrrrr

Rattle

Whirrrrrrrrrrrrr

Slurp

Aye aye

Screech

Clllick

Whirrrrrrrrrr

Clllick

Whirrrrrrrrrr

Click

Whirrrrrrrrrrrrr

Whooooosh

Whirrrrrrrrrrrrr

Whirrrrrr

Whir

Click

Hi, I’m home

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Side by side

After more than 25 years as a cyclist, I have now ridden my first
Madison. It wasn’t as accomplished as the ones I’ve watched, but then again it wasn’t on the track and my partner was a delivery truck.

Using the narrow cycle lane at a roundabout, I came out of the curve on the exit just ahead of a blue truck (I think from Argos, though the driver was definitely cut price).

The truck travelled in a straight line right in front of me, closing off my wheel space to a matter of inches. At that point I had to ‘hold off’ the vehicle with a sprinter’s elbow and shout. Not exactly a fair contest, but it was all I could think of in the circumstances.

I stayed upright, yelled to attract the driver’s attention, and squeezed through to daylight at the other end with nothing worse than a ‘burn’ mark on my right elbow where the van and my bony extremity had met and been stuck together for 20-30 yards.

Without the elbow, I was either into to the kerb and who knows what else, or worse.

As traffic flow slowed a further 100 yards ahead, I came past and yelled some advice on looking out for the cycle lane, while driver and his mate looked vacantly in my direction. They turned off the main road a few yards later and I didn’t see them again.

It was an escape, and it is the closest I’ve come to being taken out by traffic. I could have easily been flicked the extra couple of inches into the kerb and,
still attached to the bike by clipless pedals, what would have happened
then?

At least I’ve now discovered I have the elbow of a sprinter. All I need
now is a sprint.

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Never a smooth ride

Cards on the table, I’ve never been one for backing campaigns for better roads, more cycling routes and restraints on traffic. To be brutally honest, it all bores me to tears.

The whole thing smells of bohemia, academia, worthies, local councillors, and appears to be located at a reasonable distance from the rest of us living in the real world.

Hey, newsflash, we do not live in an ideal world. If we did, every road would be flat, downhill, slick, with a soft verge to absorb any fall and with a pub on each corner serving cracking grub and real beer with a total ban on cheap Aussie lager and the kind of people who drink it.

Sadly, until the next Election at least, that is not the world we live in. We live in a dog-eat-dog world. Roads are used heavily, we all compete for our part of a finite amount of space, and something has to give.

Now, though, I am perfectly willing to say it is time to show support for anyone prepared to campaign for something to be done on our roads.

What on earth has happened? Every surface, whether urban or rural, looks like we’ve emerged from an Ice Age, a volcanic eruption or major earthquake. Cracks, holes, disappearing verges, badly-fitting patchworks, multi-layered teeth-rattling pie-crusts, our roads are an utter disgrace.

Cycling is not a cheap hobby, we all spend as much as we possibly can on our kit. And we take our pride and joy out on to roads which are not fit for the purpose.

The roads provide the same challenge for our cars and trucks too, but their insulated shells, sprung seats, shock-absorbing technologies and wide tyres negate much of the juddering. Bikes offer almost none of this.

Traffic volumes increase constantly and the roads just cannot take it. And nothing is being done to help.

As a cyclist, all approaches to junctions and roundabouts involve an unfair amount of bouncing, rattling and discomfort. Major roads have exposed metalwork and patchy ridges to previous repairs, while guessing what comes round the next bend on rural roads would keep Bletchley busy.

Governments, at national and local level, have their budgets and their associated problems, we surely accept that, but these roads are crumbling before our very eyes and repairs are only going to get more expensive the longer they are left.

It’s time for the do-gooders to get their way and for something to be done before we all disappear into the cracks. Just let me have first go on the new smoother version, I need to get my 10-mile times down!

#cyclingblog #bikeblog #bike

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seat of power

Like all great contests, it was a close-run thing. Lemond v Fignon, Roche v Delgado, Ali v Frazier, Man versus Food, it was nip and tuck all the way to the final lap. It was a similarly close call in the Man v Machine cruiserweight contest, and on this occasion Man came out on top.

It was not just this rider who came out of ‘retirement’ to try again 14 years on; the loyal steed also came out of the shed, dusted down and threw itself back on to the road.

From day one there was a contest in place, which would give in first - metal fatigue or rider fatigue.

A few months on and we’ve had the result, of the first round anyway.

A creaking noise disturbed the peace of a Sunday morning run and this time it was definitely not coming from the rider’s knees. It sounded – and felt – like the Rolls saddle was the culprit.

Post-run inspection revealed nothing conclusive, but I cleaned what I could reach and tightened what I could see, ready for another day.

But the noise started again next time out. The Rolls saddle sounded like it was giving up the ghost, but I had an unused spare seat among a box of bits in the shed. Rolls removed, the said Scott secured, we tried again optimistically.

The creak, however, was still there. Secretly, I was happy as this meant I could sort a Rolls reversal, and my old saddle was restored to its rightful position on the bike.

Nuts tightened again, final checks on positioning carried out, the saddle mysteriously swivelled left to right. No matter how many times I tried turning Allen keys and bolts, it still moved. After another close inspection, I discovered a crack in the seatpin, about two inches long, looking like a pencil line in the back of the aluminium post.

I’d like to claim it just couldn’t live the power of a keen reborn cyclist. I’d like to, but can’t. Time was the culprit here, metal fatigue the result and a crack the outcome.

After a brief struggle with a mechanic, a couple of clamps and a vice, the oxidisation which held the pin securely in place was beaten and the offending item removed and replaced with a new younger model and silence restored.

Seconds out, round two…

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