It wasn’t me

At the time if writing it’s Sunday morning, the highlight of the week for Cyclists up and down the country. The weekend Club Ride is one of those traditions dating back many years. For me riding with the fast group it always goes something like this;

  1. Morning panic. What on earth have I done with those arm warmers? Are my tyres done? Did I download the route last night? Why oh why didn’t I just set that damn alarm twenty minutes earlier?
  2. Short Time Trial effort to get to the meeting place, no time for a gentle warm up – this is life or death.
  3. Arrive. Try to conceal the extent of my breathlessness, look around in the hope that that bloke who beat me up a hill last week hasn’t turned up.
  4. Spend a few minutes getting cold and attempting to make small talk, be sure to have watched the latest pro-race so it seems you know what you’re talking about.
  5. Set off, pretend you’re feeling good by doing an early turn on the front – preferably on a slight downhill.
  6. Retreat to the back as the pace picks up, tell myself it’s not a race but still fail to suppress the urge to test my legs against everyone else’s when a good hill comes along.
  7. The Cafe stop. For me this is the best bit, hard earned coffee and cake.
  8. Get going again, hope the legs don’t feel this bad the rest of the way. Regret that massive slice of cake once the first hill presents itself.
  9. The bit that hurts. Everyone doing increasingly hard turns on the front, trying to push the average speed up. Last five miles usually done at race pace, hope I’ve got something left for that final push.
  10. Come home and collapse on the sofa with a recovery drink and the latest copy of Cycling Weekly. Try and fail to come up with a reasonable answer to the question: “How can you possibly enjoy it?” as posed by a family member upon seeing the state of me.

Anyway, this morning I woke up and saw that it was pouring with rain outside. Following a ride with a friend yesterday that started out as ‘not too fast’ and ended up being a 2up TT effort my legs were screaming at me to stay in bed. I happily obeyed. Never one to miss out on the cafe stop experience I decided to bake a cake instead of going for a ride. I’m calling it a day of ‘extra recovery’.

The Calendar is rather depressingly starting to move towards Autumn. Cue checking that the Winter bike is ready to go forth and face the mud, wind and rain that will be here sooner than I’d like. My ever faithful Cannondale has been equipped for the role, complete with a massive saddlebag containing spares for every eventuality. Clip-on mudguards and winter tyres have been purchased and installed. One task remains, installing a compact chainset in order to spare my knees on the Devon Hills. That brings me onto another story.

Two weeks ago I was reunited with my LEJOG steed, finding it had suffered gravely at the hands of all that the 880 mile trip had thrown at it. Grease and mud had found their way into just about everything, the once pristine frame now covered in a generous layer of caked-on muck. Thinking back, perhaps bringing a machine with a matt orange paint job wasn’t the most sensible idea. In the time I’ve had the bike only one thing has proved effective at removing the stubborn marks. A fun afternoon was spent attacking the frame with a tube of Tesco Value spearmint toothpaste, after three hours of scrubbing it with a toothbrush my Tarmac returned to it’s former glory.

Sadly that was only half the story; dirty cables, crunchy bottom bracket and decaying bar tape just to name a few of the issues. Worst of all was that most dreaded of problems, a rounded crank bolt holding my power meter in place. Had I attempted to sort all of it out myself the bike and I might not have survived the process, after all it did take me over a year to learn how to change a tyre. Time for a trip to the Local Bike Shop.

The good people at Tri Uk have always done a good job of correcting my handiwork. Over the years I’ve presented them with badly adjusted gears, bodged cable changes, rusted headsets and bottom brackets that should have been changed six months ago. It probably didn’t come as a surprise when I handed over my Specialized and informed them that I’d managed to destroy the offending bolt with a torque wrench. I can’t imagine they bought my excuse that it had been installed in a rush. It was akin to being back at school, trying to explain to a teacher why I hadn’t done my homework – with no note from my mother to bail me out. In actual fact I simply forgot to use the new crank bolts I’d ordered.

Ten days later and the fate of my Power Meter is still unknown, in the end the bolt had to be sawn off. I’m offering up a silent prayer that it will be possible to resurrect it by means of a drill, being a student there is no way I’d be-able to afford a replacement for the next few months at least. I’ve been gently advised by the mechanic dealing with my bike that it might be best to “not go anywhere near a screwdriver” from now on. Judging by this experience I’m inclined to agree with him. I may have some talents but working on bikes is not one of them.

Thanks for reading.

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