I was riding recently with my good friend Dave, trying to stay fit as well as help Dave build up his own experience and stamina. This being prior to taking part in a Sportive, an organized bike ride in a few weeks. These events are plentiful and varied in location. Mileage tends to be anything from 20 – 150 miles so its essential to prepare..
Part of this preparation involves learning to control your pedaling, not burn all your energy trying to reach mach 1, and then find you have nothing left in the tank to climb the next hill. That and getting over any road obstacles safely. (especially in the rain, think slick grids, manhole covers – wet steel)
And while constantly scanning the road ahead for any threat, actually avoid getting run over – harder than you think.
Lets face it, your riding something that has no protection whatsoever beyond the good will and common sense of everyone else cocooned in these 2 ton boxes hurtling around you. Thinking you can stop as quickly as they can so its ok to whip round you and nip into a side street.
That maneuver once left me 30 foot further on minus the bike and one shoe. Interestingly, I actually managed to make jovial eye contact as I passed his windscreen and mouth “YouTwatAhahaha.” and give a big thumbs up as I went by. The next thing I knew I was in a ball on the other side of the road.
Usually, some lunatic appears who seems to think that passing you at 60mph with inches to spare is A Safe Thing To Do.
So whenever your on a country road and hear any sound, its an automatic sphincter tightener. The first inkling you get that there’s loon driver coming your way, is the sound of an approaching car being driven with a screaming engine, because obviously, you can’t reach 900 mph otherwise.
Its the most unnerving thing, to hear that traumatized engine rapidly eating up the distance, fast approaching your current location. And really the only best you can do is hold your nerve and try not to hug the kerb. Because, if this lunatic decides he wants to squeeze past you and the car being driven sedately in the opposite direction, the last thing you want to find, is yourself already against the kerb with nowhere else to go…
What tends to happen is these fools whip past barely giving you clearance, and you just try and hold steady till their away in front, then give a frantic hand gesticulation, and splutter out,
With the violent draw that buffets and sucks at you from the passing vehicle, I keep expecting to feel my skin tights being rolled up my back and over my head to flap after the disappearing driver, leave me looking like a peeled a banana.
I’ve mentioned Dave before in a previous blog, (see – Optimistic New Years Day Bike ride) Where he finally had the opportunity to give his shiny new bike a whirl. The day had started out reasonably ok, overcast but turned into a bit of a slog with wind, rain and cold all taking a toll. The good thing about the ride though was the sheer distance we put in which was clocking on 42 miles. I put this down to having good company to ride alongside, because your too busy talking and the time flies. When its like this it never seems to be as draining an effort.
And Dave’s one of those people who’s very easy to talk to because he always has gossip. Its brilliant.
Dave is a bit of a fitness junky. As long as I’ve known him he’s always been heavily into his running. He has that edgy energy, that need for a fitness fix. He’s a typical runners build, you know the kind I mean. With a lollypop head with stick arms and legs. I jest of course. He’s wayyyyyy skinnier than that. I could lend him one of my calves to create some arse cheeks.
But seriously, he’s always been about the fitness. Always liked to get out and just eat up the miles with an effortless stride.
So to have him transfer his obsession from running to cycling has been a bit traumatizing.(!!)
Fortunately, he’s taken to falling off his bike more than he’s riding it at the moment. The first occasion was on that New Years day ride. And I’d no sooner stopped to check something when Dave turned round and glided to a halt, only to fall over sideways as he tried to wrench his feet from his pedals. I in the meantime was left looking on bemused, as Dave rolled around on his back with the bike in the air, trying to wrestle it off his prone body..
It allowed me to pause momentarily, and just smugly say,
“No, no, no David.
Unclip your feet before you stop.”
(I find Stating The Fucking Obvious – STFO – often helps in these situations)
This superiority complex won’t last so I intend to milk it.
But with the onset of dark nights, I’ve moved indoors riding on a trainer, saving my outdoor riding for a Saturday or a Sunday morning. Riding the trainer entails looking at a wall, imagining the soaring Alps or some such place, while spinning frantically away on a stationary bike. The whole process is mundane to say the least. Boring even.
But – My! GOD!! – you sweat like you’ve sprung a leak.
The major plus is it keeps me off the roads in the dark, keeps me fit and saves me from being flattened by one of those drivers who see’s (or more correctly – doesn’t see) a cyclist until its too late..
And able to keep up with Dave.
Who seems to be able to eat a lot more spinach than Popeye ever managed, before every ride…
In the mean, time Dave has to make do with getting in the gym, (Ha) or chancing the roads in the dark during the week prior to a Sunday ride. (Ohdearyme)
Which he does for miles. Its a nightmare. I don’t know what I dread hearing more as we prepare to ride on a Sunday morning.
“Good week Dave? Get anything done?” (pleasedeargodsayNo!)
“Nahh. It was crap pal. Too dark to ride, (Gettiiinnnn!) Gym was to busy, (ThankyouJesus!) So only managed 3 gazillion miles running. I’m gutted.”
(Not half as distraught as I am my friend)
And so, its off we go and the beauty of the whole thing is Dave is just such good company to ride along side. With that energy, It can’t help but encourage you to want to do better yourself.
His enthusiasm is infectious, and shines through the littlest thing he attempts. And he’s always trying to improve. So on the last ride when we went out on, it was no surprise to learn he had gone out alone the previous day to get a ride in before todays outing.
“And you’ll never guess what pal!”
“Tell me Dave. What?!”
“I only fell off the fuckin bike again!!”
“Noooo. Your Kidding!” (note smug smile)
“I bloody did Pal!!”
It transpired that Dave had only managed to travel some 40 yards from his house this time, before taking note of the traffic and deciding the oncoming car was travelling just a touch too fast. So he decided to wait till it passed. Only – and it warms me to picture it – he trifled a mite too long and couldn’t get his feet out of the pedals again.
I spoke to his wife later, who said she heard something but by the time she looked out of the window, it was to see Dave stood road side rubbing his bike down. (New bike – Damage! = arrrrrrrrr!!) But had no idea he had fallen off it and had been lay on his back looking like he was trying to do an upside down rodeo as, he tried to throw the bike off his feet only moments prior.
I’d have paid money to have been the slacked jawed motorist Dave had been waiting to pass by.
“Rolling round the fucking floor like a tortoise Pal!”
I love the way he says things like this. Eyebrows raised and eyes wide in amazement, with mouth open in shock.
He says it the same way if he’s telling you how he tied his laces.
“Made a loop! One over the other Pal!!”
I think its a part of Dave’s charm that makes him such great company.
So off we went on todays journey. A fine drizzle of rain adding to the ride. We left Dave’s house via an assortment of hills starting with his drive. Dave lives in Shaw near Oldam, any direction you take from his front door is “up”. Eventually we had enough of the sheer “Upness” of everywhere nearby and decided to head into Manchester city center then swing out in a round about route, back “up” into Oldam.
So we headed up towards Dove Stones, then swung off to Mossley down into Ashton-under-line. We were passing the new Ikea before we hit the tram lines which have been installed there.
Slick steel, wet with rain.
“Swing out Dave. Not straight on!! Try and come at them as square as possible, so there’s no extreme angle.”
Which we did. And then it was on through Ashton, down into Droyslden until we hit a set of lights. And all the way down, the tram lines had been running parallel to our route. We had been riding side by side, but as we approached the junction I told Dave to take point. What I didn’t realize was the tram lines cut in, across our path to the left, into a tram stop at the side of the road. And Dave being point decided to head straight into them.
Anything metal and slick on the road, if you don’t approach it correctly then your off. Its as simple as that. I just had time to see Dave’s wheels drop into the tram line and go
and his whole bike flipped sideways, and his back wheel took out my front wheel so I went down with him.
The first thing you do when ever you go down is – jump up! That is, when you can unlock your feet from the bike. The pair of us rolled around for a few moments, then carefully unlocked our feet from the pedals and then jumped up quickly, because – lets face it – you feel a right dick. We were right on a junction with traffic sat waiting left and right of us. None of whom, I hasten to add, actually got out to check we were ok.
(We were ok)
Dave was all,
“I don’t believe it Pal! Again!! Arr! Me arm! Me fuckin leg!! Do you think anyone noticed?”
(Eyes wide, eyebrows raised, mouth open in shock)
Anyway it put paid to that ride, and it was more a case of heading back to Dave’s and getting a cup of tea. While Dave explained upon arriving to his long suffering wife, how he had fallen off his bike again.
Seriously, the only thing missing was Benny Hill music in the background. (*Thank you Stuart)
Unfortunately, the small amount of enjoyment I can take out of every time Dave falls on his arse won’t last. Eventually with the obsessiveness and competiveness that’s driven him in his running, its only going to be a matter of time before he leaves me far behind. And I’ll be gasping out,
“No rush! save the legs!! – Time mate. Time ffs!! Slow down!!. Jesus keeeerist!.”
And I’ll dwindle into Dave’s rear view mirror. So, While it does last, what slight advantage in experience I have will be taken full advantage of. Starting with,
Not Letting Dave Take Fucking Point
Dave doing his normal “arrive home from a ride” wave….The bastard.