Twinkly Dave – Mud splattered bicycle and pizza enthusiast Growing old disgracefully

January 28, 2010

an indian job…

Filed under: food/booze,lunacy - mine,not bikes — dgpowell @ 3:07 pm

Wedged into a booth seemingly lifted straight from a John Wayne movie, before being covered in the prerequisite pink flock wallpaper to give it a clasic 60s sheen, 4 men huddle round a table in a cosy Indian restaraunt.
Nestled amongst tightly packed buildings, hiding from the dark at the foot of an anonymous, steep sided Calderdale valley, the light beaming from the restaraunt’s windows spills out onto the street, chasing the pre-meal chatter as it flows out through the doors and echoes around the night.

The tonal tales of far away places and devilishly done deals, escaping through the entrance, seem to intertwine with the piped music, creating a culturally cosmopolitan air with an infectiously northern twang around the huddled booth, but begins to die down as the procession of sliver trays begins to make it’s way, carried deftly by experienced hands, towards the already crowded table.

The popadoms, by this point, have already been eaten.
First judo-chopped with surprising aggression before being dunked in an array of dips and pickles and systematically demolished by all 4. Barely a sentence had been broken as they were removed and gobbled. The talk had crossed continents, won races and bounced off car bonnets, untroubled by the addition of pre-meal appitisers, but now, as the main courses began to energe from the kitchen that was no doubt once a living room in a terraced house, it slowed, became more measured and directed itself at the food before it.

The table began to fill. As the curry desires of each of the 4 were laid out, subtle introspection took over from selfless fascination. Jason had laid out the constituant parts of his order on his bejewelled plate as far apart as he could. His fork slowly tracing a convoluted route between them, climbing over every single mound before slowing, reasessing and diving back down towards the next without stopping or tiring. It seemed a bit Daft.
Brant, meanwhile, was busying himself with reshaping the angles his mound of tikka had arrived with, seemingly unhappy with the steepness with which the lamb left the chicken. A small, contented smile spead across his face as he leant back to survey his reworkings. “I can slacken it off slightly further if I reinforce the rice behind it” he mumbled, before hunching forward again.
Across the still filling table, Steve watched Brant’s angular modellling, keeping his own considered opinion back as he began to merge one portion of his main course with another. Adding more to his plate he created, built upon and changed completely a small empire of food before him.
The waiter seemed to know exactly what he was thinking and delivered another tray of keema rice just as he called for it, to diversify further the meal in front of him in a way that he hadn’t originally intended, but now found to be exactly as he wanted.

The table began to groan under the sheer weight of dishes resting on it as the tablecloth finally vanished completely. Trays of condiments perched perilously, hanging over the edge of the drop down onto the carpet far below and swaying slightly in the breeze.

I, as the 4th member of the booth, clutched onto my half a pint of Kingfisher and leant as far back as I could as if to balance out the food in front of me, while pondering the politeness of counting the calories in a large serving of boiled rice and lamb korma.

Steve’s arm stretched out toward a waiter as he moved forward to deliver another tray of food, keeping him back from a sizzling jalfrezi close to the drop off the table and halting him in his tracks.
He reached out towards the bhindi bhaji ocupying the centre of the spread, before pausing.

“Hold on lads, I’ve got a great idea…”

Note: all, or at least the vast majority, of this nonsense is completely made up. In fact you probably shouldn’t read it, it’s pretty much just lies, exaggeration and the end of the italian job badly rehashed. And anyway, I didn’t even have a korma.

January 19, 2010

Strathpuffer

Filed under: bikes,lunacy - mine,lunacy - other peoples,Racing — dgpowell @ 11:37 pm

I’ll throw myself into every single ditch on this god damn course. Every single one. I don’t care. Sure it hurts. My hands are burning cold, the snow piled deep to either side of the narrow groove cut into the winter has managed to work it’s way past several well thought out layers and is battling for supremacy against the blood in my fingers. My feet are long gone, just sodden lumps at the end of legs that are bearing the scarlet bruises from a thousand previous falls and the hours have torn away at my mental state to the point where even adding up how much time I’ve left to ride is beyond me.

I’m feeling good.
Damn good.

The back end kicks out as sheet ice, hidden under tyre-worn snow, tries to spit me into the undergrowth. No brakes. Hold the slide or bin it. Snap the front end into line and fight back. Duck down low over the bars, force the front end into the thin line of filthy brown slush so hard the earth itself should give way underneath.
Ice and grit burst up from the front tyre, arcing straight into my face. A barrage of sharp-cold pinpricks, each shocking as it hits. Exhilarating and focussing as I begin to lose the battle and suddenly rapidly run out of width in the singletrack.

My left foot slaps the ground as the course bends round and begins to drop, providing momentary balance, enough to stay safe and upright as I hit a rut narrow enough for the Racing Ralph up front to float right over the top of.

Got it.
One down. One small victory. One corner.

Dave Powell Strathpuffer 2010

A chance to pedal as the trail rises upwards gives a chance to, for at least the tenth time this lap, reassess how the race is going. A decent start, speedwise. Any thoughts of riding a smooth, clean race gone by the time the first technical section had been passed and in their place a sort of strange lack of self preservation. I’ve crashed, wiped out, overshot so many corners with one foot scraping across the rocks and entered so many snowbanks face first I’m defying the odds. Like standing tall in the face of a hurricane and giggling as Dorothy’s house comes hurtling towards me…I’m certainly not in Kansas right now.
This ‘strategy’ is both paying off and costing me dear. I’ve got somewhere in the region of 7hours left to go (like I said, I can’t do the maths at this point) and I’m sat in a ragged but dogged 2nd place, with enough fast lap times to look decent on any results board, but it’s taken it’s toll on the bikes.
I’ve punctured 3 times, luckily far enough into the lap each time to be able to nurse the bike back to the pits and fix it in the relative comfort of the main marquee. The rear wheel on the 2nd bike seems to be floating freely along the axle as the bearings give up the ghost, it’s bottom bracket isn’t fairing much better and I’m killing brake pads in the dirt at the rate of a set a lap.
Springs too, which is a more pressing problem – as the last of the brake pad gets torn apart by the gritty rotor the springs are getting dragged in as well and shredded. In fact I’m nearly out of them.

That’s ok though. Angela jokingly mentioned not braking as I left the pits on the Ragley. She wasn’t being totally serious, but she’s pretty much summed up the idea behind the next few laps. How much can I get away with. The course has battered me, torn at me, changed in character over and over again as deep snow turned to slush, turned to mud, dried to stodge and froze to gripless ice but it’s not finished me off.
It’s gone from pristine white, soft snow carpeted and stretching off for miles in every direction across vistas worthy of picture postcards, through low down dirty, dusk filtered dirt, jabbing at wheels from underneath grime filled puddles to uncaring and harsh darkness, spitting at you on every bend.
It’s been epic and, quite frankly, that’s what I’ve thrown back at it. I’ve given it no respect and it’s taken everything it can, but I’m still going and I’ll crash on every corner if I have to, throw myself into every ditch if that’s what it takes. I’m coming out on top. Even if I have to stay off the brakes.

sat1

Top of the last descent.
Three quick flicks of the finger on the shifter and haul legs round as the chain leaps across the cassette. Dive back into the saddle and flick the shifter again as the speed builds up. The course bucks and swoops. All you can see is what you’ve lit up, what your lights pierce into the darkness is what you get to work with. Shapes loom at you from either side as you drop into the trees, faster and faster. Branches feel like they’re inches from your face and rocks seem to leap out at your wheels.
Stop pedalling, skip the bike over the waterbar and start to drift the bike into the right hander. Nervously press on the bars as the tyres skitter across semi frozen mud. Hold the line, skip again over another waterbar, angling itself to bite deep at the front wheel if you’ve lost your nerve and tried to brake and throw yourself hard right to the edge of the trail, away from the ice but so close to the trunks of the trees you can smell the damp wood as you skim past each one.
The trail drops. Lean back and trace the line left by innumerable other tyres, flowing left and right in the light that never seems to stretch far enough into the distance. The tyres growl as infinitesimally small lapses in concentration have them scuffing the ridges of snow lining the route. Bright white guidelines to either side of the slush that snap and weave in front of you as the light hits them, occasionally broken where someone has lost the flow and slid out into the blackness.
Deep breath and wince as another waterbar, still partially hidden, hammers into the rims. Try not to over compensate as the front tyre loses grip and swerves off right. Aaah you little fuck, can’t hold it.
The snow seems to roar as the bike lurches into it, bars twisted as far as possible to regain some semblance of control, foot thrown out and dabbing furiously, vanishing into the powder each time as I grind to a near standstill before forcing myself back onto the clear line.
Crank back up to speed, little shake of the head and grin.

This is Daft.
I’ll get it next lap. Nail it.

P1010816_Large.jpg.scaled.1000

The results and lap times are up on ‘tinternet here so you can see, in detail, exactly where I buggered it up and let Alex Slavin get away (fair do’s to Alex – he rode a great race and thoroughly deserved the win…this time 😉 )

January 11, 2010

Strathpuffer Weatherwatch

Filed under: bikes,Racing — dgpowell @ 7:23 pm

It’s on, I’m in so here’s the (possibly epic) weatherwatch for it:

BBC
Met Office
Uk Weather

Sounds like it’ll be nicer there than it is here. Ace.

The lap has been shortened a bit apparently, due to it being under several foot of snow and coated in ice…so the studded tyres might be worth the (hideous) expense 🙂

Bring on Friday and the big long drive!

January 4, 2010

Least. Training. Ever

Filed under: bikes,Racing,rubbish weather — dgpowell @ 5:25 pm

The weather’s not bothered to abait over the past few weeks – the temperature has barely crept over the 0 mark and the snow has returned over and over again to make being outside pretty trecherous – and it’s managed to kick several shades of sh1t out of my training plans.

Long tough road rides have been all but destroyed – I’ve managed to crawl round on the ice for a maximum of 5hrs a few times, followed by some extra turbo trainers sessions (which I secretly hate), for a couple of weeks. I managed one 8 hour ride while up in Cumbria over Christmas, by basically riding from Whitehaven to Ambleside along the coast and A-roads, then turning round and coming back the same way once I got into the hills and just repeating the non-icy sections over and over until the Sellafield Police began to get a bit suspicious, but that’s been pretty much it.

Off road rides have gone the same way – the longest I’ve been out for was 7.5hrs last week for the Daft Night Ride, which was called short due to frankly terrifying weather up on the tops at sometime-past-midnight and my plan to do a big ride to and from the Todmorden cyclocross race were scupered by most of the trails being under a good foot or two of snow. Bah.

Only one week of riding left before the Strathpuffer and nothing looks like changing. I’ve got 2 afternoons off work, for what would usually be ~7hrs riding each, but all the hills around here are still sheet ice and the temperature’s aren’t set to rise for a good 10 days or so, leaving me ‘up the creek’ a bit. Hopefully Sunday’s ride (off road…again hopefully) won’t be too affected by the remaining snow – talk about last minute training!

Saying all that, looking at picures of the race course as it is right now, I get the sneaking suspicion that walking would be better training than riding:
one of the narrow bridges, deep in snow

the 'main climb' under several inches of snow

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