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

February 23, 2010

Product Review (!): Coffee

Filed under: bikes,food/booze,not bikes — dgpowell @ 8:39 pm

So you’ve ridden all day, for miles…and miles…and miles. Your bike’s now lent against the wall of the garage, still coated in dirt because you’re not a pro and you don’t have a mechanic to magically sort that sort of thing. That’s going to have to wait…possibly until summer, when it’ll be dry and dusty and it won’t need cleaning anyway.

No, instead you’re getting moaned at about something-or-other, just as you stumble through the back door and start the fight against your overshoes, which – after being complete sods to get on – are being complete sods to get off. You’re not entirely sure what the moaning is about, possibly because of what time it is (you knew you were going to be late when you turned left and went over another couple of hills and you knew it would incur the wrath of they-who-must-be-appeased, but you were fine with that – it’d be worth it)? Maybe because you’ve traipsed mud and grime into the kitchen while doing the overshoe-removal dance? Or it could just be because you left the last bike shop invoice out by mistake and the reason you can’t afford to go out for a romantic meal has revealed itself to be those lovely new brake calipers, rather than the bleak economic climate like you claimed, while crawling through the weightweenies component listings.

Whatever it is, you’re in no mood for it. The ratchets on your shoes are refusing to budge under what little duress your numb fingers can provide, your shorts aren’t as comfy to hop and skip round the kitchen in as they are while sitting on your overly expensive saddle and are starting to ride up into places they really shouldn’t.

You need a wash.
And you need some coffee.

Magnus Backstedt knows this.

He has been there. He also has the answer – to the coffee problem anyway, you’ll have to sort the shower/bath out yourself.

Had he been out on the ride with you he would have kicked your arse all over the place. He’s kicked pretty much everyone’s arse on a bike at some point, yours would have been no problem, he’s been a pro for donkey’s years winning big, big races. He’s got the “cyclist’s needs” part of the coffee equation covered. It just so happens that he’s invested almost as many hours drinking coffee as he has training to kick harder arses than yours. In fact he’s blended some coffee, after all that “research”…and this coffee can kick your arse as much as he can.

coffee

Now, I’m not claiming that this stuff will be like riding with/against Mr Backstedt himself. I have no idea what that would be like. Probably uncomfortable and somewhat humbling. But, as the website itself claims, it has a “crazy caffeine kick” and as such will have no problem sucker punching your currently hunched over, post big-ride body into a state of wild eyed readiness. Even if those wild eyes are reduced to just apologising for whatever it is you’re meant to still be apologising about from earlier. It was probably the dirt you trawled in through the back door, but that’s not important right now.

What is important is that, even though you’ve just been slapped about the head by enough caffeine to wake a herd of stoned elephants, after one big-mug serving, you fancy another cup. Because it actually tastes quite nice. The packaging claims “Soft acidity and full body with pronounced dark chocolate. A distant hint of fruit that lingers in a slightly dry finish”, which sounds utterly wonderful and exciting, but lets be honest, even though you like a nice cup of coffee you’re no real expert. In fact you once really enjoyed a bog standard cup of coffee at Starbucks, but never had the guts to tell anyone.
This is nice though. It must be, as you’ve just drained the last of what you’ve brewed into a mug and find yourself shaking the jug to get the last drops out.

OK so it tastes nice and has managed to salvage a real person from the fatigued shell of a human that crawled away from the bike a hour ago, but why buy more of it when you can get something that doesn’t taste awful from the local supermarket for less? After all, less money spent on coffee means more money to spend on bikes, right?
Our Mr Backstedt has this covered too: You are spending money on bikes, while spending money on coffee. Not your own bike, admittedly, but then that’s still slowly drying to a rusted crisp in the garage (you’d forgotten about it, hadn’t you – and there’s no way you’re going back outside to wash/relube it now you’ve regained the feeling in your extremities and have just got clean). No, you’ll be supporting the Sprocket Procycling team.

That’s a pro team. Like the one’s you pretend you’re racing against sometimes. Buying the coffee gives them money, thanks to the sponsorship set up. That’s ace. You’re drinking a nice brew AND sponsoring a team…in fact, if you squint really hard, you’re almost part of the team yourself. Practically a pro. Nice one, have another slurp to celebrate.

Disclaimer: I bought this stuff. For full price. No-one offered me anything for claiming it was nice. I just drank it and liked it. So nerr. Maybe you should try it too, you can buy it from here.

Be somewhere else

Filed under: bikes,Racing — dgpowell @ 1:10 pm

I’d stood on the start line – further back than I expected after missing the rush to elbow your way to the front – stareing at the backs of a good dozen or so shivering racers. I’d sprinted off from the start as much as you can when in the middle of the pack; banging elbows, scuffing tyres, a sudden sense of claustrophobia as the racing line became swamped in front and behind of me. I’d fought my way though towards the fast end of the race, the number of riders to pass dropping and the trail ahead opening up as the first lap lung burning began. I’d almost made it when the familiar ‘BOOONG’ of a rim bottoming out against something solid, sharp edged and retiscent to move. A brick, hidden under a delightfully muddy puddle, in this case.

I’d kept my head in the race and started to thank my lucky stars that the tube hadn’t punctured when it made it quite clear it had by drifting wide on a long, fast corner on some wonderfully swoopy singletrack.
And that was it. I pulled off to the side of the track, knelt down, removed the front wheel, looked up and saw the blur of the race thundering past without me, just inches away.

The air was still, a slight winter chill being shooed away by the morning sun warmed my back as I wrestled the tyre off and began the suddenly tedious job of swopping the innertube. It was a lovely Saturday morning to be in the park, but a foot or so to my left the gasping, the tearing of rubber across newly laid gravel and the ferocity of hundreds of singleminded people was intoxicating.

I wanted to be back there, in the thick of it. Even as the very last rider disappeared into the distance, allowing the silence to flow back around me just as the mud gently rolled back onto the racing line, as I attached a CO2 canister to the new tube’s valve, I’d decided to just chase down everyone and everything in front of me. To leap back into the melee and become a part of the spectacle.
I wasn’t ‘in it to win it’ anymore, where I wanted to be, but this would do nicely.

mud

Laps came and went, each time the nature of the course changed – fast, flowing singletrack bacame slithery, slidey, wheel grabbing slop – slow, grinding climbs opened up and became lungs-out sprints to the top of the hills – the long drag across a field to a push/carry slope of hellish proportions stayed exactly that, despite the best wishes of everyone riding it – and I just kept passing people until someone told me to stop and jabbed a fistful of Uncle Joe’s Mint Balls at me.

steep-hill1

No more punctures, somehow, but a good couple of hours of hurling myself round a course that surprised many with the amount of fun and pain it dished out, despite being just a stones throw from Manchester city centre.

I ended up 7th. Not bad, given the 5 minute faffage that fixing the tyre cost me, not what I wanted, but not bad.

February 16, 2010

Quickie ‘Hit the North’ weatherwatch

Filed under: bikes,Racing,rubbish weather — dgpowell @ 11:46 am

It’s this Saturday in the always lovely Manchester, so here’s what the boffins at the BBC think the weather will be doing:

BBC

Being rubbish, mostly :-/

I’ve still not decided what bike to use either.

February 15, 2010

I will destroy you…

Filed under: bikes — dgpowell @ 3:05 pm

…if you happen to be a bicycle component.

I’ve currently got a Mavic Aksium rear wheel over at the Mavic factory in France, being poked and prodded by ‘le mechaniques’, who are trying to work out how a weedy little englishman managed to tear a great hole in the hub, by simply pedalling off his driveway.
The spare rear wheel I’ve been using on the commuto-training-cross bike is also dieing a loud, creaky death, underneath what must be incredably powerful legs as a 3rd rear wheel (that used to belong to one of the 29ers) has already snuffed it while being used as a spare.

During all this rear wheel destruction I’ve also mangled 2 bottom brackets, a chain, a shimano 105 STI (damn those things are expensive), a chainring, the (brand new) bearings in the TD-1’s rear wheel, the bearings in the old scandal’s bottom bracket, 2 road tyres and, perhaps most impressively, I snapped an LX canti in half while trying to take it off – straight across the middle!

Somehow, and despite all this, I’ve managed to get back into training properly and am currently in the process of “cranking it up a notch”, albeit on the most bodged together bike in the world.
Most of the hills are snow and ice free enough to ride over now, so I’m enjoying getting back to suffering over them – it’s mostly “force” work at the moment, which involves lots of sat-down grovelling in big gears (I refuse to pay to join a gym to lift weights when the hills are free and I weigh a ton) and the like. It’s going well, and I should have thighs of steel come the summer 🙂

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