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

March 28, 2011

Glossing over the Whinlatter Enduro…

Filed under: bikes,lunacy - mine,Racing — dgpowell @ 9:38 am

Well, it started off well enough: Pick up Wayne, floor it (in the new car) up through the Lakes, get to Whinlatter with plenty of time to sign on, grab a brew and get changed. But it sort of went wrong afterwards!

Despite having plenty of time I ended up stuck right in the middle of the pack on the start line (as did Jase, who was running late), so the first few minutes of the race was spent redlining it through the crowds up the first fireroad climb, to avoid the traffic jams on the narrow sections (I have no issue admitting that I just tucked in behind Jase and got a nice, free tow up the hill from him 🙂 ).

whinlatter2

About half a lap or so in I caught up to Rich Rothwell, riding his pimpy new Trek, and spent the next half hour or so being guided round the trails and hills – which was ace, up until I decided to kee up with him on one of the descents and ended up pitching myself over the bars after my front tyre refused to gain any sort of grip on the super slick bedrock. Nothing got hurt/broken apart from scuffed up knees (and pride) so I leapt back on and set about riding back up towards Rich.

whinlatter1

Embarrassingly, on what was supposed to be the final climb I buried my head in the bars to close the gap just a little too much, didn’t pay enough attention and ended up turning left, heading out for a 3rd lap, when the finish line was about 200 yards down the right!
D’oh!
A comfortable 6th place was thrown away and, after realising what a plonker I’d been and refusing to ‘just stop’ mid-extra-lap I rolled in 152nd, having completed 45 miles instead of the ‘proper’ 31.

Suffice to say, lots of piss taking followed from everyone else.

Phil and Jase then rode the 100 odd miles home, while I had a little sulk. 😉

The reason I’ve not posted this for a week since the race is mainly because I’ve been trying to come up with excuses for the extra lap that don’t make me look like a blithering idiot. So far I’ve got “the extra lap was just training”, “the trails were too ace to not go round again”, “I thought I’d dropped my wallet” and “someone sabotaged me”.
None of these are really true (well, I *was* meant to do more riding that day, so the first one’s not wholly untrue I guess), but it’s all I’ve managed to come up with. Ho hum!

March 16, 2011

Adieu ma petite Berlingo

Filed under: lunacy - mine,new car — dgpowell @ 12:18 pm

The drizzle, gently settled on the windscreen, was hurried off by the screaching of the windscreen wipers as I drove towards Fleetwood, feeling much like a farmer must do when taking that ‘one last long walk’, with a faithful old sheep dog that’s outlived it’s usefulness.
The bulging brown evelope full of £20 notes in my jacket pocket felt as heavy as a shotgun draped over an arm as I pulled up outside the garage and the last ‘clunk’ of the drivers door shutting behind me sounded a lot like the ‘snick’ of a gun being cocked…

Hidden away inside a big glass building full of top-down convertable puppies and stout 4×4 gun dog style cars paperwork was signed and cash was counted and checked, while the floppy eared and suspensioned Berlingo sat patiently and trustingly outside.

Hands were shaken and a sleek coated, very business looking new car padded round the corner.

Bang.

I no longer own the Berlingo and all of a sudden I’m feeling all emotional. Gone is the overly bouncy, noisy, tin can of a car. Gone.
I’m flooded with memories that suddenly take on a rosy tint. The first-sick-of-a-drunken-student yellow combined with flourescent-snot-from-the-third-day-of-a-serious-cold green of the interior isn’t horrible anymore, it’s just vibrant and fun. The whistling noise from the tin-can roof when ever you got to over 50mph isn’t annoying it’s quirky and cheery.
Oh crap have I made the wrong decision? This car may be comfier and quieter, but does it have the ‘personality’ of the Berlingo? I thought I hated driving round in a car that often caused people to whistle the theme to Postman Pat at me when I pulled up in it, but maybe I didn’t. Is this new car the equivalent of stopping dying your hair, getting a boring haircut, shaving off your cool beard and buying some nice shirts for work?

The road in front of me as I drive back through the drizzle bends and curves. The car sticks to the road, no understeer, no sliding wide. OK maybe I have made the right choice.
More memories flash through my mind; driving up Waddington Fell with Wayne, following Rich, failing to stay on any one side of the road as the Berlingo takes a more flamboyant route round the corners, causing fits of giggles from everyone. Driving over to the start of the first attempt at the Trans Cambrain record, across Wales with Jase, seeing the look of shock on his face as fairly tame roads were turned into knuckle-whitening roller coasters by the bouncing and sliding car.
All very terrifying at the time, but brilliant now. Like having a ‘crazy’ mate who can liven up any night out, but occasionally gets you arrested for being drunk and disorderly.

I glance at the fuel guage. It’s not moved since I set off from the garage and I’ve now been driving for around 45mins. My first thought is that is must be broken and have got stuck, before I realise that I’ve just not used much petrol. Wow. That’s nice. This car goes in the right direction, quietly, without draining it’s tank at the first suggestion of the accelerator being pressed. Quite like this actually!

The new car may be middle management grey. It may, at first glance, lack the ‘joie de vivre’ of the ‘Bling-Bling’ (one of the many daft names the Berlingo was given over the years), but it’s not all bad. A glance in the rear view mirror shows me two rows of seats behind, all of which can disappear into the floor of the car, meaning that the Belingo’s real party piece – van sized and shaped cargo space, could be under threat too.

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More memories of just throwing the TD1 into the back of the Bling-o after huge rides, while others thrashed about trying to dismantle their bikes to get them in their respective boots flow by. I remember turning up at various trail centres, opening the tailgate and being instantly ready to ride while the rest of the car park faffed about, collapsing bike racks that seemed to be behaving like petulant children, refusing to pack down into a shape that would fit in the car. The Berlingo was brilliant in that respect, but the new car looks like it can do it too (though cleaning it out won’t be as east with it’s carpeted interior), hopefully there’ll be many more occasions where I can unpack and pack in half the time of everyone else…

berlingo1

I pull up onto the drive outside my house, with no ‘BONG’ sounds of protest from the suspension (no-one could ever work out just what it was that was wearing out on the Berlingo that meant the BONG noise had started to become more and more frequent, loud and disconcerting. It originally only appeared if you drove over a speed bump too vigorously (which, in itself was never a good idea as you had little control over which direction you’d end up pointing after the ducking and bobbing front he chassis had ceased) but had developed into a fault that reared it’s head pretty much contantly; round corners (at any speed) over and sort of bump or pothole, when reversing, when stopping…pretty much whenever you did anything.) and no “will I stop in time” excitement (the brakes on the Berlingo were rubbish too). I’m starting to like this.

The new car settles down in the Berlingo’s old bed without any fuss or pining (you thought I’d forgotten about the whole dog analogy, didnt you) and seems to fit perfectly.

Adieu ma petite Berlingo

March 1, 2011

The belated Christmas Cracker sportive

Filed under: bikes,lunacy - other peoples — dgpowell @ 1:02 pm

Originally set to be run back in December, I’d entered the Christmas Cracker sportive, up in the Lakes, as part of my Strathpuffer training. The plan being to ride up there, do the 57 mile route then ride back to make a Big Day Out.
Sadly it had to be postponed due to mental amounts of snow and generally wintery weather (as you might expect in a mountainous area…in winter, ahem) turning the roads into ice skating rinks and burying everything under several foot of non-road-bike friendly snow, so I didn’t get to use it as training. Rather than just cancel the event, however, the organisers decided to postpone it and give everyone a go at it in slightly kinder conditions. It ended up being rearranged for last weekend, leaving it marooned a bit, as far as me using as training was concerned, but perfectly placed for Angela to enter it and give it a go as her first foray into the murky world of (semi) competitive bike riding. 🙂

A few weeks of ‘last minute’ training around my favourite local fells (I’m not sure that Angela really needed to do rides with 2 cat 1, 3 cat 2 and innumerable cat 3 climbs in, but I felt that it was better to be safe (and knackered) than sorry…plus I’m evil and strongly believe that everyone should grovel up long, steep climbs as much as possible) meant that come the day of the event Angela was in fighting fit shape and her MTB was set up as well as it could be for road riding.

The alarm went off at just after 5am, our plan being to get up and get to the start as early as possible, giving us as much time to do the route as we could possibly need, which gave Angela her first exprience of Daft Riding; trying to shovel down hearty breakfasts while all your body wants to do is sleep. She didn’t enjoy it. Not that you’re meant to, dark-o-clock is a crap time to have to get up, but it is an integral part of being a hardcore (idiot?) cyclist, so she got on with it and we soon found ourselves wizzing up the motorway towards Grasmere and the event HQ.

Vast amounts of money poured into Pay and Display machines, signing on done and pre ride chammy cream applied we joined the queue of eager looking, flourescent coated riders at the start before being set off in small groups so as to not cause any congestion on the utterly-deserted-because-it’s-still-stupidly-early-on-a-sunday-morning streets.

Angela had her sensible head on and stopped herself zooming off after everyone ahead of us as we rode away from the narrow Grasmere streets and into the surrounding woodland, spinning an easy gear and making short work of the first, incredibly steep, climb. The 25%+ gradient soon had people off and walking, but we span on and reached the top without having any real trouble at all. The following descent, just as steep as the rise up to it, was taken fairly easily; the rain-wet surface and sharp bends caught quite a few riders out, most notably a girl just ahead of us who missed a turn and ended up several foot away from the road in some bushes. Luckily she’d found the softest spot on the whole descent to crash on and after I’d got everything on her bike pointing in the right direction again and her mates had arrived on the scene she was able to carry on.

The second big climb of the day was summited with us barely noticing and we cruised on along the undulating roads, through woods and along lakesides and a decent pace. The rain that had been falling all morning was beginning to ease and as the morning progressed I began to recognise more and more of the roads we were on from previous rides in the area. We span on without any real problems, save one dropped energy gel wrapper (Angela’s waterproof didn’t have any pockets, so I was acting as drugs mule, passing her fuel as she needed it) which I had to stop and ride back up the road for while Angela carried on (don’t drop litter kids), only to discover that it was still half full as it dribbled out of the wrapper and down my back through my jersey pockets, yuck.

We crossed the A590, heading onto the Lakeland peninusulas towards the halfway foodstop at Cartmel as the clouds began to break a bit and as we entered Cartmel the sun finally made an appearance, in fact it was turning into a cracking day to be out on a bike.
We hit the foodstop hard and in good spirits; apart from a few niggles Angela was still feeling fresh, the weather had gone from a wintery, steady rain at the start to a positively spring like bright sunny day and the local church was even ringing the bells for us as we arrived (OK, maybe the bells weren’t for us, but never mind). Flapjacks, gingerbread, shortbread, scones (with jam and butter, of course), tea, coffee and sandwiches were all devoured, drinks bottles and camelbak bladders were refilled and rainjackets were swopped for lighter windstoppers as we prepared for the second half of the ride.
Jase and Phil arrived, having extended their ride by starting further south just as we began to suspect that eating any more would be a bad idea, so after a brief hello and glance at Jase’s nice new Ragley ‘Cragg Vale’ we headed back out to conquer the last couple of big climbs over Grizedale.

Back across the A590 and into Grizedale forest itself the roads remained wonderfully quiet for a sunny Sunday afternoon. Despite the ever growing miles in her legs, Angela pushed on, losing out to riders on road bikes on the flatter sections, but more than making up for it on the climbs, setting a challenging pace that saw her catch rider after rider without slowing. In fact, on the last real climb of the day while still spinning in the middle chainring we passed several people pushing their bikes, which provided more encouragment than any words could. We crested the climb and tucked in for a fast, swooping descent down to Hawkshead, which felt like the beginning of the tail end of the ride.

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Fast B roads saw us skirt round Ambleside with a renewed vigour and a final guzzle of energy gel, despite tiredness beginning to creep in, as the mileage left dropped down to single figures. The shoreline road past Rydal Water and Grasmere itself turned into a bit of a final hurrah, before cruising past Dove Cottage and along the last (sneakily climbing, headwind infested) stretch of road into the village centre and across the finish line.

5hrs 30mins to ride the course. A full half hour faster than I had expected us to get round, despite wet roads at the start and a headwind for most of the way back from Cartmel. Angela seemed pleased, well she did after the all important post-ride brew anyway and, like all hardcore (idiot?) cyclists she was as busy contemplating how to follow the ride up with something bigger as she was feeling smug about completing it…

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