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

February 20, 2012

Random “things that work” post…

Filed under: Uncategorized — dgpowell @ 10:16 pm

Not your usual “this £1299 hardtail frame works really well” nonsense (I mean, really! Spend that much on stuff and it damn well better work. Really bloody well!)
No, just a couple of unsung heros that have made riding bikes slightly better without me ever thinking about them until earlier tonight, when I was sorting stuff out for tomorrow’s ride…

First up, a mini pump.
“Big woop” I hear you say. “I’ve got one of them”. Yes, you probably do. Well done. This one, however cost me £4, back in 2007.
That’s cheap. Probably cheaper than yours.
Not only is it cheap, but it also works. Despite being stuffed in numerous jersey pockets/camelbacks/strapped to seatposts (more about that in a sec…) over thousands and thousands of miles, when I dragged it out on Sunday after a pothole induced rapid tyre deflation (yes, a puncture as a result of not paying enough attention to where I was going, ahem), it quietly and competantly pushed enough air into the replacement tube to get the tyre back up to 90psi without me having to gurn like a weightlifter and flail about for hours on end.
No fuss, no bells and whistles, no bits of carbon fibre, it’s just a little pump that I have total faith in. Ace.

Ol' faithful :) on Twitpic

I have no idea if you can still get them (it was from on-one, as you might just be able to tell from the mostly-worn-off logo), they’ve probably been replaced by something with more shiny bits, or greater ‘aerodynamic wind resistance reducing coatings’ or something. God knows. If they’re still around though, they’re well worth the pittance they cost!

Second (and last for now, until I get bored/inspired again)
A piece of velcro, with a sort of rubbery coating on one side, and a buckle, so you can loop it round itself.
I know, these are pretty bling items, eh?!
It’s a Byekyle strap.
Bought (with some scepticism, I must admit) mid way through last year, when I discovered/realised my I-beam saddle and seatpost meant I couldn’t fit a saddlebag to my road bike, it’s first few rides were done with me spending more time looking down at the seatpost than where I was going, expecting the spare tube, pump (yes, the one I just waffled on about) and tyre levers to be bouncing their way down the road every time I hit the slightest of bumps.
They didn’t. Even when I hit really big bumps and potholes (big enough to cause punctures, ahem). Impressed, I gave it a go on the MTB. It held everything in place, even while thrashing round Gisburn as fast as I could. It kept a spare tube nice and secure while racing at Hit the North a few weeks back, while I crashed and managed to eject bottles and contents of jersey pockets all over the place.

Handy  strap on Twitpic

It’s also doubled up as an impromtu trouser clip when riding to work and as a strap to hold light batteries to various frames while out night riding, when the original velcro straps wouldn’t hold everything tightly enough.
You can get them from loads of places (I got mine from the XCRacer shop. Not sure if they’ve got them in at the mo’, but I imagine you can find them other places too) for but a few quid, in lots of colours, which is nice 🙂

Right. That’s enough ‘unsung hero’ nonense for now!

February 5, 2012

Hit the North

Filed under: bikes,Racing — dgpowell @ 10:40 pm

“I don’t really know how to approach this race.”
I thought to myself as I stepped out of the car at Early O’Clock and rapped chilly knuckles against Wayne’s front door.
The tapping set Earl the dog off, barking away until Wayne explaines to him who is waiting on the other side, at which point the hostilities ended and the demands for attention begin. Wayne was grinning, ignoring the time and distinct lack of heat in the air through a mixture of excited chatter and standing next to a roaring fire.

“Social occasion. Definitely a Social Occasion”.
I decided as we crammed the car full of bikes, warm looking clothes and fashionably branded energy drinks. Many, many people I knew, sort of knew, knew via fashionable social media sites and vaguely recognised from other races were congregating in a frozen field on the outskirts of Manchester. All with their own single purpose. Some to race for the podium, some to race whoever happened to be in front of them, some to race themselves and a couple of daft buggers to organise the whole thing. There was An Event on, and we were heading straight for it.

Within seconds of rolling through the entrance to the park where everything was conceived, planned and was in the process of being born, the “How do? Ya alreet? How’ve ya bin?”s began and, frankly, didn’t stop until a sense of duty demanded we all split up and take up marshal points around the course to help out with the youth race. Which was nice, but did allow my, up until that point warm due to all the handshaking, hands get cold, reminding me that underneath the cosy, friendly exterior, a cold, as-solid-as-the-frozen-ground race was waking. The speed of the top youth racers (and their colourful shoes) reinforced this reminder and I walked back up to the car to pull on my race kit with a very different thought running through my head.

“This is a race. I’m here to race. I’ll smile somewhen else, this is all about elbows out racing.”
The roll down to the start line(s – the race has become so popular that riders have to self-rate themselves along a series of start lines, ranging from “Elite” to the rather worrying “Will probably die”) felt like a ride into a fridge freezer and the start line chatter was as much teeth banging together as it was a continuation to the “How ya doin?”s of earlier.
Luckily the wait to go didn’t last long. At all. In fact I was still standing with both feet on the floor, looking down at my stem as an explosion of forward motion went off around me. Oops.
Straight back up the fireroad and straight up into the red in order to get back past everyone who was paying attention and flew past me.

“This is a race.”
Onto the first section of singletrack. The three deep peloton of already gasping riders uncomfortably arranges itself into near single file to flow through the trees, first lap sharpened elbows are surprisingly not in use, in fact it all seems very friendly, given the speed and obvious intent.
Phil is sitting just in front of me as we negotiate a root infested corner/drop combo and I get a serious close up of his rear tyre as an avoiding technique to prevent him bouncing off another rider goes wrong and he tumbles over the bars. Thankfully he bounces, rather than splats and I can’t help but giggle as he clambers back up and extricates his bike from the tree it’s become lodged in. A few people race past as I wait for him to get back on, but I barely notice.

“Hmm, this feels more like a social thing”
The race progresses and I find myself sitting somewhere below what I’d consider ‘flat out’. I’m still chasing people in front of me, but I’m not feeling the rarely-used corners of my lungs rattling in disapproval. I even crack the occasional smile at the (top notch) heckling.

HitTheNorth2012_Sen_023

I’m not taking it totally easy though. In fact I take myself a little too seriously dropping into a steep little bit of the course and all of a sudden I’m in the air. Then, all of a sudden, I’m very much not. Oooff. I start to scrabble round, tentitively waiting for the onrush of post-crash pain when I hear a familiar voice sarcastically shout out “You’ve turned your bike into a gate, Dave”.
I start to laugh, then start to consider how long I can get away with just leaving the ScandAL strewn across the race course, stopping me from losing any places.

“This is definitely a social event”
I clamber down to the bottom of the drop and watch as Dave Haygarth and several other riders cruise past and shift through various gears as they begin to climb up a fireroad, disappearing with annoying speed.

“Erm, actually, this is a race.”
I leap back on the bike and, within seconds, each and every part of my body I’ve just used to halt my fall pops into my conciousness, one after the other, to explain their displeasure with me. Aches and pains are ignored as I through a bit of weight down at the pedals and start to chase down the places I’ve just lost.

“This is a race. It’s becoming a painful race, but it’s a race”
Fireroads are swooped up, corners are railed…mostly, a few are overshot wildly, but progress is made and I catch up with rider after rider. My back is pointing out to me that it’s main function is not as a crash pad by aching and seizing up unless I stretch it out every few minutes, but as I find myself racing alongside Dave this allows a new idea to form

“Oh, it’s a social race! Nice! Race, but only as long as it doesn’t get in the way of having a laugh. Chase down everyone in front of you…but say hello too!”
This seems to work and pays dividends as I find myself loving every corner of the race course and getting to briefly catch up with people as I do so. Old friends, new friends, random people who are grinning almost as much as I am as we’re heckled and heralded towards the finish line by spectators and marshals alike. The race ends with a flourish of energy gel powered last lap sprint to gain any recently gained positions and a head full of questions for everyone, once we’ve all made it to the end.

HitTheNorth2012_Sen_154

Of course, after a few minutes of adrenaline fuelled nattering, the realisation that it really is snowing heavily hits, and the next few hours are spent pushing and guiding cars out of the suddenly very steep park. Somehow though, this doesn’t seem like a chore. In fact it’s as social as the race and, as Wayne and I flop back into the car a few hours later, it seems like a fitting end to the event/race/whatever it actually is.

February 1, 2012

Slowly, slowly catchy monkey

Filed under: Uncategorized — dgpowell @ 5:55 pm

The bruising and (most of) the embarrassment from the ‘puffer has gone. The worrying falling apart my body was doing over the pre Christmas period while trying to train seems to be on the back foot. The nights are starting to draw out.

And, very gradually, I’m sneaking back into the ‘pick a race, get fit’ routine.

Gentle at first; a few hours after work here, a few more there. Nothing over 4.5hrs. Just making notes about how everything feels rather than setting goals and aiming for them.
That’s gone well for the past couple of weeks so now, well, from next week, a longer ride gets chucked in here. A harder sesion is added there. Then add a bit more again. Keep an eye on how I feel as a result (any horrible exhaustion feeling like I as getting at the end of last year will have to result in another complete stop). If everything’s going OK push on a bit harder again.

I’ve some silly big rides planned (big rides are the best, even if many people argue that they constitute “junk miles”) in between all the ‘grown up stuff’ that leads me through the spring and hopefully by May I’ll be in good shape to go and get my arse kicked abroad!

Can’t wait. Seriously, the afternoons where I finish work at lunchtime and run out of the door for an afternoon in the hills, the days off work where getting out of bed isn’t as miserable as normal (even if it’s raining), they’re the best…and they begin again from next week 🙂

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