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

June 27, 2013

Just £3 yer suffering, £3, get yer suffering, only £3

Filed under: bikes,lunacy - mine,Racing,stream of consciousness — dgpowell @ 10:45 am

I’m practically horizontal. If I closed my eyes – and managed to stop shivering – I could probably just nod off right here. I doubt the older gentleman buried somewhere under my left arm would be too impressed if I started snoring and dribbling on him though.
He’s pretty much bent double, and in what seems like a bit of discomfort, reaching out as far as his arms will allow to grasp the bike underneath me as I hang, both feet clipped in immediately behind a small white line pained on the side of a road, in the middle of nowhere.

I think I’ve done this wrong. I think I’m meant to be right over by the kerb so he can hold me perfectly upright, offering me the opportunity to sprint off into the distance as soon as another bloke sat on a small wall finishes counting down from “1 minute”. I’m about 2 foot out in the road, leant over towards the poor guy doing his best to support me wobble-free for up on the pavement. If we were a pair of cards we’d stand upright, in a geometrically stable position, which is great but, in “30 seconds” he’s going to let go and, with me ratcheted into the bike and stationary I’m really starting to think that I’ll do what that one lone card would do without it’s support and just gently topple over. Into the gutter.

If the course for tonight’s event – a hill climb race, based near Horwich, heading from outside a pub (clever) to the top of the local Col d’Winter Hill – started on a sharp left hand bend I’d be set up for the perfect start, I consider, as a glance downward shows me I’m perched on the sidewall of my tyres. It doesn’t though and I begin to wonder if I should unclip, apologise for making it hard for everyone and just set off with one foot on the ground.

“15 seconds”

Damn it! No time! I’ll just have to hope I don’t make a complete tit of myself in front of all the other riders…who are probably already wondering why I’ve decided to start from the wrong side of the road, leaving the ‘hold you up’ guy in need of traction afterwards.
I wish I’d warmed up instead of standing around chatting until I started shivering. That wasn’t very ‘pro’, was it

10
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Which way does the course go again?

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4

Wait hang on, I think I’m in too big a…

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1

…gear

Go

Naaaaarrgrggrrgg. aaarrrrnggng, huuuhhuhhhu, pedal aarga go get going move it aaaaarg

Like a 1 litre overloaded nissan micra setting off up a hill in top gear I cough and splutter into a super gradual acceleration away from the line.

Are my brakes stuck on? Have i inadvertently dragged ‘hold you up’ guy along for the ride? Will I have to do the whole thing with him hanging on my back? Christ why am I not going anywhere and what is that weird feeling in my chest?

Oh, that’s my lungs gong into complete shock. Fair enough. Oh look my thighs appear to have joined them. Well, this is going well isn’t it, my body’s revolting against me and I must have ridden all of about 500 metres from the line. Hmm. How long is the course again? 3 miles? Ahh. Right.

Oww actually, this really hurts.

A glance down (well, more accurately an attempt to focus on where I was already staring – I’d not looked up since wobbling away from the start line) at the computer tells me I’ve hit the heady speed of 18mph. which seems odd, as the feedback from every part of my body suggests I should have just heard a sonic boom as I went past the speed of sound. The pain -> speed ratio here is all to cock. On the plus side, I have ridden half a mile and seem to be settling into a bit of a rhythm on the flatter section of the course. If extreme discomfort can be classed as a rhythm.

I should probably stop thinking and just get on with it. Turn my head off for a while. Why can you never turn your head off when you want to?

Is my right shoe a bit loose?

Ooh wait, I think i’m really getting into this now, yes, here we go I’m accelerati…oh wait no, it was just a dip in the road, back to massive thigh pain

(I do feel like my thighs are massive at this point. In fact it seems like a miracle that they’ve not burst, Hulk stylee, out of my shorts)

A waving flag of a marshal bravely stood in the middle of the road tells me I’m at the sharp left hand turn halfway along the route. Momentary joy as I briefly regain the lean angle I had on the start line is wiped away as I remember that the left turn means I’m on the steeper part of the course.

It’s a hill I hate when I ride it normally. It just doesn’t seem to suit me, not steep enough to really fight your way up, but still too steep and with too many changes in gradient to pick a gear and ‘work it’ to the top. I’m never quick up it at the best of times and tonight, with a couple of miles of intense effort already weighing me down tag-teaming with a gusting headwind, there’s a strong possibility I may come to a complete halt and start rolling backwards.

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Pic by martin holden photography

As the road kicks up in front of me I give up any plans about pacing, optimum riding position, efficiency or even thinking full words, in favour of just getting up the bloody hill.

There are spectators (a few of them) alongside the road giving encouragement as I flail about on the pedals, grinding the chain against the front mech as the bike protests at my awful riding style. I stop looking towards them when I realise my eyes must suggest I’m pleading for an end to the suffering and aim what little attention I can hold at the road just in front of my wheel.

That patch road becomes, to my surprise, full of someone else’s back wheel. The guy who set off 1 minute before me (who didn’t seem to be leant over as far as I was) was riding quite a retro bike, leaving me with startline aspirations of catching him before we reached the summit. For the first few miles I’d not really seen him, even though the road was fairly straight, so I’d put any thought about it to the back of my mind, coming to the conclusion that he might well have been riding it to slow himself down a bit as, without the handicap, he’d be illegally fast, or something.

Do I put on some sort of extra spurt of power as I pass? What’s the done thing here? Say hello?

An attempt to form words fails spectacularly as the gasping for breath turns them in to vague, slightly unnatural sounding, gargling noises. I realise that, not only have I probably just creeped the guy out, but he’ll be in as much discomfort as me and perhaps not too appreciative of someone attempting conversation at this point.
I attempt the ‘spurt of power’ option, which doesn’t yield much in the way of results, but does seem to hurt quite a lot. As I do so, a cyclist stood at the side of the road watching the event cheers me on, recognising and rewarding the effort, even with it’s fairly pitiful effect.

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PIc by martin holden photography

The rest of the route becomes a repeat of this, each time the gradient changes I attempt to push a little harder, usually to a ripple of applause from those stood at the roadside, until I see the finish line flag wafting in front of me.
Well, at first I don’t realise just how BIG a finish line flag it is, thinking I must be a few feet from the line until a second glance shows me it’s still a ‘mini sprint’ away and isn’t being held aloft my a midget.

Great. What I’d really like at this point is to have to bloody sprint. That’s right at the top of my list of thing I could do with right now that is. Bloody marvelous.

Leaden legs are called on for one last time as I thrash about towards the finish and roll, wheezing, over it. By complete chance, the finish line is situated just a couple of feet away from one of the comfiest looking patches of uneven, overgrown, litter strewn, rock covered grass I’ve ever seen. I make it my mission to discover just how delightful this geological miracle actually is and flop down into it.

It doesn’t disappoint.

Edit: I finished 7th out of 49. Not bad. Not as good as it could have been, but not awful.
Thanks to all the guys at Horwich Cycling Club who organised and helped out with the event. Good effort all round 🙂

June 18, 2013

It wasn’t meant to be like this

Filed under: Racing — dgpowell @ 8:20 pm

Every lap was just ridden. Not raced, just ridden. No aggression. No pushing it. Just going round in a spiral of futility. Every lap had a counterpoint, being sat in the pits, fed up, near incredulous.

When will I learn?

Weeks of nice weather had to end in the run up to this race. They had to. It’s just what happens. This time though it wouldn’t matter. The time had come for better things. A new place to race after last year’s failure.
How one deep loamy woodland differs from another I don’t know. I still don’t. they all turn to deep, thick, claggy mud quickly enough. And stay like that.

When will they learn?

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It was not fun. The course overly basic, then ruinously muddy, then just soul destroyingly stodgy. Not one for the riders, one for the masses. Do the masses really like fireroads that much? Doesn’t matter, that’s all there was to offer I guess…and my soul wasn’t in it as I just twitched my way round and round wanting to be racing on my limits, rather than competing without caring.

I sat, uninterested, in 2nd for 15 hours. Of which about 10 were ‘on course’ the rest in the ever self-bolstering JMC pits, being reassured, cajoled and almost cossetted by Angela and Jase (who’d had a crash…and enough, hours earlier but stuck it out selflessly anyway). A pep talk by the two of them working for every 7 mile mindless spin round the woods.
By the 2nd lap I only wanted to ride for other people. I knew I wouldn’t be taking anything for myself from the event, but so many people offer so much of themselves freely for me to be able to ride that I’d carry on, glassy eyed, as a feeble attempt at thanks. So I did. Each talking to in the pits would get me back out on the bike and the fitness I had in spades would keep me in with a shot of winning, no matter whether I floored it or just sat back.

Or at least that’s how it worked until, at just after 3am I, suddenly and surprisingly, lost the ability to hold down food. Or drink. Water. Anything.

I retired. Confused, fed up, hollow, angry. Sick.

I’ve no positives to take from the race. I already knew I could be fast without trying and sticking out the event until I was ill hasn’t given me any mental fortitude, it’s just reminded me that I haven’t said ‘thankyou’ to all the people that invest in me properly yet.

But I will.

I will.

Somewhere better. Somewhere where I’m utterly at my limit for longer than I can possibly imagine. I’m looking forward to it. Wherever it is, it’s going to be brilliant.

June 6, 2013

Garlic peawet

Filed under: bikes,food/booze — dgpowell @ 9:58 am

That, apparently, is the Tenerife delicacy that you “simply have to try”. They’ve dressed it up with a fancy name, ‘mojo’ or something, but that’s all it is really. Peawet. With a massive amount of garlic added.

Quite frankly, that is ACE.

We’d not tried it until the 2nd week of our stay, Jase and I, because the 1st week’s food was little more than fuel for the riding we were doing. Masses of pasta and other carb/protein rich, easily digestable foods than would be burned off while fighting out way up some HC category monster hill the next day.

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The views were spectacular, the weather glorious but everything for that one week was focused down on to a rhythm of get up, eat, ride, eat, sleep. No distractions, nothing unnecessary, just ride, rest, recover, repeat. I imagined it would be a bit like my life would be, if I won the lottery…well, perhaps a tad harder than that, but the basic principle was the same.

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Each day the sun would come streaming in through the windows of our rented apartment, some strong coffee would be consumed along with masses of stodgy (like it should be) porridge and the hills, mountains, quiet backroads and seemingly empty villages (doesn’t anyone in this country actually do anything?!) were ridden.

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We had a plan, training wise, but the riding on offer exceeded our expectations (by which I mean “it was a whole lot tougher than we expected) by so much sticking to it became an epic endeavour. Keep to it we did, though, even when “easier” rides resulted in us having to conquer roads like this:

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By the end of that 1st week, we’d begun to feel like we had the measure of El Teide and it’s equally tough brothers and sisters. Put anything in front of us and we’d get over it, in a decent time too. We were living the dream.

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Week 2 saw wives, girlfriends, children, fans and wellwishers arrive (OK maybe not the fans and wellwishers) for a ‘summer holiday’ so we duly obliged…though ice creams were substituted for ‘no ice cream’, boozy nights out were substituted for glasses of orange juice and sneaky 5am pre-breakfast rides up mountains were tiptoed out while everyone else slept. We still ‘did’ the tourist thing though, including trying the local peawet, hammering the tourist attractions and hiring unsuitably small cars to drive up one of Spain’s highest peaks

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in between bouts of lying by the pool, enjoying the ‘recovery’ sessions.

We need to do that again.

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