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

January 22, 2018

Heroes and Villains

Filed under: Uncategorized — dgpowell @ 11:51 pm

I was watching James Bond, on the telly the other day. Engrossed in the plot I’d seen many, many times before as Blofeld tried to do world changing things, I got more and more emotionally attached to the henchmen in his volcano lair. (Best lair ever, by the way).
It was fairly near the end of the film, the plans for world domination were pretty much done with and an entire army of ninja goodies were sliding down ropes, firing guns and generally being heroic all over the place. Despite the obvious futility, the daftly dressed henchmen were still fighting to the death. Most of them were probably employed under the pretence of the job being fairly easy – in charge of just pushing one button every 30 minutes and that was that, so the pittance of a wage didn’t seem too bad. I bet the idea of martyrism was hidden pretty deep within whatever contract they signed. I bet that contract even had a “hire purchase” of the daft outifit they were all wearing. All in, they had a pretty raw deal really.

Meanwhile, Blofeld himself was busy pissing off to freedom on his personal monorail (bet the henchmen would have had to pay to use that…). No thankyou. No mucking in. Not even a backwards glance suggestive of the slightest glimmer of guilt. Gone in his personal carriage. Git.

I crossed the line at the end of Sunday’s NWCCA finale and didn’t even drop down through the gears. Hard right straight after the finish line, back across the main field to the pits, where several semi frozen members of Horwich CC were busy tidying, cleaning, and packing up under a barrage of hail and sleet like they had been all afternoon. Despite having all raced themselves (with the exception of Angela, who’d spent all day elbow deep in buckets of cold water as the snow came down, getting bikes washed in between laps), they’d pulled on what little clothing they had in their cars and bravely stepped back out into weather they couldn’t hope to keep out.
Somewhere, months ago, they’d been sold the idea of all mucking in at the races. Support whoever’s racing. “It’ll be a laugh”, they were probably told, “bring your own kit though”.
“You’ll probably just be holding one bike out every 30 minutes, it’s fairly easy”.
Under the constant sleety bombardment they’d fought on to keep everything in the pits going, ensuring I’d have a bike ready to go if I wanted one. As a win became more and more obviously hopeless they’d carried on bravely.

I got back to the pits picked up a bike that wasn’t utterly crudded up, leaving the filthy one to be cleaned – despite the futility of it – pulled on a jacket that no-one else was allowed to wear and pissed off to freedom and my own personal, warm, carriage. No thankyou. No mucking in. Not even a backwards glance suggestive of the slightest glimmer of guilt. Blofeld had his shuriken-injured hand, I had numb limbs from the weather. He had his monorail in his volcano lair, I had my campervan. He had no idea if any of his henchmen survived the assault. I’m presuming half of Horwich CC are frozen solid, shin deep in the Beacon Country Park slop.

In a feeble attempt to raise myself above the level of Bond Villain, I would like to issue (possibly posthumous…) heartfelt thanks and respect to everyone that stood out there in that awful, awful weather on Sunday. I have no idea how anyone could race in those conditions, then go back out to stand around in them for another hour to look after someone else. Hugely impressive stuff, for which I’ll always be grateful.

PS If you ever need a reference to get a job as a henchman in a volcano lair, just ask. And for god sake read the small print. 😉

January 15, 2018

Taking a plastic butterknife to a tank fight. The National CX Championships

Filed under: Uncategorized — dgpowell @ 6:06 pm

I actually did a “proper” warm up.
Admittedly I’d finished the proper warm up half an hour before the gridding for the race took place, so was cold again by the time we were started, but I did do one.

I even sprinted as hard as I could at the start, and kept trying to sprint harder. Almost holding my own for once.

But f-k me, by 1 minute into that race the leaders were, how can I put it, “comfortably” ahead?

I compounded issues somewhat by letting my front wheel wash out over the top of a rut while still in the first lap, side-by-side melee, clattering arm first into one of the solid wooden stakes holding the course netting up and getting myself in a knot, but I don’t think the top half of the field really needed me to give them an extra advantage. They seemed to be wafting away quite easily as it was.

Put me in all sorts of trouble though. From somewhere in the late 20s (which might not sound very good, but for me to keep up off the start with a National Championships level field is actually something worth looking impressed at), to about 50th in a few short seconds. Bugger.

(Not that I was the only one having problems, of course, nearly 20 people DNFed, which goes to show how frantic and fast it was).

Anyway. With the fear of being pulled out of the race early lurking in my mind I got back on and started to work my way back through the field. Of course, everyone there was fast, so there were no “making up 30 places in half a lap” heroics. Each place was a proper battle. thankfully the course was BRILLIANT to race on. seriously. Every battle for a place was a pleasure.

hetton1

As at the National Trophy in Bradford a couple of weeks back, just as I really started to get into it I was pulled under the 80% rule. I’d got it into my head that I would finish – I’d been on the course for 50mins (which was supposed to be the race length), but no. As I headed for the start/finish line a commissaire waving his arms directed me off the course. Gutted.

Doubly gutted, in fact, as I’d just got past 3 people, who spotted that we were being pulled and sprinted when I didn’t, retaking their positions.

Triply gutted, no less, as if I’d realised what was happening and kept ahead of them I’d have finished in the points. At the National Championships. (Ok so the winner gets 200 points, and I missed out of just 2, but still…)

Ho hum.

Good job it was bloody brilliant to be a part of 🙂

Good job the people I was racing against seemed genuinely worried when I caught them, due all the encouragement I was getting from the North West posse at the side of the course 🙂 Awesome work everyone!

January 4, 2018

Macclesfield goes wrong again

Filed under: Uncategorized — dgpowell @ 11:28 am

I do like the course at Maccclesfield. It’s “proper” cyclocross to me. Fast, wide (so you can race side by side for the most part), plenty of off cambers, tight corners, short uphill slogs and some big ring fast sections. Brilliant stuff. I hate going there though, as something always seems to go wrong. Last year I slipped a pedal off the start, stuffing the big chainring into the back of my leg in the process (the scar’s still there!) and this year was no better.

Off the start a non-descript effort saw me not loose too many places, which was good enough for me. I was still in the ‘front end’ as it were and, as we crossed the finish line for the 1st time I started to settle into the race. A gentle shift up one gear at the back for the muddy uphill corner and…

CRACK

A god awful sounding noise and suddenly I can’t pedal. At all. I try to back pedal a bit, thinking something’s got stuck in the rear mech/cassette/I’ve got chain suck. Nothing. The pedals are utterly jammed.
The race flows quickly past me as I leap off and start wrestling with a slightly-too-short chain that’s somehow ended up in the big chainring/big cog at the back combo and ended up locked solid. The mech, though still attached thankfully, looks hideously stretched and I’m fearful everything might explode if I just use brute force to get things going again. A minute or two stood st the side of the course, right next to the commentator who gleefully narrates my predicament to the spectators, sees me manage to wrestle the chain off the big ring by bending it in as gentle a way as I can muster. I clamber back aboard with the phrase “Well, he looks like he’s got it going again. The only positive for him is that he’s got 50 minutes to try and get back in the race” ringing in my ears.
Bugger.

DSC_6259.jpg
Of course it’s an Ellen pic

With any hopes of a decent finish gone I use the first lap to work out what my plan of attack is going to me. Drop out and save wear and tear on the bikes? Bimble round at the back?

Nah.

I can’t do “well” but I can give myself a bloody good workout on a great course. So I do. I start chasing down everyone in front. Start working my way back through the field. Make sure I’m pushing myself all the way. Testing myself on the off camber corners. Pushing on , on sections where other people seem to be trying to recover. Occasionally crashing, but making a note of where I crashed and making sure I nail that bit the next time around.

12th in the end. Can’t be “happy” with the result, but content enough that I kept going and got a decent ride in.

National Champs next. Really hope I can put in a decent performance…or at least not get pulled before the end!

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