Silly things seem to happen to me on Fridays. I’m adding a mini-blog to keep you updated. Just look back at my “Friday morning story” and I’ll add the latest Friday to this mini-blog.
Friday 18th April
It’s been a while, but last Friday, I did something stupid worthy of another post. I was lucky enough to receive my new team bike the weekend before this fateful day. It’s a beautiful Starley JKS R1 which has been painted to limited edition team colours and I absolutely love it. Starley are a British manufacturer and they are joint title sponsors of my Starley Primal team. Here’s their website: http://www.starleybikes.com.
Everybody, meet Stella Starley:
Stella and I have high hopes for this season. Unfortunately, our first foray into the world wasn’t particularly successful.
It took me a little while to have the time between work and training to get her all set up and ready to ride, so this fine Friday evening, the sun was out, the pedals were on and it was time for our first ride together.
The first part of any ride from my house, begins with a short, sharp climb out onto the drive. The short run-up to the climb is just enough to get clipped in and do a quick gear-shift if I’m in too tough a gear before I hit the climb. On this particular occasion, I clipped in and realised I needed to shift down into an easier gear (ok, don’t shoot me if I got the down and up shift wrong – I needed an easier gear, that is all).
I need to give you a bit of background now: On my old race bike is set up with Campagnolo 11 speed. My lovely Stella, however, is Shimano 11 speed. Those of you who are au fait with the difference in gear shift on these two may have already guessed what happened next. Those that haven’t got a clue (that would usually include me), read on.
So, I clipped in and pushed off. I immediately realised I needed an easier gear (now avoiding the shift up/down terminology) in order to make it up the hill, and quickly shifted across a couple of gears. Unfortunately, I had completely forgotten that Campag uses a shift across for an easier gear and a thumb shift for a harder gear, Shimano uses a single leaver shift across for a harder gear and both gear and break leaver shifts across for an easier gear. I basically ended up shifting onto an 11 tooth.
With Stella having started her climb with the momentum from the first couple of pedal strokes, I was now in a position where I didn’t have enough strength to turn the pedal in such a high gear on such a steep gradient, but I also couldn’t put enough pressure on either pedal in order to unclip, without over-balancing the bike. I was stuck in a sort of track-stand at the start of the hill (I have never been able to do a track-stand before), but I couldn’t move forward, backward, or unclip. The road is even too narrow to bunny-hop round in a circle in order to roll forwards down the hill again (not that I posses such technical skills). So I was stuck in limbo and there was only ever going to be one way out of this.
The most embarrassing slo-mo fall that all cyclists who use “clipless” pedals will experience at least once in their lives. The only choice I had was which side I was going to fall on. As I toppled over sideways, all I could think was that I needed to protect Stella, so I twisted my body to be between the ground and my bike and took the hit. I’m now lying on the floor, under my bike, but the problem hasn’t ended here. I’m still clipped in!
Try lying on the floor whilst clipped into your pedals and try and get out (ok, just imagine). It’s like trying to stand up with skis on. In the end, I managed to unclip each foot without grazing the bike across the floor, stood up and surveyed the damage. Thankfully there was none on the bike. Stella was as shiny and pristine as ever. My arm and leg, however, were another matter, but grazes heal. All in the name of a shiny bike! I am just grateful that no-one was about to see!
My first race on Stella, is another story, but that is for another time…
Friday 6th February
Had one of those ride homes that you just hope to survive rather than get your training done. Ok this is more of a Thursday evening story, but I will make use of poetic licence. Although does that count when you’re not actually writing poetry, but just writing?
It was one of those days when the weather is rather pleasant on the ride in to work. The kind of day that you feel privileged to experience on the bike. But the weather turned just in time for the commute home. Cold, rain and blowing a hooley. Not the sort of weather that you look forward to commuting and then a tough session on the turbo to reward you when you get home. But hey, nobody said it was going to be easy!
Riding into driving rain with strong side gusts, thankfully my route is pretty traffic-free on country lanes, so it didn’t matter so much when I found myself two metres over the other side of the road. I found that ducking low was the best way to avoid most of the gusts and is good practice for aero position, although a bulbous backpack doesn’t contribute much to an aero tuck!
Unfortunately, ducking low doesn’t help completely and, despite my best efforts, one rather strong gust managed to catch me, just as I was riding passed a big puddle and yes, you guessed it, I ended up in said puddle. And it wasn’t just a puddle, you’ve all seen the wet weather we’ve had recently, if these puddles were there permanently, they would be named and put on maps. So, I picked myself up, out of Lake Sandy Lane and dripping, had no choice but to continue the ride home.
The good thing about it raining, is that I was wet anyway, and the good thing about falling in a puddle, is that whatever turbo session my coach has thrown at me, it won’t be as bad as this!
Another ride done, another training session complete, another day closer to peak fitness and racing!
Friday 6th December
Having spent the week off the bike due to a heavy cold, I was really excited (ok, maybe just enthusiastic) to be back on the bike this morning and looking forward to a weekend of endurance rides. I wrapped up warm as the temperature has dropped considerably since last week and headed out on my commute to work. after about 5mins of “easy”spinning, I wasn’t finding it very easy.
10 mins in I realised that this wasn’t something I was just going to ride out and was regretting the extra layers. As the miles slowly passed, my garmin was shouting out lap times at me just to make sure I knew I was 2mins slower per “lap”than usual and I was beginning to think my summer jersey and shorts would have been a good idea, when I turned a bend in the road and found myself facing into a head wind. For all my suffering, I had actually been riding with the assistance of a tail wind.
That is the point at which I lost my love of cycling. A weekend of long miles was now my idea of hell and I was cursing at it like a Victor Meldrew in his prime.
I rolled in to the work bike sheds in an unglamorous fashion earning a “cheer up, it’s Friday” from a fellow commuter. Who then, rather helpfully pointed out that I’d caught the brake cable within the attachment of the rear mud guard, effectively pulling the brakes on.
52mins 33secs to do 12 miles suddenly didn’t seem quite so bad. Roll on the weekend (with mud guard fitted properly).
Friday 29th November
There are two people stood next to my bike at the train station. One is me and the other is a man. We are both wearing work clothes, although I have got wellies on. Along comes a platform official. “you need to be at the front end of the platform with your bike, sir” he says. “it’s not my bike”replies the man. The official then looks around and walks about 10metres to a group of men, in suits and asks them if it’s their bike. The official looks puzzled by their answer, but spots another group of men standing some way away from my bike and asks them if they know who owns the bike. Thoroughly amused, I get my bike, which I’m standing right next to, and proceed to the front end of the platform. As I walk past the official, he frowns and says “is that your bike”. Indicating the bike that I am currently wheeling along the platform and have been stood next to all this time. It must be the wellies, they do tend to confuse things, although I would have thought the helmet swinging from my arm would have been a giveaway.