Friday, 17 July 2009

Fuck it

Right, that's it. I'm sick of feeling sick. Ill, run down, whatever. This morning, fine. Lunchtime, fine. Afternoon, bike ride time? Odd, strange, woosy, tired. Not fair. Not fair at all.

Now it's evening, I've had tea, it's getting dark, but I feel great. Well, normal. And the torrential rain showers of the day have cleared to leave a stunning late evening/early night sky.

Fuck it. I'm going riding.

Down to the garage. Full-sus ready for big ride tomorrow. Bit wet out for road bikes. Scandal? Scandal, um, it's locked up. Singlespeed... mmm... singlespeed. Ah, no bottle cage. Don't fancy a Camelbak for a quick blast. Dig out a cage, fit it quicky. Find lights, I know they're charged as I did it last week. Fit front light. Remember that it kept slipping last time. Tighten it up, re-fit. Rear light on. Hmm, bit dim. Change batteries. Pump tyres. Bike now ready.

OK, helmet, gloves, shoes, emergency Torq bar. Glasses. Clear glasses. Where the fuck are they? I had them at Mountain Mayhem. Hunt. Think. Search glove box (i.e. box of gloves). Find glasses inside glove. Must have put them there for safe keeping. Right, multitool, CO2, tube.

Upstairs, get changed. Baggies, "Ghostbikers" top - nice mid weight and long sleeves, perfect for 14C and a bit wet.

Downstairs. Fill bottle. Remember that multitool is the road one, should really take the MTB one in the little case with the powerlink and tyre levers. And need heart rate monitor too - habit. Go outside, lock up. Go into garage, put on shoes, helmet, gloves, glasses, MP3 player. Change multitool. Take bike outside, lock up. Remember HRM. Unlock garage, retrieve from the bike on the turbo trainer. Back out, lock garage, fire up lights, start HRM, put key in the little case with the multitool.


Singlespeed. Not ridden this for months. Feels good. Legs feel good. Up the hill, try a wheelie. Fail. Sky looking amazing now, brilliant to be out. Purple clouds, grey/blue sky, red tinges to the west. Some moisture in the air, a breath of wind.

The road flattens out. Drops down past the pub, watch for the bloke in the huge SUV edging out. Weave about so he picks up my (very bright) front light. Fly past, up the next rise before he passes me. First proper hill. Stand up, lock out the forks. Dance up the hill. This is great. I should do this more often. Why do we never night ride in the summer?

Past the community hall. It's Friday night, 10pm, and clearly a party going on. The smokers congregate outside. One shouts out at me, friendly encouragement. "Go on son, keep it going, go on!". Cheers. I'd have collapsed at the roadside if you hadn't said that.

I've decided now. I'm going to do a bit off road. Hell, this bike has mud tyres on, seems a shame to waste them. Just a little bit, familiar territory.

Somehow the music isn't right. I need to hear the real world, the sound of my tyres, gravel, sucking-mud, brambles grasping at my sleeves, the wolves and monsters that always pursue a solo night rider. Flick the earphones out, let them dangle. Brake brake brake - start of the trail. Nearly missed it. I always nearly miss it.

Onto the mud. Through the bracken, dodge the bramble, drift through the puddle, jump the branch. Sweet. Unlock forks. Sweeter. I know this trail so well, it drops just enough that a singlespeed spins out but a geared rider can pedal. Hell, I'm happy to freewheel, pumping through the dips and easing the bike round the bends.

Trail comes out - more mud or back on the tarmac? Tarmac - I'm out alone, no-one at home, haven't even Twittered that I'm going out. Take the safer route. Up, standing on the pedals again. Every time I ride this bike it feels alive. Bit too alive, actually. Lock out forks. Better. Earphones back in. Garbage, Killers, White Lies. Come to the junction - back towards home or a bit more? Bit more. Extra section will add 10 minutes or so. Practice jumping on and off kerbs.

Home stretch now. Another rider ahead! I can see his rear light blinking away - whoever invented the flashing LED rear light needs a big hug. Hey, I'm catching him. Pedal a bit more, whip past. I think my light is a bit more powerful than his. I'd be taking it easy too without 500 lumens of LED.

Home. Into the garage. Reverse earlier paragraphs. Beer into fridge for after the shower. Bag of crisps. Blog.


Tuesday, 14 July 2009

It's been a while

Three weeks? Something like that, since my last post. In that time I've
  • Been to Atlantic City, New York and my sister's place (New Jersey)
  • Won $160 at blackjack
  • Walked for an hour and a half to find a bike shop in NY that had a decent "souvenir" bike jersey
  • Been ill - while on holiday
  • Watched a lot of Tour de France
  • Bought more bike tops - a CCCP one, and the Giro points jersey (a fetching pinky-purple)
  • Done very little riding

I have done a bit of riding - a great MTB ride on the full-sus, only marred by the chain getting stuck between the cassette and the spokes. It was shifting kind of strangely, and couldn't get to the top gear at the back and was overshifting on the bottom gear. The wheel axle looked a bit odd too. Putting it on the workstand at home I realised that the rear wheel wasn't properly in the drop-outs, but somehow I'd aligned the rear brake with it in this position; so I've no idea how long it's been like that. Sorted now, and the bike works as well as it's going to. This is a good thing as I've got 12 hours solo in Plymouth to look forward to, in about 10 days time.

The plan for this week is a couple of rides, just easing back into things, and a big MTB ride on Saturday to remind my back what it's like to wear a Camelbak for several hours. Hopefully, it'll be fun, but could well be hell. Ah well, must be done. Fingers crossed for some sunshine.