Saturday 9 February 2013

Escaping the Turbo

You sit, constant power, spinning smoothly. The air flows over your arms, chilling them to the bones, yet you remain unnaturally hot, dripping sweat onto the ground. Puddles form.

A tiny window of your world changes. The rest, static. Time slooooooooooows.

Turbo hell.

January was not a good month for going out and riding. I've just totted up my workouts on Training Peaks, and I did sixteen turbo sessions and only ten real-outside-bike rides. Turbo fatigue has set in.

I'm normally pretty good on the turbo - I've done a few four hour sessions in the past, with a couple of movies and some kidnapped cats for company. If you ever want to liven up a four hour turbo session, kidnap a strange cat. You never know how it's going to turn out so you get that frisson of risk.

I also like to mix up the sessions - intervals, Sufferfests, single leg drills, no leg drills, naps. Still, even with these tricks riding with never changing breeze-block walls for a view (I train in my garage) gets to you in the end.

I cracked.

The conditions weren't ideal. Cold, wet, windy, dark, My lights may not have been fully charged. My tyres, unchecked. I didn't care.

The first 45 minutes were tolerable. Then I hit a long stretch of roadworks. I sat at the temporary lights, the red boring into my eyes. I waited. No change. Obviously a bike wasn't enough to trigger the sensors.

I thought "fuck it" and went on through, praying that there would be space for me to dive to the side if I met a car head on. There wasn't space. I was lucky though and made it across - noticing that the lights coming the other way had thankfully changed to red.

A couple of more miles, and another stretch of roadworks. I sat in the queue of traffic, unable to filter to the front due to oncoming cars and a narrow road. This was starting to be annoying. I turned around, and decided to take the back way home.

Big mistake. Huge.

The back way - road closed. Roadworks. Bah, I'm on my cross bike and a closed road normally means that cars can't get past. Bikes? No problem, normally. I ride up the hill to be confronted with fences, machines and what looked like a major trans-Alaskan size pipeline, half in the ground, half out. There was a workman guarding the fence who grudgingly let me past after warning me that I might disappear down a trench. I said I'd be careful. As a trudged on - walking seeming to be the sensible option - I thought I heard a voice on the wind... "You'll be dead!". Save me, Obi-wan!

More machinery, this time alive. Diggers, trenchers, pipelayers, generators and lights. Workmen everywhere. Apparently with all the rain the pipe had somehow pulled itself out of the ground, hence a flurry of late night activity. As I neared the top of the hill there was a mini-crane reversing. By now I was near a junction with another road so I cut across the brambly verge to get to it, avoiding the crane. Finally, a clear road was ahead of me. I saddled up and set off.

Scuff scuff scuff scuff scuff. Odd. Something was rubbing that hadn't been rubbing earlier. My tyre. My flat tyre. Arse-biscuits. I pushed to a convenient space at the side of the road and tried the "pump it up and pray" technique. Twenty metres down the road I knew my prayers were falling on deaf ears. I'd clearly angered the Gods. Then I understood - the Turbo Gods.

Wheel out, tyre off, new tube out of the saddle pack. Put in a bit of air to help get it into the tyre. Hmm. I'm sure I put more air in than that. No matter. Tyre back on the rim, fingers only. Tyre levers? Where I'm going, I don't need tyre levers. Attach pump. Pump. Pump more and more and more. Either this pump is broken, or I'm broken, or the new tube isn't as airtight as I'd generally like it to be.

Turbo Gods, I'm very very very sorry.

By now I was cold, wet and miserable. I was only about three miles from home though and I knew that most likely there was someone there who could come and get me. I had a stark choice. Start patching leaky tubes by the light of my bike or make the call of shame.

"Um, hello? I'm fine... but I could use a lift".

Hangs head.

Back home, I made a ritual sacrifice to the Turbo Gods, burning a bicycle in the back garden. Fingers crossed that they let me go out again sometime soon.