Thursday, 4 March 2010

Comedy of Errors

Route Hill1 Hill2 descent

Considering the new circumstances I have been managing to get out on the bike a fair bit recently.
Monday and Tuesday were cycle to work days, averaging 19.5mph on the way in and 16.7 mph on the way home. One of the days I was at 21.5 mph average 500yds from work with 3 sets of traffic lights on a steep down hill section. I arrived with just over 19 mph average. Devastated. I could have broken PB easily oh well.

Il Pirata had devised a very hilly route for us to ride on Wednesday which passed some UFO site he kept going on about that he wanted to visit. Knowing Pete though, I took his version of lumpy with a pinch of salt as he would describe 'The Netherlands' as 'hilly'.

I was running a bit late as I was playing with Scottie and found out one of the main problems I have been having with her. The chain had been stretched considerably and is more or less unusable. No wonder I haven't been impressed with my new, expensive aquisition. I had done less than 1000 miles on it too!. Im guessing that it due to the extreme chain tension as the rear derailleur is virtually horizontal on the 28 sprocket and 53 rings and virtually horizontal in the opposite direction on the 11 sprocket and 39 ring. The derailleur must be close to its limits. I have now got an Ultegra Sl compact crankset, new 11-25 cassette ( which should keep the gearing spacing closer) and a new chain. Runs a lot smoother now. Just awaiting a selle royal viper saddle ( same as Jamis) from some kind gent off bike radar forums and to put on 25mm rear tyre then Scottie should be sorted. Due to this lot I hadn't managed to give Jamis her usual once over before our ride. During the week I had noticed the 9 speed shifter becoming a little slack so once at Petes tightened the barrel adjuster but didn't test it out.

After a brew and a bit of banter with Pete's missus we set of towards Tod and Hebden around 11.30am, the boring, Steve F ( roch tri) way. The day started nice and warm and sunny and nearly left my wind jacket behind but on arrival at Tod that all changed as cloud appeared, the wind picked up and it became close to freezing at 1pm. We spent ages looking for church lane.' It's just round the next corner' Pantani said after every bend since Littleborough. Eventually got there ( SEE HILL 1 above) and the climb started off steady for about 50 metres then picked up immediately afterwards..13%-14%-15% my computer with altimeter (Pete got me for Chrimbo) told me. That was the easier bit over and done with 17%- 18%-20% - 21%. About half a mile up Pete screamed he needed a rest so after averaging 4-5mph I stopped on a fairly flatter section just before a humongous hill that was steeper than anything we had already been up today. Pete wondered why I had stopped and I replied that it was because he asked for a needed rest, the fool. He apparently didn't mean to actually stop. This is where everything gets interesting and this tale will go down in cycling folklore for seconds :P.

I tried putting the bike into the lowest gear for the hill before I set off but for some strange reason it wouldn't. I had a quick tinker with the barrel adjuster and rode off again. The roads were very narrow and a car was coming down the hill, Pete had already started the climb. Another car was coming from behind me so I thought I better stop and let them both past as they would have trouble even without me being there, it would give me time to look at the derailleur again. When I looked up, I had only just clipped in and was going extremely slowly, lost my balance as I turned around and had my first ever clipless moment. I hoped Pete wouldn't hear what had just happened but fate is cruel and even though he was halfway up the hill he heard, turned around looking at me picking the bike up, slowed and nearly came off himself as the hill was over 20%. I started to blame him for these events by making us stop in the first place and he seemed to be taking it on the chin. The fun doesn't end there. I spent the next 5 mins trying to get the last gear. I kept telling Pete I wouldn't need it but he insisted it should be fixed at the roadside as I would never make it up, hahaha. Whilst screwing with the Tiagra shifter, I pushed it in a little too hard and snapped the gear cable. BOLLOX! Cheapo Wilkinsons crap. There must have been a bit of the end still on and stuck in the outer cable as I could shift to a higher gear but not to a lower one and the tension was still there but couldn't put extra tension in. I left it in the 19 sprocket and we went back down the hill, wearing the brake blocks down as we went just as slow down as we did up. Please bear in mind I have hardly any sleep at this point but when I got going again in the 34 ring -19 combo I forgot about the 50t ring and had to peddle at 140 rpm to keep up with Pete. Needless to say I was miles behind. This went on til we arrived at Todmorden, 15 mins later, then it suddenly hit me my front derailleur and gearing was fine. It still doesn't end there.

Pantani had been going on about how his new Treviso Prolite wheels were amazing value for money, fairly light at 1650g and that I should get a pair. I kept telling him how 25mm tyres would make a big difference to ride quality so we decided to swap wheelsets as we both had 9 speeders. As I took mine off and handed it to Pete the free wheel and cassette vitually fell off, being held on by a thread and the quick release skewer. 'F&^% that have ya wheel back' hmmmm. I screwed it all back in an assured him that it would be fine to ride on. He grudgingly accepted this and we went in search of this 'UFO' site. I now know why I couldn't get the small gears and couldn't blame Pete for anything :(. Pete never told me it would be up some more 20% profiled hills and Im sure he wanted to get his own back at me for leaving him on previous rides.

Pudsey road saw the start of HILL2 ( see above) and my cadence dropped to 20-30 as my thighs screamed up the ascents. 34-19 was my lowest gearing available and unbelievably I made it to the top, all 1.2 miles, without stopping. We had finally reached the destination and the picture above shows what all the fuss was about. I couldn't move the picture so it kinda spoilt the suspense. It shows an aircraft navigational aid thingy which is at the top of Pole hill, used by aircraft going towards Manchester Airport. Bit of an aircraft buff is Pete. I took the chance to phone the missus as I was going to be very late home but was going to set off again asap as I was freezing. I couldn't zip up my back pocket so asked Pete to do it. He said it looked like he was trying to fondle my arse. What a thing to say in the middle of nowhere. He then proceeded to say that there wasn't a no entry sign on the gate to the 'UFO' so he wasn't trespassing. I told him that there isn't a no entry sign on my arse, it doesn't mean that he can go up it!! Numpty.

The DESCENT followed at a super slow speed as the gradients were -20% in places. What a dent it would put in my averages. My numb fingers and toes were screaming out for a cafe stop and we found a place called 'Oddies', a bakery, back in Todmorden. The girls in there were very hospitable, usually they wouldn't give you the time of day. A tomato soup, hot choccy and meat and potato pie later we commenced the home leg.

The wind was in our faces most of the way but the ride was generally enjoyable for winter.

Distance 60 miles
Average 14.5 mph
Ascent 3300 ft

On Thursday I went on a taster session at the velodrome so that I could try out my Planet x track bike. I used the 48-14 gearing and found it was great for short sprinting but found I tired very quickly during a 1hr session. Will try a 15 sprocket next time.

Went to Leisure lakes in Bury to get a gear cable and to see if they had a Scott helmet in stock that was reduced £70. The lady serving was on the phone answering a query about a bike for sale. Talk about unhelpful. She wouldn't ask the guy next to her if she didn't know anything and replied to most questions...'Yeah I think so'. Find out so you know so, dumb cow. Another question was 'What is the spec?'' Its standard' she said. What he bleeding heck does that mean? The colour? Blue. NO! Its orange the bloke next to her said after overhearing the conversation. FFS. Serving me, she was disgustingly chewing some gum and tried selling me brake cables. Jesus Christ, how do these people get jobs? That single experience is enough to stop me going there again.

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