Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Red Lined in the Granny

Still getting out on the bike, just don't call it training 'cos it will spoil the fun. I look at it more as "mental health" maintenance. I seem to be progressively wearing more and more layers to the point I'm losing what little flexibility I had in the first place. Having said that I, as I can still reach the drops what more flexibility do I need? The occasional frozen toe notwithstanding, an hour in the lanes before work is infinitely better than spending an hour indoors on a bike clamped in to the hamster-wheel, especially when you see the leaves...

I finish my rides at work most mornings. I have to admit that I am lucky that the college is well prepared for cyclists! I don't think they meant to, but we ding many of the cycling-friendly points that cycling-activist groups say are important for encouraging bike commuting. The big one is changing and shower facilities. No more getting changed in the bathroom, hopping around on one foot trying to sponge-bath the grungy bits and hoping a colleague doesn't come in! The staff-lockers are fairly underused which is a good thing as you can see, I do have a tendency to spread out, especially when everything is wet. No-one has complained yet though!

The reason we have these facilities is because the college is essentially a small farm with a lecture-theatres and a tissue-culture unit built on the side. The lockers are there for staff to wash the smell out of their hair before going home. However, asides myself, the only person using the staff lockers is a colleague who works on ruminant reproduction. In the best traditions of James Herriot, he has a fine collection of coveralls with manure down one side only! So between my running shoes and Helly Hansens on one side and his James Herriots on the other, the staff lockers smell a bit like a cow's gym!

Speaking of a cow's arse, my performance at the last 'cross race was at about that level. As we discussed previously, I had never thought of my Kona socks as my "lucky cyclocross socks", a fact that was borne out only too well in by dint of the sheer amount of time I spent on my arse. Something needed to be done. Going back in time to practice a la Bill and Ted wasn't an option so instead I approached the wall of DeFeet socks at MEC to see if I could find something luckier. I plumped for a pair of gray but sunny "Life Is Beautiful"s and decided to see if they were any better.

Perhaps in addition to being not too long, kinda mud-translucent (even after the race they don't look too bad, non?) and having a funky but not outrageous flower motif, they were luckier than the Konas. Round two of the Cyclesmith Cyclocross was distinctly better than the first. Besides, what with the the complete inability to clean anything other than my own clock and more Limanda limanda than the North Sea what could be worse? The total suckitude exhibited my yours truely is probably exemplified by the following shot showing how not to negotiating the barriers.

Never mind bunny hopping these things, or even progressing over them at speed without breaking too much of your rhythm, I'm apparently stepping daintily over, lifting my bike high (by the saddle no less!) as if to keep it out of the mud! Don't want to get dirty! What a wuss!

Anyway, the last race was a lot better. The laps were longer and more technical with some gravel thrown in as well as another little muddy pitch, this little beauty here.

It doesn't look much but it claims scalps every lap! The trick is to take the line on the outside, even if it leaves you with a sharper turn once you're on level ground.

Of all the scalps it claimed, it didn't get mine, but goodness knows it tried.

Perhaps it was the socks, but it was also down to a hefty dose of "less haste more speed". Last time I was just a bit too frantic. I slowed down a bit this time and thought each obstacle through and slowing down to nail the muddy bits (and the gravel!) I kept the speed up. Cleaned everything every time (well apart from one little Limanda spp). The final finishing position still sucked (as expected) but I managed to finish on the same lap as most people, albeit at the end of that lap. but the same lap nonetheless. As you can see, it still hurt!

Which is why I'll be there next week, red-lining on the flat in the granniest of granny gears.

Speaking of being there next week the race organisers are thinking about putting on a kids race at one (or more) of the three remaining events. Spread the word!


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