Omloop Het Nieuwsblad 2018

The last Sunday in February has special significance in The Wattmeister’s busy calendar. Following on from bike racing in sunny climes, e.g The Tour Down Under & The Tour of Dubai, it heralds the start of the Belgian Classics season kicking off with the Omloop het Nieuwsblad, an undulating title to match an otherwise pan flat race which includes some infamous cobbled hills.

In the past this race has been won by some of the sport’s biggest names…Eddy Merckx, Roger de Vlaeminck, Freddy Maertens and Peter van Petegem to name but a few. This year’s edition will include favourites such as Greg van Avermaet, Edvald Boassen Hagen and Phillippe Gilbert.

Apart from the sheer thrill of watching these guys compete over the bleak Belgian landscape, often in rainy and sleety conditions which prevail in late February, this event renews our acquaintance, and tests our enunciation, with some of the crunchiest names in bike racing……Pieter van Speybrouck, Jonas van Genechten, Bram Tankink and Gillaume van Kiersbulck….names which announce the arrival of Spring every bit as much as the crocus or daffodil.

However, finding the winner of this event is not an easy task. If the weather conditions are bad, then the Belgians and Dutch will relish the challenge. Some riders have emerged from the earlier sunny races in great form…Sonny Colbrelli, Giacomo Nizzolo and Tim Wellens come to mind.

The Wattmeister likes to looks beyond the obvious choices, and one of his favourite riders is Jurgen Roelandts. He will no doubt be pressed into service for BMC team leader Greg van Avermaet, but this is his terrain and he has considerable form and experience over the cobbled hellingen. He is a tentative tip for the podium

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Things to Report

The metaphor “rust never sleeps” was famously the title of an album by Neil Young. The Wattmeister understands its meaning to be: if one cannot or does not adapt to change then one is vulnerable to the process of being outdated.

Well, indeed…..who wishes this fate upon themselves?

Therefore, over the past couple of months, The Wattmeister has attempted to evolve, to embrace new ideas and technologies lest he becomes extinct….like VHS and Betamax….or Bournvita even.

His first move was to purchase a power meter for the bike. To be clear, this device does not provide extra power, rather it reads the power output of the rider via a strain sensor…(at this point it would be possible to go off on a tangent, but let us desist from that path). The information this provides is invaluable as an opening gambit in any cycling conversation as proof of contemporaneous thinking and ongoing personal development.

However, it is no use to the utilities company which provides power to The Wattmansion. When asked for his latest meter reading, he downloaded the app, uploaded the figures and sent them off in a jiffy (bag). They were apparently so unimpressed with 262 watts for 60 minutes that one evening, the bailiffs appeared on the doorstep while he was watching his favourite film..

“Gone with the Headwind”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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New Signing for 2018

In advance of notifications from Road CC, Cycling Weekly, La Musette and other pre-eminent cycling publications, it has been announced that Dutch supermarket giants Jumbo have signed The Wattmeister for 2018.

They figured it would be cheaper than him helping himself four times per day to the free coffee on offer in their stores.

He will race the Giro (twice), the Tour de France and the Vuelta in addition to all the Spring Classics. In the interim, his training program is set to include reverse laps of Vlietland, descents of Swains Lane and at least one ascent of Barnet HIll (as long as it’s not raining).

If the intensity of the racing programme was not enough, this brutal training regime should satisfy hopes of the Directeur Sportif  that by the end of the racing season he will have burnt off some of the kilos which have accrued on his person over the Christmas period.

Fortunately, the team sponsor has managed to find a shirt in size XXXL for the photo shoot. (The rest of the team are obscured by his belly).

 

lottojumbo

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Dutch Healthcare/Mummy’s Hand

In the midst of sadness,  good news comes out of Holland. Dutch healthcare seems to operate without obstructive bureaucracy and with a level of care and dignity which is exemplary.

The Wattmeisterin has been waiting for months in the UK for a minor carpal tunnel operation. In passing, she mentioned to her mother’s GP that she would have to return briefly to London to fulfill an appointment for this operation. The GP replied that in order to avoid further disruption at a difficult time, subject to the relevant paperwork, the operation could be executed in the local hospital within 5 working days.

And so it was.

Fortunately, on the day of her operation, the hospital had commenced a BUY ONE GET ONE FREE offer. Being married to a Dutch citizen, (29 years today), The Wattmeister qualified to benefit from this generous seasonal gift.

He therefore mentioned to the doctor the cursing problem which so afflicts him while cycling in London, and also one or two grammatical glitches which occur sporadically, especially while texting, or on Facebook.

The procedure was carried out immediately. Courtesy of Dr. Klont certain words like f*** and c***  have been removed from his vocabulary and are now unavailable to The Wattmeister. In addition, punctuation and grammar has been tweaked.

During the process, the doctor had to perform an emergency full stoposcomy by inserting a camera up The Wattmeister’s most recent sentence, which revealed a dangerously high level of split infinitives, almost certainly a genetic condition.

This condition can be controlled by a daily subjunctive suppository which The Wattmeisterin has volunteered to administer. What a rock!

Finally, the doctor warned of the potential dangers of gerunditis, singing being a favourite pastime along with eating, drinking, sleeping and bullshitting.

Apparently the only cure for this is cycling.

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Two Christmas Games

Wattmeisterling number 2 stands 6 feet 5 inches tall, he doesn’t fit into The Wattmeister’s Polaroid camera viewfinder, so his dad only has  photos of him sitting down.

Here is one of him being transported to Belmarsh for impersonating Saint Nicholas.

Laurie santa

Before his conviction, he suggested a simple game to enjoy over the Christmas holidays. It is called “Hide the Candle”. Best enjoyed by a group of at least 4 but not exceeding 101, the object of the game is to conceal a candle about one’s person while the other participants avert their gaze. The remaining players have to find the hidden candle.

In the practice session back in July, Wattmeisterling Number Two placed the candle on the very top of his head, where to this day it remains undiscovered.

On the head theme, with a nod (brilliant pun Wattmeister…regards Ed)….((even more brilliant pun Ed…regards TW))…to daughter Wattmeisterling Numero Uno’s love of football, The Wattmeister has invented a game for all the family called Krentenbol Keepy Uppy. The aim of this game is to head the freshly baked Krentenbol as many consecutive times as possible.

At the time of writing, the world record for this is 1 repetition. Krentenbollen do not bounce well….and if it should fall on the floor, it must be consumed within 5 seconds.

krentenbol

Here’s hoping that these two games provide lots of fun and enjoyment over the Christmas period.

 

 

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Notes from Holland

 

Favourite Dutch supermarket: The Jumbo….(pronounced Yumbo). Maybe the brand’s yellow livery reminds The Wattmeister of the maillot jaune of the Tour de France. In the supermarket hierarchy of Holland, The Jumbo probably sits below Albert Heijnbut above Hoogvliet in the public perception.

Naturally, The Jumbo, like all other supermarkets, has more provision for bike parking than car parking, and so, in order to indulge in the sheer pleasure of safe urban cycling, The Wattmeister fixed a couple of panniers onto his Salsa and headed off to do some shopping.

Trundling around the aisles of the Jumbo in search of krentenbollen, ossenworst, hagelslag and other protein packed delicacies, The Wattmeister discovered an alcove with a wooden bench, a small table and a coffee machine, which dispensed FREE Douwe Egberts coffee for shoppers, baroudeurs and anyone who passed by….how civilised. A fleeting thought flashed through his mind, a Eureka moment….”I could live here, in The Jumbo!”.

At some point in the proceedings, The Wattmeister parked his own trolley in the beer aisle and mistakenly loaded up another shopper’s trolley with huge quantities of alcohol.

He then parked THAT trolley by the pharmaceutical section (on behalf of MHP N10 CC) only to find that someone had pinched it. After a frantic search around the labyrinthine layout of the supermarket, he spied another unattended trolley and headed off to the checkout. Flustered and somewhere in heart rate Zone 7, he failed to notice that the beer, wine and spirits which he had been sent to purchase on behalf of The Wattmeisterin were absent from the trolley.

Nevertheless, outside the Jumbo, heart rate now subsided to Zone 4, he took the obligatory photograph of Bike Parked Outside Shop, all the while thinking how strange that the Dutch do not seem to participate in this perfectly normal ritual.

salsa shopping 2

On returning back to the temporary Wattkasteel, the Wattmeisterin was vexed to see that her incompetent husband had forgotten the booze…..although he was certain that he had loaded it into the trolley. After hours of detective work, they realised that what had occurred, and The Wattmeister was sent back to The Jumbo to complete the mission.

All’s well that ends well!

 

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The Great Muswell Hill Breakfast Review Part 15

Accepting disappointment in a balanced, reflective way is a part of growing up. And, at 59 years young, (though trapped in the body of a 29 year old Adonis), The Wattmeister is phlegmatic when faced with anti-climax, especially so where food is involved.

Recalling an underwhelming visit to Bill’s restaurant in February 2016;  Bill’s … he has passed new restaurant Bob’s on several occasions, staring wistfully through the windows at happy people seemingly enjoying the food in the light and airy surroundings. On one occasion, while he lingered just a little too long, a sympathetic fan shoved some loose change into his pocket so that he might be part of the illusion. (Thanks for that Big Mig).

Today, after weeks of saving up and hunting for loose change down the back of the sofa….(Dingle Dave’s gaff….thanks again), he had enough money to buy breakfast.

After being shown to a table far away from the other diners and as as far away from the door as possible, lest he do a runner, The Wattmeister ordered a Full English Breakfast and a large black Americano.

Bob’s full english breakfast, black americano plus discretionary 12.5% service charge totalled £12.49 and comprised:
2 free-range eggs, bacon, mushrooms, sausage,
beans, roasted vine tomatoes,
toasted dark sourdough.

bobs feb

The sausage was very tasty, as were the sweet vine tomatoes and the eggs, so far so good. Unfortunately, the composition of the sourdough toast reminded The Wattmeister of an old leather saddle which he discarded back in 1979 just after a splendid solo triumph in the Tour of Tristan da Cunha. He needed a grinder to breach the crust, not a blunt knife.

The crispy bacon may well have satisfied Hilda the gerbil, except for the fact that she has become vegetarian, but when your stomach is a raging furnace akin to the great steam engines of yore, three little slices, a tiny portion of baked beans plus a couple of mushrooms will not propel a beast of The Wattmeister’s proportions much further than the adjacent bakery…..and it didn’t.

I’m sorry Bob’s…..nice atmosphere, OK coffee, but at £12.49 all in, your grub is 50% more expensive than some other establishments for 2/3rds of the portion size…

Bill and Bob, two peas in a pod.

Score: 5 watts out of 10 watts

 

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From Bed to 180 Beats per Minute

The Wattcock crowed at 05:30 a.m on this freezing cold Saturday morning in late November. Disdain infiltrated The Wattmeisterin’s symphonic snoring. Her husband’s heart rate, according to Reuter’s, sat at 48 beats per minute.

Cosseted by a sumptuous doghair quilt, the thought of getting out of bed to meet up at 06:45 a.m in order to ride around Regent’s Park with the young brigade of The Muswell Hill Peloton was easy to resist. But, last night’s delicious Yukgaejang from Dotori’s in Finsbury Park burned like a fireball in the pit of the Wattmeister’s belly…..no time to lose….this was one sprint he dare not lose.

Heart rate has increased to 85 bpm,

Still, there was 75 minutes to get ready.

Grabbing his kit, comprising fiery red Santini Twist Gel bibshorts, Sealskin merino waterproof socks, Adidas mesh vest, Vangard windproof baselayer, world champ’s thermal cap with Northwave earwarmers,  BBB Aquashield gloves with extra liners, BBB Hardwear overshoes, Mavic Avenge extra wide fitting shoes (to accommodate the thick socks AND a layer of kitchen foil), Northwave deep winter jacket and Asender brushed Roubaix thermal tights…..plus all the other paraphernalia…..Garmin, lights, reading glasses, money, phone, spare tube, multi-tool, tyre levers…..well, it was no wonder that The Wattmeister was three minutes late…..and everybody had already gone.

Did he mention the spicy beef stew from Friday evening?

Heart rate measured 118 bpm.

Thus, burnt out, weighed down, overheating from the inside and the outside, the intrepid super veteran traipsed down to Regent’s Park alone. In the distance, he spied the twinkling red light of another loiterer who he guessed to be Venerable Pistol Pete.

The duo teamed up, it was too early to converse, but they were soon joined by DelBoy and C5 to form a stylish chaingang of four. However, The Wattmeister’s rear gear cable had snapped, probably due to a frozen nipple, but maybe it was just petulance, leaving the maestro just two gears with which to operate.

Heart rate 150 bpm.

Unfazed, he alternated between spinning the gear like a loony and pushing the big gear like Sisyphus. There was no question of contesting a sprint finish, the main obstacle now was how to ascend the hill back up to Highgate?

Swerving steep Swain’s lane, The Pistol, C5 and TW opted for the more gentle slope of Fitzroy Park, but even this narrow lane finishes with a gradient approaching 15%. Desperately clinging to his compadres’ wheels, The Wattmeister heaved his way to the top.

Pistol shouted, “I love the sound of crunching knees in the morning!”

Heart rate 180.

 

 

 

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Missing a Syllable?

Many years ago, en route to Epsom racecourse in the company of “Bubbles”, “Peanuts” and Arthur Foot, we were in the process of discussing early moves in the betting market….following the money….often emanating from the trainer’s stables.

Luca Cumani was a very successful trainer in those days; bookmakers and punters alike were wise to heed any morning trading on his runners for the day.

Racehorses are often given expressive names, perhaps in the hope that they would run faster….on occasion this formula works out….witness See the Stars, Nijinsky, Pebbles, The Minstrel.  However, regarding nomenclature, the trainers also have to play with what they are given.

It is hard to imagine a more balanced, elegant and lyrical name than Luca Cumani. Five exquisite syllables. As an example of oral expression, it rolls so gracefully off the tongue.

Imagine then the horror, back in that car on the way to Epsom, discussing the forthcoming day’s racing, as Arthur Foot mutilated smooth ‘Luca Cumani’ into clunky ‘Lou Macani’….he probably got mixed up with the former Celtic footballer Lou Macari. It was a long journey that day.

In his new life, occupied by all things cycling, The Wattmeister, (Germanic, functional and 3 easy syllables),  often encounters a similar situation when discussing drug culture within the professional and amateur cycling ranks.

He is frequently confronted in the gym by Loony and Bud (names changed to protect privacy), who proceed to bang on about the use of  ‘Bob Hope’, ‘EPO’ and ‘Toss’ in the peloton….insinuating that it may even be prevalent within Muswell Hill Peloton!

The Wattmeister always puts up a robust defence of himself and his colleagues, but for many weeks was bewildered by the meaning of the word ‘Toss’. When he finally approached Loony for a definition, the reply shot back like a bullet….”Toss? That’s short for Tosterone!”

For some, words and names with 5 syllables should be banned.

Arriderci X

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A Bad Dream

Breaking news…

One year since triumphing in the US elections of 2016, President Trump has promoted himself from being the most powerful (orange) man on Earth to the exalted position of God.

Tweeting on Facebook, he writes:

“There’s a vacancy up there, a big vacancy” proclaimed the President, as followers pressed the ‘like’ button in agreement, “a black hole that needs filling before climate change overheats it, ” he added. “There’s no combover known to mankind that can cover that kind of thing…. true, so true!”

“Regarding North Korea, my policy is this: I’m gonna stare down Little Rocket Man and blow him out like a Candle in the Wind, yes I am.”

“And here’s a message for my Mexican friends… Soy un coño y siempre seré… you better believe it!”

Finally, with 786 hours and 15 minutes of golfing time logged since his inauguration on January 20th 2017, (courtesy of http://trumpgolfcount.com/displayoutings),

“I’m going to be working for you. I’m not going to have time to go play golf.”

–Donald J. Trump, August, 2016

God help us.

Shit, that won’t work.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Bristling at Bumpkins

25th October 2017, a beautiful balmy day in South East England. Half-term holidays, less traffic than usual, difficult to resist going for a ride in such favourable circumstances.

Also, The Wattmeister owed Old Grey Socks a Full English Brekkie after the Kavalier Kiwi beat his time up Cooper’s Hall Lane. Despite being the wrong side of 60, Old Grey Socks can find a few extra watts when presented with the incentive of free nosh.

Thus, they headed out through Finchley, Barnet, Ferny Hill and Potters Bar before tackling the 3 hills of the Apocalypse….at a steady pace. The sun shined, the wind abated, a sense of calm embraced them.

As the ride progressed, The Wattmeister pointed out Strava segments to his companion where he holds age-related KOMs, or, better still, those segments where his times were better than Old Grey Socks’ own efforts. The glory in his own magnificence, was only matched by a rising anticipation of demolishing a Full English Breakfast at Bumpkins in Tewin.

As the ravenous duo turned right on to Upper Green Road, with just half a mile to go until arriving at the Country Bumpkin on Tewin Hill, they were followed by what seemed to be a most considerate BMW driver. Turning once more onto narrow Tewin Hill, a large DPD van driver courteously pulled over to let the cyclists pass while the van and BMW soothed a passage past each other.

Stop the world. All was calm, civilised, amicable.

The two supervets alighted from their bikes.

The BMW parked opposite Bumpkins.

A very irate lady climbed out, marched across to The Wattmeister and Old Grey Socks and proceeded to lambast them for holding her up (20 seconds maximum)…for “SAUNTERING” on the road.

Now then, The Wattmeister may have been guilty of pootling, dawdling, inching, tootling…trundling even, (Iron Mike is often guilty of this),  but sauntering? NEVER!

Only an extra large portion of black pudding could mollify the bristling baroudeur’s indignation.Bumpkins 1

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View from Back of Bus 271

The 271 to Highgate Village stops just past Camden Road.

“The driver has been requested to wait briefly to maintain an equal distance between the bus in front….thank you”…announces the voice of London buses, Emma Hignett.

The Wattmeister gazes out of the grubby rear window.

Nags Head Newsagent Ltd:

The Guardian and The Observer.

Newsagents, Tobacconist, National Lottery, Stationery, Western Union, Travel Cards, Bus Passes…….TW is not far off his bus pass and is currently stationary.

Cartridge Refills in black font on a yellow background on the navy blue awning, a pink and green neon sign advertises phone unlocks and repairs. A cluster of adverts adorn the entrance door and windows….and finally, a bombardment of familiar brands and logos, some defunct…Oyster, the National Lottery crossed fingers, a badly scuffed Loot poster….stickers and posters are all that is holding the place together.

Next door is the Sunset Off-Licence and Grocery. International-Continental Food

Fresh Fruit & Veg.

The billboard struggles despondently under the weight of its own faded allegory.  One half of the double door is open. A newspaper eddies in the breeze like tumbleweed. The front display windows are empty and dark, caved in, surrendered to the persecution of indifference.

Outside Amici Coffee Deli a couple sit surveying the scene and a woman sits alone, her fingers crossed, perhaps she has bought a lottery ticket, perhaps she is waiting for the prosaic surroundings to become transformed….inspired. Perhaps this is normal.

The bus moves. The scene retreats through the rear window and is replaced by wave of commuting cyclists who swarm around the exhaust fumes of our double-decker charabanc, crazy hungry for the poisonous miasma. The Wattmeister coughs for all of them. They look so fragile amongst the cars and trucks.

It’s the best seat in the house.

 

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