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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The Builders

For many years, the front garden wall of a local house bulged and curved rakishly towards the pavement….perhaps it prevented the whole house from tumbling down the slope.

Then The Builders were commissioned to rectify the problem. The affable pair have been busy on the project for at least six weeks.

The Wattmeister’s connection with The Builders generally occurs six times a day. The first occasion is on the outward leg of The Wattmutt’s early morning walk at around 08.30 a.m.

The two big burly men greet us with chirpy cockney accents, the shorter man physically resembles Les Dawson, and the taller could pass for Eric Bristow. At this time of the day, Les is often leaning on a shovel surveying the site, while Eric observes Les shrewdly, no doubt making mental notes, as they both plan a course of action…..judging by their rotund bellies, this does not involve burning calories.

An hour later, on the Wattmutt’s return from the Park, three full plastic bags to the good, Eric can be found leaning on his shovel surveying the site, while Les observes the taller man equally as shrewdly, no doubt still planning a course of action.

Not much seems to have happened in the intervening hour. It is the most serene of building sites.

At around 11 a.m, The Wattmeister passes by on his way to Zumba, (spectator not participant), and the two industrious workmen are resting in their van with the door open. They looked tired, too tired to greet TW.

This weariness is something of a mystery, as The Front Garden looks much the same as it did at 09.30 a.m.

On the return from Zumba, or sometimes Pilates but NEVER Yoga, the two men can be found sitting on what remains of the lawn (because something has been done….but when?), drinking cups of tea, smoking fags and generally being old-fashioned Builders.

In the afternoon, normally before 3 p.m, and certainly not after 3.30 p.m (as the duo will have called time on the day), The Wattmutt needs another outing, (her output is famously prodigious), and so, The Builders are to be found ‘tidying up’…at which they seem to be extremely proficient. It is at this time that the interested observer can appreciate the extent of The Builders’ endeavour.

Now then, the next door neighbours to The Front Garden have recently commissioned other builders to refurbish their house. The site is a hive of activity. It has been sealed off with plywood, signs abound: NO ENTRY, WEAR A HARD HAT, DANGER etc. etc..  skips are filled and emptied hourly.  The buzz is tangible. It has to be said that their builders seem to be less approachable, and a bit thinner.

Anyway, this morning, as Les and Eric synchronised their leaning on the shovel routine, shrewdly observing the industrious toil of the rival firm…. Les remarked: “we are in aura of your skills”…..

and you can’t argue with that.

 

 

 

 

 

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LEL 2017, Day 5, Louth to Loughton, 250 kms

Having been reunited with Ben and Alex, we set about showering, eating and kitting ourselves out in spanking clean, DRY clobber from the drop bags before taking 4 hours sleep.

The control kitchen at Louth had got its act together compared to the outward stop on Sunday night…there was plenty to eat and drink this time round, and it was all gratefully received.

Had an interesting conversation with two Scots lads which was summarised by this non-sequitur…”that made sense, but when you really think about it, it shouldn’t have….but actually it does…” Cannot remember what was said in the first place.  Time to get moving before getting lost in a Bermuda Triangle of metaphysical jumble.

We had to accept that today’s challenge would be dealing with a strong headwind. Even in the folds of The Wolds, we were buffeted by powerful gusts, and the descent of Red Hill was taken with a degree of caution.

As we departed the higher ground via Hemingby, Horncastle and Mareham le Fen, we were faced with 100 kms of pan flat roads all the way to Upwood, and very little in the way of protection from the aforementioned wind. By way of protest, a spoke popped in The Wattmeister’s back wheel on the approach to Bunker Hill near New York. Even the place names were taking the piss.

After a rapid spot of fettling to straighten the wheel, The Wattmeister cruised to the convenience store at Gypsey Bridge for a ten minute break to clear his head. While sitting on the wall opposite the store….smashing coffee, jelly babies and crisps into the raging inferno of his metabolism, a large group raced by towards Langrick.

Must, must, must get on, but they are 800 metres ahead. The wind is his formidable enemy but the crossroads at Langrick and then Frampton are his friend, and after burning several matches, junction is made with the peloton.

At Kirton it rains heavily and the group is whittled down to four….the two French guys who on Monday led us from Thirsk to Barnard Castle, and another French rider with suntanned legs. We start a chaingang…a good one…and by Gosberton, about 10 kms out from the next control at Spalding…we slowly reel in a bigger group comprising mainly younger German guys being towed along by just one rider….he is doing an immense, heroic job into this wind.

At the control, The Wattmeister shakes his hand and thanks him profusely. But now the spoke needs to be replaced and although the resident mechanic has just finished his 4 day stint, Vince arrives with a toolset containing a chainwhip and lockring tool. The new spoke is fitted and the ride goes on.

The 9 miles from Spalding to the water tower at Crowland are epic…absolutely epic. Within a hundred metres of pedalling into the cyclone towards Cradge Bank, The Wattmeister wants to surrender…..there is no shelter, the wind is ripping in at gusts of 60 km ph. It is hard work just holding the bike upright.

The German armada joins us…all big guys who could, should offer some shelter, but after 500m The Wattmeister is on the verge of letting them, and Alex and Ben, drift off into the distance. But, some atavistic desire persuades him to dig in….just a bit longer. The group of approximately 30 riders crest Welland Bank. The leaders are making a good fist of maintaining about 17 km ph, but the wind is scything through the rest of us, carving the group up into little bits like a cheesecake.

30 riders becomes 27…becomes 25…with each pedal stroke the wind continues to decimate the peloton….within 2kms there are just 15 riders. Randonneurs’ faces are distorted into real life Jelly Babies by the crushing effort. We are literally sprinting every 10 seconds to hold the wheel in front. It’s not raining, but dribble and spit fly through the air. You can touch the physical expenditure….literally hold it in your hands. It is as exhilarating as it is debilitating….and the water tower does not appear to come any closer.

Two Germans at the front are holding a conversation….impossible!…Gods on two wheels…Alex and Ben look calm and serene….and now there are only 7….just 7 riders from the original 30….. The Wattmeister is one of them. What a brutal selection this has been.

Briefly, into Crowland, we turn away from the onslaught. There is a regrouping in order to face the next 50 kms of bombardment before we will climb to shelter and eventually retreat from this monster. And so, progress is wrought out of oppression. Our new friend, Thomas from Aachen, teams up with Alex on the front. We hit a mean speed of 19 kms ph. The wind continues unabated….it sucks the moisture out of us….it pummels us…but it doesn’t stop us. We takes turns on the front and gain the village of Thorney, then Whittlesey,  Poundbridge and finally Ramsey St. Mary signals the winding down of hostilities.

Today there will have been lots of time conceded by anxious riders.

A quick shower in St.Ives to wash away the Fens followed by a royal afternoon tea of curry, stew, soup and tinned peaches, and we crack on to Great Easton, a team of four joined as we have been by the colossal strength of Thomas from Aachen.

The 14 km busway from St.Ives is a traffic free treat and soon the grand colleges of Cambridge tower over us. Somehow, our batteries have recharged themselves and a series of good, strong pulls have us whizzing past Audley End and navigating the newly gravelled lanes around Broxted and Tilty before a glorious Soupfest at Gt. Easton. The sharp right hand turn into the control almost ends The Wattmeister’s LEL!

Back into the night on familiar lanes and roads….we are a well lit and well drilled quartet, but two professional Stanstead Express coach drivers, one after the other, deem that 1.5 centimetres is enough space to give us…not 1.5 metres.

Within sight of the watering hole, we tackle the Toot Hill intervals with gusto…Baking Ben winning this series hands down with an explosion of powerful brio, and after the last climb up Coopersale Lane, it is all coming to an end rather quickly.

What started off as a long ride, became an elegiac odyssey up and down the length of the country. The experience is populated by memories of places and people who shared their time and the road. Episodes of bad weather had to be overcome, but they add incrementally to the sense of achievement.  Big kudos to the overseas riders who made such an effort to participate and once again, thanks and admiration to the organisers and volunteers who made it happen for us.

 

 

 

 

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LEL 2017, Day 4, Brampton to Louth 314 kms

Brampton 04:30 a.m.

Ran the gauntlet of damp, smelly shoes and prone bodies between the building entrance and the canteen. Semi-conscious riders were attempting to re-distribute kit. Everything happening in slow motion.

Another cracking breakfast was served up by the smiling volunteers. Eat all you can! Having had a shower, sleep and sporting clean kit from the drop bag, The Wattmeister was feeling more sprightly than for a few hours…days…eons….he  had lost track of time.

What to pack? The situation highlighted the juxtaposition between speed of eating and slowness of thought. Intuitive angel says..”take the heavy rain jacket…the zip will not let you down”. Vainglorious devil whispers….”travel light, you’ll go faster”.

Always side with the angels. The devil wants you to suffer and fail.

Now well into the ride, 860 kms completed, Baking Ben, Saville Row Alex and TW had found a contented rhythm…less of a chaingang tanking along….now more subtle and fluid, like a shoal of fish or a flock of starlings easing forward steadily and gracefully. The mind had a chance to wander too….making calculations based on time and distance…computing the possible luxury of more rest…making compromises in case of mishap….all the while absorbing the magnificence of the Pennines as we climbed Yad Moss from the West, passing Drew Buck’s tiny camper van dispensing succour to the riders.

For once it didn’t rain on the top and the leg via Middleton in Teesdale to the control in Barnard Castle afforded glorious views across and up the valley. Very little traffic, and such as there was, most courteous to us riders.

The control was as excellent as we had come to expect. It would have been just great to be able to loiter….to observe the volunteers and other riders…to bathe in the moment. But, we managed a swift turnaround to keep the momentum in our favour and headed off to Thirsk.

Suddenly afflicted by a crashing tiredness, probably aided by muggy conditions, The Wattmeister begged his two companions to leave him so that he could kip in a ditch. They desisted and slowed down accordingly. Thus, we inched our way in desultory fashion towards Middleton Tyas, Moulton and Streetlam, picking up a few riders on the way.

It started to rain quite heavily, which always means a drop in temperature. The Wattmeister revived in these conditions and the tempo lifted on the approach to Thirsk.

Here, our intrepid hero managed to ‘go through the card’, i.e he had ALL the main courses on offer, one after the other, and, some lovely portable flapjack was provided for the next leg to Pocklington.

The benefits of three consecutive main courses cannot be exaggerated. We whizzed up the hills around Coxwold and raced the lumpy bumps into the wind from Hovingham to Castle Howard. The lanesy transition back through Buttercrambe and Fangfoss softened the edgy competitiveness of the previous kms, and as we drew closer to Pocklington, the headwind gave us a taste of what was to come.

The return visit was a happier experience than the outward one. Great food, lots of love and a nice quiet toilet on which to doze. Apologies if you were waiting.

Somehow, the trio split up. Unable to fathom out if Ben and Alex had already left, and vice versa,  The Wattmeister set off for Louth alone…quite alone. He didn’t see another rider until just before the Humber Bridge…and he hadn’t forgotten about that climb at North Newbald, 20 kms into the section. Naturally it began to rain on the higher ground. It really didn’t stop for the next 4 and a half hours. Thank you angel for suggesting the heavy duty rain jacket.

After making a mess of locating the cyclepath OFF the bridge, a little group formed, but it was moving very slowly. TW pushed on, the wet, dark conditions not helping his dodgy eyesight. He followed another rider at a respectful distance of 100m on the neverending climb up from the Bridge to Caistor. But when that rider stopped for a wee, he was cast out into the tropical (for it was mild) black deluge to fend for himself.

Retracing the outward leg via a stinky hill at Rothwell, where a small group were huddled tightly in a bus shelter, and negotiating a wind blown left hand bend at Binbrook, the thought occurred that it was a privilege to be out in these conditions, for when again would this perverse opportunity present itself?

Arriving in alone in Louth near midnight, The Wattmeister signed in, and upon exiting the control room, bumped into Ben and Alex. Two minutes behind but unseen for 5 hours.

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LEL 2017, Day 3, Brampton to Brampton 302 kms

It IS possible to function on just 4 hours of solid sleep. The volunteers at Brampton had constructed a good system for allocating (air)beds and for waking  riders at allotted times. We, perhaps 200 of us, shared the school hall. There were comings and goings at all times of the night but The Wattmeister drifted off into the deepest slumber and remained there until it was time to be woken

Having arrived at Brampton at around 11. p.m the previous evening, it was necessary to allow an hour to shower, change kit, eat and drink sufficiently and take care of any other business before falling asleep.

We allowed ourselves 4 hours of sleep, and, after being woken, another 90 minutes maximum in order to make sense of the world. Various tasks needed to be completed in these precious minutes. Eating, drinking, recharging vital equipment, packing necessary kit according to the weather forecast, and so on

Those 90 minutes passed very quickly and conversely everything that needed to be done happened very slowly. It is called the Randonneurs Law of Reverse Negative Split.

As we departed the haven at Brampton it began to rain….cold, wet rain which ran down the back of your neck and through your ears and God knows where else. It pissed down from Gretna Green to Johnstonebridge. The road surface shook the fillings out of our teeth, Saville Row Alex had a bad patch….perhaps his only weak moments on the whole ride…it roused paternal instincts in the Wattmeister.

Soonish, we turned left to Moffat. What a gorgeous looking town. The control seems spanking new and shiny clean. We left our wet shoes by the door, signed in and filled up with breakfast. Now, I don’t know what was in the porridge, but it tasted mighty good and seemed to be full of watts.

The glorious climb from Moffat up to the Devil’s Beef Tub, so named because Scottish scallywags used to rustle English cattle and hide it in a marked bowl in the landscape, was taken in the BIG RING. Porridge Power. For the first time in the ride, after 630 kms, The Wattmeister was keeping pace with Alex and Ben on a climb.

The splendid scenery, a glimpse of sunshine, a rattling descent and the thought that the halfway point in Edinburgh was only 60 kms away lit the mental and physical touchpapers and off we bombed via Howgate and Leadburn Crossroads before hooking up with the traffic-free cyclepath at Loanhead….the sweetest, most refreshing approach possible to the control at Edinburgh.

The canteen served a most delicious pescado con queso pasta concoction, and much more besides. We turned around quickly and headed south. Once again we were well served by as quiet a route as possible on our exit from Edinburgh. Unlike the pasta, it contained a few lumps before the first big climb into the Moorfoot Hills.

At the summit, the temperature dropped. We were assaulted by a vicious downpour which cut visibility and turned the road surface into a shimmering silver ribbon stretching far down the valley. Ben had already sauntered up the climb and now TW and Alex set about chasing him down on the wild descent. What triggers such mad defiance? Soaked through and pedalling hard to keep warm, we careered off the mountain to find shelter in the control at Innerleithen.

There was a piano, The Wattmeister played a couple of frozen bars of ‘Life on Mars’ before being seduced by the excellent Scotch Broth.

We had to don our wet clothes…the hardest part of this game..but once again we follow a sweet cycle path from the control to Traquair and the headwind blowdried our kit back to comfortable standards.

Three more climbs and we would be in Eskdalemuir. A couple of Finnish lads took it upon themselves to marshall the group. It included a Dutch guy on a city bike with flat bars and the least aerodynamic clothing in the universe….plus two panniers containing spare heads….He was SO STRONG. Spinning up the climbs, spinning down the descents, catching the wind like the sails of a round the world yacht. What a legend!

Our group arrived safely in Eskdalemuir….3 times more rainfall than Manchester per annum. What a friendly vibe emitted from this control. It was hard to leave, but leave we must to tackle the hills en route to Langholm and then finally to form our own group on the outskirts of Canonbie and drag them back to Brampton.

Where does the energy come from after 800 odd kms? The Wattmeister was flying. A cherished time on these long rides, where pain ceases to exists, and there is only effortless flow. We hammered our way back to Longtown and coasted the last 16 kms in to Brampton.

A great day in magnificent scenery. The route was familiar and the weather had almost repeated its antics of 2009. The Wattmeister applauds the wonderful little stretches of cyclepath which afforded a different aspect to the ride.

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