A Sunday Ride in Autumn with Muswell Hill Peloton

It’s  a bright, crisp sunny November morning in Muswell Hill, North London. The club meets outside the Everyman cinema at 8 a.m every Sunday. After all the recent rain, it is unsurprising that there is a big turn out on such a majestic morning.

The Wattmeister has been absent for many weeks. A nervous apprehension courses through him when he sees that some of The Big Names are present. Dingle Dave sporting new gilet and top, Simon G, Bryce, The Rappster, Killer Kay, James VDP, Riz, akaFred, Johnny Boy and about ten others who can both inflict and suffer pain on a bike.

The group depart down Coppett’s Lane and up to Barnet via Friern Barnet Lane. Already, Big Bryce has split the group taking Greg, DingleDave, The Rappster, Mikey D and Simon G with him. These guys are up for it. The rest are still warming up, chit-chatting away as the gap grows.

At this hour, there is very little traffic, we have a clear road and are moving along at a solid 30 kms per hour. A couple of riders bridge across including The Wattmeister….”that wasn’t too bad”. One or two guys already look at little ragged….others follow the wheels anonymously knowing that as the ride develops, more serious questions will be asked of them.

We pedal on through Whetstone towards the foot of Barnet Hill, dodging potholes and sunken drain covers. The road is in a parlous state and has been for many years. At Chipping Barnet we take a left onto May’s Lane…the first half a residential area with width restriction barriers to dissuade speeding motor traffic….the second half a portal to the open countryside beyond Borehamwood.

Barnet Gate Lane is our first test….a punchy little climb after about 11 kms of riding. James VDP and Riz look uncharacteristically sloth-like this morning….maybe too many glasses of wine on Saturday night. Bryce is caning it, closely followed by Simon, Greg. akaFred, DingleDave…JohnnyBoy is there too…..The Wattmeister responds with a little dig to join the last wheel……all the while thinking…”not too bad”.

A brief regroup and we hurtle down newly resurfaced Rowley Lane, skirting Borehamwood before climbing up to Well End and marching on to Shenley.

Somehow, The Wattmeister and Killer have found themselves in a poor position at the rear end of the cavalcade, and as the the two oldest rouleurs, they burn a match or two to get back on to the disappearing peloton……”not too bad”, thinks TW.

The head splits away from the body, and the tail sees a gap form as the body chases the head. Riz valiantly attempts to reunite the tail with the body, but he just hasn’t got it at the moment. The Lion King and The Rappster set off into the void, but really, they are going nowhere fast. A coalition  hastily takes shape. The Wattmeister, Killer, James VDP and Riz work together to haul in the two beleaguered riders. We rejoin the body of the peloton who have in turn caught the coattails of the lead riders…..gruppo compatto once again….but the signs are there……The Wattmeister muses, “not too bad”.

The Col du Shenley Lane and twisty-turny back lanes into Saint Albans stretch us out once again before we address the 5 km tear-up along wide and fast Redbourn Road.

“You don’t want to be on the front too soon, and you certainly don’t want to be last wheel”, thinks The Wattmeister as usual suspects Bryce, Simon G, akaFred, DingleDave, Michael G and JohhnyBoy set a fast tempo towards Redbourn. With each passing few hundred metres, the group of seventeen is whittled down.

“Denzil looks good. Michael G, he’s as strong as ever. The Rappster, he loves this road…..Mikey DL, he’s got a super slippery aerodynamic position on the bike……as long as I can stay with them…..it’s actually not too bad”, thinks The Wattmeister.

We stop briefly in Redbourn to weigh each other up, crack a couple of jokes and split into two groups….those in the “Every Man for Himself Group“…..and The Rest.

Sometimes though, The Rest are just as strong .

We head off for Harpenden unencumbered now by the need to smash it up Redbourn Hill. It is all quite pleasant. We are ripping along at 33 kms per hour, but the effort is moderate. Happily, James VDP has found his legs and we share the workload into Colney Heath. The breather we have had since Redbourn, relatively speaking, allows us to start upping the pace and intensity.

With 20 kms left to go, after a civilised gallop up Tollgate Incline, we are transported back towards the M25 services at South Mimms via a 4 km straight and bumpy road adjacent to the A1 proper, which goes by the name of Swanland Full Gas.

Traditionally, this devilish highway is another tear-up. If MHP had a constitution, in it would be written the words….Swanland must be ridden Full Gas at all times.

And so, Simon, Greg, JohhnyBoy, akaFred and the others set off all guns blazing. Mikey DL single handedly closed the intial 50m gap with Denzil, Killer, The Wattmeister and others hanging on, grateful for his exertions.

After 1 km, the pace edged up a little more. Here and there daylight flooded in between wheels as gaps appeared in the line. After 2 kms, it was clear that the leading group of 5 were taking no prisoners as they kicked clear of their pursuers.

Suddenly, akaFred was in a spot of bother with The Rappster and Denzil on his wheel. Sensing danger, both The Wattmeister and Riz jumped across to the leaders.

With 1km to the roundabout, perched on a tidy uphill slope, it became a question of who would kick first. Simon G had done a colossal. unselfish pull on the front, and though he possesses a tremendous kick, surely he had done too much, been too generous to take this particular sprint.

With about 300m to go and just as the gradient kicked in, Greg pulled clear of the chasers….

“This is it!”, thought The Wattmeister as he engaged the biggest gear his aging legs could uncomfortably turn for the next 25 seconds. Pushing with all his might, spittle flying into his slipstream, his mortality enshrined in the fast approaching shape of the roundabout….he gave it everything. With 150m to go, he scooted past Young Greg fully expecting Killer, Simon, akaFred or even The Rappster to come and undo him….the loser’s excuses were already being composed frantically in his head…..with 50m to go he looked round to witness the beautiful sight of empty tarmac.

“Not too bad”, he thought.

Yes, the others had let him win.

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PBP 2019. Part 5.

Thursday 22nd August. The final stretch.

The distance from Mortagne to the finish in Rambouillet, via the penultimate control at Dreux, is 122 kms. The decision was made to sleep for a mere 90 minutes in order to leave at 05.00 a.m, which would allow us 10 hours to complete the course.

Our group had to finish by 15.00 p.m.

LongTom and SavilleRowAlex had arrived in Mortagne at about 20.30 p.m, fully six hours in front of Bubbles, OldGreySocks and The Wattmeister. Consequently they both had a very good rest before setting off an half an hour before the slowcoaches at 04.30 a.m. Their plan was to wait for us in Dreux and we would all ride together to Rambouillet.

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Helen woke us up at the agreed time, fixed coffee and made sure we ate something before setting off into the bitter cold blackness to tackle the Perche whose stiff hills are the source of many tributaries of the River Seine.

At this point, the ride looked in the bag, a stone cold (very apt) certainty, assured, guaranteed, all the synonyms you can muster.

After about one kilometre, on a dark, ripping descent, OldGreySocks suddenly became alarmed as his bike started to shimmy uncontrollably. A frightening phenomenon. Under another miraculously placed streetlight, we checked the bike over as the minutes ticked by. A diagnosis could not be found, so OGS continued gingerly down the hill, thankfully  with no further occurrence.

The undulating 19 kms to Longny-au-Perche proved a tough test at this stage of the game, but we left the steepest hills behind at La Barbiniere, turned towards Senonches, and meandered along a plateau framed by golden cornfields. The sky turned a pastel shade of pink in advance of a majestic sunrise, and somehow, this display of natural beauty made every little hardship seem worth the effort.

Approaching Neuilly-sur-Eure at 30 kms into the stage, Bubbles was overcome with sleepiness. Our saviour appeared in the form of SAS Boulangerie Touffet, whose proprietor had a kerbside trestle table heavily laden with freshly baked pizzas and pain aux chocolats.

Here is what happened. There was one solitary chair inside the bakery. Bubbles collapsed into it. The proprietor’s wife quickly and kindly covered her with a blanket as it was still very chilly. Bubbles slept for about fifteen minutes, mouth open and snoring like a combine harvester.

While she slept, to the amazement of the baker, OGS and TW demolished half a dozen pizzas and enjoyed a couple of cups of coffee from the adjacent Bar Tabac.

When Bubbles awoke, still slightly dazed, but not as dazed as those who witnessed her snoring, she was served coffee and cake by her two elderly carers, and once again we set off towards Dreux. Thank you so much SAS Boulangerie Touffet for your amazing food and the kindness and respect you showed to us.

There were still 50 kms to cycle to the control, but we plodded along dreamily for an hour or so before joining up and sharing the workload with a nice group of riders until the village of Blévy where everyone decided to shed layers of clothing as the temperature climbed. For some riders this can be a tricky process after so little sleep.

What would normally take two minutes can last up to ten. The Wattmeister was befuddled by the concepts of  ‘left’ and ‘right’, and ‘front’ and ‘back’, and the workings of a zip seemed the domain of an astrophysicist….but eventually he managed to strip off the unnecessary garments and don replacement lightweight kit so that it wasn’t inside out and upside down.

As this feat took so long, there was some distance on the road between him and the remnants of Team MHP. Salvation came in the shape of a mature looking Belgian rider towing a group of younger riders at a conservative 40 kms ph. The Wattmeister did what he does best…wheelsucked for his life. The Belgian was a powerhouse and flew along the narrow flat D20 to Crécy, where Bubbles and OldGreySocks joined the party.

For the next 10kms, the Belgian Rocket rattled along merrily with a whole host of  riders high on adrenaline turning the pedals in his wake until we rolled into the control at Dreux…..thank you Belgian Boss.

Our time advantage now stood at 80 minutes. This presented an opportunity to supplement the four pizzas consumed at Neuilly with Omelette, Boeuf Bourguignon and Pommes de Terres Dauphinoises…all on the same plate.

It didn’t touch the sides.

Tom and Alex were sunbathing around the corner outside Dreux’s impressive station. The boys could have finished hours ago but chose to escort us back to La Bergerie in Rambouillet. We had about 4 hours to complete the remaining 45 kms. Alex sat himself on the front of the group tapping out a lovely tempo for the final run-in.

The mood in camp was light, happy, chatty…. liberated as we were from the burden of doubt. The trials and tribulations of Trevé on Tuesday night were a distant memory. The weather was nigh on perfect as we weaved our way through the endless fields of corn before crossing the outward route at Faverolles and dropping down to the Forest of Rambouillet.

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Soon enough the cheers of hundreds of smiling spectators signalled the end of the ride as we passed under the Arrivé banner and crossed the timing mat in La Bergerie…..we had two hours to spare.

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This had been a wonderful team effort. Managing a group of five individuals with different rhythms would always be a challenge on an adventure like this. However, we never had a cross word, and both Plan A and Plan B, which had been discussed in depth before the ride, were successfully deployed.

It was a privilege to have undertaken the ride with such resolute, reliable, capable and fun friends. On the ride, during the qualifiers, and whilst organising the mundane minutiae of travel and accommodation logistics, we all supported one another without question, and no doubt we will get more sleep on our return in 2023.

PBP 2019 beers

Thanks go to Helen and Sinclair who drove the Wattmobile out to Carhaix and back to Tinteniac and Mortagne to pitch tents, cook for us and listen to our travails in the depth of might.

The bikes were in great shape. Bubbles’ dynamo light bracket snapped after 150 kms.  We did not have one single puncture. There were no other significant problems apart from OGS’s temporary bike shimmy after Mortagne.

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After a celebratory meal in the huge marquee washed down by a couple of well earned beers, we adjourned to our headquarters in the glamorous surroundings of the long term campervan parking area and ordered more pizzas. Food never tasted so good.

 

 

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PBP 2019. Part 4

At some stage during the qualifying series, but before the actual event, Team MHP met regularly to discuss important details like ride tactics, sleep stops, hydration and nutrition….but really the purpose of these meetings was to allow The Wattmeister to drone on about past PBPs he had ridden and to accept free drinks when offered.

One evening, thoughtful LongTom cut to the chase and asked, “who is in charge of the Pearl Handled Revolver?”

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A moment’s silence. This was a euphemism for….what happens if one of us slow the others down so they miss the 90 hour time cut-off?

“That will never happen!”, decreed The Wattmeister, “you are all so strong!”

“But, what if….?” persisted Tom….”what if The Wattmeister slows us down?

Well, at the village of Trevé at approximately half past midnight on Tuesday 20th August, Team MHP passed their first Pearl Handled Revolver test. Bubbles had looked down the barrel and said “NO”.

After a remarkably comfortable two hour sleep along the length of four chairs, and in OldGreySocks’ case, the linoleum floor, the trio departed Loudeac at precisely 05.00 a.m, faced with a 314 kms ride to the control at Mortagne-au-Perche. The first few kilometres would be crucial as it was still bitterly cold, and we were faced with a rolling course.

There was no need to worry ourselves….Bubbles set off with renewed energy through La Cheze making easy work of the steady climb out of the village. We did not see too many riders all the way to Menéac, but as dawn broke, a couple of lads came flying by on the long downhill stretch on the D305 and D66 to Illifaut. It seemed rude not to join in as somehow we had juice in our legs.

At the crossroads in Illifaut, the townspeople had erected a couple of marquees, and the local bakery was supplying croissants, pain aux chocolats and hot coffee. We took a break to enjoy this incredible heartwarming hospitality. Our progress for these first 30 kms had been impressive and now, we found the perfect group to tag along with for the second 30 kms of this leg. They were quick on the flat, but nice and steady on the hills…..we knocked out this section in about an hour.

As we entered Médréac another catnap was necessary, but being in the group had bought us the time to indulge another break. After 20 minutes, we were back on the road. The sun began to warm the air, and we only had to ride 22 kms to the control and a change of kit at Tinteniac…..where Tom and Alex had spent a rather more comfortable night than us.

A super fast group of Austrians sped past us….Yes! No! Yes!…we kicked hard and jumped on the back of them…it had looked impossible, but the power nap gave us back some punch. They smashed on down the D220 with even the hint of a tailwind…and then tackled the long climb up to Becherel…..the pace was quite fierce, but we hung on and joined them down the other side and all the way back to Tinteniac. Even with a couple of breaks, this leg had only taken a respectable 4 and a half hours to cover, a wonderful riposte to the troubles of the previous night.

We now had 60 minutes in hand.

A scrub down, kit change and some more fine stew from Helen and Sinclair put us back on the road to Fougeres, 54 kms away. The vibe was good….so good that The Wattmeister did his first turn on the front for 300 kms. We caught a couple of Spanish riders and shared the load with them through Dingé, Feins, Sens de Bretagne and all the way to Fougeres. It wasn’t quick, but rather a good ride at steady recovery pace which delivered us to the control with 75 minutes in hand.

Fougeres was hot. We needed food and plenty of drink….this required a brief nap to allow a semblance of digestion before hitting the road again. Now, in previous editions, this has been a happy hunting ground for The Wattmeister…this year was to be different. Bubbles had been fatigued by her fantastic morning effort, so we made sedate progress back towards Gorron, stopping at Paul’s famous creperie in La Tanniere for free coffee and pancakes.

Seated in the shade, it was agreed that we would ride our own pace for a bit, as the route was pretty much a straight road for the next 40 kms. OldGreySocks found a fast group and headed off into the distance. The Wattmeister found another slightly disorganised group and set off in pursuit and Bubbles continued at her own pace.

In the picturesque riverside village of Ambrieres les Vallées, about 30 kms out from the next control at Villaines La Juhel, everyone has their house or garage open for tired riders to take a nap, grab some food or drink or just to stop and chat. The Wattmeister took off his shoes on the village green and a thousand blades of grass died.

Soon enough, the resolute figure of Bubbles appeared, she needed a quick nap and we had built up enough time to allow 10 or 15 minutes. While she slept, The Wattmeister went to use the public loo…..as he entered a young lady was leaving.

“It’s unisex”, she said, “are you The Wattmeister? You’re a legend!”

“Yes, I think so….but I’m not a legend….Are you Jane Dennyson? You’re a legend”

“No, I’m not a legend, but Rory says you are….and that’s good enough for me!” she insisted.

“Come and meet Bubbles”…..and the rest is history.

Jane and Bubbles hit it off. They rode together almost all the way back to Villaines at touring pace, chatting away, oblivious to the passing kilometres. Meanwhile, The Wattmeister stopped at every roadside stall, availing himself of fresh produce, coffee, crisps, cold drinks, sweets, and so on ….by the time we reached Villaines, he could only manage one main course in the canteen….plus a dessert.

At Villaines, the riders receive an absolutely tremendous welcome….crowds of spectators cheering, a master of ceremonies announcing riders’ frame numbers over a public address system….a very humbling bu exhilarating experience.

We were reunited with OldGreySocks who had been forced to remedy a mechanical issue in the service tent and we now had two hours in hand.

Departing lovely Villaines bathed in the golden glow of the evening light, we had 85 kms to ride before our next sleep stop….and could have expected to arrive there by 01.00 a.m but our expectations had already been shattered on this ride, and the spectre of tiredness still dictated our schedule.

After 20 kms there was a roadside party going on at Saint Paul-le-Gaultier. The villagers were seated around long trestle tables, and the owner of the café were handing out coffee and cake to randonneurs…we HAD to stop.

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Darkness fell quickly, Bubbles pulled an Englishman from Texas with A VERY LOUD VOICE……OldGreySocks and The Wattmeister dropped off the back…eardrums battered by his questions….”where do you come from?”……”UK”……”oh, whereabouts in UK?”…”London”….”oh, great….which part of London”….”Muswell Hill”…..”never heard of it,what’s your postcode?” Sorry dude, we were a bit grumpy tired.

OldGreySocks needed a streetlight. We found one miraculously at La Hotterie. He unloaded his saddlebag….dumped the contents on the floor and said,

“right, let’s go”.

You need a sleep mate. We found a nice bit of gravel away from the miraculous streetlight and The Wattmeister promised to wake his compadre up in twenty minutes.

About half an hour later, OldGreySocks shook The Wattmeister from his coma. It wasn’t supposed to be like this. We set off in pursuit of the long gone Bubbles….The Wattmeister turned back for his rainjacket which he thought was laying on the gravel but which in fact adorned his body. It would be an hour or so before he saw OGS again.

Resigned to being last man on the road. The Wattmeister stalked a french couple who whispered sweet nothings to each other in the night air before St-Remy-du-Val,

….”trop vite cherie…..trop loin cherie…regarde, la lune cherie”…it was beautiful to eavesdrop on their affectionate chirping as they led us towards Mamers.

In Mamers, Velo club Saosnois were dishing out hot soup, coffee and cake to fortify riders for the last 24 kms push to Mamers. Unbeknownst to us, Bubbles was just around the corner praying to meet up again with Jane, and Jane was around another corner hoping to pal up with Bubbles….well, this is the magic of PBP….their paths crossed at a time when they both needed it.

Meanwhile, although The Wattmeister got a lively lead out from a couple of English guys, OldGreySocks hit a rich vein of form and ripped up the newly resurfaced road to Mortagne clocking in a couple of minutes behind Bubbles who had misplaced her bike, and a couple of minutes in front of TW who had misplaced his brain.

Despite dawdling a bit, we were now 2 and a half hours to the good….time that was about to be forfeited to sleep.

 

 

 

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PBP 2019. Part 3

Despite an all too brief sleep at the campsite in Carhaix, 5 hours off the bike and the chance to have a shower and change into clean kit breathed new life into the crack(ed) MHP squad. Powered by Helen Budd’s magical chicken and barley stew, we set off a couple of hours later than planned at 08.15 a.m on Tuesday morning.

At this point we had what sounds like a very slender 30 minutes time buffer, but this would quickly grow as we kept moving.

Plan A was to ride 348 kms out to Brest and back to Tinteniac (869kms) by 01.00 a.m .

Plan B would be to ride 272 kms back to Loudeac (783kms) by 11 p.m for a longer sleep.

As boxer Mike Tyson once said, “everyone has a plan until they are punched on the nose.”

There followed a gentle 34 kms climb up to Roc Trevezel, a Breton moorland with 360 degree views over the surrounding countryside. It was cold and misty, but the sun promised to warm the endless procession of tired randonneurs now making their way to Brest.

We assumed a nice tempo for about thirty minutes before the combined engines of LongTom and SavilleRowAlex proceeded to catch and pass most riders, creating a fast group with The Wattmeister hanging on stubbornly in their slipstream

The increased tempo was too much for Bubbles at this early hour, and OldGreySocks accompanied her up the gorgeous wooded road to Huelgoat. Our tyres strummed a background beat on the smooth surface whilst the click, click, click of changing gears confirmed that we were climbing to the highest point of the whole ride.

At La Feuillée, we turned right onto the D974, a wide fast road. The climb continued with Tom and Alex setting a furious pace. The group was becoming smaller and by the time we reached the top and started the descent, there were just two and a half riders….Tom, Alex and half a Wattmeister.

Up and over

The boys sped off to Sizun in a frenzy. They obviously had plenty of surplus energy after the previous day’s plod. Sizun is a great place to take a break …a fine stopping point both on the way to Brest, and on the way back from Brest. Full of cafés, bakeries, supermarkets, shady marquees….a place to linger and assess.

It was at this point that the decision was made to cut Alex and Tom free from the group. They still had plenty of time and the speed in their legs to fulfill the goals set by Plan A. And so off they galloped to Brest.

About twenty minutes later, Bubbles and OldGreySocks arrived in Sizun. Eating croissants and drinking coffee in the sun, we were now a sub-team of three. And so we hooked onto a decent group who towed us ever westward towards Brest at a nice clip. We crossed the bridge in a light shower….the only one of the whole ride, but Bubbles’s elation was muted when she realised we still had 7 kms to ride to the control including a nasty climb up to the centre.

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On arriving at the halfway control there was a feeling of relief mixed with trepidation knowing what was yet to come. We saw Tom and Alex departing for the second 600 kms. Having 90 minutes in hand, we effected a swift turnaround to capitalise on the morning’s time gains.

The organisers wisely create a different route back to Carhaix via Sizun in order that outgoing and returning riders do not get confused or, indeed, blinded by each other’s front lights. This return route contains long draggy hills which coupled with a niggling cross wind conspire suck the energy out of tired legs.

Thus, we plodded on to Landerneau and up over the climb of Le Queff before Bubbles slipped into overdrive on the descent to Sizun. However, after another splendid few minutes of respite in this lovely town, we slipped back into first gear on the climb up to Roc Trevezel. Strava shows that we took 25 extra minutes to complete this stretch compare to the 2015 edition.

The D974 to Carhaix from the top is a cracking bit of road, could only be improved if you took away the hills, but we had our moments before Bubbles could take the pain no more.

“Put sudocream on it” suggested The Wattmeister (Level 3 in Sudocream Application Technique)

“Use crushed kiwi fruit” added OldGreySocks.

“It’s not my bum” whispered Bubbles.

“Well, what is it then?” asked the two sextogenerians in unison.

“It’s my …….” mouthed Bubbles.

“What’s a …….? ” asked OldGreySocks.

“I’ll google it” said The Wattmeister helpfully.

The ensuing silence was deafening.

We rushed off to the nearest pharmacy. The two elderly baroudeurs clearly in shock and in need of smelling salts. Bubbles was left by the roadside.

After an interminable stop at the pharmacy we continued to the control at Carhaix, determined to be in and out as quickly as possible. In and Out

Having achieved this, we sought a café in Mael Carhaix which is traditionally open 24 hours a day during the event. Situated on a quiet square next to the church, it provided us with the chance to neck some coffee and coke and to swallow a couple of pizzas…whole.

Things were going OK…from Mael, we should reach Loudeac around 11 p.m and manage to get about 6 hours off the bike including 4 hours sleep.

It was at this point that our situation took a turn for the worse. It was a truly lovely evening whilst the sun stayed above the horizon.  We pedalled over higher ground adjacent to fields of wheat guarded by thick hedgerows…..sometimes the views offered a glimpse of distant hilltop villages marked by a church steeple here and there.

When the sun went down we were hit by cold air. It seemed to slow us down disproportionately, and Bubbles felt extremely sleepy. The precious minutes that we had built up began to disappear. The route took us up and down some very steep pitches in the darkness, with the descents being particularly chilling in more than one sense.

We arrived in Trevé, just 7 kms from Loudeac in the midst of a mini-crisis. Bubbles was desperate for sleep and would have booked a hotel room in the café where we had established a temporary base, but there were no vacancies. She talked about quitting, but the words tumbled out due to tiredness. After a confidence boosting chat and soothing word from OldGreySocks, a catnap and coffee, we continued steadily to Loudeac….arriving at 01.22 a.m…..this leg had taken 7 and a half hours…fully 3 and a half hours more than in 2015.

Finding chairs and floorspace in the well lit canteen was not too much of a problem, and the three of us fell into a deep slumber before hitting the road again at 05.00 a.m…..at this point we would be one hour out of time.

 

 

 

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PBP 2019. Part 2

The stage from Fougeres to Tinteniac is ‘only’ 54 kms. The first passage along the Boulevarde de Bliche is quite lumpy, and the riders’ resolve is tested by having to pass a Macdonalds after about 6 kms. Had there been a KFC, it is quite likely that The Wattmeister would have cracked and dived into a bucket of assorted legs and wings, never to be seen again.

At Romagné we hitched a lift with a couple of strong young French riders who made a good fist of carving a way through the strengthening headwind. It was tough going for an hour and a half  as we dealt with this and mounting fatigue.

In the village of Feins, we were swamped by a rampaging peloton from Club Loudeac who provided the perfect cover for the remaining 17 kms into Tinteniac. They marauded down the D20, picking up stray riders until the group numbered around one hundred. The road was chock full of cyclists as we passed through the crossroads at La Basse-Foret and negotiated the last few kilometres to our next mandatory stop.

Tinteniac control at 3 p.m on Monday was rammed with randonneurs. The temperature had soared too. It was a fair walk from where the bikes were parked to the brevet card control room. We did our best, but it is all too easy to give up precious minutes without even picking up food and drink.

Our plan was to get supplies from the Carrefour supermarket at the top of the hill in Becherel. We teamed up with a couple of Italian riders along the straight flat road to La Baussaine and then made good progress to the hilltop village before peeling off near the summit.

The supermarket was cool and quiet, We shopped efficiently, but it was soon apparent that when we stopped, LongTom was quickly afflicted by sleepy tiredness….so we pushed on along the rollercoaster D220 to Medreac, Quedillac and bustling St. Meen le Grand. To this point, progress had been fairly good, but both Bubbles and Tom badly needed some shuteye so they crashed out in the Town square for twenty minutes or so while OldGreySocks and The Wattmeister played a competitive game of  I Spy.

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As the duo slept, many solid looking groups passed through, but when we departed, the sparsity of other riders was suddenly all too apparent. As the sun dipped towards the horizon, we pressed on through Illifaut, Meneac and La Trinité-Porhoet while the first riders at the head of the field were making their way back from Brest.

Despite our best efforts, by the time we arrived at Loudeac at 9 p.m, this 95 kms stage had taken six hours, about 90 minutes longer than planned. The fine art of saving time had temporarily eluded us. Our well drilled team hit back with a brief turnaround in chaotic Loudeac, and decided to seek sustenance at Saint Martin-des-Prés, some 29 very hilly kms up the road to Carhaix.

None of us could have imagined how cold this stage would be. As we climbed and descended to Merleac, the mercury plummeted…The Wattmeister’s Garmin registered 3 degrees on the D53 at Uzel.

Sustenance and a blazing brazier were available in the shape of coffee, hot dog and soup at the wonderful impromptu marquee in Saint Martin-des-Prés. We were sufficiently fortified to brace ourselves for the 50 kms ride to Carhaix.

A series of narrow, dark lanes took us to the ‘secret’ control at St. Nicholas du Pelem, a checkpoint implemented to deter riders from opting to use the main road.  We were now deep into the ride, deep into our reserves and looking forward to our sleep stop in Carhaix-Plougeur at 521 kms. It was bitterly cold and although we made steady progress along the smoothly tarmacked D720 to Plouvenez, we need a fillip, something to energise us for the last 25 kms.

This appeared in the form of a swift stream of riders who passed us on the D49 to Saint Lubin. Unspoken, but thinking alike, we found the extra turn of speed to latch on to the tail of this particular shimmying bunch of red lights and fluorescent jackets . Adjusting well to the increased speed, Bubbles, Tom and Alex moved through the peloton to take better positions while The Wattmeister dreamt of stopping for a pee, and OldGreySocks slipped into the alpha wolf station at the back of the pack.

We hurtled through the blackness, illuminated by a mixture of powerful battery and dynamo lights. After Mael Carhaix, it was plain that we were in a race. Various riders attacked off the front and ‘on fire’ Bubbles bridged across every time….dragging the rest of her team along.

With about 2 kms to go a lone rider put in a super kick on a nasty little incline which dispatched everyone except The Wattmeister and OldGreySocks….old men will suffer anything not to miss a moment’s sleep….and the trio rode into the control just ahead of the bunch.

We controlled efficiently at 02.30 a.m, about 2 hours later than expected,  but still had to find our accommodation at the campsite in Carhaix, which is situated at the bottom of a dark, cold and spooky lane. Finally, after food and a debrief we slept at around 04.00 a.m.

A significant time buffer had been accrued. The cost would be a much truncated first night’s sleep. Plan A was still on for Alex and Tom, but Plan B was about to be activated for Bubbles, OldGreySocks and The Wattmeister.

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Paris-Brest-Paris 2019. Part 1

Muswell Hill Peloton’s squad of five for the 19th Paris-Brest-Paris:

Long Tom (steel Condor Fratello), Old Grey Socks (alu Giant 0), SavilleRowAlex (steel Casati), Bubbles (titanium Kinesis Gran Fondo ) and The Wattmeister (titanium Omega Axis).

Plan A:

Stage 1. 21.00 p.m start on Sunday night….ride 521 kms to Carhaix by midnight on Monday.

Stage 2. 06.00 a.m start from Carhaix on Tuesday morning….ride 348 kms to Tinteniac by midnight on Tuesday.

Stage 3. 07.00 start from Tinteniac on Wednesday morning….ride 305 kms to Dreux by 23.30 p.m on Wednesday

Stage 4. Depart Dreux after long sleep ….ride 45 kms to finish by 15.00 p.m.

At the very least, it always helps to have a Plan B.

Our ride began at 21.00 on Sunday 18th August. We were in the very last wave of 90 hour riders. The weather had improved massively over the course of the day, resulting in balmy, windless conditions for the start of our odyssey.

As we shuffled up to the official timing mat, everyone availed themselves of the opportunity to use one of the abundant portaloos except for The Wattmeister, who refused to break his golden rule…no pisses on rides of under 1400kms.

We set off….a micro plan was to avoid going on the front too soon, take a tow, save energy, recover whilst riding….and so on.

Within 100 metres, Tom and Alex were the fireball at the head of the comet of red tail lights…..chatting away at 38kms per hour, fifty riders in tow, expending energy like it was an infinite resource.

The comet sped down the D983, through Faverolles, Nogent-le-Roi, Chateauneuf-en-Thymerais before going off orbit and missing the left turn to Senonches….thank you five Garmins and one routesheet.

The Wattmeister’s bladder was at bursting point.

The hills of the Perche arrived, split the field into prisms of light and threw a cloak of muted endeavour over its participants on the approach to Mortgane’s refuelling stop at 120 kms.

Team MHP used their 20 minutes efficiently, and, at about 02.00 a.m we set off for the first proper control at Villaines la Juhel 100 kms distant, (221 kms). My word, the descent from Mortagne was quick….and very cold. Skirting Mamers, we set off into an overwhelming darkness through Courgains and Dangeul before the bracket of Bubbles’s super duper Edelux dynamo front light decided to snap in Beaumont sur Sarthe.

Unable to be fixed, it was strapped up and the reserve light put into operation.

Beyond Fresnay, the road climbs a ridge up into the ‘Alpes Mancelles’, on this night affording magnificent views of a multitude of red lights streaming towards Villaines, a town which takes the riders of PBP into its very heart.

We arrived at 07.00 a.m, parked our bikes, fulfilled our needs and pressed on to Fougeres 85 kms to the West. A nagging little headwind began to develop. Bubbles was sleepy tired and our progress was slowed as we trundled along the lumpy D113 to Loupfougeres and Hardanges with a long climb up and over to the crossroads at Le Ribay.

We stopped for a quick caffeine fix in Lassay-les-Chateaux and searched for a peloton in which to hide from the nasty wind. Alas, one was not to be found, but we managed to team up with a Swedish trio through Ambrieres, Gorron and Lavare which helped to give us all a bit of much needed cover.

Suddenly, with about 15kms to ride to Fougeres, Bubbles kicked into life with a strong attack….LongTom’s reply was immediate, and OldGreySocks, SavilleRowAlex and The Wattmeister were forced to chase (too) hard to get back into the group….this pattern continued all the way into the outskirts of Fougeres where a happily revitalised Bubbles careered down the D706 from Le Croix aux Morts for all the world like she was in The Tour de France with a stage win at her mercy.

At this point, Plan A was within reach, albeit that we had endured a slower than expected stage from Villaines to Fougeres due to tiredness and the headwind.

The Wattmeister’s bladder ached.

 

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Kingston Wheelers Wye Wander 600 (+16)

The final qualifying ride for Paris-Brest-Paris 2019 616kms.

For the Muswell Hill Peloton squad, a fickle bunch of timewasters, this was going to be a tough ride due to the fact that 3 out of the 4 riders insisted on sleeping in a bed after 350 kms!

The Wattmeister’s suggestion of traditional tried and tested ‘audax hotels’ accommodation….a bus shelter, a cemetery or a cold concrete garage forecourt…. was outvoted by Long Tom, Old Grey Socks and Bubbles, and so the Raglan Lodge hotel situated in the A40 service station was duly booked.

The plan was to ride 350 kms from the 6 a.m start in Raynes Park on Saturday morning to arrive in Raglan at 11 p.m…..take 6 hours off the bike….depart Raglan at 5 a.m and arrive back in Raynes Park by 10 p.m on Sunday evening. Easy peasy.

Hah! In order to achieve this, we would either have to be super organised regarding time spent OFF the bike….or, ride E-bikes. You see, both the charm and weakness of Team MHP is their combined ability to effortlessly extend a five minute stop into a twenty minute holiday.

We departed on time and made good progress to our first control stop at Wallingford (78 kms) after traversing some pretty lanes in the Chiltern Hills. Most riders were in and out in ten or twelve minutes, but true to form, Team MHP lasted 23 minutes before deciding to press on.

By the time we arrived at Stow-in-the-Wold (147 kms), the weather had deteriorated, the scenery had disappeared and  all we could manage was another 25 minutes sitting outside in the rain shivering our bollocks off, or in Bubbles’ case…her tits.

We pressed on to Worcester (202kms), the rain was replaced by a deluge of biblical proportions and despite our casual approach to time management, we were riding well and still on course for an 11 p.m arrival in Raglan.

Finally, the precipitation (which was not forecast), stopped, it warmed up a bit, the stunning scenery re-appeared all around us and we celebrated by visiting Mcdonalds in the town centre….but not before taking a detour as the River Severn had flooded our route.

Here, we squandered about 35 minutes….most of it trying to find reading glasses to better see the digital ordering screen. Old Grey Socks went retro, asked a human being and was served quickly.

The road to Hay on Wye (287 kms) was tough. The sun came out. As we winched ourselves up some wicked climbs, Titterstone Clee Hill dominated the northern aspect and the Brecon Beacons loomed in the distance under clouds pregnant with rain. The countryside looked splendid, verdant, dappled with a plethora of freshly rinsed wild flowers.

In the village of Eardisland, an aficionado opened their cosy front garden and plied passing randonneurs with food, tea, coffee, juices…this was one stop we could not miss….a most lovely interlude.

In Hay, our 5 minute stop was truncated to a mere 25 minutes at the Co-op, plus a bonus 9 minutes as we hunted for 20p in order to use the public conveniences.

Our 11 p.m date with Raglan now looked like being delayed to 00.30 a.m. However, with the assistance of benign weather, quiet roads and the power of Long Tom, Old Grey Socks and Bubbles, the husk of The Wattmeister was dragged into the hotel at midnight… on the dot.

A bed though is not for this breed of audaxer…..as soon as the others had nodded off, he took himself off to sleep on the floor of the hotel lobby using the fire extinguisher as a pillow.

We left Raglan only 15 minutes later than scheduled for our trip to the control in Chepstow (274kms) …..our supposed 75 minute journey had only taken 95 minutes due to a route miscalculation and a couple of humongously steep hills which no sane cyclist should ever consider tackling at 5 in the morning.

The planned 15 minutes in Chepstow magically became 45 minutes at we were wrapped in a cocoon of love by the sylphs of organising club Kingston Wheelers. Eggs, beans porridge…nothing was too much trouble.

When we were finally kicked out, the possibility of missing the cut-off time at 10 p.m was becoming a vague possibility…..so we ploughed on through the rain into a headwind across the Severn Bridge to our date with destiny.

Tiny lanes and steep hills slowed our progress to Pewsey (457 kms). But the sun came out near Chippenham, an opportunity not to be missed…. we decided a brief 29 minute stop for coffee would help our cause. Why rush?

In Pewsey, we were the epitome of efficiency, only 14 minutes, as the seriousness of the time situation took hold. A long stage to Hindhead (553kms) ensued, which was ridden practically non-stop. As we approached the never ending climb up to the Devil’s Punchbowl, the effort took its toll on Bubbles. A prolonged ravitaillement of 25 minutes was prescribed in order to revive our beloved Welsh warrior…..the promise of a pint at the finish was the clincher, and off she roared.

With 63 kms to go and 3 and half hours in which to do it, this would normally be seen as a simple task. But after 550 kms of riding and the formidably steep Surrey Hills between us and the finish, nothing could be left to chance.

Coombe Lane endeavoured to slow us down, but as we descended to Cobham with just 19 kms to go, Long Tom suffered a puncture. A reasonably swift tube replacement was effected but now things were getting sweaty. A fast, edgy ride main road ride from Esher into Surbiton tipped the scales back in our favour, and another rider, Ken, steered us back to the finish through a labyrinth of back roads, underpasses and cycle paths.

The Kingston Wheelers team welcomed us with hugs, handshakes, food and beer. A memorable ride.

The result was never in doubt.

 

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Back to the Smoke 412 kms

As coordinator of Muswell Hill Peloton’s crack Paris-Brest-Paris squad, The Wattmeister was attracted to this ride by the title, which suggests getting away from the increasingly tedious Smoke, and the fact that it was a linear 400 km ride.

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Accompanied by Bubbles, Old Grey Socks, and Long Tom, we initially set off with about 30 other riders from Exeter St. David’s station at midday on Saturday, following a prescribed route via Wells, Durrington, Stow on the Wold,  Buckingham and finally, to arrive in Marylebone Station in London by 3 p.m, at the latest, on Sunday afternoon….a veritable tour of some gorgeous areas of natural beauty.

Now then, in the run up to this event, Bubbles had contracted a throat infection, but she was bravely determined to give it a go. A visit to the doctor yielded some antibiotics, but these are not compatible with her home grown remedy of gargling with prosecco…..gargling won and she was fit and ready to go, if a tad unsteady on the bike

Unusually for an audax the weather was nice, it didn’t rain, and we had a tailwind for much of the way.  The ride report could end right there, a miniscule drop of happiness in a world of uncertainty.

However the contract says, “….pedal stroke by pedal stroke account….”.

Departing buzzing Exeter in the warm sunshine via numerous traffic lights, we soon lost contact with the front riders. We are in the process of  honing our long distance riding plan to avoid wasted time off the bike and to ride steadily and sustainably on the bike. The plan soon went out the window as Old Grey Socks had made up his mind to get to the first control stop in Wells, 100 kms distance by 4 p.m.

He towed us along for 70 odd kms, like a machine…..nearly 62 years of age….does the man NEVER STOP FOR A WEE?

Goodbye Devon, hello Somerset, goodbye Taunton, hello Middlezoy……hello verdant Somerset Levels swathed in cowslip, cleaved by narrow burbling waterways and framed by ancient tors, hello Wells with your magnificent cathedral.

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A faff free cafe stop adjacent to the street market to collect the all important proof of passage. Goodbye Wells, you are etched into The Wattmeister’s fading memory.

We set off onto the ridge at Horrington via the Old Frome road….quite a climb…which affords magnificent views in all directions. It was now Long Tom’s turn to force the pace as we hurtled down off the ridge through Frome, Warminster and on to our second control at Durrington.

Traversing the vast expanse of Salisbury Plain on a bike in late afternoon sunshine with a tailwind is one of life’s great pleasures.

Grabbing some food at Tesco’s in  Durrington at 7.30 p m, we now headed North, a 100 kms leg to Stow on the Wold. Some of the verve and brio of earlier had disappeared, but Old Grey Socks set off again with ants in his pants along the glorious secret lane to Upavon, passing the hamlets of Brigmerston, Figheldean and Fittleton.

The light was beginning to fade as we winched ourselves up to Clench Common, just south of Marlborough. We still had 70 kms to go to Stow, the Clysts of Devon were long gone in a blur of frenzied energy, and the Ogbournes and Draycots would be passed more sedately and unseen in the darkness.

My word this section was a slog, briefly enlivened by another Old Grey Socks 20 kms blast from Highworth to Broughton Poggs, at which point we turned off to climb through the Cotswolds. The Wattmeister was not a happy boy, dealing with a painful bout of hot foot , as we proceeded through the Barringtons and Rissingtons with a final brutal punch up to our control point, the 24 hour garage at Stow.

Over 13 hours, the group mood had changed, tiredness had replaced the exuberance and confidence of mid-afternoon. Bubbles dreamed of getting a taxi back to London…”f*ck PBP” she whispered before huddling up next to  LongTom and Old Grey Socks on the cold concrete forecourt of the petrol station.

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Even The Wattmeister was having doubts….”what if we miss breakfast?” he fretted.

Other riders preferred to kip in the cemetery across the road. It was 1 a.m…the glamorous side of audax riding unfolding in all its glory.

At 3.30 a.m, we had a group hug. Although is was a mild night, we set off to conquer the the 70 kms leg to our next waypoint in Buckingham wearing every item of clothing at our disposal to ward off the chill that inevitably sets in after a long break.

It wasn’t long before Bubbles suffered a puncture. Surrounded by three capable men, one of whom once owned a bike shop, what could go wrong? 20kms down the road, she flatted on the same wheel….the diagnosis was that Bubbles had pressed too hard on the C02 canister and crushed the inner tube valve….the competence of the male riders remained untarnished…phew!

Buoyed by the fact that he could do no wrong, finally, after nearly 300kms, The Wattmeister did a turn on the front…..the other riders guffawed….”we’ll never get there at this pace! ” snorted Bubbles.

By the time we had dispatched Buckingham to our list of receipts, the ride began to have a “justwanttogetthere” feel to it. However, an opportunity to waste an hour in Tring presented itself, so we sloped off to the excellent Espresso Lounge for a cracking breakfast.

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Bubbles fell asleep at the table whilst ordering so ended up with a “crushed avo…” (guess the rest to win a prize), LongTom manfully attempted to remain awake by closing his eyes, and Old Grey Socks demolished a Bubble and Squeak and yoghurt creation….all the while The Wattmeister wordlessly and clinically dismantled a superb full english breakfast, an act of leadership which alas went unnoticed by his companions who were otherwise engaged.

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The Espresso Lounge in Tring….worth repeating. The owner is a formidable but friendly man. The food is very good. The ceiling on the toilet is very low. The Wattmeister rode the final 78 kms with concussion.

Not really much to say about the finale…more traffic, the circumnavigation of Watford, Bushey Hill ( who knew it was so long?), the slog along the A5, crossing the North Circular, a grim return to the Smoke.

We arrived at Marylebone station, had another group hug, acquired receipts, The Wattmeister downed a Pale Ale in the twinkle of an eye, and Old Grey Socks thrashed us in the sprint back in Regents Park as we rode home.

A great day/night out, not without its low points, but with a plethora of high points. Thanks must go to Bubbles for finally, finally, finally getting her rear bag packed nice and neatly so that it doesn’t rub on the mudguard.

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Downsizing

“Look at all these bikes. You can only ride one at a time! Why have you got so many wheels? You haven’t got a tricycle! Have you?….I’m sorry I said that, don’t get any ideas!”

The Wattmeisterin is paying The Wattmeister a visit in the cellar where he has been installed since 28th March 2019, the day preceding the original Brexit date, living as quietly as is possible on a diet of sardines and Torq energy gels, eschewing lycra for protective, sealed anti-Brexit protective clothing.

“Has Theresa May made a deal with the EU, my love?”, asks the former king of baroudeurs. “In the opinion of the general public, what will happen to the price of bike parts if we leave with no deal?”

“Look around, you already have enough bike parts to start your own shop…..now there’s an idea. Why don’t you consider making  space down here for more sardines by selling some of this cycling paraphernalia?”

“It’s hard to let go schatje”. (Sounds bad, but is in fact a term of endearment in the Netherlands), “I’m very attached to this stuff, but if it makes you happy, I will put my Full English Breakfast photo library up for auction on ebay….it should raise quite a bit of cash…especially the one with bubble ‘n squeak AND black pudding.”

“Look Wattmeister, you have to get real. The house is too big for us now that the children have left….”

“The children have left!?”

“Yes Wattmeister, they have moved out of the family home.”

“Moved out? How old are they?”

“They are old enough to vote, but not old enough to fill the fridge or buy toilet paper when it runs out.”

“Toilet paper! What’s that?”

“Julian Assange has been evicted from the Ecuadorian Embassy and now it’s time for you to leave the cellar Wattmeister.”

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Random Breakfast Review

A lot has happened (or not) in the 5 years since the Great Muswell Hill Full English Breakfast review series.  In completing the task, The Wattmeister’s finely tuned physique suffered from the accumulation of 37,500 extra calories. Much to the delight of The Wattmeisterin, a taut six-pack made way for copious love handles.

Despite his best efforts….a couple of grudging sit-ups a week, the odd half-hearted press-up and an occasional sulky burpee… The Wattmeister’s shape has refused to return to the Adonis-like glory of yesteryear.

In order to arrest the decline, his team of sports psychologists suggested a Mindfulness course.

“Surrender to what is. Let go of what was. Have faith in what will be”.

Which, in cycling terms, reads as: “You’re slower. You were never fast. Enjoy getting even slower”.

Crushed by the effort of maintaining moment by moment awareness and being confronted by the truth, The Wattmeister panicked and took flight, pitching up in St.Ives, Cambridgeshire.

Strolling down The Broadway, he tumbled into The Local Café as if drawn there by a magnetic black pudding. Spotlessly clean, flooded with bright cheerful light, populated with efficient, engaging and helpful staff….well, it was like the intensive care unit of Full English Breakfasts….a cure for mindfulness and the antidote to rock-hard abdominals.

The Set B brekkie at 7 quid was comprised of:  2 slices of toast, a large portion of baked beans, fried egg, very tasty sausage, 2 slices of bacon, mushrooms and a couple of hash browns….coffee or tea included in the price.  Delicious.

If you don’t like what you see in the mirror, and realise that the game is up, The Wattmeister recommends a trip to St. Ives, Cambridgeshire. There is some wonderful walking and leisure cycling to be enjoyed around Fen Drayton Lakes nature reserve and along the Great Ouse riverside. When hunger sets in, visit The Local Café in St. Ives town centre  which gets  a rating of 9.5 watts out of 10.

 

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Cannondale CAAD 12 Ultegra2019 review

Early days, only 280 kms ridden.

Swapped out the stock Fulcrum Sport wheels for the Fast Forward F6Rs off the now deceased TCR. This bike is part insurance replacement.

Examination of the frame shows it to be an object of thoughtful planning and beauty under an underwhelming paint job. Tapered top tube, sculpted down tube, flattened chain stays…..carbon seatpost, and, oh…..aluminium of course.

Geared with Cannondale’s OPI Spide Hollowgram 52/36 chainset and 12/30 cassette …should be perfect for North London and Hertfordshire’s short, sharp steep hills…and Regents Park flat track…..and my 60 year old legs.

First of all, the ride is surprisingly comfortable. Rigid, firm….but not a boneshaker….even with the stiff deep section wheelset.

The bike weighs in at around 8 kgs, but despite being slightly heavier than the TCR and Propel, it responds well to a punchy dig on the pedals, resulting in a feeling of real speed while quickly reaching speeds of over 40 km ph.

Although my climbing prowess is limited, times up various local ascents are on a par with previous attempts on the carbon bikes.

I am very impressed with this bike and am reassured by two things. If the frame suffers terminal accidental damage, it won’t cost the earth to replace, and furthermore,  it is comfortable enough for rides well in excess of 100 kms…..longest ride so far 88 kms, but not a hint of discomfort…without it being a cushioned job……that belongs to the Synapse which will be reviewed soon.

Very happy so far.

 

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Essential Reading List for Cyclists

The weather is dreary. There is not much to see or hear on the TV apart from politicians debating Br*xit and pundits opining on Br*xit. The cinema is expensive at £14 quid a seat, a pint of beer is a fiver everywhere except Wetherspoon’s, and it is even becoming dangerous to take a constitutional what with the risk of tripping over discarded mattresses and fridges. The only thing that is holding us together is graffiti.

Never fear, if you are vaguely interested in bikes and biking, The Wattmeister has come up with a superb reading list to brighten up the dark months.

Each tome has been chosen for one of the seven literary themes.

Good vs Evil……………….The Magnificent Sevenspeed/The Seventh Sprocket of the Samural. (Rural community hire mercenary mechanics to protect them from avaricious bike shop gang).

Rags to Riches…………….Oliver Twistgrip. (Orphaned posh boy goes from singlespeed to basic gearing with help of benign benefactor).

The Quest……………………Lord of the Big Rings.  (A trilogy comprising; The Fellowship of the Granny Ring; The Two Chainrings; Return of the KOM).

Comedy……………………….The Headwind in The Willy Wavers. (Conceited Strava addict becomes obsessed with Di2).

Tragedy……………………….The Picture of Marco Pantani. (Super talented pro cyclist adopts every vice while the picture in his attic reflects his disintegration)

Rebirth………………………..Candide Chooses Campagnolo. ( Lovestruck bastard nephew undergoes all sorts of trial and tribulations but still fails to get Italian manufacturer’s gear to synchronise).

Voyage and Return……..Gone with the Tailwind. (Drama involving woman who loves another man’s carbon bike more than her own husband’s titanium steed. Terrible things ensue…..they even come off Strava!).

Enjoy

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