As Busy as a…

Mid week posts aren’t really looking like a likelihood until some point next month so you’ve been warned. The best bit of news from the world of is that the Trans Alp bike is built up and ready to rock. Welcome Indy Fab #3 – photos are here. It’s taken a while to get the build to this stage and I’m still waiting for one of the new SDG Bel Air RL saddles and some more Candy Ti pedals – in the mean time the Singlespeed’s been pilfered for bits.

Havind departed Scotlandshire and headed over to the land of the French, the Macpuppy has just reported in:

From: Macpuppy
Subject: A commute of two tails…

Bonjour smellee British peeps,

Rumour has it that the common wolf was hunted out of existance and hasn’t been sighted in the Vercors national park for over 30 years but ‘le Daupine post’ reported this week that although no sightings have yet been confirmed rumours of howling, barking and pawprints are circulating amongst shepherds in the high pastures …… methinks Mushers been out exploring !

But that’s beside the point, I was going to tell you about my first true commute to my new desk.

After a week of un-seasonal sunshine, warm winds, high temperatures and settling in to the new environment, I finally pulled the skinny tyred machine out of it’s bag and headed for work at 8am yesterday. The sky was still crystal blue, the temperature was dropping and the weather looked set to turn nasty so I thought I’d better get this done before it becomes impossible until the spring.

Now I’m no roadie …. but on the strength of this first descent – 26Km, 35mins, -2800ft, a few bends and two rows of fly spattered teeth – I could be converted. It’s a strange feeling hurtling at 45mph towards a hairpin looking down at 18mm tyres with pathetic wee brake pads when your used to the stopping power of Mono M4’s working through 63mm Weirwolfs but somehow we always manage to get round the bend and blast out the other side before grabbing the levers as the next hairpin approached. Near the bottom a car stutters out of a driveway onto the road ahead and we seamlessly drift to the other side of the road and pass before the driver scrabbles for third gear. Ooof that was fun and the flat section at the bottom of the hill is probably still as far as the old commute in Edinburgh was.

Lunch came and went, e-mail was read and sent, meetings endured, coffee inhaled, brief snippets of bad French – the weathers still solid blue but as 4.30pm approaches monster black clouds suddenly tower over the Vercors and all hope of getting home dry is gone.

I’ve been worrying about this first ride home all week, not because it’s long or steep or long AND steep for a long long way but because there are no street lights for 20Km of it and every time I’ve driven up it it’s full of loons dirfting and cutting corners and I’ve never seen a cyclist ride it in the dark. Strangely the French, those people who live on their bikes don’t seem to keep riding when it get’s dark and cold. They put their bikes away for months !

So I headed off out into the rain – soaked to the skin in the first couple of Kms but feeling good. 15mins later I’m at the bottom of the climb and the end of the streetlights and the inky blackness swallows evarything except the 12Watts worth of Lumi spot dancing up the road in front of me. My thoughts drift back to the loons in the cars are they going to see me in time ?

Well I have 3 rear lights deployed, 2 flashers, 1 steady and one of them is on my helmet, so if they do push me off the side of the mountain my tombstone can at least testify that I tried to warn them off …. it seems to work as every car that comes up behind me flashes it’s lights to let me know they are there and then pulls over to the wrong side of the road to overtake, they even slow right down and wait patiently on the bends – how cool is that ? One bloke comes alongside, rolls down his window and jabbers at me in some strange tounge – he’s pointing frantically at the tailgate of his car with one hand, fag in the other and steering round the bends with his teeth (still on the wrong side of the road) there’s a bike rack on the back so I guess he’s offering a lift, I politely decline and get back to the job in hand.

It’s tipping buckets, the Lumi’s are now trying to punch holes in thick cloud and one of my tail lights has drowned but I’m no longer worried about the cars so settle into the climb and suddenly realise something wierd has happened. I’m sitting in the saddle spinning and continue to do so for mile after kilometer after mile ….. eh but as you know I only ever climb out of the saddle !!!! Mind bending stuff for sure but 25Km, 1hr 20mins +2800ft and 2billion gallons of rain later I’m in the village home and ‘dry’ :o)

Merde !!!! ….. I forgot the last Kilometer and bonk :o( …. but that’s what roadies do, not hairy ersed mountainbikers ?????? Schecht the world is swimming before me, someone has stolen my legs and I’m cold and wasted. Five whole minutes to cover the last click but I get there and stuff shortbread down my face as fast as possible. Another five minutes later and I’m thinking about heading back to the office to retrieve the pen I left on my desk :o) At least I now know ‘the bonk’ is just a 10 minute roadie thing.

I’ve just ordered a Lumicycle tail-light and a spare battery …. now looking forward to heading back to work on Monday and surfing for a Garmin USB cable for the GPS so I can download the tracklog for you all to enjoy.

What tyres for Alpine hairpins ??????

Ohhhh. How jealous? Sounds like a great way to start and end the day. He’s going to be getting seriously fit with that bad boy on the schedule everyday.

Meanwhile IMBA and CTC have agreed to disagree over the clauses prevenning byway claims by motorised vehicle users. CTC regards any restriction of motor vehicles as being good for cyclists, while IMBA recognises that if groups like the TRF are prevented from making claims, then some thousands of potential routes will be lost – as no other group has the capability to fill the gap. IMBA has written to Minister Jim Knight to warn him of this consequence, noting that the more important task is to manage vehicular byways so that routes are not trashed by inconsiderate and unsustainable use.

Author: Cris Bloomfield

Usually mountain biking in the North.

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