Monday, November 26, 2012

Suffolking windy bike ride



Today I went on an bike ride with @simonJKH and a trumpet playing fixie wrangling buddy friend called either Trumpet or Mark depending on what I remember to call him. Sadly some other attendees were unable to be in attendance due to lurgy or other totally reasonable excuses.

We met at the Giles the cartoonist statue in Ipswich town centre (or as Trumpet calls it 'that fat old woman') at the very lazy time of 8am, our rides tend to start much earlier due to attendees wishing to get home for lunch, shopping, posting on CycleChat or reluctant involvement in half-arsed DIY projects that end in matrimonial distemper.

To say the wind was 'up' would be like downplaying the Suffolk storms of '87 that turned most forests into heaths as a minor inconvenience to tree huggers; the Met Office declared that by 9am we had north easterlies of 29mph with north easterly gusts of up to 58mph.

I introduced Trumpet and Simon to each other and Simon expressed an interest in Trumpet's fixie.

We set off in a North Easterly direction out of town bipping along at a fair old rate until I encountered an unfortunate episode in which the air in my rear tyre decided to rejoin its kin outside the butyl confines of said tyre. I fitted a new inner tube and exiled the old one to inner tube Stalag - the forecourt garbage can of the BP garage on Spring Road in Ipswich. A few grunts into filling the new rubber Tarmac contact comrade with my never-used-before handpump the gauge on the pump (possibly encouraged by the sedition of my 'holey' inner tube) made a break for freedom, leaving behind a hole as useful as a hole in a dunkie.

I tskked and pschaared and made a noise like a leaky gas pipe and explained the reason for my imusucal noises to Trumpet and Simon - I have been considering buying a Co2 tyre inflater for months but hadn't quite gotten around to reaching hand in pocket and forking out the fiscal investment. Simon proved for the first and not last time today that he's a good chap to have about when he produced a Co2 canister with a subtle flourish and very kindly offered it to me with the minor caveat that he was yet to use it in anger on the front line of the battle between man and the puncture fairy. After an experimental prod of the device in which I nearly cryogenically preserved Trumpet's left arm I had a full tyre and another thing to add to my cyclists' shopping list. We set off again.

Through Kesgrave we had such a tailwind that we barely needed to pedal, well apart from Trumpet because he has a fixie. If you've ever visited Kesgrave you'll agree that the best possible way to experience it is with your head down focussing on the exit road. One of the highlights of any journey through Kesgrave is the long straight stretch at its exit that allows you to get a good lick of speed up on your way out.

Down through Old Martlesham the tailwind stayed kind, and through Woodbridge it became downright benevolent as I managed to take KOM on a Strava segment that the Tour of Britain ambled through earlier in the year, an event that sent many of my Strava rankings into freefall.

After Woodbridge we turned right and went on the small winding lanes through Lower Ufford. I had cycled this part of the route late at night a few days earlier when testing whether it was possible to use a cheap torch as a cycle light. So naturally until today I hadn't seen the condition of these lanes at all, and the 10cm deep of mud 'n' crud liberally pasted in the centre third of the road threw some considerable light on why I had arrived at my destination a few nights previous looking like I'd had an altercation with a referee at a mud wrestling club, and then not had the money to pay my bar tab and had to spend the night clearing out the mud pits. Simon appeared to appreciate the conditions, at least I assume that's what he meant by his comment about it being nice to experience a bit of cyclocross on today's jaunt.

Through Wickham Market (where I spent my formative years) we took a left turn and made for the ancient castle augmented town of Framlingham. We all knew that the tailwind treats would come to an end at some point and we expected this change of direction to be that turning of the wind tides. We were wrong; the tailwinds carried on for at least another 237 metres, which might sound like a short distance to you but on looking back once we had battled through annihilating headwinds by the time we reached Framlimgham 237 metres seemed like an epic 237 metes of near-nirvana.

Once at Framlingham Trumpet and I both touched the front door of the castle as some sort of half way point ritual that neither of us have ever done before, and will most likely never do again. Such is the transience of modern life.

Trumpet asked if were were going into the castle, I said no, and not only because the admission fee was more than the cost of a Co2 tyre inflator but also because I went to High School in Framlingham and thanks to the recessions on during my school years the annual school trip each year was a mirthless march to the castle. We did go to Pleasurewood hills theme park one year but there was no return visit; the rumour at the time was that we were no longer welcome because one of our number headbutted the mascot, a dead-eyed bearsuit number that smelt of stale urine and Rothmans that went by the name of Woody Bear. Anyway, I wander from the tale...

After a stock up of jelly babies we headed back to Wickham Market through Easton, and thanks to an even stronger headwind the experience was more like head butting than heading.

It might be worth mentioning at this point that while Simon and I cycle several times a week just to try and retain the ability to perambulate without popping off our mortal coils (actually that's just me) Trumpet has ridden his bike about three times since the Dunwich Dynamo, nearly six months ago. So when I now tell you that Trumpet was seriously suffering by this point in our adventure then you'll have some sympathy for his plight, although not too much as he is young, accidentally fit and skinny as a vegan on a hog roast holiday. I guess having no gears or freewheel didn't help the poor sod's cause either.

By the time we were forcing our way back to Ippo along the NEVER easy Clopton road the wind was pretty much blowing us to a standstill. I have never used the little front cog on my bike but if I hadn't used it today I would have had my first clipless moment. Even with the small cog I considered using my teeth to try and steady my handlebars. Both trumpet and I got blown onto the verge at least twice, although kudos to Trumpet for riding the metre high verge like he meant to; pure class.

By pure chance we saw a big van being driven by the lass who plays violin in the band that trumpet and I play in, we were so pleased and occupied by waving that Trumpet only realised afterwards that he could have begged her for a lift home.

We cut short the ride and decided to head home as quickly as possible, by which I mean Trumpet and I wussed out, Simon just goes and goes; no complaining, no fuss, just one man and his very pretty Triban 3. This is the second time I've ridden with Simon, the first time was remarkably genital-shrinkingly cold and not a murmur from the fella, just feet spinning, hill mounting, cadence killing cycling. He's also good at steering clear of the childlike arsing around that Trumpet and I get up to. Coming into Tuddenham Trumpet got cramp and I tried to get all Peleton about it and put my hand on his back to give him a shove, resulting in both of us wobbling like a jelly on wheels being shoved through a freak show.

There is a huge hill as you leave Tuddenham, Simon and I waited at the top for Trumpet. As we watched him reaching the top (running with his bike!?!!!?) Simon turned to me and informed me that he has changed his mind about wanting a fixie.

We made it home and parted ways in that way that always feels lacking in closure after a brutal ride, and I'm sticking with rule 9 - 'If you ride in bad weather you are badass'.

I asked my wife if we could call by the BP garage when we went shopping later in the day, I told her that I wanted to retrieve my discarded inner tube - I had been hasty, I had regrets, me and the tube had had time apart to figure out how we felt, and I wanted the tube back, I wanted to patch things up, start again... My wife pointed out that we were heading entirely the wrong direction.

I have now spent £30 on two new inner tubes, two co2 presta adapters and six co2 tubes.

Click here to view the route we took...