Here is the second part to my short cycling stories piece. If you missed Part 1, catch it here.
Its the early 90’s and I’d ridden a very early time trial on a Sunday morning. The Shirley 50 I think with something like a 6 or 7am start or thereabouts. I did the race all good, placed so I went home happy. I was chilling on the sofa around lunchtime and I think my mom or dad shouted me in the kitchen. I jumped up, walked to the door of the lounge. The next thing I know is I’m on my back on the floor but one foot up on the sofa. I came round and got up and carried on as normal. It seems I’d passed out and fell backwards over the arm of the chair and woke in the middle of the lounge floor.
Its a regular thing now I have to be careful of particularly if I’m tired or been training. I suffer from low blood pressure, so when I get up after a second or so I can get tunnel vision. Scary if you’ve never seen it before when I have an episode. I’m used to it now and manage it these days but back then it caught me out.
I finally rode the La Marmotte sportive in France back in 2010 having tried once before but had to bail due to inclement weather. On that particular day, when we lined up to start in Bourg d’Oisans the skies were already moody. We left the start and got onto the first climb of the Col du Glandon. I’d lost my mates as we found our own pace and as I edged slowly towards the top the weather just got worse and worse. It began to rain hard and it was cold. Kitting yourself for these type of events is a bit of a lottery because it can be sub zero and raining or 40 degrees in the valleys. On this particular day I did what I normally do that is standard short sleeves + arm warmers + gilet for the chilly descents. No rain cape or thermals, that was the gamble. At the top of the the Glandon that climb turns left and then the last few km straight on take you to the top of the Croix de Fer. Near the top my mate had turned round and was heading back down. I stopped and said we need to find our other mate. We rolled back but he was determined to carry on so I went with him and left our mate to go back down. All I can say at this point it was pretty bad up there. Stopping had frozen me to the bone. Icy rain, we were numb. We just needed to get down whichever side that was. For us it was over the top. As we rounded the first couple of bends, I was uncontrollably shaking with the cold. I couldn’t even feel my hands. I remember pulling so hard on the brakes with my numb fingers into one bend I could hardly stop. Around us it was carnage. Riders on the side of the road, space blankets out but I still needed to get down now, right now. Another bend, another near miss. I stopped and tried to warm my fingers in my mouth but I was still shaking uncontrollably. Literally frozen. Another bend and that was it. Needs must. Dick out I pissed all over my hands and fingers. Warm, it was a temporary fix and I got some life back in my hands to get me down to a village where we hauled up in some kind of tourist information place. We stayed there until the weather passed. It was rammed with riders trying to dry themselves, get warm and use the blowers in the loos. After sometime, we got kicked out, the place was wrecked from the water and dirt the riders left behind. We climbed back over the top in bright sunshine and enjoyed a fantastically quiet, fast descent of the Glandon back to Bourg. Epic.
I’ve never got on with caffeine for cycling. Don’t get me wrong I need a strong coffee in a morning but give me caffeine tablets or a gel with caffeine in while cycling and I’m in trouble. I found out the hard way though. I rode a race up on the Atcham circuit near Shrewsbury which is quite rolling. The finish is up a quiet back road and is essentially a power drag for about a mile. Right up my street for a non-sprinter because I knew most would go to early and I’d wind it up and pick them off. I wouldn’t win but placing and points was probable. This particular year I was going well. The race had various breaks but came down to sprint. I had a knack of finding a way through most of the time. Sometimes a bit naughty up the right but thats what it took. I’d felt good the whole race and I’d necked a couple of caffeine gels. The race swung into the road to the finish and we began the climb. You could feel it winding up and I felt really strong. One of those days you know you’re on it. With a km to go I was in a good position and holding. It always goes early so you follow the wheels. The group stretches which gives you the space to get round riders. 500m to go and I opened the taps and my legs, both of them, literally caved and locked up with with cramp. It was that bad, I couldn’t turn the pedals and had to stop to stretch it out. Totally unexpected, I was totally pissed off and I’ve never had caffeine in an event since.
The greatest spit I have ever seen
I was on a Sunday club run a long, long time ago and we were riding back into Stourport from Bewdley. As is the norm, a pickup drove past us honking on the horn, giving us unnecessary abuse. You know the type, the self-entitled driver who thinks he deserves the road more than you because he pays that mythical road tax so you should get over or get out of the way. Anyway, my mate Rob took exception to this and launched out of the group after him. He got up to the rear of it with probably a wheel or half his bike overlapping the car and launched a hefty amount of spit in the car’s direction. Now cue the slo-mo. Its hard to describe but the drivers door window was wound down 2-3 inches. Rob’s spit was launched like an exocet missile and seemed to be carried on a gust of wind for just that moment for just the right amount of time for it to get level with the driver and as it began to lose momentum, veer to the left and enter the car through the tiny gap in the window without touching the sides. Astonishing. Me? I couldn’t ride my bike I was laughing so hard.
When I lived at home I’d often train on my turbo in the kitchen. I was at college so occasionally I’d be at home in the day on my own. This particular day I wanted to train but I had no clean kit so randomly I thought fuck it, I’ll do it naked. No one can see and I’m going piss with sweat anyway. I got going. 10 mins in and I was sweating. Slipping around on the saddle. A little longer and as sweat began to dry, as we know, it can get a bit sticky. Further into my session I decided I needed to stretch my back so I jumped up off the saddle. Unknown to me my balls had become temporarily welded to my saddle because of the sweat and jumping up off said saddle felt like my balls stayed put as I lurched up. If you can imagine the piglet squeal sound someone would make as if they’d ripped their bollocks off, I don’t think I’m far from the truth there. The morale of this story is NEVER, EVER ride a turbo trainer naked.