It’s been a while since I posted. Flu, a baby, a tough old workload and procrastination were the general factors. My cycling has been woeful, but then the weather has hardly been conducive. A look at last year’s cycling and book reading plans did not make for pleasant reading – some of they way in both, but not really very good. Good thing my eternal security does not lie in my fitness or education, I reckon.
So I’ve been out tootling along on what is becoming my trusty Kaffenback. I never quite knew why it was so called, and given Planet-X/On-one’s propensity for naming their other bits of equipment, I was concerned that it was some vile euphemism. Happily, I discovered why it is called the Kaffenback – nothing hideous, and not some Belgian cobbled climb either.
Last Saturday, I was heading gently on my own from Hassop to Great Longstone in the Peak, when I ran into my cycling colleagues from the Common Lane Occasionals as they were heading in the opposite way to me, en route back home (if you wondering why I wasn’t with them, I’m taking things gently at the moment!). The conversation went something like this:
“Good to see you Rob – how’s it going and how’s the Kaffenback?”
“Great Tony – good to see you too. Where did you get to this morning?”
(Pointing to my bike) “We’ve been there!”
“There! You know – to the caff and back. Kaffenback!”
Truly an Acts 9:18 moment.
Last Sunday I rode the Sheffield 100 cycle ride with some of my “Common Lane Occasionals” mates. My legs have only just resumed their usual function.
Well, let’s take that apart a bit. The plan was to ride 100 miles of the Peak District with the rest of the riders. Unfortunately as soon as the gradient went remotely upwards, gravity kicked in and everyone else disappeared into the distance. At around 40 miles into the ride a signpost gave me the opportunity to switch from the 100 miles route to a 100 kilometre route; my wheel moved unswervingly towards the latter.
Every now and then you get a decision that you can almost immediately review and be utterly convinced you made the right one. This was one of those decisions. Here’s some other thoughts.
The Peak District is extraordinarily beautiful. I can’t fail to look at it and see the craftsmanship behind it. I was slightly less impressed with His craftsmanship regarding the wind on Sunday; a gusty headwind made every gentle slope feel like an 1-in-4 leg breaker.
Doping doesn’t work. I was stung by some wasps on the Friday before the ride and my left arm blew up to resemble Popeye – but unfortunately the asymmetricness was not a good look. Mrs Cyclista advised me to take a bellyful of steroids, and I hoped that it would have the useful bi-product of supercharging me over the hills. Frankly it seemed to have the reverse effect, and I can’t imagine why the blazes any athlete bothers with the stuff.
Gravity and girth do not mix. This ought not to be a surprise, but somehow it seems worse on Peak District hills. The area is hardly alpine – no climb tops out at more than 600 metres and few gain more than 400 metres in altitude. But they are steep and relentless – there’s little flat road and the short hills don’t give much time to recover. Hauling twenty five kilos more than I need to over Mam Nick ought to prompt me not to go for the fifth cream cake next tea time. It’s like cycling with my youngest daughter permanently wrapped around my midriff, but with less wriggling (she is a wriggler!).
Savlon is underrated. I’m out of Assos Chamois creme at the moment. It gives a little tingle (see Fatcyclist’s review of the stuff at the end of this article) but it’s not cheap. So this time I slathered Savlon (and I mean slathered) creme all over my ‘contact point’ and it was good. No wriggling around on the saddle in a vain attempt to find comfort. No saddle soreness the next day. No angry patches of raw red skin. Just be aware that a tube of savlon looks much the same as a tube of toothpaste. As I found out to my cost.
Sadly I missed the post ride BBQ – I needed to be at church to listen to a sermon as I’m teaching the next one in the series. I do so love Sheffield, its cyclists and its surrounding hills though.
Our back lawn is almost visible for the first time since 16th December. This is the longest period where snow has been around in my memory – and I’m 40. Snake Pass, which is 10 miles or so away from where I’ve typed this message briefly opened this morning after being close since 2 January, but another flurry has caused it’s closure again. The snow has played havoc with cycling, but it looks beautiful. It still amazes me how much I respond to God’s creation, whether on two wheels or on foot.
I’ve finally mastered the art of installing cantilever brakes and shifted all the old kit from my bent SJS frame (derailleur, dropout and pannier strap all melded into one dreadful mess) onto a new Kaffenback frame, from soon-to-be Sheffield firm, Planet X: www.planet-x-warehouse.co.uk/?page_id=1174. I took it out for a first spin, with my mother’s warning about ‘ice and bikes not mixing’ ringing in my ears. Worth it though, it rides beautifully, although it tracks in a very different way to any other road bike I’ve ridden. Probably due to a long fork trail. An hour in the Peak District helps restore the soul, and allows me to justify a pleasingly large slice of Christmas cake.