Monday, 8 March 2010

Port Talbot Wheelers 2-up '25': The Grumpy Art of puncture repair

Grumpy Bob has just returned from the annual trip to ride the Port Talbot Wheelers -2up '25' time trial (See the three preceding posts for an episodic preview). Team Grumpy didn't approach the event with a good deal of confidence (for reasons of fitness), and both riders definitely had butterflies in their stomach as they drove towards the event. This may or may not have had something to do with the (albeit modest) consumption of team energy drink the night before. It's also possible that eating re-heated onion bhajis the night before (which were leftovers from Friday, and which had spent 24 hours in the Team Grumpy fridge) may have had something to do with it.

The morning itself was several degrees below freezing, with a substantial frost. The TG Team manager merely spoke sternly, pointing out we had "better snap out of it", and how she wanted "400W". TG's protestations that such power was only practical for about 60 seconds fell on deaf ears.

At the race HQ, it was immediately apparent that the interior of the hall was about the same temperature as the car park, and indeed the car park was more pleasant in the sunshine. TG quickly set up the bikes, and made a quick "warmup" (if such a thing is possible in the cold). Lining up at the start, TG made our usual brisk start - out onto the dual carriageway, for a nice wind-assisted outward leg. This was pretty good, and Grumpy Bob at least felt quietly confident. Unfortunately, after the first turn TG found themselves heading back into stiff headwind. Speeds were battered down, but by the time TG reached the second turn, all four teams that had started ahead of them had been caught. Another section with a tail wind followed, this time on the undulating sporting part of the course. Then disaster struck.

Team Grumpy exit a roundabout...

GrumpyBob spied a large pothole, and indicated its presence to Grumpy Art, at that time riding right behind. Unfortunately Grumpy Art's reactions were somewhat jaded by this point and he failed to avoid it, thumping right through with a loud cry of anguish.

The ultimate manifestation of this misfortune wasn't evident for a short distance, when Grumpy Bob (still at the front) heard shouts from his team mate, who'd stopped at the roadside. A quick U-turn later, and the explanation was clear - Grumpy Art's front tyre was flat. A quick discussion, and Grumpy Bob decided to finish the course alone. But not before another team (Ogmore Valley) passed us.

To cut a long story short, Grumpy Bob did complete the course, did pass the Ogmore boys again, but by golly, his legs knew about the last few climbs before the finish.

Meanwhile Grumpy Art was giving his impression of a masterclass in puncture repair. Which those aware of TG's antics at last year's Icknield RC sporting 2-up will know doesn't actually include successfully repairing said puncture, so it was on a softening tyre that he made it back to the race HQ.

Not the most sparkling start to the Team Grumpy Centenary 2-up Season, but it's early days. Team Grumpy will regroup for the Icknield RC 2-up on 29th March, where it's to be hoped that they do better than in 2009, when they started half an hour apart following another masterclass in puncture repair. As Team Grumpy discovered, this doesn't make for a successful ride.

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