Sunday, 28 March 2010

Icknield '32k' - Team Grumpy maintains 100% record

Team Grumpy regrouped this weekend for the 2-up 32km sporting course time trial organised each year by the Icknield Road Club. This was the day after Grumpy Bob's club time trial round the Astwood sporting course, after which he suffered a rear tub puncture about 2 miles from home during his ride back home - which necessitated a trudge home along the verge since he couldn't get the tub off the disk wheel. Once home, he cleaned up the bike and shoes. Note this latter point as it becomes important later...

Later in the evening, Team Grumpy indulged with the now traditional Leffe and a visit to the local Thai restaurant (of course with added beers). By sheer stupidity on Grumpy Bob's part, Team Grumpy also consumed a quantity of Norman cider.

As a direct consequence the team was feeling rather jaded (the cynical might even suggest hungover might be a better description) on the morning of the race. 'Grumpy' Art Vanderlay suggested it was as well that the start timekeeper wasn't equipped with a breathalyser.

Team Grumpy had hopes of completing the event this year in contrast to 2009's event, where the two riders rode separately after 'Grumpy' Art suffered a series of "punctures" which delayed his arrival at the start line.

Once at the Pitstone village hall race HQ, TG quickly got their numbers and set the bikes up with enough time to ride over to the start and warm up. Unfortunately a severe problem arose. Grumpy Bob's shoes just would not clip onto his pedals. (Remember the walking in the verge bit above?) The problem seemed to be that Speedplay pedals have the clip in the shoeplate, and this seems to be sensitive to mud.

'Grumpy' Art produced a collection of screwdrivers and a Swiss army penknife, and despite enterprising use of the bizarre tool that such knives always have that is supposed to be for getting stones out of hooves (or something like that), the clips could not be made to work. Faced with this, TG had no option but to send 'Grumpy' Art off to ride the event solo.

So once again, the Icknield event was a bit of a disaster for TG. 'Grumpy' Art rode round in about 50 minutes (though no time was recorded on the result board, merely 'DNF'), dodging the numerous potholes that have opened up this winter.

And so Team grumpy maintain their 100% record of DNF in 2010 2-up time trials.

As a postscript, Grumpy Bob did eventually restore his shoeplates to a functional state, but not in time to get a ride. But there's a lesson there.

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.