Sunday, 20 January 2013

Mopping up...

Realised I missed a few things writing yesterday's post, plus today's exertions.

The latter first. The side roads round here were way too dangerous to cycle on today, leaving me with a choice of mountain bike or running. Running won, mainly because it was easier to get ready. We were out last night for the 6th Saturday on the bounce (we could nearly be accused of having a life), and because we were at my mother's, we were fed royally; five courses indeed, if you count the sorbet. So there was, yet again, some excess to work off, not least the fantastic, homemade sticky toffee pudding.  Um um.

I decided to run for a couple of hours, which turned into 137 mins as I felt ok after about an hour and a half. The stats actually are 14.8 miles run, 2480 feet of climbing, 1969 calories used. That only tells half the story really though. The route I chose is a tough run at the best of times, with two really steep climbs into Teggs Nose country park and Macclesfield Forest respectively. Add in today's terrible underfoot conditions (ice in many places [I took a comedy tumble on black ice on Crookedyard Road] and knee deep snow in the fields), and the wind that whipped across the exposed parts, and it was a real challenge. I really enjoyed it, but I'm not sure I'd have managed a second circuit. It's taken three bowls of hearty homemade pea-and-ham soup, a couple of pints of coffee, and a hot shower to ward off the early signs of exposure. Good training though.

Meantime, back to yesterday. There are a few things I missed. First, why am I doing this - commissioning, spec'ing and paying a small fortune for a steel bike. Having seen the final bill yesterday I'm tempted to say 'I don't know'. I do though. It's a whole mixture of reasons, some of which are good and positive, and others which are less admirable. Of the latter: whilst I love it that cycling has taken on a new prominence in recent times, I'm still turned off by the johnny-come-latelys. I imagine I'm going through the same feelings as the diehard fans of Premiership football clubs did during the 1990's when they saw grounds filling with those new supporters, attracted by success and the newfound glamour, who thought they understood everything of the present, but didn't because they had no sense of the past. My way to re-claiming the past is to not buy a Pinarello, but to create my own piece of cycling history by owning a handbuilt Rourke frame - individually numbered, individually made, and made to fit one individual - me.

As to the other reasons - well, I'd challenge anyone who said this was a mid-life crisis, but it is the equivalent of the middle aged man's shiny red sports car. I don't want it because it'll make me look youthful, or to attract the opposite sex (are women really attracted to men because of the car they drive in any case?), but because I want to own something that's beautiful and individual; it's more like buying a non-reproduction piece of art in that sense. And before I get too pretentious, the other reasons I want it are a) because I want to go as fast as my ageing, creaking body will allow me, and b) because I want to do so in comfort.

In any case, it was a privilege being in that shop yesterday. Yesterday's post had pictures of Sean Kelly's latest bike, one that Tony Pulis (the Stoke City manager) rode Land's End to John o'Groats on (and has paid for he liked it so much, but has yet to collect), a world champ's shirt dedicated to Brian ('Rourkie') from Mark ('Cav'), and one of the frames Nicole Cooke won her world championships on. I didn't have space for Rourkie's bike that he won the UK road race title on, or the photograph of Muhammad Ali being presented with his Rourke bike. There are other framebuilders in England of course - many of them. I hope their order books are as full as Rourke's, for that's the biggest indication that the culture of cycling is alive and well, not just participation levels.

Although...all the boys in the shop yesterday were bemoaning the lack of mutual acknowledgement between cyclists once you get out of the hills and hit the flatlands of the Cheshire Plain. Still, cyclists have always enjoyed a good moan.

And finally, the only moment where I felt truly daft yesterday. We were discussing which bottle cages to add to the bike, and I mentioned I'd never really got on with the Elite ones I currently use. A glance was thrown in the direction of my current bike. "That's because they're on upside down" came the withering reply....

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