Author Topic: Velosolo Club


Velosolo Club
« on: October 28, 2013 »
I hereby announce formation of the Velosolo Club, simultaneously and in all dimensions. The idea behind the club is very simple. It's for people who ride alone.

Rules are as follows:
- Dress is informal, meaning cycling kit isn't required to go on a club ride (though you may change your mind when this gets its fire safety certificate). Rapha may only be worn if slept in.
- Any type of bicycle may be ridden, as long as at least one component has been changed from the original spec.
- Stop at red lights, go like a bat out of hell when they turn green. If you can go like a bat out of hell. If you can't, no worries.

- Club members keep calm under all circumstances.
- Other riding customs as your experience and sense of propriety dictate.
- Minimum club ride distance is as follows: any ride which takes longer than the preparation for that ride.
- More or fewer rules as they become necessary.

No affiliation with the online shop of the same name.

Enjoys reciprocal clubhouse privileges with The Zero Club.


club run
« Reply #1 on: October 29, 2013 »
Back from a ride under the auspices of the club. The usual circuit. Bumped into a few other cyclists who I believe were members as well, but one of the club rules is to eschew showy introductions and just get on with it. Showed form honking (another rule: honking is fine if you don't do it out loud) up The Big Hill; shall update Strava in the coolness of the evening. I don't have a computer fitted to the bike, so all speeds are estimates based on when I pass a certain gnarled tree.

Lots of branches still down after the storm. I zigzagged so much along one stretch I could've been touring the fjords of Norway. The mayhem included conkers spilled like marbles so it was impossible to relax into a rhythm. I picked up a few conkers and placed them in my saddle bag for later inspection.

One of the sights along the way is Bodiam Castle, whose chief claim to fame is actually looking like a castle rather than porridge melting into indigestible clumps in the rain. There's a beautiful moat filled with ugly carp. Nothing wrong with ugly, it's a description of the species. I can say this with confidence because I've had a good look at Total Carp magazine. During high season, guides dressed in authentic period costume round up tourists to make medieval-looking trinkets to sell to other tourists in the gift shop.

Today's ride included an experiment with tyre pressure a little lower than normal – I always go for the maximum. (Air being free, I like to hoard it.) Result? Too soft, Nelly! I need to be launched from every divot and chipping in the road.

On the return journey I noted a lollipop lady's lollipop peeking from behind a lychgate. I've never been more than an occasional petty thief, one too many free samples at the supermarket, guest book pens not tied down, that sort of thing, but I experienced an impulse to take this unsecured item home with me. Of course I didn't; I thought of the children.


Try something new today
« Reply #2 on: August 24, 2014 »
From the Things I didn't expect to see on my ride files:

Chapeau, shoppers

And up the road:

Audax passing through?


nuR nuD
« Reply #3 on: April 20, 2015 »
Even as the founder of a club devoted to singular cycling, I occasionally go on rides with cyclists other than myself. The Dun Run is one such event: literally thousands of people go who aren't me. Thus the draw.

This year there is – or until recently, was – a delicious conflict: the Nur Nud. It's what the Dun Run could've been if only it was going the other way, presumably ending with a morning dip into the Hackney Marshes.

By sharing the evening with its contraflow sister, the Nur Nud would also share the frisson of an established Big Night of Cycling, with the added bonus of not ending up in Dunwich, which an irate god must have had a good reason for sinking.

The organiser of the NN has been persuaded by health & safety to change the date, so any vote I'd cast would be symbolic, much like the ballot I throws into the great maw of democracy come the general election.


If you build it
« Reply #4 on: May 04, 2015 »
Went on a club run yesterday as a head cold was brewing. "I'll be fine," I sneezed to my wife. Just 14 miles, up to the pyramid and back. That would be the Great Pyramid of Brightling, its builder now eternally retired from a life of follies. This mysterious structure has been cursed ever since Mad Jack held an orgy at the nearby church and didn't invite the vicar.

see inside the pyramid

It was windy, so I took the straight-barred rock steady Litespeed, which although long since toppled from its position at the pinnacle of my small stable, often still surprises me by the joy it is capable of bringing to a ride.

Passed a couple almost identically dressed and hunched over in effort against the elements. He was only slightly ahead, performing the slipstreaming labour of love.

When I got home it was snowing cherry blossoms.


Bridges & Beers
« Reply #5 on: June 15, 2015 »
The Velosolo Club conducted a joint operation with the Bridges & Beers brigade yesterday.

The train ride up from the VCHQ in East Sussex was uneventful. Accompanied by the club vice president, we alighted from Waterloo station and into the middle of a selfie safari.

note the pint-sized Darth Vader, who clearly wasn't thinking safety

Having only one bike between us, we were forced to take another train to Hampton Court, which those who watched Wolf Hall will recall was seized by Henry after Wolsey proved too slyly likeable.

Hampton Court station came with its own jester, shown here interrogating a jackdaw.

After meeting some of the B&B cast, the club treasurer fled to Oxford Street to navigate the treacherous women's floor at John Lewis and buy a skirt.

The ride promised and delivered bridges. Being largely unfamiliar with the far southwestern reaches of London (who knew the Thames went past Westminster Bridge?), I was grateful to have a guide who knew the lay of the land, which we occasionally doubled back on as an aid to imprinting it in our collective memory.

By the time we arrived at our first pub in Wandsworth, after traversing more riverside than has evidently been mapped, sometimes on paths not quite fit for an entourage but thankfully cleared of velociraptors if not humble pilgrims without bikes, I was hungry if not thirsty. Sitting next to Richard Gere, who had also come along on the ride, I watched with quiet horror his unfinished chips being taken from the table before I had time to cadge some, having only budgeted for a thrifty Subway sandwich procured the day before.

A bit further along we observed a helicopter whirling itself into the sky. Probably someone with a Brompton showing off.

Speaking of which, quite often when we hit smooth tarmac I adopted club practice of Look mum no hands. This is difficult to pull off in a group ride without looking like a d**k. Let the record show this is my version of a Snoopy dance, and is in no way meant to demoralise those who don't enjoy good caster steering. It also soothes my occasionally troublesome back.

random earthworks turtle pic

Not long after hitting London proper (no offence to those who live in the sticks) our critical mass landed at the second and final pub. As I am lock averse – an unwritten club rule is you should never lock a bike you aren't prepared to lose – this presented a dilemma: enter in a spirit of camaraderie, or sit outside and watch the bikes, only missing a leash to complete the picture?

I chose to share the ride organiser's hefty lock (with thanks to others for volunteering) and join the gruppo, which was eventually forced inside thanks to the practicing campanologists of Southwark Cathedral. (Or a recording, I'm no campy expert. Shame I couldn't find the actual Monty Python clip.) That I fled shortly afterwards owes nothing to the company, and everything to my pubphobia, which usually only manifests itself when inside an establishment. This is a combination of mild claustrophobia and a dislike of pub acoustics, which inevitably have me wanting to turn up my nonexistant hearing aid.

Back in deepest middle eastest Sussex the club physician met me at the station with the car in case I wanted a lift, took one look at my still full bidon, and shook her head at my dreadful hydration routine. Alcohol is even more dehydrating, I wanted to tell her. Then I raced her home, given a head start as she got caught at the level crossing. I don't run on water: I run on good mojo.


The Half Dun
« Reply #6 on: June 19, 2015 »
When the FNRttC was up and running to its best destination of Brighton, it was usually my practice to turn around at Ditchling Beacon (the top, of course) and go home, that so-called London by the sea never actually being of much interest. Thus it has finally occurred to me that it isn't obligatory to finish the Dun Run at Dunwich, which I've been to many times over the years; and it's far less interesting when you have to turn around and get on the same train as approximately 10,000 other cyclists.

Prompted by the Nur Nud, and inspired by the Dalston Dynamo manifesto ("Because Suffolk is a fucking long way away"), I have decided to tailor the event to suit my own needs, which include the occasional outing with hundreds of thousands of other cyclists, a good night ride, and London miles. I'm also partial to the chaotic critical mess at the start and that lovely dippy feeling of getting frequently lost.

All of which is to announce the next major Velosolo Club outing: the Half Dun. The plan is to celebrate Independence Day

by launching my little ship along with the great armada from the Pub On The Park, ride out approximately half way, then turn around as if unable to resist the allure of the mother ship after all and retrace the route, forsaking the tail lights' red glare to be half blinded by the night's offering of candlepower.

To fully enjoy the experience this will necesitate shooting off with the early ejectulators well before 9pm. Upon arrival back at Hackney I may pass Dalstoneers asleep underneath bus stop benches and doubtless be passed by the speedier Dun Runners.

Consider this notice served that the one way system in effect that night along the route will be suffering contraflow disruption in addition to other traffic which hasn't gotten the memo.


« Reply #7 on: July 02, 2015 »
Have been doing night rides, limbering up for my upcoming Half Dun ↑. Being an inzzzomniac helps.

An inzzzzzomniac, which can be spelt with as many Zs as you please, is someone who doesn't sleep as much as alive people normally do, but does sleep on occasion; and is also known to enter a zombie state an hour or two before surrendering to the id-encrusted hypothalamus. Inzzzzzzomniacs can also look frightening if you catch them in this in-between state.

Of course you can't go full zombie on these affairs, for your own safety and that of others. Sometime between now and the 4th I'll have to manage to get a really good day's sleep.

Or not.


Ghost ride
« Reply #8 on: July 14, 2015 »
Another VC joint operation gone awry; there was far too much conversation to allow for much in the way of introspection or karaoke.

It began with Southeastern Trains dropping me at London Bridge rather than the more convenient Charing Cross, which necesitated a race across town and picking my way through barriers for another race to make it to Hyde Park Corner in time. The Queen sent her finest over to see us off, then we were.

The ride was about ghost signs, those fading hoardings of paint which pallidly dot the urban landscape like so:

I was also intrigued by the Arab Cargo Company Ltd. What sort of cargo is Arab cargo? Is it their version of Genco?

Spent a good deal of time alongside a very nice man on a very nice looking recumbent. I say he's nice because he offered to let me ride it sometime, after first sensibly determining that I have ridden 'bents before and wasn't likely to come a cropper on his.

For a long while I will shamefully admit I didn't pay much attention to the ghost signs on offer, as it felt so nice just cruising through London and getting lost in talk. At one point my eye spied crepe fluttering in the breeze, which marked a graveyard.

RIP Barry Mason.

We also passed "the most used street in movies set in London," according to Ross, whose quote I have surely mangled.

Apparently this is where Hugh Grant got into that fight with Colin Firth in that movie about a nice young woman's diary. @1.18 do you suppose that's what Liz Hurley wanted to do? And what's the doc from Star Trek DS9 doing there, sucking a lollipop? (On watching it again I realised he's smoking a cigarette. Why did I think that was a sweet? Oral fixation, anyone?)

We passed an old sunken road kept under lock and key to dissuade chuggers:

Seeing as LMNH was on the agenda, throughout the ride I did my best to keep hands from handlebars throughout the ride.

At the foodstop there was a seat going spare across from one of my favourite actors, Bill Nighy. He didn't quite reach Richard Gere doppelgänger levels (see Bridges & Beers above), but I'm almost sure it was Bill if I squinted and put a bit of cotton in my ears. Splendid bloke; along with Martin Freeman, the only way to watch all the way through Love Actually without topping yourself. The subject of marmosets came up.

About three hours into lunch I determined it was time to dash back to my wife, which was fortunate as not longer after I got home she took ill. (She's a bit better now.)

That doesn't seem like a satisfying ending to this ride report. Bill, give us a laugh.


« Reply #9 on: July 24, 2015 »
Tomorrow is Wenday. The Velosolo Club is taking the weekend off.

As this is somewhat off the beaten path, it's a safe place to reveal the surprise that I'm baking muffins for everybody who makes it to the top of the last big BLUEBERRY hill.

I've been keeping an eye on the weather. God knows why. Just as a watched pot never boils [Snopes: False], perhaps a watched sky won't rain.

Rain is Mother Nature crying, which is why meteorologists are so melancholy