Author Topic: Velosolo Club


A death in the afternoon
« Reply #20 on: November 05, 2018 »
There's a branch hanging low over the road. It's the same one I saw and easily avoided two days ago, wondering at the time if I should be a good citizen and try to bring it down. Guess I figured that somebody else always takes care of these things. I also had a vague notion that no good deed goes unpunished; it was big, so I could hurt myself, and on a blind bend, all the better to be hit by an inattentive motorist.

This afternoon I’m wool-gathering

barbed wire is not recommended for this

so only notice it just as it’s about to bring me down. I duck but it still grazes the top of my head. I think right, got to do something about this, and so set the bike against the hedge and approach the broken limb.

It's about 10 feet long. My first tug tells me it’s holding on tight. I then take it by its arms and we do a twirling dance. A few twists and it’s off. I heave it over the hedge, then get back on the bike.

A deer suddenly appears up ahead.

Then another and another. Fastest pay it forward ever? If I hadn't stopped, we could’ve been meeting for our own dance. (Not sure about the timing, but I’m going with it anyway, for the sake of this post.)

A few miles later there’s another one, broken neck turning him into a swan in death. Bloody hell. I almost feel like paparazzo snapping a dead Diana.

What with me, my bike, and a dead deer on the side of the road,

soon we have company. A man with a van pulls over, gets out, and promptly informs me "He's alive." I tell him I really don't think so. "But his chest is moving," he asserts. I would suggest the flies swirling around are giving the illusion of motion, but he's already put his hand on its ribs. "I guess not," he finally says, then heads off with a little wave.

Closer to home I meet a small herd of cows clomping down the lane. They stall as they approach me. Nothing the farmer shouts changes their minds, so he puts them in reverse for me to go by. He thanks me for waiting, suggests they must have been frightened by my wheels. It's a cheap wheelset, I have to agree, but hasn't given me problems.


The unintended gauntlet
« Reply #21 on: March 05, 2019 »
The club officially frowns on competition, as an emphasis on the sportier side of cycling is not conducive to a relaxed atmosphere.

And yet.

I am considered, at least in my household, to be KOM title holder of Kings Hill Road in Burwash. This despite not being jacked into that cyclist supercomputer (I don’t even use the little ones that go on the handlebars). I hold this title by virtue of the fact that nobody is allowed to beat me up it. “Nobody” is admittedly a small sampling given that I run into relatively few of our kind around here, and does not include those who have indeed beaten me to the top on statistically insignificant occasions.

This is how it usually goes:

• If cyclist is spotted ahead of me, take note of whether the gap is closing. If so, go for it: victory is almost certainly assured.

• If cyclist is noticed behind me, this becomes a good time to have a swig of water: the better to gauge the potential usurper’s fitness level. Only amateurs kick it into high gear before knowing this crucial bit of information. Given that I have ascended this hill literally thousands of times now, I know exactly when to press my advantage.

It is then polite to acknowledge the vanquished. At this point the more observant will laud me for riding a fixed gear, which of course I correct.

• Relax, hoping I haven’t triggered exercise-induced asthma.

Today’s ride brought the unexpected: another cyclist passed me as we were nearing the summit. He appeared out of thin air, which surely wasn’t a good sign. I had the reserves to sail by him before we hit the peak, though he did slightly take the wind out those sails by cruising past once we had plateaued. He remained silent to my innocuous sally as I passed.

If it please m’lord, I often chide myself over my victories, granting that my opponents may be halfway through a century while my daily rides are considerably more modest. Who knows where this guy had come from, or where he was going, besides the record books.

Fortunately the road ahead was to provide a more satisfying encounter.

Another hill, much less lofty but of the sting-in-the-tail variety. On the lower slopes I was stopped anyway, to have a drink, when I heard a cheerful trio chatting about base layers. “Mind if I hang on to you guys?” I asked the tail-end-by-a-few-feet-Charlie. Permission was cheerfully granted.

They were fit and lithe to the point I felt comparatively Rubenesque, but I reckoned I could take them. Sure enough, as we approached the sting, they slowed to a satisfying crawl. Still, I bided my time, to be absolutely sure: ignominy in a group setting was not my goal here.

It got steeper, they got slower, I grew surer. I made my move. Victory was sweeter when one of them mentioned my lack of gears, to which another observed that it didn't seem to be slowing me down, or praise to that effect; I don't remember exactly, I was bathing in the afterglow.

It didn't even set off a coughing fit.


The final frontier
« Reply #22 on: March 12, 2019 »

casual wear

A little while ago I violated Club protocol by advertising for volunteers to join me on jaunts around the local area, taking care not to inform them of their possible medicinal qualities. The result was underwhelming: 1 interested party. There was enough information about him online that I quickly judged him someone I'd rather avoid, instead of go out of my way to meet up with. His crime? Using London house sale money to help further inflate the market in these parts.

We've got quite enough greedheads as it is without importing enablers.

Until the background check it hadn't even occurred to me that I have a litmus test. It might be wise to make a list, to avoid future awkwardness. This isn't in any particular order, unless you count numerical:

1. No fixies. The non-freewheeling drivetrain attracts far too many deplorables. I've only seen one since moving down here, though people say they're going down to London, so I'm no longer sure which way is up, compass-wise, assuming north is still north. I don't think he was deplorable, but can't take that chance.

2. No fancy carbon-fibre bikes. Horses for courses sure, but does that mean the horse has to be ugly? If you can't shoot it, at least keep it out of my line of sight. I will adjudicate what's fancy and/or ugly in a fair and responsible way.

3. Absolutely no disc brakes. I'm sorry, they make me nervous. I've heard they can slice a man in two.

4. Must dress conservatively. That means no distracting logos (decided on a case by case basis) or excessively aerodynamic sunglasses.

5. Any occupation is fine, except estate agent.

This should really go without saying.

6. If we stop long enough for lunch, no pictures of your food, especially sausages, to share on social media. Unless they're really good pictures, which is exceedingly unlikely, sorry.

7. Don't yell "on your left!" or "on your right!" I don't know what these things mean in the heat of the moment.

8. There will be a political questionnaire. I don't care what your politics are, I just like asking questions. Note however if they turn out to be odious, there will be consequences.

9. Be willing to post about rides on this site. Listen, I know it seems pointless spending potentially valuable time composing interesting and witty stories that probably nobody except me is going to read. What am I, chopped liver? At least crosspost, with a timestamp in our favour.

10. Must have a sense of humour verifiable outside peer group. This is sufficiently far down the list it shouldn't be confused with an ad on Plenty of Fish. Still, life is too short to be waiting for a candidate to completely change his or her personality.

11. Obligatory Spinal Tap reference (here's another for good measure). As anybody woke will tell you, not funny. Those things hurt.

It strikes me that if I adhere faithfully to the principles laid out above, I’m destined to continue my solo career.

Dear Reader
We interrupt this thread about solo cycling to bring you a message about solo posting.

Here's a blast from the past to set the mood. I’ll wait.
Is that clock actually ticking?

Now a screenshot from the admin section of this site:

1. Been there, done that.
2. A state of equilibrium has been reached.
3. Redefining site stickiness.
4. These numbers are a little wonky, unless the stats facility is rounding down.
5. This is me.
6. This is he.
7. aka 1-2-3
8. Also been there done that. I don't recommend it.

This isn’t a mean and sheam exercise, and not just because we have no prawneds (belated anagram alert). It's an illustration of the reality I face every time I decide to post here.

As an inveterate forum talent scout, it used to frustrate me that I couldn’t scoop people up and deposit them into clearly classier digs; and that those who had crossed the road seemed inexplicably to be unwilling to settle in. But there’s nothing baffling about choosing to spend your time where you can rub shoulders with fewer crickets: with actual friends, even.

What can happen when you google crustacean rather than frustration

I use social media primarily to help me indulge my passion for playing with words and pictures. One example is Please stay, where the observant will note that care has been taken to establish a visual theme

even as this post continues another; call it blog cross pollination.
Dancing with oneself
Despite that the song is about what it says on the tin, one accepts the culturally applied meaning.


I’m no friend to amoral data hungry beasts whose only interest in me is my resale value. ‘Instagram influencer’ of any rank will never be on my CV. I don't even Strava. My credentials as an anomalous social media specimen are rounded out by distaste for the cheap baubles of smileys and likes, as well as an (antisocial?) aversion to happymemes (unless it's one of mine). This grouch isn't entirely a figment of my imagination. You get the picture. is probably the best fit. Such a pity that way leads to the writers conclave witches coven – or so I imagine is the chilling end of Followers.

This Simple Machines Forum is a typewriter in a room of my own. It has a panopticonic view. Next time you pass by, if you see me waving, I’m not drowning but stretching.

Sam the singularity

Darlings killed ____


Dance macabre
« Reply #24 on: June 04, 2019 »
Another death, another afternoon. Heading out for a ride, I'm unlucky enough to be just in time to witness a young rabbit get hit by a car. He dances that crazy dance, blood hemorrhaging in his head. It's horrific.

Not wishing to see him flattened into his own temporary grave marker, I head back for the shovel. By the time I've returned, it's too late, but I do the job as best I can. Call me soft, I'm not built for this.

I don't do 'rainbow bridge'. He's gone. I drive too, but fuck you, cars.

At least as a cyclist if you hit something there’s the possibility it could take you down as well, which is only fair.


Hill in three acts
« Reply #25 on: June 23, 2019 »


Danger of death, but OK

That's a bit harsh


Living in the moment
« Reply #26 on: June 28, 2019 »
If this life is one act
Why do we lay all these traps
We put them right in our path
When we just wanna be free

Nothing feels freer than freewheeling at night all by your selfie.

If you can fill the unforgiving minute with 60 worry-free seconds, you’re a better man than me

Here's a shameful fact: I'm afraid of the dark. It’s spooky. My Lezyne nightlight helps, but doesn’t completely dispel the ancient sense of unease at being prey to things you cannot see. Like zombies, of course. I should know: at times I’m so tired I become one.

During my most recent nocturnal cycle, it struck me that I simply must get a picture of Rudyard Kipling with my simplespeed.

When I arrived at his unlit bench in the smallest of small hours I was struck by how realistic he seemed, patiently keeping watch on the deserted high street. There was no way I was going to sit next to him (he looked uncannily undead without the flash spoiling the effect) and discover that I was running so far into sleep deficit I had started hearing voices; perhaps even one offering wise counsel, delivered with a paternal arm around my shoulders, about getting decent kip for a change.

I will not waste my days
Making up all kinds of ways
To worry about all the things
That will not happen to me

That's jolly good advice. However, I don't have to make up the fact that I have hypertension, which can lead to worrisome ailments that can indeed happen to me. Getting more sleep would help. (Enough with the nannying, brain, I get it.) If only insomnia wasn't so damn clarifying sometimes.

So I just let go of what I know I don't know
And I know I only do this by
Living in the moment
Living my life
Easy and breezy
With peace in my mind
With peace in my heart
Peace in my soul
Wherever I'm going, I'm already home

Well, almost. Home is only a 5 minute ride down the road. First I must obey all traffic laws.

I am indeed feeling peaceful. Easy and breezy, for that matter. Everything my ipod throws at me provides food for thought that seems eerily made to order,* as well as offering an opportunity for a hearty singalong.

Living in the moment...

It goes on, lyrical hooks in deep. I think about how animals like the badger I just saw scuttling into a hedge, and the rabbit currently snoozing behind my couch, must live in the moment. Wherever he goes, he's already home, too. Though I wouldn't be surprised if he also has hypertension.

The next song on my playlist is, believe it or not, Welcome Back. (Yes, Kotter.) "What do you make of that?" asks Rudyard as I take my leave. Beats me.

*I chose the playlist, so

Hey, that's not Mandy. (It's not Theresa, either.) Christine, wouldn't you be more comfortable on, I don't know, a bench?


Redefining need
« Reply #27 on: July 03, 2019 »
This morning it’s the philosophical musings of Mick Jagger which direct my thoughts. I won’t do a complete line reading, but as a pragmatic yet upbeat statement,

You can't always get what you want
But if you try sometime you find
You get what you need

takes some beating.

Wildlife tally included a fox, cats having a conference of some sort, and a bat who graduated at the bottom of his echolocation class. My day rides usually feature somewhat more cumbersome creatures.

Last seen contemplating the uses to which four stomachs could be put

I hope my sonar is working properly for the upcoming Eastbourne FNRttC, my first in years; when the coast is clear I have been known to drop behind in stealth mode, content with moonlight and tail lights.

The ride has personal significance for reasons other than opportunities it may present for being naughty. It is my plan to cease the insane sugar fast I've had going for (checks calendar) 235 days now. If I don't I may blow a fifty-amp fuse. A taxing ride o'er hills provides the perfect excuse to zap any lingering sense of guilt over the seriously unhealthy breakfast I have planned.

Dream team

Please don't judge me.

Note to self: remember to actually bring the highly processed rice-based drink, without which the moment will not be complete. More easily sourced cow juice just won't do:


Thunderbolt & Litespeed
« Reply #28 on: July 26, 2019 »
The creaky Litespeed and I have unfinished business. Despite giving up on finding the source of the maddening noise, I haven't. Quite given up, that is. Could it be as simple as a dab of oil on the rusty water bottle cage bolts currently welded to the bottom of the downtube? No. Annoyed, I consign the bike back to its stall of shame and bring out the usual Enigma for tonight's ride.

New Club rule: take lightning seriously.

After a day of serious sun, the Sussex earth is in cooldown mode. There are flashes far enough away that thunder can’t follow. I’m not worried.

Around Brightling, the king of the hill around here, a few raindrops fall from the stars. Outliers, I figure. A little further along there are more drops. Then lots more. This is starting to look like a bad idea.

I pick a tree and wait, little caring that you're not supposed to hide under trees – why would Zeus choose mine in particular? The lightning is still not bringing thunder with it, until it is. It rains harder. I turn off my light, carefully set the bike on the road, then sit down beside it.

My leafy umbrella proves fit for purpose, no Chinese water torture. It’s about 3 in the morning. I try to relax, with partial success. This is solitude at its most exquisite: all very fine except for my predicament of not knowing how long the storm will last. At one point I hear a loud noise like a large slavering beast or a pack of wild things pushing aside bushes and trees to find a snack cross-legged on the lane.

They pass, possibly making a meal of the alpaca not far away. I think about cyclists who have gone off on world tours and find themselves down a lonely road in the middle of Tibet or somewhere. Take my camera out and create my own lightning for selfies, mostly blurry. Turn the camera on the bike:

Yes, light back on. Well spotted.

It suddenly occurs to me that I have a phone, and a few shows downloaded. Nature is wonderful (when it's not red in tooth and claw), but I’ll take the nurturing of Netflix.

Voyage into better than good badness. How the theme song got on my ipod shuffle I do not know.

After a little while the rain stops. (I’m on record about not liking to get this bike wet.) Electricity, however, is still making the rounds from heavenly firmament to earth, unless that’s the other way around.

I’m going to have to ride through some high exposed ground to get home. This does not appeal. I decide to do it anyway, thinking I’d have to be pretty unlucky… which happens, doesn’t it. And not always to somebody else.

Needless to say I make it back, just as the drops get fulsome. Satisfaction guaranteed.


I love the nightlife
« Reply #29 on: July 30, 2019 »
I bumped into a zombie the other night. Despite an overactive imagination, it was the last thing I expected.

Somewhere beyond the pavement, you'll find the living dead

He was walking along a pitch black lane from the church to the village. Appearing suddenly in my headlight, he didn’t flinch, but I nearly did. I say from the church, because that’s the historical anchor of the small group of houses, but had the hour been closer to last drinks, I expect he would've been a straggler from the pub so convenient to St. Mary the Virgin. If he wasn't a zombie, that is.

We didn’t exchange pleasantries; it happened so fast, I might’ve otherwise, but I was plugged in listening to something or the other, and he didn’t appear chatty in any case. He was holding his arms at his sides, which is admittedly unzombielike, but it may have been he wasn't feeling peckish at the moment.