Tuesday, July 23, 2013

G Up

When we decided to use the Mule as the symbol of our cycling group there were a number of obvious influences.
An offspring of a male donkey and a female horse, the mule has evolved over time.

They are considered more patient, sure-footed, hardy and long-lived than horses
Less obstinate, faster, and more intelligent than donkeys.

We likened this equine beauty to our cycles, a beast of burden to carry ourselves and our internal saddlebags - away from the conventional routes of life.
To be obedient, responsive and to go where directed.

Unlike our historical pioneers who used the mule practically to their full potential,  my literary route was seemingly not so comprehensive.

Mules feature more commonly in Southern American Literature than any other creature.
Characteristically they meet their demise by a variety of different ways, which is often integral to the storyline.
Overwork, asphyxiation, drowning, beating, gunshot, train collisions, even decapitation by an opera singer have all featured.

In "Blood Meridian" written by Cormac McCarthy - 59 specific mules are killed and dozens of other mules die in a plunge off a cliff.
Truman Capote's also gets all 'Muled up' in his racy "Other Voices, Other Rooms,"
His poor Mule named John Brown is found hanging from a chandelier in a dilapidated antebellum mansion with a spittoon tied to its leg.

Seemingly it is acceptable to write about Mule hardships - a trait that is not lost on some of our riders.
Left to Right - Bobby,Duncan, Philip, Manuel, Simon, Neale, Craig, John and Mark S

Every July Beverley host its own Sportive called the Big G
Now all sky supporters will know that 'G' is the nick name for Geraint Thomas (No Immediate link)
Well 'G' broke his pelvis on the first week of Le Tour yet he continued to ride.
From that moment on the Expression 'Man Up' became redundant replaced by 'G' up.
This was a great sense of irony as The Big G does require some of Geraints attitude
The 160Km (110 mile) route starts and finishes in the historic market town of Beverley, the home base of the UK Mules.
It covers the best roads in the Yorkshire Wolds featuring many of the toughest climbs used in the East Yorkshire Classic and the 2006 & 2007 National Road Race Championships.

Featured climbs include Life Hill (Sledmere), Fimber, Wharram Percy Wold, Birdsall Brow, Thixendale Wold, Hanging Grimston, Acklam Brow, Great Givendale and Nunburnholme.
These all add up to nearly 8,000 feet of climbing with very few flat bits.

The Guys saw the Camera before me and tried to jostle me out of the shot
So I crossed over and sneaked up the outside
Sun Glasses hide the pain
After 80 Miles we came to the last major climb of Nunburnholme, not the steepest by any means but it comes at a time when your legs are very heavy.

Whilst we were going up and down our US Mules were going straight and Fast in Katty Flatlands

Paddy tells the tale:-
This years Katy Flatlands saw the ride change its course significantly both from a start location and the actual route itself. Most of the route was reasonably decent but there were sections that could see many of the Mule riders visiting the dentist in the next few days.

The Ride started out from Cinco Ranch High School and much excitement was in the air with the knowledge that our MULES "Summer" Strip had finally arrived and was being auditioned for the first time at the "Starters Gate". As usual our stable was located in PRIME TIME location - Right next to the start.

The Katy Flatlands has always attracted the a good showing and as the MULES ranks grow so does our participation in these events which saw us eclipse the 20 Rider mark for the second time this year.

The start looked interesting with Lightning, and dark clouds looming over the direction to which we were heading and before long rooster tails from the Mule train resembled the actions of a 200 yard car wash, --- All Foam, Froth & Spray!!

We started fast - As we do! And remarkably held it all together for at least 45 miles when Lee had a flat tire. At this juncture we decided to split allowing the 100 Mile riders to get going while the 65 mile (Yes RIGHT) riders to wait for Lee.

As it happened the 65 Mile riders took a wrong turn and ended up doing 95 Miles and showed their true strength and combative spirit. Special Shouts to Ivonne & Armando who both shattered their personal bests.

The sun baked down on wet roads and created a Turkish bath like atmosphere which overwhelmed Paddy & Barry who both suffered from Cramping & the effects of Heat.
In the end everyone finished what they set out to achieve and the "Afters" saw an abundance of Adult beverages consumed and the ride remembered with laughter.....and tears.


Monday, July 22, 2013

Crash, Bang, Wallop

In the world of the road cyclist they say that there are two types of riders.
Those who have crashed, and those who have not yet crashed.
The emphasis is seemingly on the inevitability of the occurrence.
Its funny how many anecdotes start with the collective 'They'
Sometimes there is a slight deviation where their certainty appears to waver.
In these rarer moments and they 'reckon' rather than 'say'

Either way Id like to know exactly who THEY are?
As far as cycling is concerned, don't we have any other options?
What about 'If you ride carefully and defensively, calling out wherever possible and wearing enough reflective gear to be seen from outer space?
Apparently 'They say' - that it does not matter! You will eventually CRASH
Charming !!!
But they were right

After a terrible winter that lasted right up to and beyond Easter, there was not much room for spring,
It came and went, barged aside by summer who gate crashed over the horizon.

With the warmth came the Lycra and gleaming bikes with shiny cassettes.
Much too new to have been cleaned that way, and surely never caressed by a chain.
Inexperience too.
The weekly Sportives post Brad have multiplied with as many each week as there were previously filling the entire calender.

In the Middle of June we did the Hornsea 100 km.
An Anglo Mule train across the Holderness Plain.
The poetry may have been lost on some, but our fluidity was something to admire.
Nigel - steering our paceline was more difficult than his Helicopter

Hitting the Holderness Plain

This was a warm up ride for our annual adventure down to Cambridgeshire for the 112 Mile Flat out on the Fens the following week.
We set off at 7am maintaining a speed close to 20 mph with a paceline the envy of many.
So much so that it grew and grew with solitary riders avoiding the strong winds at our expense.

After about 80 miles one of the signs appeared to have been moved which resulted in us (And everyone else on the road) taking the wrong route.
After about 7 miles we came to a T  Junction leading to a busy main road.
By this time one of the Motorcycle Marshall's had realised what had happened and escorted us back on track.
On the way we collected all of the oncoming riders and had soon amassed a large group of mixed abilities.
Unfortunately the true course presented us was a strong headwind and  narrow road to contend with. 
If you were at the back the pace must have seemed too slow
If you were at the front you were struggling to make headway against a blustery wind.
It all got very messy with riders pushing to the front  thinking they could pull the train along quicker.
On encountering the wind they often went slower still.
This created an inconsistent pace which constantly fluctuated and a concertinaed like a Squeezebox being played on acid

I guess it was inevitable as all the danger signs were there.
Crash, Bang, Wallop
Everything seemed to be in slow motion.
Screeching brakes, bikes, bodies and bottles, bouncing and bumping.
I avoided all and listened to my heart racing as I brought my bike to a stop, my hands frozen in a vice like grip on the brakes.
I took in a deep intake of breath and thanked my lucky stars.
Crash, Bang, Wallop..........Struck from behind my seat post swivelled turning me around to witness the mayhem.
Sadly the impact also buckled both my wheels and my event was over.

Thankfully it was only the event over and not the season which is now in full swing.
Over the coming days and weeks It will be a case of playing Catch up.
I have 'An adventure to the Moors', The Big G, and Katy Flatlands (USA) to write about.

In the next two weeks we also have an Anglo/US Mule adventure Coast to Coast and Ride London.
Its the Golden Era of Cycling.
Id better get typing