Early Winter Biking Blues

For me the Bring and Buy sale is a pivotal moment in the cycling year. Out of the autumn gloom emerge two groups of cyclists; those looking to offload their unwanted or unneeded wares and those looking for a bargain. I seem to fit into both camps which leaves me with a bit of a problem, how do I go off shopping yet man the stall? The solution is quite simple, bring your wife then you can do both things at once ‘think of all the bike clutter we’ll get rid of and all the money I’ll make’, I told her as I wandered off.

Strangest purchase of the night on my stall, and probably any stall, was inevitably from Dave Kirton. I noticed him eyeing up some winter gloves that I had attractively priced at £4.

‘I might have these’, he said.
‘As you’re a mate you can have them for £3’, I replied
‘I’m not going to use them for cycling though’.
‘That’s okay as long as you pay me £3’.
‘No I’ve got another use for them’, he said looking rather pleased with himself.
‘You don’t need to tell me’, I said looking rather worried.
‘Yes they’ll do the job nicely’, he said as he tried them on and looked carefully at his outstretched fingers ‘perfectly in fact’.
‘I thought they’d be good for cleaning the car’, he continued.
‘That’s a relief’
‘Why what did you think I was going to use them for?’
‘I dread to think’.

Gloves aside I managed to get rid of a fair bit of stuff, but I’m always a bit surprised that decent bits of kit remain unsold while the stuff you think would be hard to shift goes like hotcakes – the unsold stuff and a few other things will be on the For Sale section on the website soon. As usual though I managed to spend more than I made, much to my wife’s exasperation ‘it’s only because Bryan nabbed me for my club membership!’ I protested, to no avail.

After the Bring and Buy the long nights are well and truly set and since then I’ve only been out on the bike about twice, other than going to work. Last year I was a Club Run regular but this year I’ve committed myself to the winter Fell Run Series, which means that Sundays are a bit difficult. As cross training fell running works quite well if you can avoid falling over – something I’ve rather worryingly managed to develop a bit of a talent for of late. The other benefit is that it has a generous prize list as the races incorporate age categories. The only problem for me though is my prizes to date total two bottles of wine and six bottles of Stella, not good for fitness but enjoyable nonetheless. It doesn’t replace biking though and I’m beginning to feel the withdrawal symptoms and my lack of cycling seems to highlight the need to shed at least another bike form my collection, especially as I haven’t even ridden it this year. So if you’re on the lookout for a steel framed classic keep an eye on the website.

I must admit that my modest success in fell running, for relatively little effort, has made me question why I bother to cycle competitively at all ‘I didn’t realise you did?’ I can hear some of you say. I suppose it comes back to the old thing of enjoying something rather than being good at it. I have to put a fair bit of effort in to cycling to be average at it while other sports come much more easily to me – running, football, cricket and racket sports for example – but cycling would be the last one I would give up. While out riding a couple of months ago with a friend who is just getting back on the bike we had a conversation along the lines of ‘if you could be good at just one sport and crap at others would you settle for that and what would it be?’ We both agreed that it would be cycling but having had some time off the bike I must admit that I’m beginning to waiver, it’s probably just the time of year I hope.

To remedy this I’ve been thinking about Christmas, most notably what bike parts I would like. If my wife’s reading this (she probably won’t be) I am also thinking of what to get you too, honest! One thing I wouldn’t advise anyone to put on their letter to Santa is a pair of those new Crud full length guards for road bikes with close clearance. I shelled out over 20 quid for a pair and have since spent far too long getting them to fit without rubbing. They’re weird, you can get them just about right, even do a ride on them, then next time you get the bike out of the shed they’re rubbing again and you fiddle around trying to adjust them and they just drive you nuts. The problem is they’re too flimsy so easily drag on the tyre and the clearance is just too tight with little margin at all for adjustment, stick to Raceblades, they’re not perfect but they work.

I’ve almost, almost…, got to the point where I have all the bike parts and accessories I need, other than a really nice Goretex winter jacket (hope my wife is reading this), which leaves me with a rather dull cycling related list, which at the time of writing looks like this.

Dear Santa please could you bring me:

  • An 8 speed chain
  • 9 speed chain
  • Some dry lube
  • 4 bog standard inner tubes
  • A bottle cage

Not much to play with on Christmas day is it? And to make matters worse I would have to order it myself as I wouldn’t trust anyone to get the right makes, the magic of Christmas eh?

Paul Christon – November 2009