So I reckon I did find a bit of humour on the Hallowed Ground. The last post made 2 people smile at least twice. However, I don’t think it was all retrieved. I was therefore required to continue with my Unhinged Humour Hunt. It is like a treasure hunt but without the Pirates. Il Pirata would have made a worthy companion on this exploit as it goes but I did not invite him. I did have the company of The Cowboy for some of it, however, but first things first.
A series of Unhinged Exploits
In order to find some humour, I thought it would be necessary to do something truly Unhinged. My team and I had planned to reconnoitre the team TT circuit of the Tour of Sussex in the evening. I thought it would be mildly amusing and moderately interesting to make a day of it. This is what I put together:
- An individual reconnoitre of the ToS Prologue –Ditchling Beacon Hill Climb – as I had never had the pleasure. One climb easy, one at full gas.
- A century around Preston Park on the TT Rig with The Cowboy.
- A few laps of the circuit race course of the Tour of Sussex at Goodwood.
- A team effort on the Team TT circuit. One lap easy, one full gas.
Some might say that this was an optimistic plan. Again, Mr Some proved to be a wise man as it was. But it did have the usual underlying method in the Unhinged madness:
- I would get some further experience of recovering from hard efforts on the same day. Helpful for the ToS.
- I would get another big effort on the TT rig which would further refine my TT form and have the added bonus of keeping Fabian happy
- I would get to look for my sense of humour in a number of different places thus increasing my chances of finding it. It would be hard to imagine finding it up a hill that I have never been up before but I am sure Ditchling Beacon is a popular place for sense of humours to be lost so you never know.
A word on Logistics
Race Bike on top of Car
I had never planned for such a series before and realise I needed a fair amount of weaponry to pull it off. Lets have a look at what I took along:
- TT Rig with Disc Wheel on the back, 90mm on the back.
- Race Bike with 90mm on the back, 60mm on the front.
- Spare wheels.
- Skin Suit
- Bib shorts
- Long sleeve jersey
- 2 pairs socks
- Aero calf guards
- Aero Helmet
- Rain cape
- Compression leggings
- Compex machine
- Sea Sucker roof attachment
- About 900 gels
- Some pineapple
- Some watermelon
- A towel
- Some recovery drink
- Various bike locks
- A bag of mixed onions, mainly shallots
I could go on but am boring myself right now.
I didn’t really want to take the TT Rig down to Goodwood after the Preston Park exploit so The Cowboy agreed to take it back in his Cowboy wagon for me.
A word on The Cowboy
Now, The Cowboy has history with Preston Park. Bad history. Whilst I was toiling away in Liège Bastogne Liège, a race that The Cowboy had contemplated joining me in, he was racing at Preston Park. An ill fated decision as he was forced into the barriers by a crash. This resulted in serious injury to his Vulva that kept him off his steed for weeks on end. Ok, it might have been his Ulna or other such Phalanges but lets just say that he had to have his Vulva plastered up for longer than he would have liked. [EDIT – I am well aware of what the Vulva is by the way].
So it surprised me very much that, during his convalescence, The Cowboy came up with the idea of riding a century around Preston Park. Genius. We hatched a plan and once his Vulva was restored to full working order and able to properly grip the handlebars, we were ready to roll.
The Cowboy and the GrindEr
The Cowboy is the bloke on the left. The GrindEr (with an E please Bob) is the bloke on the right. They are both a little merry in this particular photo but I understand that all vulvas were fully intact at the time of shooting. Whilst a thoroughly nice chap, The GrindEr has no real significance in his story but I do feel that he adds to the photo so I have kept him in.
A word on the Weather
The ToS Team TT reconnoitre was a very difficult date to organise. It was the only date that the four of us could possibly make and, even then involved the sacrifice of points in the club TT champs for me. Everything else flowed from this meaning that the Century effort also had to be on this day. We were therefore slaves to the weather.
And the weather was shite. Truly and utterly shite. There was pretty much a gale force westerly forecast with plenty of driving rain. The forecast was not wrong.
The sensible call would have been to abort but there was the serious matter of a sense of humour to track down so that was simply not an option. Therefore, we let the Unhinged games commence.
Unhinged Exploit 1 – Ditchling Beacon Hill Climb
Unhinged Exploit 1
I left the house at 5am and was ready to roll at about 6:15. Given the other exploits I had planned, I was wearing a skinsuit and had my race bike with a 90mm wheel on the back and 53:38 chainset. It was about 6 degrees and was pissing with rain that was been thrown around by a 20mph wind that seemed to be coming from all directions. As you can see from the mywindsock screenshot, it was a cross-headwind for the climb for the most part.
After, a warm up climb some bike wrestling at the top and a sketchy descent, I was ready for my effort.. The ToS prologue includes about a km of flat bit before the climb kicks in. I managed about 360W over the 2.5km for a time (that will need to be much better on the day) of about 9mins. The wind was my enemy and my gearing, bike and wheel choice on the day were not optimal. Stuff was learned.
More to the point, I was now soaking wet and freezing cold but stage 1 was complete.
Unhinged Exploit 2 – A century around Preston Park on the TT Rig
A stop at a petrol station in full skin-suited regalia created a fair degree of mirth with he 7am crowd. The van drivers of South East England had no problems locating their own humour at my expense. I didn’t care as I needed coffee so told them to Mow on. They did not understand..
After that it was over to Preston Park for the next leg. It was hosing down with rain, yet forecast to ease off in a while so I hung back in the car and did some thinking. I also took this opportunity to plan ahead to my next exploit on the crit circuit at Goodwood. It was at this point that I realised that this was actually on the motor circuit and would likely have a good number of speeding cars on it. My legendary attention to detail had served me well once again. With stage 3 over before it began it was time to get back at it.
Over to the track I took my TT rig with a disc on the back and 90mm on the front. I also had the race bike with 90mm on the back and 60mm on the front, thinking that I could swap in the 60mm if required. It was obvious that the 60mm was required so I set to swapping. Of course the 60mm slotted right in but with the added bonus of doing so whilst simulating the effect of riding with the brakes fully deployed. One might have thought that I would have checked this out in advance. Nope.
It is probably easier to fix a carburettor on a car (whatever one of those is) than adjust my brakes on the TT bike so the 90mm was swapped back in.
It had more of less ceased raining but the howling wind was still very much in attendance. It was about 20mph from the west with gusts of double that. Mr Some might say: a less than ideal day for riding a TT bike around an outdoor track with a 90mm front wheel.
I took a couple of warm up laps to check whether it was safe or not and concluded the following:
- It was not really all that safe
- I was going to do it anyway
- If you allowed the gusts of wind to take the bike where it wanted to go (within reason) then life became moderately easier
- There was no need to brake
- There was no need to stop pedalling
- Looking at it, I was extremely unlikely that I would find my sense of humour there. Far from it.
Targets and Laps
Laps (which include breaks)
My main goal with this ride was to break 4 hours of ride time. I was happy with a few stops.
I set my auto lap function to 10km, which we were looking to cover in about 15mins. Each lap of the track was about 0.6km given the wide berth I was taking. So one block = about 16.67 laps. Total number of laps of the track? About 269 I reckoned.
It was messing with my head before I had even started. So I was glad I was looking to just knock out 10km every 15 mins and my average speed needed to be around 40kph.
This would have been fairly straightforward to achieve in normal conditions. In the gale I was riding in it went something like this:
- Pedal down the finish straight leaning into the cross-wind.
- Take the turn where everyone falls off at Preston Park nice and wide and let the tailwind carry me to the next turn
- Wrestle with the mahoosive cross-tail as I made the next turn, fighting the cross wind up to the next turn
- Lay down whatever power I could muster into the raging headwind to the pavilion turn
- Fight to stay upright as it transitioned into the cross-wind again.
- And repeat.
- 268 times.
- Whilst still keeping an eye out for the elusive sense of humour
Except it was not as simple as that. Points 1-7 above were just dealing with the steady 22mph wind that was crashing in from the West. They did not account for the doubling up of the gusts that could happen anywhere on the circuit. Now this had its pros and cons:
- It made each lap unique and interesting
- There is no 2.
- It made each lap unique and dangerous
- It meant that I could not ride in a team pursuit style with the Cowboy when he rocked up as we would have ended up tangled and both nursing a couple of freshly dislocated Vulva’s
- It required considerably more effort to keep the speed up.
- It required even more than a considerable amount of effort to keep the pecker up
- It became apparent that there was zero chance of finding any humour in this exploit
I had started in my rain cape as I was a bit cold. I was soon a bit hot so stopped briefly to dispatch it and top up the bottle on lap 2. Funnily enough, after this – the average speed started to creep up, further evidence as to why people do not ride time trials in flappy rain capes.
The first 110km including the arrival of the Cowboy
The first 110km on the TT Rig
The laps and 15 min blocks ticked by. I took a break after an hour and had covered over 40km. My sprits were then buoyed by the arrival of the Cowboy, about 50km in. He looked at me in some sort of surprise that I was actually doing it, but to his credit he joined in on his TT rig.
This gave me something to aim at as I was travelling slightly faster then he and mentally, it was much easier having another rider on the track to aim for. The same became true of the recreational cyclists that were foolhardy enough to be riding the track that day. More blocks and laps ticked by with the second break coming at 80km. Half way there and I had, once again, had enough. The dogs were unhappy and doing their usual screaming. The Delts were not quite as bad as last time but the back was feeling pretty unsavoury. However, I was still on schedule.
I had also started to notice a couple of school kids who had clearly bunked off to allow their romance to evolve. They were sitting in the stands watching us go round and around and around.. I could tell that they thought we were strange. I, in turn, also thought that they had chosen a strange place for their date. It also meant that I had to rethink my pissing strategy so as to be a little more discrete. I can confirm that my humour was not cowering in the bushes either.
The last 51km including the departure of the Cowboy
The last 51km on the Road Bike
The Cowboy pulled the plug when I was 110km in. He had done about 90mins worth and sensibly called it a day. This gave me the excuse to get rid of the TT bike. The Cowboy kindly took it back to Tunbridge Wells. He could have left it at the end of Brighton Pier for all I cared at the time.
I had completed the 110km in 3 hours 38min of ride time for an average speed of 40.1km/h. I had two options now:
- Sack it all off
- Complete it on the road bike.
Predictably, yet disappointingly for me at the time, I chose number 2. After 20km of fairly poor performance on the road bike (31kph, 51min), I once again broke cover to my teammates over WhatsApp in order to muster up the required motivation. The exchange went as follows:
The exchange with my teammates
After that I was good to get at it again. The last 30km took about 52min and I averaged 35.6km. I was thankful for the various recreational cyclists who were on the track as they had replaced the Cowboy as my focal point.
So, I had done it. A century around Preston Park, mostly on the TT Rig in a ride time of 4:15. Had I found my sense of humour? Not at the time, but I look back and think that it must have crept out of my wheel bag where it had been hiding and rejoined the rest of me. I did not notice it slipping in at the time because I was completely and utterly broken. Good that I had a hilly team time trial dress rehearsal to look forward to later in the day then…
it really was a game of 2 halves or one 110/161 and one 51/161. I will be back in better conditions to complete the century on the TT rig.
A word on the recreational cyclists (and runners on this occasion)
Strava Flybys provided and interesting insight into the lives of the few pieces of humanity who were not the Cowboy that were part of my strange world for a while:
- We had Tanya Tailor, enjoying a 4km run whilst “listening all about tinder dates”. Lucky Tanya
- We also had Greg who had some inspirational words on his 4km ride: “IN THE MIDDLE OF DIFFICULTY LIES OPPORTUNITY! Difficult conditions today, very windy!!! but kept pushing hard on the track to get the burn on those legs”. Thanks Greg – could not agree more and glad that you got that burn!
A satisfied Greg after taking his leg burning opportunity despite difficult conditions.
There were other civilians out there, some not on Strava for reasons only known to them…
Unhinged Exploit 3 – TOS Team TT Dress Rehearsal
After forcing the dogs to recover, mostly by running them under a hot and cold tap and then shoving a load of electricity into them (no need to call the RSPCA anyone), it was time to meet the boys down at Goodwood for the Team Time Trial reconnoitre. As our inspriational leg-burning friend Greg can attest, the weather had brightened up and the howling gale had morphed into just a strong wind. Greg was probably sitting at hime with his feet up at this juncture but who knows what goes on behind his curtains..
It was good to see the boys after experiencing most of the day thus far in an Unhinged bubble. The Undertaker turned up in a new car (a great BMW estate) and the Jackhammer had bagged a ride in the King’s grey BMW estate (so as to save his mileage on his own grey BMW estate). I was driving a Blue Audi.
After a gentle warm up lap where I secretly knew I was in a large amount of trouble, we formulated a plan. It went like this:
- I set off to get us to the first turn
- The Undertaker takes over and gets us to the foot of the climb
- The Jackhammer then does the lower slops of the climb
- The King takes over for the rest of the climb
- I, The Mower, try to hold his wheel
- We then rotate through the flat section at the top
- I get on the front for the downhill bit and then drill it
It was a good plan. The problem was that the Undertaker put out about 450watts during his turn which resulted in the burial of my dogs. Once the King got on the front, I was dead. I practiced our call of “HOLD” a few times and then just let them go. I was dropped on the climb.
Dropped on the Climb
I could only manage 312w for the 8 minutes it took me to get up there.
Now, my teammates had a slightly different perspective on things than myself. This was their sole focus of their cycling day and the reason that they had made a 2 hour drive over to Goodwood on a Tuesday evening. You might think that they would be a little bit pissed off with me. Fortunately, they are a nice bunch of blokes. They did, however, make me ride it again. This time, easy up the hill and then drilling it across the top and the descent. The King also made me estimate what I thought I could ride it at when fresh (390w) and ride at that for a while so he could see what he would ride at (320w). Bastard.
The Jackhammer drilled it up a sharp climb at the top and the Undertaker did his usual burying – I had had enough but could not lose the wheel this time and managed to stay on until the down bit, which was fun.
In a rather Unhinged fashion, The King then identified a crit race that was happening on the circuit and suggested that we enter on the line. I had crossed all the lines I was prepared to that day so politely declined before beating the King in an unnecessary sprint to the cars (mostly grey BMW estates) by unintentionally yet blatantly cutting him up. I found this really funny. Yes, my sense of humour had returned. This was very very good news as I would need it in abundance when the actual Tour of Sussex kicked off. That, and a fully functioning vulva of course…
What can we learn from all of this?
- Don’t ever lose your sense of humour – it can be tricky to find
- Chose your teammates wisely (take what you will from that)
- Always look after your Vulva
Thanks for making it this far if you have done so. Next up we will look at how my newly recovered sense of humour is severely tested in the real Tour of Sussex…