I fell off twice…

Scott Scale 50

This week cyclefucius fell off twice. Curiously, each time while going at less than 5km an hour.

What have I learned from these incidents?

Incident 1: taking the bike when going on “errands” is very tempting – a few extra kilometres, cheaper than petrol, environmentally friendly, all good. The weird thing was that the simple addition of a backpack seemed to completely unbalance the situation and when arriving near the post office looking for a place to “park”, down went the baby, cradle and all. Probably looked much worse due to feet being clipped in. Thank you to some nearby ladies for their concern as I disentangled myself muttering something like “that always happens…”. Lesson: don’t change anything but just remember backpacks and clips are a dangerous cocktail.

Incident 2: stopping to take a phone call on a steep gradient – also tempting (and in the particular case important to do). So far no problem. Getting moving again not so much. Ended up traversing the road sideways in order to get any momentum, turned back to the uphill direction and shoe hit the front wheel. Baby down again. I don’t believe that this is a cleat set-up problem – to me it seems just a “feet larger than frame” problem. But the results (added to the road traversing) seem totally dangerous and unpredictable. Lesson: don’t ever stop? Phone them back later? Walk to the top?

In some ways it seems healthy to fall off sometimes in order not to be scared of falling off. And although micron-thick lycra is not the ideal protective layer, cyclefucius will not be reaching for the goalkeeper shorts yet. So perhaps the real lesson is “be alert, be careful”?

I’m showing you these now because by tomorrow they will be…

New red bar tape
Not a bad job if I say so myself!

I’m proudly showing you my handiwork with the shiny new red bar tape now, because by tomorrow they will be covered in (check all that apply)…

  • road grime (dead cert)
  • rain (odds-on favourite at 1:20)
  • snow (outsider at 10:1)
  • slush (good each way bet)
  • blood (red colour will camouflage nicely)
  • sweat (yes, even in these conditions)
  • tears (quite probable depending on the “hill work” situation)
  • “nose tears” (sorry, it’s that time of year)
  • “mouth tears” (oh, please)
  • chain oil (bound to happen)
  • rips (fate has been tempted)
  • sellotape (where the bits of tape they provide in the box are unable to stand up to all the above).

Feel free to add your own! One thing they definitely won’t be covered in is… dust…

Cycling’s coming home 2: Tour of Andalucia – Ruta del Sol

Poster Tour Andalucia 2015

So, slowly the professional road cycling season is starting. The Tour Down Under is generally a little anticlimactic. The Tour de San Luis is probably rather good but the TV coverage is so “homemade” as to be unwatchable. Most of the stars are still off doing other stuff somewhere else (looking at power meters, generally starving themselves).

But, being the lucky guy I am, a reasonable race is coming by quite soon – the Tour of Andalucia (Andalusia), the “Sun Route”.

I can’t decide whether Stage 3 or 4 is the “Queen Stage”. Stage 3 features a similar climb as in the 2013 Vuelta to “Haza Llanas”, which is where I hope to be:

Vuelta Andalucia Stage 3
Vuelta Andalucia Stage 3

Stage 4 is the longest stage with multiple category 3 climbs and an “explosive” final climb into Alto de las Allanadas, en La Guardia de JaĆ©n:

altimetria ruta del sol 4Haza Llanas is a classic climb. I didn’t make it up there in 2013 (not that I tried and failed but instead I decided to watch on an earlier part of the stage) and actually didn’t miss much as Chris Horner did his thing and blew away Nibali and everyone else. It was as impressive as it was … “incredible”. This time I’d like to see a more even competition, especially as the stage is quite short. On the other hand, one of the main names that tends to appear in this race each year is Alejandro Valverde, who is undeniably talented but also not on my list of favorite racers.

According to ciclo21.com, the poster for this year’s event is “an image which evokes the ‘retro’ style of the golden years of cycling. It is based on the old style posters for a simple reason: we want to reflect the effort and purity of other times…”

It’s a bit contrived but in fact maybe that’s what we should go with – leave behind all the doubts and rumours and past problems, break from the training programme to get up a hard, beautiful and iconic climb, commune with other road and mountain bikers, and enjoy the competition. Of course it will be hard and emotional and inspiring; that’s why in spite of everything we still love it.