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Posts tagged ‘mountain bike’

How to use your face as a hoe

Yesterday I cycled up to Sister and Boyfriend-In-Law’s house to lash myself to a desk and force out a word or two in a manner similar to performing open heart surgery on oneself.

As you can tell, progress on the second novel is going well.

I borrowed Mother-In-Law’s mountain bike for the trip, which comes accessorised with toe clips. I had no choice but to jam my boots in, because otherwise the clips  struck sparks off the ground on the down stroke.

I’ve never seen the point of toe clips – although I’m sure someone out there in padded lycra shorts can provide one or several. I suppose toe clips might stop my feet shooting off the pedals and kicking pedestrians or, more damagingly – for me, at any rate – lamp posts or letter boxes.

Because that happens all the time.

Instead, the only effect of the toe clips was that, when I pulled to a stop at Sister and Boyfriend-In-Law’s house, completely forgetting my feet secured to the pedals, I toppled off the bike and applied my face to their flowerbed

Cyclist vs bulldozer

When it comes to cyclists, drivers fall into two categories:

a) The ones who mount the kerb on the far side of the road to give you room
b) Those who see how close they can get to you without scratching their paintwork

There are fewer in category (b). They are the type who fancy their chances playing chicken with buses, trucks and bulldozers. If you think this makes them more of an endangered species than they make me, well. Buses, trucks and bulldozers tend to comprise most of this category, so I’m not sure where that leaves everyone

Dairy free

This afternoon I cycled into Henderson to pick up a litre of milk for Husband. I was motivated by love, devotion – and guilt (I forgot to buy milk during the weekly shop).

It was only when I arrived in Henderson/Misty Valley that I realised I had left my wallet behind.

To put this in perspective: I had just cycled 8km, my knickers had disappeared up my arse, I was splattered with sweaty mud, and I had an acute case of Helmet Head. Had I been driving, I would probably have returned home to collect my wallet; or – more likely – rummaged around the ashtray, delved into the seat joins, and turned out the glovebox until I scraped together $3 worth of 5c pieces.

However, there was no way I was about to CYCLE home and back again. I just don’t love Husband that much. Is this wrong? It might  have been his birthday, but it was hardly as if a litre of milk was his present. He got a Playstation III and a pair of spiffy sunglasses. All things considered, I felt that cycling into Henderson ONCE was an operatic response to the call of duty.

In the superette (similar to a newsagent store) at Parrs Cross Road, I explained the situation to the shop assistant. Perhaps I overdid the forehead slapping, because she refused to consider gifting or loaning me a litre of milk, or opening a credit account, because she only worked there and all the above were against store policy.

Since there were no cows in the vicinity, I decided to try the second dairy on Henderson Valley Road.

By this stage, I was completely mortified. What, you thought that emotion didn’t feature in my range? Not at all; I’m Irish, so have an innate patriotic ability for mortification especially of the flesh.

However, I focussed on the journey home: 8km of it involving 400ft climb, and the joy and hope dying in Husband’s eyes as he slowly realises I have returned empty handed and dairy free. I was therefore compelled to enter the other superette.

This time, I had my story better prepared. I didn’t go into details about the sweaty mud, because that was largely self-evident. But I told the store manager about my great journey; how it was Husband’s birthday and he couldn’t have his muesli that morning and had to drink black coffee; how terrible that made me feel; how – if they only found it in their hearts to donate a litre of milk – I would return on Wednesday to pay and thereafter shop at their store with a fierce loyalty and regularity until I died.

God, I love New Zealand. As I cycled home, litre of milk digging comfortingly into the small of my back, I only regretted not scoring a refreshing bottle of sportaid as well

Photos and rare footage from Woodhill

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Husband surfs a thermal

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Speedfreak

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Husband dodges charging pinecone. Don’t be fooled by the fingers on the brakes – there is no evidence (photographic or otherwise) of him EVER pressing them into service for anything other than hanging his helmet from

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See, Husband does occasionally smile. Think he mistook the camera for a trick flower

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Here, Husband is smiling because The Bro had just headbutted the ground. Not sure why The Bro is looking so pleased with himself – probably relieved he didn’t dent his head

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The Bro negotiates a twiglet

As usual, there are no photos of me – BUT! As a special treat, there is VIDEO FOOTAGE.

Deadlyjelly confuses diving for cycling. Note how Husband’s camera never wavers, maintaining his artistic integrity throughout

Deadlyjelly demonstrates how to pull knickers out of arse without anyone noticing

And one of The Bro in a rare, almost (but not quite) uncool moment, getting taken out by a seesaw

Savage pine cones

Husband and I went mountain biking at Woodhill yesterday. I was in the lead when my bike jolted.

Me: Hear that crunching noise? Was that me? Did my gear whatchamacallit tooth thing thingy scrape off the ground?

Husband: Ah, no. That was the sound of your back wheel running into my front wheel

Me: Hmm. Technically, I think it was your front wheel that ran into my back wheel-

Husband: Did you observe the incident?

Me: No, but-

Husband: Exactly. I happened to witness the incident, and your back wheel definitely ran into my front wheel. I’d appreciate it if you could be more careful in future

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Husband poses beside a jump at Woodhill (note: the trees are not about to fall up the hill; this is a cunning effect achieved by tilting the camera.)

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Fig 1.
This is a close-up of the previous photo, with the start of the jump visible on the far left. The idea is to hurtle down the path on your mountain bike, strike some aerial poses in the stratosphere, land on the green baize . . .

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Fig 2.
. . . career down the wooden platform about the same width as an inner tube, launch yourself into mid-air, do a somersault or two. . .

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Fig 3.
. . . then land on the path just visible on the right, preferably on your bike as opposed to your face.

I’m working up to it. Might take a while, considering I was unseated by a pine cone yesterday

It’s Buckingham Palace, cretin

Victoria Memorial

Last Sunday, Tim and I participated in the London Freewheel, the second largest cycling event in Europe. It was one of those things I always considered doing when I lived in London, but never did. The centre of the city was closed to traffic from Buckingham Palace to the Tower of London.

Minor setback: I didn’t have a bike. I was tasked with making enquiries about renting one, but I forgot. Crap, isn’t it? A writer, and the best excuse I can come up with is: I forgot. At least it’s the truth, which in this instance I will now attempt to present as ‘refreshing’.

The day before the event, Tim stood outside talking to his neighbour. Michael was attired in t-shirt and a spectacularly unflattering pair of cycle shorts. I mean, really. The Stretchy Lycra Brigade talk about cycling shorts being padded and comfortable, as if that is a valid excuse for wearing them.

ANYWAY, I didn’t fail to notice that Michael was propped against a mountain bike, so after spending some time getting acquainted, I asked if I could borrow it.

“Hi, I’m Niamh.”

“Michael-”

“Nice to meet you. HEY, any chance I could borrow your bike tomorrow?”

“Errr, I suppose. What was your name again?”

Later, I said to Tim:-

“Michael, nice guy. How long have you known him?”

“Ah, that was the first time we’ve met.”

The day was gorgeous. Tim and I cycled across Clapham Common and picked up our fluorescent bibs and armbands at the corner. Since it was a designated access point, a route to the city had been laid out along back roads. We were in a group of fluorescent people and held up the traffic for miles.

Tim; image courtesy SkySport: thanks a million.

The Brits being British, they turned out in their best suits: Wonder Woman ignored her powers of flight in favour of more conventional transport; there was a gladiator and a couple of bears; many bicycles featured bunting and foliage.

Image courtesy SkySport: thanks again.

After cycling three quarters of an hour, we came through a pair of ornate gates, beside which stood a huge fountain. Some bronze statues reclined on the bottom, overlooked by a couple of bland, marble figures, all topped by a gold figure frozen on the brink of a suicide leap.

“What is this?” I asked Tim.

He looked at me in horror: “It’s BUCKINGHAM PALACE,” he said, appalled.

Indeed, when I looked back over my left shoulder, there was a queen-sized structure.

“You might not recognise it,” continued Tim, “it’s only the most famous landmark in Britain.”

“I thought that was London Bridge?”

We cycled down The Mall to Trafalgar Square, down Northumberland Avenue to Embankment and all the way along to London Bridge and the Tower of London. It was a unique way to view all the major sights of the city: Whitehall, Nelson’s Column, St Paul’s Cathedral, The Houses of Parliament and the London Eye.

On the route back, Tim and I stopped in St James’s Park for 99s and spent time with a few of the 50,000 cyclists that took part.

St James’s Park

London Eye, from the park

Admiralty Arch

Onlooker

Aggressive roots

Last Friday morning, we were woken by shafts of sunlight playing with our toes. Inspired by a discussion with MarkJ during dinner the previous night, I suggested we take the mountain bikes out to Woodhill.

We dressed in a high state of excitement (NB: similar effect can also be achieved by the removal of clothes), fixed coffee and packed the bikes in the car. By the time we opened the garage door, it was driving rain.

“Maybe the sun is shining in Woodhill,” I suggested optimistically.

By the time we got to Swanson, the rain had increased in gusto and tempo, with the introduction of a swirling fog effect. Contrary to my parents’ example, I do not give up in the face of adversity. However, I do give up in the face of Husband refusing to drive any further and/or the prospect of wet feet. So we bought coffee and went home.

The following day, we relaunched the expedition. Woodhill is a 40 minute drive west along the #16, then left onto Restall Road. In addition to over 100km of bike trails, there is an obstacle course, motorbike track, horse trails, and orienteering.

We didn’t want to advertise our novice status – the aggressive wobble I employ to propel my bike is sufficient – so we started with a 12km intermediate track. The paths are fully maintained, sand-based woodland trails, with jumps along the way. I dodged these, since I had my work cut out avoiding advancing tree roots.

[Image robbed from someone without their permission]

Each jump is allocated a level of difficulty. Husband tried a few according to a selection process I couldn’t decipher. He acts like it’s all just so ho-hum, but he always waits until I am in the vicinity before embarking on his arial stunts. What cracks me up is that the only time he ever checks to see whether I’m looking is after he flobbles or falls off.

For jumps – or even descending a sharp step – apparently the trick is to dismiss instinct and/or common sense and perform a wheelie just prior to hitting the descent. In theory, this raises the front wheel until the back wheel launches; then both wheels return to the ground simultaneously. Otherwise, if the riser is too sharp, there is a risk that when your front wheel drops the rider flies over the handlebars.

I’m still studying this theory.

Just before the carpark I hit a patch of soft sand negotiating a corner. The front wheel dug in and I involuntarily abandoned my bike and slid into the carpark on my chin. Now I have a fat, lopsided chin; a hole in my lip where I stabbed it with a tooth; and an impressive array of bruises and grazes down my right leg.

But I can’t WAIT to do it all again

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