A short history of my bikes – part 1 (Iain)

Some people give names to their bikes. Why? If I was going to name an inanimate object then I’d rather name something that talks to me, like my telly.

  • What are you doing tonight?
  • I’ll chill with Bill.
  • Who’s Bill?
  • Bill the telly. He’s cool. He’s got Sky Sports.

If you’re giving your bike a woman’s name just so you can say “Tonight, I’ll be riding Jill hard” then you are a nob!

If that’s the case you might as well name your oven after a woman so you can say when cooking chicken “Tonight. I’ll be putting my cock in Stephanie!”

So, I don’t name my bikes. I refer to them boringly as Bike 1, Bike 2, Bike 3 etc

Once upon a bike in a far away land there was…

Bike 1 – my first love. It was a racer (which is what I called a road bike when I was at school). We were inseparable until we quite literally separated.  It snapped in two! Which was annoying as I was riding it at the time.

That sounds very dramatic but I was biking uphill and travelling so slowly that I was able to stop and get off.

I sold the bike to a school friend. His dad owned a garage so was able to weld it back together.

My friend lived at the top of a big hill. He took the bike out and rode down the hill. The bike snapped and he hit a car. He ended up in hospital with a broken leg. In my defence, he did know what he was buying…

And then there was Bike 2….

To be continued.

Am I a National hero? (Iain)

“An exhausted Jonny Brownlee was helped over the finish line by his brother Alistair who gives up the chance to win the race in a dramatic end to the World Triathlon Series in Cozumel, Mexico, on Sunday.”

Would I give up a chance to win to help Andrew?

Yes!

Would Andrew?

Hmmm. Maybe…

Let’s look at the evidence.

Evidence A:

During the bike leg of Challenge Henley we were cycling towards a feed stop. As we approached, Andrew was slightly behind me. As I braked to collect a water bottle Andrew continued and made contact with my back wheel.

Suddenly he was flying over the top of his bike onto the feed table before sliding along it into a wall! Like the national hero that I am, I stopped and waited for him to get back up thus losing my chance to win the race.

Although it is debatable whether I was going to win and by debatable I meant there is absolutely no debate: I wasn’t going to win unless everyone else in the race conked out too.

Luckily, he was unhurt but a bit shaken. After a quick check that all his bits were still attached to him, he got back on and continued racing.

Slightly further up the road I experienced a puncture. I shouted at Andrew that I needed to stop. He kept going…

Evidence B:

During the bike leg of Iron Man UK we were cycling towards a feed stop. As we approached Andrew was slightly behind me. As I braked to collect a water bottle Andrew slowed down and a man rode into the back of his bike!

Like the national hero that I am, I stopped and waited for him to sort out his bike as the back wheel was slightly buckled. I lost my chance to win the race (again).

Luckily, he was unhurt but a bit shaken. He got back on and continued racing.

Slightly further up the road I got a bit tired and needed to drop the pace. I shouted at Andrew to slow down. He kept going…

Now, some might say, that both incidents were caused by me braking without warning an d that would be a scurrilous accusation and I’ll see you in court if you make it!

Some might also say that in both cases Andrew had a good reason to ride away and it made no difference as he waited at the run stop for me.

Again. I reiterate the threat of court action to anyone who claims that.

Now where can I get a T-shirt printed for myself that says “National hero?”

I should buy a road bike (Iain)

The first race I entered was the Glasgow Half Marathon. I was so unprepared I thought it was 10 miles long. I got to the point I expected to finish and was disappointed to find an extra three and a bit miles to go.

One of the people running with me (I think he was a friend of Andrew) had a backpack. At the end he looked in his backpack and discovered he’d been running with a pair of boxing gloves and a 2l bottle of juice. He commented “I thought I’d taken them out before I started!”

He also revealed that running with a backpack meant people shouted at him: “Are you going up a hill?” at least one hundred times. It wasn’t funny the first time.

The first bike race I entered was the Glasgow to Edinburgh cycle challenge, a 55 mile race from Edinburgh (Not Glasgow) to Glasgow (Not Edinburgh). Note the issue with the name. The route had switched around that year so it could finish at the same point the Tour of Britain was supposed to finish.

It was a miserable day. The wind was westerly and the rain was heavy. Four of us set out but one dropped out before we even got to the edge of Edinburgh. Andrew dropped out at the first train station he spotted. Myself and my friend carried on.

I didn’t know anything about bikes so I was using my mountain bike. A bike I still use to this day (some 12 years later.) I thought all bikes were the same so couldn’t understand why my bike was slower than people on racing bikes.

It was hard work and I remember a long slog  along a moor into a gale where I felt I wasn’t making any progress. I vowed to get a road bike.

My next race was a couple of years later. It was a 88 mile bike challenge up and round a hill. I hadn’t bought a road bike.  I was the only one on a mountain bike. Everyone started riding and before you could say “Hey, why is everyone on road bikes?” I was last.

It didn’t help that I had a backpack on filled with water bottles and sweets.

I made it up the hill but called it a day at the bottom of the other side. It was just too tiring. I learnt a valuable lesson that day. Get a road bike.

Which is why in my next race I still hadn’t bought a road bike. It was the Edinburgh Rat Race. An adventure race for teams of three. The aim was to bike or run a bit, then complete a challenge before biking and running again.

The problem was the challenges were so badly organised there was a queue to do them. At one point it took 30 minutes to do a challange that had taken us 30 minutes to ride to. I asked the guy what happened if we didn’t do the challenge. He said we’d get a 15 minute penalty.

I thought about this and calculated that if we went and finished the race without doing a single challenge we’d have a better time than if we’d done them.

We went to the finish line.

The organiser wasn’t happy. He wouldn’t let us finish. He said it was cheating. I think it was intelligent racing.

I learned a valuable lesson that day. Don’t get a road bike as it doesn’t matter how fast I do a race only whether I enjoy it. (Although I did buy one eventually).

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A picture of me enjoying the rat race. We stopped for a pub lunch as we’d calculated we we’d win easily.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Radar Ride- 22 May 16 (Iain)

The Radar Ride takes place in Wanlockhead, Scotland’s highest village. The area has Scotland’s highest hotel, Scotland’s highest pub, Scotland’s highest…you get the idea.

My favourite highest thing is Scotland’s highest beer , which has the tagline – “beer with altitude!”

The race was the first UK sportive to have a summit finish. Andrew and I attempted the race in 2008. It was the second/third sportive we’d ever done. I used a hybrid and Andrew had a road bike. The weather was so bad that day the summit road was closed. We didn’t get to the top.

The race hadn’t run since then due to issues,  I think, with getting permission to use the private road to the station. So now that the race was back we were determined to get a summit finish.

The race starts with a long downhill section before taking some flat back roads to Drumlanrig Castle. After that there’s a long climb back through the valley. At this point I noticed a man was sitting behind me, coasting along in my slip stream!

I wouldn’t have minded if he’d asked but as he hadn’t I was determined to drop him! Why sit on a strangers wheel for miles on end. Is it because he because he wants to stare at my arse?

I dropped him on the climb but a few minutes later he sped past sitting on the wheel of someone else. Why do that???? Surely the enjoyment of cycling is completing the challenge yourself. Not, completing  a challenge by letting someone else do all the work.

We hit the feed stop around mile 45. It was great. Cheese rolls and home made banana cake.Much better than the Caledonian Etape. I have a theory that the more corporate and bigger a race the worse the quality of the food.

After the feed stop we headed down a hill before circling back up to the feed stop. Yay. More banana cake. It was then a long gradual climb back to Wanlockhead.

It started to hail stone as we approached the town. Andrew complained that he didn’t like the noise of them hitting his helmet. I was more concerned about how sore they were hitting bare skin!

Luckily as we approached the start of the summit climb the weather cleared. At this point I thought Andrew would sprint off to win as he was feeling fresher. He was feeling something – hunger. He spotted a man giving out cheese rolls and stopped to take one. We stopped to take a bite each of it but as we restarted Andrew struggled to get going. He was in the wrong gear!

I managed to get a 100m head start whilst he adjusted his settings. I knew from that point that I’d win. The climb is steep and I had better climbing gears than him. There was no way he could catch up.

The last section was very steep. I passed people who’d gotton off their bike to walk. I was happy that I’d managed it seated.

My first bike victory over Andrew since 2014!

He subsequently claimed Sportive’s aren’t proper races…

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Caledonian Etape (Iain)

B+B Owner – what time do you want breakfast? 5am?

Me – Its ok. I don’t like a cooked breakfast. If you leave out cereal and milk then I’ll have that.

B+B Owner Are you sure? How about tea and coffee?

Me – No thanks! You don’t need to get up. Cereal will be great.

B+B Owner – As long as its not an issue….

Me – Thanks! Ill be happy with the cereal. Enjoy your lie in!

When I got home I rated the B+B on tripadvisor. “1 star – No cooked breakfast!!”

If that review was true (the story is but the review isn’t) then you’d think the B+B was terrible. The review is a snapshot but its not the full story.

Similarly a picture at a race is a snapshot that doesn’t give the full story.

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We both look fit and happy. It doesn’t show that we both had a heavy cold.

We’ve been doing this race since 2011. My first attempt at it was on a hybrid bike and it took nearly 7 hours to cover 81 miles. Since then we’ve been back every year. Our times have got better but there has been one constant – Andrew always beats me.

This year I thought I’d win. I didn’t. He dropped me at mile 20. I tried to catch up but when I pushed hard my chest would seize up and I’d have to cough.

I accepted it wasn’t going to be my day. The rest of the race was spent at a steady non coughing pace. I finished with a personal best so I can’t complain….too much.

The next day I felt rough so I worked at home. I felt much better for doing so.

When I got back to the office on Tuesday nobody believed I felt rough. My boss said: “But you and your brother look fine in the picture!”