Moron the Coker

Until very recently, I had done no competitive sport since I left school over 20 years ago. (The fencing I have sometimes mentioned here is a very new develoment.) Then I got hoodwinked into putting my name down for the Red Bull 24 hour Mountain Mayhem - and suddenly I found myself ‘put on the spot’. So Tuesday night is training night, and I do a ‘serious’ fast and long ride.

Boy! Am I learning about myself! I’d had a lousy day at work (that makes about 5,040 lousy days at work so far), it had been blowing half a gale all day, and raining hard, my legs were tired, my back was aching. Was I still ‘up for it’? Yes.

So I’m 5 miles into the ride and a downpour of Biblical proportions starts. I’m riding into a wind that’s gusting almost too hard to pedal against. My back is really deteriorating. Do I give up? No.

And when it became obvious that I was nowhere near in with a chance of a record distance, did I slacken the pace? No.

So, I’ve learned a lot about myself: I’ve learned I am a moron. :0)

See the happy moron
He doesn’t give a damn
I wish I was a moron
My god! Perhaps I am!

(Not one of my own.)

Storming around the rowing lake in a heavy downpour, I turned the corner into the wind, and nearly stopped dead. I’ve ridden a Coker 50 miles in a day on 125s, and I don’t think I could have pedalled against the stronger gusts on anything less than the 150s that are fitted now. It’s head down, hold the seat and grind into the wind time.

The weekly Enterprise dinghy with reefed sails was nowhere to be seen. An old GP14 was plodding along under full sail, unperturbed - perhaps weighed down with firewood, ironware and cheap tin trays, or something like that. Two Toppers made a brief, exciting and ultimately horizontal appearance on the lake. Two rescue boats were out - one drifting about as the occupant fiddled with theoutboard motor. (Been there, done that!)

Last week, I saw a heron trying to land into a strong wind and being caught in a downdraught. The result was er… inelegant. This week, I saw a heron take off down wind, and never have I seen a heron so surprised as it did about 0 - 40mph in 2 seconds!

One good thing: the inclement weather had kept all the elderly lemming-class joggers away. However, several members of a bicycle club were training around the lake in the opposite direction to me. Their reactions ranged from friendly and amused to stony faced indifference.

The rowers seem to have accepted me as part of the scenery, although there was the odd comment from rower to rower, teasing each other that they couldn’t keep up with the unicycle!

In the course of the ride, I overtook single sculls, pairs, fours and at least one eight, as well as a dragon boat and the GP14. (I don’t count the Toppers, as their crews were swimming - in defiant breach of the notices saying, “No swimming!”)

The pedant in me wants to amend those notices to something like, “Swimming is only allowed as an emergency response to inadvertent separation from a boat or other waterborne craft, or in the event of slipping from the bank.” It’ll never catch on. Perhaps that’s not pedantic, but nit-picking - a small but not unimportant distinction, I think.

After the hour, I had done ‘only’ 11.68 miles. Considering that my first ever measured hour was 10.44 miles, followed by 11.11 on the second attempt, that’s not too bad, but it’s a long way short of a personal best. A small victory, though: the top recorded speed was not 14, but a whole (count 'em) 15 mph! This was no doubt on one of the wind assisted stretches, but I see it as progress because it isn’t the power that’s a problem, it’s the co-ordination and the nerve needed to go faster.

And at the end of the hour? Soaking wet, but warm, I did a bit of gentle off roading, and a few easy hill climbs and descents. Next to the canoe slalom course I did a complete rolling UPD in the wet grass. Canoeists can’t mock: they spend half their time upside down, and if they don’t, it’s because they’re not trying. (I know, I been there, done that, and dried the T shirt.)

By the time I got back to the car, I was absolutely soaked. I took my T shirt off, and the wet fabric was airtight, so that it formed a partial vacuum as I pulled it upwards - something I remember from my canoeing days… the acoustics are really strange… and it feels all clammy… yuk! And we do this for fun?

And best of all? 20.03 miles in 1:55.07. That’s riding time, rather than elapsed time, so add a bit for 3 or 4 dismounts, and I reckon that’s still 20 mixed miles in adverse conditions in under 2 hours. Buy a Coker; you know you want one.

I own a Coker … I knew I needed one. Another catchy title and, not surprisingly, another entertaining writeup. Thanks, Mike. Please keep them coming. Are you working on that collection of essays to submit yet?

Boats in Gales

It is quite possible to sail boats like GP14s in heavy weather with little or no danger if you know what you are doing. Capsizes are a little like UPDs, the better you get, the less likely they are to happen.

Fool