Saturday, 31 July 2010

Centient Beings

Well, it wasn't quite a landslide, but it looks like metric measurement has edged the vote by a centimetre.
Doug, a centimetre is a hundreth of a metre, or, as you would I think have it, a peck of a meter. Anyway, you should think of it as like a little inch, and trust the other members of the TroisV to guide you. Except down ramps in cafes. Unless you've called in a hug on the owner, Care Bear mafia style:

Capiche?
Speaking of edging things, now that the metric system has been introduced, I now have to spend a considerable period of time studying the Garmin's manual in order to convince it to speak French.
But I digress.
The important part of this post is to reassure our loyal readership (hello Finland! Our comments accept Suomen!) that we do pay attention to what you say, we do listen, and we do care. So rummaging through the TroisV's bulging sack (of mail) we discover this comment, which, to our lasting shame, we had earlier neglected:
"Isobel said...

I will now knit a merino wool team jersey for your junior member.
However, his junior body is not broad enough to sport the full team name so I need official permission to knit the abbreviated form."

Isobel, I can only assume that you are either related to our junior member or he is an especially lucky boy who has a team of assistants ready to fashion his every haberdasherical need from wool. Perhaps this is a picture of him:

Mess with the wool, you're gonna get spooled.

But the important point is that if the 'abbreviated form' to which you refer is 'TroisV', and you are not intending to knit a jersey with 'Those Jerks' purled upon the chest, then yes, you have permission to, like a prison tattooist, unleash your needles of fury.

And for the other commenters and potential commenters who aren't us, please don't be shy. You too could one day become part of the echelon of nonsense that is this blog.

To celebrate our metricitude, here is the most extraordinary music video I've ever seen. It perplexes me, which I think shows that if I was ever with it, I now no longer know what it is. Not suitable for junior members.

Flotsnoo!
TroisV!

Jon's Birthday Hijinks

This morning at 8 a.m. the full complement of senior TroisV members gathered at the Meeting Point and rode a few laps in the rain to honor/honour Jon's birthday. The RP Sprint Series continued, with Doug edging Matt 2-1. After three laps we stopped off at the parking lot across from the zoo to try out the new [Insert Big Important Bank Sponsorship Here] London Cycle Hire bicycles. We discovered that they work well when the road is flat, but that you wouldn't want to ride up Swain's Lane on one (or would you?); they're sortakinda heavy, as Jon has already noted elsewhere.

Following the test rides, we ambled to Look Mum No Hands! for coffee, birthday cake, etc., etc. Matt discovered that those Dromarti shoes look nice, but are difficult to walk in on the downslopes.

We also decided we will ride a route called "A Costwold Triangle", though we couldn't quite agree on when.

Here's the cake, and a thumb:


Flotsnoo!
TroisV!

Two songs for Jon:



Friday, 30 July 2010

Friday Bonus Post - Hire Education

Today is the launch of the much anticipated (by bike nerds like us) Barclays Cycle Hire scheme in London. Many respectable news outlets have reported on it and you can watch a video of the Mayor cycling round on one. Some wags (no, not that kind) have dubbed it the Bocycle.

Not us though.

So, not to be outdone, the TroisV sent its ace reporter, Scoop Newshound, out to have a go on one and see if they've been worth the wait.

Unfortunately, Scoop Newshound is either a figment of my imagination or a breach of someone's copyright, so I went instead.

The first impressive thing is that despite not having the wherewithal to order my access key until yesterday, it arrived this morning. So on return from work, I rushed out of the house to have a go on one.

The way it works is this. You approach the docking stations (of which there are many), select a likely looking specimen, insert your key, wait for the light to turn green, wait too long, try and remove the bike, discover that it's locked itself up again, and repeat the process only this time remembering to extract the bike more swiftly.

Now you're all set to go. And you try and move the bike to the road in the way you would normally.

And you can't because it weighs 28kg.

So you roll it to the edge of the road, crushing obstacles in your path, like the kerb, and set off for your test ride round the block, remembering to put it in the second of its three gears to avoid frantic 3mph spinning like you saw lots of people doing this morning.

And you set off, and discover that the second gear is a bit low, and the third gear is a bit high, and that the slightest breeze has the same effect as jamming on both brakes. So it's a tad slow.

But it's a bike, and like all bikes it is fun to ride. It turns like an oil tanker and weighs about the same, but it's got big old tyres, and you sit up on it, and it's easy to look around. Of course it's not going to be like a road bike, it's a different sort of machine, and people are curious about it so it should see lots more people on bikes. And more people on bikes means safer cycling for everyone, so it is officially A Good Thing. Hurrah!

Besides, you've spent £45 on it, so you're going to have at least twenty goes.

Furthermore, it introduced the TroisV to a brand new experience - a taxi driver genuinely interested in a bicycle.

Taxi driver (rolling his cab into the ASL): "What's it like mate?"
TroisV: "Like a tank"

O'flotsno!
TroisV!





Bike Porn Friday

Trois Vs are doing their best to cope with the weight of increasing years, the end of the Tour de France and post-Dunwich sores. TV has provided some balsam, not least BBC Four's evening on bike-related shows. Although we expected much, not least the Tom Simpson documentary, the highlight was actually Robert Penn's 'It's All About The Bike'. Douchebaggery was detected early on (I mean, who has a stable in which to keep their... stable of bikes?), but we warmed to his infectious enthusiasm, and were happy to overlook his BBC-funded burning of CO2 as Mr Penn sought the finest components' an ex-solicitor cum journalist could buy: Campag Record groupset, Brook's saddles, Conti tyres, Californian-built wheels, Chris King, etc., etc.





Which brings us to this week's Bike Porn (if Doug doesn't get in first with a Rapha-sale inflected post). Jon is currently on a war against carbon fibre, and wants to replace his Blackrain integrated steerer with something more refined (and higher) from Roberts. And this brings us back to Penn, and his steel selection from Brian Rourke. You too could have this frame for about the same as a fully-fledged Squadra:










Flotsno!
Trois V!

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Metric System

A proposal has been made that the TroisV begin measuring its statistics in metric units, rather than the imperial units we normally present, on the grounds that it will sound more impressive and will also align us with important European cycling traditions.

One member is American, and has therefore never heard of a "kilometer". Whether this is a pro or a con argument raises a whole other argument. In any case, democracy can be lived out in the polling booth on the right.

Flotsnoo!
TroisV!

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

New (Junior) Member!

So you can see from the poll to the side that following his glorious drawing of my bicycle, Cosmo has been elected to a Junior Membership of Vraisemblablement Votre Veloclub by a unanimous 7-0 count. The thing is, there are only three members of the TroisV with any sort of voting rights that actually get counted (though the rest of you are welcome to voice your preferences). I'm from Chicago, so I voted twice in order to keep hometown pride on the roll (or not to have my right to claim it as my home revoked; it's never really clear how these things work). Assuming that Jon and Matt voted, the motion still carries by a unanimous decision. In fact, that's true even if they didn't. Anyway:

Congratulations, buddy. I have no idea what privileges your junior membership comes with, but I do know that unlike the rest of us, you'll have to master the spelling of "Vraisemblablement"; just remember that there's a little more "bla" in there than you'd imagine.

Flotsnoo!
TroisV!

Monday, 26 July 2010

Dunwich Dynamo II: The Report

So anyway, Dunwich Dynamo got off to an inauspicious start for the TroisV. My back tire went flat right as we pulled up to Pub on the Park, which is the starting point. My back tire had already seen a couple innertube changes this week, so some serious concern set in: was there something wrong with the tape or the rim? If so, my Dunwich Dynamo would end with a walk home. As it turns out, I've just done a very good job of riding over every piece of glass in London recently. Tiny piece of (brown) glass extracted, tire and rim and tape thoroughly checked by two members of TroisV, brand-new tube mounted, old one patched up ("just in case"), and we were ready to head off.

It seemed to take forever to get out of London, but the traffic lights and constant stopping were mitigated by the atmosphere; the cyclists were all in good mood, and pedestrians and motorists alike were telling us we were crazy. At one light a car full of guys in their 20s saw my Brooklyn Chewing Gum jersey (see the photo album; link below) and bellowed, "Is he American?". I got confused; presumably it wasn't for me to answer, since they didn't address me. Maybe their mothers raised them to "not under any circumstances address an American directly," which seems reasonable. Anyway, they told us we were crazy when somebody told them we were cycling 200 kilometers (the use of kilometers always makes your ride seem more impressive, both in speed and distance; nice work, Metric System!).

So but finally out and up through Epping (veterans of the Epping Loop noted that we got there via the less-steep route) and into the villages, where pubs were jammed with cyclists (I was thinking, "how long do you want this ride to take?") and the roads were lined with occasional well-wishers, who waved and clapped ("lined" is perhaps overstating things, but there were people who clearly had come out specifically to watch the cyclists, and it made the atmosphere really fun). After briefly explaining to Matt who Diego Forlan is, we found ourselves rolling through the darkness of the Essex countryside, and staring at a radio tower that would haunt us for the rest of the evening.

There's no real reason to recount the whole ride, pedalstroke-by-pedalstroke, but here's a few highlights/notes:

-->We rode a pretty solid pace for the duration, often moving from one pack of riders to the next. This made for a somewhat surreal experience; one spends much of the Dunwich Dynamo looking at red lights, both blinking and non-blinking, and sometimes, between groups, they disappear entirely. It's also weird how quickly a pack of riders will descend on you if you slow down and/or stop.

-->There were a few minor navigational mishaps, though for a long spell we rode with a trio of pacy riders who had a GPS, which was useful, and with another group of riders, Matt's map and my iPhone combined to get us back on track before we got too far off of it.

--> For the last 20 or so miles we rode in a large peloton led and navigated by riders from Dulwich Paragon Cycling Club. They had a large group of (uniformed) riders, who were in good spirits, and two of whom were draped in Christmas lights, which was a nice change to the red light landscape to which we'd become accustomed at this point. Two longish sections of this stretch were on winding and undulating country lanes, so riders were packed pretty close together (and therefore needed to concentrate, at about 3:15 a.m. onwards; no major mishaps to report, however). Anyway, the Dulwich Paragon riders were good on their navigational skills as well as their general bonhomie. One notes an enormous difference between these riders and our so-called enemies (we did see one of those riders early on).

--> With about 7 or so miles to go, the peloton missed a turn and everybody had to stop and turn around. There was quite a large number of riders in the group, and Matt and I got separated. The problem was, he was ahead of me, and a bunch of riders both slow and fast (including one in a black and white Brooklyn Chewing Gum jersey, who wouldn't deign so much as to crack a slight upturn of the mouth corners in recognition of our "team" status--I said, "nice jersey" and he kept his eyes directly on the road ahead ... jerk.) rode between us on a gravelly and (yes) undulating country lane. So I had to catch up. I started bombing along, careful to stay out of the gravel, passing when I could, moving from group to group, trying to identify Matt's blinking light and Rapha (of course) musette (to be fair, I've got one too). He's not in this group, okay, he must be in the next, okay no, maybe the next... this went on for about fifteen minutes of painful riding. I felt like De Vlaeminck! (no, I did not) Anyway, only then did it occur to me that he might actually be behind me. I slowed down from about 20-21 mph to around 16 mph (I could actually read my computer in the predawn light). A couple minutes (at most) later, Matt came up hyperventilating next to me. Whoops! Well, anyway, after a few whimpered Flotsnoo!s back and forth, we ended strong.

And then had to ride to Ipswich, about which the less said the better. I'll leave it at a single word: headwind.

On the plus side, we were in a group of only half a dozen riders who made the 8:42 to Liverpool Street (and all of whom needed 2 hours to get from Dunwich to Ipswich). The conductor told us as we were arriving into London that there were about 100 bicycles trying to get on at Darsham, which is the closest station to Dunwich.

I was also sure to give the football ground at Portman Road the finger as we rode past.


Matt and I rode to Look Mum, No Hands! for a well-earned milkshake before heading home. Nobody asked us, as they usually do, whether we'd been on a good ride, and we felt a little deflated. Then again, we pretty much felt deflated anyway (but my tire didn't! yay!). But we also felt smug. The feeling remained the rest of the day, even while seeing cyclists pedal past my house after my three-hour nap.

After our breakfast at Dunwich, Matt had a short swim. I didn't even see the sea.

Have a look at Matt's photos.


And you can find the stats in the comments section of Dunwich Dynamo I.


Flotsnoo!
TroisV!

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Dunwich Dynamo I

Dr Matt and Dr Doug completed the Dunwich Dynamo this morning at approximately 4 a.m., having completed the course in 7 hours and 3 minutes.

A full report will follow tomorrow; we're exhausted.

Flotsnoo!
TroisV!

Here's your song:

Saturday, 24 July 2010

The All-New Forest Show

So today two of the Trois V are sleeping like babies (if only the club mascot could learn to do so) ahead of the Dunwich Dynamo tonight.

The non night-riding member of the club decided to take a jaunt around the New Forest. You can see my route/rowt here. The New Forest isn't far from the Club Mascot's Mum's family, but in order to get Trois V Trusty Steed Number 2 down here, I had to put it in the car. Which meant I had to disassemble it. In the middle of the street. In central London.

Tomorrow I'm buying a bike rack!

But I digress.

Arriving at Brockenhurst, I initially struggled to find the start of the purple line on the GPS. Several wrong turns, and a double level crossing later, I eventually found it, and the glorious vista of the Forest opened up before me.


You thought I was being sarcastic then, didn't you? But look! It IS glorious. Hurrah!

Not only was it pretty, but the road was smooth, and motorised traffic has a 40mph speed limit, so the going was good and relaxed. I soon found myself in some trees, and with the smell of hot pines in the sunshine it reminded me of California.

Then I saw a road sign: Rhinefield Ornamental Drive. The keen eyed amongst you will notice that this was the final descent into Brockenhurst for the end of the ride. I was doing the route backwards.

Marvellous.

Undaunted, I pressed on, since a loop is a loop, right? Everything would be fine. Until I reached the wrong end of a one-way system later in the ride and had to walk. Which of course is the ONLY REASON my average speed is lower than I would have liked.

No wait! There are two more excuses, I mean reasons, why.

The first is one of the things that the New Forest is famous for, New Forest ponies. Their main distinctive features are their long manes, and, like hippies, they somehow think this gives them licence to do whatever the hell they like and everyone else just has to put up with their bong-addled wanderings:

The funniest part about this was the car that sped up behind me as I moved to the middle of the road, obviously thinking 'I will get this arrogant cyclist to move back to the left by revving my engine. Muhahaha! Oh right, horses.' and then slowed down and backed off.

My second excuse, although it's my own stupid fault, is the fact that shortly after encountering those horses and doubling back to regain the purple line (ahem), I found myself on one of the many cycle routes in the New Forest. Alas they are designed for bikes with slightly wider tyres than mine, and it was a bit like cycling on very sharp, very pointy, marbles. So I got off and pushed. Which gave me the excuse to eat a Mule Bar and take this scene of bucolic wonderousness.

Having successfully struck tarmac again, and saying a prayer of thanks to John McAdam and Edgar Hooley, I then had to scamper across a dual carriageway (note: scampering in SPD cleats is not a dignified affair) before getting back onto lovely New Forest roads and down for a peek at the Solent (which should have started the ride) and into Brockenhurst for the train back.


A very lovely ride, which needs some tweaking to be truly excellent (a bit like my navigation), but equipped with a bike rack, there will be tweaking opportunities aplenty.

And as for the derring-doers tonight, I wish you both clear roads and clearer skies. Enjoy your salty bath in the morning. Here's a song for me, and and a song for you.

Flotsnoo!

TroisV!






Neil Young - Tonight's the Night (Live)
Uploaded by Bodhisattva1956. - Watch more music videos, in HD!

Friday, 23 July 2010

The Only Way is Up

Following the Tour de Hills, we know what pain is, so we salute the competitors in the Rollapaluza inaugural Swain's Lane Hill climb.

The victor was almost twice as fast as the fastest Trois V member, who would probably fall out of the time guillotine in any case. Rapha Condor stormed the women's category.


And we hear that Rapha CC have also wangled the lane's closure in the autumn (the real hill racing season)

Flotsnoo!

Bike Porn Friday: Bang a Drum

There's an episode of "The Brady Bunch" in which Bobby starts playing the drums on the grounds that his mother is the only one with a station wagon. But what does a drummer do when he leaves the shelter of his parents' home and/or station wagon? And what does a drummer do if he prefers pedal power to the automobile? If you're the drummer in Dutch Electroacoustic/Postpunk/Dutch pop (that's what their myspace page says!) De Kift, then you solve the problem this way:



There's even room for a banjo!

Flotsnoo!
TroisV!


Monday, 19 July 2010

BikeArt!

Regular readers (hi, Mom!) of this site will recognize this picture:


It's my beautiful Kona Zing bicycle, rendered in pencil and ink by my seven year-old friend, Cosmo. I should note for posterity that my bike was sitting upside-down on its saddle when Cosmo drew it. He solved the problem of having been commissioned to draw a rightside-up bike by drawing it upside-down, then turning the paper over.

Anyway, for his services, I'm nominating Cosmo for junior membership (do we have junior membership?) of Vraisemblablement Votre Veloclub. You'll notice the voting booth to your right.

Flotsnoo!
TroisV!

A band you either a) didn't know existed, or b) forgot existed, would like to encourage you to rock the vote:



Friday, 16 July 2010

Bike Porn Friday: bring your own


Still choking on our outrage that Mark Renshaw was disqualified from the Tour de France yesterday, and wondering whether to protest by burning all our Garmin-Slipstream kit, or posting it back to Vaughters with a note explaining how disappointed we are, or doing the second thing having let Matt use my Slipstream cardigan as an 'emergency jacket', the TroisV realised that the only thing that could really console us, short of HTC-Columbia going all Cinzano on Garmin, is that crutch for the cycling geek: BIKE PORN!

Now, just as homemade amateur porn and the vcr revolutionised human pornography (or 'hupo'), so the interwebs has finally done the same for bike porn (or 'bipo' - not to be confused with 'bihupo' which is a very different thing).

So this week, rather than offering you some premade bipo (or 'prebipo'), the TroisV points you to where you can let your dirty little minds run amok.

Mercian Cycles have been making handmade beauties like this:

for years and years, and as a custom bike company, you can obviously choose whatever sort of frame and colour you like.

Now Mercian have created a gizmo that lets you see your imagination's wildest fantasies made digital:


Phwoarrr!

Now while you all wrestle with having unnatural thoughts about your creatons, we're going to watch the Tour, and enjoy these songs, which are dedicated to Team Slipstream.





Flotsnoo!
Trois V!

STOP PRESS! Top TroisV researchers have discovered that John Vande Velde, father of Team Slipstream's leader Christian, PLAYED ONE OF THE TEAM CINZANO CYCLISTS IN BREAKING AWAY!!!! It all makes so much sense now.

Dr Matt, on my command, unleash hell.

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Tour de Hills: training!

While the larger Tour is leaving the hills (or 'Alps' as they are also known) behind, the Trois V remains at altitude, breathing the thin, clear air of Highgate.

So, this morning, the two available members of le Club did some warm ups around Regent's Park, were amused and literally speechless at the anger of the angry man in the little rented car (indeed, 'What did we think were we doing?'), and then headed along the first part of Doug's most excellent Tour de Hills route.

The cooling morning rain was turning into a warm mist, and we reached the foot of Swain's Lane, which we are excited to hear is going to be closed next week for Rollapalluza's Hill Climb Challenge (and again for Rapha CC). We started at the traditional start point, the zebra crossing, and headed to the oestopath's, high above us.

3 minutes later, and Dr Matt had reached the summit, Dr Doug arrived a close 18 seconds behind. Once oxygen reached our brains, we were pleased to note we had knockec about 18 seconds off our time from Saturday.

Flotsnoo!
Trois V!

Take it away Condi!

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Tour de Hills!

So yesterday the TroisV completed the mountain stage. After a warmup lap of Regent's Park, we headed through Camden Town, up to Gospel Oak, along Parliament Fields and then to the first climb of the day, West Highgate Hill. West Highgate is a pretty long, and increasingly steep, hill, and the climb was made a little more difficult by a huge truck that was also climbing (faster, and with a gas-powered engine, thus disqualifying it). Matt reached the top first, and when Jon arrived, he declared himself out of the rest of the tour. After some discussion, and a reminder that the next thing we'd be doing was crossing over Archway Bridge, Jon decided to continue for a little while. Then he decided he had to climb Muswell Hill (and he also decided he had to send Matt on an attack as we climbed, even though it was declared a noncompetitive event, and this made me want to cry, but instead I just bucked up and inched Matt out at the top), and after that Jon decided he should climb Alexandra Palace with us as well, and once you've done all that, well, you might as well climb up to Highgate (passing under the Archway Bridge) and follow along past the Spaniards, down East Heath Road (carefully avoiding the corrugated speed bumps after you've ridden over the first set) and back past Gospel Oak in order to climb the final and steepest hill, Swains Lane, which Matt did in 3:18, with Doug and Jon trailing behind in that order. No pictures of today, but there is a nice chart of Jon's heartrate:


No other Tour de France-related events are yet planned, but we'll probably think of something. Jon declared himself the Mark Cavendish of the TroisV, which led to Matt and I planning a sprint in which we play the role of the train that flings him over the line, but Jon has so far not lived up to the "fastest man on two wheels. Fact." part of his claim.

Flotsnoo!
TroisV!

Friday, 9 July 2010

Radtour im Ausland!

This past week I traveled to Landstuhl to visit the drummer of the official punk band of Vraisembablement Votre Veloclub. His friend Steve has been bugging him to get a bike for a while, but somehow it took the visit of a member of the TroisV to get him to Radsport Wolf, where, he'd been reliably informed by the same Steve, if you use your best American-accented German to sweetalk the lady who runs the place, she'll put you on a secondhand mountain bike for 100€. Steve had bought a bike there. Steve loaned me this bike, which his buddy had bought there:






It's called a "Hurricane". It's awesome. It's very heavy. The endbar whisltes when you ride fast. As someone once said, [insert book title here].






Anyway, after we got Dr. Andy on his bike, and had an innertube replaced on my loaner, we set off. There are a ton of bike trails in the Pfalz (and probably in Saarland, too, which is right nearby, and probably also in France, which is also not so far away), and they're absurdly well-marked, and fun to ride. Our particular choice took us from Landstuhl to Ramstein, home of enormous airplanes and in-transit NATO soldiers and probably a lot of other people and stuff. On our way there, we saw a family of deer. From Ramstein we followed a path that took us mostly along railroad tracks, through a valley that eventually led us to Kusel, where we sat under a tree and admired the Rathaus (and its bells), while drinking Germany's gift to the world:



It was a very hot day (30+ Centigrade Degrees). Andy discovered the joys of cycling, and wondered why he'd waited so long to buy a bike. He also discovered that when you're not used to riding a bike, your legs, shoulders and back get really sore. He also discovered that going up hills takes a lot of work. Here are our tired bikes, strapped into the Regional Bahn, which takes almost as long to get from Kusel to Landstuhl as the average new cyclist:



TroisV!
Flotsnoo!

Did somebody say Rammstein?



UPDATE! Here's a video of the last round of the Rathaus bells:
video

Bike Porn Friday: taking the Brompton for a walk


Saturday, 3 July 2010

RP8.9

So today was the big day.

RP8.9

8.9km round the inner circle of Regent's Park, matching the distance, if not the road surface, gradient, or speed, of today's Tour de France prologue. The idea being, that when the TroisV sit down later today to eat pizza and watch le tour, we'll have some remote idea (a) of how far the riders are going and (b) how much worse we are than them both as riders and as men.

Having finished work at past midnight last night, returning home knowing I had to fix a flat tyre before bedtime, and making, in hindsight, a poor choice to eat the cold dinner that the Club Mascot's mum had left out for me whilst watching my favourite squadron, I suspected I would not be at my best this morning.

However, after an encouraging pep gurgle from the Club Mascot, and the traditional anointing with vomit, I set out with a spring in my step. Then I went back for my cyclecomputer. Then I got stuck behind the household cavalry. Then I eventually turned up, with a bag full of exciting time trial goodies.

Matt was in his traditional coating of Rapha, and Doug in his temporary insurrection-friendly Speedy USA jersey. I wore as much Garmin Kit as I could muster.

A short warm up lap followed, with apprehensive glances at each other. Were the others as nervous as I was? For the most pointless competition in human history? Turns out they were.

We were all feeling it.

Doug and Matt did a quick recce of the course while I unpacked and fixed my race card to my bike, taking note to avoid the thigh-chafing position that the others had selected for theirs.


Then it was start time. Doug received his instructions. Each lap completed would be signalled to him as he passed the start/finish line. After the first lap, he would also have a signal as to whether his current lap was faster or slower than the previous one. The final lap would be signalled by something awesome. He nodded that he'd understood. He set off. He yelped. He carried on.

The first lap, a scorching 1:39.3, a frightening pace. Matt and I looked at each other. Surely he couldn't keep this up? Sure enough, on lap 2 he was six seconds down on his first, but then he held his time. Each lap around the 1:46/1:47 mark.

A gaggle of Japanese tourists approached the Queen's Gardens, Matt and I considered preventing them crossing the road to make way for Douglas, but it was ok.

His final lap approached. I reached into my bag. I unleashed the cowbell. Doug smirked, but didn't guffaw and fall off in the way I'd hoped. This was serious business.

He flew round the final lap, restoring his pace of the first lap. 15 minutes, 47 seconds final time.

Impressive.

And he looked fine afterwards.

Then it was my turn. Knowing I wouldn't win, I had nevertheless failed to think what a reasonable goal was, or target time. Or anything.

Like Doug I set off too fast. The adrenaline was flowing. But I had the loyal gps to guide me. Heart rate and cadence became the guide. Confusion reigned at the finish line updates: "Faster, no, slower, no the same, no faster, no, argh!". I ignored them (the signals and the signallers) and waited for the bell.

Coming round the final corner, a parkie was about to cross the road ahead of me. "STAY THERE!!!" I bellowed. He hopped back on the pavement, startled. 19:19:8 final time. That would do. I made the turn back towards the finish, apologising to the parkie for waking him from his torpor.

Matt was up. Visibly anxious, but also looking confident. Doug offered him a choice of language for his countdown. I lay on the grass trying not to think about the 1am plate of cold pasta.

Matt chose German.

Cold. Brutal. Efficient.

The language of Ullrich.
Off he went. His first lap was 1:46.:9 He'd learnt from Doug's and my error. He was holding back for the final two. He held his pace, 1:46/1:47 all the way.

Doug was now nervous holding the stopwatch, both for fear of screwing up the single-button technology (that a chimpanzee could have worked), and also because he now stood a chance of winning.

Matt's seventh lap was where it was lost. 1:48.5 when a sub 1:46 was needed. He would have to do two extraordinary laps to win it.

The eight lap. The cowbell sounded at 1:46:8. Impossible? Doug was making 'eeep' noises. Matt arrived on final approach. 1:39:2 The fastest lap of the day. Not enough. Like Ullrich, victory against his brash American rival eluded him.

Final time 16:00:8

13 seconds short of victory.

Matt collapsed on the grass. His lungs and spirit broken.

The race of truth had spoken.

We had been told.

Doug performed an ancient and solemn Potawatomi ceremony of thanks to the gods.

Matt connected with a deeper spiritual self, and acheived a state of zen-like calm and acceptance.


But to the victor the spoils. In this case the chance to buy us breakfast at LMNH (whose wi-fi we used, and whose TdF bunting we admired), and to enjoy a tasty victory beer.

(This photograph was taken at 10:40 AM).

It was a tremendously fun event. I was surprised how nervous we all were, and how much we found out about ourselves over such a short course.

And none of us were sick.

Now the Tour de France is about to start. As someone who will today probably go faster than us once said:

"Vive le tour. Vive le tour forever."

Flotsnoo!
TroisV!




Friday, 2 July 2010

Bike Porn Friday!


Following the "Incident with the Tick", I feel it's time to throw some positive light on the wonderful nation of Suomi, and what better way, gentle reader, to do so than through the medium of Bike Porn Friday?

So have a look at those beauties up there. Ooh! Aah! Ovat ihana!

They're made by Pelago Bicycles in Helsinki, a fairly new bicycle maker that makes beautiful steel bikes for riding around cities. The one above is the Brooklyn, and their other models are the Bristol, Antwerp and Pietari. One cool thing about these bikes (besides the fact that you can ride around on them singing Bon Jovi) is that the Brooklyn and Bristol both come in single-, three- and eight-speed options. They also come with Brooks saddles, which is something our style-conscious and Tweed Running members approve of without even having to think about it (Matt: they go with your shoes!). Finally, have a look at those prices: pretty reasonable for a bike that looks so damn good.

I'm going to visit their shop next time I go to Helsinki. Don't be surprised if one day you see me toodling around on one of these sexy s.o.b.s:





TroisV!
Flotsnoo!

Now here's some Kauko Röyhkä:



Thursday, 1 July 2010

Tour de What?

The TroisV is marking this year's Tour de France with its own tour. Coming up this Saturday morning is our competitive prologue time trial, the RP8.9, followed by breakfast at Look Mum No Hands. Next week, on the morning of the eve of the first high mountain stage, we will embark on the TroisV Mountain Stage. Details of the route can be found here, though they are subject to change.

The Mountain Stage will be a noncompetitive event, and will begin on Saturday, 10 July 2010 at 8 a.m. at the TroisV meeting point. Time is subject to change, but won't be any later than that. Upon completion of the last climb, we will coast down to Look Mum No Hands for breakfast. If anyone is interested in joining us on the mountain stage, please leave a comment, or drop us an email at TroisV@live.com.

Further Tour events are likely, though we haven't necessarily dreamt anything up yet.

TroisV!
Flotsnoo!