Is winter cycling more dangerous than summer racing?

With the nights getting shorter my cycling to work routine had become somewhat sporadic.  Working in a cold unit, I’d struggled to find the enthusiasm to ride to work in the cold, work all day in the cold then cycle home in the dark and cold. I’d also had three bouts of man-cold, which I’d managed to pull through, but it had been touch and go for a while. So November had seen me out on the push bike just twice (I normally ride 35 miles a day 3 days a week). With the Christmas break came some time to get back into it during daylight hours. One morning Jo suggested that I ride to the Tattenhall ice cream farm, about 25 miles away, she and Ted would meet me there in the car for a day trip out. Training miles, day out with the family and ice cream, what could possibly go wrong?!

The weather was cold and the conditions damp so I donned my cycling tights (remember they are ‘cycling’ not ‘ladies’ tights) to complete the Peter Pan look and set off around ten o’clock. I was finding the going quite tough having been off the bike for so long and the excesses of Christmas had taken their toll. On the whole though I was enjoying getting back out. About 15 miles in I turned off the main route, in a small village called Cotebrook, to avoid having to ride on the busy A49 near Oulton Park. This lane climbs up from where it leaves the main road, and after about 500 yards I was working hard to keep a Wiggins busting pace of 8mph up the hill. Suddenly the rear wheel broke traction, just outside a farm house. It gripped again and although a bit shocked that even though I have Chris Hoy spec thighs I’d never actually manage to spin up my push bike before. I guessed that there must’ve been diesel on the road outside the farm and carried on. Another quick spin 100 yards later changed my mind that it must be black ice. At the moment this thought entered my head the bike spun out sideways, my tiny mind was overwhelmed. I wanted to put my feet down but they were clipped into the pedals; I wanted to control the bike but was wrestling to unclip my feet etc etc.  The wrestling match continued for the next three seconds. It was all over in a flash though as the bike swept out from under me dumping me on the deck. Amusingly my feet were still in the clips, so I lay in the middle of an icy lane attached to a push bike, just hoping that no-one had seen me! I got my feet out of the clips but struggled to get up as the road was like an ice rink, I dug the points of my cycling shoes into the ice and got to my feet. Picking the bike up I noted that I had a ‘hurty knee’ which, like man-flu, can be serious. I decided that walking back to the main road was probably the best idea. Pushing the bike down the hill I’d got about 50 paces when my feet slid out from under me and again I found myself landing straight on my backside, this time getting stabbed in the back by the front chain ring of the bike. Several unrepeatable words were spoken as I again struggled to get enough grip to get back up! Eventually I got back to the main road and rode happily along the ‘dangerous’ A49 getting to the ice cream farm about 20 minutes later than I expected! All in all it wasn’t the most successful training ride!

Aside from this things have been fairly quiet since my last outing on the trials bike. There haven’t been many changes from the racing perspective. I still plan to ride for Infront Motorcycles in some Wirral 100 meetings locally and campaign the TT on the GSXR1000. Some rumblings about me riding an ex-British supersport 600, can also be heard, I just need to generate the funds to run the bike.

Last weekend was the first round of the Frodsham Mcc clubs trials series. As mentioned in my previous blog I’d arranged to run a conducted route for the kids on Oset electric trials bikes. So on the Saturday morning before the event I find myself at the venue alongside another Father/mug, sorry, willing volunteer in the shape of Mike Robinson. Armed with a rake, some section markers and tape we set to work. Mike had volunteered to help which was great as his two lads were already competing in other Oset Cup trials on the harder route. I knew what sort of level of severity to set out for Ted and the other kids on the easy route but really hadn’t much of an idea what the hard route lads were capable of. The ground was fairly well overgrown with brambles, note to self bring a machete next time, a rake struggles to cut brambles and they don’t half leave a mark with those thorns! “It’ll only take an hour” I’d said to Mike before the day. Two and a half hours after arriving, five sections were cleared, raked and marked out and we were both down to our shirt sleeves even though it was freezing!

The following day dawned brighter than the forecast had predicted, for an 11am start. Ted was slightly over excited and had talked about nothing else for the previous 24 hours. He behaved so well considering I was tied up which, as a result, made him wait ages before he could ride. We got signed on and they gave him a tabard with his rider number on. He looked like the kid from ‘Big’ after he had shrunk but was still in his adult clothes! A bit of gaffer tape soon made it like a tailor made suit. 13 riders all on Osets had signed up for the event which was a great start and really as many as I’d wanted for this first event. There was a great cross section of kids, from ‘experienced’ 9 year olds to those who had only ridden their bikes a few times since Santa dropped it down the chimney. Ted had a great day, paddling his way around the sections that he struggled with; there wasn’t a section that he didn’t get his way through. He has announced since that he will ride trials, then motocross, then race a 600 at Oulton Park and at the TT. He’s certainly got it all planned, I’m hoping he sticks with trials! All in all the day went well and everyone I’ve spoken to has vowed to come back for the next event on March 9th.

That’s about it for news from me, as always I’ll keeps you posted.

 Mackers #30

Ian Mackman