Regular readers of drivel on Twitter will be aware that I crashed out of a criterium race a few weeks ago, my rear wheel giving way on a hairpin bend covered with some kind of super-grippy (AKA drunken football fan-proof) blue paint. I noticed at the time that I’d lost rather a lot of skin from my leg and caused some cosmetic damage to the bike. I hadn’t noticed however that my rear tyre had a one-inch hole in the outer layer of rubber – torn off by the aforementioned Man City blue grippy floor covering – which exposed the canvas (?) material underneath….
The 112 mile Pendle Pedal (I’m calling it by its old name because every time I say the new name for the event I cringe a very large cringe….)
Setting off in the first group, Dave and I managed to ride for 5 miles before I got a puncture. Having not ridden the Vitus since the crit a few weeks ago I wasn’t aware of the tyre problem until now. Eventually we got going again with a new tube in my tyre and the first improvised tyre boot of the day protecting it from the tarmac and a silly number of cattle grids, each one accelerating the already-rapid growth of the tyre’s bald patch.
One after another, the route took in some truly brilliant climbs – big, brutes of hills that had varying gradients throughout their length, fantastic views from the top, stunning descents and most of them regarded as ‘classics’ – Trough of Bowland, Nick O Pendle, Waddington Fell, Cross O Greet to name just a small number of the big ones and also some really steep buggers that I don’t think have names other than ‘Bastard’ or ‘Oooyerfucker’.
35 miles later, my rear inner tube finally made contact with the tarmac and punctured. Luckily it wasn’t whilst hurtling down a steep hillside, it was halfway up a hill, my relative lack of speed meaning that I didn’t end up in a ditch.
Another tube, another gel wrapper. By now the exposed tyre canvas had worn through and the tyre had a proper hole in it.
Stopping to check we were ok, local celeb and national cyclocross champ Paul Oldham reassured me that I’d ‘get 500 miles out of a gel wrapper’. Maybe an overestimation on his part or a reflection on my riding technique, the gel wrapper lasted quite a lot less than that.
Gel wrapper bodge and inner tube swap number 3 kicked in at 97 miles, again I was riding uphill (evidently the Gods wanted to annoy rather than kill me), by now the hole in the tyre was now a large gash and I was getting worried that the whole thing would burst open.
The riders that were passing us now as we tended to my stricken bike for the 3rd time today were many of the same riders that we’d passed, were passed by, then passed, then were passed by and then passed throughout this entire ‘test of patience bike ride’.
Thankfully, that final tube/wrapper swap saw me to the end of the route. The tyre problems, whilst irritating, didn’t take much away from what was a brilliant day out on the bike. The route is a real cracker, the event raises money for a brilliant cause and the feed stations had Mars Bars. You can’t ask for much more than that.