Shiny helmet and smooth legs

October 11, 2017 at 15:44 | Posted in bicycles | 1 Comment
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As regular readers would know, I don’t wear a bicycle helmet. I’m not going to go into the reasons again here – if you want to know more, there’s a score of articles on this blog that explain why.

However, I did recently don one for the first time in years. But not to ride a bike – but to go to a fancy dress party. A good friend was celebrating a significant birthday, and the theme was ‘French’. Mrs Chillikebab obtained me a beret, but at the least minute I had a better idea. What could be more French than dressing up as a competitor in the worlds most famous bicycle race?

Accordingly I dusted off my finest lycra (which is not especially sportive, but it would have to do), made myself a race number with appropriate logo and found Baby Chillikebab’s old balance bike from the back of the shed to use as a prop.

As I was getting ready, two things struck me. One, I needed to wear my helmet, to complete the ensemble. And secondly my legs were too hairy to be authentic.

So I went hunting for my helmet. I finally found it, dusty and forgotten. The pads had disintegrated, but I found some replacements knocking about, and fitted them after giving the thing a wash and a polish. I put it on. These things are really not that comfortable, are they? I suppose you get used to it – I used to wear it every day, after all.

Then I took a shower, and attacked my legs with a razor. This took a lot longer than expected. And I clogged the bath drain. You probably don’t need to know more than that.

One thing though – whilst the helmet felt uncomfortable, shaving your legs feels great. So smooth and sensuous! There is a lot of theories about why cyclists shave their legs – it makes them more aerodynamic, it makes injuries easier to treat, it’s better for post-race massage etc etc. But now I know the real reason. It feels lovely.

If you feel like trying it yourself, be aware. The next day my legs were blotchy, itchy and rough, and stayed that way for over a week. Perhaps it’s a bit like wearing a helmet. You get used to it after a while…

Le Tour de Pont d’ANZAC

August 2, 2010 at 19:25 | Posted in bicycles | Leave a comment
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It was the Cannondale guy I had my eye on. He looked dangerous. We’d already left the peloton behind in Pyrmont, and the breakaway group of four were gearing up for the hill. He was first onto the ramp, and came out of the saddle to push some pace up the ramp. I was at the back, and I watched as the third placed Bright Lights pulled out and went past Hybrid dude on the first incline. Probably not a manoeuvre I’d recommend; however he executed it well, taking the long outside line on the first bend before pulling away on the second incline.

Hybrid dude never looked like a contender. But he was game, he responded with some pace, and kept in touch as we negotiated the tricky final bend. As we exited the spiral ramp, I got a sense that Cannondale guy was fading slightly. I decided to make a move.

Going up through the gears I hit the pedals, just at the moment Bright Lights also decided to make a move on Cannondale guy. For a moment all three of us were level. I came up out of the saddle, and surged forward. No time to check the situation – get up through the gears again, surge again. I could feel my lungs starting to burn as I piled on more pressure; the front wheel coming off the ground as I forced the bike to gain speed up the hill by sheer willpower. I was in front.

‘Keep pushing, keep pushing’ I muttered, forcing the tiring legs to respond yet again. The summit of the bridge was in sight; surely this Tour was mine.

Then, it happened. I could tell I had mistimed my run; I was going to fade ever so slightly just prior to the top. And I was suddenly aware of a dazzling light over my shoulder. Bright Lights was right there, hugging my wheel. Sensing my weakness, he pushed again, just getting past me as we reached the apex.

It was over. I had lost. Bright Lights, invigorated by his victory, continued a flying pace down the hill. I followed more slowly, a broken man. Up until that point, I was King of the Mountain. But no longer.

Of course, there are excuses. I was riding a steel-framer tourer, with racks and loaded panniers. I had mountain bike shoes on, and board shorts. He had a carbon road bike, no backpack and shaved legs. And was probably taking EPO.

However, that doesn’t matter. Today, I lost. And somehow, I have to find it within myself to come back, to find a way to regain that title that is so rightfully mine. Tomorrow, I ride the fixie.

The actual speeds reached in this event are lower than you might imagine. Also (amazingly) there were no pedestrians at all on Anzac bridge that night; perhaps it was the cold weather. Remember to ride safely on shared paths, and always slow right down when passing pedestrians.

Image by Adam.J.W.C.  Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic license. Click image for original.

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