“Learn to love your gears” cries the Pheasant. Understandably, you would be right in thinking that if one has just spent the best part of an hour suffering a ‘how to’ session with RH discussing the merits of gear changes, the rest should take care of itself.
At first it’s a flat ride home coming from Angel, Islington via Liverpool Road and then onto Holloway Road – easy peasy, not too many issues there and any mere mortal could cope with this. Minimal gear changes needed.
I am comfortably changing down and up when needed via a quick click of the right and left gear lever on the Boardman; “this is easy”, I think.
Then comes my downfall… The gradient soon starts to climb up Haringey Road and then I’m faced with Mount Doom – Crouch End Hill.
To say I am sweating like a pig after this ascent would be an understatement. My legs nearly fall off! At least, presumably, I am in the correct gear.
Wrong again – It was only when I arrived back in the office the next day that I pulled David ‘Shiny Boy’ Arthur for a quick word in his shell-like and he enlightened me further; “You don’t really need the left lever at the moment, concentrate on the right.” Fair enough, I thought, but what about my struggle up Mount Doom. DA continued; “You need to hold the lever in, in order to get to the really low gears – this will change you down swiftly and get you up those hills”.
Now, it suddenly dawned on me that Richard had already gone through all this and I’d, well – “In one ear and out the other.” Basically, I’d not paid enough attention in class and it cost me. [That’s right. You ended up in top gear – ed.] Mr Miyagi’s instructions should have been adhered to.
The Fashion Police
“Why are you wearing tights underneath your shorts?” says RH. “It’s comfortable” I reply.
“Good god man, put these on.”- I’m confronted with bib shorts for the first time.
“And make sure it’s without underpants too.” “WTF!” I cry.
It’s a hygiene thing apparently. For all newbie’s reading this, google ‘chamois cream’ if you need more info. So, off I popped for a change of clothing. I was also kindly given a sweat-wicking vest and a rather nice Sugoi jacket to go over the top by RH. I was in business.
I actually looked, for the first time (I thought) – like a real roadie. I was greeted with a “Yes, look at this” by RH. The master had approved and I was back in the good books.
I felt good, apart from one thing… I was basically wearing a nappy. The first time you put the chammy pad onto the cheeks of your bottom can only be described as ‘an experience’ – there’s no getting away from it mind. You just have to embrace it.
“You need to pull the bibs up tight” says RH. “Bloody hell,” I thought, “any higher and having children might be an issue.”
Still, again – the Pheasant was correct and that evening’s ride home was definitely the best yet. I have been converted.
Blue Bottle Cages
I basically said to myself “I need a bottle cage and bottle. A quick drink on the way home at the lights would be splendid”.
So, a quick word with George, and voila! – a blue bottle cage and bottle appeared. The RCUK office really is a goldmine.
About two minutes later, the cage was on and we were good to go. I wasn’t too concerned that the bottle cage was blue and the bike was white, yellow and black.
Where’s the issue?
RH arrives one hour later, and I’m greeted with a summoning wave. “What’s that?” he says.
“What’s it look like?” I say.
“That’s got to go, I’m afraid” says RH.
“What’s the problem?” I ask.
“It doesn’t go with the bike and it’s made of plastic,” RH barks back. Right-O… So I get it removed. Miyagi has spoken.
“I’ve got a carbon Boardman bottle cage at home. I’ll bring it in.” he says.
“Now we’re talking” I think.
Next day the cage arrives and does look the business. One more point to ‘El Pheasante’ as he has been right again. Seeing the carbon cage fitted to the bike has really complemented its appearance and it looks great. What was I thinking, putting a blue bottle cage on the Boardman? – Disgraceful behaviour.
Another lesson learned.
Slowly but surely, we’re definitely getting there and every ride makes my new-found passion grow.