Bad Juju

What a month! Four weeks ago today I came off at 65kph, made a mess of my shoulder and lost a lot of skin off my back. At the time I was cursing my run of bad luck, but didn’t realise just how long that run would last.

The velodrome crash kicked things off back in early February. Then work went a little crazy and kept me off the bike. Just as it eased I came off on my first big ride back, doing enough damage to sideline me for another week while the extensive road rash healed. A week later and a bout of food poisoning extended the hiatus, though it did have the benefit of shedding a few more kilograms (albeit just temporarily, it seems).

Building-the-J-Laverack-Ultra
That’s Sam. Sam is the man.

All the while my workloads grew and grew, coupled with the arrival of my new J Laverack frame, ready to be built up. The race was on to get it ready for the TCR simulation run I’d planned from London to Bilbao. The build didn’t go quite as smoothly as we’d have liked but Sam – bike builder to the stars and mechanical guru at Cycles UK in Orpington – worked his magic and solved all the problems to have it ready in time. I’ll add a separate entry on the bike shortly as it deserves a more detailed look. Sadly, work continued to keep me off the bike and I was getting more and more nervous about my conditioning. Bilbao is a long way and those are some long days for a soft butt to be sat on a hard saddle. Eventually it became a non-issue anyway as work deadlines and an enormous accumulated sleep debt forced a postponement. This was not the race build up I had planned.

“Bilbao is a long way and those are some long days for a soft butt to be sat on a hard saddle.”

At the same time as all this, our ‘sure-thing’ planning application was rejected, forcing an urgent rethink. Our apartment suddenly had to be prepped for sale and we had to start searching for a new home – never an easy thing in London. This swallowed even more time and pushed me deep into the red. Pacing never was a strength!

J-Laverack-Jack-custom-made-for-the-Transcontinental-Race-.jpg
Custom J Laverack J.ACK ‘Ultra’

“The curse continues and on only its second outing I was knocked off by a hit-and-run driver.”

With my injuries healing and the bike built up I was able to squeeze in two short rides of an hour each, to test it out. It is a lovely, lovely thing and I can’t wait to cement that early bond with it. Unfortunately my curse continues and on only its second outing I was knocked off by a hit-and-run driver. Before I’d even picked myself off the road I had three witnesses around me volunteering their help and the driver’s registration. I’ve reported it to the police and will be pursuing it as far as necessary. Accidents do happen but there’s absolutely no excuse for failing to stop. That’s a serious dick move.

DCR WheelsIt set my whiplash recovery back about four weeks but other than that I was unharmed. Sadly the bike wasn’t quite so fortunate. It was mostly cosmetic damage (which is just as painful on a brand new bike!) but the wheels were buckled and that left a question mark over their integrity, being carbon. Now even the postponed London-Bilbao was in jeopardy! I called into my local bike shop to get it checked out and trued up but they couldn’t get the kinks out. The only thing for it was to get them back to DCR Wheels who built them in the first place, but there were just a few days to do it ahead of my departure for Bilbao. After some drama with UPS (who failed to pick them up and then had the cheek to refuse a refund), DCR came to the rescue and arranged a collection using their preferred company (Interlink). They arrived the next morning, where DCR inspected them, re-trued them and gave them the thumbs up for integrity. They should arrive back tomorrow.

Chain-MalfunctionThis past week has seen workloads go through the roof. I’ve been sleeping around three hours a night for the past week and my body is reminding me that I’m not as young as I used to be. Obviously riding hasn’t been possible and I’m still struggling to hit my work deadlines. Ever-nervous about London-Bilbao – which I start on Thursday – I decided I absolutely had to get at least one ride in, so I took advantage of the warmest day of the year so far to get a century in through Kent. I had to use the Canyon, still caked in the mud that I crashed through the last time I rode it, as the wheels for the TCR bike were in transit. I managed all of 36km when the chain made a bid for freedom and then became utterly mangled around the crankset. During the train ride home I ordered a pair of chain catchers.

“Put the doll down and step away from the pins!”

I’m not sure what it is I’ve done that’s given me such shitty karma but whatever it is I’m very sorry and I promise I won’t do it again. Please put the doll down and step away from the pins. Hopefully that’s my full quota of bad luck out of the way for 2016 and I’ll now sail to Turkey on a personal tailwind, with sunny skies and every road pointing downwards. I may see if I can find some space in my bikepacking luggage for a four-leafed clover and some rabbits’ feet. I’ll pass on the horseshoe.

“I’ll find some space in my bikepacking luggage for a four-leaf clover and some rabbits’ feet. I’ll pass on the horseshoe.”

I may not have been getting any traditional training in but I’ve had a lot of practice at problem solving and sleep deprivation. Right now I have to focus on finishing my current project with enough time to spare so that I can plot my route, rig up my bike and maybe even get a short reliability ride in before pointing it south towards Plymouth and a Thursday night ferry to France. When I wake up the next morning, with a country to cross, it’ll be Friday the 13th. What could possibly go wrong?

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