Chrono Catastrophe!!!

Panazol posterRode the Panazol rando yesterday. 28kms friendly with a 10km time trial (chrono) at the end. Enjoyed the rando, lovely sunny morning, a bit chilly, but a good warm up for the chrono. Stripped off arm warmers and leg warmers, and was ready.

Three short laps to make 10kms race track with riders going off at 30 second intervals. I’m off behind Christian Boutin, someone good to chase. Just over halfway around the first lap I puncture! How can it be, as I’m running tubeless with sealant? I stop and use a foam canister. It doesn’t work very well. I continue back to the start area where there is a mechanic. I shout him, and he runs over with a track pump. With my tyre pumped up hard I set off on lap two, passing some of the same riders I’d already passed.

By the end of lap two I can feel that the tyre won’t be hard enough for the last lap, I pull over at the start again. Shout the mechanic again, and bang the tyre up hard again. Out for the last lap, I give my all knowing that it’s pretty hopless.

Now, the worst part is i’ve been going on at Jean Claude Sansonnet for not using tubeless, and puncturing so often. He’s riding today, and finishes a fantastic third (scratch!)…….. on normal tyres, with tubes! Doh!

13éme Météorite – Rochechouart VTT Rando

The start of the Rochechouart VTT Rando
It’s my first proper event since breaking my collarbone and three ribs when I crashed while riding the Mandragore at the end of june. I’ve been back on the bike for about three weeks, but this will be my first ride proper. It’s a 46kms rando, and although it’s not a race, the riders at the front like to push on, hard. That’s where I wanna be!

First of all, it’s great to see all my riding/racing buddies again. They’re all suprised and pleased to see me (I think). As we line up for the off everyones spirits are high, and there’s much jovial banter. At 08:45 sharp we’re away.

The pace is brisk, and as we hit the first climb I brace myself for some pain. It doesn’t come, and I float along as if on a magic bike. Over the crest a young lad takes off. I stay with the group containing all the usual suspects. We settle into a good rythmn over the next few kms, quick, purposeful, though not flat out. By the time we reach the first ravitalment the group is down to 5. We don’t stop.

There’s a tarmac section and Pierre from the Ambazac Sprinter club is on the front. He’s setting a tough pace. Pierre from the St Junien club, who raced on the road yesterday sits up, he’s had enough. Down to four now, with the young lad still off the front.

The relentless pace claims another, Pierre is dropped. A tricky descent, a sharp left, Jean-Claude and Christian almost miss the turn. Another tricky descent with rocks and roots, i’m being a little cautious, i’m off the back, I sprint back on before anyone notices. On to the climb back up towards Presignac. JC is turning the screw, Christian (also coming back from a broken collarbone in May) is yo-yoing off. I’m breathing hard, I’m determined to stay on.

Over the top, JC eases and looks around to see what damage he’s done. We push on. The kilometers fly by. In what seems like no time we’re at the second ravitalment. We stop to take a drink and something to eat. One minute, no more, we’re on our way….

Up ahead we can see the young lad whos been off the front from the start. We catch him. The three of us ride together taking turns to set the pace. We’re not far from home now, and onto trails that I know really well. I know exactly what’s coming next, how long the climbs are, how tight the bends. I go to the front and push on. I also know that the last descent to the finish is a very tricky one. I warn the others, and we roll down safely.

46kms off-road in just under two hours. I’m pleased, it’s been a great ride, i’ve thoroughly enjoyed every pedal turn in a way that only cyclists know how. It’s just great to be back. 🙂

My Kawasaki KH400 two stroke triple…

The miniskirted girl with long legs and long blonde hair walked over to where the biker was waiting. She hitched up her skirt a little and climbed on to the back of the bike. She wore no helmet. The biker kicked the bike into life and roared away. At that moment I fell in love.

Nah, not her, the bike!!! A Kawasaki triple…a two-stroke three cylinder bike. The look, the incredible sound, wow! Built to be fast, the fastest thing on the road. I just had to have one. But, as I was only 16 at the time and still at school, I had more chance of being run over by one than actually riding one.

Two old girls together - kylie minogue with kawasaki triple
To quote Lee Doxey

Most young motorcyclist of the seventies coverted certain dream bikes, from Honda’s CBX to Kawasaki’s range of triples, the latter being more realistic to a teenager. The triples were the must haves, they seemed futuristic with their small capacity triple cylinder engines and wild paint jobs, I’d have sold my soul for a KH250. And now 30 years later I have one, not a 250 but a 400, I’m transported back to the seventies when ever I stand and stare at it…

Me too Lee. A KH400…

If you didn’t have one of these bikes in the seventies as a teenager then you just couldn’t earn the respect that came as part of the package with a triple.

Yeah, so true…

Thirty odd years on and the legend is as strong as ever…nothing on earth sounds better than the ‘howl’ of a Kawasaki triple at 9000 revs or looks as spectacular as the smoke screen that it lays down behind along with that classic two stroke smell.

Gives me goose bumps just thinking about it. Tell us more…

The 250 was the most popular followed by the 400, the 350 is rare but the 500 and 750 were the original demonic machines, Kawasaki thought it was o.k. at the time to fit powerful engines into flimsy frames with skinny tyres and poor brakes, the 750 soon became known as ‘The Widow Maker’ for obvious reasons, but this did not deter the enthusiast and foolhardy from parting with their cash. Out of all the different variants of triples one was to become known as the most user friendly and best all round triple… the KH400, it had good looks, a proven engine, handled considerably better than the other triples and came with decent brakes and electronic ignition.

So, it’s more than 30years on, and I just happen to be scanning some local newspaper adverts when I spot a triple for sale just down the road in the Correze. Could it be? A long lost dream come true? I pursuade Carla to let me go and have a look, she comes with me. As soon as I see it, just like Lee, i’m transported back to the seventies. “Can I try her up and down the road?”, I ask……… “Of course!”. Next thing, it’s me! i’m riding a triple! i’m a teenager again!

Along the valley road, that sound echoing off the buildings as I head out of town. I open her up, she starts to wail. Whhhhhoooohhhoooooo (that’s me). A little later that day we’re heading home with my new/old bike in the back of the van. Yeah!!

‘Let the good times roll’, as the Kawasaki slogan goes.

Many thanks to Lee for taking time to give me great triple buying advice. Why not pop over to his website and take a look at his stunningly beautiful triple?

I was gonna do L’ ecureuil….

Yep, I was gonna do L’ ecureuil, one of the best sportives of the year. I’d sent in my entry form nice and early (May), got a reasonable start number (309), and was looking forward to it. However, shoulder recovery hasn’t been as fast as I was thinkin’. On Friday I set off for a test run, hoping to do around three hours nice and brisk. First hour was OK, but after that I just couldn’t get comfy. Legs were great, but shoulders and back were not. What’s worse, it was like I was setting, so it’d be uncomfortable then as soon as I let go of the bars to move it’d be even worse. So I decided to do the sensible thing and not go. 🙁

But, I seem to be OK for a couple of hours on my MTB so………. Rochechouart VTT Rando this coming week it is. Perhaps a good off-road rattling will loosen me up. Might even do it on Big Bird. 🙂

Turning a corner…

Been back on my bike a couple of weeks now. Legs are fine, but back shoulders and brain are struggling. Been going out regularly, but it just feels like a chore, no enjoyment. Did three hours with the ROCC boys on wednesday afternoon, first two were OK, but after that it was agony, I was glad when it was over. Then Carla has been taking me out and giving me a pasting. Last time we went I was just hanging on to her wheel down the main road from Cognac, just staring at her block. It was a lovely sunny day, but I just wasn’t there. But, I keep taking the nasty training medicine sure that things will get better…….

Then, last night, went for a couple of hours up to the forest above Cognac, it was like I was riding a magic bike. Hardly pressing on the pedals but flying along. Taking it a bit easy over the roughest stuff, but having a blast. Carla couldn’t believe the transformation. Nor could I really. Maybe turning a corner.