You heard it here first...
A case of professional espionage is probably even now being investigated by New Scotland Yard. The series of events leading to this improbable outcome ended in the deafening sound of a gun shot in the leafy, and usually quiet, lanes surrounding the picturesque village of Hadlow. You know, the one with the world famous Grade 1* listed folly, the tallest of its kind in the United Kingdom, which was constructed in the mid 19th Century and once formed part of a grand castle in the Romantic Gothic style.
All appeared well as the five confrere met in the early morning sunlight at the back of an ale house in East Malling. However muterings were already afoot:
- Would Jon's new Rose (alledged to be arriving next week) be able to compete with the lightness, agility and aerodynamic vigour of Glenn's Canyon SL (latterly referred to as 'Barnie') ?
- Could Chris (who's Time Trialling Career was faultering) be able to lay down enough power to compete with the rejuvenated Glenn?
- Does Ciaran really need a new bike or had Glenn somehow pushed the idea into his sub conscience like a drug dealer peddling cocaine?
- Why was Jimmy riding his old Ribble frame? Was he too embarressed to bring his new(ish) bike on the same ride as the magnificent Barnie?
Barnie was scrutineered by four pairs of adoring eyes and mention was made of a small bump on its rear tyre, however someone commented that 'this is a new innovation and that it makes it faster'. Neither I or anyone else present can remember who made this fateful comment.
The ride began with Glenn charging straight to the front and forcing the pace. Strangley he seemed hardly to be trying but, this was clearly just a front. Curses were uttered from the back of the group, though they were muted by rabid breathing and the strength of the wind, so fast was the pace that Glenn was setting. We charged into Yalding and on to Paddock Wood. Glenn took the opportunity to show Chris 'how a time trial should be ridden' as he accelerated onto the Q10/29 and quite literally blew all comers from his wheel, so great was the power being put through Barnie. At this point Jimmy accelerated madly to catch Glenn. Was this competitive spirit or had he wanted to have a good view of an incident that he knew was about to happen?
Turning into East Peckham Glenn began to wheeze and groan. Had the effort on the Q10/29 caused a stroke? No, Barnie was unwell. With tears (or possibly sweat) in his eyes Glenn pulled over, gushing sweet nothings to Barnie that it would be alright. Barnie's rear tyre had a bulge and was losing pressure!
Working rapidly and with high precision Glenn managed to remove Barnie's rear tyre (in about 15 minutes). Jon and I had been waiting with baited breath to assertain the cause of the problem but got bored and were talking idly. Jimmy had been trying to balance on Glenn's back but also got bored. Only Ciaran was paying attention, very dynamic attention. Eventually Glenn released the inner tube. Ciaran snatched it and declared 'the rubber's perished, it's perished I tell you'.
Glenn was astounded that his Barnie should be decaying so rapidly. He rubbed at the tube and a strange circular object, perhaps 4mm in thickness and the size of your little finger nail came off. It was a mass of thin worm-like shapes that had been trapped between the tyre and the inner tube. The excessive heat of the day and the vast quantity of watts that had so recently been blasted through the tyre had caused its pressure to rise. Glenn normally rides at 110 PSI but the tyre had clearly been subjected to forces of 180 PSI, causing the object to rupture the inner tube and deform the tyre. Strangely the object disappeared and Ciaran hurried to use his large German Frau impression skills to roll the tyre on in less than 30 seconds. Ciarans thumbs are impressively powerful. A trait that he shared with the inforcers of the East German Police.
We set off again desperate to regain lost time as the temperature was rising. Glenn once again headed to the front and powered towards Hadlow. The group began to break apart under the constant pressure and we pleaded for a small breather, with the major climb of the day just ahead. This seemed to appease him and he relented somewhat, then suddenly the crack of a rifle shot was heard. Glenn swerved across the road as his rear tyre deflated in milliseconds. To protect Barnie from damage he grabbed the front brake, forcing the bike into a stoppie, and hopped the bike down the road. After about 200 feet he had slowed enough to unclip his feet from the peddles and leap over the handlebars, whilst catching Barnie in his left hand. Neither I or any member of the group have ever seen anything like what I just descibed. Amazing.
Glenn decided that it would be too dangerous to proceed and requested a car home. The person receiving the phone call responded with military like efficiency.
Once our Leader had departed we became a group without purpose. Jon rode hard for a while but then remembered that he had to be somewhere and broke away. Jimmy tried to take up the mantel but struggled with the heat and with Chris who had no idea of which way to go.
After our very plesant stop at Otford, back gate left open for us, reserved table, jugs of water with lemon and mint for our bottles, good service, Ciaran took the lead. He had been drinking Coke and decided to force the pace, even though the temperature was in excess of 31 degrees. Sand-bagging was expressly mentioned and last week's infamous sprint.
None of us made it back to our start point. Glenn's initial pace had been savage, the temperature was extreme. Our Leader had been assassinated.
Chris rode 47.8 miles and climbed 2,457 feet.