The List

The off season adventures of Sam and Flic

Archive for the month “December, 2012”


The List doesn’t always have to involve some sort of extreme pain or risk of death. The point of The List after all is to provide us with extra strength, power and nous for when the new season begins.
So, while both being pretty independent kinda of gals who like to achieve things ourselves, when it comes to bike maintenance/repair both of us have been known to happily play up to the damsel in distress role.
But no more (or at least not much more), for on Friday we rocked up to Cadence Performance in Crystal Palace for a two-hour introduction to bike maintenance.
After a big cup of coffee (vital for mental clarity), the course begins.
It starts off seemingly innocent, but after a very short while things start being said that begin to make us wonder whether we are on bike course or something very, very different.
Initially, we wondered whether learning how to take a wheel off and change a tyre might be a bit simple. But then things like nipples, pumping, how important it is to keep your rim clean, and how great a certain allen key is because it has a ballhead started being talked about. Ballheads, incidentally, are very, very useful, especially if you knock your hood (no idea what that actually means by the way as was too busy sniggering to learn.)
For Sam, this is like heaven. Every word uttered plays up to her juvenile sense of humour and ability to find filth in anything. Flic is not far behind, but really innuendo is the one thing that Sam can pip her partner in crime to the post on. Just.
After changing tyres – and picking up a few new tips as you always do from the pros – we move on to changing your brake pads and taking your brakes apart to give them a good clean to stop any stickiness.
And this is where it almost gets too much. Cue the world’s greatest question. Made even greater by the fact that the poser of this question had no idea how brilliant a question it was.
Here it is. Brace yourself.
“What lubes would you recommend for certain parts?”
What follows next is uncontrollable shaking from Flic and Sam as they use all of their strength not to burst into inappropriate laughter.
That is made harder still by the reply to the question.
“For this? [the brake system] Wet lube.”
Oh no. Hold it in. Do not laugh. Stop being childish. It’s not that kind of lube. Please lord don’t let him keep talking about it. Please. Uh oh. Here it comes. The reason you should use that kind of lube.
“Wet lube is still going to be there at the end of a three-hour ride.”
Can’t look at each other. Daren’t. There will be an accident. Actually, all this trying not to piss ourselves laughing is doing our pelvic floor the world of good. See, there’s always some sort physical gain to be found!
Thankfully, things get serious again when we start learning about gears. This is something that is going to help us in the upcoming season. Looking after the mechanism that powers us forward is tremendously important. If things aren’t running quite as smoothly as they should we now know some simple ways to fine tune our gears to get the ride we are after (nudge, nudge, wink, wink).
And suddenly two hours is over.
So, what have we learned from this List ticking?
Not only have we had a giggle (which we always do), learned how to control ourselves (kinda), we have picked up some great tips of how to keep our numerous steeds in good health.
And, spotted another potential for The List. This time one that will get us sweaty and potentially bloodied….

NYC: The List

As Flic has a fractured ankle, being able to tick something off the list was posing some challenges. Despite Flic desperately wanting to run and jump and skip etc for once in her life she is being a good girl. Kinda.

So, what to do?
On one of our many wanders around manhattan, we come across a tri store. Of course we go in. Buy some cool t-shirts and then spy a sign saying tandem bike hire. Done. List ticking found.

Now, the tandem we hire isn’t exactly made of carbon, most definitely does not have its tyres pumped to 130psi and is about as aero as Humvee. In fact, it has quite a bit in common with a HV. It’s bloody heavy, wants to always veer left and is turning a lot of heads. That may be because its December in New York and we are prancing around in our One Triathlon trisuits of course.

So, time to saddle up. It’s fair to say that we are not known for our grace, but as seasoned cyclists one would have thought that we could mount a bike pretty well.


Ever tried mounting a tandem with a basket on the front and getting it going? It’s bloody hard. Cue many many funny looks, numerous finger points and a “you should get your money back” but after around 15 mins of huffing and puffing and deciding who will pedal when, switching positions, another 10 mins of almost getting going before wobbling, stopping and seriously contemplating giving up, will, determination and sheer bloody mindedness meant we eventually (after a few squeals) got the bike moving.

Now we just had to hope we didn’t have to stop.

For some reason Sam is at the front of the tandem steering. Why we have chosen this position we don’t know. Then Flic pipes up and says its for Project Get Sam Faster, otherwise known as Project Flic’s Got A Broken Ankle So Move Your Lazy Ass Sam & Use Some Power.

So off we wobble. But after about five mins of slalom riding we get into our groove. And although we are on the slowest of all bikes, like anything we do together (or really just anything in Flic’s case) this is a race, so we have to start overtaking people.

A loop of the park is 10k. We do a loop. It takes about 5 mins. Turns out that was the inner ring not Project Get Sam Faster already kicking in. Then we do the 10k loop. Turns out there are hills in the park. Hills on a heavy tandem with two Builder Bar stuffed girls on it are quite tough. Especially when you don’t really understand the gearing and have no idea if you can get up out of the saddle without falling off. Oh well, all about that leg strength. And we can only push down on the pedals as they are flats not clipless. Thank goodness for that though. Trying to get the tandem going and clipping in would have meant certain death, or at least another couple of broken ankles.

Anyway, now we are flying along. But who put all the bloody traffic lights in the park? Do they not know we don’t know how to stop? Thankfully, we don’t kill anyone.

People we pass tend to stop and stare or give a double take. We assure them this is only our training bike, and that the race bike is much nicer. Oh, they are staring at us because we are in tiny Lycra on a winter’s day in New York. Ah.

So, what are the off season training benefits of riding a tandem around one of the most famous parks in the world in blue Lycra in December?

Leg power – especially for Sam when Flic decided to stop pedalling on the back of the bike.

Team work – apart from when Flic stopped pedalling on the back of the bike.

Confidence – rocking it and overtaking despite being on a hunk of junk.

Working those abs – laughing out loud for an hour non stop has gotta be worth a good core session.

So there we have it, another one checked off The List.

Bring on the next.




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