Stuck in the big ring

Some-days the force is with you, other days you’re stuck in your 56 big ring, wishing you had a compact chainset. The weather was great on Wednesday afternoon, but the legs weren’t as co-operative as I would have liked. On Sunday during the Maidenhead TT, I felt in good form, but Wednesday it felt harder work to do any good efforts. In a way I was kind of put out of my misery by a mechanical mishap. My chain came off, breaking my front mech and power meter, all at the same time. It meant the gears didn’t work on the inner 39 ring, so I was stuck in my TT 56 ring.


For those who like to show off the size of their chain ring sizes, 56 teeth might sound impressive – though it is still paltry compared to some of the really big TT mashers, like Nik Bowdler running off a proverbial 74 teeth dinner plate.

However, a 56 is still no joke when you’re in West Wycombe and need to get back to Oxford over the Chiltern ridge. For some reason best known to myself I took a wrong turning and found myself fighting a gradient upto Turville of 10% +. I love climbing, but not when you’re mashing a ridiculously over-geared TT bike. At least my Quark power meter had broken again, so I couldn’t see how slowly I was going. Power meters – love ’em or hate ’em. But, when they keep breaking, you are tempted to throw them in the dustbin and ride on a strictly technological free bicycle.

The TT machine is a thing of beauty and speed. But, when you’re stuck in a 56 mashing 30rpm, the allure quickly dissipates. You suddenly notice how heavy it is, how unwieldly for steep climbs, and also how intrinsically uncomfortable it is. It was hard on the back, legs and I didn’t like the creaking sound it was making. I couldn’t really work out whether the creaking was from the bike or my body. Fortunately, at the top of Christmas Common, it’s downhill and then mainly flat all the way to Oxford. When I got onto the B road through Chiselhampton I was able to get back into something resembling a decent rhythm.  Another 50 miles on the clock, but quite eventful.

Tour of Ingleborough preview

At the start of the week, I was looking forward to the Tour of Ingleborough. 27 hilly miles around Ingleton, Settle and Horton in Ribblesdale. The start sheet was pretty impressive. 90 riders, including the in form Rapha duo of Richard Handley and Hugh Carthy. Also two Madison Genesis riders, including Ian Bibby. Unfortunately, on Thurs, my back suddenly went into spasm walking around Tescos looking for some vegetarian sausages. (not quite as impressive sounding as getting knocked of by wild dog at 45mph on a Portuguese mountain) I had to drop everything and rather awkwardly get home without moving any neck muscle. It’s getting better quite quickly, but it is touch and go whether it will be up-to one hour in the TT position tomorrow. It also relies on getting front mech fixed, I’m definitely not going to be doing the Tour of Ingleborough stuck in the 56.


3 thoughts on “Stuck in the big ring”

  1. Sports deep tissue massage Tejvan, a proper one by an expert (the difficulty is finding one).

    I used to have terrible back issues, luckily?, I found out that it was only muscle spasm (cramp), similar to how your calf muscles cramp up as an example, all muscles can do the same.

    It was so painful just to move even my arm that I would lie on the floor for 2-3 days moving as little as possible, a bottle for a toilet and a blanket for at night. The lower back cramp would ease off, I would start to move around and after about 6-7 days, back to normal.

    I was advised to have massage, luckily I found someone who knew what they were doing, my back, they said, was like a wooden door to touch, solid, and apparently my main problem was caused by two tiny muscles in my lower spine area, when they cramped up they trapped the nerves coming out of my spine and because of the pain, the brain triggers other muscles to help hence the back goes solid.

    Deep tissue massage cured 95% of my problems, coupled with proper stretching which I had never done, but must they said. Also, if a spasm occurs, a dose of 2 aspirin and 2 paracetemol together (this has been confirmed by 2 GP’s as a dosage children in pain would be given) kills the pain cycle and aids muscle spasm issues quickly.

    20 years later, I still play golf, ride my bike, go for a run and do light weight training. I have a massage every week or if busy a fortnight, but its the best £30 I spend.


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