Woger And Out

Cotswold Road Ride

This isn’t the first time I’ve have waved goodbye to bike called Wog. The not very amusingly named Roger The Pink Hedgehog went rental-expired a few years back- having fallen out of favour for reasons long forgotten and predictably nebulous.

Christening bikes is a pastime for those of us emotionally stunted enough to transfer human emotions onto tubes of welded alloy. Of the many and varied wheeled hardware to pass through my brief ownership, only two have received a name – that name being Rog. Or in the case of the Ribble, Wog because Woger Wibble is amusing alliteration for those mentally struggling to reach double figures.

There’s something more tho. Both Wog and the previous MTB incarnation has a certain personality missing from other bikes. The Pink Voodoo* was too short, too steep and too pretty for abuse metered out from a savage like me. Yet it was such a great bike to ride imbuing the characteristics of a special-needs spaniel.

Wog lacked that playfulness but in the 1000k of road riding we shared, I couldn’t help feeling it was curiously honest and steadfast.  Heavy metal that rocked through wind and rolled through rain and snow without ever missing a beat. In terms of pointless value per mile calculations, it stands podium tall compared to the Mountain Bikes. Still so does a Chieftain tank.

That robust personality wasn’t enough to save it of course. Once commuting duties were over, a plan was hatched to snatch cheeky rides in the middle of home based days – so to extend my knowledge of local geography by exploring all those many-times-passed interesting looking lanes. Heavens Above, there was even some consideration of proper long loops to measure improvements in fitness and speed.

In four and a half months, I have managed exactly three road rides. One with Jez-the-Labrador which was a proper Himalayan epic when compared to the not-very-many hateful hours spent wondering why solo road riding wasn’t my thing.

Some of that is not having anyone to talk to other than myself – frankly I prefer to inflict that on others, and the rest is banging along on tarmac for no reason other than “it’s better than the gym and I’m not buying a turbo trainer” has a similar motivational quotient as throwing myself into a vat of boiling monkey puke or a day in London**

I appreciate that other, apparently sane, individuals love the solitude of the open road, hurting themselves in order to beat themselves, pouring over statistics and then sharing those results with others recent released back into the community. I understand this happens, but I don’t understand why – although it may explain exactly how come morris dancing isn’t a capital offence. We’re a tolerant society without a doubt.

A bike hook with no bike however is something worthy of further consideration. Questioning others sanity while quivering at the prospect of owning less than five bikes might seem a little hypocritical, but that empty space is merely a metaphor for a new niche to be filled.

Rationale and logic are strangers to my bike owning obsession, generally replaced by much hand waving and inability to resist shiny marketing. But the slowdown in Al’s revolving door acquisition strategy suggests that at least a cursory review before Mr Magpie throws money at a solution. That solution generally looking for a problem. So here it is.

Bookended by fantastic trail riding to all sides, our little bit of Herefordshire is still always a drive away from the good stuff. That’s 30 minutes of faffing, trailers, kit assemblenge and motoring to a distant start point. There is some riding closer but it’s too far a road-trudge on the MTB to sample its limited delights.

According to my OS browsing, there are 10 promising small woods within a seven mile radius of home, but having explored them all, none provide enough fun to schlep out there especially as another ten car minutes takes me to the Malverns or the FoD. But link them together with a bit of road and suddenly a hybrid loop takes the kind of shape which needs filling by a new bike.

But not an entirely new niche. I’ve had a cross bike before, took it off-road once before shackling it into the commute. That one ride was both eye opening and terrifying in equal amounts. Cross bikes are fast – not as fast as road bikes on road and not as fast as MTBs off it – but bloody quick nevertheless.

What they don’t do well is stop. I believe the designers believe you should use your initiative and a handy local obstacle to arrest progress. So my desire for another cross bike was mitigated by not wishing to trouble Hereford A&E again this year. Then those clever marketeers squeezed a set of disc brakes to entire the unreconstructed mountain biker.

As a plan it has much going for it. Ride from home, explore all those interesting tracks in the wood perimeter, bash out a few road mies if nothing else is on and join Jess in rigid trail riding. Will such a plan survive first contact with reality? History suggests probably not, but no point dying wondering eh?

Whatever I do, I need to go riding again. Managed exactly one ride this month mainly due to still-hurty rib but also ice, snow, mud and apathy. But It’s only when you stop doing something that you realise how much you miss it. I might try that in other areas of my life where excess feels like normal; things that immediately come to mind are alcohol and work.

Boardman bikes of course come from Halfords. So if I order one from there, what’s the worse thing that can happen?

* which somehow excuses naming the poor bloody thing.

** of the two, hard to say which is less appealing. I might have to google monkey puke because it’d have to be VERY BAD to be worse than a day in our fine capital

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