Hard Day in January '23

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  • Caffe Nero, Staines
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  • Some dirt road action then leading to another bit of single track. A little bit of hike-a-bike. And my one crash of the day, couldn’t clip in due to ice and frozen mud in my pedals.

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  • Another section of dirt with gapping potholes, then boring road until I hit Manchester By The Sea (famous for some shitty Ben Afflec movie), a place where you can spend over 2 million to live in a converted boathouse (red house pictured). Had a little snack and a pull of fernet at Singing Beach.

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  • Then mostly road, with a little detour with a creek crossing as I headed back thru Beverly (home of the first US Navy), and Salem (witches and all), chasing the street lights to get home before dark.

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  • Nice story and pics

  • Ride Report
    I wonder if this year’s edition can be known as the Cold One. I’ve been colder during other HDIJ rides, and wetter, but I think the bitter air, frozen fog and frosty roads will mark it out in my mind. Believe the pictures.

    I’ll be the first one to say that it was on the edge with the conditions. There was much too slippery frost for anyone’s liking, although very little layers of proper ice. The frost was also visible so we could actually see when it was going to get wild. This was pure luck. With good communication and steady riding we rolled through without any offs. It wasn’t until we were dragging up to Christmas Common that I had some doubts about whether this whole stupid thing was a good idea, but at this point it was a little bit late to turn back and better to push onto the café. Huge thanks to the group, I do think we looked out for each other and that kept us safe. I felt responsible/guilty for it so I tried to stay up front and forge a path for as long as possible, but I paid the price for this about mile 70 though and had to suck wheels all the way home, boo.

    H Café has had a refurb! It’s lost a bit of beat-to-shit charm, but shouty grumpbags waitress kept the food moving and the heating must have been on at some point during the day so wasn’t brutally cold and I felt rested when we left. The H remains a worthy stop due to its mercenary food-first, customer-service-experience-at-some-poin­t approach.

    I enjoyed the Windsor Park section but we had to suffer some bad traffic to get in it. Before that section is run again someone with better routing skills than me needs to have a look because some I think there was a lot of needless suffering from punishment passes and straight-up dick moves in that section. And that Taproom at the end was ace for us. I think the beer was mostly above average but it was actually warm and we had our bikes inside. I felt comfy, happy and settled which is the sign of a good place to booze. Thanks to those who bought me those shandys.

    @Po gets the most meritorious rider for this year, though I think we all worked hard. The route wasn’t too bad – the Staines Loop itself doesn’t have too many kickers and has that flat run in and out – but the wet cold just makes you leak energy. @ElGonzo also rode through a bad hamstring kertwang so he gets special mention for sticking in the group and rolling through some persistent pain. I hope you heal up soon.

    However Po did his time at the front, is just all around strong and was first to the top of most hills. There is a little bit of aggregate effort here as well, as he put in great rides in last year’s HDIJ, in the Peaks last year where for example he was at the top of every climb, including Mamnick tapping his toes with camera out snapping pics as we winched to the top, and the fact he was up at 4:45am on Saturday fuckin with regional train in this day and age. Brave shit so well done.

    And this the part where it’s basically a diary entry for shit fixie skidders say, but I just don’t care anymore. Tight group fixed riding is a genuinely one of my favourite things and you all know this so I don’t need to wax poetic about its idiosyncratic qualities any further, but it’s just not so easy to find these days. So I look forward to HDIJ a lot, and this year the group showed class. Especially after the café it was an instinctual fight or spin and in the fucking freezing mist we huddled together on the road and the miles fell away and it felt good. It fractured a little on the climb back to the Thames Valley but the mist broke at the top and in the pics you can see the woods the evening light which was like waking from murky dream. And on Drift Road all wheeled up with the last 40 mins of sun…it was just so

    I loved riding with you lot. I felt like it was a reunion with some lovely faces from the late autumn rides, a time to make a friend or two with some new faces, and an opportunity exchange wordless nods and knowing smiles with some of my favourite hardass trusted roadmen of yore.

    If I don’t see you in the Peaks I hope to see you next January, if not way sooner.

  • I don't know how you manage to pick a 'best' rider, as I never pay much attention to what anyone's doing on the rides I lead...

  • We have our methods. Note that our award is not for the 'best' rider, which would imply strength and speed, but for the most meritorious ride merit is left carefully undefined.

  • A View through the Windscreen

    YAL's report is better than I can manage, especially since I was just a car bound observer. I hope I can just make a few observations.

    The Conditions

    Clearly it wasn't the easiest day from the weather point of view. The Met Office retrospective map showed (on Sunday) that although Saturday's wind was light, it was the opposite of helpful and amounted to a slight headwind in both directions since it changed in the middle of the day. The figures also show that the temperature at Heathrow was 5-6degrees C warmer than it was a Benson (near Berinsfield) pretty well for the whole day. So for the rider the temperature actually fell as the day went on, which is not the usual way of things.


    The group stayed together pretty well - it should be remembered that it's harder to achieve this where the riders are not clubmates and so are not necessarily familiar with their companions' strengths and weaknesses. Seen from behind the group did look like a winter clubrun of decades past.


    I regret not making it to the Taproom, but although my day must have looked easy to the rest of you, it was tiring in its own way. One result was that I failed to have much discussion about the HDiJ club idea - even so there was interest from those I did speak to. The HD in the Peaks looks as though the 'club' is developing a programme without any formal existence. Another result was that we failed to present the HD trophy - I hope this can be done fairly soon. This does provide a useful photo opportunity for the ride, which itself does need publicity to secure its future. I do have some more thoughts on the club idea, but I'll post these later.

    I'm reminded every year that this ride has its origins in early season training rides of the past and it still looks like one. There are two differences: first, dropped riders would not be abandoned, they would be nursed back, and second, there's no racing. I think this is a mistake and I'm sure many of you would get more out of your cycling lives if you took part in actual competition.

    My Photos

    Not as good as I would have wished, but I hope they add something. First we have the Big H Café and the Swan at Staines:

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    The first Is Dorney after the first few miles. The second is waiting for traffic lights at Sonning (about twenty miles from the finish. I would normally not have posted such a poor unfocussed picture, but I am showing it to you because......the same two riders are still at the front: YAL and Cagimaha. This could be pure chance, but I don't think so. Hats off to the hard workers!

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  • A slightly better pic from Sonning

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  • Honoured, though not convinced I merit it. As clubman points out, YAL and cagimaha did most of the actual work while I was chasing @josh012 up the hills. Will be back again next year, preferably on a later train and wearing considerably more layers!

  • These are great! I was every bit as cold as I look in that first one.

  • I enjoyed the Windsor Park section but we had to suffer some bad traffic to get in it. Before that section is run again someone with better routing skills than me needs to have a look because some I think there was a lot of needless suffering from punishment passes and straight-up dick moves in that section.

    I'll take a look at some point because I ride on those roads occasionally. Only thing is I normally ride quite early in the morning because it's before a lot of the punishment passers and straight-up dick movers have got up. It can get a bit like that on the roads over there.

    And that Taproom at the end was ace for us. I think the beer was mostly above average but it was actually warm and we had our bikes inside. I felt comfy, happy and settled which is the sign of a good place to booze. Thanks to those who bought me those shandys.

    Glad about the pub choice!

  • Amazing write up and photos!! Well done @youramericanlover and @clubman for keeping this epic ride alive. Chapeau to everyone riding the HDiJ bringing to us your experiences and memories.

  • The pub had a weird cantine vibe but it could acccomodate half the forum if the "club" ride went more popular.

    Apart from HDITP, how about thinking about a dunwich dynamo ride for instance ?

  • I'd be well up for Dunwich Dynamo!

    Now that the frostbite has subsided and I've had a bit of time to reflect, it's hitting me just how good Saturday was. It was absolutely class to ride fixed in a group and it is something I've not had the opportunity to take part in anywhere near enough.

    There was talk of a north Kent coast ride, maybe we could slot that in between HDITP and Dunwich Dynamo? I'm thinking that bonus bank holiday for Charlie's coronation on 8th May could be a good shout.

  • yes in! easy day in July

  • What about an Easier Day in Late May? East Kent fixie loop, maybe with a BBQ at my gaff afterwards or a pub within very easy reach of Whitstable or Faversham? I like 8th of May but probably no trains out or back. Weekend of the 27th might work (and it's inbetween our 400 and 600 @ElGonzo )

  • 27 May, yes please!

  • Yeah no doubt trains will be double ballsed up on the 8th, didn't think about that. Weekend of 27th May works for me so count me in!

  • I'm interested

  • Hounslow 100

    It's a pity you've found something for the 27th May because the Hounslow 100 (The Ron Brown Memorial) is on the 28th.

    This is an event that the HDiJ riders are capable of doing and might make a good focus for the first part of your 2023 season.

    In the past we have offered a prize for the best ride on fixed and if there had been any enthusiasm from here, I sure I could have resurrected the award for this year.

    The course is the Farnham Alton (A31) road, which is fairly well suited to fixed - in fact the last solo TT I rode where I was pleased with the result was this event in 2006. I was on 50x15 which a 27" gear table gives as 90". I'm sure many of you could do better than me (and I'll tell you what I did if any of you commit to riding!).

    You certainly would not be able to do a big ride on the 27th and then the 100 the next day.

    Any takers? If there are I'll make an effort to give you some history of the event.

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Hard Day in January '23

Posted by Avatar for youramericanlover @youramericanlover