The Team Grumpy rules

Rule #1. Remember to make your excuses before the race, not after. Otherwise it will just sound pathetic.

Rule #2. Don't tinker with your bike the evening before the event. It will break, either then or, worse still, during the event.

Rule #3. If all else fails, buy some new bike kit.

Rule #4. And if rule #3 fails, new skinsuits are probably a good option.

Rule #5. Never train or race with a bad cough - it will destroy your entire season.

Rule #6. Tantrums are appropriate if provoked (e.g. by mechanical problems), but try to avoid damage to equipment.

Rule #7. Team Grumpy riders are allowed to use whatever equipment they wish (and their wallets permit). However, the official team energy drink is always pop belge.

Of course, our seven rules pale in comparison to the Velominati rules.

 Once again, Team Grumpy entered the Corporate category. Sadly, the 35th Duo Normand was marred by a fatal accident.

This report is written in Microsoft Sway - if the embedded version doesn't work on your device, here's the direct link

A bright but very cold and frosty morning greeted us as we loaded up the car to drive over to Resolven to ride in the 2010 Port Talbot Wheelers 2-up ’25′. In fact we were both apprehensive – about the weather, yes, but also the uncertainty of what form our winter training had led to. In my case, I was reasonably confident, but I was aware of being rather overweight and lacking in mileage – most of my winter training had been in the form of relatively brief turbo sessions in the garage. On the other hand, my team mate Gerry had left resumption of training until late December, and had then been afflicted with a lengthy cold (possibly the same thing that got me during most of December). So he was pretty sure he was going to be riding sub-par.

We got to Resolven and signed on. The race HQ seemed to be colder than the car park, which by the time we arrived was nicely bathed in sunshine, raising the temperature to slightly above freezing. After setting the bikes up and getting sorted, we briefly warmed up. I tweaked the Polar computer so that it would work from the GPS sensor, and we rolled up to take out place behind the fourth team (we were fifth off in a nearly full field). Our time came, and off we went, out on to the DC and done the valley, with a glorious tail wind. We were riding pretty smoothly together, and we took care that any speed discrepancy didn’t pull us apart. I don’t think it would be indiscreet to observe that Gerry was indeed below par, but still, we gradually reeled in the teams that has started before us.

The first leg is a short one, and all too soon we’d reached the first turn, and found ourselves riding back up the velley into a head wind. Coupled with the generally uphill nature of this section (which is longer than the first leg), we found our speed severely knocked back, and it was all the more reassuring to find we had caught all four teams ahead of us by the time we reached the second turn. I suppose this is about the halfway point, and is where the course takes the rider onto a more sporting section, the old road which runs parallel to the DC and has numerous steep climbs. Still, we had the tail wind again.

Spurred on by the tail wind, we had been picking up speed again when disaster struck. Firstly Gerry couldn’t avoid a pot hole – I was leading and roared past it, indicating its presence, but at the speed we were going, Gerry really had no chance. Wham! Through the pothole with an anguished cry. At this stage, I thought we’d got away with it, but shortly afterwards we were cresting a hill when I was aware Gerry had dropped back. Looking over my shoulder I could see him drawing to a stop. I did a U-turn and returned to find he had a flat front tyre. A brief discussion ensued, during which team #4 (an Ogmore Valley team) came past us and I was persuaded to ncarry on riding (even though I wouldnt get a time recorded).

Off I went, catching the Ogmore Valley team before the third and final turn. Rounding the turn, I still felt pretty good, However, my enthusiasm for sporting course time trialling rapidly waned as climb after climb appeared in front of me, and by the last couple of climbs, my thighs were really protesting. Still, I made it to the finish line. Meanwhile Gerry had been demonstrating something other than puncture repair expertise, and had been suffering a softening tyre as he returned to the race HQ. I rode back with the Ogmore Valley riders.

After dropping off our numbers, we beat a hasty retreat as we had a 2pm reservation in a restaurant for lunch. This proved an excellent meal and ample compensation for the bad luck we’d suffered that day. Team Grumpy are a determined team: we’ll be back for next year’s event, and in the meantime plan to continue our buildup to the 2010 Duo Normand by turning out at the Icknield Road Club sporting 2-up at the end of March.

We awoke to a cold and frosty morning – with very little wind to make our racing hard – and all the predicted precipitation was noticable by its absence.  Our customary preparation of Thai curry and Singha beer was having side effects as we set off for the race HQ in Cheddington, but once we gained entry to the hall, we quickly got ourselves and our bikes sorted, and set off to the start.  Gerry had decided to use his Xentis wheels, and left the H3s in the car as reserve.  As you’ll see, this is significant.

To reach the start, riders need to cross two narrow bridges with traffic lights – it was just after the second of these that our plans unravelled.  Hearing a muffled exclamation, I looked behind me, to see my erstwhile team mate doing a U-turn.  Surmising (correctly as it turned out) that he was having a technical problem, I did the same, only to  get stuck at red lights on both bridges.  By the time I got far enough that I was worried about missing our start, Gerry was nowhere to be seen.  I returned to the start with about 2 minutes in hand, and anxiously looked back along the road.  With Gerry absent at our appointed start time, I somewhat reluctantly decided to ride solo.

The event went pretty smoothly.  The climb up Billington Hill was as usual difficult, and there were a few occasions where I got a bit held up by traffic. I finished in 49:34, still unaware of what had happened to Gerry.  On returning to the race HQ, I discovered he’d had three (!) punctures and had eventually ridden solo in #39′s slot – h finished with 49:16.  For a bit more detail, see the Team Grumpy blog.

Since we didn’t finish (or even start) as a 2-up team, I won’t bother posting the results.  Suffice it to say we were a little disappointed, particularly given the distance Gerry had come to ride the event.  At least we got a decent ride round the course.

Course decription – Start on B488 at Gateway opening to Grove Farm, near overhead cable pylon, about 100 yards from the Village Sign of. Great Gap proceed in a southerly direction to Ivinghoe. Turn Left, (care, give way sign) by Kings Head PH onto the B489 pass Church on right Turm left onto B489 up an over hill to Travellers Rest double R.JB junction with A4146 Take first exit onto the A4146, through Edlesborough, Northall and Billington to RAB junction with A505,take first exit onto A505,over next 2. R.A.B to RAB junction with A418, take first left onto A418, thorough Wing, {care in village} to Wingrave Cross Roads. Turn left through village to duck pond. Turn left on unclassified road to Mentmore Cross Road Turn right (care) follow road up to Mentmore, down through Mentmore Park to Finish at a point by concrete telephone manhole cover on grass verge marked 192 this is about 800 yards before the double RAB at entry to Cheddington Village, Distance 30Km

This event is the usual curtain raiser for my racing season, and it’s also the first 2-up event that I ride each year and as such gives an indication of how Team Grumpy‘s form is at this early stage in the season.  Usually, we also take advantage of the journey over to Wales to visit interesting archaeological sites, previous visits having included the Avebury stone circle, the Uffington White Horse and Wayland’s Smithy.  This year was slightly different: we stayed in Bath for a couple of nights en route to Wales.

I’d never visited Bath before – we enjoyed traipsing about seeing the Royal Crescent and visiting sites such as the Assembly Rooms, the Roman Baths, and the Herschel Museum.  Bath appears to be astonishingly well endowed with restaurants, and we visited a fish restaurant (One Fish Two Fish) and a Moroccan restaurant (Cafe Du Globe), both of which were excellent.

On to Wales for the main event, and the signs were ominous.  Gerry’s training programme had recently gone slightly off the rails, while as observed over at the Team Grumpy blog, I had suffered an extraordinarily painful back injury three weeks before the event which not only prevented training but threw my participation in the event into question.  To add an interesting frisson of excitement, it transpired that the Team Grumpy entry had been lost in the post, and only a phone call of enquiry from Gerry earned us a start in this event.Absorbing medical advice, I did in fact manage to recover in time turn up in South Wales in a relatively pain-free condition.  All that remained was to see how we’d perform on the day.

In time-honoured fashion, we conducted our usual preparation: consumption of sufficient energy drink. Thus fortified (and indeed entertained by 80s pop music courtesy of Sky TV), I retired to dream soothing (and deluded) dreams of time trial success.

The morning of the event dawned rather cloudy and cool – but not as cold as the sub-zero conditions faced by riders in the 2010 edition of this 2-up.  We set up the bikes with clear apprehension: what would the consequences of our combined lack of training and form be?  And would my back hold out for the whole 25 miles?  More to the point, what was the road damage on the second half of the course to which riders’ attention was drawn on signing on?  And, indeed, how significant was the presence of traffic lights on the same section (to which the instruction that riders must ‘obey the highway code’ was appended?

In an effort to answer these uncertainties, we mounted the bikes and nipped out for a brief warmup. It was quickly apparent that (a) the road was in a shocking state, and (b) the traffic lights were at the top of a climb and looked like they could present real problems if at red.

With reconnaissance over, and all too soon, we were lined up and ready to go.  We launched ourselves onto the course (see map below), with only a brief backward glance from Gerry.  The opening dual carriageway stretch proved to be very fast, with a gentle tailwind.  We were pleased that we were able to fall back into 2-up mode straight away.  After the first turn, the going got a little harder, as the head wind was nagging.  We were gratified to see our “Manager” on a bridge apparently videoing proceedings as we made their way past the start area (see video below).  Once off the dual carriageway, the usually efficient Team Grumpy changeovers became rather ragged as the pitted and potholed road surface made it difficult to judge whether a rider was pulling out to let his team mate through or merely to avoid crashing through a pothole.


A massive sprint pulled us into the traffic lights on amber, but at the cost of a bit of an oxygen debt: this rendered the approach to the turn somewhat arduous.  Returning to the traffic lights, delays were once again avoided.  This was just as well, as by this time we were hanging on for grim death, looking for the finish line, which seemed to take an eternity to arrive.  Eventually it did, at 1:04:36.

This wasn’t an excellent result (though not as bad as it sounds: the course is rather hard at times), but enough to take a composite team prize.  More to the point, at least Team Grumpy proved their ability to ride well as a team, even after a lengthy winter lay-off.

Results are here.

Team Grumpy regrouped this weekend for the 2-up 32km sporting course time trial organised each year by the Icknield Road Club. This was the day after Grumpy Bob's club time trial round the Astwood sporting course, after which he suffered a rear tub puncture about 2 miles from home during his ride back home - which necessitated a trudge home along the verge since he couldn't get the tub off the disk wheel. Once home, he cleaned up the bike and shoes. Note this latter point as it becomes important later...

Later in the evening, Team Grumpy indulged with the now traditional Leffe and a visit to the local Thai restaurant (of course with added beers). By sheer stupidity on Grumpy Bob's part, Team Grumpy also consumed a quantity of Norman cider.

As a direct consequence the team was feeling rather jaded (the cynical might even suggest hungover might be a better description) on the morning of the race. 'Grumpy' Art Vanderlay suggested it was as well that the start timekeeper wasn't equipped with a breathalyser.

Team Grumpy had hopes of completing the event this year in contrast to 2009's event, where the two riders rode separately after 'Grumpy' Art suffered a series of "punctures" which delayed his arrival at the start line.

Once at the Pitstone village hall race HQ, TG quickly got their numbers and set the bikes up with enough time to ride over to the start and warm up. Unfortunately a severe problem arose. Grumpy Bob's shoes just would not clip onto his pedals. (Remember the walking in the verge bit above?) The problem seemed to be that Speedplay pedals have the clip in the shoeplate, and this seems to be sensitive to mud.

'Grumpy' Art produced a collection of screwdrivers and a Swiss army penknife, and despite enterprising use of the bizarre tool that such knives always have that is supposed to be for getting stones out of hooves (or something like that), the clips could not be made to work. Faced with this, TG had no option but to send 'Grumpy' Art off to ride the event solo.

So once again, the Icknield event was a bit of a disaster for TG. 'Grumpy' Art rode round in about 50 minutes (though no time was recorded on the result board, merely 'DNF'), dodging the numerous potholes that have opened up this winter.

And so Team Grumpy maintain their 100% record of DNF in 2010 2-up time trials.

As a postscript, Grumpy Bob did eventually restore his shoeplates to a functional state, but not in time to get a ride. But there's a lesson there.

As is now usual, Team Grumpy prepared intensively for the 48h prior to this event: a preparation which entails consumption of takeaway curry and Belgian beer, while sitting on a sofa watching TV.  Team Grumpy dispensed with rule #2, by tinkering with 'Grumpy' Art's chainring bolts the day before the race.  On the morning of the event both riders woke feeling surprisingly chipper considering the quantity of preparation, but were were somewhat disappointed to see thick fog blanketing southern Wales.  Fortunately the weather lifted, leaving clear sunny conditions with a light but rising wind by the time the team convoy reached the race HQ at Resolven. 

Riding the Port Talbot Wheelers 2-up 25 mile event in south Wales has become something of a Team Grumpy tradition in recent years. In the past, the event has been held on the fast R23/3 (or variant) course, which features the improbably fast descent of the Neath bank, a hill that you don’ have to go up again! Due to roadworks, last year the event was run on the R25/24, an altogether more realistic course – this course was used again this year. In 2007, the weather was astoundingly vile, torrential rain coupled with strong winds. 

Team Grumpy entered the event this year with particular enthusiasm, as we plan to ride the Duo Normand again this year, after missing last year’s event. Both Gerry and I always look to this event for a glimpse of our form; this year we were particularly keen as Gerry’s had a bad neck, and after a winter of diligent training (well, as diligent as my work life allows), I came down with something that resembled winter vomiting virus exactly two weeks before this event.

This year, I received a series of increasingly gloomy emails with dire weather forecasts from Gerry – on the day, however, we drove over to the HQ in quite pleasant though rather windy conditions. We’d requested an early start as we had a lunch reservation at Y Polyn, a rather excellent restaurant we usually go to after the event, so we were the second team to start. The R25/24 course begins by heading down the Neath valley on a dual carriageway (A465). On the day, this made pretty hard riding, as it was into the teeth of the wind. Fortunately, Team Grumpy were working well, taking spells of about 30sec each. While I felt at the time we were riding rather cautiously, in retrospect I’m glad we kept something back for the hilly second half. After the southern turn, we roared back up the dual carriageway to the halfway point, mostly clocking 30mph or more, before heading south again on the B road that runs alongside the main road. This road’s considerably more challenging, with many short steep climbs that throw you off your rhythm. Added to which, there were considerable numbers of road-kill toads! Fortunately the overnight rain had mostly drained away, and other than the aforementioned flattened amphibia, there were no pools of standing water (as there were last year).

We finished with 57:58, which we were quite pleased with. It gave us 5th place, and we won the prize for first composite team. We were also pleased with the way we rode as a team – it’s likely we will ride one (or both) of the upcoming Icknield RC and Team MK 2-up events in a few weeks’ time.

The Port Talbot Wheelers 2-up ’25’ has been a regular fixture on the Team Grumpy calendar for a number of years. As usual, the two evenings prior to the event were characterised by conspicuous consumption of Leffe and curry. This was an acceptable preparation, since both members of Team Grumpy had seen their pre-season training somewhat derailed by illness. The team also avoided any serious bike tinkering on the day before the race. Indeed, the only issues needing dealt with were (a) "Grumpy" Art’s disc wheel needed to be replaced with his trispoke owing to braking issues, and (b) Grumpy Bob's left shoe wouldn’t clip onto his pedal. This turned out to be due to tiny fleck of mud in the shoeplate springs! Pretty quickly all was in order.

This year’s event (as in recent years) was held on the R25/25, which runs down the A465 dual carriageway from Resolven to its first turn at the Tonna roundabout, back up the A465 past the start to turn left down the B4242, turning at Ynysygerwen to finish some way past the Resolven junction. Usually the dual carriageway section is quickest, with the B4242 being quite slow, owing to its hilly nature.

Team Grumpy in flight mode (Photo: Pete Hamer)

The morning of the event was pretty cold and bitter, despite being far from frosty. But with long sleeved thermal vests under the skinsuits and decent gloves, Team Grumpy were pretty much set. New kit this year included new aero hats and the addition of Nopinz number pockets on the back of our skinsuits. The Nopinz pockets seem pretty good, though getting the number in place is a bit fiddly. No pin damage to expensive skinsuits, though!

After a brief warmup, Team Grumpy lined up and were off. Though not before an unfortunate wobble made Grumpy Bob worry about a start line collision. The outbound leg to the first turn was very quick, with a stiff tailwind. The Team had planned for Grumpy Bob to take some long pulls at the front to avoid "Grumpy" Art's breathing issues in the cold air – as it turned out, Grumpy Bob took longer turns at the front throughout the race, as "Grumpy" Art was still suffering the aftereffects of his recent cold.

All too soon, Team Grumpy reached the first turn, which was dealt in good style, and set off back up the dual carriageway into the headwind. For most of this leg, this just slowed them down, but for the last two miles or so, Grumpy Bob found his Hed Stinger a bit of a handful. No real difficulty or danger, though. Round the second turn and the intrepid team joined the hilly road southbound. This part of the course features some shocking road surfaces (on at least three occasions, Grumpy Bob heard his team mate grumping about some hole or other that he’d cycled through!), and some pretty stiff climbs. Team Grumpy made good progress to the third and final turn before heading back to finish in 1:03:16.

Team Grumpy wasn’t too disappointed with the time – it’s a tough course, and anyway, the team's 2-up technique was pretty well oiled throughout, with both riders making appropriate accommodation to the strengths of the other. In any event, Team Grumpy were 15th team out of a full field of 60 teams (only three teams didn’t start), and won third composite team.


This event has become Team Grumpy's annual season-starter. It's a well run two up team time trial event run on the R25/24 course. This course uses a dual carriageway section for the first half, before switching to the old road running roughly parallel to the dual carriageway, but which is quite a bit hillier, with several short but quite steep climbs.

Over at the Team Grumpy blog, we'd been doing a count down to this event, ruminating on training and preparation. In the event, we finished our "rigorous" training programme off with quite a lot of Belgian beer, takeaway curries and (on the evening before the event, pasta). Two evenings-worth of system abuse was not, perhaps, the ideal fine-tuning of our finely-tuned physiques (in particular, I've had trouble keeping and/or getting the weight off), so we were feeling a little apprehensive and 'inwardly disturbed' on the way over to the course.

As we left Ferryside, the weather was revealing itself as rather nice - barely a breath of wind, and reasonably warm and with sunny spells breaking through. Over at the race HQ, however, it was still quite misty and cool - but pretty much no wind.

This is us nervously sharing a joke prior to nipping out on the road to warm up. By this time, the organiser had turned up, coerced the locks to the race HQ to open and set out all the usual paraphernalia associated with a time trial.

After a quick return to the car to ditch our jackets etc, we rolled off to the start. Unfortunately we both suffered computer problems - in my case I lost all speed input just after the start, so the timer cut out for a period. This made it a little difficult to gauge our progress. The first half of the event, on the dual carriageway, was relatively straightforward, and we fell easily into out usual 2-up strategy of frequent changes. The photo below was taken on the return leg on the dual carriageway, from an overhead walkway. It shows us in our usual tight formation (with me on the back).

I always dread the second half of this course - not so much because of the numerous climbs, but because I don't know it well enough to know where these climbs are relative to the turn and the finish. Our strategy, therefore, is to try and have Gerry on the front to pace us up the hills. This worked well, aside from three potential obstructions - firstly we encountered two riders warming up on the course, who, upon looking over their shoulders and seeing us, proceeded to wobble all over the road. The second incident could have come from an Eric Sykes slapstick comedy, as a bloke carrying what appeared to be a six foot spirit level took a look at us roaring down a hill towards him at >30 mph then sauntered across the road in front of us. The final incident was the two riders (not apparently associated with the event) who just got in the way.

Anyway, the upshot was that we finished in 58:38, which we were quite pleased with. I spent just about the entire race (well, at least the 54 minutes my computer succeeded in recording) in level 3, with an average HR of 182bpm. Unfortunately we had to dash off to get cleaned up in time for our traditional lunch appointment at Y Polyn. So full results will have to wait until they're officially released.

Results to follow. Apparently we won the first composite team prize, while the event was won in a 54:something.

Also see the Team Grumpy Blog

As the title should make obvious, the weekend's regrouping of Team Grumpy once again failed to set the world of team timetrialling aflame, with another rather under par performance.  Grumpy Bob would like to be able to place the blame squarely on the shoulders of the erstwhile Team Manager, who chose to spend the afternoon gardening rather that shouting requests for 400W at the team, but frankly it was down to the riders.

Having said that, both 'Grumpy' Art and Grumpy Bob rode pretty well together on the whole, and accommodated each other's strengths (few though they might have been on the day) and weaknesses (numerous though they may have been on the day).  Grumpy Bob had managed to forget his Garmin, so was riding without telemetry, which turned out to be rather a good thing, and (he says) quite liberating.

Ultimately, however, this performance really ranks among the many underwhelming 2-up performances Team Grumpy has delivered on the domestic time trialling scene in recent years.  Team Grumpy is looking for a further domestic 2-up before they leave for the Duo Normand in September, and both riders are looking at the Norlond '10' in early September.  Between now and then, Grumpy Bob imagines both riders will be exhorted by the Team Manager to train just that bit harder.  Actually the Team Manager has a disturbing tendency to refer to 'training' as 'practicing', which brings with it images of complete amateurishness on the part of the riders.