The Jinx

The following article appeared in the April 1994 edition of Cycling Plus. Written by Ythan Cycle Club member, Ian Milne.

Tumble Riders

We have a great bunch of lads at Ythan CC (although referring to Brian as a lad is pushing it a bit...). One of the group is a particularly pleasant chap, very popular with everyone, but I alone know his dark secret: he carries a jinx. I know this because whenever he is around, things go awry and large amounts of pain are inflicted on everyone, especially me and, oddly enough, the Jinx himself.

Firstly, there are the hills: because he is very small, the Jinx and his aluminium Vitus weigh less than my right leg and he delights in dancing up the steepest of hills with the rest of us gasping and grunting our way up behind him. His popularity wanes at these times. However, this isn't the pain I'm thinking of.

I'm new to this cycling lark, you see. For the last 30 years, my first love has been swimming. Surprisingly, swimming and cycling have many things in common:

In both sports, your weight is supported. In cycling, you sit, whilst in swimming you do it lying down. Not many sports you can say that about.

Because of the similarity between aerodynamics and hydrodynamics, streamlining is very important, although cyclists strangely seem to be more obsessed with saving weight (with the exception of GOD'Bree, of course).

Most significantly, the participants in both sports share the shaving of the legs ritual. It must be said, however, that swimmers cut all the bullshit and admit that they shave to try to go faster.

This last point is very important: one thing that should not be included in both sports is tumble turns.

In swimming, tumble turns are a quick method of changing direction when you reach the end of the pool. A tumble turn is a half somersault, followed by a push-of from the wall. There's a half twist in there somewhere, too. In my opinion, there is no place in cycling for the tumble turn. However, whenever the Jinx is with us somebody - usually me - does a tumble turn. With bike.

This first happened last winter, and what a memorable run it was. It started to go wrong at the top of the steepest hill of the day: just as my screams of agony were beginning to fade there was a bang. I was sure my left lung had exploded, but it was only my back tyre. We were all glad for a rest, and it didnít hurt much, so we kept going.

Nine miles and half an hour later, we were on our fastest descent. I remember seeing 43 mph and then remembered the sharp bend at the bottom. The others were going round it without slowing down, so why not me? Just at the bend, the bike went a bit out of control and my mind followed the familiar pattern of:

  1. I'm going to come off.
  2. No, it's OK. I've steered out of trouble. It's a bit bumpy, but I'm going to be just fine.
  3. Is my neck broken?
  4. How much is it going to cost to fix the bike?

Yes, I had lost control, managed to regain it, but had to ride up and along a six foot high bank, through some hedging and then, once I thought I was going to be OK, I hit something and performed a one and a half somersault with a half twist in the sitting on the bike position. There's one for the high divers.

I have to admit that the bike and I were a little shaken. However, Super-Bicycle-Repairman, Brian, sprang into action, releasing the brakes so that the buckled wheel would go round. Then we set to repairing the punctures. It took all of my eight patches to stop the leaks - they were right round the tube. I later had this tube framed and mounted as a memento.

We only had ten miles left to go, and it was during those ten miles that the Jinx theory occurred to me. Why precisely then? Because as I cycled along with my aching body, buckled wheel, no brakes, and terror cramming my mind lest I should fall off again, guess who decided to make a breakaway at the next hill? You got it.

Following that run, there was an extended period when the Jinx turned his powers on himself. First of all, the forks on his Vitus snapped while he was riding it. He sold the remains and bought a nice Ribble 531. However, at his first road race on the Ribble he made a Volvo driver very angry by spreading his face across the back of said driver's car. The driver was really angry about all the blood. Of course, the Ribble was a write-off.

That left the poor Jinx with only his secret weapon to ride: a very expensive Look Carbon frame job with all the trimmings. Unfortunately, it had to go on a very long holiday to sunny France to be glued back together again after it simply fell apart.

That was the end of the Jinx' season. We were all very tearful for him, but for two months there were no tumble turns, breakdowns, crashes, not even one puncture.

Two miles further on, there was quite a steep descent (in fact, it's probably still there...) followed by a short, sharp climb. We did think it might be a bit slippery there and we were careful on the way down, but as soon as we started the climb, it was synchronised skating on bums. Brian, the Jinx and I all went thump at the same time. Not too much damage to the bikes, and only the Jinx was hurt. He had a nasty hole in his skin tights and in his skin skin. The hospital was very helpful; they're very good to their regular customers.

Two boring, trouble free weeks went by before we saw the Jinx again. On that run, we were again going down a hill with a sharp bend at the bottom. I braked too late and lost control on the bend but managed to get round on the verge just before the front wheel dived into a ditch. I went over the bars but thankfully landed on my face (thank goodness it wasn't anything important). The bike flew over the back of my head - great things, those Look pedals - and part of the bike hit my brand new crash helmet on its way over. I'm glad I was wearing it.

George's words of wisdom gave me great comfort "You should ditch those * * * * * * * tyres, Ian." I thanked George for the advice and politely informed him that that was precisely what I had done. Then, something occurred to me. As the Jinx has suffered as badly as I have, perhaps I am the Jinx and not the Jinx himself. Maybe we at Ythan CC should replace exercise with exorcisms. Maybe we should all carry rabbits' feet when we ride. Maybe there's a way that someone knows to get rid of a club Jinx.

Answers on a postcard please, to Ythan CC.

IAN MILNE

 

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