Invicta Grimpeur

Posted: March 11, 2015 in Audax, Cycling, Tricycle
Tags: , , , , ,

I entered this event a while ago, It consists of two loops of a very hilly circuit, first one way and then the other. This means all those long freewheeling downhill sections become monstrous climbs the second time around. It’s quite an evil concept. The last time I did this we started by going clockwise. This time it started by going anticlockwise. This meant that the first descent and the last ascent would be Yorks Hill. This was not something to relish on a tricycle.

I was feeling a little apprehensive at the start. Unsurprisingly I was only one on a Trike, but that wasn’t the source of my apprehension. I was a little worried that I’d not spent enough time setting up Gracie (for that is now her name). The peddle from the car park to the HQ had felt odd in a saddle too high sort of way. I was prepared for wheels falling off and punctures but had ignored the small comfort issues and not played with the saddle height. It also worried me that this would be the first proper long ride on a Trike. All the rides before had been just playing, this was getting a bit serious. Had I been sensible I would have come on another bike, but for various reasons most of my other bikes were not in a condition to be ridden.

The start was interesting, I never normally see so many people going past me, Trikes are defiantly slower, either that or I had lost a lot of fitness in the last couple of weeks. The decent of York Hill loomed ever closer. I really was not looking forward to it. I had been told that the road was covered in farm debris and rutted. It was worse than that. The descent was intense. The road surface was scarily rutted and the piles of muck in the road horrifying. I was consumed in concentration trying to keep Gracie from putting me in a hedge, or worse, flat out on the road. This was not the ideal first steep descent. I reached the bottom glad to be alive and with a little more belief in my Trike handling skills.

Gracie is one wheel drive, the back left wheel to be precise. The other Trike, the one that is not very fond of its wheels, is two wheel drive. One wheel drive presents a small problem when climbing, once the gear is low enough and the gradient high enough, the front wheel starts skittering to the right as I press down on the left peddle. This is rather disconcerting at first. The next problem is if the driven wheel hits a lump of mud, a pot hole or a damp patch. The wheel just loses traction. All forward motion and momentum is lost and I end up cursing, lots. I don’t enjoy climbing, I don’t, like some people, seek out the steepest hills to climb. I can climb, I just do it very, very slowly. I thought that the Trike would make it easier because I could use lower gears and go very slowly. I’d not thought about the problems associated with one wheel drive. Climbing on a Trike is hard.


The Descent of Rowdow


By the time I had got to the last descent before the midpoint tea stop I was starting to feel rather confident in my Trike skills. This should have set alarm bells ringing, loudly. I set about the descent of Rowdow with the enthusiasm of a man who knew that he was about to eat his bodyweight in cake. I was happily throwing the Trike in and out of the curves and feeling at one with the world. That was until the car coming the other way pushed me away from the line I wanted to take. Suddenly the wide sweeping curve became a very tight corner and the grass bank was getting closer and closer. In an instant I turned from a confident tricyclist into a mime artist doing an impression of a tiger skin rug. It was not dignified, I’m just glad that there was no one about to witness my fall from Gracie. I dusted myself down, made sure all the important parts were still in the right place and carried on. The English elixir of life coupled with cake could cure any problem.

After a valiant attempt to considerably increase my weight I headed off for round two. Making the same navigational mistakes as the last time I did this event. A few of the other cyclists challenged me to a race down a hill, I politely declined.

The climbing and ill adjusted saddle were starting to take their toll. My legs were sore and kept getting the odd twitches of cramp. Yorks Hill was beckoning. The steepness, the muck and the road surface combination was really not filling me with pleasure. It was a struggle. I was in the low gears and turning the peddles slowly. Every now and again I took advantage of being able to stop. I may have disguised this as letting cars go past, but it was really just a pathetic excuse to have a breather. I picked my way through the ruts and muck and the road just got steeper. People passed me, they were suffering, I could hear it in their cursing and see it by the way they ground to a halt. Then it happened. The left wheel lost traction and I couldn’t get started again. Fifty yards from the top and I was defeated by a puddle. It’s here that I learnt that pushing a Trike up hill is no picnic either.

The run in to the HQ was a joy, mainly downhill. It gave me time to reflect on the ride. It had been hard. The climbing was an experience and the descending full of angst and uncertainty. I should have paid more attention to setting her up, the saddle was far too high and the bars far too low. I would pay for that mistake in aching muscles and sudden cramps. Apart from those minor considerations though, it had been fun, fun in a retrospective pleasure sort of way. I have no doubt that I’ll be doing it again sometime.

  1. […] on regardless. We had driven here to take part in the Invicta Hilly, the smaller version of the Invicta Grimpeur, The first long ride that Gracie and I did together. The big version consists of two loops, one […]


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