Anyone want a Butler?

Mike Stenning cleans out his mum's workshop

Since my tangle with the tarmac, circumstances have conspired against me: work, the mother of all chest infections and a large utilities company's insistence we are running Three Mile Island and not a three bedroom terrace have consumed disproportionate amounts of time. These things aside, I've been hit by a massive helping of pragmatism.

My mother recognises that bicycles are for life and not just for Christmas, but a recent visit saw me rounded up by her border collie who then chaperoned me around her workshop to make some very hard decisions about what stays and what gets moved on. Seeing as I'm unlikely to be granted a large Soviet style bunker beneath Stenning Towers, I need to find good homes for a 23inch 531 Holdsworth Butler frameset and the Butler my father bought me for my thirteenth birthday, not to mention Dad's "Big Bertha" - a Pashley Sovereign finished in British racing green, complete with hub gears, brakes, dynamo and full chain case. It also presented an opportunity for a meander through the spares bin…

Back at Stenning Towers, a thorough excavation of the outbuilding (searching for two of Joshua's missing Power Rangers) unearthed the wheel jig but no spokes of correct length so Izzie's wheel has gone to a local wheel builder whilst I concentrate on rekindling interest amongst potential sponsors, regional radio and of course, Izzie‘s makeover.

The carbon fork is ready, the Maplewood guards are off in favour of some whopping great 700x37 rubber which should offer better protection from the pot holes (breeding with frightening regularity in these parts) and some additional resistance into the bargain. Sessions on the crosser break up the monotony and allow some bridle path fun should the mood take me. Long descents at full pelt test my concentration and reaction times as monk jack deer spring from the hedgerows like over zealous Tour spectators.

Time has come to up Izzie's gearing and head for the hills once more, courtesy of a very refined and reassuringly expensive EAI track sprocket. Continued sessions on the trainer, albeit at lesser intensity, have exhausted my music library and my wife's patience - advising she'd see the benefits if I could power the house this way! Mercifully Prison Break has returned to our screens with Wentworth Miller diverting the good lady's attention.

The pragmatic ruthlessness exercised at my mother's house has been applied to the Ventoux effort. It seems increasingly unlikely that a suitable Peugeot 504 will surface in time, if at all, so I've started making email contact and brandishing my clean car licence to a few of the bigger car hire firms in the hope they'll donate a suitable load lugger for the trip.

Onwards and upwards!

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