Photo by Jason DeVarennes

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Notes on joining the CCC (Cyclists' Clavicle Club)

This year marks my 33rd year of "serious" cycling. It all started when several of my teenage friends and I marched around to a neighbour's house, knocked on his door and asked, in our best Dublinese, "Hey Mister, can we join your cycling club?" I'm not quite sure what poor Tony Lally, 1980 Irish Olympic team member, thought of us, but he did emigrate to Australia shortly afterwards. I never heard why. However, he did let slip when and where his club met, but that may just have been revenge for that rainy day on which they didn't wait for him when he punctured. Be that as it may, what followed isn't exactly well known history, but it got me to where I am today.

I have amassed a modest collection of badges, patches, certificates, t-shirts, water bottles, medals and plaques to mark various events, accomplishments, races and memberships along the way. However, one thing has always eluded me - membership of the C.C.C., the Cyclists' Clavicle Club (a.k.a. the Cyclists' Collarbone Club).

Premium Membership:
Given that this year is a numerologically significant anniversary in my cycling life, I decided, on a whim, to take out Premium membership. I would give you a link to click on, except it's http versus https and your browser will warn you to not go there. However, I didn't pay attention - in flagrante browsero, you could say. Premium membership promised no waiting in line and, given how busy we all are these days, that seemed like a no-brainer. I'm scared of heights, so I didn't select the heli-vac checkbox, however.

Sure enough, I would describe the Premium membership experience as quite breathtaking, but it may not be for everyone. In these days of tubeless this and sealant that, I was quite surprised that a punctured lung merited special treatment. However, true to the description on the C.C.C.'s [insecure] webpage, I got to skip the queue and was taken straight to the members' lounge. Once comfortably ensconced there, the attendants brought the x-ray machine to me - very impressive service! I got to relax and enjoy a local, carefully curated, artisinal morphine appetiser - tasting notes: it went down easily and, happily, had a long finish. I don't really remember selecting the "Chest tube" checkbox, but I might suggest skipping that one. I get the feeling its not a popular choice and everyone in the members' lounge wanted to get in on the action, so I started to feel a little claustrophobic.

Next up was some more Premium membership action - a bonus ambulance ride to the nearest trauma centre. Flashing lights and sirens - what more could my inner child ask for? Whee! Definite value for money there.

I think that covers most of the Premium membership benefits, so let me cover some aspects that you may want to consider before joining "The Club," as we insiders are wont to call it.

Everyone wants a good story for their social media these days. You know, "A catamount leapt out in front of me, causing me to fly off a cliff and get free membership of the C.C.C." kind of thing. Me? I failed miserably. I was J.R.A., admittedly on a dirt road, but nothing too crazy, when I had membership thrust upon me.

As my brother justifiably chastened me, a true Monty Python fan would have "reinflated lung with good ol' Zefal hpX and still made it home in time f' tea. Hospital!!? Bloody luxury, lad!" [Typed in my best attempt at a Yorkshire accent.]

There's a delicate balance here. Unless you're the aforementioned Yorkshireman, you want just enough wilderness to make for a good story - see "Story" above - but near enough to a hospital that you can enjoy Club benefits without too much delay. You might want to consider the heli-vac option if you're trying to go really "epic" and maximise your Facebook likes.

If you decide to skip Premium membership, you might want to identify and avoid busy periods at your nearest Emergency Room (E.R.) or Accident & Emergency (A&E), for those back home. Thursday evenings in my part of the world seem to be pretty quiet. There are other factors to bear in mind too, though, such as temperature and insects. Club benefits don't really cover getting cold while sprawled on the ground or getting chewed on by mosquitoes. And, if you're determined to chase those Facebook likes, choosing a muddy time of year may help (see both "Story" and "Location" above). Finally, consider choosing a time when you're not wearing your favourite kit (see "Clothing" below).

You should probably avoid joining The Club while wearing your brand new (see "Timing" above) Q36.5 clobber. Quite apart from the small risk of damage during the initiation rites, E.R. and A&E staff, wonderful people that they are, have really, really nice scissors. And, like anyone with a nice piece of equipment, they like to use it. Fortunately for me, my Premium membership came with a D.N.C. (Do Not Cut) temporary tattoo. Instead, I got to enjoy the eye-watering delights of becoming a human puzzle, as a rare wool jersey was somehow extricated from my body while I played a modified version of Statues, in which I could only move one arm.

Getting over The Hump:
Finally, we come to a religious issue. To some, membership of The Club is not complete until you can, after a secret handshake, pull down your collar and show your Cyclist's Bump. There are accompanying claims of aerodynamic and weight benefits [1]. Choosing this path is suggestive of ancient pilgrimages, in which hardship was welcomed. Modern luxuries such as brushing your teeth are spurned.

The contending doctrine? Surgery. This counters with a scar, which regains some bragging rights, but it also involves some weight gain, which runs counter to most cyclists' intuition. However, recent advances have led to possible upgrades like Reynolds 953 martensitic-aged and butted stainless plates, along with superlight titanium fastener kits (see "Premium Membership," above). The ability to floss your teeth further offsets some of the weight gains relative to The Cyclists' Bump analogue.

Membership has its benefits, although they may be best enjoyed in the coffee shop, six weeks after joining.

[1] - A. Poseur, Winning the Last Seat at the Coffee Shop (Nanosecond Press, 2005), 21-23.