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.


  1. As a triple-qualified member myself, I thought I had enough clout to block the membership application from Fear Rothar, but on this occasion he was quite insistent that he be allowed to join.

    As regards locale and timing, he chose a spot just outside of cell phone range, while on a solo ride. This made for a slightly more dramatic story of standing up without passing out, and then riding a mile and a half up and down a moderate hill along a muddy dirt road before checking again for cell coverage. Now aside from the busted (5 day old $200) helmet as proof positive that he had hit his head, he also rode past at least a dozen houses before checking his cell phone signal.

    And then he was in such a hurry to get the application for official membership submitted, that he continued riding and met me a couple of more miles up the road.

    I loaded the bike on the rack and made note of the busted left hand brake lever and the busted right side of Fear Rothar. So I figured if he had managed to ride and brake with his busted right wing, that he would be fine waiting until the following morning to see our PCP. When he said he wanted to go to the hospital now, I sputtered out something about "man cold". But I'm not totally heartless. I handed him an ice pack I'd grabbed on the way out the door and agreed to take him to the clubhouse, where drama slowly unfolded.

    At this stage, I've told him it's not a competition and there is no need to try to get more "likes" by matching my broken bone count. But then again, he finally had a good story for the blog!

    His Loving Wife,

  2. Sounds pretty bad; sorry to hear it. Saving the rare wool jersey was a triumph though. Wishing you a full recovery.

    1. Thanks, David. Yes, saving the wool jersey was a very pleasing achievement!

  3. I'm hoping you won't mind, if, for the time being, I just press my wee little face up against the window of the CCC Clubhouse for the time being and hold off on my membership.

    1. @z-man Just don't leave a nose print, okay? We're a welcoming lot, but we do have standards to uphold. ;-)

    2. @z-man I'm not so sure it's a good idea to look through the windows, unless you really want to be invited inside!

  4. John, sending best wishes your way for a speedy and smooth recovery. (I'm not so sure I approve of this new hobby that you and the Rug Rat seem to have adopted lately....). Take good care of yourselves!
    -- MIL/Mom (Teresa)

    1. Rest assured, Mom, this is enough clubbing for me!

    2. *Mom*,

      I have some *news* for you. Rugrat now has a thirty-something daughter. While John got to take a limo/ambulance down to Springfield, I needed my own transportation. Given my state of mind, I got my friend, Carolynn to drive down with me. When we arrived at the ER, the receptionist asked if we were wife and daughter! I was too slow to say, "No, wife and mistress". So congrats, you're a grandma!

      And yes, we will try to kick this new habit!


  5. I tried to join this exclusive club one day after hitting a dirt jump on my cross bike a little too fast. I went airborne instead of rolling it like i planned and augured in shoulder first. Rode 20 miles back to the car, saw the doc 2 months later and got my "consolation" prize 2 further months later (because you know, Brevets and Centuries have to happen)- 4 surgical dry walls holding my shoulder together. My Ortho said that once more I had done the improbable and managed a SLAP and Bankhart tear in my left shoulder labrrum at the same time.

    1. That is an impressive attempt at joining. I assume your membership was approved retroactively? Regardless, kudos on the consolation prize and achieving the improbable!

  6. Sorry to learn of this mishap. Hopefully all is going much better now.

    My post on Facebook from March 24th, 2017:

    "First off, the bike is fine. Or seems to be. Second, the tree with which I was intimately familiar for a fraction of a second seems well, too. And I'm glad that after several Roentgen ray exposures, at most there is only a very small crack in my clavicle. How does this know to occur when I'm riding by myself and am at the point furthest from the car on a little used trail? It was tough getting back = 8 km. I walked down a couple of hills I normally would have just ridden - afraid another fall might make a bone puncture something really important. As I got somewhat close to the car, difficult to ride, but at least I was off the singletrack portion, so the trail was smooth and wide, yet another obstacle. I crested a small hill to see a moose taking up the entire track in front of me. She let me know that she had no desire to cede me any property. Scheisse. Pushing the bike through deep snow added a component I did not anticipate. Thanks to E. K. and friend for helping me get the bike back into the car! I'm good for now on Aleve® but we'll see how sleep goes tonight. And I will not be riding the bike anytime soon."

    I didn't even know I was a member of the CCC. Thanks for the knowledge.

    1. I'm doing pretty well at this point, thanks. I'm glad to hear both your bike and the tree were fine too, as I hope you are at this point yourself. It sounds like you had quite the Premium Membership experience, complete with snow and moose! Thanks for sharing.

  7. All of those memorabilia brings back the memories, like you I usually keep such stuffs to remind me of the special events in my life.