an homage

dw buddy rich drumset

a number of years past, i was fortunate enough to be sent a colnago c59 for review, the first to feature campagnolo's super-record eps electronica, following the alignment and partnership between the two italian companies. that particular bicycle was also outfitted with hydraulic disc brakes, a component that vicenza had yet to produce, so the review model was replete with calipers, rotors and levers from formula. in order to actuate the electronic gearing, the levers had inner downshift buttons, and small flip levers behind the brake lever which, in effect, functioned as a switch to upshift across the cassette.

those levers had a small, apparently inexpensive spring attached, allowing the lever to return to its start point after each gearchange. unfortunately, it transpired during the review period, that those springs had a habit of sticking at the endpoint of their movement, continually sending a signal to the eps brain for an upshift and countermanding any signals sent by the downshift button. therefore, everytime i shifted to a bigger gear, the system would simply return the chain to the large sprocket. following a few trial and error shifts to figure out what was going wrong, on return of the review bike, a meeting was held between campagnolo, formula and colnago to decide what they were going to do about it.

this was probably one of the only situations i can recall where a review elicited a hitherto unrecognised problem. more often than not, a review of any product you may care to name, is simply a public relations exercise, because the product has already been given a thoroughly hard time by a team of professionals over the course of a season. it's why the likes of velo and gcn offer a number of videos and articles, highlighting all the new tech that appears at major races, which may eventually become available to the great unwashed; that's you and me.

but it's something of an unrecognised fallacy that the pros are always equipped with the latest and the best, even if their sponsors have provided them with that particular wherewithal. for instance, not so long ago, campagnolo announced the arrival of their wireless super-record groupset, and with only one sponsored team in the professional peloton (ag2r citroen) i fully expected that, not only would each and every one of their bmc bicycles be thus equipped with the latest and greatest, but be the subject of much public celebration by vicenza on the event of a stage win.

as it transpired, not everyone in the ag2r team was riding the wireless groupset, which may have been an individual choice, or simply insufficient groupsets to go round. either way, it's entirely possible that the stage 17 win by felix gall was aboard a bicycle equipped with the 'old-fashioned' super-record eps. the fact that ag2r's bmc bicycles were not all on the latest stuff is not, however, an isolated case. even allowing for his impressive palmares and that it was his final tour de france, peter sagan, along with this total energie team-mates were still riding shimano's eleven speed dura-ace di2, rather than the latest twelve-speed edition. this offered the situation whereby the man or woman cyclist in the street could have been ostensibly better-equipped than a three-time world champion.

of course, none of the above was predicated by the uci's latest directive concerning the use of prototype equipment in professional races. this insists that anything ridden by the pros has to be either currently commercially available, or become available within a very short timeframe. therefore, where previously world tour riders could have been found to have ridden prototype equipment over the course of a season, prior to its introduction to the rest of us, test periods are now constrained to training rides, arguably meaning that the latest and greatest will not have been tried and tested in the heat of battle. whether that's a great idea or not is probably no longer open to debate.

i recently viewed a video on youtube presented by a fellow who owned one of only 24 yamaha steve gadd drumsets made available to drummers other than mr gadd himself (for information, steve gadd is probably the world's most highly respected session drummer). and, in addition to the drumset, he also possesses both versions of gadd's signature snare drum. the downside to all the foregoing, is the fact that owning the same drums and cymbals as steve gadd, in no way provided the fellow with the talent that has made steve gadd the drumming icon he continues to be well into his seventies.

the same applies to you and i. peter sagan may be about to retire, but were any of us to have purchased a sagan replica specialized, when available, and outfit it with shimano's latest twelve-speed componentry, there's still not one gram of a chance that we'd keep up with the grupetto of which he doubtless found himself a part during the mountain stages. that's not to say there's anything untoward in riding an exact replica to that of our heroes, just as long as we realise that it's not the bike that wins races.

i own a five-piece drumset that closely resembles that played by both gene krupa and buddy rich. that drumset is as close as i'll ever get to approximating their abilities.

monday 31 july 2023

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steam giving way to sail

the bizarrely titled 'rules of the road under sail' as espoused by the national maritime college, principally to help prevent collisions at sea, advise that 'power-driven vessels must avoid and/or give way to all sailing vessels when under sail.' but then somewhat contradictorily the rules continue 'ships, tugboats with tows, commercial ferries and fishing vessels have right of way over sailing vessels. yachts should stay well clear of the above vessels.' i'm going to stop at that point, because, to be honest, the subsequent rules are so complex in their intent, that it's a wonder any boats ever make it to their destination.

however, the notion that motor vessels ought best give way to sailing vessels seems like a perfectly fair and sensible arrangement, and one that it would be nice to adopt as an integral part of the highway code. of course, though recent alterations to the code have attempted to (slightly) redress the balance, the fact that very few, if any, pay any attention to the highway code having passed a driving test, has tended to undermine the efficacy of those well-meaning changes.

during my second visit to portland, oregon, while riding a loaned bike along residential street, i stopped at a road junction and waved on the motor vehicle similarly stopped to my right. had i not finally acquiesced to the driver of said vehicle, we'd probably still be at that junction, encouraging each other to go first. my temerity, i confess, resulted from the oddity of the situation; on how many occasions on this side of the pond, has a motorist remained stationary to allow a cyclist to make the first move?

i have mentioned, to the point of boredom, i shouldn't wonder, that a large proportion of islay's transport network consists of singletrack roads. and in order that the wheels of industry continue to turn, those roads are peppered with passing places to allow passing (tautologically enough) and overtaking. you might perceive where this monologue is heading when i say that the working title for my ill-considered autobiography is 'passing places i have known'. islay's velocipedinists are fortunate that argyll & bute roads department does not charge rent for the time spent in such facilities.

i am, however, more than content to dip into a passing place when approached by a vehicle from behind, because those are situations when speed is an issue. no matter how fast i think i am, i'm certainly not faster than a car, even if it's a fiat 500 or citroen 2cv. however when it comes to oncoming traffic, despite trying my very best to adopt a courteous persona, my patience is being sorely tried.

on saturday morning, as i headed south along the high road, i found myself about 100 metres or more from a passing place ahead, having sighted an oncoming vehicle. the disappointment to be experienced resulted from that vehicle passing three clearly marked passing places before i could make it to the one mentioned above. why, i asked myself, has it become the responsibility of the cyclist to give way? and as if to add insult to injury, the situation was repeated a matter of minutes later with a following vehicle.

i'm perfectly willing to accept that i ought best to enter the passing place when confronted with an oncoming tractor, pot ale truck or freight lorry; there's a better than evens chance that the drivers of those vehicles are working, while (and you'd believe this if you'd seen me cycle) i'm only playing. however, when the oncoming vehicles are quite plainly crewed by locals driving to the shops, or visitors (with the obligatory 'upturned boat' on the roofrack) quite clearly completely lost, i'd always hoped that the 'honour system' would be in operation. in other words, if you reach a passing place before i do, please give way. sort of the land-based equivalent of 'steam must give way to sail'.

the fact that this rarely happens, suggests that there is an unwritten hierarchy at work, whereby the average motorist considers themself to be 'more important' than those aboard what they consider to be an inferior mode of transport. that car drivers consider themselves to be more important than cyclists is, i believe, a perception common to the majority of velocipedinists, however, i have witnessed the same situation between motorists. porsche drivers rarely give way to those in ford fiestas. that said, i've seen several idiots attempt to adopt one-upmanship with a 40ft articulated tanker. that was never going to end well.

so, perhaps the next time someone in the department of transport thinks it a wizard wheeze to update the highway code, maybe they could have a few words with the management at the maritime college to hammer out an appropriate road-going hierarchy, starting with pedestrians at the top and working their way down to motorhomes.

sunday 30 july 2023

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this past week, a hapless fellow cyclist was moved to post a video on x (the artist formerly known as twitter) depicting the view and sound from the saddle of a loud creaking noise which, like every other noise on a bicycle, appeared to emanate from the region of the bottom bracket. that is, undoubtedly, possibly the major downside to constructing bicycles from hollow tubes, whether actual or simply the result of conjoiing two halves of a monocoque carbon frame. no matter where the guilty component exists on the bicycle, the noise it creates will invariably appear to arise from the bottom bracket.

aside from visibly and audibly alerting the x men to the extent of his problem, the accompanying text entreated those of us with at least some mechanical knowledge to offer our thoughts on what might conceivably be the source of his problem. and just to allay any responses pointing to the bottom bracket itself, he advised that this had been replaced and was therefore unlikely to be the cause. attempting to be helpful, based solely on the sound reproduced by the tiny speaker on my macbook, i suggested it could possibly be a loose cassette lockring, a fix that i have personally come across on my own velocipedinal travels.

whether that was it or not, i do not know.

my reply was issued as i also attempted to narrow down the source of what started as an intermittent and irritating click on the ritchey, one that only arose following replacement of the chain several weeks past. i checked the full length of the new chain for any stiff links that might be causing my exasperation, but to no avail. as it transpired, the cassette lockring was not as tight as it ought to be, so having remedied that particular situation, i fully expected silence to ensue. sadly, i was very much mistaken, as the click continued across much of the following ride.

the last time this occurred, despite the previous click appearing to originate from the bottom bracket, the culprit turned out to be the lower headset bearing race. so, in an effort to head them off at the pass, i replaced that in an effort to solve the problem. it was a solution that i prematurely congratulated myself on having cured; the first few kilometres were pedalled in luxurious silence, before the noise arose once again.

at least a part of the problem here on the outer edge is the almost perennial wind, the sound of which effectively prevents an accurate diagnosis. having already dropped the chain off the rings and spun the cranks, there appeared to be no sound emanating from that region, despite the original bearings having been in place for over three years. nor, indeed, was there any lateral play to be experienced from the bottom bracket. for those reasons, i was inclined to discount the b/b from being the source of my problem.

if any clicks appear each and every three crank revolutions, the problem is very likely to be chain related, but in this case, the sounds were rarely, if ever, rhythmic in their annoying appearance. but after a few weeks of intense irritation, those clicks were augmented with a perpetual creaking sound which, i discovered, came from my brooks cambium saddle. those stubbornly refused to disappear, even after loosening the seatpost bracket and spraying vast quantities of lubricant into the rail mounts. so i changed the saddle.

that did succeed in removing the creaking sounds, but still that itinerant click remained. i do have a pair of genuine campagnolo replacement bottom bracket bearings in my possession as a last resort, but extending my investigations narrowed the sound to the budget priced look keo pedals purchased more recently than you'd like to think (it's a format of pedal with which i've had remarkably little success with cleat fit, seized bearings and, apparently, creaking noises). i've temporarily replaced them with a pair of crank brothers candy pedals and following a brief test ride, that appears to have finally cured the problem. sunday's peloton ride, however, will elicit whether that is is indeed the end of the matter, but we all know that, at some indeterminant future point in time, yet another sound will arise, ready and willing to provide unfettered irritation.

i know i am one of probably millions of cyclists who have suffered from unknown bicycle noises, a cure for which would surely be far more welcome than yet another variation on wireless gear shifting, hydraulic disc brakes or any other number of solutions to problems no-one actually has. would it not be a welcome innovation to site tiny sensors at tangential points around the frame that might converse with our bar-mounted gps units, identifying from whence those annoying, unidentified sounds originate?

because, as we all know, the chances of replicating any untoward sounds while the bicycle is on the workstand, are slim to non-existent. and unlike the apocryphal salesperson with a company car, we have no radio, cd player or apple-play on which the volume can be increased to drown out the offending squeak, creak, bang or groan.

saturday 29 july 2023

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the glasgow wheelers - a scottish cycling history. kenny pryde. biscuit tin media e-book (326pp) + softback (167pp) illus £9.99

glasgow wheelers

the notion of forming a bicycle club may be anecdotally less prevalent nowadays, particularly given the pressure to do otherwise by the substantial motor traffic that exists on britain's highways and byways. that said, the emergence of cycle clothing manufacturers keen to offer custom printed clothing to suit the indoor cycling enthusiast would tend to suggest that some might be inclined to form cycle clubs for whom the outside world is anathema. the logic of wearing club clothing while sat alone in the front room aboard a smart trainer in front of an ipad is probably a discussion best left for another day.

and though i have frequently referred to the velo club over many of the years in which thewashingachinepost has existed, in truth that is merely a literary convenience aligned to a smidgeon of hebridean humour. despite forming a peloton nigh on ten strong if everyone turns up at springbank on a sunday morning, we hold neither a constitution nor committee and notices of annual general meetings are nowhere to be found within the what's on adverts to be seen in islay's local newspaper.

however, properly constituted cycle clubs with identifiable team colours and aspirations have existed on british shores for many a long year. their heydays of the 1940s and 50s may be well behind them, and many are now possibly only recalled in old newspaper cuttings, but there are still enough remaining in existence to pay testament to the social and sporting powers of the bicycle. north of the border, there are those whose names are still spoken of in adulatory terms, even though the reality may be somewhat less impressive nowadays. one such long-lived organisation still regarded in such terms is that of the glasgow wheelers, their 100 year history brought to the fore in this e-book by esteemed author, and glasgow resident, kenny pryde.

kenny is the author of the exceptionally well-researched book, the medal factory tracing the story of britain's emergence as a cycling force to be reckoned with on the international stage, principally at the behest of serious investment in the quest for gold medals and the presumed respect that their acquisition might entail. the author's skills for research and subsequent translation into compulsive and enlightening narrative are equally well displayed in this latest (digital only) publication, defining the glasgow wheelers, if not internationally, certainly as a central pillar of the scottish cycling scene across the last 100 years.

and while the 'corporate' history of a scottish cycle club may sound to be a rather 'dry' read for even the velocipedinal enthusiast, in this case, nothing could be further from the truth. it all comes down to the abilities of the author.

" 2023, there weren't too many cycling clubs that could claim to be a hundred years old, which helped make the argument for writing this book."

in his introduction, the author observes that it has been claimed that glasgow wheelers is the "...oldest continuously existing cycling club in Scotland." but argues that it's not the club's centenary or the claim that it may be scotland's oldest that made the writing a particularly worthy enterprise, but the eminent participation of various members in the eventual development of british and even world cycling. on a more parochial level, the club's history contains many stories of velocipedinal derring-do. mr pryde continues, averring that the following chapters "will attempt the impossible", weaving the club's history "...with the development of competitive cycling in Scotland" offering instances of its wider influence within british and international cycling.

the glasgow wheelers' beginnings are allied to those of the bbc, both arising in 1923, and both headed by a scotsman (the bbc's managing director was john reith). however, the author points out one of the manifest differences between the two nascent organisations; there are no actual documents that testify to the wheelers' formation. suggestions are that there was, in fact, an earlier version of the club, but no tangible evidence of that being the case appears to exist.

the wheelers was scarcely the first cycle club to appear in the glasgow area, with evidence suggesting there were 27 clubs in existence in 1910, many of which lost their appeal as bicycles became less expensive, allowing the proletariat access to the world of two wheels. thus, those more concerned with displaying social status moved onto motor cars, leaving the saddles to the allegedly less fortunate. the advent of this state of affairs lessened the desire to participate in weekend excursions, moving inexorably towards more competitive activity.

as has often been said, and mentioned by the author "Inevitably, wherever there are two people on bikes, there will always be an element of competition..." as if in confirmation, an early club president's claim to fame was a career as a "track racing star", with kenny pryde pointing out that the 1897 world track championships were held on a specially banked concrete track at parkhead stadium, home to celtic football team. three years later david rattray and his sister agnes opened a bike shop in glasgow's townhead. rattray was not only a member of the wheelers, but renowned as eventual producer of the famed 'flying scot' race and touring frames. to place all in context, the author points out that "...anyone who believes that the 'gravel riding' craze that emerged in the 2010s was a new hybrid of Tarmac and dirt would feel perfectly at home on Scotland's back roads of the period"

cycling life, however, was considerably different in the early decades of the 20th century, with only 380,000 registered motor vehicles in the entire uk. by 2015, however, scotland alone harboured over three million of the blighters. but even in the dim distant past, the motor car was in its ascendancy, with the 1920 roads act requiring councils to issue registration numbers for all motor vehicles. the certain origins of the glasgow wheelers cycling club begin with members of lanarkshire-based douglas cycling club, breaking away to form the wheelers. mr pryde's research even provides us with the names of the founding members from whom an annual subscription of five shillings was received.

subsequent chapters fascinatingly describe those who took the club forward, the etsrangement between clubs affiliated to the blrc and the ncu, sponsorship appearing on club jerseys, and the stalwarts who provided coaching to the members and cemented the wheelers as a central pillar of not only scottish cycling, but of britain and western europe.

in more recent times the club's membership has provided at least a small portion of the who's who of world cycling. having quit his membership of glasgow united in favour of joining the wheelers in 1950, ian steel subsequently won the peace race two years later. owner of glasgow cycle shop, bilsland's cycles, billy bilsland joined the wheelers in 1962, while the club's highest profile member was surely robert millar (pippa york), winner of the king of the mountains jersey in the 1984 edition of the tour de france and fourth place overall. millar joined the club in 1975 and spoke at length to kenny pryde to form arguably the most fascinating chapter in the book.

"Somehow I ended up on a Glenmarnock club run ... and you think 'Oh, this is alright. But...I want to go faster. Because I'm only interested in going faster, I wasn't interested in sitting beside a loch with my tin of soup! I was your typical 16-year-old teenager, but I hadn't done any cycling before that."

the author also speaks to twice british road-race champion and eurosport commentator, brian smith (though not a wheelers member) and features the inimitable graeme obree who, briefly a member of the club, but more readily associated with loudon road club.

i have, inevitably, glossed over the cornucopia of velocipedinal treasures to be found within the e-book's digital pages, for covering all the aspects of which kenny pryde describes would fill more pixels than i fear my webhost would be willing to offer. the narrative is expertly constructed, allowing the reader to become immersed in the club's history, without ever succumbing to presumably the fear of many an historical author - simply a list of dates and associated happenings. and in the process, mr pryde enlightens us to the rich story of glasgow's premier cycling club and the many individuals who made it thus.

though i daresay an interest in cycling would be a prerequisite, nationality is no barrier to enjoyment of this publication. scottish riders, of course, will realise this is a compulsory part of their life in the saddle, one which they ignore at their peril. woe-betide anyone who has to profess a lack of knowledge when the subject arises in the sunday peloton. in short, this is an absolute jewel of a book, placing the kernels of scottish cycling in a marvellous perspective, and of serious credit to its author and the glasgow wheelers.

kenny tells me that a print version will be available in a few weeks and available via amazon. there will also be a free centenary celebration event, launching the e-book on saturday 29 july at hillhead library in glasgow, where there will also be a social gathering with discussions and q&a between kenny and billy bilsland

friday 28 july 2023

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cycle sign

as i scribble today's monologue, we are but a matter of days away from the first complete set of world championship cycling events, always assuming you're happy to discount cyclocross. as far as i'm aware, the world championship event for the latter will still take place in early february. this multi-disciplinary velocipedinal festival will be centred around the city of glasgow, though bereft as it is of any large enough hills, the downhill mountain biking seems destined to remain north of oban in fort william.

glasgow's 2023 uci world championships are being touted locally as a grand tourism event, of which the nation's accommodation providers and tourist attractions ought to ready themselves to take advantage. there is scant satisfaction in observing that many of the agencies broadcasting such information, more usually would scarcely give cycling a second glance, but i think it important to grab any number of small victories in the (possibly forlorn) hope that they add up to one sizeable vanquishment.

however, along with touting the benefits for the tourist industry, many of those with more of a vested interest in cycling matters have attempted to position these highly competitive events on and offroad as well as on the track, as an opportunity to widen the scope of cycling as a means of transport. apparently the prospect of watching some of the world's finest professionals compete for gold, silver, bronze and a jersey sporting the sort of colours witnessed in a sponge cake at debbie's last weekend, has the power to encourage more of the great unwashed away from their motor cars and onto handily placed, nearby saddles.

that, to me at least, would seem to encapsulate a somewhat misguided approach to the event's possibilities. i don't doubt that there will be, within the events' audiences, a number who will be enthused and inspired by several of the performances we're likely to witness, sending them scurrying to the nearest glasgow bike shop to enquire as to which frame size would best suit their physique. it seems a tad disingenuous, however, to expect the sight of wout van aert in full flight aboard a cervelo time-trial bike, to increase the number of cycle commuters across central glasgow's streets.

similarly, max verstappen's exploits in the formula one world championship might bring more than just a few youngsters to karting, eager to serve their apprenticeship on the road to a red bull contract, but i think it fairly unlikely that his recent sequence of victories has brought more shop floor sales of renault clios or ford pumas, intent on being used to get to and from work.

cycle sport is but one colourful facet of the panoply of cycling, but i think that any wide-ranging survey of cycle commuters would be unlikely to reveal knowledge of which two british brothers recently finished in third and fourth place in le grande boucle. i'm unaware of any evidence that points to the competitive milieu having any influence upon the more mundane aspects of cycling, such as getting to work, the shops or school. perhaps we could revisit my pessimism at year end, when shimano reveal their sales results for the second half of 2023.

while several cycling organisations have been persuading themselves that cycling in britain and elsewhere is the answer to transport problems and the onset of climate change (and i am not denying that ultimately both could prove highly effective in their respective areas), the proof of the pudding, so to speak, is surely better answered in the shape of industry profits? if the industry is making money, then people are buying bicycles, but if those profits are either lower than expected or lower than over a recent comparable period, then it would seem to show that fewer folks than would make a difference are doing so.

and in answer to that prospect, shimano's second-quarter financial results do not provide succour for the downtrodden. arguably the world's largest component manufacturer, their announcement that component sales for the first six months of 2023 are down by 18% on the same period last year, rather calls into question the upward trajectory we'd have hoped to witness. shimano says that this is as a result of 'weak' demand for its products in many worldwide markets. of course, there's always sram and campagnolo; the latter is nowhere near the size of its japanese counterpart, so any sizeable shift in supply to the original equipment market would seem unlikely. sram is perhaps better placed to compete, but they would need to experience a large upward surge in sales compared to those of shimano, to indicate that people were buying a lot more bikes.

oddly, though weather has been a frequent subject for the post, shimano have said that low european demand for complete bikes could be attributed to poor weather in early spring which, if true, does not auger well for cycling as an alternative to motorised transport. if crappy weather is sufficient to keep people in their cars, then bike snob nyc was right when he asserted that even e-bikes are unlikely to be the solution to dragging motorists kicking and screaming from their cars and bring about the transportational change that many acknowledge is necessary to combat obesity and climate change.

with shimano claiming that it doesn't expect the numbers to change dramatically by year-end, assuming we accept the premise that two weeks of competitive cycling will result in a greater adoption of the bicycle for personal use, we may have to persuade the uci to hold several world championships each year for the foreseeable future.

thursday 27 july 2023

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a question of colour

pantone swatches

there are many facets of velocipedinal life affected by the tour de france, very much to the detriment of pretty much every other bicycle race in the professional calendar. for starters, any change to a team's official jersey design during the rest of the season is likely to result in a uci fine. mario cipollini might be the fellow to ask about that, but also ef education easypost team owner, jonathan vaughters, whose jersey sponsor, rapha, has been complicit in varying the standard offering at the expense of the team's financial resources.

come the tour de france, however (and to a lesser extent, the giro) and a combination of the uci and aso compels any team with a faintly yellow looking kit to make variations that would have previously resulted in a slap on the wrist. marco pantani's mercatone uno team usually fell foul of this diktat, and more recently, two-time tour winner, jonas vingegaard's jumbo visma have endured a particularly grungy shade of brown. in recent years, the colour thing has become much more of a co-ordinated attack, featuring not only helmets and shorts, but often the entire bike.

where once the manufacturer would have enforced a three-line whip at the factory to quickly apply bright yellow paint to the yellow jersey wearer's new frame, i can but surmise that the teams which expect to be at the cutting edge have a corner of the mechanics' truck installed with yellow, green and polka-dot bicycles (and spares) 'just in case'. similarly with subtle variations on team clothing, should one of the three main jerseys remain upon the shoulders of a principal rider for more than a few days.

the latter, however, may have unforeseen circumstances. who can forget tadej pogacar's trouncing of primoz roglic in the final time trial, losing the latter's team the honour of parading their yellow inflected jerseys along the champs elysées? and what of the hapless and pink geraint thomas in may of this year, who was on the receiving end of a similar trouncing, once again, in a time-trial. perhaps the ineos website subsequently offered pink decorated jerseys at a substantial discount, while roglic's directeur sportif was frantically on the phone to agu sport, asking them to fire up the dye-sub printer.

but the question remains, surely, why it was found necessary to desecrate the points jersey with a shade of green that, following a quick poll of the sunday peloton, seems to have garnered little favour amongst the cognoscenti. and given that particular change of hue, why was bora hansgrohe not compelled to change their jersey, given its close colour proximity to jasper philipsen's wardrobe?

colour, however, is endemic to the entire cycle-related experience; for direct evidence, take my specialized crux, a cyclocross bicycle resplendent in white, fluorescent orange, and fluorescent green, colours that must surely have been en vogue around seven years past. though the 2023 model is essentially the same as that in the washingmachinepost bike shed, it is now replete in a far more subtle, duck egg blue, oddly nowhere near the 2016 pantone colour of the year (15-0343 greenery). that said, i'm sadly unsure of the reach of the latter colour of the year, given that i have noticed little in the way of themed colouration over recent decades that might align with pantone's choices.

but there seems to be at least tangential lip-service paid to this hitherto unknown (and possibly ignored) annual perception from within the world of the velocipede, even if it might prove mistaken in its associations. i, and many others, find our aesthetic senses offended by the design of the present ranges of bikepacking bags, particularly the trumpet-like seat pack that gives the word 'hideous' a bad name.

and persisting with that theme, german cycle luggage purveyors, ortlieb have found it necessary to bring to market, a limited edition bikepacking set (bar bag, frame bag and seat pack) which, they lie, features 'eye-catching aesthetics'. and as part of those debatable aesthetics, all three are produced in mustard yellow, which, according to ortlieb is an in-vogue colour having been recently featured in the aforementioned pantone colour of the year. except, i fear that assertion may be erroneous.

a quick check of the pantone website, announces the colour of the year to be 18-1750 'viva magenta'. last year's was 17-3938 very peri - a sort of pinky-purple. in fact, the only recent year in which any shade of yellow has appeared was 2020, when the choice was extended to both grey (17-5104) and (13-0647) illuminating, a shade of yellow that at no point is described as mustard (14-0952). could it be that there's more than one pantone?

or could it be the cycle industry is actually colour blind?

wednesday 26 july 2023

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failed tactics


unfortunately, my present-day work life did not allow for watching the copious amounts of live tour de france coverage that i once experienced in earlier years. there may have been a few hours sneaked in under cover of the weekend, but by and large, i'd to make do with the excellent evening highlights on itv4, presented by david millar and ned boulting (thank you gentlemen).

ultimately, however you have the opportunity to view each day's racing, the final result remains the same, but gary imlach's brief recap of the relatively unseen portions, before heading across to the two commentators, does not offer an opportunity to comprehend the many strategies at play from the following team cars, presumably hammered out in the team coach following the previous day's hits or misses.

until eurosport's first live broadcasts of entire tour stages - initially the most enervating mountain stages - it was all but impossible for the aspiring cycle enthusiast to comprehend the machinations engineered within the peloton to hopefully outwit the competition. devices such as sending sturdy domestiques into the early break, where they gain several minutes over a dithering peloton, but who will ultimately proffer service to their team leader when the breakaway is eventually caught only a matter of kilometres from the top of the final summit.

but even now that i have appraised myself of at least a few of the complexities that have led to cycle racing being described as 'chess-on-wheels', and feel i have an appreciable level of understanding of the ins and outs of the sport as applied to the grand tours, there are still bits i do not discern. there is, of course, the continually inexplicable ability of even the most lowly of domestiques to ride at speeds i could scarcely equal, even when heading downhill with a galeforce tailwind. but there are habitual practices, regularly to be seen during all manner of stages.

i can perhaps illustrate that of which i speak, by describing a situation that occurred during the brief trip home from toasties and coffee at debbie's on sunday. though the wind direction was initially in our favour, my heavily occupied weekend, involving as it did, two lengthy, late night gigs, and a long walk through port ellen village with a pipe band snare drum on saturday lunchtme, took its final revenge, graphically reflected in my derisory speed along uiskentuie strand.

thankfully, another velo club member appeared to be feeling much the same, so at least i had company in my struggles.

the two front runners, heading for bowmore, were barely to be seen in the distance, but a third member of the sunday peloton appeared to have taken pity on his straggling companions, riding just out of reach for most of the trip. we assumed that his apparent tardiness was being presented as succour to the downtrodden, awaiting our reaching his rear wheel prior to increasing speed and eventually dragging us back to the leading two.

the flaw in that cunning plan, if indeed that's what it was, and one that surely bears comparison with the professionals, albeit at higher speeds, was the physical state of my co-conspirator and self. had the fellow increased his speed as we arrived close to his rear tyre, i fear he would have been sadly disappointed, for neither of us had sufficient energy to follow his echelon.

and though i am aware that the professionals are a different species to either you or i, surely their physical attributes, though considerably greater than ours, work at scale? so the tiredness that i might feel struggling along at 30kph, they too will experience, but possibly at nearer 70kph. in which case, when the domestiques sent forth in the opening kilometres are caught close to the finish line, a) how can they possibly have sufficient energy to be of any use whatsoever? and b) any team leader who has sat behind his fellow team members, setting a frightening pace on flat or gradient, has ridden at the same speed as have they; so how can he or she possibly have any energy left to keep pace with those up front?

i understand that, on the flat, riding behind a team of domestiques will provide drafting facilities, leaving the last rider in the line with the potential to save considerable exertions, but i fail to understand how the same process works on steep gradients, where the tempo is not one where sheltering provides any tangible benefits from the negligible aerodynamic drag. it's safe to say that none of these strategies seem to benefit yours truly at any point of a weekend bike ride.

i won't be giving up the day job.

tuesday 25 july 2023

twmp ..........................................................................................................................................................................................................