i've had hundreds of letter and e-mails (well, ok, my reader mentioned it in passing last saturday evening) that the washingmachinepost has, over the years, become very road-centric to the detriment of any appreciable mention of mountain biking. and, unfortunately, i have to agree.
this is undoubtedly a result of the muddy fox custom having spent more than its fair share of months closeted in the bike shed with nary a kind word uttered in the passing, while lifting the colnago from its workstand to travail another few miles round islay's roads, such as they are. and it is this latter that causes me no small amount of personal embarrassment, since i write this from a distinctly rural location, surrounded by (muddy, at the moment) fields and more than several metres of unpaved dirt tracks.
when i think of my reader unhappily centred in the middle of tower blocks and acres of concrete (i'm exaggerating wildly here, but consider it to be artistic license), with a developing nervous twitch at the inability to simply step out the back door straight into pristine mountain biking territory, while i, who have all this at my beck and call, slog around clad in yellow assos top over roads that are fast becoming like offroad tracks.
this glaring omission - and you will have to search far back through the archives to find the last time mountain biking was mentioned with any gusto - was also brought to mind by the purchase of a rather super mountain bike mag recently entitled singletrack, which started as a website and then became a magazine and a website, albeit a quarterly magazine. this magazine, website, philosophy, call it what you will is rather unostentatiously but enthusiastically peddled by one chips chippendale, who some of you may have heard of over the years having originally surfaced to fame during the early nineties with a uk company called nti, who sold lots of really nice titanium bits and bobs for mountain bikes as well as bringing rockshox into this country.
anyway, having bough said publication to see what it was like and to see if mountain biking really was a boring, tedious and predictable as mbuk (mint sauce notwithstanding) portrays month after month - which it has been doing for a commendably long time - or whether i had been missing something all through these years of drooling over carbon fibre brake levers and ksyrium wheels.
and the answer is definitely maybe. i haven't been totally oblivious to other forms of cycling through colnago tinted glasses - oh, no, those nice people at 4130 publishing continue to send me regular copies of dirt (a well designed magazine concerned with the rather over the top, in my opinion, pastime of downhilling on machines akin to motorbikes with the engines removed. each to their own i suppose), and ride bmx magazine which continues the same excellent trend in graphic design (if only the comic would take note - their redisign of about a year ago still grates on the eye) and deals with all aspects of bmx riding. now since britain's new kid on the block with the track team, jamie staff, rides a bmx for haro, then this may well be a portion of cycling worth keeping an eye on.
however, these publications aside, i exist on a diet of eurosport, duffers, cycle sport, procycling and the weekly fix of the badly designed comic. and while i haven't yet plucked up the courage of my wavering convictions and taken the muddy fox out for some mud plugging (i could always ease the conscience by calling it cross training), i have ordered a copy of cycling plus, which is halfway between a mountain bike mag, a road bike mag and something that the ctc would like us all to read.
they say that everything moves in circles and at the moment i've reached the beginning/end of mine, since my first proper bike after finishing college and moving into the real world was a ten speed racer (nirvana), i am back where i started, though the current offering is an eighteen speed racer and a darned sight more expensive than the first effort i had.
so, despite my self acknowledged lack of offroad miles, i am keen to exploit my rurality (is there such a word?) and take a bit more heed of mountain biking in thewashingmachinepost (would ernesto, if you're listening, care to send over a cf2 for test?), so that it can return to its premier position in the world of cycling trivia and not just road bike trivia.
Remember, you can still read the review of 'the dancing chain' the utterly excellent book on the history of the derailleur bicycle by clicking here
any of the books reviewed on the washing machine post can probably be purchased from amazon.co.uk or amazon.com
as always, if you have any comments on this nonsense, please feel free to e-mail and thanks for reading.
this column almost never appears in the dead tree version of the ileach but appears, regular as clockwork on this website every two weeks. (ok so i lied) sometimes there are bits added in between times, but it all adds to the excitement.
on a completely unrelated topic, ie nothing to do with bicycles, every aspect of the washing machine post was created on apple macintosh powerbook g4, ibook and imac computers, using adobe golive 5 and adobe photoshop 7. needless to say it is also best viewed on an apple macintosh computer.