don't you just love it when a plan comes together?

etape loch ness

several years ago, a manager at on of islay's prominent businesses decided to ride 100 miles around the island to raise money for charity. several of you who cover such a distance on the sunday ride will greet this news with 'big woop', but in the light of his distinct newbie status at the time, this was a not inconsiderable undertaking. one other gent, perhaps marginally fitter, but not necessarily a cyclist, plus myself offered to accompany him on this journey, partly for moral support and partly, in my case, for technical support.

etape loch ness

the route involved visiting each of the island's distilleries to provide a more unique flavour to the occasion, though in the majority of instances, this simply involved saying hi, before carrying on. one or two others joined us for short portions of the ride, but ultimately the three of us finished in bowmore in the early evening after only a modest amount of cajoling on my part. sure, it's a distance others have covered in a far shorter time, but all credit to the fellow, having never covered anything like this distance prior to this particular century ride. and on the continuing plus side, he raised quite a sizeable sum for charity.

etape loch ness

knowing that, although parts of the ride were purgatory, overall he'd enjoyed the experience, i encouraged him to join us the following weekend for the sunday ride. very much in his favour, he did precisely that, but dropped off the cycling radar shortly afterwards. rumour had it that golf may have been the insurgent that kept his saddle in the bike shed.

fast forward to last year's ride of the falling rain and the presence of his teenage nephew, a lad who was keen to participate in at least a portion of this annual bike ride, persuaded him to tag along in order to keep an eye on the youngster. his nephew turned out to have quite a propensity for cycling, a fact which brought his uncle to realise that, in fact, he rather enjoyed the experience himself.

etape loch ness

once more, i tried the old, 'why not join us on a sunday?' ploy in a somewhat obvious move to bolster the weekly peloton. this time, the idea seemed to have clicked; his presence became a regular feature at debbie's on a sunday morning. a few weeks past, i pointed out that not only had he decided not to renew his golf club membership, but decided to purchase himself an even better bicycle than had brought him to regular velocipedinal joy in the first place.

don't you just love it when a plan comes together?

but it gets even better than that. in order to provide a carrot for regular attendance, he had, last year, signed himself up to ride the etape loch ness cycle sportive which takes place next sunday, 24 april. as it turns out, that carrot was unnecessary; in the interim he has become a much fitter (and lighter) fellow through his own unaided efforts, so much so that it's often a struggle to hang onto his wheel both on the flat and the inclines.

etape loch ness

so if there are any others in the more remote parts of the world where the sunday peloton numbers steadfastly remain in single digits, don't give up. continue to do what you do and always look happy even when the going is less than enticing. riding a bicycle on a regular basis is probably the finest form of proselytising we have at our disposal. mind you, it always helps if you have a pensioner like the mighty dave to as a perennial inspiration.

for those riding the etape loch ness next sunday, watch out for the chap on a green and white cannondale. just follow his wheel.

etape loch ness

monday 18 april 2016

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the bicycle colouring book. journey to the edge of the world. shan jiang. laurence king publishing softback 144pp illus. £12.95

the bicycle colouring book

read any contemporary training manual and somewhere in the confusing plethora of words entreating you to maximise your potential, will be a chapter discussing the art of rest. i'd be willing to bet that a sizeable percentage of bike riders tend to skip that chapter and move onto the one about how many calories can be scoffed after the average training ride. let's face it, in the world of semi-competitive bike riding, we're just not good at resting.

which of us has spent an idyllic sunday afternoon lazing on the sitting room sofa, sleeping all the way through every episode of 'real housewives of atlanta', only to rise at tea-time claiming a powerful feeling of athleticism surging through those rested muscles? i guess not.

the trouble with serious rest, the sort of thing that has to be timetabled and dwelt upon with every ounce of concentration that can be mustered after finishing the final article in the last issue of rouleur, is that it amounts to a whole lot of nothing. and while we're enduring this monumental nothing, there's the distinct impression that we're not really doing very much. which, of course, we're not.

the bicycle colouring book

the explanation as to why rest is a necessary part of any training programme, though perfectly rational, still seems like the first reading of christmas humphrey's introduction to zen buddhism. in other words, as inscrutable as it gets. but after spending a day or two straining every sinew in the pursuit of satisfactory fartlek (whatever gets you through the night), those sinews and muscles will have developed micro-tears. it's how the body repairs those tears that determines their eventual strength of character.

and the only way to permit the repair process the laxity it requires, is to rest. which sort of brings us back to square one. with what is a potentially honed athlete to occupy him or herself while the state of rest gets to work?

if this part of the week's timetable happens to coincide with one of the spring classics, then eurosport or sporza will undoubtedly fit the bill. then there's always the option of a grand tour, or even a dvd of last year's ronde van vlaanderen. suddenly those cracks in the firmament seem less fissure-like than was once the case. however, the nub of the problem is likely to be the total inactivity engendered by simply watching the tellybox. an activity that can still be filed under the heading of rest, yet keep you occupied throughout, is the current trend for adult colouring books.

the bicycle colouring book

granted, there are more than just a few on offer; even the branch of w h smith at buchanan bus station carries more than just a few for choice. but in the sense that this colouring ought surely to continue the psychological part of training, would it not be more appropriate if those pictures for colouring were in some way related to the bicycle?

illustrator shan jiang has an enviable reputation for sophisticated digital illustration, one that has seen the light of day on recordings by faithless, amidst other high profile clients, but more pertinently as the cover artist for every issue of the ride journal to have seen the light of day from issue one to the present. in the bicycle colouring book he has produced 120 illustrations of varying complexity but left in their pristine line-art state to allow the resting athlete the luxury of choosing their very own coloured pencils, felt-tip pens, or should you bear greater artistic pretensions, perhaps a few tubes of gouache.

ostensibly, jiang's sequence of illustrations form a narrative, subtitled journey to the edge of the world. there's the possibility that you might have to own a particular brand of psyche to follow the twists and turns, but there's always the obscure possibility that the process of colouring in each bare illustration will make all a tad clearer than initial perusal might suggest. of course, there's no real necessity to colour in any particular sequence; picking and choosing is every bit as much fun, in my opinion.

the bicycle colouring book

i cannot deny that, in washingmachinepost croft, time is of the essence, leaving few minutes spare to colour in some pictures. in my case, the bicycle colouring book is one that i'd be likely to take on holiday to fill in those lazy moments in the sports plaza, while taking the occasional sup of cappuccino froth. thus, between receiving my review copy and the act of typing these words, i confess i have managed only one and a half coloured pictures. in my defence, they are very complex pics, demanding substantial deliberation over which pencil to pick from the box.

and i probably ought to lean a bit harder on the paper. "it's training jim, but not as we know it."

laurence king publishing

sunday 17 april 2016

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the illustrations of eliza southwood

eliza southwood

i have a number of regrets about my years at art college, not the least of which is that i really wasn't very good. like many with artistic pretensions, school years are often those of minor adulation; generally speaking, during primary years, i and one other fellow tended to win any art competitions and share top marks in the class art exams. on reaching secondary school, suddenly i was thrown in with the best from other primary schools; still good, but no longer top dog. on reaching art college, my peer group consisted entirely of students who were, on the whole, far more creative and skilled than was i.

i am firmly of the belief that in order to succeed as an art student and subsequently as an artist, you need a singular vision, a means of describing that which inspires you to put pencil, pen or brush to paper or canvas. that, to be completely honest, is where my cunning plan pretty much fell apart. but one other regret is that i spent absolutely no time whatsoever drawing or painting bicycles.

eliza southwood

despite several years ostensibly at the cutting edge of printmaking, drawing and painting, i do not recall drawing even so much as a saddle, let alone an entire bicycle. surely, i hear you say, the time is right to remedy that situation? you would think so, but take a good look around you; with folks such as jo burt, richard mitchelson, taliah lempert, shan jiang and others, other than for the simple solitary pleasure of drawing, where would i fit in? plus, in case you'd not noticed, i've all these words to write every day. far better, i feel, to praise and celebrate the works of others in these black and yellow pixels than sully the world of cycling art with my own meagre efforts.

take eliza southwood, for example.

arrive at and you'd be under no illusion that her favoured subject matter is that of the bicycle. why?

"First of all I like cycling! I'm not a great cyclist myself, I just commute, but I follow the Tour, the Vuelta and the Spring Classics, and have an interest in cycling generally. What happened is that I started out with a cycling themed show at 'Look Mum No Hands!' in London, but I also like designing series of things, so I drew a whole series on the 'old time greats' of cycling.
eliza southwood "The show went really well; someone from the Victoria and Albert museum walked in and commissioned me to design a print for the V & A shop. From there I became known for cycling, and I carried on. I never get tired of drawing bikes. But I love drawing all sorts of things, like people and urban landscapes. Anything really."

but far from starting life with a career plan of becoming an illustrator, ms southwood trained as an architect before the pictures took over. the art college at which yours truly trained, shared grounds with a school of architecture, a location we frequently were required to visit due to their having superior lecture theatre facilities. as know-it-all art students we would usually castigate any apparent artistic affectations demonstrated by the builders, often claiming that architects would struggle to draw curtains.

however, on the basis that eliza can quite obviously draw and particularly well at that, was it this nascent ability that drew her away from set squares and rulers?

"I only chose to do architecture because I was a bit worried that if I did art, I wouldn't be able to find a job after college. I grew up in an educated, but poor environment and was always conscious that I would need to support myself. I always wanted to do art originally. I painted and sketched all the way through my architecture career. It's true that a surprising percentage of architects can't draw. When I was an architect, I was always asked to draw the 'artist's' impression of whatever building we were designing at the time."

eliza southwood

reduced to two overly simplistic factors, an artistic career depends essentially on two specific factors: the ability to draw and an ability to deal successfully with colour. even in young kids it's possible to see some of them struggling with the latter when completing a colouring book. though the drawing is already taken care of, filling the empty spaces depends on their innate choice of crayons, felt tips or colour pencils and some rather obviously struggle more than others.

the most notable aspect of eliza southwood's visions, other than the obvious cycling connection, is her superb use of colour. is that of greater importance to her than the specifics of the subject matter?

"Possibly, but everything is connected. I am obsessed with colour and I spend hours trying out colour combinations. If you show me a colour, I know exactly how to mix it. However, looking at my ink box in the studio, I see that I tend to use the same colours over and over again. One thing you won't catch me with is neon. Even if it's in fashion!"

an art college education is designed to train the prospective artist in the myriad techniques available at their fingertips to allow the best means of expression. certain compositions pretty much suggest which they might prefer, if that doesn't sound too pretentious, but it's also true that an individual might find themselves favouring one over the others. does eliza have a favoured medium, chosen from print, painting or drawing, even though the first two could be arguably seen to depend on the latter?

eliza southwood

"I love them all the same I think. Maybe printmaking. I don't know; I just like producing stuff."

sadly, i am not in the habit of attending any of the world's major cycle races, being wimpish enough to be satisfied with watching the majority on the tellybox, or on the interweb. however, anyone who has stood for any length of time at the roadside awaiting the arrival of the entourage, will probably never cease to marvel at the speed attained by a rushing peloton. that speed, however, makes it all but impossible to sit and sketch those chaps or chapesses on the race bicycles.

it would therefore most likely be naive of me to ask if eliza's illustrations are done from life, though i imagine her portraits are. does she have a preference as to how she captures her subject matter?

"No, my cycling illustrations are made with the help of photos, either found on the internet or taken by myself. I usually use rubbish photos that are blurred or have bits missing and then make something completely new inspired by the photo. Or quite often I just make a scene up and then check body positions etc later by looking at photos.
"I do life drawing every so often to keep me on my toes with human anatomy. Portraits are from life unless they are children - then I just look at a tonne of pics of them and come up with something. They can't sit still."

eliza southwood

van gogh, despite a deserved reputation for his depictions of sunflowers was not, so far as i know, a renowned gardener. similarly, though cézanne spent many an intense hour in front of mont saint victoire, i am aware of no inherent desire to climb mountains. therefore, though eliza southwood displays an undoubted affinity for bicycles, is she a cyclist in 'real life'?

"Yes but a crap one. I own two Bromptons and a vintage Eddy Merckx Corsa Extra. I injured the ligaments in my knee recently falling off my bike and apparently the best recovery exercise is cycling! But I'll have to get the turbo trainer out; I'm not allowed back on the roads yet."

artistic endeavour of any persuasion is fraught with insecurity. i would still maintain that you can really only consider yourself to having arrived, when folks purchase your artwork becasue it's your signature at the foot of the canvas or print. if your work is bought simply because it matches someone's wallpaper, it might be better to hang onto the day job. one way round that is to assemble a decent portfolio of commissioned works, though that can admittedly lead to a curtailment of freedom of experession. does eliza work predominantly to commission, or does she prefer to be a more of a free spirit?

"I prefer to be a free spirit, to be honest, but the commissions keep coming in and it would be churlish to turn them down. I don't have a problem finding inspiration for my commissions though - I'm in the right job."

eliza southwood

it's the relative instability of matching an artistic career while still paying the bills that can often lead to something of a stagnation of output. a bit like scotland's jolomo, finding a successful milieu that everyone seems to love often results in an endless series of remarkably similar pictures along with attendant fridge magnets, calendars, diaries and similar tat. however, few artists of my acquaint seem keen to adhere to the businessman's need for a five year plan, perhaps a step too close to normality for most. does eliza southwood have a cunning plan for the future, or does she prefer to let the world of cycling dictate the next step?

"Right now I'm constantly busy, too busy to dwell on future plans, but it would be good to reflect on 'what's next?'. I'll definitely keep drawing bikes, although recently I've been asked to do a range of different things. Glamorous party people, whippets and cityscapes feature in my most recent commissions.
"We'll see!"

for more examples of the art of eliza southwood, visit

all images copyright eliza southwood. reproduced with permission.

saturday 16 april 2016

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castelli perfetto short sleeve jersey

castelli perfetto jersey

when the day job beckons, there is little in the way of decision to be made regarding which piece of software to use for which specific task. in my very early days of purporting to be a freelance graphic designer, the armoury was all but prescribed by the adverts in the media section at the back of the guardian newspaper. anyone who was bereft of skills in photoshop, illustrator and quark castelli perfetto jersey xpress was quite possibly wasting their time applying for the majority of available positions.

the thinking behind such statutory recruitment demands were pretty straightforward; prepare bitmap images in photoshop, vector art in illustrator and bring them all together in quark. the situation is pretty much identical nowadays, except quark has been supplanted by adobe's indesign page layout program, quark having become yet another victim of the notion that they had no viable opposition to world dominance.

so while decisions as to how the assembled graphics ought to be prepared for print was still ast the behest of the designer (a fervently hopeful me), the hammer and nails had already been prescribed on my behalf. though apparently somewhat restrictive, the ability to successfully meddle with ubiquity at least offered the promise of transferable skills.

transfer a similar mode of thought to the velocipedinal world, and potential shortcomings are not long in identifying themselves. for let us pointlessly assume that, on rising early on sunday morning, castelli perfetto jersey the directions on the wardrobe door feature jersey, baselayer, shorts. there could be a variation on this specific theme where the jersey bore long sleeves and the shorts were simply a euphemism for thermal tights, but i'm sure you're all aware of the climatic conditions that demand such a modified differential of apparel.

but we all know that cycling life isn't quite as cut and dried as the wardrobe list would suggest. in this case, i'm placing the emphasis on the word dried, one rarely bandied about in the hebrides at this time of year. when introducing the perfetto short sleeve jersey, castelli headed their descriptive text with the maxim 'you'll use it more than you can imagine' a phrase that conceivably owes more to castelli's digital media department than actual real life.

castelli perfetto jersey

of course, i could be wrong.

the perfetto has a philosophy not too far distant from that of the infamous gabba. it features a gore windstopper panel all across the front, including, i'm pleased to say, the taller than normal collar. i do have to admit that any garment that arrives with a big red windstopper tag attached to its full-length zip has already won me over just a tad more than it probably knows. windproofing the back of a jacket would undoubtedly have raised more than just a single quizzical eyebrow, even though i have experienced tail winds that might argue the toss.

castelli perfetto jersey

in the case of the perfetto, the black coloured back is constructed from the same material that built the armwarmers with which i accessorised in sub-zero windchill, except this time they left off the fleece lining to aid and abet breathability. the worry here, digital media's maxim notwithstanding, was that a jersey such as this with short sleeves would have a very short shelf life.

such as one weekend in may.

i have waxed lyrical on previous occasions as to just how much of a long-sleeve chap i really am, but that does not obviate an inherent leniency towards the shorter versions when cycling conditions might suggest. except mid-april, for me at least, rarely suggests less than cosy cuffs around the wrists. however, you may gauge for yourself the mitigating weather conditions that had me reach for a pair of castelli bibknickers rather than fleecy-lined tights. even the kappelmuur independent socks were only of ankle height. sunny days will do that to a fellow.

castelli perfetto jersey

despite david duffield's constant advice to protect those easter knees, its the upper regions that tend to feel the cold more than their frantically pedalling compatriots and thus in need of the wind being stoppered. along with those nanoflex armwarmers and a pair of bright yellow, long-fingered gloves.

it rarely takes more than a few moments of exposure to an atlantic headwind to adjudge whether effective windproofing is in evidence. i spent the morning pointing out to anyone within earshot that an all but freezing headwind simply meant pedalling one or two degrees harder to remain warm; i like to practice what i purport to preach, during which i pretty much became a convert to castelli's "...more than you can imagine" proselytisation.

castelli perfetto jersey

the jacket's weatherproofing is belied by its light weight. it's very much a race-fit sort of jacket/jersey which feels a smidgeon awkward in front of the bathroom mirror, yet more like a second skin on the bike. i can only but admit that i have hardly tested the perfetto's waterproofing; over the course of a few days in the saddle, i met only a light shower, one that convincingly peppered the surface with bobbles of precipitation, but it will take rain of a more serious nature to verify the upper levels of water repellency. i might need to get back to you on that one. there was never the opportunity to experience the protection offered by a lengthy drop tail just below the capacious three rear pockets.

castelli perfetto jersey

so, no matter if that note on the wardrobe falls to the floor next time mrs washingmachinepost tidies its inner sanctum, i have a stylish wind and weatherproof garment that will comfortably see me through until british summertime ends in october. granted, there will be few occasions when i might dispense with the services of those nanoflex armwarmers, but that only plays to my inner desire for long sleeves, with the flexibility to allow my arms to ride al fresco when conditions allow, or i need to impress brian smith.

castelli's perfetto jersey retails at £125 and available in blue (as reviewed), red, black, lime green or green. sizing extends from small to xxxl. the castelli range is distributed in the uk by saddleback.

castelli perfetto jersey | saddleback

friday 15 april 2016

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challenge strada bianca 700 x 33c road tyres

challenge strada bianca clinchers

i can laugh about it now, but in the dark years of innocence (read: not a clue about bicycles), on the basis that someone might have said that time-triallists preferred narrower rubber to speed them on their way, i purchased a not-very-expensive pair of 700 x 19c tyres. fortunately for both my sanity and street-cred, i recall very little about these other than the fact that i had few fillings left after the first rides and they had a propensity to puncture disturbingly frequently.

the fact that i remember not one ounce of evidence that they made me any faster, meant that the exercise was, thankfully, never repeated.

challenge strada bianca clinchers

along with the rest of the great unwashed, i reverted to the standard (that was then, this is now) 23mm width. the professionals had conclusively proved that this was the optimum width for winning one day races and three week stage events, whether constructed in the form of a lowly clincher even of some repute, or the more ubiquitous tubular.

however, i did hear on the grapevine that a certain professional preferred, nay demanded, that the tubs on his carbon bicycle measure a more impressive 24mm. as long as the label on the sidewall bore witness to this demand, vernier calipers were not required. whether this was the impetus or not, or maybe a gentle nudge from the more prominent carcass constructors, those 23mm have all but totally morphed into a 25mm width, so much so that such is now accepted as the norm, whether making a living from cycling or posing on a sunday morning.

challenge strada bianca clinchers

this is a width that used to be treated with disdain; a width that was found only on bargain basement machinery, featuring a wire bead, naff tread and no definable label that could be centred over the valve. in fact, if truth be known, those in possession of such rubber were most unlikely to even be aware that the label should be centred over the valve in the first place, on pain of death and exclusion (but not necessarily in that order.)

all the above was worthy of our deliberations with the rather obvious exception of past sunday's race from paris to roubaix. those cobbles, even cogently arranged to bear a remarkable semblance of a road, can bring only impending destruction to any tyre that dares to tread (see what i did there?). that, in essence, is why the challenge tyre company offer their 700 x 28c paris-roubaix rubber. sadly, a large proportion of today's carbon fails to allow sufficient clearance to fit such a healthy dollop of rubber. though i would scarcely see fit to demean northern france's cobblestones by comparing them to the parlous state of many of britain's roads, there's a growing realisation that the days when the two meet in the middle cannot be to distant.

challenge strada bianca clinchers

i have a pair of the paris-roubaix tyres fitted to my colnago master; the clearance up front is fine, but the brake bridge on the rear triangle is just a tad too close to breathing distance of the herringbone tread. so, you might ask, why in all that we hold sacred, have challenge brought to market a tyre that vyes with the maximum width allowed in cyclocross? in fact, in the absence of a road bike that could even look at such a width, i have fitted just such a pair of challenge's strada - bianca tyres to my ibis hakkalugi.

and have i got news for you.

challenge strada bianca clinchers

i cannot tell a fib; when fitting the paris roubaix rubber, my thumbs had to spend a week in hospital. an extra five millimetres of similar rubber was not the gleeful promise to which i was looking forward. the ibis is rather attached to its wheelsmith aero clinchers and i had already placed the paramedics on standby prior to removing the strada bianca's from their display tags. in a surprising twist of fate, the latter slid onto the wheelsmiths with ease and in less than twenty minutes i was able to admire the style with which the hakkalugi had been bestowed.

though i may be guilty of a modicum of hyperbole, these are the absolute shizzle. not wishing to provide them with the easiest of initiations, i rode over the agglomeration of patched tarmac and potholes we like to call roads. these tyres eat cattle grids for breakfast. on my perambulation of loch gorm, sidling ever so close to the atlantic ocean, i passed fabian cancellara not once, but twice. at least i think it was cancellara.

challenge strada bianca clinchers

islay is nothing if not agriculturally inclined, the practitioners of which are similarly inclined to leave much of the day's travail all across the (sort of) roads. avoiding this is scarcely an option, but with tyres such as these, a devil-may-care attitude is very much on the cards. better still, it seems that a width of 33mm, ten millimetres wider than those we once considered home, has little if any effect on speedy forward progress. i confess that, while i'd hardly describe myself as fast, i was a lot faster than i'd expected to be.

challenge strada bianca clinchers

the label on the sidewall advises they be inflated to between 60-90 psi (4bar-6bar), but simon beatson of paligap (challenge tyres' uk distributor) suggested i go for the lower number, offering excellent trade-off between speed and comfort. the man was not wrong. the only real problem i foresee is an apparent lack of road bicycles with clearance for such wide (and tall) rubber. at present, i'm very much into riding my cyclocross bike for every conceivable situation, so i'm not that bothered really; the only road bike i can think of offhand that would probably cope is stephen shand's skinnymalinky, but doubtless there may be one or two others.

this pair have only covered a few hundred kilometres and unlikely though it may seem, they've not yet been rained upon, so i'd prefer it if you'd consider this an introduction, with the full biography to follow along in the fullness of time. meanwhile, if the 'cross bike is underemployed until october comes along, you might like to join me.

the challenge strada-bianca 700x33c tyres weigh 355 grams each and are available only in black with black sidewall at a price of £34 each.

challenge strada bianca 700x33c clinchers

thursday 14 april 2016

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hackney gt: the zen of the baselayer

hackneygt baselayer

it's phrase that's been around for a number of years; possibly more than either you or i are aware. the zen-like query "if a tree falls in the forest and there's no-one there to hear, does it make a sound?" it's the sort of rhetorical question that rears its head when the atmosphere becomes philosophical, along with 'what is the sound of one hand clapping?" and "where does my lap go when i stand up?"

as a sixth-year pupil at school, one of my undertakings by way of a dissertation for english was to write a treatise on comparative religion, a situation that incurred no small amount of religious research by a pupil still anguishing over the definition of atheism. in the days before the interweb was even a sparkle in the eye of tim berners-lee, that usually entailed a visit to the local library, where i was fortunate to find a book entitled 'comparative religion'

hackneygt baselayer

though i now hold a far more informed and respectful opinion regarding the very nature of zen, my introduction almost inevitably led to a not uncommon wtf? yet despite many intervening years of at least a passing experience of the japanese philosophy, i am no closer to answering the question relating to trees falling in unoccupied forests. it's sort of akin to schrodinger's cat; a postulation that could be both true and false at the same time.

the nature of these philosophical queries is, though you may not have considered it, oddly applicable to specific areas of velocipedinal life, in this particular instance, the humble baselayer. this comprises a garment often all but ignored when it comes to sartorial choice, inevitably due to its mostly concealed nature. more recently, due to the technical nature of most, it has become every bit as practical and desirable to wear a baselayer under a cycle jersey in both hot and cold weather. just think of the word 'wicking' and you're probably on the right track.

hackneygt baselayer

but this orphan of the cycling wardrobe, though possibly not excluded altogether when the choice is made for a sunday morning, suffers greatly from apparently bypassing the design department. not in the region of fit, you understand, but with particular regard to decor. having made a quick reconnaissance of thewashingmachinepost sock and baselayer drawer, i note that they are either grey, white or black, many with their labels on the outisde to prevent any untoward chafing where it would be most unwelcome.

yet how often have we espied advertisements in the monthlies drawing our attention to one or two stunningly applied graphics on jerseys worthy of our hard-earned? i cannot deny that the made in england jerseys currently available from london's hackney gt do not already fit this category, but what is particularly of interest in this east-end cycling emporium is the latest range of baselayers. rather than safely displaying their membership of the bland, breton greyish-blue hoops peppered with multi-coloured stars feature boldly across one performance aviator fabric baselayer, while its companions can be seen with small flowers and a pattern of irregular rectangles.

you do have to wonder why no-one has seriously invested in this sort of undergarment decoration before now. granted, you would not be insurgent in asking "why bother?" after all, short of a jersey-ripping incident in the peloton, no-one's ever going to see it. but at this point we return to the tree in the forest scenario. because if no-one ever gets to see my baselayer(s), do they have a pattern or not?

and well you might ask.

hackney gt s/s baselayers are formed from aviator performance polyester, made in england and retail at an eminently satisfactory £38

hackney gt

wednesday 13 april 2016

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zinn and the art of road bike maintenance. lennard zinn. velopress softback. illus. 465pp £19.99 ($26.95)

zinn and the art of road bike maintenance

"First things first, but not necessarily in that order."

it was the fellow who owned the post office round the corner. he had a fleet of not exactly high quality mountain bikes for hire. in red. and despite remonstrative protestations from yours truly, he wouldn't explain to prospective hirers that really, he'd prefer if they didn't ride his bikes along the beach at the big strand. because, as i'm sure you've realised, sand gets everywhere; more specifically, inside the hubs, where it cheerfully mixes with whatever's left of the grease lubricating the bearings.

that's how i came to be spending several days of my summer, sitting on the step of thewashingmachinepost bike shed, removing washers and cones, before scraping out that sand/grease mixture. once shiny inside, each side was refilled with new bearings and grease, followed by a repositioning of washers and tightening of those cones.

several of you may comprehend the drudgery of which i speak, but thankfully, it's a repetitive process for which there is little need nowadays. for starters, the majority of quality hubs feature cartridge bearings these days, protected from the majority of aggressive invaders by plastic seals. when they wear out, for whatever reason, 'tis but a simple matter of removing the cartridge and replacing. much quicker, a lot cleaner and, dare i say it, a tad more efficient.

"If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail."

zinn and the art of road bike maintenance

bicycles have been heading that way for a number of years, almost entirely due to the inveterate tinkering of a handful of the world's component manufacturers. i am on record more often than once, moaning ingraciously about several of those developments, mostly on the basis of 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it'. and entirely on the basis that no-one has ever paid any attention, i have been known to quiety relent. heck, i've been riding hydraulic disc-equipped bicycles since the end of november and have yet to turn into a pumpkin.

but, and it's a big but, without exception, review bicycles closeted in that selfsame bikeshed are brand spanking new and on which everything works beautifully. at least most of the time. were those machines to remain in my possession for a year or more, stuff would need fixing, which is sort of where things begin to get difficult.

despite my continued reticence to sanction the option of hydraulic discs on road or cyclocross bikes, i cannot deny that they work. but in order that they continue to do so, somewhere along the road, an amount of fettling is going to be required. that means i have to learn stuff, an all the more onerous situation on the basis that islay has no bike shop. nor does jura. and nor does colonsay. i'm not all that sure that mull does either.

zinn and the art of road bike maintenance

"Take care of the luxuries and the necessities will take care of themselves."

that means that quite a few of us hebrideans have no-one to turn to when things stop working. well, no-one but lennard zinn.

zinn and the art of road bike maintenance, now in its fifth edition, is a telephone directory of a book the cover of which gives credence to its importance within the do-it-yourself cycle community, to wit: "the world's best-selling bicycle repair and maintenance guide". even before that front cover has been opened, the breadth of its mechanical coverage is made manifest: carbon frames; 11-speed cassettes; electronic shifting; carbon wheels; press-fit bottom brackets; integrated headsets; through-axle forks and hydraulic disc brakes, amongst others.

fear not if the bicycle in your own shed is quite some distance from the cutting edge. lennard zinn has more than just a few years of mechanical experience related to bicycles; he's the guy who covers all the technical stuff for velonews, both in print and online and in road bike maintenance he is ably assisted by the illustrations of mike reisel and todd telander. these are all the better for being less than precise in their graphic execution, adding a more homely touch than either photographics or technical illustrations proffered by the manufacturers. they complement mr zinn's words to perfection.

zinn and the art of road bike maintenance

All the electronic devices are powered by white smoke. When the white smoke goes out, device is dead."

but while the illustrations will help you identify the myriad bits and pieces composing modern-day componentry, it is lennard zinn's step-by-step instructions that will get you from broken to fixed in the shortest space of time. it is also a handy method of ensuring any replacement stuff is not only compatible with that to which you hope to fit it, but just how to go about it. fresh from my own specific nightmares, there are comprehensive sections on how to cut hydraulic lines when installing disc brakes or replacing the old, along with that scariest of procedures, bleeding the little blighters.

however, towards the end of those 465 pages, the mood subtly changes from repair to construction, when lennard provides an excellent overview on how to build a pair of bicycle wheels. for an asking price of only £20, this is a bit like receiving a free gift.

even if you've no real intention of attempting to fiddle with any of the obscure parts of your bicycle, knowing where everything is and what it all does will go down a whole lot better next time you visit the local bike shop. in my experience, "i believe the rear caliper might be dragging slightly on the rotor." goes down a whle lot better than "it's making a noise."

not so much recommended, as compulsory.

"I couldn't fix your brakes, so I made your horn louder."

cordee books uk | velopress usa

tuesday 12 april 2016

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