flexiseq active joint lubrication

flexiseq active

there are surely few amongst us who do not suffer from intermittent aches and pains, not all of which are necessarily the result of riding our bicycles. with the exception of those who do so for a living, the majority of us have non-cycling day jobs and nowadays most remunerative toil involves sitting in front of a computer for at least a part of the day. no matter how many adjustments can be made to the seats on which we place ourselves, there's always the clear and present danger that we'll sit in a less than optimum position and thus incur aches and strains without really trying.

then there's the flipping gardening; i am convinced that whoever designed the black and decker strimmer never had cause to use one prior to it being sold at b & q for a discounted price. i am luddite enough to own a push-mower and though the croft features a postage stamp-sized portion of grass, i seriously believe that it is worth the price of admission in place of a gym membership. i'm afraid i leave any necessary weeding to mrs washingmachinepost, since she is better able to identify the differences between weeds and flowers.

but who would be less than man or woman enough to admit that any aches and pains were not acquired in the heat of battle, sprinting for the 30mph signs at bruichladdich village? far more admiration and brownie points can be gained by limping into the office on a monday morning, claiming to have strained a thigh muscle just at the point when both hands were held aloft (carefully avoiding the fact that i cannot ride with both hands distant from the handlebars).

strained muscles are one thing, but joint pain can be a darned sight more annoying, for it is a form of uncomfortable irritation that seems to hang about far longer than sore muscles, which quite often seem to cure themselves overnight. add to that the fact that sore muscles are often indication of some serious effort, the very thing that we'd wear as a badge were it possible so to do.

personally, my bête noir is the left elbow. there could be any number of reasons for this recurring annoyance; the most likely is a propensity to over-reach myself when practising drum rudiments. not that i intend to bore you with the finer details, but i personally favour tradional-grip as practiced by buddy, gene, vinnie and weckl, but without any of the ability demonstrated by the above. switiching to matched-grip seems not to lessen the nagging pain by any desirable amount, but then, i'm probably not doing so for a favourable length of time.

this particular ailment seems magnified when riding bicycles with shorter than 130mm stems and for those who haven't noticed, the majority of bicycles sold as complete entities seem to favour ten millimetres fewer than that. it's a discomfort that seems rarely, if ever, to afflict my right elbow, a fact that simply adds to the iniquity. however, though i have not sought medical treatment (it's more irritating than life-threatening), i think i might well have found a drug-free solution.

flexiseq active comes as a gel in a 50 gram tube and subheads itself as joint lubrication therapy. though the velo club has yet to instigate drug testing after the sunday morning sprint, for those of you who suffer joint pain but also race, this would appear to be a solution worth considering. application is simply a case of spreading the gel over the offending joint without actually rubbing it in (remarkably hard to stop yourself doing) and leave it uncovered for at least ten minutes.

i practised this particular regime twice per day over the course of a week and though the pain has not disappeared entirely (i cannot deny that i still have a tendency to overdo the paradiddles), it has certainly substantially diminished. the box claims that flexiseq active is clinically proven, a claim with which i would find it hard to disagree. if this sort of injury/affliction is one with which you can identify, i'd recommend getting yourself a tube of flexiseq gel and (hopefully) curing thyself.

the cost of a tube of flexiseq active would appear to be around £16.50 - £18.50 depending on where you decide to purchase, but on the basis of its apparent effectiveness, it's a small price to pay, especially when you consider how expensive bicycle components are these days.

flexiseq active gel

monday 4 july 2016

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nice rack

bike rack at debbie's

while the majority of the velocipedinal world was sat in front of the telly box on saturday, watching the start of the race i promised not to mention, i was on my bicycle, demonstrating dedication to my art, churning into a headwind and experiencing frequent soakings by virtue of frequent torrential showers. though i confess i'd have been happy to do precisely the same purely for the joy of cycling, in point of fact there was purpose to my mission. with particularly attractive wood surrounds to the interior of our lovely and efficient double-glazing on the croft, there was need of effective varnishing to keep it that way, so i rode the five miles to buildbase to purchase a tin of satin finish.

make note of the retailer mentioned above, for i will return to them in due course.

on the return journey, naturally enough into a headwind, the rain was a tad fiercer than on the outward leg and my timing co-incided with the traffic arriving off the lunchtime ferry. the bulk of scotland's schools commenced their summer holidays on friday past, leading to a notable influx of visitors to the island, many of whom had festooned their cars with bicycles, either up top, or hanging precariously off the back.

bike rack at debbie's

i believe i may have made mention once before, but in my early years on the isle it seemed that many visitors dressed themselves in the finest waxed cotton that barbour had to offer, presumably in the mistaken assumption that one ought to dress in such a manner when one is in the hebrides. but this is the modern world; while barbour clothing might still be thought of as fashionable around these parts, life has moved on and the must-have accessory these days seems to be those bicycles on roofracks or tailgate racks.

oddly enough, we seem never to meet those potential cyclists on the road.

as evidence for the prosecution, last saturday i was partaking of my usual circumambulation of loch gorm, a route that takes me past saligo bay on islay's atlantic coast. it makes for a particularly enjoyable bike ride, given the scenery and the almost total absence of onerous gradients. if you ever visit for a cycling holiday, i'd thoroughly recommend that you ride the selfsame route. however, saligo bay is a particularly popular spot for tourists; it has a pleasant expanse of golden sand bordered with extensive dunes which offer the more active amongst you some fine walking, should such be your mojo.

yet, parked at the entry gate to the bay (it's also farming ground) was an audi suv (they're also compulsory) with three road bikes starpped to the roof rack. my question would be why anyone with such capable machinery would have driven to a location that is particularly amenable by bicycle? this leads to the supposition that those three road bikes were probably purchased from the same dealer who sold the audi, as a desirable accessory that need not actually be removed from the roofrack.

bike rack at debbie's

racks, however, feature greatly in the lives of today's cyclists. not too many years ago, the council installed several bicycle racks in bowmore main street, allowing those who do actually ride their bicycles when on holiday, somewhere to park while gathering sustenance in the local averagemarket. or perchance purchasing a copy of the local paper. disappointingly, for both the velo club and the velocipedinally peripatetic, such a facility has been conspicuous by its absence from the patio outside debbie's café

such an obvious omission has meant that we have occasionally made nuisances of ourselves by leaning our bicycles against the outside tables, much to the consternation of those intent on an al fresco cup of coffee and a slice of carrot cake. this situation, i am pleased to announce, has now been remedied by the generous supply of a not insubstantial bike rack from the nice folks at buildbase.

thus, on each and every sunday morning, both prior to and after the weekly bike ride, an impressive array of bicycles can be seen resting against tubular steel rather than tabled wood, an improvement for which we are truly grateful.

sunday 3 july 2016

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thank you mr buildbase.

in the driving seat

team sky ford mustang

it appears to be the current telephone scam. following on from incessant calls regarding unclaimed ppi, or an accident at work that wasn't your fault, a gentleman of foreign extraction phoned just the other evening to enquire if i recalled the car accident i'd had around two years ago and the subsequent damage to my vehicle. of course, i realise the gent was only doing his admittedly dodgy job, but the rather obvious flaw in his cunning strategy was my lack of any kind of a motor vehicle. in fact, i haven't owned a car for nigh on seven years.

it would have been particularly incredible if his projected state of affairs had been true.

confronted with this salient evidence, he changed tack slightly to point out that perhaps it had been my wife's accident, obviously unfazed by my original point, that we, as a family, did not own a car. i have to give the guy credit for thinking on his feet (so to speak), quickly changing trajectory once more to include members of my immediate family. however, both children are grown-up, moved away from home and happily living their lives with their own cars at their own addresses. and thus, tautologically, unrelated to the phone number on which he'd called.

i like not having a motor car, particularly from the view of keeping tabs on my meagre finances. as those of you ensnared by a need for motorised transport will be more than well aware, the blighters have an uncompromising tendency to suffer a major repair bill just when you can afford it least. such expenditure is over an above the cost of keeping the darned things on the road in the first place.

it would be excessively gloating of me to re-affirm my personal independence from an internal combustion engine sat in my non-existent driveway, but there is little doubt that, should circumstances be agreeable, a bicycle is a far less onerous means of getting about and one that has minimal claim upon an innocent bank balance.

but one need only take note of today's stage of the tour de france (yes, i know i said i wouldn't mention the tour for the next three weeks, but this is the last time. promise.)

though there are only a smidgeon less than 200 riders starting the race, tv pictures often give rise to the assumption that there are almost as many cars and motorbikes on the road as bicycles. only two years past, a few of us from islay chartered a local fishing boat to sail across the water to northern ireland in order that we might witness the first stage of the giro d'italia. well before the race reached our constantly shifting vantage point, a steady stream of team cars drove past featuring all manner of aerials and mini-satellite dishes presumably checking the parcours and radio-ing back to the principal team vehicles sat behind the riders.

however, no matter the number of motor vehicles involved in the average three-week stage race, those engines oft advertised on the basis of their 0-60mph acceleration figures are hardly put under strain of speed for much of their working day. granted, i recall sitting in the passenger seat of the rapha jlt condor team car while mr herety emulated jenson button across glasgow city centre for a few laps, but those were exceptional circumstances (weren't they?) that's why, one must presume, motor racing exists.

though followed by a phalanx of blue-striped black jaguars in their first few seasons of racing, those have been replaced at team sky by an array of ford cars for 2016. with the amount of tv coverage currently available to the average professional bicycle race, it's no wonder that car manufacturers are eager to supply appropriately liveried team cars in exchange for a logo or two on the team jersey. should the team in question happen to have won the tour on more than one previous occasion and be on something of a promise to do so yet again this year, you can see the attraction.

but in the field of motor racing, though jaguar cars have demonstrated an ability to succeed in one of the world's biggest 24 hour races at le mans, it transpires that the ford motor company won the race in 1966 with the gt40 mark ii, doing so once again earlier this year (albeit in a different car). thus, they have high hopes of consolidating all this talk of victory by fervently hoping that chris froome will take yellow once again in paris, doubling their 2016 victory parade, so to speak, by celebrating 50 years since lucien aimar won the tour riding for ford france.

and while cycling dabbles with retro now and again, particularly with the promising upsurge in the number of national l'eroica events taking place, the motor industry is no different. volkswagen have already given us a modern-day beetle, fiat are enjoying the resurgence of the cinquicento and now ford have a brand new, shiny mustang with which to fill a few corners at ford dealerships across the world.

not entirely unexpectedly, a blue striped edition won't be that far from chris froome's rear tyre. probably during the time-trials, as its form-factor scarcely makes it the ideal car for regular stages.

ford motor company

saturday 2 july 2016

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it's the future jim, and exactly as we're given it

shimano r9100

i believe there is an ancient saying that gives credence to the notion that children of a cobbler are generally poorly shod, based on the suspect notion that the said gentleman will occupy his time repairing the footwear of others rather than take care of his own. nowadays, we'd likely refer to that state of affairs as commerce. a variation of this particular state of affairs quite likely affects those of a pelotonic disposition, to wit, we are all too busy riding our bicycles to concern ourselves with the sort of routine maintenance that would assure a well-oiled participation in the sunday sprint.

shimano r9100

it fills me with shame to admit that the colnago c40 that has been resident at the back of the bikeshed for most of the year, required brake cable replacements last year. in the usual manner of such things, i made note of this necessity as i left for the sunday ride, but had completely forgotten by the time i returned. this continued throughout the summer season of 2015 and until three days ago, that poor colnago was still bereft of a smoothly operating rear caliper. there is little doubt that, when faced with the option of fettling or riding, the majority of us would opt for the latter.

eventually attacked by pangs of guilt, i played hooky from the office for a morning, wrested each and every bicycle from its repository and proceeded to rotate top tubes on the workstand until all but the chris king rear hub had dutifully received a service.

shimano r9100

though all proceeded according to plan, with few, if any, mishaps apart from one or two dropped washers (where do those little blighters go?), while cleaning the chain on my colnago master, i questioned myself over whether it was due for changing. an innocent enough question in itself, but given that the only ten-speed chain i had in the box is labelled as a shimano ultegra, could i live with the shame if i fitted this to a bicycle that runs on a campagnolo centaur groupset? yes, the chainset is an fsa and in truth no-one will ever venture close enough to realise that those shiny links do not originate in vicenza, but i'll know. and you never know what i might say in an unguarded moment.

such a dilemma, however, has been rather squirreled into insignificance by the release of shimano's new dura-ace groupset, the snappily named r9100. according to japan's premier bicycle component manufacturer, the r9100 is 'the most advanced shimano groupest ever'. as if that was ever in doubt. but while the uci cogitates over the possible restoration of disc brakes in the professional peloton (and yes, the r9100 offers provision for those), shimano have banished discussions of the choice of chain to the far corners of velominati. if i might be so bold, allow me to impose the following upon your senses:

shimano r9100

'dura-ace r9100 (and r1950 di2) benefits from a new bluetooth-enabled e-tube app, allowing riders to download user profiles to multiple di2-equipped bikes and optimise shifting preferences from smart phones and tablets.' if that doesn't fill you with an overwhelming sense of dread, your approach to cycling is substantially different to my own.

it does not, however, stop there. with provision made in the new, uprated chainset for a power meter, the substantial chainring options on offer can be effected without altering the settings applicable to the metering. in and of itself, this does seem like a pragmatic means of accommodating that which has become commonplace even for those restricted to a couple of sportives each year. but then shimano go and kill the reflective mood engendered by the thought of unfettered watts by uttering those immortal words 'he system checking and firmware upload can also be operated via a smart phone or tablet pc through a bluetooth connection.'

i can only attest to being thoroughly grateful that those wonderful folks at belgium's magliamo saw fit to send me a review sample of their beautiful merino wool, long-sleeve molteni jersey. that puts everything into a more amenable perspective.

bluetooth indeed. | magliamo merino cycle jerseys

friday 1 july 2016

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portland design works bindle rack

portland design works bindle rack

i am generally of the opinion that i work quite hard at my cycling. even on sunday mornings, when the rain is falling and the wind is blowing, i stoically refuse entreaties from mrs washingmachinepost to pull the covers up around my ears and "just go back to sleep". i cannot disagree that there is something rather perverse about eagerly rising on cold, dark mornings, to spend a few hours wrapped in the finest weatherproofing that modern-day cycling apparel can provide, simply to churn through weather conditions to protect ourselves from which most of us have installed double-glazing.

portland design works bindle rack

and if that seems a situation that requires some explaining, then the fact that our choice of sunday morning routes is somewhat limited if we wish to arrive back at debbie's in time for coffee and cake is probably utterly inexplicable. yes, we can congratulate ourselves on an implicit degree of badassery, particularly throughout the winter months, all the while confident that, despite the coffee and cake, our waistlines, if not receding, are remaining static and the collective state of health remains largely positive.

but ultimately, there's still the nagging feeling that we're only going round in circles (a truism if ever there was one). reading the shop edition of the comic keeps up the fabrication that were it not for the day job and her indoors, we'd all currently be tapering our training schedules in preparation for those three weeks in july. and that new bike rack that buildbase have promised for debbie's outdoor area would be populated with team liveried pinarello, canyon and specialized carbon fibre.

portland design works bindle rack

you can perhaps see why we figure we're going round in circles.

there is, of course, an antidote to our restricted perambulations, one that has existed more or less since the advent of the first bicycles, but one that has recently become a tad more fashionable. i have just boxed up and returned a rather excellent specialized awol adventure bike, a steel machine that has carried me to the hitherto unexplored nooks and crannies of islay (i never quite made it to jura. next time; i promise), armed and potentially dangerous with bike luggage, bike packs and now an ingeniously engineered device all the way from portland city that is ready and willing to aid and abet my recently discovered exploratory fortitude.

portland design works bindle rack

i'm sure they won't mind me saying that they're a quirky lot at portland design works, if only for the process by which they tend to name their excellent products. where else, you may ask, would you find an alexander graham bell, a lars rover and a 3wrencho in the same catalogue? the fact that two of my bicycles feature a bird cage and an owl cage only serves, i believe, to underline my original point. however, the concomitant fact that each and every pdw product i have had the pleasure of reviewing has fulfilled its promise, in my opinion, gives them free reign to call stuff whatever they want.

which brings me to the bindle rack, a device that clamps to the seatpost and is suspended via a clipped, adjustable strap threaded through the saddle rails. though the brindle rack is scarcely wider than the tail end of your saddle, it is styled to carry bicycle luggage such as that recently released by rapha + apidura. though their handlebar pack features straps to keep it in situ, its shape and form factor make it admirably suitable to be carried on the brindle. of course, there is no need to avail yourself of a rapha+apidura pack; there are more than just a few brands on the market that would be happy to encase those weekend touring essentials.

though pdw have affirmed no maximum weight limit for the brindle, its overall size would seem to make it unlikely that normal touring constraints would be overly heavy. after all, this is the new dawn of riding far, but riding light. the rack's construction is of strong, lightweight coated aluminium that adds only but a few grams to the bike, with a removable, plastic coated centre web to support your tent or dry bag when loaded. there are further two webbing straps that will keep everything where it's supposed to be. the rack section is pinned to the seatpost bracket by two allen bolts that allow a modicum of hinging, ensuring a welcome degree of flexibility.

portland design works bindle rack

the only downside i perceived in the course of my adventuring related to the chunkiness of that seatpost clamp. held in place by two strong allen bolts and featuring a plastic gasket to prevent scratches or other damage to the post, its solidity and width created a tendency to rub on my inner thighs. though this was hardly an onerous level of discomfort, perhaps some curved moulding of the bracket might be effected to minimise this effect.

clamped and strapped in place, with a modest level of luggage aboard, no amount of half-assed chuntering across unkempt terrain gave any cause for concern. having slightly misjudged my exit on the corner of a loosely gravelled track, the involuntary hop, skip and jump that thankfully kept body and soul together had no effect whatsoever on the brindle or its luggage. which is, i believe, precisely as it should be.

pdw's bindle rack sold out of its recent pre-order, with main stocks arriving by mid-july. at present i've been unable to pin down a uk price, and with all the financial hoo-ha following the recent eu referendum, that might be hard to do anytime soon. however, the north american price is $88 (currently £61). a small price to pay for no longer going round in circles.

'take it easy. but take it.'

portland design works bindle rack

thursday 30 june 2016

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the invisible mile. david coventry. picador publishing hardback. 311pp £12.99

the invisible mile: david coventry

i have thoughtfully included an illustration below of the drawing about which i will now wax lyrical. i do so because on reading this quite astounding novel by new zealander david coventry, i identified parallels with frank auerbach's tree at tretire that simply did not go away, no matter how much closer i came to page 311.

a british artist of german origin, auerbach was born in 1931 and formed a part, however, briefly, of the so called bomberg school, an agglomeration of painters who are often identified by an early predilection for producing works in oils ascribed in heavy impasto (thicky applied paint). auerbach seemingly followed a similar technique whether painting with oils or drawing from life using charcoal.

it is something of a truism that artists rarely, if ever, describe their subject matter correctly, or to their own satisfaction at the first attempt. auerbach, in similar manner to leon kossoff, would simply scrape off the days' work from board or canvas, leaving behind traces of inscription which would form the basis for later continuance. the same applied to works in charcoal, where each removal of charcoal with a sturdy cloth or eraser, would inform subsequent re-workings, seemingly minimising the number of marks on each occasion.

thus, the illustration published below, describes a tree seen from the upstairs window of a house at tretire in hertfordshire. a series of drawings and etchings representing the subject originates from the mid-seventies. i am deeply impressed with how this drawing makes me feel, eliciting a deep admiration for auerbach's integrity and tenacity in reproducing the three-dimensional reality of a the 'real' world upon a tactile, yet two dimensional surface. the final work displays an impressive economy of marks describing one of the most fiendishly complex of subjects.

and in a similar manner to coventry's the invisible mile, i simply don't understand it. which, i might add, is an excellent state of affairs as far as i'm concerned.

the invisible mile, though essentially a fictitious novel concerning the 1928 tour de france, has its basis in fact. the main protagonist, or at least the principal narrator, is a member of the first english-speaking, new zealand-based team to compete in le tour. the exquisitely written narrative describes the monotony, hardships and gruelling daily toil imposed by a race that, at the time, was still ridden aboard heavy steel bicycles with nary a derailleur in sight. though entered as a team, there seems to have been almost an 'every man for himself' regime that would find today's lead-out trains quite beyond belief.

as coventry makes mention in his end note "While this novel is primarily a work of fiction, I have attempted to utilise historical data as much as possible, stepping outside or shifting the framework when need be."

in my experience, cycling novels, as an independent genre, tend to be less than successful, predominantly due to a tacit misunderstanding of the professional cyclist's mètier, or an attempt to be too overly technical to encourage enjoyable reading. though there may be one or two individually successful attempts of which i know not, the last fictional work of note would probably be that of tim krabbé's 'the rider'. david coventry has successfully negotiated many of the potential pitfalls, offering the reader a novel that easily transcends its denoted subject matter with a beauty of narrative, an underlying, yet seemingly hidden, complexity and a narrative that is as compelling as it is deep.

"I wave as I push off and begin my descent towards the floor of the valley from which I see the first big climb ahead under the new sun. I will catch my team by rising quickly, that is my plan. But before that I will crash and crash again and I will search the sky for shapes, and for clues as to what those shapes might be. I look back and wish I'd said what I think now, that I have in my head now; all stories are rhythm, and all rhythms return."

the story is, in essence, simple enough, detailing the racing tactics of the narrator and his team members across the distances and terrain dictated by a french tour of the late 1920s. there are distractions of a non-racing nature; there are deflections backwards to the world war that ravaged much of mainland europe in the previous decade. these are all intricately woven together as a verbal tapestry that veers exceptionally as close to tactile reality as does auerbach's tree at tretire. which conveniently returns me to the subject of comprehension.

tree at tretire: frank auerbach

in the majority of written works, fact as well as fiction, the final chapter invariably reconciles that which has preceded it. and though there were many intermittent passages of the invisible mile that had me somewhat confounded, i felt sure the last pages would serve as a form of enlightenment. in point of fact, chapter 31 served only to focus my incomprehension; i reached the final paragraph with no earthly idea as to the meaning of this supposed resolution. i re-read that last chapter three times in a vain attempt to unravel the obfuscation, but yet i am none the wiser

in my eyes, but not necessarily applicable to each and every similar situation, this is a truly epic end result. it bears all the hallmarks of watching kubrick's 2001: a space oddysey. (admit it; you didn't understand that any more than i did.) the invisible mile is a resounding triumph. easily the best book i have never understood with cycling in it.

"I open [my eyes] to see a mass of yellow nodding heads: sunflowers just outside of an unnamed town like a soft sea on the surface of the sun. Nodding heads like the cawing crowds that line the streets, that yell at us and summon us foward, nodding like they know something that we can't possibly know."

wednesday 29 june 2016

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circus. inside the world of professional bike racing. camille mcmillan. velodrome publishing hardback. 239pp illus. £30

circus by camille mcmillan

you probably have to blame calculators, or at least the advent of the little blighters. granted, they probably give such devices away free in lucky bags these days, now that the age of the smartphone is so endemic, but that doesn't excuse calculators from their initial destruction of workmanlike practices. i am, of course, referring to the age-old advice from our schoolteachers to ensure, particularly in the event of an exam, that we show our working. specifically this would refer to mathematics, physics chemistry et al, where the simple production of a final answer could conceivably be completely wrong, despite the process being by and large correct.

such advice could have been specifically applicable to me. i could quite simply have all my ducks perfectly in a row, yet manage to fail miserably at the final hurdle. but if i'd managed to scribble down the correct method of arriving at effectively the wrong answer, there may have been at least a smattering of brownie points on offer. aside from which, such indiscriminate marks on paper surely gave credence to the notion that the answers hadn't quite been a few blind stabs in the dark. (which, in truth, they might have been, if i'm perfectly honest).

i recall a short movie documentary about the work of camille mcmillan, one which impressed me greatly and not only due to the quality of his work. setting himself up on one side of the road, he rather calmly walked in the direction of approaching cycle racers, shooting frame after frame from hip-height.

i have received one or two e-mails of commendation from perhaps over-eager readers of the post regarding one or two of the images that have accompanied articles in these very pixels. while i'd be more than happy to accept such misplaced credit, in truth, the majority of photos used in my reviews are captured via the ten-second timer on the camera. if you saw quite how many of the resultant images feature absolutely nothing at all, you'd realise how few any of those that do appear can be attributed to any photographic skill i might possess. the words accident and design spring readily to mind.

camille mcmillan, however, is a photographer of a whole 'nuther order altogether. if i might refer to the 'shooting-from-the-hip' scenario above, the final photographs were of an order of magnitude above that which pretty much any of us could achieve, even if hasselblad or leica were to hand us everything they make. circus is a superb testament to the work of a photographer who was there at the beginning, when road-cycling transitioned from a niche to that of a larger niche.

in the normal strain of life, well over 200 pages of impressive and often artistically observed imagery would still require time to administer their persuasiveness; it's the very reason why bricks and mortar bookstores will always triumph over browsers and pixels. comfortably ensconced an a faux-leather armchair and accompanied by a designer cup of coffee, those waves of persuasion, colour and tactility can be allowed to field their best work. but circus proffers a secret weapon, that of a campagnolo toolkit emblazoned upon the book's endpapers.

anyone who can resist that form of coercion, is in the wrong department in the first place.

superficially, circus places itself under the category of 'coffee-table' book by dint of its generous size and heft when placed on your lap. this is not something you'd attempt to read in the bath. however, the above named category is one frequently employed to undermine or denigrate a publisher's over-production of a more simplistic undertaking. not so in this case. the expectant reader need only immerse him/herself in the early pages of six-day racing images to realise that for themselves. those set a precedent for all that follows.

but simply to flick through each art quality printed page, filled with admiration for a skill that few of us possess, is to entirely miss the point. for within these pages are a lifetime's work and hard graft, successfully demonstrating the veracity of the book's subtitle 'inside the world of professional bike racing'. as much as it would be incumbent upon yours truly to make a sub-list of what i personally find to be mcmillan's outstanding images, that would imply an intrinsic hierarchy, however subjective. in point of fact, it is their existence as a hard-won body of work that makes the whole greater than the sum of its parts.

not for nothing do the endpapers portray a robust toolkit.

mcmillan's collaboration with velodrome publishing has been the end result of what began as a kickstarter campaign to bring this imagery to the cycling cognoscenti. the cost of producing a book of this quality, however, proved beyond the limit of the substantial funds raised and velodrome publishing are to be warmly applauded for stepping in to bring mcmillan's finest work to our bookshelves.

to slightly misconstrue the opening words of david millar's foreword "When you're in it you don't see it. Everything seems normal because extraordinary started being ordinary...". as cycling obsessives, we have become almost inured to, or expecting of a certain quality of imagery supporting the world's most beautiful sport. it's a cultured attitude that can have us become naively blasé about that which is presented almost on a daily basis. camille mcmillan was (and still is) at the vanguard of contemporary cycle racing photography, along with one or two other notables. in their wake has arrived many an imitator, young and old pretenders purporting to say what they do not have the words to express.

circus restores everything to its original context. "You have to learn how to be part of what's going on and the camera has to be incidental to that."

camille mcmillan's 'circus' is published by velodrome publishing on wednesday 29 june.

tuesday 28 june 2016

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