the name of the game

superquaich cyclocross series

it is a little known fact, but every springtime, as the classics hove into view, outwardly i mark the occasion by switching to bib-threequarters and wearing calf-length socks. however, inwardly, i've changed my name by deed poll to gerben de knecht, purely on the basis that no-one called brian palmer was ever likely to be signed up as a classics rider.

i have on occasion remarked that, instead of heading south for several weeks' altitude training up and down tenerife's mount teide, team sky ought to board the death star and head for the hebrides. aside from giving credence to my patented headwind training system™, brought to you by echelon inc., surely so doing would be far more efficacious than a balearic volcano? but, having read several interviews with those well disposed towards the spring classics, fellows such as tom boonen, andre greipel and the lion of flanders, johan museeuw, it seems all too clear that these are races that mostly suit riders with a natural disposition towards cold, wet and suffering.

superquaich cyclocross series

it also seems to be of particular note that, in order to be particularly suited to these early season competitions, it is important to have a name that goes with the genre. for instance, you can't really imagine chris froome or julian alaphillipe taking the finish line honours at roubaix or liege. those races need riders called bram de groot, greg van avermaet or roger de vlaminck. i figure you can see where i'm at with this.

this situation is seamlessly transferable to the world of cyclocross, one that i mentioned to mrs washingmachinepost only yesterday afternoon while watching 'cross from the sandy parcours at koksijde. having realised rather late(ish) that the race was already underway, when i managed to find a rather excellent internet feed, mathieu van der poel was already well into the act of consolidating a substantial lead. at that point he was being pursued by, amongst others, wout van aert and lars van der haar. both of these are names i will be adopting on my next amberwall-tyred outing into bridgend woods on the specialized.

superquaich cyclocross series

yet again, might i offer a portion of earnest self-deprecation by pointing out that someone named brian palmer would be very unlikely to trouble the judges (as the late david duffield would have said) while valiantly trying not to fall off in the sand. but there's no doubt that, while cyclocross racing ought best to be contested between the appropriately named, there's no doubt that the competition series' should also adhere to a pertinent and relevant naming system.

as in many aspects of modern-day cycling, the uci have failed miserably by boringly referring to their season long competition as the uci cyclocross world cup, while their peers have the advantage of being more excitingly named superprestige and dvv trofee, inspirational even before the start-line lights have gone green.

superquaich cyclocross series

britain, and subsequently scotland, are not populated by cyclocross locations with devotional names such as boom, koksijde or zonhoven, but scottish cyclocross in particular is obviously possessed of the same, if slightly eccentric appreciation of the necessary components for a successful 'cross series. apparently in tribute to the aforementioned superprestige series, appears the scottish equivalent, the superquaich, the latter, tricky to pronounce part of the name referring to a shallow, two-handled drinking bowl, often presented north of the border as a winner's trophy.

this four race series commences on 14 january 2018 at meadowmill sports centre, followed by round two on 28 january in rozelle park, ayr. the third and fourth races take place respectively on 11 february on irvine beach and ending on 18 february at rouken glen (a particularly suitable name for a cyclocross venue don't you think?) i have a notion for attending the rozelle park event to show support for such a superbly named cyclocross series.

you know i'm right.

scottish superquaich series | superquaich trailer

monday 23 october 2017

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on the face of it

anthony hoyte's strava face

strictly speaking, a piano is a member of the percussion family because its strings are struck, rather than plucked. it would probably be a hard sell to convince piano players of my/your acquaintance that they have more in common with drummers than other instrumentalists in the band, but like it or not, that's where the classification falls. however, try as i might, i cannot find any musical category catering to suspension bridges. or the clifton suspension bridge in particular.

the latter is something of a landmark in the bristol area, playing host to susbtantial numbers of visitors each and every day of life. it transpires that queen mary university of london's current artist in residence, di mainstone has been working with engineers from arup and students from the university of the west of england to harness the frequencies measured by so-called bridge bows. mainstone and fellow postgraduate researcher, alesio milo discovered (?) that the suspension rods of the clifton bridge create a twelve-tone octave which they have rather fetchingly referred to as the clifton scale, due to each twelfth rod being half the size of its predecessor. i've included a link to the video demonstrating this sad, but true state of affairs below.

however, it's not only bridges that can turn technology on its head and create something out of a hitherto unforeseen use of modernity.

as three of us sat patiently outside debbie's café last sunday morning, waiting for the remaining members of our peloton to arrive, we were momentarily transfixed by the sight of one of our more intrepid members pedalling past our vantage point with his race face on. that particular sunday played host to a wind that more or less qualified as gale-force and our resident strava addict was utilising both its strength and direction in an attempt to nab one of strava's invisible-to-the-naked-eye sectors. thankfully, none of us were sufficiently interested to ask whether he'd achieved his goal.

in common with many who have been long-time facebook users, it would appear that certain members of the stravalite population have also tired of its prescribed functionality and are now on an endless quest to subvert its identity in any number of pointless, if momentarily amusing ways.

anthony hoyte who, at 49 years of age probably ought to know better, has managed to create an avowedly artistic work that bears comparison with peru's nazca plains in that it can only be seen from the air (so to speak), assuming you follow mr hoyte on strava (see image above). many a visual artist working in oils can spend month upon month creating their masterpieces, while mr hoyte reputedly managed his portrait of no-one in particular over the course of a seven and a half hour bike ride encompassing almost eighty miles in the saddle.

anthony compounded his societal infraction by saying "You need the concentration of roads to do the complicated ones, so I look for different cities across the UK. I made a special trip to Cardiff to do the face but other ones I managed to do in spare times on trips for work. I do quite a bit of research using route planners.
"It does take a ridiculous amount of preparation. I couldn't really put a time on it. I do it in my lunchbreaks on a rainy day, each one over a period of weeks, but spending an hour here and an hour there."

mr hoyte lives in cheltenham and plies his daily trade as an historic buildings consultant. whomsoever is responsible for telling him that he ought to get out more, now has a lot to answer for. to maintain both my sanity and that of your own, please don't try this at home.

photo courtesy of strava.

#playthebridge - clifton suspension bridge movie

sunday 22 october 2017

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café du cycliste claudette long sleeve jersey

cafe du cycliste claudette long-sleeve jersey

it has been said many times "sleeves maketh the man", though i do not deny that it was me that said it. the onset of autumn into winter is to be welcomed with open, long-sleeved arms, ready and willing to embrace the chill, whether those sleeves originated in the cote d'azur or not. there is nothing but logic behind this contention, for if we're brutally honest, why is it those of us adherent to pelotonic tradition continue to shave our legs, but enter the fray bearing hairy arms? is it not right and proper in this day and age of aero road framesets, that we play our own small part in progress?

cafe du cycliste claudette long-sleeve jersey

midst the guffaws of incredulity i can hear from the back of the room, might i point out that using the above as reasoning rather than an excuse is purely for superficial purposes. however, it seems quite likely. to me at least, that the civilian population will be sucked in by this confusion of pseudo science, leading them not to aggressively quote rule #5 in our face(s) when we depart from the bikeshed with arms shielded right down to the cuffs. one can never be over-prepared when it comes to pro-actively defending our status as hard men and women of the parish.

cafe du cycliste claudette long-sleeve jersey

but truthfully, long-sleeves are to be welcomed on the grounds that they are not armwarmers. the latter have been well employed over what has laughingly been referred to as summer. i cannot deny that, even on the long and winding road to paris, my arms were screened from the elements by just such accessorising of my short-sleeved jerseys. though the portent is that, when suitably up to operating temperature, the armwarmers will be summarily discarded or possibly worn in devil-may-care fashion scrunched up at the wrists, in point of fact they remained as they were at time of a chilly morning's departure.

cafe du cycliste claudette long-sleeve jersey

with the turn of the seasons, wearing a long-sleeved jersey no longer brands one as being of wimpish stature. i cannot be the only one to have seen even johann museeuw with sleeves that cossetted the wrist bones on occasion. but it is written that those long sleeves ought to form part of a jersey imbued with sartorial elegance as defined by velocipedinal virtue, the very epitome of which can be seen in the jersey that is claudette.

the cote d'azur's café du cycliste has a renowned reputation for attaching distinctly female apellations to its male designated cycling apparel of which claudette is no exception. try to think of it as a feature, not a bug, though i cannot deny a certain frisson to proceedings on telling mrs washingmachinepost that i was off out to spend a couple of hours with claudette, this would likely explain why i have been sleeping in the spare room.

cafe du cycliste claudette long-sleeve jersey

the long-sleeved claudette jersey is fashioned from a polyester and merino wool blend with a smattering of silk to give it that edge of luxury. it looks and feels nothing like any of the sportwool variants i have come across, but then neither does it seem to suffer from the iniquities of a predominantly polyester construction. it is the ideal garment for those chilly autumnal rides, though when push came to nudge, i cannot deny having concealed at least a portion of its hooped wonder 'neath a lucette tweed gilet. to be blunt, its cosiness does not extend to cold winter days without some reinforcement and it certainly need a waterproof covering on my first, persistently damp, outing.

cafe du cycliste claudette long-sleeve jersey

it's nice to see that even on the cote d'azur, there is room for a fourth, zipped security pocket in alliance to the obligatory threesome, one of which eccentrically features a buttoned closure. to move onto the front, a full-length zip that ends in a zip-garage could also be described not only as desirable but de rigeur, to continue the french theme. if i'm allowed a solitary criticism of claudette's personality, it is with the length of those sleeves. i'm aware that i have longer arms than the average velocipedinist, a fact manifesting itself in the frequent need for a 130mm stem on some of my bicycles. however, the majority of long-sleeve cycle jerseys seem to cater most amenably, but i found the cuffs on the medium-sized claudette to be about half a centimetre short of their target.

this minor misdemeanour could hardly be described as a deal-breaker, unless your arms are even longer than mine. when wearing long-fingered gloves, there was no chill-inducing gap to be seen, so no doubt me doth think i protest too much. the jersey is also available in white, but the in my agriculturally inclined abode, i thought it highly unlikely it would have remained that colour for long. that's unlikely to be a consideration in the south of france. i note that in café du cycliste's online lookbook, featuring their autumn/winter range photographed in rural scotland, there is no white garmentage to be seen.

the café du cycliste claudette long-sleeve jersey is available either in white or chilli red (as reviewed) in sizes xs to xxl retailing at £165.

café du cycliste claudette long-sleeve jersey

saturday 21 october 2017

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rapha city riding range insulated sweatshirt

rapha city riding range insulated sweatshirt

professional american footballer, benjamin russell junior's father (benjamin russell senior) fortuitously owned a clothing manufacturing company. for in 1926, when junior had tired of the itching and chafing engendered by his woollen alabama crimson tide team kit, dad was on hand to assist with the creation of something altogether less tactile. the loose, collarless jumpers that resulted went onto become the sweatshirt that we all know and love, advertising american universities that we've never even seen, let alone attended.

so successful did this clothing transformation turn out to be, that russell senior created a whole new manufacturing division to concentrate on production of sweatshirts which, in 1930, became russell athletic mills. though there have been one or two minor modifications throughout the intervening decades, the beloved garment has remained pretty much true to its alabama roots.

rapha city riding range insulated sweatshirt

however, in the 1980s it was less the sweatshirt that formed the basis of my daily attire, but a rather brightly coloured acrylic jumper. from whence this choice originated, i really cannot recall, but the attraction of wearing it until it eventually succumbed to disintegration, was principally at the proxy behest of probably the greatest bass guitar player in the history of great bass guitar players: jaco pastorius. on the cover of a long-forgotten music magazine was a picture of jaco wearing a jumper not too distantly styled from that of my own. despite my own leanings more heavily skewed towards the percussive side of the musical spectrum, pastorius was pretty much regarded as the epitome of cool; if the jumper was good enough for jaco (my reasoning went), it was more than good enough for me.

you will, of course, realise that nobody else was aware of this verisimilitude and mostly wondered why i couldn't have bought myself a less threadbare jumper. it's just as well that beauty remains in the eye of the beholder.

rapha city riding range insulated sweatshirt

as with pretty much every item of clothing, that brightly coloured acrylic jumper eventually reached the point where i was likely to be arrested for vagrancy if i ventured outdoors wearing it one more time. i have long lamented the demise of that garment, hoping against hope over the intervening years, that i might find a suitably styled replacement, but all to no avail. yet, it seems that patience may well be its own reward.

though no doubt yet another of my idiosyncracies, i have always found a delightful irony in the opportunity to review items from rapha's city riding range, predominantly based on the juvenile notion that i live at least 200 miles from the nearest city. why, i have pointlessly wondered, would you offer the connotation that any number of fine garments are directly conceived for the melée of the city, when my own experiences would demonstrate that they are every bit as worthy when worn in the rural idyll? it is, of course, a facetious rumination, for prior to the city-riding moniker, this particular set of clothing was known as the fixed range; in my own (and others') set of circumstances, every bit as invalid a description.

rapha city riding range insulated sweatshirt

however, the marketing of cycling garments that are less than appropriate for the speeding peloton have need of being categorised in some manner or other and city riding is no more nor less appropriate than any alternative i might think of by myself.

the tenuous connection with jaco pastorius, however, has been rekindled by the arrival of the insulated sweatshirt, nothing at all like the multi-coloured, stripey jumper as described above, but definitely the very garment that i will wear and wear until it disintegrates of its own accord.

the very description of this item as a sweatshirt may be playing fast and loose with the definition. it's certainly not a sweatshirt that benjamin russell junior would recognise; its collar quite defiantly predominates over the collarless original, while the chances of it ever becoming a shapeless lump of cotton are extremely rare. in fact, in this case, its burgundyness offers a quilted surface and polycotton side-panels, along with a quarter zip that can close the collar to keep chills at bay. it is endlessly cosy, but rarely too much so, the sleeves are of an ideal proportion to grab drop bars without exposing frail wrists and it looks every bit as cool as jaco's bass playing sounded.

rapha city riding range insulated sweatshirt

i have worn it 'neath a rapha shadow blazer, a rapha/raeburn thermal jacket and rapha's city-riding wool windjacket as well as a waterproof not originating from imperial works. in fact, i can think of few daily situations both on and off the bike in which the sweatshirt would be found wanting. lest you wish to keep your velocipedinal proclivities to yourself in polite company, the only outward nod to its perpetrator is a darkly reflective logo on the right of the collar. if you rest your chin on your right hand in the boardroom, nobody need ever know.

if there's any justice in the world, this will become as iconic as its 1930s predecessor.

rapha's insulated sweatshirt is available in sizes from xs to xxl and in a colour choice of dark blue, dark navy and rich burgundy (as reviewed) retail price is £140.

rapha city riding insulated sweatshirt

friday 20 october 2017

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woods. a celebration. robert penn. national trust hardback. 227pp illus. £20

woods - a celebration - robert penn

"...on an autumn mornings as the trees emerge from the mist, is to transcend centuries."

there is, but three miles distant from the croft, bridgend woods an agglomeration of leafy trees, once the 'playground' of the landed gentry and former owners of islay. those folks subsequently became the guardians of islay estates before selling the big house (now a hotel) to a former american airline pilot. islay house, added to by its several owners through the centuries, reputedly has 365 windows, but you will have to take that on trust as i confess, i've never had the effrontery to count them.

woods - a celebration - robert penn

the village of bridgend gained its name from the so-called dry-bridge that carried the track from islay house into the woods on the other side of the main road. this was reputedly to save the ladies of the manner having need of unwanted contact with the proletariat. subsequently, the latter were hived off to bowmore village in order not to sully the landscape as seen by those of title and social standing. an early example of ethnic cleansing by any other name.

some years ago, the bridge was unceremoniously demolished in an almost clandestine manner, presumably in order that no-one could object and bring proceedings to a halt. however, in mitigation, it had been the scene of one or two minor traffic accidents due to its narrowness and the ever increasing size of the articulated trucks servicing islay's distilleries. aside from that, the lords and ladies of the manner no longer had need of its services.

in a contemporary volte face, islay estates subsequently undertook some remedial work within the woods and opened it to the general public, its paths available not only to the many individuals who fancy a weekend perambulation, nor indeed, the myriad dogwalkers who enjoy its cloistered sanctity, but also the velocipedinally inclined. it is my favoured location to scrabble about on the specilaized 'cross bike of a saturday forenoon; its many linked gravelly and muddy paths offering an enticing parcours for the intrepid incompetent such as myself.

at the appropriate times of the year, those paths are edged with an abundance of snowdrops and bluebells, while the winter storms inveitably fell one or two ageing trees. sods law being what it is, these invariably fall across the very path on which i'd prefer to cyclocross; sven nys would love it.

woods - a celebration - robert penn

though i have frequented its leafy green-ness on many a happy occasion, i'm afraid that the trees on each side of the pathways are simply that: trees. i have over the years of my retreat to hebridean parts, attempted unsuccessfully, to learn a smattering of gaelic, identify even a miniscule portion of the island's famed and copious birdlife and maybe, just maybe, figure out just what type of tree has fallen in my path. i should probably have simply taken a photograph and asked robert penn.

strictly speaking, woods - a celebration has nothing whatsoever to do with cycling other than a means of cataloguing the background to my/our offroad cycling activities. however, robert penn is the author of it's all bout the bike, the story of his journey across europe and north america in search of the ultimate componentry choices for his bike of a lifetime. prior to his visiting portland, oregon, robert and i corresponded in discussion over that section of the book and i have watched with interest and respect of his knowledge about matters arborial.

and working on the perennial tautology, that it's my blog and i'll write what i darned well like, i thought it a wizard wheeze to review this excellent a beautifully illustrated book produced in conjunction with the national trust.

woods - a celebration - robert penn

the problem with trees, if indeed it can be classed as a problem, is that they are endemic to our existence. we pretty much take them for granted until autumn arrives when we can oooh and aaah over the resultant fabulous colours. the latter occupies chapter three of this four chapter book, dealing as it does with how trees and the inhabitants of our woods behave across the four seasons. impressed as i am with penn's knowledge and easy-going narrative, i cannot deny that the big attraction of this book is the sumptuousness of its illustrations, presented all the better for having been printed on quality paper.

penn's chatty style succeeds in bringing to life what many may see as knowledge purely incidental to 'real' life. travel back a few centuries in time and these are the sort of observations that would have been very much a part of real life, paying attention as to how the seasons pass and the effect they have upon the nation's wildlife and plantlife.

"Something that resembled a blue arrow had disappeared round a bend in the River Teign before I realised it was a kingfisher. This was my reward for rising early."

woods - a celebration - robert penn

however, were this merely a book of tree-based observations, it could arguably be passed over as purely subjective, quite likely the sort of acuity available to many, though it's doubtful the many could have encapsulated those observations with such a fluid narrative style. but robert penn is also the author of the book the man who made things out of trees; it's doubtful that any artisan could create anything without an intrinsic knowledge of the material(s) involved.

"Sap is the blood of trees. The fluid, comrising mainly water plus a few dissolved minerals, is taken up by a tree's roots from the soil. [...] Between the xylem and the phloem is a thin layer that forms a sheath round the tree, called cambium - a stem cell tissue that generates more xylem vessels inside it..."

all of us will experience some downtime between lubing the chain and straining to nab just one more strava sector, moments when rest and recovery demands we shut off from the pelotonic milieu and consider matters altogether more philosophical. when those moments present themselves, it's worth reminding yourself that trees are the new black. 'woods - a celebration' is an impressive publication, one made all the more impressive by the existence of a comprehensive index at the back. if you struggle to make the connection between trees and bicycles, just think of robert penn pedalling through the woods on his ultimate bicycle.

in the autumn.

thursday 19 october 2017

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chamois butt'r original and eurostyle

chamois butt'r

i think i may have been the last of my generation in a long line of generations who had serious need of a handy tub or tube of chamois cream. the first few pairs of cycle shorts that i purchased from the late lamented mel bentley's cycle shop featured real chamois leather, a material that, when new, cossetted my posterior in a fashion that would be unseemly to describe in a family blog. suffice it to say, feather-filled cushions could scarcely have offered greater comfort. after a single washing, however, those feathers had metamorphosed into jagging thorns.

the traditional method, as handed down from a long line of flandrians and tour winners, was to massage a quantity of bona-fide chamois cream until those feathers once more forced the thorns to beat a hasty retreat. though i can hear sniggering at the back from those used only to the synthetic pads that never get jaggy, at the time, no-one really knew any different, so similar to inflating your tyres and oiling the chain prior to a bike ride, it was simply part of being a cyclist with sporting pretensions.

chamois butt'r

in the light of the vast improvement to be experienced from the man-made padding that inhabits the darkest regions of your bibshorts and/or bibtights, questions have been raised in the house as to whether the days of the chamois cream tub have been usurped. no longer is there the fear of having one's bottom worn to the bone when undertaking a longer than usual bike ride. nor, indeed, the worrying concern that one ought perhaps to have been a bit more liberal in one's pre-ride applications. but i, for one, feel that the day of the chamois cream is still quite insistently with us, that until the world's cycling apparel providers offer pre-impregnated chamois pads, you can never have too much of a good thing.

chamois butt'r

if you would indulge me for a few more smatterings of minutes, might i once more return to the case of the bicycle chain, that which features large in my (and others') velocipedinal life, if not solely because i like mine to be shiny at all times. after the hurricane formerly known as ophelia blew past only the other day, few would argue that it's downhill to winter from here on in. and though you may not inhabit a land where cows, sheep and tractors roam the atlantic-edged plains, i'm willing to bet that your proximitous road surfaces are decorated with their own localised crap.

when push comes to shove and sun turns to rain, that crap exhibits an uncanny propensity to attach itself to the nearest bicycle chain it can find. one day, it will be yours. in the halcyon days of yore, when bicycle chains fitted every chainset known to man, not only was the cost of replacement minimal, but there were but five sprockets with which to contend, none of which took the links too far out of line. nowadays, however, it's possible to find twelve pointy circles that will augment your wheelset, acted upon by a chain that nears half the width of those of yesteryear. they now have their lateral work cut out and any miserliness in the cleaning and lubrication stakes will see a hefty replacement bill over the course of a year.

chamois butt'r

bums are nothing like chains, but slather them in wet cow sh*t for an hour or two in the pouring rain and force them to sit on a saddle and they too will feel as if they've been sat on twelve pointy sprockets. to lessen such impropriety, i'm suggesting that a suitable dod (sorry to be so technical) of chamois cream before you leave will retain a smile in the face of adversity for a lot longer than the more neglectful members of the peloton. and because we're pampered cyclists, we demand choice in everything we do or buy, chamois cream being no exception.

ticking every one of the boxes alluded to above is the latest range of creams from the world renowned chamois butt'r, the fellows with a penchant for purple and yellow tubes. i was sent three options from which to choose, though being not a member of the fairer sex, those options dropped to two.

having waxed lyrical for many a long year as to the heritage of the hebridean cyclist being perilously close to that of the flandrian, i cannot deny a distinct favouring of the continental style butt'r, mentholated as it is to chill the nether regions. granted, it's not a preference i intend to discuss at length within the sunday peloton, but already it has inculcated a certain smugness that probably borders on the annoying. for those days when the road surface is bereft of belgian toothpaste, or my commuting requirements are a tad less onerous, i have no compunction in opting for the original flavour.

chamois butt'r

the third option, specifically formulated for the alleged ph requirements of the opposite sex, is not one that i feel particularly qualified to review, so i have passed it on to a lady cyclist of my acquaint. while the efficacy of such preparations is hardly something about which one converses during the sunday morning echelon, the fact that no complaints have reached my ears would, i think it fair to say, indicate at least a modicum of satisfaction.

each tube of original and for her, retails at £15.50 per 235ml, while the eurostyle adds a couple of pounds to sell at £17.50. this means there really is no excuse either to ride sans butt'r or to restrict your choice to only one. unless, of course, you're female.

chamois butt'r is distributed in the uk by 2pure of edinburgh, who kindly supplied the review samples. | chamois butt'r

wednesday 18 october 2017

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brooks weatherproof cambium c17 carve saddle

brooks cambium c17 weatherproof saddle

whatever else the annual rouleur classic might achieve, for folks like me, it's the ideal place to network, as i believe is the preferred industry term. folks that i've been e-mailing or contacting on twitter all year can now be witnessed and spoken to in three-dimensions, when they can ask why on earth i said that about their product or perhaps why i didn't say anything about their product at all.

last november's edition was the very point in time where a conversation with ace mechanic and campagnolo service whizz, graeme freestone king, led to my being loaned a campagnolo neutral service bicycle for this year's hot chillee london-paris ride. though travelling with bike is undoubtedly a tad less iniquitous than was once the case, there's still the possibility that the citylink coach driver at kennacraig will inform me that the bicycle i have carefully packaged and taken from islay by ferry is not going on his bus.

while this is a relatively unlikely scenario, the fact that it could happen (and i have seen it transpire), means that my journey to paris could have been undermined at the first hurdle. add virgin trains into the equation followed by a stilted rail journey from waterloo to hampton court and you will recognise why the 500km to paris would likely have turned out to be the easiest part of the equation. being able to borrow a top quality machine for the trip made the whole enchilada far simpler than it might have become.

the only two items i was asked to bring along, were a pair of pedals to match the cleats on my shoes and my preferred saddle. the latter, adding but a few measly grams to my luggage, was a brooks c13 cambium carbon railed edition which, disappointingly, did not fit the clamp atop the record carbon seatpost. fortunately, the bicycle was already equipped with an alternative and quite comfortable saddle from a manufacturer that wasn't brooks. the cambium went back into my luggage and my bottom managed just fine, thank you for asking.

brooks cambium c17 weatherproof saddle

as coincidence would have it, the review bicycle currently residing in thewashingmachinepost bikeshed arrived with that selfsame saddle bolted to an fsa seatpost and though a highly respected make, it contrived, as it turned out, to make a fairly stiff carbon frame appear even stiffer. and that's where brooks re-enters the fray.

the cambium range, currently encompassing the c19, c17, c15 and c13 saddles, either with our without the cutout in the middle (the carve option) originated as an alternative to their substantial range of leather saddles. the original cambiums (cambia?) consisted of a cotton canvas upper, married to a gum rubber base, all formed around a metal frame and though the canvas upper was less affected by water than their trusty leather saddles, it would still absorb both precipitation as well as perspiration. unfortunately, neither leather nor canvas respond immediately to a wipe with a dry cloth when coffee time is over and done with.

brooks leather saddles frequently arrived with waterproof covers to keep them warm and dry when leaving them to their own devices in the great outdoors, but these never quite seemed to stay in place, or even be designed to fit the saddle on the bike. i figure that there are at least two of these brooks monogrammed edifices currently floating across the atlantic to newfoundland, having escaped in the wind while left sleepless in bruichladdich.

brooks cambium c17 weatherproof saddle

keen to address both potential problems in one fell swoop, brooks have introduced the weatherproof cambium in both standard c19, c17 and c15 fare, as well as the carved options. though i am possessed of a narrow bottom, i opted for the slightly wider c17 carved version which, albeit temporarily, replaced the stock saddle on my review bike.

there can surely be little doubt that a cutout in the middle of the saddle alleviates pressure where pressure is less than welcome, but overall, i have no scientific means of determining whether this is entirely favourable or not. after all, since the rider weight doesn't alter, that pressure conceivably has to move elsewhere. however, my posterior seems rather taken with the hole-in-the-middle arrangement and i can but report that the c17 in this case, made a stiff frame seem decidedly less so.

perhaps the next time i ride a bicycle that appears overtly rigid, i'll fit a cambium to determine if it's the frame or the saddle.

brooks cambium c17 weatherproof saddle

the waterproofing of this latest cambium variation has been achieved by replacing the cotton canvas with its verisimilitude crafted from nylon. this will doubtless raise the hackles of those who revere brooks as the curators of naturally-sourced bicycle seatery, hackles that will probably be further strained by noting the absence of the shiny metal frame featured on the original cambium models. it appears that brooks have replaced this with fibreglass reinforced material; less stylish, i'll admit, but in practice i noticed no real difference. and to those who find this to be the harbinger of the world's end, might i be the first to point out that most of you are to be found riding carbon fibre.

and that doesn't grow in fields. however, the purists might also wish to note that the saddle is manufactured in italy and not smethwick.

over the review period, the c17 weatherproof has had the luxury of sitting out in the rain, as well as being punished by perspiring buttocks, neither situation seeming to have had the cambium pause for distraught thought. if weather features large in your velocipedinal life, it would behove you well to outfit at least one of those n+1 bicycles with just such a saddle. the c17 offers a smidgeon more leibensraum than the c15, but less than the c19. however, if unadulterated speed in the search of strava sectors is your jam, a few less millimetres on the width may well aid those ambitions.

the brooks cambium c17 weatherproof edition retails at a most amenable £95 |

tuesday 17 october 2017

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