gold at the end of the rainbow

endura - movistar - rainbow bands

i'm not too bad at designing the odd logo here and there and i think myself quite fortunate that i'm asked quite frequently to do so. granted, many of the processes involved in having them approved by a committee at the other end can be frustrating to say the least, but that's part of the gig. of late, this designing thing has expanded into cycle jerseys and bibshorts on behalf of a couple of the island's distilleries. to be honest, bits of that have also proved a tad frustrating, if only because of a pressing need to be 'on brand', an ethereal demand, the regulations for which often seem to be a closely guarded secret.

endura - movistar - rainbow bands

nonetheless, having downloaded the necessary templates and faffed about with approved graphics, the end result can often be quite pleasing to the eye. it's kind of difficult to gain an appreciation of how the final jersey might appear from an arrangement of separate flat panels, so i've usually applied the latter to a photoshop mock-up to aid the approval process. granted, there's limited demand for distillery cycle jerseys, considering some are already well-catered for in that department, but if they keep building new ones at the current rate, i might find myself gainfully employed for a year or two more.

however, the time elapsed between my scribblings in adobe illustrator and photoshop and the arrival of a sample for approval can often be measured in weeks rather than hours. and i cannot deny that catching sight of a jersey design which has previously existed solely as pixels never really gets old, always assuming everything has gone as planned. but, placed in context, the above seems positively tardy.

endura - movistar - rainbow bands

only a matter of a week ago on sunday, the men's world championship road race took place in innsbruck, a race that was impressively won by movistar's alejandro valverde, a rider who continually overshadowed his favoured team-mate, nairo quintana, in the preceding vuelta espana. having coped well with the scarily steep climb a few kilometres from the finish line, valverde even had the cojones to lead out the sprint from the front, taking victory ahead of france's roman bardet and canada's michael woods. at that point, the spaniard's day was done, while for others, in a factory, far, far away, the day had just begun.

kit sponsor for valverde's world tour trade team, movistar is scotland's endura, and though alejandro probably didn't have any pressing need to go racing again the next day, the chaps and chapesses in livingstone contrived to have a new, rainbow hooped, movistar badged jersey ready in less time than the six and threequarter hours it took the spaniard to cross the finish line.

endura - movistar - rainbow bands

those seemingly endless days spent trying to convince committees and marketing departments that they opt for my preferred designs are likely as naught compared with the unravelling of the uci's regulations regarding world championship jersey design. any templates produced by endura's stuart kirk had not only to adhere to the allegedly fascinating technical documents issued by aigle, but pass muster with endura management and that of movistar. that the end product, including bibshorts, had rolled off livingston's dye-sub printer and been hand-sewn into a real jersey in less than six and threequarter hours is rather impressive.

it makes me quietly confident that the two jersey designs in which i have recently participated, are also to be produced by endura in livingston.

endura cycle clothing

monday 8 october 2018

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the generation gap

elderly people

for nigh on five years, i was a cycling tourist attraction on islay. despite the lack of motor traffic on the island's roads, there was not a single cyclist other than yours truly. that hadn't always been the case; in the mid 1990s there were sufficient folks with bicycles to occasionally form a peloton of around a dozen. though several of those individuals were not cyclists in the mold that you and i would recognise, we could at least indulge in conversational sunday rides, revelling in the fact that cycling was alive and well in the hebrides.

as is often the case in the islands, the majority of those cyclists moved on.

those intervening five years were spent alone, surveying the estates at speeds and distances that i convinced myself would, under different circumstances, have resulted in the offer of a professional contract. the ease with which i would glide along singletrack roads and ascend potholed hills flecked with intransigent sheep, was probably little short of breathtaking. at least, that's how i saw it. such visions were immediately dashed on the arrival of the mighty dave t from somewhere in englandshire.

though we had occasionally corresponded prior to this point, we'd never met and i was a tad surprised to discover that he was scarcely in the first flush of youth. this surprise turned to dismay and horror as we departed on our first ride round my roads. in those far off days, i wore a heart-rate monitor i had won in a magazine competition; as we headed north from bruichladdich distillery, that monitor displayed numbers that pretty much equated to my theoretical maximum, yet i was struggling big time to keep the mighty dave's rear wheel within touching distance. to add insult to injury, we covered almost twice the distance i had been fooling myself was a long way when left to my own devices.

on return to the distillery gates, we conversed briefly, thanked each other for company on the ride and both turned for home. it does me no favours whatsoever to admit that over those 14 kilometres, i was pedalling squares. how on earth could a man, some sixteen years older than yours truly be leaving me, a man on the verge of a professional career, flailing in his wake?

of course, it all depends on your cycling heritage. the mighty dave had been racing and time-trialling since his twenties, something that had never featured in my own cycling past. shame and embarrassment forced me to up my game, if only to be able to cycle alongside, rather than trail a few bike lengths behind. though both of us have noticeably slowed over the intervening years as advancing years take their toll, we can still both feature smug grins on our faces because we're still cycling, while many of our peers simply aren't.

but age is scarcely a barrier to cycling, depending, of course, on what you want from cycling and how you approach days in the saddle. the very proof of this, if proof were indeed required, concerns another gentleman of the parish who, two years ago, sold his motor car and called me to ask advice on purchasing a bicycle. in order that i might frame this situation in better perspective, i should point out that the gent was eighty at the time the car sold to his near neighbours.

two years later, he's still cycling and over terrain that individuals less than half his age would probably not be willing to consider.

yesterday, 6 october, marked exactly 100 years since over two hundred american soldiers perished when hms otranto sank after collision with another navy ship in a storm off the coast of islay. the otranto was transporting the soldiers to the front line in europe against the germans in the first world war. it is scarcely of any consolation that the war ended 36 days later, meaning that they would probably not ever have been involved in the fighting. many were pulled from the water by islanders, despite the raging seas; those who perished are buried at kilchoman military cemetery overlooking machir bay on islay's atlantic coast.

to commemorate this tragic occasion, a ceremony was held at the cemetery on saturday morning. though you'd perhaps expect that a drummer would have a better sense of timing, on my perambulations of the loch, heading to debbie's for lunch and froth, i managed to arrive at the junction just as the attendees were heading to kilchoman distillery for a fine repast. slowing the convoy of cars was a cyclist riding in a more upright position than i'm used to, but as i turned in behind the last car, the cyclist pulled into a passing place to allow them (and me) to pass.

i'm sure you've guessed by now that the cyclist was the gent about whom i have been writing, wearing a pink helmet and blue shoes. kilchoman military cemetery is some twelve kilometres from his residence in bruichladdich, along a route that includes two impressive ascents, climbs that even the sunday peloton finds something of a challenge. to state the glaringly obvious, that's a 24 kilometre round trip, undertaken by a gentleman who was exclusively a car driver up until a couple of years ago.

you have my express permission to repeat this tale to shame every non-cycling friend and colleague at every available opportunity. i can only hope i'm still as active a cyclist when i reach that age.

sunday 7 october 2018

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cycle training uk

in 2012, somewhat ahead of even his own predictions, dave brailsford's team sky placed bradley wiggins atop the podium in paris after a glorious, yet fraught three weeks in july. a matter of weeks later, wiggins came 103rd in london's olympic road race, but redeemed himself by taking gold in the time-trial. allegedly, as a result of these victories, not only did membership at british cycling post a dramatic increase over the next few years, but someone, somewhere decided to name this phenomenon (remember, this was britain), the bradley bubble. in mitigation, this was hardly sir brad's fault, but he subsequently added fuel to his prowess by successfully attacking the hour record in 2015 after an abortive attempt to retire on a high by winning paris-roubaix.

with chris froome having garnered four yellow jerseys in the tour de france and geraint thomas filling in the 2018 gap, britain can now hold its head up with pride as a force to be reckoned with, not only on the road, but also on the track, where british riders have rarely been out of the medals over the last decade or so. there's no doubt much of this has arrived as a result of dramatically increased lottery funding; whether you think that to be the best use of such vast sums of money is for debate on another day.

but has the bradley bubble had any real effect on cycling other than in the sporting milieu?

there's no doubt that the number of cyclists on britain's roads has increased considerably since the early 2000s. that might not be directly attributable to national sporting victories, though undoubtedly sport has had some influence. the latter has coincided with an increased need for humanity in the western world to seriously examine its transport demands and the emission of greenhouse gases. there are those who deny global warming entirely, but it's hard to deny that the levels of air pollution and road gridlock are hardly helped by the number of private motor vehicles using the roads, particularly those in urban and inner city areas.

there have been many publications released lately commending the cycle culture existent in denmark and holland, where pretty much every resident owns a bicycle and in a majority of cases, rides it to work, school or to the shops. that such a transport infrastructure works on the continent is no guarantee of its working on this side of the channel, particularly when the british psyche has been long educated to the liberty of its own personal transport. aside from a visible need for a cogent infrastructure, set to benefit those who wish to cycle, there's a demonstrable need to alter the 'local' mindset to think 'bike', rather than 'car'.

however, if i might return to the hypothetical bradley-bubble, it's always possible that folks like you and me, who delight in skinny wheels and bendy bars, will be around forever. the numbers will increase and decrease, but they'll rarely, if ever, make any inroads to britain's wholesale adoption of the bicycle as a mode of transport. and there are evidential signs that brad's bubble might have already burst.

the trade papers regularly feature cycle stores that have closed due to lack of trade, and even the big boys, like evans cycles have been feeling the pinch. that said, the latter seems intent on displaying race bikes and mountain bike rather than so-called proper bikes. that, however, is most likely as a result of consumer demand; if nobody wants sensible cycling, why stock it?

but having previously pointed out that britain's roads are becoming clogged with more and more cars, many of which seem to have increased in girth and weight recently, it would take a brave, confident cyclist to enter the fray, when public transport or, as a last resort, a motor car, would probably see them more safely to their destination. what's required, in my humble opinion, is a means of teaching those of more intrepid intent, to ride safely on britain's streets. but despite this perceived need, even that side of the cycle industry is not without its depreciation.

for the last twenty years, cycle training uk, based in bermondsey, london, has educated and trained generations of would-be cyclists, the sort of business that you'd think (hope?) would attract an ever increasing stream of customers. but the not-for-profit co-operative ctuk employs its instructors on a salary, rather than operate with freelancers. sadly, with autumn and winter being the least favourable times of year for cycle training, there's insufficient money in the bank to keep things turning over. the only option, unfortunately, is to close the doors.

there are still a myriad of cycle training instructors operating all over britain, but the impending closure of ctuk must surely be of concern across all strata's of britain's cycling and potential cycling culture.

saturday 6 october 2018

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four four time

4/4 time signature

in the halcyon days of yore, when road bikes featured brake cables that arc'd from the top of the levers, there was little perceived need for more than a smattering of sprockets at the rear and those chainrings could only be had in 52/42, changing your bike every few years seemed a tad excessive. and even supposing the need was really there, every roadie knew to order a replacement frame in the exact same colour, so that her/him indoors had no idea that an upgrade had been performed. life was good and pretty much the same, year in, year out.

then, messrs ritchey, breeze, fisher, kelly et al tumbled their way down the repack and everything changed. whether that was for worse or better depends a great deal on your point of view and proclivity for thrashing singletrack or throwing yourself off the nearest grassy knoll. many of the early mountain bikes shared a few features with their road-going brethren, most notably tube size and profile, plus the occasional component. however, aside from engendering an incomprehensible demand for anodised widgets, it wasn't long before bottom brackets and headsets changed, and tubing verged on the obese. these are all traits that have ultimately found their way across to the road, only the offroad fraternity are not the ones who have been seen kicking and screaming.

the augmenting of cyclocross bicycles with disc brakes bears a certain degree of logic; the terrain has a great deal of common ground (pun intended) and it's easy to see why it may be necessary to come to a complete and hurried halt when tarmac is replaced with mud and grass. though i have ridden more than a single example of a road bike with disc brakes and i cannot deny that they do exactly what it says on the tin, i still find it hard to reconcile the need for such dramatic stopping power on skinny-tyres and bendy bars.

i'm willing to accept that this potentially luddite point of view holds little sway nowadays. with the uci and british cycling removing all objections to spinning discs on road-wheels and our pelotonic heroes adopting their wholesale use, what's not to like? but, cynic that i am, it was surely only a matter of time before those rotors grew wings (metaphorically, if not literally).

formula one cars have sported carbon fibre rotors for many a long year and we know just how in thrall the average roadie is when it comes to the black stuff. however, that's a development probably still on the drawing board for now, as, i would hope, are twin discs as seen on one or two performance motor bikes. but what does seem almost inexorably headed in the direction of tarmac near you, is a doubling of the pistons inside each and every disc caliper.

lest you think i have been devouring too much science fiction of late, might i point you in the direction of this review on the singletrack magazine website of shimano's snappily named deore xt m8020 four-piston disc brakes. of course, the discovery of such threatening behaviour is not something that arrives midst back copies of analog sci-fi magazine, so i must thank the ever vigilant dan russell for alerting me to shimano's arguably iniquitous behaviour.

it's probably not hard to comprehend the possibility that if two pistons are good, then four must be better, particularly if two are one-size and the other two even bigger. yet more concerning is the knowledge that shimano didn't think of this yesterday; singletrack's reviewer states that he'd been riding with four pots since mid-april this year. so, it would probably not be outwith the bounds of imagination to consider the possibility that there's a professional roadie somewhere riding prototypes that would find themselves very much at home on a skinny wheel.

just when you thought that the latest nano-fibre construct in the shed with its eleven electric gears, hydraulic disc brakes and internal wiring was state-of-the-art, the possibility of another 'must have' upgrade is enough to bring tears to your thighs.

friday 5 october 2018

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so how was it for you?

peter sagan and john deering

many years ago, i was fortunate enough to encounter a double-bass player by the name of mark hodgson, who had flown in last minute from spain, to play at the islay jazz festival. mark, at that time, was the bass player of choice with bill bruford's earthworks in its latter day acoustic phase and in conversation, mark made it plain that, were i able to attend an upcoming earthworks gig on the renfrew ferry, moored in the clyde, but a mile or two from glasgow city centre, he'd be more than happy to introduce me to mr bruford himself.

at the highly impressionable age of 15, my first experience of bill bruford's distinctive drumming was at a friend's house, where he played me the yes album, a style of music i hadn't previously come across, and an album now enshrined in the annals of progressive rock. as an obsessive drum student at the time, the fact that bruford rarely, if ever, played in standard 4/4 time was all the more attractive, despite my having little idea of quite what a time-signature actually was. add to this, a unique snare sound, effected by playing a rim shot at the edge of the drum (apparently developed in order to compete with the volume of his fellow musicians), and it was truly a case of 'what's not to like?'

however, up until my timely meeting with mr hodgson, i had never met bill bruford. and in the light of recommendations never to meet your heroes, i hadn't been making strenuous efforts to ensure just such a meeting took place. this particular nugget of advice was made all the more pertinent on learning of a colleague who had met his own rock star hero, to discover that the guy was, in fact, a complete prat. perhaps better to admire/worship from afar, than discover the real man behind the oddly configured drumset.

at any rate, my brief meeting with bill bruford was very pleasant; he was the perfect gentleman, happy to sign a yes album that he didn't play on, for the gent in front of me and content to look quite interested while i pointed out stuff that he doubtless hears from every acolyte.

i mention all this with reference to my book review published yesterday, regarding peter sagan's 'my world', written in conjunction with all-round good guy, john deering. "Though I'm a fan, there was a chance that the rock-star stuff would just be tedious and childish in the flesh." though sagan comes across in the book as an all-round good guy, the sort of chap with whom you'd love to go ride a bike with or simply sit in the coffee shop and sup froth. "I was prepared for him to be disinterested. I've heard stories about ghost writers never even meeting their subjects, or the subjects blatantly rewriting history."

the hardest part, i'd imagine, would be meeting up for the first time, given that both parties may be harbouring different approaches to the same book. to make life just a tad more fraught than it perhaps could have been, the situation concerning the beginnings of 'my world' could hardly have been less convenient. "Meeting him at 5am in Granada didn't seem particularly auspicious. He was interrupting a big training block for a swift trip to Slovakia and Team Peter had recognised the suitability of the trip to get started. I thought he'd want to sleep, but even as we sat down, he was saying, "Right, where do you want to start?"

no doubt peter's eagerness to begin the lengthy struggle to wrangle a few thousand words into some sort of book shape came as something of a relief to mr deering, but that doesn't quite answer the possible stumbling block of the book's overall approach. "I suppose the structure is mine, but we agreed I'd put in everything that he told me and then we'd remove anything we didn't like later. Peter, Gabriele (Uboldi) and I, basically spent the next 48 hours talking in a three-way conversation that became the basis of the book. It was a hoot, and the stories kept coming. I stayed in Spain for the next three weeks, getting together frequently, but mainly working in proximity."

thankfully, for the reading public, i have never commenced working on what i mistakenly believe to be the ultimate narrative of velocipedinal interest. i'm more than happy to leave such matters in the hands of experts such as john deering. but supposing i did have the very manuscript guaranteed to foment an income that would allow me to become sagan's neighbour in monaco, there's still the gauntlet known as the publisher with which to negotiate. i might potentially see my hitherto unexplored nook of the cycling world as a sure-fire winner, a notion with which a whole series of publishers might (and likely would) disagree.

"The editor at Yellow Jersey, Tim Broughton, was great too. It was him that hired me, thinking that if it was only the last three years, there would be a lot of cycling in it, and he liked that about the Sean Yates book."

so, initial moments in granada notwithstanding, how did it go from there? similar to attempting to play drums like bill bruford (remember him?), there's always the possibility that matters might deteriorate when one party realises this book writing thing might be considerably more tedious or difficult than it may have seemed at the outset. "Always polite, Peter. Always engaged and interested in other people, and a natural leader that people want to get behind, without him having to wave his arms about and shout." does that sound like the peter sagan we all know and love?


thursday 4 october 2018

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peter sagan - my world. peter sagan (with john deering) yellow jersey press hardback. 307pp illus. £20

"Why so serious?

peter sagan - my world

cycle sport, by and large, is not populated by what we might refer to as characters, at least not in the extrovert sense. this most likely, is the result of its being one of the hardest sports on the planet, whatever followers of tiger woods might think. aside from the persistent travel throughout a never-ending season, any perceived downtime is likely to be occupied with training to the point of exhaustion. and we're probably all aware of the cyclist's mantra, that there's no poont in standing when you can sit and no point in the latter when lying down might still be a practical option. none of this lends itself to being mr or miss personality as far as the tifosi and paparazzi are concerned.

peter sagan might well be the modern-day exception to that unwritten rule. though bradley wiggins could be considered characterful, he might not be the life and soul of the party to which you've invited him. and though chris froome seems more than polite in the post race interviews, there's every possibility he'd merge into the background at the same party (or not arrive at all, if he learns that bradley's on the guest list). sagan, however, is the chap who wheelies over the finish line, pinches the bottom of a podium girl and has more variations in hairstyle and facial hair than the late david bowie. a man enjoying the fruits of his considerable abilities.

and, very much in his favour, despite accusations of narcissism, the cover of his first foray into print attests "If there are a hundred riders at the start of a race, there will be a hundred stories told at the end." it's a statement that undermines any thoughts we might harbour that sagan's might be the definitive read. and lest we make the mistake of thinking this to be an 'autobiography' (albeit, part of that 'auto' being scribed by the inestimable john deering), that same dust cover informs us "Mine is a story about wearing the UCI rainbow jersey three years in a row. That's something you can only hear from me."

of course, three consecutive years as world road race champion is not the sole string to the slovakian's bow. between 2015 and 2017, while wearing the rainbow jersey, peter sagan has also won the european road race championships, the slovakian national championship and even the national time trial championship. additionally, flanders, roubaix, gent-wevelgem, kuurne-brussels-kuurne and the tour of california have been added to the trophy cabinet. hard to believe that the chap is still only 28 years old.

not surprisingly, 'my world' enlightens us as to the lifestyle of an extremely outgoing, professional bike rider who has earned enough money not only to live in monaco, but, on being ejected from the 2017 tour de france after allegedly elbowing mark cavendish into the barriers, spent the resultant aftermath a long way from licking his wounds.

"Hmm. What was Monte Carlo good for? I got o the phone to the yacht brokers. Could you perhaps organise a yacht for about ten people t have a holiday next week? You could? Great..."

proving that sagan really is the chap you'd want at your party, he hired not just any boat, but the christina o, formerly owned by aristotle onassis and now available after a 50 million dollar refit.

"OK, I'll take it."

aside from a particularly comprehensive index at the rear, 'my world' is conveniently broken into three distinct parts, each titled after the venues of his world championship victories: richmond, doha and bergen. (interestingly, as an aside, it says much about how highly sagan's racing abilities are held, when he even appeared as a possibility for last sunday's race at innsbruck.) this format seems, at first look, to be a recipe for tedium; though professional cyclists appear to have impressive powers of recall, reading the minutiae of each season's travails might not be everyone's idea of fun.

peter sagan and john deering must surely be twins separated at birth, at least when it comes to narrative, for it is well nigh impossible to see the join across the book's 300 plus pages. even when detailing the myriad twists and turns, nothing could appear further from the race manual.

"By consolation, that consistency meant that I wouldn't have to wear my notional brown jersey the following day, as I'd nicked enough points off Greipel to get my favourite Robin Hood-coloured jersey back. [...] The way things were going, I bet if I ran the Sherriff of Nottingham's coach off the road, I'd get to the treasure chest and find Greipel or Cav had already helped themselves."

it may or may not be coincidence, that one of cycling's most extrovert riders spent two years in a team owned by likely one of the most extrovert of owners: oleg tinkov. for all the accusations levelled at the latter, concerning his often brusque management style, sagan seems to have enjoyed his time in the team jersey. though they may have imitated two immoveable objects travelling in opposite directions at times, there appears to have been mutual respect.

"Every one of these ideas is vocalised, whether it's smart, outlandish or flat-out crazy. He doesn't have that filter that most people have [...] As you can imagine, his capacity to offend is limitless."

however, had tinkov opted to continue in formula one cycle racing, there seems every possibility that sagan would have remained as his number one rider. but in order to survive the vicissitudes of the professional milieu, sagan has surrounded himself with individuals he constantly refers to as 'team peter', "...a little hardcore group of dedicated people whose joint goal is to make wins for me". with himself at the head of this compact and bijou team of his own, one that goes wherever he goes and 'wears' the jersey he wears, is brother juraj ("at the age of 29 he is demonstrably improving"), giovanni lombardi ("the greatest agent in cycling"), masseur maros hlad ("...incredible."), sylwester szmyd ("the Last Gregario"), patxi vila, mechanics jan bachleda and mindaugas goncaras and last but not least gabriele uboldi ("...spends huge parts of every day sorting out shit.")

the fact that the above mentioned individuals receive the full length of a chapter all to themselves, surely attests to sagan's perception that, though he's the lad with the rainbow jersey, he scarcely achieved such distinction all on his own.

the book's epilogue reveals the inside story of sagan's first victory in paris-roubaix, a win that surely ranks alongside five tour green jerseys and three sets of rainbow bands. yet, despite the personal joy that must accompany lifting aloft a chunky cobblestone, he offsets potential elation by remembering michael goolaerts who collapsed and died during the early stages of the race, "A young Belgian guy...with his whole life ahead of him. [...] a hundred stories... I wish that he could have ripped that ticket up."

there's probably very little doubt that peter sagan has a number of books in his future. that being the case, we can but hope that they are as entertaining as 'my world'. however, i've always been highly suspect of sports people (in particular) who write and publish biographies before they've even reached one score years and ten. once was the time when the genre consisted only of those who had acquired a lifetime of stories and experience, even to the extent of having been laid to rest after a stellar life in the limelight. but there's no denying that professional sports often offer a particularly short career, one in which each and every opportunity ought best to be grabbed while fame lasts.

and it's nice to see that, despite his undoubted athletic prowess, peter sagan still has the savvy not to take everything (anything?) too seriously.

peter sagan's 'my world' is published by yellow jersey press on thursday 4 october.

wednesday 3 october 2018

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the average wimp's guide to rule #5

a guide to rule #5

we have no specific rule that relates to the sunday morning dress-code, but we are suitably of similar mind, that the onset of autumn has brought about a collective adoption of full-length bibtights to cosy those chiselled calf muscles. yes, on occasion, bib-threequarters have been noted amongst those lower limbs, but sunday morning, despite a somewhat diminished peloton, revealed a consistent mindset: bibtights and jackets. not a bare arm to be seen, nor indeed, a bare leg. well, actually, that's not entirely true. a gent not permanently resident on the hallowed isle and thus not automatically party to our process of telepathic osmosis, arrived wearing a pair of shorts.

though we admired his tenacity that bordered on outright bravery, secretly we were all glad we had not committed such a seasonal faux pas. there may have been patches of blue sky above, but those were bordered by heavy, grey cloud cover, obviously intent on dumping oppressive quantities of precipitation upon the ill-prepared.

as one possessed of a sheltered velocipedinal upbringing, i am less than aware of the general practices associated with the sunday morning bike ride. for instance, are others' rides as influenced by the wind direction as are we? and with hindsight, are our own rides actually as influenced by the wind as we think they are? would we prefer to adhere to the epithet 'headwind out, tailwind home', or do we really care, considering that wind will have to be faced at some point in proceedings? does anyone else think this way on a sunday morning?

several years ago, i met a group of cyclists in debbie's midweek, congregated around a table, discussing the map held before them. always willing to interfere where i'm not wanted, i enquired if perhaps i might be of some assistance. "yes,", they collectively replied, "we're discussing which is the best route south to avoid the wind." displaying no sympathy whatsoever, i advised that they'd need htfu to complete their journey. and to satisfy the quizzical looks, i explained the meaning behind this acronym, otherwise known as rule #5.

much hilarity followed.

the awkwardness of the situation, and i tell you this purely in the knowledge that you'll keep it to yourselves; there would be hell to pay if this got out amongst the pelotonese, is that we may be guilty of inherent namby-pambyness ourselves.

once departed from the shelter of debbie's doorway and open to the elements, all is as it is. once you're wet, you're wet and if cold, it's a simple matter of stamping harder on the pedals to generate a tad more internal heat. that headwind is then of academic interest: if slogging into a headwind, there will be a tailwind to look forward to: if riding with the wind, we'll have suitably warmed those leg muscles in order to fend off the eventual slog with an insouciant air. but, lest you find yourselves full of admiration for our stoicism in the face of adversity, things scarcely improved.

having later supped froth, accompanied by those pink wafers that are most often to be seen as an intrinsic part of the boxes of biscuits received at christmas, it eventually became incumbent on the peloton to depart for home. except, it was raining outside and it was cold after holding hot mugs of coffee, so we stood inside for a while, all dressed up with nowhere to go (for a few minutes). as a pragmatic, spur of the moment choice, it was probably a smart move. but rule #5?

not a flippin' chance.

tuesday 2 october 2018

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