rene herse chinook pass road tyres

rene herse chinook pass

the following anecdote has probably overstayed its welcome several times over, but my admittedly narrow-scale observations would appear to support its repetition here. for in the early days of my reviewing career, such as it is, i had the great good fortune to receive a pair of carbon sports lightweight carbon wheels, to which the factory had fitted a pair of competition standard tubular tyres. those tubs featured a simple, cross-hatch, bobble tread, sandwiched each side by a chevron pattern. to the best of my knowledge, those particular tubulars still feature that selfsame tread today. given the effectiveness and aesthetic of the pattern, i had hoped to avail myself of a pair of clinchers with similar tread.

many years past, at the tour of britain start in glasgow, the manufacturer happened to have a stand in george square, featuring what appeared to be every single tyre in their entire range, though earnest searching by yours truly, failed to turn up the very tread (other than their tubulars) for which i was looking. in case the very item was staring me in the face without me seeing, i repeated the essence of my query to one of the company representatives present.

according to this gent, the tread pattern was exclusive to their competition tubulars, because neither professional riders nor professional mechanics held any specific opinions on such matters. since the tubs had been ridden with great success for many a long year, there was no desperation or need to effect any change. consumers (you and me), however, were a different kettle of fish, apparently always looking for something new, hence the variation of treads available on the clinchers on display.

rene herse chinook pass

there is a certain ring of truth about this, otherwise bicycle manufacturers would feel no pressure to alter the colour of their bicycles every year, and the same would surely apply to the builders of groupsets. and discussion in yesterday morning's peloton centred around the black, yellow and red colours of the belgian national champion's jersey, which has pretty much remained unchanged for as long as i can remember. the same can be said about belgium's national team jersey, yet year on year, britain seems hellbent on cycling (pardon the pun) through an endless series of variations, none of which are memorable or collectable. so it seems perfectly believable we'd be looking for a new tread pattern at regular intervals.

over the years, i have shod my wheels with quite a number of different tyres, some delivered specifically for review purposes, others purchased, either on the basis of one of those reviews, or for any number of other reasons (at one time, colour being a salient factor). i have come across one or two examples of the sort of tread pattern described above, which have worked particularly effectively, despite a disintegrating island road infrastructure that has necessitated tyre replacement at more frequent intervals than was once the case. however, i feel i have found the equivalent of my ancestral home, as far as tyres are concerned, in the specific shape of rene herse chinook pass clinchers.

distributed in the uk by dorset's sven cycles, these are available only in a 28mm width, with either black or tan sidewalls. if, like me, you're still intent on giving a professional impression, the tan sidewall is really the only option. the central tread is made up of a cross-hatch pattern, but with the all-important chevrons on each side. i've been running these for a lengthy period, more recently across less than favourable road surface dressing, apparently specifically designed to increase tyre wear, and their resilience has been quite impressive. available in either extralight or standard guise, i opted for the latter, particularly for their strengthened sidewalls, though the more performance oriented amongst you, might prefer the 19 gramme saving per tyre of the extralights.

rene herse chinook pass

i should, however, probably point out the downside, pretty much the only one i've found: they're a flipping nightmare to fit. tired of having sore thumbs for a week, i bought a topeak tyre-jack to reduce the number of swear words that resonated around the neighbourhood. however, it appears to be a house style, for i've experienced the same difficulty when fitting rene herse gravel tyres to differing sets of cyclocross wheels. my only fear would be having to repair a puncture when out and about, though impressively, that has not yet happened. for that sole reason, i always carry the tyre jack with me at all times.

there are specific fitting instructions available both along with the tyres and on the sven cycles website; each tyre features a raised line around the circumference of the sidewall, a line that must sit just above the wheel rim; at no point should it sit below that point. it can take a few attempts to manage it, but i've found that slightly over-inflating the tyre tends to be successful, more often than not, offering minutes of entertainment as you watch that line animatedly show itself around the tyre's circumference. these are not listed as tubeless compatible, which suits me fine.

the tyres are not particularly cheap. the standard option as reviewed is priced at £72 each, but the best commendation i can offer is that when the current pair eventually wear out, i'll be buying another set.

rene herse chinook pass tyres

monday 28 june 2021

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what are we missing?

arc de triomphe

apart from for yours truly, and possibly one or two others, the current euro football tournament is hard to avoid. following last friday evening's match against england (which i confess of which i was largely unaware of), the dourness of the very few members of islay community pipe band the following morning was certainly indicative of a less than amenable result. i have no truck with football whatsoever, having been brought up with a brother and father whose very weekends depended on attending a match in the afternoon, preceded by endless lunchtime pontifications on the tellybox, the results pretty much on their arrival home, and 'match of the day' bang on the stroke of 9pm. is it any wonder i have scarred memories of a deprived childhood?

however, i truly have little against those whose interest is held by what used to be referred to as the beautiful game. the banners, posters, flags and bunting that appeared overnight around the principality, when glasgow rangers won the league or the cup, or something vaguely important recently, was humorous to witness. and the number of individuals who feel no shame in wearing football shirts with their name on the back would be humorous, were it not so prevalent. and when it comes to live matches shown on terrestrial tv, one seriously has to wonder why the principal channels are employed, rather than the many ancillary channels owned and operated by britain's main broadcasters. at least the tour de france coverage is allocated to itv4, leaving viewers of coronation street, emmerdale and eastenders to their evening viewing, uninterrupted.

and when scanning the tv programming in my newspaper the other day, i note that cricket had made inroads to a substantial portion of bbc2's broadcasting, a sport i cannot fathom at all, but which provides endless pleasure to many, particularly south of the border.

but, as most of you will be aware, the 2021 tour de france set off on its three week route to paris only yesterday, preceded, as it was, by a substantial number of previews in the printed press and almost every website on which i happen to have landed. yet on the front cover of yesterday's guardian newspaper, next to the masthead was a boxed mention of 'euro 2020 - it's the knockouts!', but not a hint of the tour de france. in mitigation, there was mention of the race in the sports section, but not by way of a pullout section as provided for the euros.

and just while i'm here, though the european football championship should have taken place last year, was there any real need to dub it euro 2020, when all matches have taken place in the current year? when paris-roubaix finally takes place this october, for the first time since april 2019, will it be referred to as paris-roubaix 2020? i think not.

but, and this is the principal thrust of my monologue, where have we gone so very wrong? the girls in the office, all of whom share my apathy towards football, were more than aware of the euro championship, and two even mentioned the cricket at lunch the other day. not only that, one or two were bemoaning the upcoming wimbledon tennis tournament, if only because their husbands were likely to be glued to the television set for even longer each evening. yet, despite having had to listen to my endless rabbiting on about cycling for the past twenty or so years, not one of them was aware that the tour de france began on saturday.

in order to conduct a more scientific survey into the matter, i enquired of several, non-cycling acquaintances and a few others, as to whether any were aware of yesterday's grand départ. though my sampling remained reasonably small (no more than a couple of dozen people), with teh exception of my neighbour, none of them knew the race had begun.

in the light of cycling allegedly having become a great deal more popular in the past year, though i'm willing to accede that this popularity has not been directly related to cycling as a sport, the fact that the tour de france has often been touted as the biggest sporting event of the year, would surely have had it appear on more personal radars? featuring the race on cycling websites and the cycling press is all very well, but effectively only playing to the gallery. those of us who know, already know; the aim of the game, given cycling's sponsorship model, would surely be to grow that audience from within the ranks of the great unwashed?

on islay, at least, it's simply not happening.

i know i said i'd avoid mention of the tour de france during its ride to paris, but this one just snuck up one me, unannounced. i'll try to ensure it doesn't happen again.

sunday 27 june 2021

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singing the blues

vittoria corsa blue tyre

cycling technology, about which i have moaned to an excessive degree, is a particular bugbear, simply because it appears to have become an end in istelf, rather than a means to an end, though there are many who would disagree. but when component, shoe and clothing manufacturers introduce gravel specific items, surely some of us ought to be wondering? i get it that riding through the undergrowth and over less than pristine surfaces, is unlikely to favour components such as road-going carbon rear derailleurs, but to all intents and purposes those very rear mechs have been proved worthy in both paris-roubaix and strade bianche, so from whence comes the need to produce alternatives?

and given that the mountain bike has been with us since the early eighties, along with a wide range of spd variants, appropriate footwear has surely already reached a comfortable peak? so, once again, from whence cometh the need to produce cycling shoes tagged as gravel specific? and rapha's recently released trailwear clothing, though displayed from a web url defining it as mtb, has had its remit undoubtedly widened by dubbing it as trailwear. the more ludicrous endgame would be a single cyclist possessing footwear, clothing and componentry specific to riding road, gravel and mountain bike. after all, who could hold their head up in public were they to be caught wearing mtb shoes on their gravel bike, or a road jersey when downhill mountain biking?

however, there's no denying that the variation in genres of cycling has offered some beneficial crossover, both from a style point of view, and technological. let's face it, if trailwear eventually results in more breathable and robust clothing for road-riding, then it's probably a win-win situation for everyone. but then, at some point along the timeline, technology has to come to a conclusion, where progress either slows to a crawl or (temporarily) a complete halt. after all, when a polyester jersey has three rear pockets, a full length zip and sleeves that stay just where they're supposed to, where do you go next? it's a comparable situation to that of double-glazing; once you've sold it to everyone who needs it, what do you do next? and when every attic in the country features the requisite depth of insulation...

but our expectations have been piqued by the constant evolution with which we've been presented to date. jacketage may now be both waterproof and breathable, but there's always room for improvement, assuming the technology is ripe for such improvement. the large hadron collider may have discovered the higgs boson, but so far as i'm aware, it hasn't found much since, and there are already plans to create a future circular collider which is intended to be four times longer than the hadron collider and ten times more powerful. it's therefore eminently possible that, as we satisfy ourselves with the current status quo, apparel purveyors across the world may already be building the next generation of sewing machines.

the problem for many, is what to do in the meantime? gearsets have become electric and, in one case at least, wireless. they're probably as efficient as it's possible to get, and the future of gearing may need to take a complete change in direction to progress further. but until they individually or collectively figure that out, there's a gap that has to be plugged, resulting in the now familiar incremental addition of just one more sprocket. clothing has probably suffered the most from the situation; in the last two decades we've seen more garmentage development, ever since eddy's woollen molteni jersey was put out to pasture. but gravitational pull has ground most of that to a halt. what happens now, in many cases, is a simple variation of colour. the jerseys, jackets, and bibshorts hiding behind the star-shaped 'new' badges on the websites are frequently only of a different hue than last year.

for now, sustainability is the new black.

and the latest to attach its flag to the colour mast concerns tyres. though i'm no rubber compound engineer, i'd be inclined to think that the tyres we'll be riding on this weekend are pretty much state of the art: clinchers, tubeless and tubulars, with or without tread patterns. and perhaps just like the jersey builders, an obvious next step is the addition of colour. i know this has been done before, but it's all about how you sell it to the great unwashed, the latest to do so being team jumbo-visma who have claimed (apparently with some credibility), that they will be the first team ever to ride the tour de france with blue-coloured front tyres. while others anguish over the choice between caliper or discs, wout van aert's employers have fitted the team cervelos with blue vittoria tyres to demonstrate that, beside winning, they care about a green living environment and livable cities for everyone.

if you find the latter a tad confusing, i should explain that one of the team's more prominent sponsors is dutch bike service company swapfiets which, coincidentally, features blue front tyres on its city bikes. the tour is already one of the world's more colourful spectacles, one that will now have a case of the blues. the only question that remains to be answered is whether that's actually something worth shouting about? combine the blues with the teams unveiling variations in their standard team kit, and maybe progress ain't what it used to be, even if nobody has told the marketing departments.

saturday 26 june 2021

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the end of the world as i knew it

uae team emirates colnago

setting off from bretagne this saturday, the tour de france will, for once, not occupy those 'three weeks in july', but a day or two in june, followed by the balance in july. as i understand it, this is at the behest of the tokyo olympics, avoiding either a clash, or potential sporting overload. pete at road-theory, has already expounded his thoughts on matthieu van der poel's pre-abandonment of the race, reputedly in order to hone his physique for japan. i entirely agree with pete in his condemnation; the tour, like it or lump it, is the most prestigious race on the calendar, a three week event that surely ought to trump a one-day event with a bit of shiny tin as a prize.

campagnolo bora ultra wto

however, as in previous years, i have set myself the annual task of refraining from mentioning the race for the maillot jaune, during its three week course to paris, predominantly as a place of refuge for those overcome with wall-to-wall race coverage, highlight shows, punditry, and website analysis. but, one day before the grand départ, pretty much anything goes, and from which i am immune from censure.

on the 100th anniversary of the tour, the world of publishing went mad, releasing a cornucopia of coffee table books celebrating one-hundred editions of, as mentioned above, the race-calendar's most prestigious event. coffee-table books, as a genre, tend to be lavishly illustrated, relying more upon the picture worth a thousand words mode of thought. naturally, the celebrated editions of the race featured highly; anquetil's dominance, fausto and gino, maurice garin's opening salvo in 1903, all in glorious monochrome.

and though appealing mostly to those of a certain age and philosophy, the sight of spindly tubed, steel bicycles, with luxuriously spoked, shiny wheels, leather saddles and bottle cages occupied by steel bottles and affixed to the front of the handlebars, announced the arrival of many pleasant hours of reverie and longing for the time that land forgot.

tadej pogacar colnago

i have been irritatingly vocal (at least, as far as one can be vocal in print) regarding the inveterate tinkering, invariably sold as technological development, within the bicycle industry. an entire catalogue of solutions looking for a problem have transformed those hand-crafted steel bicycles into the sculpted carbon fibre that will soon grace our television screens for the next twenty-one days. and though my protestations have had a resounding lack of effect on an industry that clearly doesn't listen, even i would probably be well advised to throw in the towel (metaphorically speaking). and the straw that has effectively broken this camel's back, arrived yesterday in the shape of a press release from campagnolo.

vicenza provides the running gear for last year's winner, tadej pogacar's uae team emirates, the press release confirming, as if we hadn't already guessed, that the slovenian will ride on the latest bora ultra wto wheelset in his quest to win a second tour. the wheels will complement the all-italian package of colnago v3rs and c64 bicycles allied to campagnolo's super-record eps groupset. though it would be naive of anyone to think that tadej would choose to ride either a steel colnago master or arabesque in preference to cambiago's carbon, there was always an outside chance that his super-record groupset might be picked from the mechanical range.

campagnolo bora ultra wto

much was made this past week of chris froome's return to the tour as team leader for israeli start up nation (which still sounds like a hebrew version of the beastie boys) and the fact that, following his recent video disparaging the current crop of road bike disc brakes, he could just as easily ride rim brakes, if only he'd had the forethought to ask. however, were he to have signed for uae team emirates, that option may have evaporated every bit as convincingly as his chances of adding a fifth yellow jersey to his collection. for according to the campagnolo press release, pogacar's choice is for a "disc brake-only wheelset, riding tubeless", highlights two of the very aspects of modern-day road cycling about which i have incessantly moaned. (i do, however, very much enjoy my record caliper brakes acting upon the carbon fibre of a bora wto wheelset).

the past has gone. long live the past.

friday 25 june 2021

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if in doubt

drum fills

my regular reader will no doubt be aware that my percussive leanings have led to a modest approach to instruction in the finer points at the local secondary school. though this has temporarily come to an end as the pupils and teachers begin the summer holidays midway through next week, i have spent a more than interesting three weeks, teaching national five, higher and advanced higher for those moving up to the next rung of the drummistic ladder.

two of those students have completed their national five assessments over the past few months, but are apparently not about to undertake their highers next term. this places them with a gap year, leaving them, effectively, in limbo; all drummed up, but with nowhere to go. however, all is not lost, for the music department has asked of me to continue their drum education during the next year, instilling the techniques required by the higher certificate and providing them with the grounding they will need to see them advance to the next rung.

purely as a bit of an end-of-term treat, i presented three of the students with the opportunity to play-along with a well known rock tune from the early 1970s, only in a departure from the educational norm, they have no sheet music from which to read. this means, rather obviously, that they have to invent their own drum part from scratch, a task that has provided greater difficulty than you would think. music education nowadays, rests heavily on sight-reading ability at the expense of expression or creativity, though, as a particularly poor sight-reader, i probably would say that.

however, it is also notable that the curriculum, as applicable to drumset playing, makes no provision for the learning of drum rudiments, effectively the percussionist's scales. even within the advanced higher programme, it is still possible to leave school with just such a qualification, but without the ability to play a drum roll, robbing pupils of the opportunity to join barnum and bailey's circus. it also leaves them without the necessary stick control to smile through the written fills, and it certainly restricts their ability to implement creative fills, when playing along to the drumless tracks i have on my ipod.

i think it probably only applicable to drummers, but the way that we learn the instrument is centred around the facility to play drum fills, written or otherwise. in fact at all three levels, marks are apportioned more towards scrabbling about the tom-toms, than the simple deed of playing a solid groove. thus, when presented with a new piece of previously unencountered music, the average drummer, self-included, can rarely exclude themselves from the notion that, at some point or other, they will have to play something other than the beat. and that, based on experience, is where the house of cards comes unceremoniously, tumbling down.

yet cyclists frequently occupy a similar headspace, though i've no doubt, few would admit to that being the case.

as with drumming tempos, every cyclist has an inner-cadence, a speed of pedalling that equates nicely with their inner-clock. to an extent, that's why training manuals, perhaps, occupy a greater importance than might seem pertinent. left to our own devices, we'd all simply ride around the local topography at a cadence that we find relatively easy to maintain,; hard enough that we know we're working, but not so onerous that breathing becomes overly laboured. training manuals will often take this as a suitable starting point, before encouraging, through subtle means, various upsetting strategies that will eventually increase that comfortable cadence, to one a few notches higher than the original baseline.

many training regimes will implore the rider, whether through cadence, power or heart-rate observations, to maintain a relatively steady pace/speed, for a period of time to create a base-level, before moving on up the ladder in stages. from occasional experience, i can testify to the effectiveness of maintaining a heart-rate below a certain maximum for several months, before upping my game towards certain exhaustion. however, just like the drummers mentioned above, at points during the process, there's an overwhelming need to prove that the skill or power to do more is easily within your grasp, that the consistently lower pace is deliberate and not the best on offer.

assuming you're anything like yours truly, the sight of a cyclist on the road ahead will frequently and involuntarily, bring on a perceptible acceleration, presumably in an ego-driven attempt to show the victim just what we're made of, despite their being blissfully unaware of our presence in the first place. and who hasn't steamed past a rider while pedalling way above any sustainable rate, breathing through your ears, and fervently hoping the pace can be kept up without them re-passing only a matter of metres along the road? i know i've done it, and i know of others who have too, even though it was plainly unnecessary.

for starters, how do i know they're not at page 110 of the same training manual, on which i've only made to page 57? it's a situation that is only likely to become more fraught as the years roll by. the only option i can see is to emulate that which i have incorporated into my percussive endeavours: if in doubt, don't.

thursday 24 june 2021

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war on wheels; inside keirin and japan's cycling subculture by justin mccurry. pursuit books hardback 264pp illus. £16.99

war on wheels - justin mccurry

following its admission as an event to the olympics in 1996, the men's keirin first took place in the millennium summer olympics, with the women's version arriving twelve years later. it's an event most western cycling fans will know from chris hoy's medal-winning spree, becoming the first brit in a century to win three golds in the 2007 olympics, one of which was achieved as victor in the keirin. however, at the risk of seeming to denigrate the latter event as 'simply' yet another competitive track race, despite hoy's best efforts, those 21 years are as nothing compared to the seventy-three years since the sport's inauguration in japan.

and like many aspects of japanese culture, keirin racing goes a lot deeper than yet another means of watching cycle-racing. despite the country's legal aversion to betting, keirin, along with a select number of other sports, such as boat and horse racing, it's one that benefits from a technical 'blind eye' being turned by both government and the population. according to this excellent and thoroughly researched new book from the guardian newspaper's japan and korea correspondent, it might not be too much of an exaggeration to state that keirin almost single-handedly saved the nation following their defeat in the second world war.

the bicycle arrived in japan in the late nineteenth century, following a period of insularity where foreign goods were subject to heavy tariffs. the backlash resulted in the arrival of american warships in the 1850s, forcing the country to "...finally face outward." the japanese population was initially only allowed to rent bicycles, a business that flourished in the 1880s, and by the 1890s, bicycle ownership began to beget cycling clubs in the principal cities. the first track race was held in 1894, confined solely to visiting americans, and the first road race two years later, with entry once again confined to american competitors. as will be seen later, it was war that provided a boost to japan's nascent bicycle industry, the 1904-05 conflict demanding greater numbers to supply the japanese army.

over forty years later, the second world war provided the impetus for the popularisation of keirin track racing. "The end of the Pacific War in August 1945 signalled an explosion in interest in newly-legalised forms of sports gambling. [...] It was keirin, though, that would later force government officials to rethink their initial enthusiasm for betting on sports." The eventual introduction of a not universally popular bicycle race law, allowed betting on keirin racing to take place in venues across japan. the revenue received by the government would eventually be employed in the rebuilding of a country that had suffered from the devastation incurred by the world's first two atomic bombs.

"The Japan of the late 1940s desperately needed funding for new factories, homes, roads, bridges and other infrastructure that would return a semblance of civic normality..." thus was born japanese keirin racing, a cycle sport that initially attracted crowds of up to 55,000, betting 20 million yen at a single track meet.

author, justin mccurry has made excellent use of his domicile in japan, as a correspondent for the guardian newspaper, to write this excellent volume on a sport that most westerners know only from the word of track racing, a version of the sport that is but a superficial copy of its japanese inspiration. as with many historical matters, there is, of course, counter claim as to where keirin actually originated, with some purporting that it truly began in denmark. however, missing from this alleged european ancestry was the all-important derny.

the word keirin translates literally as 'compete wheel' or 'racing cycle' and, as a sport, it's currently worth a not insignificant annual $5.6 billion. mccurry has strategically divided war on wheels into four sections, subtitled anatomy of a race, parts i, ii, iii, iv. these examine the gambling aspect of the sport, the school from which all competitors must graduate before being allowed to earn what can be a long and lucrative career. and, to incorrectly paraphrase lord voldemort, 'it's all about the bike', a chapter in which the author visits the all but anonymous workshop of japan's most revered keirin framebuilder, yoshiaki nagasawa.

"I had come to learn more about what goes into building a keirin bike from scratch."

the phrase 'greater than the sum of its parts' could have been invented for this book. having watched chris hoy, and subsequently, jason kenny, excel at the olympic discipline, along with shouting "derny!" every time a small motorbike passes during the sunday ride, i thought i knew keirin racing, and that reading 'war on wheels' would be a prospect similar to a busman's holiday. how wrong can a smug scotsman be? there is literally not a single nook or crannie of the sport that mr mccurry has left unexplored. but even better than that, his obvious enthusiasm for the subject is impeccably translated to the printed page.

japanese keirin racing, however, is on the decline. audiences have decreased, as have gambling revenues, and several critics have argued that the sport needs to be opened up to the dreaded foreigner. though men's keirin still takes place aboard all-steel, craftsman built frames, the women's events have acceded to the world of carbon. revered framebuilder, ryu yukuwa has been quoted as saying, "The keirin authorities will have to completely change the system to make sure it lasts another seventy years."

however, in the author's afterword, he points out that, with the olympics due to take place in japan beginning 23 july this year, "After the most tumultuous year in modern Olympic history outside wartime, keirin could finally be coming home." you have around a month to read and find out why. a superb book.

'war on wheels' by justin mccurry is published by pursuit books on 24 june.

wednesday 23 june 2021

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the book i'll never write

cyclists training diary - joe friel

throughout the time that i have been writing the post, alongside several side projects that included writing commissions for others, i have heard it said that, inside every writer, there is a book just clamouring to get out. i would like to refute that claim, for though i find it relatively easy to write articles and features on a variety of subjects, there is a world of a difference, in my humble opinion, between writing 3,000 words (for example), and over one hundred thousand, all concerned with the same, localised subject. yes indeed, i do (allegedly) write about cycling most of the time, but in what i believe is a largely idiosyncratic - some would say, eccentric - manner, little of which would, i'd imagine, translate to an entire book.

couple that with the fact that, despite having contacts within the publishing industry, nobody has ever arrived at the front door, proffering a contract and sizeable advance for my scribblings. undoubtedly with good reason.

however, we should be eternally thankful for the fact that there are very many individuals who not only have the ability to write books, but the desire so to do. let's face it, cycling may have become considerably more popular over the past year, but it's a popularity that doesn't necessarily translate to the reading habits of those now imbued with velocipedinal glee. and though popular, cycling is still very much a minority interest, not only in the grand scheme of things, but in commercial publishing terms.

a friend of mine recently published a book about the scotsmen who put the tea in britain. it's a very readable, enjoyable, and well-researched book (published by birlinn, if you're interested), which, if there's any justice in the world, will sell by the truckload. and with the latter in mind, when i met him over the weekend, i enquired whether sales offered reason for optimism? he claimed not to know, but he thought he might contact the publishers yesterday to find out. i find that an admirable stance, for had i actually written a book, i'd have demanded hourly updates as to its sales figures.

there's always the possibility, however, that the last thing the world needs, is yet another book about cycling. not so many years ago, you'd undoubtedly have had to ask the assistant in waterstones if they could point you in the direction of the almost non-existent cycling section in any of their stores. nowadays, the sports section can feature more than two or three shelves of cycling books. and the non-sporting cycling sections are also on the rise. but then there's the fear that cycling might begin to emulate the whisky market, a genre that really, really does not need any more books. there are only so many words that can be written about water, yeast and barley.

however, my pet subject, purely because i cannot make up my mind one way or the other, is that of training manuals. i do not, nor have i ever, raced on my bicycle, and as a result, i'd be loathe to subject myself to anything resembling a training manual. but i may be guilty, in certain respects, of misapprehension, for though there are probably about as many cycle training books as there are books about whisky (maybe), several are less concerned with the competitive realm, than with keeping fit as age takes its toll. i'm happy to mention that my average speed of a weekend (not that i pay any attention, you understand), seems to have remained relatively constant, give or take a galeforce headwind or two, so do i really need to train?

the fear is that, if i don't, the next growth spurt might find me lagging well off the back, hoping that my compatriots will wait long enough at the coffee stop until i arrive in a state of near collapse. or maybe i should wake up and smell the roses, forgetting that, though i may look like a refugee from the peloton, in reality, a more sedate future may be worth considering. and though not based on extensive research, i'm unaware of any training manuals aimed at those of a certain age, who want to at least look as if there is sporting prowess in those chris hoy lookalike thighs, even if the truth is more norman wisdom.

so, should i take note of my own potential predicament and begin work on an extensive and well-researched manuscript for which i believe a large and appreciative audience eagerly awaits? would i find myself the toast of the mamil community and others who are already considering a pinarello f-14 kitted out with shimano's no longer secret, dura-ace di2, but concerned that it's useful life may not extend to year's end without advice on their exertion quotient?

i think we both know the answer to those questions.

top image from joe friel's training diary. published by velopress

tuesday 22 june 2021

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