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the mighty dave t's words of the week

the mighty dave t

"i went out on my bike yesterday."

©2018 the mighty dave t, is a prendas sponsored rider and le patron of the thoroughly decent fellows.


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this is cambridge

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ritchey drop post ..........................................................................................................................................................................................................

fairy dust

graphene

contrary to popular opinion, i do believe there is such a thing as coincidence and i have evidence to support that theory. only this week, in the process of completing the page layout for our local newspaper, i placed an interview with the owner of a large new hotel development on the island. it's a building that has been unemployed for several years, but now under new ownership and with a substantial injection of cash, it promises to occupy the serious end of the luxury market. and, as coincidence would have it, and entirely independently, we received an article from a woman who, for several years, has had her own beautician's business on the island, but is about to take up a new position; as head of the spa at the aforementioned hotel.

now, is that coincidence, or what?

and then, on last sunday's bike ride, as we wended our merry way homeward, the discussion turned to bicycle frame materials, one of our number having his eye on a new titanium frame. the latter never quite managed its day in the sun; it was once touted as the lighter and more resilient successor to steel, but aluminium got in the way, then the black stuff steamrollered pretty much everything in its path. titanium is still fit and healthy, but it's scarcely the material at the top of everyone's bucket list.

then someone mentioned 'graphene'.

this is the wonder fairy dust fabric, consisting of a single layer atom 'allotrope' and featuring those atoms arranged in a hexagonal lattice. it's one of the basic constituents of of carbon materials such as graphite, diamond, charcoal and the carbon nanotubes that we've all heard so much about. layering graphene platelets into carbon fibre frames was, we were initially informed, going to be the saviour of an industry that scarcely needs to be saved. at least, not as far as i can see.

since those days of wonder, graphene has been almost conspicuous by its absence. admittedly, vittoria have incorporated it as an ingredient in some of their tyres, catlike uses the stuff in its mixino helmet and dassi were one of the first to feature graphene in a carbon frames. our sunday conversation revolved around the notion that the greater inclusion of graphene in bicycle frames could conceivably lower the weight, but until the uci drops the minimum limit for competition, there's possibly no incentive for this to happen.

and then, by pure coincidence, considering the number of times that graphene has not been mentioned on the sunday ride, i discover that we might be in for a dramatic increase in the material's appearance due to a price reduction. according to a recent report, because of its newbie status, graphene has suffered from high and frequently varying prices, but now that popularity beckons, that price has dropped to an allegedly more economic level of $75 to $125 for a kilo. the same report figures that this price will continue to drop, as more folks begin to take notice and incorporate it into many an unnecessary, yet compulsive widget.

that bit, however, can scarcely be considered a coincidence.

thursday 24 may 2018

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rouleur magazine ..........................................................................................................................................................................................................

the ride of the falling rain 2018

ride of the falling rain 2017

it's something that should have occurred to me earlier in the year, but i'm afraid i tend only to plan around a week ahead of time and even that's subject to variation. it concerns the practicalities of arriving on islay should you wish to participate in this year's ride of the falling rain, our annual 100 mile excursion around the principality, taking place this year, on sunday 5 august. before i delve into the whys and wherefores, if you're thinking about it, now would be a good time to dig out that calmac timetable.

on the face of it, this seems not unlike the advice i cheerfully reiterate every year. though the weather might not seem like it, early august forms part of the summer holiday season, with both transport and accommodation frequently in short supply. the former has been exacerbated in recent months by caledonian macbrayne being "one breakdown away from total catastrophe". though pretty much all the western isles are prone to moan about the state-subsidised ferry carrier, the early part of 2018 has given them adequate cause.

this began with the serious breakdown of the mv clansman, one of the bigger boats in the fleet which suffered a prop shaft failure, or something remarkably similar. this resulted in the boat being taken to denmark to have the problem solved, a solution that took considerably longer than hoped for. this coincided with what is usually referred to as refit season, when the boats are required by law to enter dry-dock for maintenance. think of it as their mot certificate.

with the clansman being repaired and another boat in dry-dock at the time, finding spare and appropriately sized ferries to cover the shortfall became, as you can imagine, a logistical nightmare. add to that, the fact that one other big boat was actually due to go into dry-dock at the time, meant that calmac had to (successfully) negotiate with the marine and coastguard agency for a three-week extension to its seaworthiness certificate, in the sincere hope that the clansman would be ready for duty before that ran out.

to make all this more specific to islay, our normal complement of two boats was cut to a single ferry with occasional assistance from one of the 'tubs'; in this case, the mv arran. this rather derogatory reference is due to the arran being one of a pair of boats, both regularly assigned to the islay route, which are well into their thirties, despite the acknowledged lifespan of a west coast ferry being approximately 25 years. that those boats are less than popular and prone to frequent breakdowns is really of no surprise to anyone.

i'm well aware that this is still the month of may and the ride of the falling rain is still many weeks away (eleven, to be more precise), it well behoves those with notions of getting drenched and blown silly (as was the case last year), to gather their thoughts and boarding passes, then book both ferry travel and accommodation considerably sooner, rather than later.

the rotfr route will, once again, follow the same pattern as in previous years, initially taking in the rhinns of islay before heading south east to ardbeg distillery for a tasty lunch and, perchance, a similarly described dram. after this mid-point stop, the ride heads north to ballygrant, then turns south to bridgend before incorporating a perambulation of loch gorm en-route to the finish and coffee and cake at debbie's café in bruichladdich. though ardbeg is the only distillery which we actually visit, the full ride passes bruichladdich, bowmore, laphroaig, lagavulin and kilchoman along the way.

as a tribute to our dear departed friend, lord carlos of mercian who sadly died in january this year, we're subtitling the ride as 'the carl reavey memorial ride'. several of you may have met the irrepressible mr reavey in previous years and we still half expect him to turn up on his shand or chromed tart's bike each sunday morning, especially when the weather is particularly foul. he is still sadly missed and we hope that by the adjunct of this subtitle, we can keep his memory alive for many years to come.

as those of you who have joined us in previous years will know, the idiosyncracies of the island's roads allow for almost infinite variations on a theme, so if you fancy riding less than the prescribed distance, that's really not a problem. there are no timing chips, no feed stops, no marshals, no free t-shirts and no entry fee. all we suggest is that those taking part donate at least £10 to world bicycle relief.

which is all a long-winded way of saying, if you want to join us, book now. with ageing ferries, you just never know.

ride of the falling rain

wednesday 23 may 2018

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hommage au velo bahamontes lightweight climbing jersey

hommage au velo bahamontes climbing jersey

the apocryphal story of the reverend returning from a long day in the ministrations of the church and his parish, slumping into his fireside armchair and being brought his slippers by one of his faithful bassett hounds, does have its basis in fact. one of my schoolfriends was indeed, the son of a presbyterian minister, a chum with whom i played rugby at school and at weekends on a makeshift pitch adjacent to the town's indoor bowling rink. and, believe it or not, the family owned two bassett hounds, one of whom was named 'homer', but sadly i have no recall as to the name of the other.

hommage au velo bahamontes climbing jersey

and just in case you're wondering, yes, i did get battered silly at rugby.

at the end of the hypothetical long day, the minister left the solitude of his study, plopped himself in the sitting room and one of the two dogs would trot in, carrying at least a solitary slipper. mrs washingmachinepost and i do not own any animals, let alone a bassett hound or two, but it would be false of me to deny that i do own a pair of favourite slippers, the moccasin-like format of which enables me to creep upstairs late of an evening without wakening the mrs and admitting that i'd fallen asleep on the couch.

hommage au velo bahamontes climbing jersey

obviously enough, doing so is entirely as a result of having over-extended myself on the bicycle earlier in the day, lest you concern yourself that age may be getting the better of me. but it's not just that i have a favoured pair of slippers, but like many other bicyclists, i have certain jerseys that i prefer over others, either for sentimental reasons, colour, or simply that i like wearing them. same goes for jackets, though oddly enough, i don't have what i'd call a favourite pair of shorts, nor a pair of lucky socks.

however, i have extreme good fortune on my side, frequently receiving review samples of a wide range of cycle jerseys and jackets about which i will eventually wax lyrical. sort of like the current situation, now that you come to mention it.

hommage au velo bahamontes climbing jersey

this may seem like a case of deja-vu, having only just made mention of the newly conceived hommage au velo at the end of last week, yet here we are once again. though, in the words of the former ceo of bruichladdich distillery "it's my ****ing blog and i'll ****ing write what i want", i do prefer not to overload my reader with more of the same thing in close proximity to the original thing. if you see what i mean?

however, founder of what shall hereafter be referred to as hav (except when it isn't), david law, was kind enough to send a review sample of currently the only jersey (of which i'm aware) to proffer a portion of its revenue to world bicycle relief. though i have already advised you of their presence in what must be a market close to saturation point, this selfless dispensation of profits, surely makes it a jersey worth looking at.

fabricated from a mixture of elastane and polyester, their description of the jersey as lightweight is pretty darned accurate. arriving in a gold debossed black box, the lid of which is held in place with two gold and black ribbons, the notion that you're getting your (£85) money's worth is hard to avoid. the laser cut sleeves are underpinned by mesh panels, aiding a cool demeanour when the mercury rises, and feature an incredibly tacky gloop inside the cuffs that made it an encouragingly hard effort to wear. those sleeves moved not a millimetre in the heat of battle.

hommage au velo bahamontes climbing jersey

the full length zip ends in the customary zip garage at the medium height collar, while the hem of the front panels is more elastic than polyester, preventing any bunching in the sprint. the three rear pockets are more than capacious, neatly augmented by a fourth zipped edition for coffee money, keys, or whatever other guff you tend to carry in the peloton. though the bahamontes name gives some hint as to its sporting pretensions, in fact, the jersey does encapsulate the race-fit epithet with aplomb, feeling a deal more comfortable in the drops than standing in front of the bathroom mirror.

it's a bit of a cliché to mention that the true success of any cycling garment is how little you notice it on the bike, but, if the description fits...

the hommage au velo, bahamontes lightweight climbing, short-sleeve jersey, is available in sizes ranging from xs to xxl in red, black, navy or white at a retail cost of £85. as mentioned above, a portion of the profits from each jersey is donated to world bicycle relief.

bahamontes climbing jersey

tuesday 22 may 2018

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campagnolo

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flandrians of the west

the belgian national cycling team

not that i'm a follower of soccer in any shape or form, but i believe one of the more regularly repeated commentary clichés is 'it's a game of two halves', something of an obvious tautology, since i believe football matches have been ever thus. but it appears that there's a possibility that it might have applications in the velocipedinal realm, though applied more readily to the hebridean weather conditions than any specific event.

early may has been, almost traditionally, islay's summer. the first couple of weeks in recent years have been blessed not only with uncharacteristic hours of sunshine, but a concomitant improvement in the ambient temperature. having spent most of the preceding months clad in bibtights, long-sleeve jumpers, overshoes and rainjackets, those few weeks have provided the opportunity to raid the summer drawers, for sleeveless baselayers, short-sleeve jerseys and bibshorts worn without leg warmers.

if nothing else, it removes the saturday evening indecision as to which garmentage to leave out for the sunday morning ride and encourages the beginning of those tastefully curated tan lines. that is, until it doesn't.

though it would be hard to deny a certain nip in the air on saturday, despite an overall brightness, the occasional spark of sunshine insisted on bibshorts and short-sleeve jersey if only to appear brazen and to encourage that summer mentality that has been hiding since last july. already, there are the tell-tale oval patches on the back of each hand, should it be found necessary to advertise one's proclivities amongst the civilian population.

that, to put it in a nutshell, was the first half. sadly, sunday dawned as the embodiment of a rather disappointing second half. though the wind had dropped by a significant amount, no longer could the day be described as warm, while the dress code had reverted to bibtights, or shorts matched with knee warmers. heck, the persistent rain even made it necessary to don packable waterproofs without any sign of them ever having need of being packed.

many of you will be conversant with the sunday morning agenda; head down the road to debbie's, wait for everyone to arrive and at ten (ish), head off into the wide grey yonder. however, unexpectedly and rather brilliantly, the belgian national team (at least, i think that's what they said) arrived to join us for a perambulation of loch gorm. though riding round the loch is as much of a cliché as the game of two halves, it's a very picturesque parcours to show off to a visiting national cycling team. or at least, it would have been, had the cloud cover not been dispensing persistent precipitation pretty much from start to finish and concealing most of the niceties.

having acquitted ourselves rather well (our resident sprinter took a well judged victory on the line at bruichladdich), we delivered the belgian national team to debbie's in time for coffee and cake with plenty of time to prepare for their distillery tour mid-afternoon.

one of the most common compliments paid to the island on a regular basis, is just how friendly are the locals a sentiment that we hope would include the velo club. so, whether you're a national team or simply a team leader on a hebridean holiday, please accept this as an open invitation to join the velo club sunday ride; provided you arrive at debbie's prior to 10am, we'd be more than happy to welcome you to the peloton. we're there every week, no matter which half of the weather prevails.

as i have said on more than one occasion, hebrideans are the flandrians of the west. this weekend, we confirmed it.

monday 21 may 2018

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haramaki - japanese body warmer

haramaki

at its most basic level, the layering system consists of a base-layer, mid-layer and, every bit as importantly, the outer layer. it's a system that evolved principally for those enamoured with the great outdoors and there are more than a few companies or individuals who claim to have 'invented' it. however, since pretty much every outdoor clothing purveyor adheres to its benefits, the originator matters little. well, other than whoever did invent it, of course.

though i've no doubt there will be those clamouring to disagree, the average cyclist suffers from breathability/perspirational issues to a greater extent than those who trek across great wastelands, or bag a couple of munros at the weekend. therefore, though the layering system applies every bit as much to the velocipedinally inclined, it's possible that clothing apportioned to the latter, may need the occasional tweek here or there. and it's no real secret that the holy grail for both, is the fabrication of a breathable outer-layer that is breathable enough for a cyclist making his or her way to the summit of the monte zoncolan in twenty-degree heat in the rain.

based on current technology, that grail is still some way off.

it may possibly be, however, that we are looking the wrong way. a few years past, development of the outer layer took a slight diversion, admitting that ultimately, it could not maintain total waterproofing indefinitely; eventually, any coated, waterproof fabric, cannot shed precipitation faster than it is being absorbed. that's when we get wet. accepting that to be a currently unsolvable fact, the clever money started looking at the likelihood of creating a material that would keep the individual comfortable even when wet.

haramaki

look back to milan-sanremo around five years ago, and take note of the jacket favoured even by those sponsored by other manufacturers. that jacket was/is not 100% waterproof, but it hides that fact well until you reach the finish line.

but how comfortable we remain, if that outer layer features even a modest level of thermal properties, might well depend on our choice of base-layer. this mostly consists, at present, of the highly comfortable and distinctly non-aromatic merino wool version and the various polyester versions; offer a choice between both and i figure you'd probably have two lines of equal length standing in front of you. but ultimately, it's maintaining a stable core temperature when riding in cold weather that is the most important aspect. there's no real point in remaining dry, if hypothermia gets to you first.

the japanese word haramaki, means 'belly-wrap, a stretchy cotton tube that is worn around the stomach and purports to maintain warmth in the face of adversity. i'd be loathe to wear one without matching it with a base-layer of some sort, if only for reasons of upper body comfort, but it pretty much seems to do what it says on the tin. though many will purport that wearing a base-layer of thicker material would surely offer the same benefits, that would likely risk serious overheating under strenuous conditions. back to the zoncolan summit once more.

haramaki

the haramaki, available in several colour variants, is thin enough not to have your hard won svelte physique resemble that of billy bunter and, according to the distributors, is suitable for activities other than just cycling, something that could also legitimately be said about base-layers too. those months that encompass the spring classics are ideal for this item, as are those in the depths of mid-winter. once on, it's comfortable and stretchy enough to all but forget its existence, though it's worth my pointing out that, on a day that started cold, but heated up, my six-pack became a tad warmer than i'd prefer.

however, assuming, like me, you wear it over your bibshorts or bibtights, it's a relatively simple process to divest yourself of its benefits and stuff it in a back pocket. i'm not sure that i see it becoming a staple in the active cyclist's sock drawer; it's perhaps better suited to the commuting or leisure cyclist during the colder months, since they're less likely to benefit from the almost hermetic sealing of a clothing groupset. but at £12.50 each, it's definitely worth investigating for next winter.

nukunuku.co.uk

sunday 20 may 2018

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the (lack of) spirit in the mass

arevo

oddly enough, my friendship with connecticut framebuilder, richard sachs, began when i described him as 'sullen'. this apparently disparaging remark came at the behest of my reviewing the dvd version of desmond horsfield's short film, 'imperfection is perfection'. though the movie offered a superb portrayal of the framebuilder practising his art, richard didn't smile once throughout its 28 minute length, hence the 'sullen' apellation.

as a matter of courtesy, i sent a link to the review to both mr horsfield and mr sachs, after which time, richard became the best friend i'd never met. that particular situation was remedied some six years past, when i attended the north american handmade bicycle show (nahbs) in california's capital city, sacramento. though that particular weekend offered the chance to see many an innovative bicycle and/or component, richard's stand featured simply two road frames and a 'cross frame set against a backdrop of the team jerseys that were a part of his idiosyncratic history.

richard was much in demand that weekend; i frequently had to stand to one side while he was interviewed or filmed, but he was nothing short of courteous, funny, informative and, as you'd expect, occasionally wonderfully cantankerous. though we don't correspond as frequently as was once the case, i still consider him a good friend and one i have now met.

but the fascination surrounding richard sachs rests not only upon his own obsession with cyclocross, but the admirable beauty and simplicity of his steel frames. though not shy to admit that, had his career commenced in the last few years, those frames may well have made greater, if not exclusive, use of the black stuff, the brazed lugwork and traditional fork crown keep a tenacious and strong hold of the pegorichie steel tubing he developed in conjunction with dario pegoretti. and in order to assist a coterie of steel framebuilders in their quest to remain afloat, he designed and produced a set of cast lugs for sale to those who have need of them.

however, the one person perhaps less in thrall to the handbuilt lugged steel bicycle than the rest of us, is richard sachs himself. he has been on record more often than on a single occasion, stating that an 'off the shelf' mass-produced frame from the likes of trek or specialized is more than adequate for the majority of cyclists. and he is similarly disparaging of those of us who fawn over his impeccable craftsmanship, considering the bicycle to be simply a tool, and decidedly not the work of art that we claim. yet, the sachs order book remains in astoundingly good health.

but even the 'traditional' carbon product of the major players in the industry could be under attack from a company headed up by a former amazon and google executive. under his direction, california's arevo has produced a three-d printed carbon bicycle, which their chief executive figures could eventually be made available for as little as $300 (approx. £225).

granted, even if it sells by the truckload, it's unlikely to affect the sachs workshop by even so much as an imperial smidgeon. but i'd be willing to bet that the 'big boys' are ordering industrial-sized, three-d printers from amazon, even as we converse. and despite an overwhelming threat to dispense with the carbon layup skills developed in the far east, so-called 'innovation' seemingly marches on unhindered at the behest of commerce.

now i'm sullen too, in a luddite sort of way.

saturday 19 may 2018

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chrome industries ..........................................................................................................................................................................................................

le hommage au velo

hommag au velo

currently, active individuals on islay (and probably elsewhere, for all i know) can be divided into three distinct groups: those of us who have already cast aside the dark side and opted for the way of the velocipede; those who enviously watch from the sidelines and are seriously considering arriving outside debbie's on a sunday morning and everyone else. try as we might, there's probably not a lot we can do about the latter, but we have made inroads to pacify those who approach the velo club with trepidation.

hommag au velo

despite rather blatant evidence to the contrary, one or two apparently find themselves experiencing a smidgeon of trepidation over the perceived speed at which we cycle. many of us have been here for the duration and tautologically, ride at a speed that's comfortable for all of us. why would we ride any slower? but that does not discount the fact that 'the sunday ride is the sunday ride'; if slower pedallists join on a sunday, then we ride at an appropriate speed, stopping every now and again to allow stragglers to catch up.

but it's not always entirely a case of velocity.

the late, great, lord carlos of mercian spent his formative cycling years determined to be simply 'a bloke with a bike', straining every sinew to avoid purchasing and wearing lycra. but, aside from as a result of an overly inebriated beach party, you'd scarcely go swimming in a pair of levis 501s. though we have been oft times accused of poseurship, most of us are dressed in padded lycra and wicking sportwool for reasons of comfort and joy. if jeans and a t-shirt offered a similar level of comfort, i'm sure the peloton would shop at marks & spencer, rather than evans cycles.

hommag au velo

the trick for the current peloton is to separate the speed factor from the perceived dress-code. none of us have any qualms about riding alongside men or women with bikes, rather than bona-fide or wannabe poseurs (so to speak).

ultimately, the majority suck it up, realise the error of their ways and succumb to the comparative luxury of faux chamois. extrapolate this across the majority of the pelotonese and eventually evans cycles (for example - other cycle clothing retailers are also available) and i feel it safe to say that our niche little market needs cycle jerseys and bibshorts eventually. acquisition of such garments can be had, thanks to the alleged meteoric rise of our sport, for as little or as much money as you happen to have in the piggy bank.

i have been on record several times, querying the need for yet another hanger in the wardrobe; are we not currently well enough provided for, to make it less than sensible that someone else might think it a wizard wheeze to join the party? many of those who ultimately do so, justify their membership on the basis of offering something more unique than the last unique thing that was unique.

hommag au velo

however, to saddle hommage au velo with such a hypothetical bundle would probably be a tad iniquitous. no doubt founder, david law, could justifiably claim that today's launch of the brand offers something that the others don't, but in this case, it's a strategy separate from notions of sartorial excellence, yet accompanied by a keenness of price. to quote mr law "I believe that this is the first cycling brand globally to be created with the specific aim of contributing a portion of profits directly to cycling charities.". aside from occasional specific campaigns by other cycle clothing purveyors, i confess i'm unable to counter his claim. "Initially we are supporting World Bicycle Relief but if we start to break even, we will look at adding other charity partners."

hommag au velo

those of you who read these black and yellow pixels with something approaching a conjoined frequency, will perhaps be already aware that i am a staunch supporter of world bicycle relief. though we skitter about on carbon nano tubes of a weekend, wbr have constantly proved the true power of the bicycle which, in no way, requires any association with sportwool, polyester, lycra or padded inserts inside a pair of shorts.

so, no matter the variety of labels present in the cycling wardrobe, if you've room for one more, it probably ought to be hommage au velo, always assuming you're happy with giving something back; getting double something for your hard-earned. as david says "We aim to take corporate social responsibility to another level at least. It will be a huge success if our profile grows enough to force others in the industry to think about their activity in this area."

putting your money where his mouth is might be the start of another cycling revolution.

hommage au velo

friday 18 may 2018

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limar helmets ..........................................................................................................................................................................................................

show a little respect

adam yates - giro 2018 stage 11

i'm pretty sure that those of us who follow at least the majority of pedal strokes incurred by the professional peloton, experienced a seminal moment at some point in our past, when we realised cycling was a real sport. i was brought up with a father and a brother who followed football (soccer) and for years, would surely have been forgiven for thinking that no other sporting activity existed, or if it did, was infinitely inferior to the act of kicking a ball around for ninety-minutes.

though the occasional sunday morning cycle to work would be punctuated by the passing of chaps on sporty looking bicycles and with numbers pinned to their backs, it did not dawn on me (until much, much later) that this was an activity in which i too could have become physically immersed. by the time of that realisation, i was well past the point where i could have made any inroads anyway.

but for many, self included, it was the 1985 advent of channel four's daily half hour broadcast of highlights from the tour de france, that placed the competitive bike ride in some sort of useful perspective. that and the knowledge that a diminutive scot from glasgow had become the highest placed briton ever in that selfsame grand tour, one year earlier. all of a sudden, virtually overnight, those bendy bars, skinny wheels and ten gears made a great deal more sense. i was, as i believe is the correct term 'hooked'.

perhaps rather obviously, cycling plays a greater role in my daily existence nowadays, than was the case back in the early 1980s. arguably, i am far better informed today than i was back then. i do understand why the fellow first across the line is not necessarily the same chap wearing the yellow or pink jersey the following morning. i also am pretty clear as to why out of nearly 200 starters in any grand tour, only a handful are considered likely to win. and well i know what the other 195 are there for.

but, particularly while almost half-way through the 2018 giro d'italia, i'm also quite clued up as to the number of three-week grand tours that fill each season. i am astute enough to realise that, of the one-day races held in march and april, several have equal or greater status than those three weeks in july, depending on your point of view. fantacism is in the casquette of the beholder. it is therefore considered unseemly to conduct vehement arguments, mid-coffee shop, as to the relative merits of your three week grand tour versus my one day, cobbled, monument.

it's all bike racing; i feel that discrimination between events is, at best, unsavoury, and at worst, a complete waste of time. consider, if you will, richard sachs' contention that the road-racing calendar is simply one that gets in the way of cyclocross season and i'm sure you can see what i mean?

therefore, on this basis, taking all the above considerations into account, i think it in pretty poor taste that cycling weekly is currently touting pre-orders for its tour de france race guide while the giro is still underway. the implied message is that pink is all very well and adam yates is only winning a second-rate event, but meanwhile, here's the real thing for only £8.99. i have no qualms whatsoever regarding the existence or promotion of any tour de france guide, official or otherwise, but please, mr cycling weekly, have at least the decency to wait until the giro ends. rome is but ten days away, leaving you around forty days to sell your tour guide with free socks, before battle commences in Noirmoutier-en-l'Île.

the tour de france has a big enough ego already; don't encourage it.

thursday 17 may 2018

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copenhagenize -the definitive guide to global bicycle urbanism. miael colville-andersen. island press softback, 275pp illus.£19.99

"why did the engineer cross the road? because that's what he did last year."

copenhagenize - mikael colville-andersen

i have ridden along the eight mile stretch of straight road leading from bowmore to port ellen, taking me past the airport and the still-under-construction, revamped machrie hotel and golf links. as ever in these parts, there's been a headwind, but as i turn at right angles with the intention of retracing my steps, but along the high road, i realise that the breeze in my face was probably the tailwind. it would be another mile or so into port ellen village, but avoiding this southern conurbation, i am now pointing in the direction of bridgend, ten miles north.

the high road is arguably the more picturesque means of moving between the central and southern islay villages; where the low road is pan flat, arrow straight, the high road meanders just a little and has more of a rolling lope to its vector. not so many visitors use this route on first acquaintance, but many of the island's trucks do, the meeting of which provides gainful employment for the many passing places peppered along the edges. in this case, i meet none of the above, but as i near the glen road turn-off, two cars pass from behind, close enough together to allow me to roll through a passing place and out the other end with scarcely a blip in my trajectory.

however, realising that this ease of passage is probably far too good to be true, the two cars only a short distance ahead, meet with one driving in the opposite direction. faced with this convoy of two, the vehicle pulls into a passing place to allow them to continue unhindered, yet though i am but five or six car lengths behind, the driver than pulls out onto the roadway and forces me to step aside.

this is when i am inconveniently reminded that bicyclists are still second class citizens.

however, let's face facts; my saturday morning bike ride, aboard particularly luxurious ritchey steel and sporting italian running gear, is but a poseur's fancy. i'm not training for any specific event, i do not have to be anywhere in particular at any pre-arranged time and in essence, i'm just out enjoying myself. so having to pull over to appease faster traffic is a minor irritation, probably only engineered to offer subject matter for book reviews such as this.

but what if that were not the case? what if my journey was every bit as important and necessary as those in their metal boxes? what if i'd arranged an important meeting and this constant requirement to bow to the greater good (so to speak), had already made me uncomfortably late?

to a certain degree, everyone figures their own daily travail to be of greater import than that of their fellow man or woman, but multiply the above scenario by many hundreds of cars and bicycles and the potential for conflict, inconvenience, cost and dispossession increases exponentially. in short, it's very probably why individuals like author mikael colville-andersen exist in the first place. those of you who read, enjoyed and were appeased by carlton reid's 'roads were not built for cars', will already have a good idea of where mr colville-andersen is coming from.

he is the founder of and chief strategist for copenhagenize design which, since 2009 has worked with towns and cities across the world, helping them initiate, design and optimise their bicycle transportation strategy, something sadly lacking in the rural idyll of argyll and bute.

the remit of copenhagenize design can be as simple as designing a poster for merseyside rail ("if you rode a bike, you'd be there by now") or pulling in staff from all three world office locations (copenhagen, brussels and montreal) to design a state-of-the-art, state oil funded, bicycle infrastructure for the city of almetyevsk in the semi-autonomous russian state of tatarstan.

the difference in available cycling facilities between countries, states or cities can be as simple as those with the purse-strings getting it; being aware that, as the author makes plain in chapter 16 ('Prioritising Cycling'), "...there is one question regarding transport that needs to be changed first. [...] 'How many cars can we fit down this street?' [...] Let's ask instead, how many people we can move down a street?"

colville-andersen has the benefit of being a man earnestly tasked with improving the lot of the city-bound cyclist, but unlike those who do so from a purely activist base, his credentials and experience make him an individual to whom policy makers are inclined to listen. however, as head of a business whose livelihood depends often on successful negotiation at the upper levels of government and a high degree of pragmatism, to an extent he is dependent on being asked to comment in the first place. it is notable that the uk does not feature frequently in the examined case studies across the book's twenty chapters.

few of us will be at all surprised to learn that, by and large, the uk still doesn't 'get it'. at least not on the scale of many examples shown in mainland europe, russia and north and south america.

there is a temptation to view copenhagenize as a beautifully and colourfully illustrated, coffee table business card. the author details many successful projects across the world, frequently referencing his own company's involvement; how they acquired or interpreted data, or how their studied insight solved the apparently unsolvable. but the book's tone is a far cry from the 'look at me' narrative that could have been justifiably presented. the man's passion applied to what he does for a living, shines on every page; there is justifiable poo-pooing of lame attempts to pacify the city cyclist with poorly conceived infrastructure, but often a correspondingly cogent argument as to how a better solution could have been implemented.

or was.

there's no doubt that, once again, this is one of those books that, it could be argued, is preaching to the converted. expecting the die-hard motorist to voluntarily read from end to end while deciding which bicycle to purchase as a result, is surely akin to having turkeys vote for christmas. however, if the activist in you needs satiated, why not buy a copy and send it to the head of town planning at your local council? after you've read it, of course. in order that cycling may become mainstream in the uk (or any part of the world for that matter), for every one of us on skinny wheels and bendy bars, there needs to be at least six others who don't care who chris froome is, but want a practical, clean and economic way to get from a to b.

when (not if) that happens, we'd better hope that our government and city officials are as in thrall to the ideas contained within copenhagenize as we need them to be. aside from which, the cover is as well-designed as all the bicycle infrastructure featured within.

wednesday 16 may 2018

twmp ..........................................................................................................................................................................................................
galloway cycling

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rapha classic saddle

rapha classic saddle

in the years when i inadvertently found myself as lead drummer in the original incarnation of islay pipe band, our annual trip to the cowal highland games at the end of august was considered the equivalent of a sunday school trip. we'd take the ferry to kennacraig and disembark to the cossetted comfort of a west coast motors coach, ready and willing to transport us to our overnight accommodation, then onto the games come saturday morning. any new pipe band comprised predominantly of adults and without a recognisable palmares was generally allocated a place at grade four. however, the individal ranking began to get a tad oversubscribed and was subsequently divided into grade four a and grade four b.

rapha classic saddle

due to the large number of bands in those sections, as we arrived at cowal, the competitions would already be underway, allowing us the luxury of listening to those we would later compete against on the same grass field. naively arrogant and confident to the last, we would stand and patiently listen to our peers, the sound of several convincing us that we, at least, would not come in last overall. you can perhaps share our dismay when more than just one band we had casually discarded from the competitive milieu, received second or third prize at the end of a long day.

it's the very reason why, to this day, i have no truck with the competive realm being applied to either music or art.

rapha classic saddle

at the end of last week, i received a copy of 'modernists and mavericks' by martin gayford, a series of conversations with francis bacon, david hockney, frank auerbach and others in the group often referred to under the misnomer of 'the school of london'. though i cannot admit to being inspired by either francis bacon or lucian freud, i do admire the works of auerbach, leon kossoff, dennis creffield and others who owe at least partial allegiance to david bomberg. i am, nonetheless, more than aware that my taste in art does not corroborate with the majority; my appreciation doesn't make me wrong, but then nor does it make others right.

rapha classic saddle

and to be perfectly frank, pretty much the same can be said about reviewers. like me. because in the specific case under consideration, i have put in not far short of 700 kilometres on rapha's new carbon railed saddle and (spoiler alert) it's definitely one of the most comfortable saddles on which my bum has had the pleasure of sitting. and i've not just taken rapha's word for it that their saddle has been built with their pro-team and classic bibshorts in mind; i have ridden quite a number of those kilometres wearing bibshorts from competing brands.

and it's still one of the most comfortable saddles on which my bum has had the pleasure of sitting.

there is, of course, one caveat, one that may either increase the cost of sitting on imperial works (if you catch my drift), or exclude it altogether. though it's a tribulation that affects other carbon-railed saddles, the girth of the latter may well be incompatible with your seatpost clamp. in my case, the rapha saddle was fitted to my ritchey logic road bike, one which featured a ritchey branded wcs seatpost. this comprises a novel, two-sided clamping system, utilising an allen bolt running at right angles to the saddle, holding the separate clamps in place, both of which hook under the angle adjuster and over the top of the saddle rails at each side.

rapha classic saddle

or rather, they don't.

in point of fact, those clamps were insufficiently 'deep' to deal with the carbon. for the period of review, i'd to replace the ritchey post with an 'oval concepts' model, one which offered a compatible clamp. you have been advised and forewarned.

the classic, yet still subjective means of reviewing a saddle of any weight or flavour, is to make use of galeforce headwinds. i can guarantee that if the saddle has any flaws in the comfort stakes, riding hard into a headwind for 15km or more will find them. and you'll be in no doubt as to which part of your anatomy they are affecting.

though i never doubted for a minute that rapha would offer up a saddle into such a competitive market, without first ensuring that the comfort factor was at least on a par with the best of its peers, it's hard to conceive that there are many shapes and/or profiles that haven't already been employed. however, it seems that on that score, i may be wrong. the sitting bit consists of a rounded, perforated, minimally padded top, one that developed a couple of creases on each side after it had been ridden only a matter of kilometres. these are cosmetically irritating, but highly unlikely to affect the saddle's performance.

rapha classic saddle

as explained above, saddle choice is entirely subjective, with a healthy degree of ergonomics thrown in for good measure. i have previously ridden saddles that half the professional peloton seems to find more than amenable, yet i have found considerably less than compatible with my own physique. that's what subjectivity (and a pipe band competition) is all about.

there are two versions available: road and race (or pro-team and classic, if you prefer) and two widths available for both. though the classic version, as reviewed, was bereft of a central cutout, the race version features this as an option. there's also a rapha cycle club edition available of both variations. the race also differs from the classic in terms of construction: though both offer a one-piece carbon rail, the road edition is nylon-based, while the considerably more expensive and lighter race model features a carbon fibre base. whichever model you think you'd prefer, i seriously doubt that you'll be disappointed.

and even though i'm right, that's my subjective opinion.

the rapha classic edition saddle retails at £180 and is available in both black and white. the rapha pro-team saddle is available in black only, with an alternative cutout edition, retail cost of which is £295.

rapha classic saddle

tuesday 15 may 2018

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rapha travel ..........................................................................................................................................................................................................

endura cycle clothing ..........................................................................................................................................................................................................

prendas ciclismo ..........................................................................................................................................................................................................

showers pass ..........................................................................................................................................................................................................

green oil ..........................................................................................................................................................................................................

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tell them we sent you

quick mention for those intending to visit islay's shores on a bike during the summer. velo club d'ardbeg recommended coffee/tea stops - in no particular order.

club headquarters at the old kiln cafe, ardbeg distillery. excellent food as well as designer coffees with froth. the single malt is apparently just ginger peachy. open monday to saturday from easter to september, seven days from june to september.

debbie's cafe

bruichladdich mini market (debbie's cafe), a few hundred yards from the distillery. highly commended designer coffees with outside tables. we like. open all year round with a cycling wall in the coffee corner.

welcometogreatcoffee.co.uk

port mòr bistro. now that the original debbie's is run by her mum, aileen, debbie has taken over the catering franchise at port charlotte's port mòr centre, where you can have some of deb's famously wonderful coffee as well as a wide range of foodtsuffs. highly recommended.

braehouse gallery, portnahaven. sited at the entrance to portnahaven village, the gallery also offers takeway coffees and a range of cakes. there's also quite a wide range of photos, islay souvenirs and other desirable odds and bits. though you can't sit in for coffee and cake, there is a table and chairs outside along with an adjacent bicycle rack for parking.

and recently opened in islay house square, bridgend in the islay studios photo gallery, a fine selection of designer coffees are now available while you admire the surrounding imagery.

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as always, if you have any comments, please feel free to e-mail and thanks for reading.

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.......................................................................................................................................................................................................... thewashingmachinepost

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book reviews

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