it's getting perilously close to the 2003 tour de france, and as if the event itself were not the biggest thing to happen in cycling year after year (whether you agree with this or not), this year it celebrates its centenary. ok, so it's not actually the 100th running of the race, only the 90th, but the first one was held in 1903 so 'la grand boucle' is one hundred years old.
there has already been a splattering of centenary 'souvenirs' from a number of manufacturers of cycling products - elite have brought out a centenary bottle cage, in suitably aged patina, with an old cork stoppered bottle similar to those used by cyclists in the early days of the tour. ok, granted it's not the most practical method of carrying your carbo drink, but since it's a limited edition, i'll wager few will ever get to see a real down tube. look bicycles have also produced a centenary frame and a set of expensive pedals.
all good stuff, but for us mere mortals with everyday bills to pay, centenary products need to be of a lesser monetary value, and here's where book publishers can help. well known for his contributions over the years to 'the comic' (cycling weekly) and currently a regular contributor to the monthly magazine, procycling, les woodland has edited 'the yellow jersey companion to the tour de france', (yellow jersey press, £16.00 in the uk). edited, seems a rather modest term for a book so full of a facts and figures about almost every conceivable sub-heading that could be encompassed by the tour. granted, it's not a novel that you would necessarily read cover to cover, though if you're a cycling 'anorak' like myself, such a task is not entirely out of the question. this is more like one of those volumes that could settle arguments (or start them), or make you into a more complete cycling bore than you already are.
for instance, did you know that french tv has 300 staff on the race, four helicopters, two aircraft, two motorbikes, four race cars, 35 other vehicles and 20 full-size cameras? well you do now, and there's lots more where that came from. illustrations are minimal and confined to graphic niceties by jonny hannah, thankfully in a way, because 397 pages of information surrounding one race are probably enough between two covers of a modestly sized paperback without the addition of photographs.
doubtless there will be omissions - things or subjects that we'll all independently figure should have been in place, but if there are, they will be very few in number.
there's a great deal of information about riders who have taken part in the tour over it's hundred year history, including (naturally enough) britain's highest placed finisher, washingmachinepost hero, and winner of the king of the mountains in 1984, robert millar, of whom the writer robin magowan apparently said "with his distinctive pointy nose, he looks more like a dickensian chimney sweep". there is a very long list of all the podium placings since the race began and a seemingly inexhaustable list of towns that have featured in every tour so far, thee's a list of the total prize money on offer every year, a list of the first rider over every mountain stage featured in the hundred year history - and so it goes on.
lest you think this is merely a book of lists, facts and figures, fear not, for the 'mini-articles' about each rider, the bikes, broadcasting etc., etc are more than worth reading and often quite entertaining. so before you settle down in front of the telly this july, with chunk of brie and baguette in hand, avail yourself of a copy of the yellow jersey companion to the tour de france. it will inform your viewing greatly.
on a slightly different note, my regular reader will have noted the addition of a 'colnago c40' rollover to the left. this contains a reprint of a recent article featured in cycle sport magazine, which they were very kind to let me present here (because i'm a colnago geek) i have also found an excellent review of the colnago c40hp here
i have been asked to add the following link to the post by wheelygoodcause. they're a cycling club dedicated to arranging epic rides for charity and do not charge charities for the pleasure. They ride because they want to, and the next ride takes them from st malo to biarittz and then across the raid pyrenees. so i have. and here it is.
Remember, you can still read the review of 'the dancing chain' the utterly excellent book on the history of the derailleur bicycle by clicking here
any of the books reviewed on the washing machine post can probably be purchased from amazon.co.uk or amazon.com
as always, if you have any comments on this nonsense, please feel free to e-mail and thanks for reading.
this column almost never appears in the dead tree version of the ileach but appears, regular as clockwork on this website every two weeks. (ok so i lied) sometimes there are bits added in between times, but it all adds to the excitement.
on a completely unrelated topic, ie nothing to do with bicycles, every aspect of the washing machine post was created on apple macintosh powerbook g4, ibook and imac computers, using adobe golive 5 and adobe photoshop 7. needless to say it is also best viewed on an apple macintosh computer.