if, as i suspect, you all read the comic and the associated monthlies (cycle sport and procycling) you will have noticed that at this time of year and slightly before, the pages are filled with, apart from end of season reviews and beginning of season previews, an encouraging number of bike reviews and tests. while procycling sticks pretty much to the tried and tested monthly robert millar bike test, cycle sport has introduced a 'tech' section at the back of the mag dealing with bikes and their associated bits. this is where we have a chance to read about the exotica that any sane person would think twice about buying. and the one thing that seems to be greatly prevalent in all such bike articles is the obsession with weight.
now whether this is simply cyclists moving the human problem over on to their velocipedes, ie if i can't lose weight, then i'll buy something that already has. in fact i was once acquainted with a cyclist who's solution to his lack of fitness and finesse on a bike was to continually buy something apparently lighter and faster, never quite coming to terms with the fact that it wasn't the actual bike that was fast.
so, while the trusty colnago is still a delight to ride around the island, the bike mags are starting to do to us cyclists what has been levelled at teen and women's mags for years - they're telling us constantly that we should be losing weight. not personally but mainly on the frame and the wheels, oh, and the components as well so, yes, the entire bike. There was quite an interesting article in procycling last year abot the propensity for some cyclists at the top end of the game to become anorexic on the basis that the lighter they were, the better their power to weight ratio and this certainly adversely affected one or two but you'll find that most weight loss articles in the cycling press are towards the machinery which is more beneficial to the health but definitely not so for the bank balance.
it is an ironic fact that the less there is of something bicycle related, the more exhorbitant its cost. one of the lightest bikes floating around at the moment (pun intended) is a storck, which weighs in at a little under 14lbs, fitted with a set of wheels that weigh less than a kilo. so while you may fly up hills on this particular delight, it will also lighten your bank balance to the tune of around £7,500. i have previously mentioned campag's carbon cranks which are a good bit lighter than the standard alloy version but at more than twice the price.
so who benefits, other than the manufacturers and retailers. yes, there is no doubt that it would encourage a self-satisfactory smugness to be able to pedal uphill faster and with less effort than your cohorts, attributable entirely to the fact that your bike weighs about five or six pounds less and i have to say, if i had that amount of spare cash that the mrs knew nothing about, i would be the first one there. but i wonder whether there is not a growing anad unseemly pressure, deliberate or otherwise, to have us own the lightest in cycling technology, even if our cycling routine is such as mine - a relatively flat area, with no-one else to join me on a regular basis and not a chance that i will ever compete in anything that matters. it seems quite within the bounds of reality for professional or very serious and talented amateurs to spend this kind of money on the tools of their trade to be at least as competitive as their peers. that has perhaps always been the case but i'm not sure that i don't detect a certain bubbling pressure for us clodhoppers to do likewise. otherwise, how will we ever hold our heads up in public again?
on islay, and i don't doubt there are other areas who live in similar conditions, the local swimming club has a veritable plethora of members both in senior and junior sections. and despite the fact that i actively attempt to co-erce all and sundry to consider taking up cycling, islay cycle club still consists of only one member and you're talking to him. and, if it's not an excuse, most folks won't enjoin in the cyling because it's 'too expensive'. and if the magazines are to be believed, they're probably right. after all, swimming only needs a decent pair of trunks and a pair of goggles and that costs a lot less than a litespeed titanium and a full set of assos cycling gear. admittedly they don't look anywhere near as cool as we do.
as an unfortunate postscript, the washing machine post was dismayed to hear that graeme obree had attempted suicide just before christmas and was seconds away from death when he was found. he is apparently now recuperating at home and hopefully improving. i have no idea if graeme reads this stuff but, if he does, we wish him the very best.
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 ibook and imac computers, using adobe golive 5 and adobe photoshop 6.0.1. needless to say it is also best viewed on an apple macintosh computer.