based on not a tremendous amount of research, more a cursory glance across the cycling websites that happen to pass under my cursor (actually that's quite a number but i'm loathe to admit that good cycling time can be compromised by internetting), it seems that the rest of the world (ok america and australia) are better served on the web than we here in the uk appear to be. which may not come as too much of a surprise for most of you, but it did come as somewhat of a surprise to me.
this is not to say that we can't purchase a wide range of cycle products online in the uk. one of my favourite sites is wiggle.co.uk where not only do they have a serious amount of kit for sale in pretty much all the disciplines - road, mtb, bmx et al. this, however, has to be tempered by the unfortunate fact that the site is somewhat lacking in the finer points of design, and has a total lack of extra curricular text telling us about any of the disciplines for which we are shopping.
compare this with america's competitivecylist.com. they too have a wide range of bits and bobs for sale, admittedly not covering quite such a fierce range as wiggle and certainly geared more towards the road cyclist, but also carries an ever increasing series of articles relating to some of their product range. a fine example of this is a piece describing the arrival of their first colnago anniversary model, which appeared in a huge box, completely assembled and for which there was a photo. there are other articles on their site about other products, possibly posted when the items were new.
it's a nice touch, and one which appears on other sites, such as trialtir, the american importers of, amongst other products, colnago bicycles. (incidentally, as a minor aside, since competitive cyclist.com sell not only colnagos but supposedly quite a sizeable range of colnago clothing. since there appears to be a serious lack of the latter on this side of the pond, i e-mailed to ask if they despatched to the uk, to which the answer was an emphatic yes. having replied with a couple of items that i was keen to purchase, it was pointed out that neither of those items had made it to their premises. one wonders then why they were being displayed for sale on the website?).
However, despite the long existence of procycling.com (actually in existence before the magazine appeared on the newsstands) and the recent emergence of cyclingweekly.co.uk, neither of the latter can usurp the dominance of cyclingnews.com which is based in australia. i only discovered this site during eurosport's coverage of the worlds at zandvoort in 2002, because duffers interviewd the guy who runs the news part of the site.
if you haven't already logged on, do so the minute you have finished reading the post. this site gives coverage of pretty much every road cycle race in existence, including some of the smaller races that most of us will not only never have heard of, but couldn't pronounce even if we had. there are regular updates throughout the day, frequent live coverage of bigger races online, letters, tech talk, fitness articles, thousands of photos and rider interviews and diaries. and despite its base in australia, it is fairly eurocentric and gives probably unrivalled coverage of racing in the usa, where, perhaps not surprisingly, most of the advertising that pays for the site comes from (where did you think i heard about competitivecyclist.com?)
by comparison, cyclingweekly.co.uk, only recently surfaced on the web despite rumblings for many a long year, and indeed the subject of several questionnaires in the comic over the years. perhaps not entirely strangely, the comic's site pretty much only gives a lead in to articles featuring in the current issue, a nice selection of photos downloadable as desktop wallpaper, and a brief selection of fitness articles.
if you look to the right of this page, you will find links to a reviews of the colnago c50 and the colnago dream b-stay, both of which featured in recent issues of the comic and which they very graciously allowed me to 'reprint' on thewashingmachinepost. however, my joy at being allowed to do so was tempered by the fact that they didn't decide to do so themselves. the comic's site only gives a directory of bike tests over the last year's issues, giving the name of the bike and which issue it's in. by comparison to the sites i mentioned at the start of this article, these seems like a bit of short change. since the issues have already been printed and sold, where would be the anguish in making them available online?
procycling.com certainly gives a few headlines and brief articles on a daily basis, also supplying a daily e-mail taster of same. since this is a monthly magazine, presumably they are less worried about giving out such brief information since it will all be covered in much greater detail in the next issue and with the luxury of excellent photos too. however, in keeping with the comic, no recent articles, interviews or bike tests are available online. i did e-mail the editor quite sometime ago to ask if it would be permissible to reprint some of the bike tests and articles completed by robert millar from the early days of the magazine, but i have yet to receive any reply at all.
so while we can all log on to wrenchscience.com and build the bike of our dreams, complete with individual weights of each component (an anorak's dream) and round this off with colour choice before being given total build price and total weight which can then be stored online for later retrieval. and your bike build can be looked at by other visitors to the site, and indeed, anyone can buy someone else's build if it happens to conform with their ideal spec. it's a great way to spend an hour or two adding to british telecom's coffers and certainly the best way of online window shopping for a cyclist.
so, since the technology is available throughout the world, why isn't it over here? because even if the american sites will send to the uk, customs and excise would have a field day if a huge box with an anniversary colnago turned up, addressed to islay. and my bank manager would have a fit.
this website got its name because scotland's graeme obree built his championship winning 'old faithful' using bits from a defunct washing machine.
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) there are also links to cycling weekly reviews of the colnago c50 and colnago dream b-stay. 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. here's the link.
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, and imac computers, using adobe golive cs and adobe photoshop cs. needless to say it is also best viewed on an apple macintosh computer.