the emperor's new clothes
nothing to do with the time of year, but i need some new cycling apparel because i've been too stingy to replace stuff as i go along, or indeed, buy something new every now and again. there is a reason for this but it's not a very good one.
a few years back, finally bit the bullet (or at least my bank balance did) and i bought an assos roubaix jacket - a bright yellow one so that at least drivers couldn't say they hadn't seen me as they forced me into the ditch round loch gorm. and in my naivety, it never dawned on me for an instant that what i thought of as a'jacket' would not be what assos thought of as a jacket.
you see most of my gear prior to this purchase was manufactured by lusso ( a heck of a lot cheaper than assos stuff) and when they referred to a jacket, that's exactly what they meant. ie you put on your thermal vest, a long or short sleeve jersey depending on how cold it was outside (absolutely freezing today) and then you put on the jacket.
assos however figure that a jacket is a very close fitting jersey with long sleeves, albeit a tad thicker and warmer than your average long sleeve jersey. and, despite the mistaken nomenclature, the roubaix jacket has turned out to be one of the best items of cycle clothing i have ever owned. it needs a gilet in weather such as we are currently experiencing because islay is very windy and generally very cold windy at that, and a roubaix jacket may be many things but windproof isn't one of them.
so i have long had a hankering after an assos airblock jacket - all the style of the roubaix (assos does make you look more svelte than any other cycle clothing i know - but then they go and produce a new version which leaps up from about 105 pounds to about 140 pounds.
now, despite being the proud owner of a stupidly expensive colnago carbon fibre machine, i am not particularly rich, and many hours of deliberation have occurred as to whether i can actually justify the cost of just such a 'jacket' when i also need new shoes (current pair of carnac's were purchased in 1995!) and new tights. assos also does a neat line in airblock tights but i needn't begin to tell you the price of those.
so instead of replacing these items, or even supplementing them, in easy stages, i now find myself requiring to replace all my current gear in one swell foop. however, having just purchased a very nice pair of retro armwarmers from campagnolo (only a tenner from wiggle), i have had a good look at campagnolo's offerings for 2005 and not only are they very stylish and campagnolo-ish, but i could buy a jacket and a pair of thermal tights for the cost of a pair of assos tights.
so why do i have a dilemma at all? well, all the assos stuff i own so far is ruddy brilliant and i've long been the sort of chap who sticks with something that works (i've owned apple computers since 1994, i'm on my second colnago and wouldn't use anything other than campag for components. i've also played remo drumheads since i was fifteen and that wasn't yesterday). so do i put my faith and affordability in campag, who can do no wrong with their bicycle components, or do i continue to frighten the living daylights out of my credit card and still buy assos? not to mention carnac shoes which are not renowned for their cheapness (in either price or quality).
see it really ultimately comes down to the quality factor. my carnacs cost about 100 pounds nearly ten years ago, so that means they've cost me about ten pounds a year - cheap in anybody's book, and there's still a good few miles left in them yet, though they currently look as if they're being worn by wurzel gummage (and there's many would say that they are). same goes for the assos stuff. costs a lot, but if it lasts as well as the carnacs, then it's money well spent. i, like you probably, have possessed many items of cycling gear that barely lasted a season. it has to be said, however, that campagnolo are not renowned for skimping on quality, so how come their stuff is almost half the price of assos? i would have thought you were paying for the name in both cases.
so by the time you read the next post, i'll probably be no further forward than i am now, though i notice a number of places that used to stock assos do so no longer, and i can't help thinking that might have something to do with the cost and not the quality.
by the way, i've already had promises of photos for the velo club d'ardbeg web page, so just a reminder: if you've bought an ardbeg cycle jersey, get a photo of yourself wearing it along with your favourite bike, and we'll put them up on a vcd'a page on the post, before we start hassling the good folks at ardbeg to incorporate similar onto their own website. and remember, the official tea stop and club hut is at the old kiln cafe at ardbeg distillery. wear your jersey anytime you visit.
rss stands for really simple syndication. what it means is that, when i update the post, i set up a brief description of what i've written, and using a newsfeed reader (on the mac, newsfan is a good one) you can be alerted when a new post is on the server complete with a link to take you there. if you're on the darkside (windows) try using newsgator
set your newsreaders to check http://www.ileach.co.uk/post/rss/index.xml and every time you scan the rss feeds, it'll tell you if there's anything new.
if you missed the ardbeg cycle jerseys, click here for a look see.
i had an e-mail from john houston of falkirk bicycle club whom i met a few years back cycling (he was) on a whisky/cycle trip to the island. since john has been gracious enough to link to the post, i am reciprocating. www.Falkirkbc.co.uk
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.