the post

book reviews

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the washingmachinepodcast

yes, at long last, trivia arrives on your ipod. quality isn't as great as it could have been because the fan on my powerbook cut in midway through, but it's all a learning curve and next one should be better.

and if i followed the rss procedure correctly, you should be able to get it on itunes

download here (8.1mb - this format might only work on apple ipods))

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fame at last

boy was i surprised to open my christmas issue of cycling plus and discover that thewashingmachinepost is website of the month!

'chuffed' does not begin to describe it. thank you cycling plus.

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discovery channel?

vc_port_wemyss

a rare photograph of the assembled multitude: vc port wemyss (also known as velo club d'ardbeg) outside the well known tea/coffee and carrot cake stop, the croft kitchen in port charlotte. this after cycling three centuries before lunchtime (ok, i made the last bit up).

l to r: directeur sportif dave thomas, james from islay it, me (notice the rapha training top), and jeremy from islay birding

sunday 4 december, i made it half way to bruichladdich but turned back because of torrential rain. jeremy waited out the rain in the bus shelter at bruichladdich, then cycled to bowmore to berate me for being a fairweather cyclist (!). don't think the ds left port wemyss, and james never surfaced.

only reason for subjecting you to this excruciating minutiae is by way of introducing you to the idea of the 'mince pie ride' on sunday 18th december. the idea is to cycle somewhere (weather permitting) before returning to the croft kitchen for mince pies which ish says she will have ready and waiting. if you're on the island, with bike, feel free to join in. e-mail me for details.

oh, and i've added some pics to the velo club d'ardbeg page. click the link to the left for a peek

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more stuff...now!

i'm pretty sure that i've touched on this subject before, but i don't really see why that means i can't do so again. after all, the monthlies seem to have endless mileage in lighting features every time the clocks go back.

in the early part of my cycling career (i like to think of it as a career because it makes me feel as if i might be getting somewhere), i was known as 'muddy fox', partly because some folks didn't realise that it was the name of a bike company, and also because that's the type of mountain bike that i rode. in fact that very same mountain bike still occupies space in thewashingmachinepost bike shed (glaringly overshadowed by a colnago on the workstand).

and this muddy fox used to be the recipient of many an anodised trinket, some very high quality handbuilt wheels (did i ever mention that i was into wheelbuilding?), a very early pair of rock shox (still on the bike) and, at one time, a coloured crud guard. and if you were ever, or still are, a reader of mbuk (is mint sauce still in evidence?) rarely did a month pass by without some new highly priced piece of titanium thingy being made available that would save grams from the favourite steed - never mind the fact that the same weight could be lost by me having a decent haircut, or that all would be negated by the amount of gloopy mud that adhered to the mega frame.

so there was an inherent danger that instead of being obsessed by incessant cycling, obsession fixated on all the new gizmos i could bolt on. but then, mountain biking was the 'new' thing and it's probably quite natural that manufacturers were refining the concept and making large amounts of money out of redundant products (neoprene chainstay protectors anyone?).

so, aside from having the 'been bags' almost permanently in the washing machine (can you begin to see a train of thought here?) or the tumble dryer, the thoughts turned from mud to road. after all, once you'd bought, or built your road bike, what else would there be to buy. and at one time, that was almost true. get a decent steel frame - only cannondale made aluminium - fit with campag and a decent set of wheels and you were set for life.

then titanium reared its stylish head - seatposts, saddle rails, bolt kits (i actually still have a set of titanium chainring bolts on my chorus chainset that i bought about ten years ago). of course, all this titanium was only in the interests of protection against the corrosive islay weather. surely you don't think it had anything to do with style? (if you've ever seen me cycle, any addition of style would be welcome). then of course it was necessary to replace 653 with columbus brain in the shape of a new colnago (superissimo), which had to have a titanium seatpost (the record carbon was out of stock) and eventually up to date with an all carbon c40hp.

along the way, mavic dropped the ksyrium on us, followed by just about everyone else (drool over a pair of hyperon ultras which actually cost more than i paid for the c40 frame!) then carbon took over completely. i've actually just seen a pair of tektro carbon fibre brake calipers. can it be long before campagnolo introduce the same to their record groupset?

anyway, either the upside or downside of any type of cycling (because i figure all this pervades commuting to a greater or lesser degree as well) is that buying a bike is likely to be just the beginning. clothing has also experienced a similar upgrade: it used to be enough to have a few trade tops of teams that no longer exist (claas cajastur, ariostea), a polyester look top and some ludicrous purple pearl izumi leggings. well witness some of the assos and rapha clothing reviewed in these very pixels over the last few months. even matt seaton of 'two wheels' fame in the guardian figures rapha to be a dangerous place, since he's almost spent the kids' inheritance on more than one occasion.

and it's great - no money, and look at all the stuff we can't spend it on. i really wouldn't have it any other way.

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gear review

i've just got hold of a pair of assos roubaix kneewarmers to try out, now that the weather has headed into colder climes. they're black, sort of soft and fleecy inside and definitely warm (it's been very cold over here lately). in comparison to my old and knackered knee warmers, there's a very tight elastic section at the bottom to stop the leg warmers riding up, but the surprise was no elastic at the top.

this actually makes perfect sense since the top fits under the leg of your shorts. my old ones did have elastic at the top and with such well developed thighs such as mine (stop sniggering at the back), these were often uncomfortable. i like the assos version much better.

so altogether, assos have come up trumps yet again. their clothing may well be among the most expensive on the market, but it's almost certainly the best technical cycle gear money can buy. you pays your money, you takes your choice

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warm for winter

those really nice people at rapha are offering winter packs with substantial discounts: the 60 winter pack consists of three pairs of merino socks (best on the planet), a pair of sportwool armwarmers, and a merino base layer. this gives a total saving of 45; the 120 Winter Pack has a classic sportwool jersey (best jersey i've ever bought) a pair of sportwool armwarmers, an epic cap, and a merino base layer. this saves 55 in total; and lastly, for the well heeled cyclist, the 300 winter pack: a softshell jacket, a merino training top (luxury), a merino base layer, an epic cap, and three pairs of merino socks (get the black ones, wear them with kneewarmers and change your name to bram de groot). this saves a whopping 140.

these offers are only available from rapha's website. click here to see.

they're also bringing out a range of clothing called 'fixed', starting with a rather super merino wool jersey for a mere 80. have a look here. according to rapha, the jersey is 'designed for the rigours of all day urban riding, the jersey is made from hard wearing pure merino wool, with a generous cut and understated style.' and no, they're not sponsoring the post - it's just ruddy good cycle stuff.

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this website got its name because scotland's graeme obree built his championship winning 'old faithful' using bits from a defunct washing machine

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

this column appears, as 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.

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