thewashingmachinepost




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a clever headline about bottles

rapha water bottle

water bottles are the sort of things that are regularly used as promotional items - i had two 'gracie goat' bottles sent to me by velopress - and you can cheerfully watch the guys in le tour throwing their bottles away either when they're empty or the closer they get to the red kite.

but for those of us who wouldn't dare throw away our favourite bottles, even when the logo has been completely scraped off, comes another bottle set to vie as a favourite, this time from rapha, only in true rapha style theirs is called a bidon. i have always wondered why water bottles are generally coloured rather than transparent, because i find it quite handy to see how much (or how little) carbo flavouring i have left when kilometres from home. this one is as clear as a milk bottle if a little greyer, made for rapha in italy by elite, and treated with an anti-bacterial agent to keep it safer for longer. one size fits all (500ml) and ten pounds(!) secures one for that carbon bottle cage. bear in mind, however, that the elite branded equivalent costs a mere £5.50

rapha.cc

posted wednesday 11 july 2007

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compact and bijou

campag record front mech

washingmachinepost jez (he of islay birding fame) also rides a colnago c40, but in an effort to save the weary legs when attempting alpe d'huez last year, the original campag chainset was discarded in favour of a record carbon compact chainset. this added a certain degree of allure to an already desirable bicycle, while not tarnishing its image with three chainrings to aid the struggle against gravitational pull. what it didn't have, however, was the complementary record front mech designed expressly to favour shifts on a compact. aesthetically, there is no real difference, but sonically there is quite a bit - shifting from ring to ring can often result in unintentional cacophony, just because the curve of one ain't the same as t'other.

well, those beavering italians have obviously either seen, or heard jez's gearshifts and fashioned a new record and chorus front gear mech that works just as well with standard and compact chainsets. hurrah. campag have couched the technicalities of this achievement in technicalities, but the upshot is that for 2008, if you own standard and compact (nothing wrong with a bit of 'flash sod' ness) the new front mech can now remain in situ whichever the terrain would suggest.

other details emerging for the 2008 range include a carbon chainset option for the centaur group (standard and compact) at 756g and an apparently superficial change to the shamal wheelset by way of a titanium colour option.

interestingly, it seems that the cofidis team are running campag's electronic record gruppo in this year's tour de france, which may herald its appearance at a bike shop near you within the next two years - though why, is pretty much anyone's guess.

posted tuesday 10 july 2007

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frictionless pedalling

fibre-lyte jockey wheels

well, not quite, but pretty darned close. having fitted a pair of fsa jockey wheels with ceramic bearings to the company colnago, and finding myself bright red of face after they worked several hundred percent better than i had them down for, we've widened the test.

during my recent 'thewashingmachinepost goes to the whisky festival' escapade, where the colnago c50 on test spent about half its time wearing fibre-lyte carbon chanrings (still in use on the c40), it seemed a neat and investigative idea to try out a pair of fibre-lyte carbon jockey wheels. to lessen the possible bias, they were fitted to a kuota with a new shimano dura-ace rear mech, and pedalled by somebody who is not me. this, hopefully, dispensed with the notion that a new pair of cheap jockey wheels would have achieved the same effect, simply because the old ones were too knackered.

the fibre-lytes do not have ceramic bearings, but a ceramic bushing in each wheel, and while they are available in three spoke and four spoke iterations, we opted for the 'solid' carbon flavour. in any event, the result was the same as the fsa - a marked and notable difference in pedalling resistance, which put a smile on the tester's fizzog. at a mere £40 for a pair of these featherweight items, this is a delightfully economic way to 'lighten your load' so to speak.

www.fibre-lyte.co.uk

posted tuesday 10 july 2007

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a hard day's night

phil deeker

you may remember a piece recently about phil deeker, who is cycling 300 cols in 30 days to raise funds for the mines advisory group (mag). well, phil sent some pics of this intrepid and daunting endeavour, and i've added his text describing a part of the ordeal. doubtless when it's all finished and he's sitting in front of a warm fire with feet up in comfy slippers, it will seem like it was great fun - but rather him than me.


"This is HARD, really hard. This is INTENSE, really intense. It requires being totally and permanently focused ≠ on the body, on the road and especially on the Mind. I would never be able to do this just as a personal challenge, not at this pace anyway. I feel confidant that I can do it purely because of M.A.G. and all of you. I didn't think that your support and your donations to MAG would play such a vital role in this. But believe me, I have already often drunk from the 'spiritual well' of each and every one of your donations. And I will be drinking that well dry as I tackle the Pyrenees I reckon! I honestly believe that there are not many people who could do this ≠ its time to drop any inherent sense of modesty and be honest - : ask anyone you know who cycles 'seriously'. This is a MONSTER! So as I go on I will need more and more encouragement. Now some of you have already sent me well-wishing messages ( e-mail problems at present but at least I receive mails) but the ones that really count, that really boost me, are the ones that come from via Harriett at MAG. It is so simple to donate via the website and attach a message and it means so much to me. The success of this ride is just as much about the money I raise for the great work that MAG do as it about me being able to cycle up hills. Probably more! So if you are taking the time to read this then please also take a minute to send me a message via MAG, adding what you want ≠ however little. Please also talk about this to people around you.

magclearsmines.org

phil deeker

Thanks and thanks and thanks to...

rapha ≠ your clothes are superb. Bum was moaning about the saddle, not about the shorts. ( What are CW doing only giving them 4/10? - yes, what was that all about - ed) Most of me got wet and cold on the Croix de Fer, but not my core body, thank goodness, thanks to your 110% waterproof jacket. And so I could go on.

torq ≠ I drink 6-8 bottles of your energy drink per day; eat 3-4 energy bars, and drink a Recovery drink at the end of each ride and I still ENJOY your stuff! I don't think there are many brands I could say that about! No digestive problems either. 11/10

Stonehenge Cycles ≠ the bike is riding like a dream so far. Thanks again so much for your help in the workshop and for you general advice.

posted tuesday 10 july 2007

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rapha special edition gloves

bespoke cycling

do we really need/want to spend £100 on a pair of cycling gloves, even if they are made from african hair sheep leather? no, of course we don't, but do our hands feel utterly brilliant if we have shelled out the readies? you bet your carbon chainset they do.

i've had a pair of rapha criterium gloves for a couple of years, and i wear them all the time - in fact i wore them all the way from london to paris (is he ever going to shutup about london-paris?), and they are really excellent, and they've outlasted all the much cheaper pairs i've owned in the same period. but these new rapha special edition gloves just raised the bar by several levels.

rapha sell these in two colours: the olive green shown here and purple. the latter colour used to be all the rage when everyone started anodising alloy, so i was less enthusiastic about purple, though it is very retro. instead of a velcro fastening on the back (which always pooks the cuffs on my armwarmers), these gloves have that jacques anquetil popper fastening, and little designy holes at the knuckles. the edges are trimmed in contrasting white leather, and the padding uses the same stuff used in army sniper gloves (i'm sure there's a clever remark in there somewhere).

the fingers are longer than most mitts, reaching the lower finger joint, but the real boost that makes these unashamed luxury, is the softness of the leather. good grief it's soft - so much so that gripping the hoods, bars, tops, you'd almost be forgiven for thinking you weren't wearing gloves at all.

yes, i know i've just stated that after paying £100 for a pair of gloves, they feel as if they weren't there, but isn't that what we want? well isn't it?

i doubt many of us would blanche at paying a similar amount for a carbon seatpost or saddle, and since this is one of the major points of contact with that carbon dream bike, doesn't it make sense to cosset those wee handies too? rapha will be happy to oblige.

posted sunday 8 july 2007

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by appointment

bespoke cycling

if you were about to buy a ferrari, it's very unlikely that you'd order it on the internet and wait for it to drop through the letterbox. you'd cycle to your nearest ferrari dealer, after making an appointment to speak with the senior sales director, and after a lengthy test drive (through the tuscan hills would be nice), you'd sit down in a creamy leather armchair, credit card in hand, to discuss whether you'd want an ipod connection, which colour of leather seating and just how many coats of fire engine red would be applied to that svelte bodywork.

unfortunately, in the humbler world of the bicycle, you probably would order over the internet and wait for several grams of carbon fibre to be delivered by a smiling postie a few days later. granted, even the cost of a colnago forever isn't going to frighten the potential ferrari owner, but like for like, we're heading into the same regions of esoteric money spending, and it would be nice if someone gave the same care and attention as the representatives of maranello.

someone has. barry scott, he of advanced carbon group, has set up bespoke cycling in a basement showroom in hoxton square, london. here you can sit in a very comfortable leather armchair while discussing which set of lightweight wheels (i'd go for the ventoux) you would like affixed to your carbon fibre parlee, and which groupset would cater for your aspirational needs. having done so, barry will 'lend' you your dream machine for a few days shakedown to check that your money (relatively speaking, rather large quantities) is being pointed in the right direction. it's a darned clever idea and one that's obviously working, because when thewashingmachinepost visited in late june, there was little left to show because it was all out being 'shaken down'.

bike biz is always harping on about margins and other commercial realities of cycle store life - this is a welcome departure, and one that i would expect to see being emulated by others: at the moment, the only pitfall i can see is that it is very brand specific. i'd have a set of lightweights in a fraction of a second, but i've never ridden a parlee and i'm far too prejudiced towards colnagos. but it's early days yet, and none of that really undermines what is a particularly spiffing idea.

bespoke's official opening was even heralded by a visit from lightweight user, erik zabel, though he's probably tried the wheels before - at least he rides a colnago.

you can learn more at bespokecycling.com

posted saturday 7 july 2007

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luxury you can afford

merckx chm

doubtless i have harped on about the fact that my first london-paris ride took place on a very nice red and black eddy merckx chm carbon bike which not only saved me a lot of hassle by not having to lug a bike from islay to london, but which provided two wheels that i could pedal to versailles.

but how did the chm and i get on, considering it was sight unseen until the first morning of the ride? and did it make my legs hurt? and even more to the point, is it a bike you should consider if you're looking for carbon?

read more...

posted friday 6 july 2007

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detour de france - a film by dan jones. bromley video £17.99

detour de france

it is perhaps indicative of the seriousness with which the tour france takes itself, that we have almost a backlash by the very media that cover the race every year. cycle sport had a couple of blokes following le tour in a camper van last (and this) year, johnny green released his 'rock 'n' roll' tour book 'just push yourself a little bit more', scott coady brought out 'the tour baby' and now we have three australians (john trevorrow, denis donoghue and bill schwarzenberg) covering lance's seventh victory from 'behind the scenes.

all three protagonists are bona fide journalists, john trevorrow being the most experienced, but much like the archetypal australian, they seem to view the whole thing as a holiday with bikes, rather than a serious job of work to be done. i doubt that it was as light-hearted all the way otherwise they would no longer have gainful employment in the world of cycling, but they did prove themselves to be real journalists by drinking a bit too much, getting lost, and generally making us all look competent.

unsurprisingly, the australian peloton features prominently in the on-screen interviews (mcewen, evans, white et al), all of whom seemed quite happy to shoot the breeze with the movie's main 'stars' purely because they were australian. lance was accommodating, but too briefly to notice, while hinault was remarkably cheery and relaxed.

there's much footage of this and other tours de france and very non-patronising education as to the whys and wherefores of the tour and cycle racing for the newbie or uninitiated - very definitely a plus.

this isn't a side-splitting look at the tour, though the publicity may have you believe otherwise - much of the humour is accidental and occasionally incidental, due to the irreverent attitude of its stars, but it is very entertaining and an excellent antidote to the rather sterile commentary of ligget and sherwen on the 'official' tour dvds (phil and paul are both interviewed in detour). the incidental music is pretty good and mostly appropriate which is a plus, and the film editing, superb. so for a mere £17.99 for 130 minutes of detour movie, this is a very happy way to look behind the tour.

reccommended.

posted friday 6 july 2007

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cordee books


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sartorial elegance in the french countryside

gist clothing

so what does the well dressed rouleur wear on his first trip to france? well, aside from the obligatory ardbeg jersey worn on the final leg into versailles, this happy chappie had clothing from gist and solo to brighten the english and french countryside.

the gist clothing came courtesy of gfk marketing, the uk importers, and consisted of a maglia energia short sleeve jersey and matching bib shorts. while there are a modest variety of colours available, i had the rather fetching white and black. the shorts were mainly black with nice grey side panels.

having read other reviews of competitors' shorts where there often seems to be some concern over the 'fit' of the padded insert (see the comic's review of rapha shorts), riding the first 150km in ill fitting shorts would not be the ideal way to start a 600km ride. i'm happy to say that the fit was just ideal - not too much padding, not too little, so much so that i wore them again on the second day. the bib section consists of a close knit mesh, and if i've counted correctly, the shorts are eight panel, though it's kind of difficult to know just what constitutes a panel these days.

the leg gripper is identical to the gummy stuff on the rapha shorts, fitted to the underside of an elastic hem emblazoned with the gist logo all the way round. the padding is of the coolmax variety in a rather garish yellow, but since you can only see it when fitting, that's a bit of a trivial point. these were nice.

the jersey was very stylish in white with black panels around the arm junctions, and utilising a very silky feeling material and a nice long tag on the quarter length zip making opening and closing a lot easier when wearing cycle mitts. there are four rear pockets, one of which was zipped, a feature that i feel ought to be compulsory on every cycle jersey in the whole world. i was carrying a panasonic compact digital camera and, on two days, my passport. being able to keep those securely fastened was a great relief. unfortunately, the other pockets were a bit shallow, with the outer two being somewhat smaller than ideal.

if you're riding at least 150km, you need several munchy bars, carbo gels and stowaway jacket in case it rains. away from the london-paris, i'd add a pump and spare tube. while it was possible to stuff this into the pockets, it didn't feel as safe as i'd have liked and definitely lost major style points when off the bike.

the gist jersey retails at around £55 as do the shorts - outlets are rather limited at the moment, but there maybe a major addition within the next week or two. i'll let you know, because this is quality at a very reasonable price.

solo jersey and cap

solo cycle clothing hails from the unlikely quarter of new zealand, even more unusual because they specialise in retro style jerseys. they sent me their st neith clement sur liť jersey, which purports to be that of a french cycle club. actually it doesn't exist, but i had to ask, and several people on the london-paris ride had to ask me. it is very convincing. the sleeves and collar are in a contrasting textured material in red and orange, lending more of a retro look and feel.

in keeping with my not very large frame, i took a medium size in this too (gist was also a medium) but the fit was a tad closer which i did rather like. similarly to the gist, there were four rear pockets, including one zipped. while this was smaller than the gist equivalent, the three other pockets were more generously proportioned and less prone to 'baggying' when carrying ludicrous amounts of energy bars etc. the material is moisture wicking sport x dry fabric with a grippy section around the bottom to stop it riding up in use (the gist jersey has the same feature)

i can't really say one jersey was better than the other, since both fulfilled their chosen role in life with aplomb, but i'm not sure that white is the ideal colour for someone (me) who tends to get messy very easily. the retro look is definitely in these days, and solo have covered this admirably, while gist have gone for the contemporary look, and done so more successfully than many of their competitors. you pays your money- you takes your choice: you won't go wrong with either. (solo don't do shorts).

if st neith is not your cup of tea, solo classique jerseys also offer the dutch flavoured 'veerhaven', italian 'leone', american 'fremont' and the belgian styeld 'hercule'. all jerseys are made in new zealand. cost is £63 with postage to the uk costing around £5 you can see the full range at solocc.com.

and as you can see from the photo, solo do a rather neat line in cycling caps too.

posted wednesday 4 july 2007

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three days of pedalling bliss

london -paris start

it's a very sheltered existence on islay. if you've read andy mccandlish's article in the current issue of cycling plus you'll be aware that there are only three of us on the island that partake in anything like regular, speedy(ish) cycling. and we generally only manage about 60-70km at a time. so having decided to enter the london-paris ride, there was a distinct necessity to undertake some serious training if i didn't want to appear a complete wally in front of around 150 other cyclists. (not sure if i achieved that though).

so i did literally thousands of kilometres training and headed off on the ferry on tuesday 26 june to get myself to london ready to cycle 150km from hampton court palace golf club to portsmouth on thursday 28th followed by two days in france of over 200km per day.

now this is sort of where trepidation sets in. sven and his crew at london-paris had organised several training rides during the year which were impractical for me to join, and even a training camp in tenerife with sean kelly (who was also riding to paris). so i was figuring that everyone else would possibly leave me several kilometres behind before we even made it to lunch.

not so. london-paris doesn't work that way. the entry details stated three groups, effectively slow, medium and fast, and having no experience of cycling in a large group, i opted for the slow group. by the time we made it to lunch at grayshott, after 75km and at least a couple of ennervating hills, it was secretly comforting to find that there were people slower than i, and a lot who struggled on the hills where i didn't.

london -paris

but the best part of the confidence booster was the accompanying motorcycle marshals who effectively operated a rolling road closure all the way to portsmouth, and the fact that nigel from sidcup cycles was sitting behind in the service vehicle ready to attend to even the most minor mechanical defect. this even extended to a wheel change if a puncture reared its ugly head. our very own mavic car. so all we had to do was pedal.

and despite our group arriving at portsmouth almost an hour ahead of schedule (did i say slow group?) i wasn't anywhere near as knackered as i'd expected to be - and that after an absolute blinder of a hill just after lunch that must have been 20 percent if not more.

my london-paris bike ride was taking place on an eddy merckx chm carbon with wheelsbike 2000 wheels, a centaur groupset and vista pedals. somebody did point out at the end of the ride that i'd been very brave undertaking the distance on a bike i hadn't even seen before the thursday morning at hampton court. they may have been right, but it's something i hadn't even thought of. and it is great credit to graeme freestone king, the uk merckx importer and ride mechanic, that throughout the sub 600km ride to paris, i didn't even need to adjust the saddle height.

a separate road test/review of the merckx will appear shortly

london -paris

before leaving hampton court, all our luggage had been loaded into a truck and taken directly to portsmouth ferry terminal. we were also provided with musettes in which to place ride essentials that could be accessed from the service van at anytime during the ride, though in practice, most waited until lunch stop before ransacking the cardboard boxes.

brittany ferries almost made calmac look good by the way they dealt with boarding 150 plus paying cyclists and support crew on to their boat. the odd customer service course wouldn't go amiss methinks. however, the food on board redeemed them somewhat and the cabin was more than fine by me. i had a really good night's sleep.

having gone to bed at midnight on wednesday (graeme was late in arriving and he and lol had a brief affinity with the bar before lights out) and arisen at 5:30, this was the start of the days' sleep deprivation with less than early nights and earlier than desired mornings. leaving the ferry at 7:15am (8:15 french time) we pedalled en masse to a restaurant on st malo for a most substantial and welcome breakfast.

london -paris

if you've never cycled in france (and i hadn't even been to france before) joy awaits you. although we had four motorcycle escorts and a lead car who provided virtually closed roads (including every red light we encountered) oncoming cars pulled off onto the verge, despite having plenty of space to pass, people came out in the villages to clap and shout 'allez, allez, allez' and schoolkids rushed to the fences to wave, shout and scream. quite different from the uk.

some folks were struggling a lot on the climbs, and it was gratifying to see that one or two of the stronger riders did a lot to help the stragglers. i did make my own attempts to drag some folks up the hills, but not everyone seemed to understand the concept of 'grabbing' a wheel, and as a complete beginner at this stuff, i thought maybe i was simply making a pratt of myself - 'who does the idiot with the ponytail and the gold shoes think he is? and why does he keep cutting in front of me on the hills?

two of group two missed their start after lunch and joined us for the run to alencon in the afternoon. experience like theirs helped keep the group together, and i figure if i partake in the 2008 version, i may do the decent thing and emulate their example rather than move up a group. the two certainly helped by example.

trepidation part two had been the fear of blazing hot french summer sun, which failed to materialise at all on friday (it rained) and only made a late effort on saturday afternoon. however, the wind was a lot kinder, with mostly a tail crosswind followed by a tailwind to finish the journey on saturday - made it feel more like home, though if we'd only had a headwind (kidding).

all the cyclists and road crew stopped at around 15km from versailles, formed a very large peloton (remember, i only cycle with two other blokes usually) and pedalled into town (so to speak) along closed roads all the way to the novatel (very nice accommodation and food). that i will never forget.

merckx chm

those were the three most incredible days of cycling i have ever had. i met some truly wonderful people, rode a really nice bike (see left), my legs didn't hurt as much as i thought they would and i got a medal - well, everyone did. as david harmon said in his awards presentation, how many cyclists manage to cycle well over 150km per day, three days in a row with closed roads and full technical backup?

i did.

sunday was our day off, either in versailles or on into paris if you fancied. i walked around the versailles locale with friends james and tanya - including the absolutely necessary sitting outside at a sidewalk cafe, before we headed into garde du nor for the eurostar back to waterloo station in london. the bikes were all delivered to the union jack club in sandell street for collection, but not needing to a be a part of this melee, i headed to euston for a four hour wait to return to glasgow, to kennacraig and, eventually, to islay. it took twenty four hours to get from paris to bowmore.

just a word of warning - co2 canisters for tyre inflation don't go down too well with eurostar security.

roll on 2008.

posted tuesday 3 july 2007

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fk marketing


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gracie goat's big bike race - story by erin mirabella. illus. by lisa horstman. velopress £8.95

gracie goat's big bike race

whenever you get a new set of carbon wheels/colnago frame/shiny shoes, and spend the entire weekend sitting looking at them/it, does your mrs/ partner tell you that you're just like a big kid? yes, mine too - but now there's the perfect chance to prove it, with this wonderful new book from velopress: gracie goat's big bike race.

gracie goat's friends decide that it would be a whizzbang idea to put together a cycle team, with proper jerseys (the kalamazoo flyers) and enter for the biggest local race. the problem is, of course, that gracie can't ride a bike, but doesn't want to mention this to her pals in case she's left out of the team. does she learn to ride her bike? does she win the race? well, that would sort of spoil the story and ending wouldn't it - the only way you're going to find out is to buy a copy when the book is published in early july.

erin mirabella represented the usa at the olympics in 2000 and 2004 and entered her first cycle race at the age of nine (the age i learned to ride a bike, if truth were known). but the story is brought to life by the wonderful illustrations by ms horstman, who has managed to produce bicycles with proper drop bars - impressive in itself. and in the month when we have the new robert millar book, dressing gracie in a red polka dot top was a stroke of genius.

gracie goat's big bike race

in the best tradition of good children's books, there is something of a moral to the story, and even a practical epilogue about proper hydration that kids can check out for themselves. rumour has it that fabian cancellara used this book in training for the prologue of the tour de suisse (actually i made that last bit up, but it made you think for a minute). apparently for kids of four and upwards: i figure there is no upper age limit on this one. buy a copy and just pretend it's for son/daughter/niece/nephew or just be courageous and buy it for yourself. wonderful (and it even has a 'this book belongs to...' box on the opening page).

this book is now available from cordee books. it's currently available in the usa from www.velopress.com.

posted monday 18 june 2007

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rapha.cc


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

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