thewashingmachinepost




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on da house

kristian house

claims of superiority, particularly in sporting circles, are often to be treated in circumspect fashion, if only because such claims are party to the laws of subjectivity. first across the line can rarely be denied, but britain's number one team is less easy to objectify. such is the claim of the rapha condor team, and it has been so for at least the duration of the 2009 season. doubters there may have been: granted dean downing wears the national criterium champion's jersey and there have been numerous wins accrued across all the seasons in which they have participated. however, kristian house's elevation to british road race champion this year, means that two of the team now wear jerseys in white with traditional blue and red bands, making it a lot harder to argue with the number one contention.

sportwool jerseys take a long time to design, approve and build, a lot longer than it takes to apply the necessary dye sublimation to a more regular polyester shirt. time is money, and seize the moment was never more true when it comes to celebrating the winner of an annual competition. so, eschewing the more regular rapha modus operandi, the maestros of perren street have produced a limited edition replica of kristian's jersey incorporating all the new sponsors' logos and tom simpson inspired union jacks on the shoulders. individuality comes with kristian's nickname 'the dude' on the back of the collar. altruistically, the profits generated by the hundred pounds ($165) you'll need to pay for the jersey will go to prostate cancer charity, as promoted by one of the new sponsors sharp4prostate. emulation and benefit: can't say fairer than that.

however, i want, i want doesn't get: kristian has a bespoke pair od rapha track mitts in a colourway that is definitely not for mere mortals. based on rapha's ever popular grand tour gloves, 'the dude's' pair are a completely mismatched yet colour co-ordinated red and blue. win the british road race championship in 2010, and rapha might just make you a pair if you ask nicely.

the rapha national champion's jersey can be acquired in sizes ranging from medium to 2xl for £100 ($165). all profits will go to prostate cancer charity

rapha.cc

twmp

posted on friday 21 august 2009

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guitar solo

these go to eleven

anyone who has ever played in a rock band will surely identify with the following concerning guitarists. hopefully, the more adept and conscientious of the breed (i know, how many of those do you meet?) are well versed in the art of accompaniment required within a contemporary band, keeping the volume low enough to allow the singer to be heard and avoiding the necessity of the drummer to play with telegraph poles to be heard. even better, this hypothetical guitarist should arpeggiate any chords so as to avoid the strummy, strummy backing and leave space for everything else. there can be anything up to six on stage (or 106, if you're in ub40) and competition for musical space is best left for the encore.

however, an observation that i have made, as the many (too many) years have rolled by, is that the so-called lead guitarist generally turns up the volume control on the guitar when called upon to play a mid-song solo, but neglects - deliberately or otherwise - to turn it back down at the end of said solo. thus, as the gig draws on, the general level of volume heads ever upwards because solo after solo brings that volume control further clockwise at every repetition of the screwed up face.

as someone on the inside looking out, that most oft repeated and praised part of the movie spinal tap, the scene with nigel tufnel pointing out that his marshal amplifier goes up to eleven on the volume setting, has an unerring ring of truth about it. while playing as many rudiments as fast as possible is the drummers' achilles heel, volume seems to be that of the lead guitarist, with as many loud pedals, volume controls and stacks of amplifiers between guitar and audience as possible.

and roadies are the lead guitarists of the cycling world. there is a comforting satisfaction in pointing out to civilians just how many sprockets are dishing that rear wheel (as if they actually cared), while having fitted campagnolo eleven speed is probably the velocipedinal equivalent of being yngwie malmsteen.

it's possible, of course, that you think i have finally lost any marbles i may have started out with, but in this i am not alone. and not only am i not alone, but someone else has bought the t-shirt. well, to be more specific, has made the t-shirt. hot on the heels of providing the uk with chris hoy's helmet, the two humourists at prendas have brought to market a very fine t-shirt incorporating a campag eleven speed cassette and nigel tufnel's immortal words "these go to eleven"

this clever paraphrasing by mick and andy means that even those of us confined to less than the magic eleven, can still wear the shirt with pride and menace.

smug.

the prendas eleven speed t-shirt costs £17.50 and is available in sizes xs all the way through to 3xl

prendas.co.uk

twmp

posted on friday 21 august 2009

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on track

casco warp three

around the time i started wearing a helmet - one of those polystyrene bell thingies with a lycra and mesh cover to keep it altogether - it was deemed humorous to take the mick out of those that chose, or were forced, to do so, particularly if you were a kid. i can honestly say that this form of humour was never applied to me, at least not with my knowledge. i had always cycled a bicycle since day one on the island, so the feeling may have been that i was obviously beyond saving. however, i manfully tried to apply some adult humour to the situation borne by those schoolchildren whose parents dictated helmet wearing, by using the phrase 'better a fungus than a vegetable.' this was in response to the common taunt of mushroom head.

unfortunately, most of those doing the taunting had not the intellectual acumen to comprehend the validity of the retort, so the taunting continued.

nowadays, helmet wear is an accepted part of being a cyclist, even by those who are merely nipping down to the shops, or cycling to work, rather than utilising bendy bars and skinny wheels in an effort to break the land speed record. helmet wearing has been a mandatory state of affairs in the pro (and amateur) peloton since the death of andrei kivilev in the paris - nice race of 2003, and since a great deal of cycling is sold on its kin to that of professional sport, the helmet has been fairly calmly accepted by the majority who pedal, without the need for government intervention, and often without any real appreciation of cycle sport.

of course, there have been other features engendered over the last six years that have endeared the helmet to the average cyclist. lance's string of seven tour victories while protecting his bonce with a giro, gained a degree of credibility, very much to the advantage of giro it must be said, by the creation of a website (which still exists on the interweb five years later) entitled lancewearsit.com; the fact that helmets have benefited greatly from the increase in ventilation through the never ending march of technology; the rapid decrease in the weight of pretty much all cycle helmets; and lastly, but perhaps most convincingly, the fact that they now look far more stylish than those proffered in the early nineties: the bell v1 anyone?

during all this time, there have been a wide variety of inscrutable safety standards that vary across national and international boundaries, some of which have been adopted by cycling's governing body, and some of which have been just as inexplicably ignored. however, it was track cycling that felt the result of the uci's need to spin on a sixpence, when they suddenly decided that helmets worn in the world track events would now need to be capable of being more than just aerodynamic devices. track riders were ever wont to wear what cycling plus would probably describe as helmet shaped objects; these cut down the drag initiated by stylish barnets, but would have been hard pushed to retain their integrity should they have had cause to meet heavily with the boards.

since regular helmets as everyoneelsewearsit were perceived as creating an unacceptable amount of drag (remember, track wins are often gained by decimal fractions of seconds), and the helmet suppliers had been caught unawares by the new ruling, there was at least one championship track meet that featured many a rider wearing a standard helmet with the vents blocked off.

casco warp three

technology and sponsorship, however, wait for no man, and this is no more the (head)case. what uci regulations cannot exclude, however, is fashion based on performance; with chris hoy favouring the casco pudding basin style helmet with the mirrored visor, many others adopted likewise even though the fashion sensibility of same could be reasonably questioned. let's face it, which one of us would swagger up to sir chris and point out that he looks a bit of a dork in that helmet? often the result of the unfashionable being worn by the successful is that it not only becomes acceptable, but gradually we all wonder why we thought it looked naff in the first place. acceptance is a gradual process.

and if you have appreciated this gradual acceptance of the casco look, and have an affinity with brakeless fixeds and wooden boards (maybe even exterior concrete), the chris hoy look is now attainable from a prendas website near you. known as the casco warp iii, this impressively retro looking device utilises oversized eyelets for minimal ventilation and bonds carbon sideshells to a polycarbonate central section and that ever so cool, mirrored visor. total weight is 380g yet it's tested to the somewhat more stringent tolerances used in the motor industry: your head is safe.

available in only carbon and white, in l/xl, the warp comes with its own protective pod, it's made in europe and is reassuringly expensive at £229.95 ($380). of course, there's nothing apart from the bank manager to stop you from buying one and wearing it the next time lance asks you to go for a bike ride in paisley.

sirchriswearsit.com

prendas.co.uk | prendas also stock casco ares and daimor road helmets

twmp

posted on thursday 20 august 2009

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viva la vuelta! lucy fallon & adrian bell. supplement 2005-2008, mousehold press. 35pp £2.50

viva la vuelta

in keeping with grand tour tradition, this year's vuelta won't start in spain: that would be too obvious. for the 64th running of the race, the first four stages will be held in the netherlands, before the whole kit and caboodle moves to tarragona in northern spain for the start of stage five. in 2005, mousehold press published what has remained the definitive history of spain's major stage race, written rather comprehensively by lucy fallon and adrian bell, and which i reviewed at the time

however, quite a lot has happened in international pro racing since 2005, much of which has affected spain through operacion puerto and the removal of the overall win by roberto heras for alleged blood doping offences. so with publishers, amstelsport publishing a dutch translation of viva la vuelta! to coincide with this year's event, the authors had the opportunity to bring the book slap bang up to date. this, as you might consider, would be a bit of a bummer for those proud owners of the orignal volume which is now out of date, so to speak. but worry not, for mousehold have published the updated material in the form of a perfectly formed 35 page book-let, for the reasonable cost of £2.50. (if you purchase the original book direct from mousehold press, the update comes along free).

not unsurprisingly, the book-let covers the 2005 developments brought on by operacion puerto, as well as the threat to the vuelta's place in the calendar and whether it should remain at three weeks. it then deals with the three following years' tours of spain, summarising all the results at the back including stage winners, jersey winners, and the overall. if you own the original, it's a bit of a no-brainer to get the update, and if you have neither, the website address is below.

adrian bell has pointed out that this is the first book published by mousehold press to be translated into another language. here's to many more.

mousehold press

twmp

posted on thursday 20 august 2009

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rollapaluza update

rollapaluza

just a quick update to the halloween cross race organised by rollapaluza and sponsored by tour de ville at herne hill. online entry is now up and running, and you can do it right here. if this means nothing to you, see the article below.

twmp

posted on wednesday 19 august 2009

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moaning, moaning, moaning, and then...

ctv website

this is not really about cycling, well it is sort of, but technically - well... when cycling.tv first appeared upon the horizon of our monitors several years ago, it was a complete revelation: here was a dedicated service for cyclists that didn't over-run the tennis and miss out chunks of a race, had commentators who were/are deftly aware of their subject, and could be watched in peace while mrs washingmachinepost watched her soaps. the start of the vanguard of cycling visibility (in both senses of the word) which is, sort of surprisingly, still here.

unfortunately the first revision of their web service was a distinct backward step, both in terms of usability and the continued use of windows media as the means of broadcast. i won't bother repeating the trials and tribulations that macusers went through to get this to work properly. however, by the time cycling.tv had been sold to canadian company, jump.tv, everything had taken a nosedive, both the lack of any sensible way to navigate the website (which stumped many) and even windows users were now having problems watching the coverage.

now while i'm not that much into computer technology, living where i do, it is incumbent on me that i at least have a basic understanding of what does what. based on a little knowledge being a dangerous thing, i e-mailed ctv at least two years ago suggesting that switching to streaming the live coverage using adobe flash would be the way forward, since the viewing experience would be the same for all computer platforms and the technology and codecs seemed a mite more advanced than either apple's footering with quicktime or microsoft's bumbling with windows media. i also made some self-important suggestions as to the usability of their website. i'm sure that those endeared me greatly to the powers that be.

of course, i don't run the business, and while i do not doubt the veracity of my suggestions, i took no account of any financial implications that would probably ensue from shifting to a different form of broadcast technology. however, the tour of california's live coverage this year used flash, as do the bbc for both live broadcast and their very successful iplayer, making ctv's attempts look very heath robinson. when i struggled big time to watch the cyclocross season at the tail end of last year, i decided to vote with my pennies, and sadly didn't renew my subscription. this was a great disappointment, because anthony mccrossan and brian smith are both good friends of mine, and i rather enjoyed their idiosyncratic commentary.

up until now, everything was forgotten, whatever robin hood used to say, when i received an e-mail from anthony today saying that the eneco tour coverage was free to air (today at least), and they had a new website. you've guessed it: broadcast is now in flash, vastly improved, and the website at least on initial viewing, seems like the simplicity that greeted us all those years ago when ctv was just a startup. today's coverage suffered from no stalling picture, no loss of sound, and, from the point of view of a macuser, vastly improved picture quality. so while i have been quick to criticise (as have others, it should be noted), i'm happy to be early with the praise. maybe the cycling year in moving pictures has now been saved. it certainly seems like it. (and just in case you're wondering, no i don't think all this happened because of my suggestions, but i'll tell everyone otherwise.)

now, about that eurosport player...

cycling.tv

twmp

posted on wednesday 19 august 2009

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dhb rc carbon road shoes

dhb rc carbon road shoes

my next door neighbour's son plays golf, and i take it he must be quite keen, and possibly even a little bit good at it, because each year he takes a week off work to come back over to islay to play at the kildalton cross. this is not an obscure cyclocross event of which you have never heard, but an annual golf competition, the trophy for which is a silver scale model of the real kildalton cross (one of the finest examples of a high cross, still in its existing, upright position) sitting next to kildalton chapel on islay. the cost of playing golf at the machrie links course on islay is, i'm led to believe, relatively cheap in comparison to the £1000 plus that annual membership costs at many of the mainland clubs, not including the pringle jumpers and monogrammed golf bags on their lightweight trolleys.

and while we're not really discussing the merits or demerits of actually playing golf, i couldn't suppress a snigger at what may vye for the quote of the week. this from the report on the cross golf week from our local paper: "it is difficult to muster the energy to play two rounds of golf every day, and tiredness was taking its toll by thursday afternoon" just remember that during your next race or sportive.

however, while golf is an easy target for cyclists' humour (gary kemp of spandau ballet, a recent convert to roadie-ism at 50, says he'll never be old enough to play golf), it would have to be a particularly ill-equipped or rudimentary cyclist who wasn't aware that pelotonism is anything but cheap. granted, the mighty dave t rides a very smart, comfortable and light focus road bike which gave him change from his thousand pounds. and that is not something that needs to be renewed every year. my colnago cost me about £3500 over six years ago; if we take out the cost of renewing a chain every now and again and replacing tyres, that's an average of just under £600 per year. put that on the nineteenth hole and smoke it.

still, i digress, because the real cost of getting into cycling has not cheapened notably over the year, more especially if you're a fashion follower. much as is the case in many walks of life, and especially in golf, there is a dress-code, in cycling somewhat of an unwritten dress-code, which, as the reality dawns, is likely to lessen the amount remaining in that savings account. however, all is not lost. as fashion diktats become more mainstream, the cost of providing a verisimilitude of that worn by the top riders becomes a little more easy to bear.

a keen and successful purveyor of which i speak, is wiggle house-brand dhb, who offer quite a sizeable range of economically priced jerseys, shorts, tights, gloves at al, as well as some perfectly respectable footwear. and to return to my allusion regarding the trickle down costs of acquiring almost state of the art, dhb have released the rc carbon road shoe under consideration here. there are more than a few models of road shoe pretending to arrive with carbon soles, many of which are, in fact, plastic pretending to be carbon by the carbon resin nomenclature, but these dhb shoes have a real, honest to goodness, carbon weave sole. the uppers appear to be leather, with a ratchet closer aided by two velcro straps. with all the advancement there has been in methods of keeping a pair of shoes on your feet, this method of closure could be seen as a bit old hat. however, the top of the range mavic zxellium shoes tested recently used the very same method, even if disguised as something a tad more modern.

dhb rc carbon road shoes

unlike the £150 plus region of cycle shoes, the uppers on the dhb model are a lot less supple and flexible, thus perhaps a little more uncomfortable on initial introduction. i had a bit of hassle with the tongues on both shoes (which are a bit larger than some, though they do come with tabs to ease fitting), entirely due to the stiffness of new shoes. this has eased somewhat in subsequent rides. there is also less in the way of ventilation, something which i welcome with open toes; british winters tend to be wet and cold - ventilation is not a feature in huge demand in this part of the world. another, perhaps welcome feature is the width fitting which allows a deal more room around the toes than the more common italian fit prevalent on competing products. i have reasonably narrow feet which can be happily ensconced in the latter, but i haven't heard them complaining in these.

but the unique selling point of the rc carbons is that carbon sole, which works in exactly the way you would hope. while i have railed against the great god stiffness on many a strategic occasion, here's one place where such is more than welcome. powering up a climb (remember, all adjectives used here are relative) gives an enhanced feeling not only of security, but of power transfer, with no noticeable flex from heel to toe.

these shoes have been praised by others, and they receive the same degree of praise from me. the uppers may not be state of the art, but the look almost certainly is, and it's really the sole for which we're willing to pay. this latter aspect is the part that will fill most with financial joy, and increase the danger of your cycling undercutting the cost of your golf membership, for you can acquire a pair of these for only £84.99 ($139). how that is possible, i really have no idea, but even if you already own a fine pair of road shoes, i'd dip into the piggy bank before someone at wiggle realises there's supposed to be a profit margin on these.

to willfully misinterpret elvis costello: 'the angels wanna wear my carbon shoes.'

wiggle.co.uk

twmp

posted on wednesday 19 august 2009

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so where shall we meet?

i know, principally from the number of e-mails i receive regarding colnago frames and bicycles, that there are a fair few of you out there similarly obsessed with ernesto's finest as i am. the downside, at the moment, is that we only really meet up through these pixels, and it might just be nice to physically bump into each other, so to speak.

now i, for one, am very loathe to join anything that bears even a flimsy resemblance to a club, so that's out for starters, but perhaps an annual colnago owners' meeting might just be a pleasant way to hang out once in a while. i cannot take credit for this rather enterprising idea, but in order to see if it has wheels, if this would be something some of you might be interested in, why not drop me a line and let me know. nothing is written in stone as yet, in fact, not even with a finger in a steamed up window, so any suggestions at this stage would be most welcome.

and it would certainly be a bit more than just sitting having a coffee and looking at old colnago catalogues. we might surprise you.

owners@colnago.cc

this article has appeared on colnago.cc, but on the off chance that those with an affinity for colnagos might have missed it, it seemed prudent to place it in the black and yellow pixels of the post.

twmp

posted on tuesday 18 august 2009

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now you're just being ridiculous

rollapaluza cross

as i have bored you with often enough, i had the dubious luxury of being a drummer in islay pipe band for many a long year. while at that time, the bulk of our so-called musical outings took place on the island, with only the sunday school trip to the cowal highland games each year to drag us away to the bright lights of (near) the city (something that's always bothered me: the cowal peninsula isn't that far away from glasgow, and therefore hardly in the highlands). at the latter event, apart from numerous stalls selling candy floss, ice cream, burgers et al, there were also the obligatory souvenir stands with overpriced offerings.

if you were a member of a pipe band, you had gratis access to the tuning park which completely undermined its title by being the preferred location for pretty much every pipe band attending, all of whom remained in close proximity while trying to tune those blasted drones and snares. as this was dutifully regarded as potentially thirsty work, it will suprise you not at all that refreshments were provided through the now ubiquitous beer tent which, at the end of the day's proceedings, generally resembled an unruly corner of hiroshima. many a piper and drummer had a hard time remaining in step for the march past.

but, of course, beer tents are not the sole preserve of kilted musicians and pipers, but in all my years of avoiding them wherever we went, i do not remember anyone, let alone an entire peloton riding through the middle of one. though i can think of a fair number of colleagues who would not have noticed if they had. late on saturday evening, 31st of october, under a guaranteed full moon, cyclocross takes a turn for the worse or the better, depending on your point of view, when rollapaluza, guardians of the resurgence in cycle roller racing branch out from their core purpose in life.

while there will be some rollers on hand to satisfy have-a-go spectators, the principal purpose of the evening is to take part in a cyclocross race in the grounds of herne hill track, including racing through the beer tent, to win a share of the £1000 prize fund put up by sponsors, tour de ville. jos van veldhoven, partner in tour de ville's shop of delights, is a former junior dutch champion at the discipline and could be well placed to win back a share of the dosh, should such be allowed. fancy dress is actively encouraged (it is halloween after all), and ancillary features such as apple bobbing (or dooking as those of us north of the border would say), a barbecue, belgian waffles and youth events should round out a rather fine evening/early morning.

entry is free to spectators, and there is a special 'go race' event for novices on cross or mountain bikes, as well as separate events for single speed mtbs and fixed wheel crossers. perhaps the ideal event to try your skills: since everybody will likely look silly anyway, you won't stand out from the crowd. further details can be had from cross@rollapaluza.com and there's a webspace that will keep you up to speed (pun intended) at rollapaluza cross.

tour de ville

twmp

posted on tuesday 18 august 2009

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something for the weekend

univest grand prix

it has dawned on those of us who don't organise the ride of the falling rain, that there is room for improvement. not in the weather; advertising it under its falling rain moniker is unlikely to lead participants to expect blazing sunshine, and when it ends up sun shining all day long, well that's just a bonus. but a goodly number of our peloton arrived on islay anytime between thursday and saturday morning. granted a few arrived on the saturday pm and received untold blasts of that falling rain (and a fair bit of wind too), but the bulk were already enjoying islay hospitality for at least a day before riding off around the principality. so next year, we're going to add something trivial on the saturday afternoon and maybe an additional munchie get together in the evening.

principal contender for a saturday afternoon swoosh is a team time trial, where the teams will be decided by lottery and the time will be taken on that of the last rider across the line. this means that the super duper riders will have to look after tail end charlies such as myself in order to have a chance of winning. of course, we have a large amount of time to mull this over, and we're more than willing to consider alternatives and, dare i say it, criticism of this perhaps contentious choice.

but some pelotons have no choice in such matters, and in what is a spooky coincidence, a team time trial has been added to a uci america race in the north american state of pennsylvania. i am, of course, referring to the 2009 univest grand prix, based around souderton, doylestown and allentown, a race won last year by then garmin chipotle rider lucas euser, leading home a field that experienced at least the dregs of tropical storm hannah. there wasn't a dry jersey on the finish line. so in its twelfth year of existence, and with the addition of a team time trial on friday, september 11, the grand prix now becomes a two day 2.2 pro-am uci sanctioned race. stepping up to the plate.

stage two forms the main race of the weekend, starting and ending in souderton on saturday, september 12. there's 162km to be covered, incorporating around 1800 metres of climbing in the opening 100km loop through montgomery county and ending with 10 laps of a finishing circuit in souderton. hopefully they won't be experiencing the race of the falling rain two years in succession. but the finest part of this excellent race (coverage can be watched online at universal sports) is the incredible community support and atmosphere that brings my comparison with the rather more conservative and very much smaller ride of the falling rain

univest grand prix

the counties through which the race passes are encouraged to promote cycling as a recreational and healthy activity: univest will donate a bike rack to each of the host communities, while there are outreach programmes to involve children's clubs and local schools. as part of this community involvement and participation, the well supported 100km cyclosportif will take place on the saturday morning, almost an etape de grand prix, allowing riders to challenge themselves over the course taken by the professionals in the afternoon.

but the weekend finishes not on the saturday. while it will not count towards the uci event, sunday's criterium in doylestown can only be entered by those who finished saturday's stage race. as race director brian ignatin explained: "we'll award an overall winner, with the crit factored in, that won't count as a uci result." even here the fun and participation continues: there are children's races from 10:30 on the sunday morning preceding the pro race at 11:00am. there's a strong possibility that it won't be just the team riders who'll sleep well on sunday night. if you're in the area, or it's easy enough to get there, now's a good time to check timetables and travel distances, as well as taking steps to enter the sportif on saturday.

yes, the ride of the falling rain has a way to go before we reach these proportions, but it seems the principles are the same - to promote cycling amongst those that are swithering, to children and to put our respective scenery on display. but placing some of this in surprising context, the borough of souderton had a population of around 6,500 at the turn of the century, around double that of islay. allentown, however, scene of the team time trial places both back in their boxes, sporting an estimated population in 2007 of just under 109,000. not massive by american standards, but at least providing me with a reason why we don't have any uci sanctioned events on islay.

photos:chris henry

univest grand prix

uci north america

posted on monday 16 august 2009

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olympic gangster - the legend of jose beyaert by matt rendell. mainstream publishing 352pp illus. softcover. £11.99

olympic gangster

drummer bill bruford played with the progressive rock band yes, for around three years in the early part of the 1970s, culminating in the breakthrough album close to the edge, possibly one of the forerunners of the concept albums of the time. after that, bill could see little opportunity to further his abilities in that particular style or company, so he jumped ship and joined the darker side of progressive in the shape of king crimson. yet throughout a forty year professional career, he is still more famous for leaving yes, than for any of the subsequent years of music-making in which he has been involved.

thus, it seems for jose beyaert, a cyclist of some note in the 1940s, and victor in the olympic road race in 1948 held in windsor park, london. if you've never heard of beyaert, then you are not alone: despite there being an included photograph of jose mere inches away from fausto coppi and raphael geminiani in the 1951 tour de france, i searched the index at the back of william fotheringham's the passion of fausto coppi to no avail. in fact it was on reaching the photos in the centre of the book that i began to experience a zelig moment (or two). beyaert was renowned, apart from his cycling prowess, for always wearing the same round, heavy rimmed glasses that resembled aviator's goggles, and it is those that started me thinking that perhaps mr rendell had just pulled off one of the finest coups in modern publishing.

as someone well versed in the art of photoshop manipulation, i know how relatively easy it would be to have a fictional character appear to have been a part of whichever historical moment you deem necessary. so i did some checking through other sources, but it turns out that jose beyaert really did exist and was indeed, olympic champion in 1948. but if you get the chance to view any photos from the 40s or 50s, you may see from whence my suspicion arose.

after the 1951 tour de france, where he finished outside the time limit on stage seven, bayaert never again raced in europe. bad luck, bad choices and perhaps a large helping of sod's law deemed that the reigning olympic champion did not have the luck or fortune that might have made him as famous as the likes of coppi, bartoli etc. beyaert was, by nationality, belgian, but his father had applied for french nationality in 1936 and had it refused, yet when france needed conscripts to fight the war, mr beyaert found himself to be conveniently considered french. this had implications ten years later when jose, having come into a bit of money, desired to buy a tobacconists, but was refused a license because he was not a french national.

in the ensuing months, he received an invitation from the colombian government to visit with a view to better acquainting the country with the sport of cycling. the invitation was accepted and thus began the demise of beyaert's association with cycling, and his long-term residence in colombia.

rendell's work here can be read on two levels: the research, investigation and sheer tenacity with which he followed the disparate strands of jose's career, based on the failing memory of an old man's interviews are little short of incredible. throughout my lengthy reading of this book, i was very much in awe of the structure of the biography. however, upon reaching the south american years of beyaert's career, the numerous digressions in order to place the story in national and international context threaten to overshadow the story you thought you were reading. i'm none too sure if this is a good thing or not.

jose beyaert

on another level, the story is an incredible one, but in the context of my bill bruford introduction, jose's fame for winning one year's olympic road title is a very small part of an adventurous and oft times hard to believe narrative. that zelig moment again. but studious reading of the 350 plus pages will reward the tenacious, though i'm not sure that the book will delight those with few interests outside cycling. still, it's definitely a story worth telling, and based on his skillset for so doing, mr rendell is likely the only one capable of doing so, given his extensive knowledge of columbia, its riders and social history. it's not an easy read, but if you have the time, the inclination and the will to accept that cycle racers are not necessarily cycle racers for life, this you will find a satisfying endeavour. and in case you need further evidence of matt rendell's genius, there's a more than comprehensive index and bibliography over the last eighteen pages.

somewhat of a triumph in an unexpected fashion.

twmp

posted on sunday 15 august 2009

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almost time for four

embrocation magazine

perception is everything. time supposedly passes more quickly as we get older, only it doesn't really; yet this time last year, it was only may 9th. and for once, the fine weather we actually received, providing a resemblance of a real summer, now seems oh, so far away. and with the incessant, and oft times, torrential rain we experienced yesterday, winter seems just that big bit closer. but this blinkered little world that we inhabit is nothing if not cyclical - there is always something to look forward to: the vuelta, show season, the worlds, oregon manifest, start of cross season, and the latter year, single day classics. and while we're not finished with 2009 just yet, for a substantial part of the industry, it's already 2010, and those not yet available test bikes will be arriving with a haulage contractor near me anytime soon.

but here am i bemoaning the quickening passing of time when there are yet more goodies in store even closer. shaving your legs is a confirmed part of being a roadie; stuff all the fol-de-rol as to why we do it - hairy legs with shorts on a colnago is just plain wrong. and in certain circles this is taken a stage further by the principle of embrocating the shaven legs (notice i said shaven: the alternative is just too horrible to contemplate), perhaps for the same spurious reasons as shaving, but ostensibly to increase the blood flow in those pins, the better to give the opposition a hard time.

jeremy dunn (and joe staples, come to that) are obsessed with embrocation, the former in more than one way, since he has already published three and a half essential zines under that name. you may, as do i, wonder why anyone in their right mind would want to employ c,m,y and k, when pixels can be pushed into the same literary shape with nary a printing press in sight, and less of a budget. but for some of us, ink on paper will never truly be replaced by webspace, aside from which, reading in the bath has a highly detrimental effect on the laptop.

as with rouleur magazine, each impending release of embrocation incurs a heightened sense of anticipation amongst the cognoscenti. there can be fewer greater pleasures than opening that brown padded envelope with the square green customs label, and holding a publication that is as off the wall by design as it is a necessary informant to the lateral thinking cyclist. it is nothing like any other cycle magazine on the planet, and if it is, so far, something that has passed you by, it is incumbent upon you to remedy the situation.

now at this point it is necessary that i offer this disclaimer: i have been honoured and fortunate to have had articles included in both issues two and three, while my good friends michael robertson over at velodramatic and daniel wakefield pasley have also contributed by way of keenly observed visuals. but i offer this recommendation exclusive of narcissism: jeremy dunn is nothing if not different in his approach to editing. the result on each occasion has been a treat for the eyes and mind, probably the furthest space away from the comic as its possible to get and still remain relevant to the modern day cyclist.

the fourth coming issue has been visually arranged by jdk design, artistically arranging contributions from carey at rapha usa, cole maness, rapha continental, guy andrews, taz darling, velodramatic and more, including three different viewpoints on this year's tour of california. embrocation is due around august 25th (there's that anticipation again) and at a marvellous cost of $24.95 (15) plus postage. aside from the visual and literal edification that will embrocate your enthusiasm, it's important that we, as cyclists, support this sort of endeavour...
...the alternative is not an alternative.

embrocation magazine | embrocation blog

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posted on saturday 15 august 2009

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