the hell of the lost

london map

where on earth would we be without google? the phrase google it has pretty much entered the modern lexicon as a substitute for 'look it up', as my mother used to say. and it's fairly safe to say that an awful lot of us would find life a tad more difficult if that little typing space at the top of the web browser were to disappear. america and britain are not just two countries divided by a common language, they often seem divided by their differing means of getting about. prior to visiting portland last year, i took a good look at some of the examples of google streetview to find out whether there were ample examples of pavement, or sidewalk, as our difference of language would have it. heck, i was even able to take a brief gander at what rapha's offices and the chris king plant looked like, giving that more knowledgeable air about me, and enhancing my cosmopolitan aura.

i doubt anyone was fooled.

so, having yesterday alluded to the fact that london, even after a number of visits, still remains somewhat of a geographical and topographical mystery, it was perhaps a bit unnecessary to demonstrate this with heavy underlining. my mission jim, should i have decided to accept it (and i did) was to navigate self from temporary metropolitan abode to pond square, highgate in order to cover rider and a rather fine example of lugged steel in copious quantities of mud and gloop for rapha's hell of the north ride.

of course, i may not be as streetwise as city folk, but i do have a healthy awareness of this fact, so i had planned ahead by asking graeme in the rapha office if anyone else was heading in the same direction from a similar location. it turned out that he was the very man to assist, and we arranged a time and location. the fly in the ointment, of course was me.

london map

i arrived early as i always do, but lost a deal of my composure as the big hand on my colnago watch approached departure time. looking in entirely the wrong direction, seeing no sign of graeme, i set off in generally the correct direction, figuring i'd be bound to meet him on the way. those of you who have been faithful readers of the post for longer than five minutes will have seen the end result coming from a long way off. but do not underestimate my foresight: i was not setting off into the sunrise unprepared; stuffed in a back pocket was a comprehensive set of directions, paper clipped alongside a map with the appropriately marked route. how could i possibly fail? is google not the saviour of the lost?

london's streets are more complex than your average rabbit warren; i spent four days in new york several years ago, a city in which it is very hard to get lost, having been laid out in a grid system. everything is at right angles apart from broadway. not so london. those of you used to deftly dealing with squiggling tarmac filled with red buses, black taxis and possibly the highest per capita number of porsches outside stuttgart, will be laughing out loud at this point. google maps show every one of these nooks and crannies, but sadly neglects to name the important ones on the scale that allows an end to end route map to occupy an a4 sheet of paper.

at this point one really must feel genuine sorry for the hapless mr raeburn who had, it turns out, arrived at the strategic location bang on time, and had the great decency to circle the area for longer than was probably astute, before heading off to the start of the ride. meanwhile, i had taken a left curve instead of a straight line, and found myself well to the west of hyde park, when i should have been a similar distance to the east. as nine o'clock chimed, i had managed to reach oxford street, absolutely nowhere near pond square, and no chance whatsoever of getting there in a timeous manner. c'est la vie. rather despondently, i turned for (temporary) home, and even that took a lot longer than it should have: lost is lost.

london map

i have great admiration for those of you who negotiate this sort of thing every day of your working lives. it would not be me. in fact, i think i have just proved that it wasn't. i visited perren street on monday to apologise and grovel. i now have a transport for london local cycling guide map, one of fourteen that can be had completely free from tfl. these beat google hands down by showing every single street there is; it probably even has harry potter's diagon alley if i looked close enough.

the happy ending is that i did get out for a ride to the north downs, out past crystal palace, chasing the back wheel of my host for the weekend (thank you john). next time down, i'm going to click tfl rather than google.

transport for london |


posted wednesday 14 april 2010

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london tweed run 2010

tweed ride 2010

many years ago, long before the age of the bicycle (for me at any rate) and at a time when thewashingmachinepost as a name for anything would have been laughed at longer and harder than it is today, i actually won a competition. this is such a noteworthy happenstance in my career, that it's hard to believe that this is likely the first time i've mentioned it in pixels. however, for correctly naming ella fitzgerald's hit record (a tisket, a tasket, seeing as you ask), and a couple of other questions, the nature of which i cannot recall, my prize was an all expenses paid trip to london, staying in the grosvenor house hotel, park lane with tickets to see oscar peterson and ella fitzgerald in concert with ronnie scott's big band, plus a four course dinner.

for many of you used to four on the floor thump music, the foregoing will mean little, but i currently have, stashed in an obscure part of an obscure cupboard in washingmachinepost cottage, a programme of the event, autographed to me from ella fitzgerald, whom i was taken backstage to meet after the concert.

tweed ride 2010

because this was of some import to the magazine in which the competition had appeared (a folk music publication, as i remember), they had summoned a photographer for the occasion, but neglected to inform him as to the status of the event. so while my co-winner and i mingled (and i use the term in its loosest sense) with the hoi polloi, wearing the nearest i had to formal attire at the time, the hapless photographer had unfortunately just returned from, shall we say, an out of town, engagement, and arrived wearing a woolly hat and combat fatigues carrying a rucksack.

aside from several disdainful looks from the serving staff, the poor guy stood out like a sore thumb all evening; the one or two other photographers present, had obviously visited moss bros. and blended into the evening admirably.

thus, having been invited to participate in the 2010 tweed run, and despite being aware that the cycling community is far more tolerant of off centre cycling attire, it was incumbent on this participant to make as much effort as possible in order to blend in. you would doubtless do well to enquire of the other 399 riders, as to how successful i was, but i'd like to think that the only real giveaway was the faction cycling, upcycled cap brandishing pink plaid, fore, aft and peak.

tweed ride 2010

i don't know london at all well, though i can find my way around the various eateries in euston station, and thus had no real idea as to how long it would take from base camp to tweed run. so i arrived excruciatingly early for the grand depart from the tate britain, having trailed a rather more eccentrically tweed attired rider round roads that looked nothing like the google maps i had printed off before travelling. you surely must have been in the situation at one time or another when, having made the supreme effort, those around you manage to diminish this feeling at every tick of the clock? i have never seen such a fine collection of tweed and brooks saddles anywhere, anyhow, anytime. having been unable to acquire a pair of rapha merino argyle socks in time, i wore a pair of short argyle pattern everyday socks in the hope that no-one would notice. however, all around were dressed in tweed suits, with plus twos, plus fours, more argyle patterns than jonathan vaughters ever thought possible, along with flat caps and one or two persons sporting tweed headgear that appeared to have been made by an air-bag manufacturer.

many female cyclists wore skirts, stockings, party frocks, high heeled shoes, bright red lipstick, and even a pair of tweed hot pants. there were plenty of elderly bicycles being ridden; i overheard a gentleman riding aft of my single malt jacket tell that his bicycle had been made in 1910. how many carbon frames from today will be doing the tweed run in 2110 (and would you want to)? and on the male side of the brooks saddle, exotic facial hair was much to the fore. i had toyed with the idea of working my way up to something splendid in this department myself over the last couple of weeks, but in view of the flair on show in london town, i'm rather glad i remained clean shaven.

tweed ride 2010

london's first tweed run was held last year, much lower key than this year's event, incorporating around 120 riders. sign-up was limited to 400 this year; who knew there was this much tweed waiting to greet fresh air? the fact that the sun shone from morning till eve was a distinct bonus.

i cannot for one minute tell you where we rode, though we did pass buckingham palace, we did make inroads to piccadilly circus, wheel ourselves around hyde park and sauntered down savile row. the marshalling for the event, all carried out by members of the tweed run organisation was little short of miraculous. there was no police presence at all, though a couple of bright yellow ambulance cyclists accompanied us around.

to place this ride in context, 400 cyclists on a wide variety of machinery, somewhat eccentrically dressed, rode fourteen miles, tightly packed, through central london on a saturday afternoon, and those brave people with marshal tags on their cycles, stopped buses, taxis and regular motor traffic simply by turning the bicycles side-on to the flow of traffic. don't try this at home.

tweed ride 2010

i'm afraid i didn't talk much; concentration on the wheels in front took precedence, and it's testament to the skills of all those taking part that, to my knowledge, no-one came a cropper, and carnage was happily avoided. movement was often a bit stoppy/starty, a situation that would likely be unavoidable in any city, but the tea stop in hyde park was a welcome relief for the brake fingers, where tea and cucumber sandwiches were accompanied by a string trio on the lawn. refinement at its best.

if you were there, i hope you enjoyed your day as much as i did; if you weren't, the 2011 tweed run is only twelve months away.

tweed run


posted tuesday 13 april 2010

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the hell of hunterdon

the hell of hunterdon

mr ignatin is the race director of the univest grand prix held annually in philadelphia. but one ride per year is obviously not enough, and the man's great talent extends in other directions, perhaps the highest profile of which is this august's gran fondo colnago philadelphia. having ridden the hell of hunterdon a couple of weekends ago, brian was kind enough to send the following narrative from rider, gary snyder.

A recap of the day, Saturday, April 3 2010, the 2nd annual Hell of Hunterdon, from the foggy memory of a cat 5 "does it not say PRO?" 45+ racer.

After a flurry of pre-race info-mails in the days leading up to the ride, the day started nicely with ample parking, friendly registration, and reunions of cyclocross dudes and club friends from a season gone by. Soon, the 140+ riders/racers/thrill-seekers/fools gathered in the parking lot. Though a relaxed Lambertville ambiance permeated the scene, there was some early morning posturing of shaven legs, embro, expensive bikes, and mind-games in the form of self-deprecating comments, such as: "I haven't ridden my bike since last November", followed by a reassuring reminder that the ride "only has 3600ft of climbing", which was soundly disproved five hours later by various altimeters & tired legs.

The large turnout of riders was asked to self-select into three groups: AX, A, & B. Of course, being a modest and patient lot, about 75% of the field left the parking lot with the AX group, after opening instructions from the director. No matter, the climb up Quarry, within a stone's throw from the staging area, quickly sorted the group better than any NCAA seeding committee might do. From the lead of the A group, this rider had an impressive view of the back of the lead peloton as it made the initial climb gruppo compatto.

In an early test of the road markings, the riders all successfully made the first turn onto the dirt of Lakeview, and each subsequent turn along the 76 mile route was clearly indicated with the classic white arrows. Nor did it take long for the secret signature of the Hell of Hunterdon to be revealed: the dirty descent! Many thought the climbs would separate the men from the boys, but as this boy knows, it's surely the white knuckle descents on gravel, grit, dirt, and mud that will forever burn in the memory of HoH riders and allowed the lead group to break away early on, after a reported pile up in the mud. Frankly, it is difficult to explain to the uninitiated how a road rider could be seen at the post-ride pizza & beer gathering with a mud stain covering his ride side from hip to collarbone.

the hell of hunterdon

The morning continued in fine fashion as a morning fog settled in on the roads of Pleasant Valley and groups merged, broke apart, and merged again. There was a camaraderie and spirit within the groups, as simple elbow flicks indicated a rider coming off the front. Riders of assorted teams, allegiances, occupations, and religion (ok, so we didn't talk religion on the ride, but it was Easter weekend) banded together to pick up the pace on the relative flats of Hopewell, NJ. The calm was soon broken by the gravel/ballast on Dutchtown Zion and the gentle climb on the dirt of Montgomery Road as one by one riders passed the carnage of flat tires along the side of the road. Never once daring to make eye contact for fear of hearing the hiss from your own tire, you could hear passing riders mumble, "you ok? got everything you need?", and the delayed rider changing the flat responding with a dejected, "Yeah man, I'm ok. $#&%!" Though many completed the ride without a flat, when passing one dude, a teammate was heard saying, "oh my, that's his third flat" and the dude replied, "and I have no more tubes after this one." That was somewhere between mile 36-38 after the rest stop on the climb of Rileysville.

And so the ride continued, though this rider attempted to stay with a faster group of four, was shot out the back like a small rock careening off a guard rail from under a bike tire, and completed most of the second half of the ride solo. Knowing he couldn't catch the group in front, he kept looking back half hoping to be caught by a group, and yet then fearful that he wouldn't be able to grab a wheel. No worry on grabbing a wheel; though a group of C+ riders from a local club were seen enjoying the sunshine outside of the Seargantsville General Store, this rider didn't see a fellow rider again until he passed a teammate changing a flat on Pine Hill Road. Pine Hill: you remember, at mile 50, the three step climb that made this rider do the paperboy routine before he crested the top, and though a fellow rider later dubbed Pine Hill a "nice touch", it was admittedly a bit painful. The good news though; this rider's descending skills greatly improved on the dirt downhill of Pine Hill, because he was too freakin' tired to brake.

the hell of hunterdon

The beauty of the ride was evident in many places on this spring morning, but the peacefulness of Wickcheoke, the sawmill at the bottom of Strimple Mill, and the stream along the dirty descent of Stumpf Tavern road were all picturesque and if nothing else, you gotta love the names of these roads. At mile 63 a few members of the Central Bucks Bike Club were waiting w/ fluids and gels. Though local riders knew Lambertville was a short shot, straight on river road, the route went right back up into the hills in search of gravel. Wormans, a personal favorite for this rider's winter training, is a nice steady climb on a quiet dirt road along the stream. Before returning to L'ville, the course found two more gravelly descents in Grafton Road and Hamp Road.

For riders who have dared Juniper Swamp and Meetinghouse Road of the Battenkill, along with Tettemer and Lodi Road of the Bucks County Fools' Classic, the Hell of Hunterdon is well deserving of inclusion in this group of growing American spring classics.

oh, and the beer and pizza was great too.

© gary snyder 2010 | photography: rob muller


posted wednesday 7 april 2010

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rapha women's classic jersey

rapha women's jersey

i'd like to firstly thank brian for allowing me to hijack his wonderful blog yet again, to pen a small review for his female readership. it's a great privilege; his visitor hits would make my mind boggle, and i know thewashingmachinepost is enjoyed globally by many a bicycle enthusiast.

i've been testing the first item from rapha's inaugural womenswear capsule range, the classic jersey, which shares the same name as its original male counterpart. the women's variant presents a few subtle, yet important refinements, ensuring a first class garment for the female rider.

currently available in two flavours, classic rapha black or a rich deep red, i plumped for the latter. definitely not a disappointment. the red adds a lovely splash of colour without resorting to the insipid choices of pale blue or rose pink, seemingly the remit for ladieswear in cycling today.

both versions feature the trademark cream armband with embroidered logo, tying in nicely with the included cream armwarmers. these feature thin piping in the same colour as the jersey, and are soft-lined for comfort and protection. personally, i have never been enamoured with the idea of armwarmers, but these have managed to turn the worm so to speak. they're extremely snug and the perfect length for a girl's arm. it's no secret we don't have biceps as large, or arms as long as men, so it's great to see rapha cater for the female form, ensuring the shape is as near perfect as it's likely to get. it was a pleasant surprise, during a long recent ride, to be spared the indignity of hoisting them up even once. a great feat, and just how it should be.

rapha women's jersey

the jersey is crafted from sportwool, a blend of merino wool fibres on the inside and a soft polyester outer. it was great when riding indoors in the warmth, but it also held its own, when teamed with a baselayer, on those mild days outdoors. on cooler days, i matched it with a gilet or thin wind breaker and i was snug and warm. i took particular delight in the cut, which was the standout feature, even from only a cursory glance. it's slightly fluted in shape, letting it hug around the area of the torso just under the chest, but allowing a little more room to sit proudly on the hips. this small refinement lets the jersey hug and fit in race fashion, from top to bottom, something i'm personally a great fan of. i like a tight fitting jersey that doesn't look as though it's strangling the wearer! the sizing is spot on, running true to size (i tested a uk size eight, a size i wear in civilian life).

the pocket arrangement is fab, with three of full size and a small internal sleeve (for the ever trusty mini pump or mascara). to the right of these is a small internal zipped pocket to keep cards, change and keys secure. add to the mix a small reflective tab, and that's the rear end covered (if you catch my drift). it's worth noting the variety of fillings i stuffed into the pockets: packable jacket, inner tube, pump, CO2, tyre levers, camera, phone and a few gels; the lack of uncharacteristic 'jersey-sag' was a welcome sight indeed. the jersey retained its shape really well, keeping all the items snug to the body, thanks in part to the draw cord around the bottom hem of the jersey.

rapha women's jersey

on the bike, the classic jersey delivers everything it did in its original male incarnation. classy and subtle styling has been much needed in the sphere of female specific cycling attire; i for one have grown tired of the downright lame attempts by some companies with regards to their womenswear market. i think it's the baseless assumptions they make that irritate me the most. just because i am female, i have no wish, or need to have my bibshort legs cut insanely short, akin to a disco-bound hotpant clad dancer. nor do i hold any particular affiliation with floral designs, or pastel shades of inoffensive pink and mauves. by using the same subtle, low-key design seen in their male garments, rapha have tapped into a zeitgeist of cycling's heritage, when jerseys were simple, clean cut and above all, functional.

this remains the case for the classic. not only is its backbone its functionality, i felt very smart wearing it. a plus point for me was its versatility; it looked excellent geared with lots of lycra and a fast carbon steed, breaking away into the hills of surrey, but looked every bit as appropriate when teamed with jeans atop a fixed gear bike for the daily cross-london commute.

the new womenswear line is an extension to rapha's existing brand identity, and that's what pleases me the most. the same intrinsic simple design appeal is there, and at the end of the ride, it's a darned pleasant jersey to be sporting.

© gem atkinson 2010

bianchista |


posted tuesday 6 april 2010

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flat cap

churning across lumps of what i can now cheerfully refer to as gravé this afternoon, into an absolute stinker of a headwind (oh how i love a headwind - honestly), ideas passed through the grey matter: in one side and just as fleetingly, out the other. likely influenced by that magnetic bottom bracket, some of them hang around long enough to provide thought for food. in fact, on a ride up the glen road on friday morning, i had a sudden wish for a peanut butter sandwich; these food notions usually pass as quickly as they turn up, but the peanut butter sandwich persisted all the way down to newton and bridgend, only giving in to reality at debbie's, where i bought a jar of peanut butter and a couple of rolls to join with my soya cappuccino.

anyway, as per usual, i have digressed; today's thought (not that i wish to give the impression that i only have one thought per day - contrary to popular opinion) centred round the naming of a scottish bike race that fulfils a slot on the premier calendar series. the tour doonhame or doonhamer (formerly known as the girvan three-day). scottish dialect is a funny thing, both funny peculiar and funny haha at the same time. however, to elucidate further, doon hame is, unless i am very much mistaken, slang for down home. to confuse the issue still further, let me place this in context: if i said 'they dae things different doon hame.', i would be pointing out to anyone within earshot that 'this is not the way things are done where i come from.'

quoc pham shoes

to wit, the more refined version.

this is where the internal conflict came into play, trying to reconcile the 'roughness' of native scots with the refinement of this coming saturday in london: the 2010 tweed run. i did allude to this ride last year based on first hand information from rapha's graeme raeburn, who grew a particularly resplendent moustache to blend into the melee and the tweed. to go one better than acquiring reportage from a third party, i intend experiencing it for myself, and am off to the big city and bright lights this weekend, armed with a single malt tweed jacket and a rather fine upcycled cap from the guys at faction in chicago. perhaps for the best, i will be clean shaven, unable to grow anything that vaguely resembles a handlebar moustache even with a month's notice.

there was, at one time, a prevailing notion that at least one or two of us north of the border, particularly those with highlands and islands aspirations, spend our days wearing kilts and tweed jackets to carry out the daily errand. i'm sure there is an annual influx of tourists to this part of the world, who are disappointed that this is not actually the case (sorry to have blown the myth for anyone yet to visit). thus, when one such as i deems it favourable to take part in the tweed ride, suitable accoutrements are not always readily to hand. thankfully, help is available.

rapha argyle socks

announced just the other day, the tweeders (i made that up) are now proffering quality accessories to aid the appearance of sartorial elegance. if shoes maketh the man (or woman, come to that), then the tweed specials from quoc pham are a sight for sore feet. according to quoc, the essence of such cool and practical cycling footwear has been approached in a different way: 'normally with formal shoes, the final stage is polishing. the idea for these came from classic english chestnut polish finish, but we wanted to have a more antique look, so for this event i did a special hand painting finish. since by hand, each pair is unique and slightly different to another.'

those who receive the regular e-mails from perren street will, by now know that rapha have produced merino argyle patterned long socks, that make larry armstrong's look wimpish (i hope to wear with a pair of fixed shorts - islay is in argyll, from whence the pattern originated), dashing tweeds have crossed a cycling cap with a traditional flat cap, featuring a deeper back panel for a firmer fit, while ds dundee have provided the ideal companion to rapha's argyle socks by way of plus twos. to explain: the latter reach only two inches below the knee as opposed to four on a pair of plus fours. obvious innit? if, like me, you are of the opinion that art lies in the details, then it's details you can have: a pure silk scarf featuring michael chapman's tweed run bicycle pattern, and an implement that carries great import around my home region (so i am reliably informed), a tweed run pattern etched pewter hip flask in which to carry that after-dinner drink of soya milk.

hand carved saddle

ok, so not many of you will be joining me on my sartorially adept amble through the bits of london i've not seen before (numbers are limited to 400, and the entry filled up long ago), but there are few reasons on earth as to why the velocipedinal amongst you should not acquire any number of the above as a viable sunday morning alternative to polyester and lycra.

however the icings on the cake, if one has to pick favourites, is the limited edition, hand-carved, brooks swift saddle. the tweed herringbone pattern inscribed into its leather top has been placed there by american leather artisan, kara ginther. that there are only twenty of these on offer pretty much justifies the butt clenching price of £250 each, and it's a great shame that such artistic handiwork will mostly be hidden from view. but topping the range of bespoke tweed run apparel has to be the utterly bespoke, h huntsman and sons cycling suit. yes, another one. i doubt many will be clothed in one of these come saturday, as they are strictly made to measure, and empty your pocket to the tune of £2500. not much call at paris-roubaix one wouldn't imagine. you could even pop into church after the sunday ride without changing.

all the above items are available via the tweed run website, and there might just be time to have the necessary delivered before waxing that mustache on saturday morn. if any of you are riding the tweed, please keep a look out for the lost scotsman in a tweed jacket. all offers of directional assistance greatly appreciated.

tweed run images courtesy matthew brindle


posted monday 5 april 2010

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now, about my salary... rapha team kit

rapha team kit

over the past year or so, i have received a number of e-mails from readers eager to enquire how i manage to be so prolific on the post, as well as regularly testing and reviewing various cycling products. that, plus playing about in photoshop to earn enough folding stuff to put food on the table for mrs washingmachinepost and myself.

if only life were that simple.

you may remember a couple of years ago, i was invited to london for the launch of the rapha condor cycling team, an invitation that i took to be a part of the regular media and journalistic merry go-round, and one that i was most appreciative to receive. things took a bit of an unexpected turn when, on entering the restaurant chosen for the launch, i was handed a pile of black and white clothing by a short fellow in a tank top and shaved head, and told to get changed in the gents' loo, because the presentation was about to start.

you can imagine my confusion and consternation, going so far as to forcefully proffer my invitation by way of explanation, but all to no avail. now that a few years have past, the reasons for the foregoing have gradually (and i really do mean gradually) come to light. at the time, having returned from the team launch, i sat eagerly and patiently by the letterbox on a daily basis, waiting for mr herety to send on my training plan. i was even known to check my e-mail more than once a month in case this was one of those modern teams.

rapha team

it took more than a few measurable moments of time before the training/nutrition plan arrived, and when it did, things didn't become much clearer. i am still mystified by the crumpled sheet of paper i received with the words: two packets of weetabix, one pint of milk, a packet of digestives, one wholemeal loaf, a lottery ticket, and remember the newsagents. maybe it was code, i really have no idea, but i have religiously followed what i take to be a combined nutrition and training plan. each item had a tick next to it, so i feel i must be expected to follow to the letter. so far i have won not a single threepeny on the lottery, and have been reduced to finding newsagents further and further away from washingmachine cottage in order to fit in a few extra miles training.

you see, most of today's racing teams sign riders for a particular reason; cancellara is obviously in saxo bank for the time trials (and apparently winning rvv), and deano is in the now rapha, condor, sharp monikered team for his sprinting abilities. you, like me, may well be wondering what on earth they'd want an ageing athlete such as myself on such a prestigious home-grown cycle team. it turns out, if i understood mr herety correctly, that the rapha team needed someone for the lanterne rouge, and on occasion to capture the dnf trophy (more to the point, what does that mean?). i have still to find out what the latter looks like, though i must be doing something right, because the rest of the guys in the team are always laughing and pointing in my direction. if i was rubbish, why would they be so happy?

rapha team kit

as to the lanterne rouge, i've still to finish far enough up the peloton to see this being presented, though kristian asked me after the tour of taiwan 'could you go any slower?'. he rushed off before i had a chance to reply in the affirmative. they're a great crowd right enough: only the other day i was standing by the door of the team bus when deano came up and told me to get the heck out of his way. where else would you find such comradeship?

the training, however, has been going really well; on the days when we get to ride with members of the rapha club (guys and girls who have paid a lot of money to help the team buy an unlimited supply of merino tank tops), try as i might, i can't keep up with any of them. simon mottram, rapha's ceo came up to me personally after the last event and said he couldn't believe that they'd signed me. high praise indeed.

i've often said that i'm more than willing to join the chaps at training camp, particularly the recent one in malaga, but mr herety said there was no need to inconvenience myself, and that i could continue to train at home. probably just as well, since i've managed to get a healthy discount on the weetabix if i buy several packets at a time. but the very best part of the whole thing, apart from being left in charge of all the team bikes while waiting to check in for flights, (i must have a really trustworthy face), is that comforting thud when the team kit arrives through the post.

rapha team kit

last year the jersey simply said rapha condor, but this year the word sharp has been added underneath, presumably to describe how i look when wearing jersey and shorts. the word is repeated on the shoulders; both sleeves, along with the collar, are edged with pink. the full zip on the jersey has been a godsend when coughing and wheezing downhill. overall, it's a look that suits me i think, and when training around the villages and countryside of this atlantic haven, it must be a comforting sight for the pot-ale tanker drivers to see the words rapha condor sharp on my slow moving posterior. i'll show them who's got status.

the shorts are amongst the most comfortable i've ever worn, much better than those supplied when i was in gewiss ballan (those guys couldn't speak a word of english you know). there's a neat pocket at the bottom of the bib at the back; i can put my ipod touch in there and listen to wayne shorter's speak no evil while frantically waving for the team car. i spend a lot of time on my own you know. there's some pink and white bits on the shorts too.

nobody mentioned the tourdoonhame to me this past saturday and the tour of the battenkill is up in a couple of weeks' time, so i'll really have to finish off now and find out why my airline ticket to new york hasn't arrived yet. last time i phoned mr herety, he said 'sorry, i can't talk to you right now, my mobile hasn't got a signal'


it's not all plain sailing as a professional you know, even if you look the part.


posted sunday 4 april 2010

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