velo club d'ardbeg has to be the finest cycling club i could permit myself to join. i have great sympathy with the groucho marx maxim i wouldn't join a club that would have me as a member, and there's a likelihood that many other cyclists are of a similar mind. we have no physical rule book for vc d'a, but if it were made manifest, it would consist of just two rules:
rule 1 there are no rules
rule 2 see rule one
for many cyclists are essentially individuals, brought together by a common need to cycle to places; whether there is any point in so doing is really neither here nor there. how do i know this? because every single year without fail, husband and wife, boyfriend and girlfriend, boyfriend and... enough already. you get the general idea. two cyclists, which seems to be the optimum number, visit the hallowed isle for either a cycling holiday or en route to somewhere else. if you were to meet them on the road, and here i fear this is a state of affairs that exists up and down the country, one of the cyclists will be several metres ahead of the other. mostly the bloke is ahead of the woman.
this i find strange, since surely the purpose of cycling in pairs is to enjoy each other's company as the scenery rolls by? yet this situation is so common that it must be i who is out of step.
while the number of cyclists un the uk and, for all i know, the world, is on the increase (british cycling claim there have been 92,000 new regular cyclists since the skyrides commenced in 2009), it still takes an insouciance bordering on the devil may care, to thread your way through often densely packed motorised traffic, wearing lycra of a hue not regarded as subtle. there are kids at school who would rather be placed in a stockade than wear a uniform, yet must all have the same trainers, hoodies and iphones; in effect, wearing their own uniform; individualists are hard to come by these days, and many of them own carbon fibre or bromptons. it can thus be regarded as something of a triumph that british cycling also claim around 1,000 new members in one month. because individuals rarely join clubs.
in this regard, it would not seem too far fetched to describe any cycling club as a collection of like-minded individuals.
but there are other reasons to join a cycling club, or at least to become a member of either british cycling or the cyclists' touring club, and that is to ensure a degree of self-protection from unbridled litigation. though we can all have some sympathy for the hapless motorist who not only has to sit in a metal box for hours on end, but whose bank balance is assailed from all directions, we really ought to take a leaf from their rule book.
it is unseemly, not to mention illegal, to drive a motor vehicle bereft of insurance; either fully comprehensive, if the vehicle is new or old enough to warrant the exorbitant charges, or at the very least, third party insurance. i am sure that our collective skills on the bicycle are mere centimetres away from those of the world's cycle acrobats, and that the avoidance of opening car doors, blindly stepping pedestrians and errant dogs, sheep or cattle, there may well come a time when things don't go quite according to plan and somebody, or something, gets hurt. possibly not you.
in a period of my life of which i am not proud, i worked briefly for hertz car rental, mostly cleaning the cars, and driving them as far as the local petrol station to have them ready for the next hire. on the way to the latter, a young boy emerged unexpectedly and rather quickly from a side road, stopping just before he hit the car, but falling sideways in the process. unfortunately, though he was saved from any serious injury, the brake lever scored all along the side of the car, marking the nearside front wing, and both doors of a not very old motor car. i'm not sure what the cost of this accident was to his parents, but i doubt it was too cheap.
so while it may be prudent to have insurance against damaging or losing that carbon fibre, the one you want to watch is a situation that injures a third party, or damages their property. happily, the solution to this is fairly easy and remarkably inexpensive; set aside all that carefully nurtured individualism and join one of the above two cycling organisations. british cycling's silver and ride memberships provide up to £10 million liability insurance for non-competitive cycling as well as free legal advice, and the former adds in competitive cyling too. membership of the ctc provides the very same amount of third party liability insurance. british cycling can also supply cycle insurance, but many may opt not to bother because it's not even remotely cheap if your bike is not even remotely cheap.
there was a call several years ago to make at least liability insurance a legal requirement for all cyclists, and while i have no real truck with adding to any legislation that detrimentally affects the activity of cycling, i must say that i would tend to support anyone who felt it necessary to propose just such a compulsion. the last thing any of us wants is a large legal bill and a few days in court, for having inadvertantly or accidentally damaged someone else's property.
if you don't have liability insurance, or have no idea if you have or not, maybe joining a club might be a good notion. if you're already a member of a club affiliated to one of the national organisations, your cover is likely already in place, but it doesn't hurt to check.
posted thursday 14 october 2010..........................................................................................................................................................................................................
mrs washingmachinepost is a childminder, and a darned good one at that. however, while many of you who have passed the stage of having little darlings about your feet will own your own sitting rooms, i do not. habitat and ikea may be the watchwords for those with an appreciation of interior decor; ours has far more in common with the early learning centre. we have two sofas and an armchair, but the hearth permanently has a thick blanket along the front to prevent little heads meeting with harsh fireplace tiles. a tiny inflatable chair sponsored by in the night garden joins the two sofas together and i can just about see the sky tv box past an almost neat row of plastic microwave, cooker, washing machine and kitchen sink. these are bordered by an unkempt pile of large and small illustrated books, and a brightly coloured toolbox that has an annoying habit of randomly inviting me to hammer nails and saw some wood, along with sound-effects to illustrate just what i'm missing.
the little darlings generally appear after i have left for the office in the morning so the bulk of my day is painless, but rare is the day that they have departed prior to my arriving home. how many of you are intimately acquainted with makka pakka, the tombliboos and buzz lightweight? i cannot complain, for despite being happy to wave bye-bye as the last child leaves to make his/her parents' life a misery for the evening, they do have a tendency to make a house a home. it should also be seriously noted that almost every other corner of the home is filled with cycle clothing, cycle books, cycle photos and other paraphernalia with which you will all be familar. people in glass houses shouldn't throw stones, particularly when it involves financial income.
however, despite what used to be acres of free floor space, there is one almost obligatory item of furniture that is conspicuous by its absence; the coffee table.
mrs washingmachinepost and myself are not predisposed to regular coffee breaks; that's what debbie's is for. but should we fancy putting the moka pot on the stove (as we picturesquely like to call the electric cooker) and savour a strong cup of java, the cups will likely need to sit on the floor, the mantelpiece, or those overstuffed drawers at the side of my chair. little people who like to run in circles often find coffee tables to be somewhat of a physical distraction that often involves the word 'ouch'.
but it is not only coffee cups that are bereft of a traditional home, for the publishing world has not been slow to see the possibilities of a glass-topped pine table at shin height. i'm sure somewhere abouts we all have at least one coffee-table book. this is an intriguing area of the printed word and oversize illustration that seemingly knows no bounds, stretching from the utterly pointless to the edifice that really could not be proffered in any other suitable format. i'm sure i have no need of elucidating the genre, but seeing as you ask, i will make brief recount. while the description more often refers to a large format, hardback tome that comfortably sits invitingly on the aforementioned coffee-table, some of the more extreme examples, but for the want of four short legs, could easily fulfil the function of a coffee cup repository themselves.
large format, quality printing has a tendency to inhabit the upper echelon of price brackets, not necessarily commensurate with the importance of the content. a preponderance of the latter has more or less singlehandedly revived the converse of don't judge a book by its cover; i have been on the receiving end of several. thus guy andrews' the custom road bike may engender a disappointing sigh as its considerable heft lands on the welcome mat just below the ghosts, witches and bats on the front door inviting little feet to the imminent joys of hallowe'en. judging this book not only by its cover, but the size of same in such a manner, would be an elementary mistake.
guy andrews is perhaps better known in the world of cycling as the editor of rouleur magazine and as a particularly fine writer, but his palmares includes a keen ability as a bicycle mechanic, and a subsequent skill in making all manifest through the written word. i will confess to having queried several times, as i leafed from large format page to large format page, as to why it was found necessary to have the subject writ large, but by the time i was just under half-way through, it all began to make sense.
the march of technology is incessant, and not any less so than in the world of cycling. while the custom road bike is pretty darned near bang up to date, it will not be that long before the sell-by date begins to slip. one would therefore question the validity of spending £30 on some words and pretty pictures that will look dated by this time next year. but in fact, this is one of this book's unique selling points; we are constantly reminded of cycling's great and rich heritage, but seem content to let someone else be the gatekeeper. we really need to take our own turn at some point through owning a book such as this one which, despite substantial contemporary relevance, will maintain a link to the past when we get to the future.
but what of the words? i will embarassingly admit to low expectations; a cursory flick through the big pictures, aside from underlining the superior graphic skills of jonathan bacon, will simply confirm any erroneous preconceptions. but lift thomas the tank engine off the armchair and sit back to investigate further, you will find a surprising amount of knowledge, fact and opinion surrounding those big pictures. guy takes a similar line to that of the post in disparaging the necessity of the integrated and semi-integrated headset, and a healthy attitude towards the efficacy of carbon in places of doubtful advantage. so while the accompanying photographs are very easy on the eye, and utimately inhabit the more refined end of the how much? category, this seems particularly apt since few, if any, will be considering the assembling of a custom road bike on the cheap. most of the fun is looking at much of the available trinketry and figuring out how to afford it without scaring the bank manager and incurring the wrath of your very own mrs washingmachinepost.
mr andrews however, although well qualified to present such a book as this, has realised the importance of incorporating the views, opinions and knowledge of others perhaps better qualified to discuss some of the finer and more personal points of view. this is manifest in his introduction to members of bicycle royalty: richard sachs, bob parlee, dario pegoretti, ernesto colnago, indyfab, and profiles of both brooks saddles and chris king components. if one is qualified to criticise, it is that a third member of framebuilding's great triumvirate is missing in action: sacha white of vanilla cycles.
combine the foregoing with guy andrews' undoubted perspicacity on the contemporary world of high-end componentry, and how it's all meant to go together, and you have a large format book that laughs in the face of our narrow-minded preconception of the average coffee-table book. £30 is a not inconsiderable sum to spend on a book, particularly if the notion to assemble a custom road bicycle is only that of a passing fancy. but in truth, that is the very reason to own a copy; aside from the ultimate delight of drooling over cycling's equivalent of nasa technology, there's that nagging reality that one day that superlative bicycle might just inhabit the bike shed.
i have a sneaking suspicion that it may be just as essential as an inner-tube.
posted wednesday 13 october 2010..........................................................................................................................................................................................................
the daily planet building in metropolis has a globe sited atop its almost square plan exterior. the windows are almost uniform in size, though this is more of an optical illusion, as each successive stage of the building has been proportionally designed. thus those windows near the top are smaller than those giving light to the lower floors. despite being surrounded by similar buildings of predominantly stone facade, reflections from opposing glass have a tendency to concentrate the sun even on colder days, making the interior often uncomfortably warm. windows are mostly left at least half open, and in warmer months, the air conditioning is close to working overtime.
i need not inform you that the daily planet is a national newspaper, so activity on each floor of the globe topped building is at best busy, often increasing to frenetic. most of the staff have left jackets and coats on stands near the corner of the open plan offices, and work at their desks in shirt or blouse sleeves. although sheepish and perhaps a bit more cool, calm and collected than the majority of the reporting and editing staff, clark kent is not any less busy than his colleagues, yet he has a hidden secret that he must protect at all costs, a secret that inconveniently always requires a telephone box to unveil. actually, clark has two secrets; one is that well-known by readers of his adventures (he is superman), and the other is that he is more than just uncomfortably hot.
look at the situation in an educated and pragmatic fashion. lots of people busily working on the next edition of the daily planet, sun beating incessantly through a myriad of glass windows, erratically operating air-conditioning, and clark kent is wearing a blue lycra outfit, a pair of underpants with a belt and a full-length red cape underneath his suit, shirt and tie. if you think you've got it hard, spare a thought for clark, because he can't even loosen that tie and unbutton his collar. all this in order to be ready at a moment's notice for impending doom, disaster and green kryptonite.
clipless pedals are a great boon to the modern day cyclist. while many have not yet made that leap of confidence and still adhere to toe straps filled by an ageing pair of trainers, an increasing majority of would-be racing cyclists have adopted a duck-like stance and walk, thus preventing any chance of running to the cafe to be first on the sofa. assuming your daily travail includes the possibility of nipping out for a quick sprintfest at lunchtime, or working stoically at your desk while surreptitiously keeping one eye on the clock, ready for a le mans type start the minute that number five is reached, on a polished tiled floor, there is little chance of carrying off a subtle, confident and insouciant scramble for the bike racks at home time. something needs to be done to remedy the situation.
of course, a solution has existed for many a long year, a solution that removes the need for bright red triangular cleats on carbon soles, and allows for walking as normally as the next daily planet reporter. as long as that daily planet reporter isn't lois lane.
if you've ever trawled through one of those outdoor catalogues, in particular the pages featuring chunky suede styled hiking boots and shoes, you'll have a good idea of where many an offroad shoe received its architectural sculpting from. so while footwear such as that incorporating miniscule cleats allowing scare-free and mark-free walking on shiny tiled floors is just the advance the archetypal office clock-watcher desires, the exterior may find itself either too much of a giveaway, or sartorially inappropriate.
but all need not be this way.
missionworks is a san francisco based company that makes bags, clothing and now shoes for that class of cyclist fitting the urban description. teaming up with shoe company dzr, whose heritage may encompass a similar raison d'etre, and whose location isn't that far away (palo alto) didn't seem too much of a stretch. combine missionworkshop's style and swagger with the expertise at dzr, and the rondel shoe makes more sense than that globe on top of the daily planet building.
fashioned in grey leather with a flat patterned sole featuring the dzr chainlink logo, the rondel shoes are comfortable and supple with matching grey laces and the rather intriguing intertwined 'm' and 'w' missionworks logo imprinted on the outside of each, as well as on an embroidered patch on the tongue. the sole owns a slot into which an appropriate cleat can be affixed, but should you opt to stick with platform pedals or toe clips, this slot can be left intact.
cyclocross is the only seemly undertaking on a bicycle at this time of year, and with a suitable velocipede in residence for a while (ibis hakkalugi) fitted with a particularly apt pair of pedals (crank brothers egg beaters), i took a knife blade in my own hands and cut the delineated section from each sole. believe me, that is almost as scary as chopping those extra inches off a new pair of forks. the tiny (by comparison) cleats nestle just below floor level, allowing a rushing and a hustling on pretty much any floor surface you can describe without disapproving looks and a repair bill from mrs washingmachinepost.
i can see the quizzical looks on a few faces at the back of the class; surely i cannot seriously be considering wearing what are essentially a pair of skateboard shoes for the altogether more infinitely rugged pastime of cyclocross? actually, yes. of course i haven't an earthly of ever being islay's incarnation of sven nys; it is not hard for me to fall off when i stop, and my leaping aboard after carrying across unforeseen obstacles would almost look competent were it not for the fact that my feet flail nowhere near those eggbeaters. in short, i coudn't ride cyclocross if my life depended on it.
however, such elaborate incompetence places more strain on any footwear than that demanded by competitors in the super prestige series, if only because both feet and shoes need be wary of allowing me to injure myself and provide a source of hilarity for unsuspecting passers-by. let's not beat about the bush here; these rondel shoes were never designed for cross riding. the word 'urban' does not stretch its definition that far. and an all but flat sole bearing no resemblance to those from the outdoor catalogue shouldn't, by definition, grip wet grass, wet leaves or the more usual mud, and it would be grossly unfair of me to expect otherwise. but you know what? surprisingly they proved themselves more than equal to the task, and i can honestly say that i have never once fallen by the wayside due to a lack of grip from the sole.
if i need to quibble and moan (which i do), my quibbles and moans would almost solely be aimed at the laces. apart from the fact that they are about twice as long as they need to be, they're also a bit too elasticky. on at least two rides so far, despite double knots and tucking the excess inside the shoes, one lace has all but been cut in half by the chainring as it came loose and flapped in the wind. the elastic tendency makes it hard to tighten those laces to a suitable degree. the degree of stiffness of the sole is fairly adequate, but would likely be better aided by my using crank brothers candy pedals rather than the more spartan eggbeaters, since the former have a supporting platform around the cleat engagement.
disengaging the feet in a hurry, while chiefly the preserve of the pedals also impacts on the shoes due to the repeated twisting motion, and while it would be hard to compete with the carbon soles of my more regular road shoes, i was quite impressed at how positive the unclipping was on each occasion and how relatively little flex was incurred in the process. thus when that office clock strikes five, it's a piece of cake to grab the missionworks bag from behind the desk and run for that bicycle in the daily planet lobby.
unless you've left it in the phone box.
the missionworks/dzr rondel shoe is available both from the missionworks website and from their london shop at the old truman brewery, elys yard. cost is £120
and just in case you're wondering, the headline has nothing to do with the article; seemed like a good idea at the time.
posted tuesday 12 october 2010..........................................................................................................................................................................................................
in one of those twice a year situations that only occur about twice a year, today's diatribe has managed to incur a thematic approach, given that yesterday's ruminations were about two days in october at earl's court, complete with that apostrophe. today however, the post has become indescribably partisan and nationalistic for which i offer no compensation to those resident in other parts of the world. in fact, in a manner similar to that of leaving bunnahabhain distillery, as i look from my residency on the outer edge, all that can be seen are other places. the trouble, up till now, has been that those other places all seem to have cycle shows.
there's really only the milan show at the beginning of next month yet to transpire, and winter has truly set in; the cycle shows are over. we've been told what's in store for 2011, in many cases we've either seen it in the flesh (so to speak), or in endless photo streams on many an international website. it is a sobering thought that even as many products have yet to arrive on these shores by the container load, engineers and designers are beavering away in locked cupboards, working on the stuff we're going to get in 2012. so perhaps the notion of a bicycle show in spring isn't the odd notion that it at first appears.
accept that it will happen in scotland, and there's nothing odd about it at all.
i do not travel far and wide enough to understand how my home country is perceived abroad; whether it is seen as insular or outgoing, cosmopolitan or parochial. it might just be not thought of in any way at all. within the world of knobbly tyres, the existence of the fort william world cup, and several state of the art offroad centres such as glentress and seven stanes (or however many stones they've got) have contributed to a complimentary profile, but as far as road cycling is concerned, scottish roadies seem happy to ride the road they're on without drawing too much attention to themselves.
roadies are like that.
so the likelihood of a two day, consumer bike show at the scottish exhibition and conference centre, glasgow, in april 2011 is undoubtedly something to be welcomed with open scottish arms.
given that this is october, and earl's court (with an apostrophe) has barely let go of all those exhibition stands, it would be a bit unseemly to be leaping up and down, demanding to know who's going to put their bicycles where their budget deficit is and populate the secc. i spoke to rowan mackie of organisers magdala media this morning, and while a number of prominent scottish cycle companies have expressed more than a passing interest in settling into some exhibition space, i would be over-reaching myself if i started naming names. the world might change a bit by april.
so while i would hope that every scottish cyclist reading and, in light of our all-inclusive non-nationalistic policy, also any cyclists of whichever hue, will mark saturday 16th and sunday 17th april 2011 in their ipods, iphones or whichever smartphone comes to hand. so far as rowan and i are aware, there has never been a scottish national cycle show, and it would be really, really good if we all arrived en masse to support the venture. if you happen to be a distributor of enticing bicycles, components, clothing or accessories, feel free to contact mr mackie with a view to snaffling some of his floor plan to display your wares. we'd like to see them, and maybe even purchase some. and if you can include something on the exclusive and breathtaking side, so much the better.
with a heritage that includes, robert millar, brian smith, graeme obree and chris hoy, the time seems about right.
photo of loch ard by andy mccandlish
posted monday 11 october 2010..........................................................................................................................................................................................................
much as i hate to be too predictable, the only alteration to my carefully ignored plans was a propensity to talk even more than normal. trade/press day at the cycle show should be a time for searching out all that is good and great in the world of carbon fibre, and there is little doubt that, in certain quarters, this is exactly how business is carried out. i have a nagging guilt that this is not how i go about my business, but it is a hard fact that, as the years have trammeled by, acquaintances have become more numerous. this is either because i have been in touch with an increasing myriad of personages, or because those unable to sleep of an evening have become better at searching out lengthy diatribes with a vague cycling association; and they have come across the post.
so i have therefore adopted a policy of networking, as alluded to by the article preceding my departure for the big smoke to which it was referred perhaps once too often over the past few days. thirteen hours it took from leaving port ellen on a calmac ferry, till arrival at an hotel mere minutes away from earl's court (it turns out there is an apostrophe). this was, apparently, the final year at the cycle show's present location, at least until someone perhaps realises the error of their ways, for next year the show will transfer its affections to birmingham. with no disrespect to this undoubtedly fine city, i feel it unlikely that i will travel that particular road.
so while the hours of travelling were undoubtedly of interest to yours truly, since i am of the opinion that it is just as important to travel well as it is to arrive, if you have initiated this interweb visit in the hope of discovering all the shiny stuff on which your hard-earned will be frittered away this coming season, i'm afraid i will have to disappoint you. i did come across some undoubtedly fine apparel, accessories, components and ultimately bicycles, the enduring and endearing points of interest were, as always, the people i met while trying to figure out why the specialized stand didn't appear to be where i left it a few minutes hence.
on a visit to new york many years ago, one of the sagest pieces of advice given after landing at jfk, was to try not to look like tourists. this was, of course, immediately ignored by the party i was with, assembling 'neath a broadway street sign for several photographs. there's a good chance that native new yorkers would have been alerted to our unfamiliarity with the territory. that and the scottish accents no doubt.
so as one wends one's merry way amongst brightly lit exhibitors' stands, it ill behoves a bona-fide member of the cycle press (it said so on my badge) to continually retrieve the exhibition programme from the sram shoulder bag to determine one's location amongst the bling. and it seems i was not alone in my increased verbosity, since passing stands featuring folks with whom one wished to communicate, could be done several times before conversations had ended. thus i managed to get lost on several occasions, heading blindly in the opposite direction to the one i thought i was heading.
the enforced fun in this inevitable action was that surprise encounters happened with unfailing regularity, and resulted in humour, interest and information being imparted by both parties. bicycles be damned; you can look at those on the internet.
but lest you think that my trip to london and subsequently earl's court was simply a (self-financed) jolly, the fact that i've written this much without actually saying anything should hopefully disavow such a notion. if you take into consideration my resident location on the outer edge, you can perhaps understand my perceived need to see and be seen. were you to receive an e-mail or telephone call from someone purporting to be from a website called thewashingmachinepost, and living on the isle of islay off the west coast of scotland, i doubt anyone would place the blame squarely upon your shoulders if you laughed and hung-up the phone, or implemented that much maligned piece of software, the junk mail filter.
because by talking to people, it is possible to unearth some interesting nuggets of information, to put faces to names and thus ease the burden of sending future review samples about which you will hopefully be eager to read. and though i trivialise the acres of carbon fibre, a reasonable proportion of the time was actually spent looking at the bicycles on display. otherwise, how do you explain the photos?
perhaps one of the more important chats of the day was a meeting with gem atkinson, the progenitor of bianchista and reviewer of ladies' cycle wear on the post, given that i am somewhat ill-equipped so to do. gem and i had previously communicated only by e-mail and twitter, so a sticky bun, a can of lemon san pellegrino (sorry richard) and tall stools at a tall table in the company of therese bjorn for almost an hour, was indeed time very well spent. lovely girls, both of them.
alan sugar, mario cipollini, magnus backstedt and eddy merckx all put in appearances, all seemingly more than comfortable in their surroundings except lord sugar, who had two minders intent on explaining the finer points of the bicycle trade and accoutrements as if he had never set sight on carbon before. and i have sadly mislead myself over the degree of celebrity accolade that can be apportioned on behalf of either the trade or press or both. eddy merckx sited himself behind a counter on a stand bearing a number of his bicycles, and held court as a lengthy stream of the great unwashed stood in line with books and posters eager for the great man to append his signature. lovely to see, but somewhat unexpected.
however, life on the outer edge has its benefits, the best of which was an opportunity to work on the colnago stand on the first of the public days on friday. trade day has an altogether different atmosphere; it is a smidgeon quieter, and everyone has an agenda, either to negotiate a deal that will see a constant stream of carbon find its way to a local bikes shop near you, or photographers and writers accumulating evidence and stories that will delight for days or even weeks ahead. the so-called consumer days, of which there are three, allow everyone and his/her best friend, the opportunity to see stuff they couldn't possibly afford, or perhaps the chance to see the 2011 version of what they are about to place an order for. there's also often the opportunity to ask questions directly to the people who know.
it is this latter position that i had rather hoped to fill with regard to colnago bicycles from 10am until 6pm on the friday, just to see what it is that is of interest to those with clover leaves in sight. delivery dates, available colours and where the nearest dealer is to epping forest were all questions best left to those who do this for a living, and such were referred to the good people at windwave. however, having ridden the majority of the bicycles on display, both i and colnago uk had little qualms over my ability to answer enquiries related to such.
so, more formally dressed than those around me, in a white colnago emblazoned shirt to their polo shirts, i tried very hard not to get in the way, and not to make too much of a prat of myself. to those who asked and thanked for my answers, you made an old cyclist very happy, and i should also bequest a huge thank you to those who visited not out of colnago love, but to wish me well with the post and to say hello.
aggressively placed at the centre of the colnago stand was number one of 59 white colnago c59 italias, replete with a fully integrated shimano di2 electronic groupset, a bicycle first shown at eurobike earlier last month. the integration stretches as far as having hidden the battery somewhere inside the frame, and i remarked to diego from colnago italy, that had they charged for each guess as to where the battery might be, the cost of the bicycle could likely have been realised. well, perhaps, because at the time of the show, the price was yet to be confirmed, though all 59 have already gone (and then some). when the bicycle was shown at eurobike, even the shimano engineers were apparently unable to fathom where the battery had been placed.
i know where it is, but if i told you, i'd have to visit your house in the company of two minders and a violin case.
there is a lot of colnago love out there, with not only the very latest c59 garnering a lot of attention, but gratifyingly, an all white, steel colnago master x-light sharing much of this limelight. plenty of conversations centred around the difference between taiwan's monocoque construction and italy's tubes and lugs. this is not an area of discussion with which i would normally concern myself, since it is a simple fact of bicycle life that taiwan has the greatest expertise in monocoque construction, and it makes little sense for any manufacturer to build that style of frame anywhere else. however, a great deal of colnago aficionados would still prefer their bicycles to be made in italy. i am expecting a model of the new monocoque m10 bicycle for review later this month, so perhaps it will be possible to shed more light on the argument.
while such as the cycle show could be seen as a frivolous and frighteningly expensive annual affair, an exercise that might be dealt with in other ways, from a public point of view it seems it may fulfil a necessary need. questions regarding colnagos are currently required to be routed through your nearest colnago dealer, who in turn must ask questions to which they do not know the answer of colnago uk. arriving on the colnago stand armed with awkward questions not only gives access to uk experts (not including me, that is), but the inimitable diego from cambiago.
i only spent one day on the stand, and by evening time was very glad i didn't have saturday and sunday to look forward to. quite how any of the hapless souls manning all those stands survived until today, i know not. one day was more than enough for me. there is the possibility of a two-day cycle show in glasgow next april, so with the likelihood of the national show going to birmingham, next year's notes from the front line might well be a lot earlier, and entirely in scottish.
my grateful thanks to peter nisbet, rohan dubash, warren davies and all the staff on the colnago and fsa stands at earl's court, and most definitely to diego colosio from colnago italy, who has been so helpful throughout the year and a source of great mirth in london. thanks also to everyone who took the time to talk on both thursday and friday, especially gem, therese, the guys from purple harry, graeme freestone king, phil, roger and gill at mosquito, martin scofield, ben atkins, the wonderful richard mitchelson, david harmon, and of course to all those who dropped by to say hello just because i write too much in these pixels. if i missed anyone it's due to having a terrible memory. and i'm really sorry that i missed simon lamb.
posted sunday 10 october 2010..........................................................................................................................................................................................................