coming back from a spin today, i met
mr dodds with his cartload of bread.
he must have known
that horses shy at bicycles, but
he did not get down, and sure enough
his wretched animal
reared, backed into the dyke, and emptied
22 stone of bread and six stone of flour
into the water
for the past twelve years, the islay jazz festival has been held at a variety of venues across the island, some more unique than others (a lighthouse anyone?), and the great islay public has ignored it in droves. there is no indigenous history of jazz music on islay, and rather than listen to the cream of scottish and international jazz musicians, most would prefer ceilidh, pipe band, gaelic, occasionally rock music and a smattering of country and western. i say this not as a complaint or a dismissive against the island's population, for each is entitled to their own taste in music, but it depends on what you have been exposed to by way of jazz. it would not be the first time i have played someone a track on my ipod to be met with 'ah, but i wouldn't call that jazz'.
possibly if upbringing has meant that acker bilk represents all that has been classified as jazz, then weather report, miles davis or even polar bear will suffer from this initial classification.
i have exactly the same problem with poetry.
primary school education brought me to expect that at least every second line of poetry ought to rhyme; if there was no rhyming to be seen, what differentiated it from regular prose? how would i know flowery writing as separate from words identified as poetry? who decides? any further smidgeon of interest in poetry was effectively drummed out by the seeming requirement to analyse every word, nuance and punctuation mark in the works of the world's major poets. enjoyment that may have been accrued in reading out loud or silently was crushingly destroyed by this process, and by the time i had reached the stage of studying 'a' level english literature, poetry was anathema.
that is until lord carlos of mercian lent me a copy of ten poems about bicycles published by candlestick press. not that i asked him for it; the word poems was in the title after all. however, as you will have noted, the word bicycle is also in the title; a palliative if you will. edited by jenny swan and published in 2009, the introduction explains its raison d'etre being 'the affection that bicyces have inspired in their riders, and the miraculous and sometimes poignant associations that have gathered around them in poetry.'
'a spider bought a bicycle
and had it painted black
he started off along the road
with an earwig on his back
while the bicycle is a joyous transport, providing many hours of pleasant kilometres, its purpose ranges far and wide, not all of them associated with pleasantries.
the graves of children who go missing
are abandoned bicycles set in concrete.
but it is surely measure of the importance of the bicycle that not only did the publishers see fit to provide this slim volume of ten poems for our enjoyment, but that the bicycle was deemed an important enough edifice for those involved in this branch of literature to put pen to paper. and in so doing, many have seen what those of us obsessed with the bicycle may well have missed in our keen-ness to climb aboard and do battle with hills, roads, wind and rain.
as bicyclists and harpsichordists prove
who only by moving can balance,
only by balancing move.
tyres correctly inflated, gears that are properly adjusted, bearings that smoothly run, and chains that do not squeak are perhaps rightly of more concern to the daily or even weekly cyclist. poetry is often far from the mind at the beginning of a sunday ride. we are, however, constantly reminded of the poetic licence and uniqueness of our situtation and location by the mighty dave t. as we moan of the pressures the world brings to bear, tangible or otherwise, there is always the eternal optimist on his re-bracketed coppi sitting but a few spoke lengths behind, berating us for our pessimism, and making it clear that in reality, our cups runneth over.
that i can only blame on catherine at deb's on a sunday; cappuccino froth all over the saucer.
the wind behind me
water bottle is my friend
watch that taxi door.
candlestick press is a small, independent publisher based in nottingham, england. since 2008 they have been publishing poetry pamphlets aimed equally at people familiar with poetry and those who are not. 'ten poems about bicycles' costs a mere £4.95 (plus postage) and is proffered either as the ideal way to celebrate the life of the bicycle in poetry, or as a practical alternative to a greetings card. the book is delivered with a matching envelope and a bookmark left blank for an appropriate message, should you wish to pass on the good karma.
posted sunday 30th january 2011..........................................................................................................................................................................................................
i have likely mentioned this before, but since it is germain to my story, it will surely do little harm to reprise for the moment. in the early part of this century, the european union of which we are (reluctantly) a part, legislated that no industrial outflow should make its way into the seas meeting any european country. islay is hardly the industrial heartland of the inner hebrides, but the scottish environment protection agency (sepa) interpreted this directive to include the island's distilleries, plus the one on jura, and stopped them pouring the pot ale (the liquid left after the distillation process is complete) into the sea around islay.
prior to this, many of the island's fishermen claimed they caught larger lobsters and crabs around the end of the disposal pipes.
this pot ale is, in fact, relatively harmless, given that it contains water, malted barley and little else. organic waste i would tender. however, since sepa had classified the distilleries as industrial units, the outflow had to cease. there was considerable debate as to how this pot ale should now be dispensed with; the favoured method was by road inside 40ft tankers, though brief consideration was given to the notion of a barge sailing to each distillery (with the exception of kilchoman, all islay and jura's distilleries are sited on the coast). however, the tanker by road method won the day, and a huge tank was constructed at caol ila into which the pot ale was to be disposed, before flushing into the sound of islay, a particularly fast flowing stretch of water between islay and jura.
like me, you may be wondering quite how this is any different to dumping the stuff into the same sea in the first place; i haven't an earthly. however, these tankers, of which there are three i believe, spend seven days a week trashing islay's roads driving distillery gloop from south to north. out and about on bicycles on weekdays or at weekends, we constantly meet these trucks on single track roads. however, this articulated lorry/bicycle interface is not quite as drastic as it as first sounds, for the drivers are nothing if not courteous to the pelotonese. single track roads permit passing by means of logically named passing places, allowing one vehicle to pull in and allow oncoming or following traffic to carry on its merry way. despite the inconvenience of stopping a fully laden tanker in order to allow a few slivers of carbon fibre to pass, generally if the drivers find themselves closer to a passing place than we do, they will pull in to let us pass. we generally reciprocate where possible.
on friday, i took the colnago master out for its first new year ride; laden with chrome on the forks and the head-tube lugs, i prefer not to expose it to more salt and grit than is humanly possible. however, provided with a day bearing grey clouds and remarkably low temperatures, with dry roads and little chance of precipitation, it seemed the ideal conditions to remind myself of how well the bike rides. it took only a few kilometres to realise that the bicycle is a lot fitter than i am. in similar fashion to the carbon c59 tested last year, the colnago master is relentless, hell-bent on proving that its owner/rider has become a big girl's blouse over the winter months, lacking anything like the stamina required to treat it to the speeds for which it has become legendary.
i blame the carbon rear triangle.
i cannot pretend otherwise that sitting in debbie's supping soya froth is welcome respite from the open road, but in this case it had almost become a medical necessity. though i have taken a solemn oath never to train ever again, i find myself having cause to reconsider, if i am to look svelte and unflurried when riding a merckx coloured, steel bicycle. there is an implied heritage that deserves to be recognised through unflustered speed, a facet currently not only lacking, but missing entirely at present. you would think that an intermission from red-faced chuntering would recharge those insignificant leg muscles, leading to frantic whizzing on the journey home, thus recouping a portion of hideous embarrassment.
blackrock is an almost insignificant bump on the road leading from bridgend to bruichladdich; the road heads briefly upwards just past the houses on the right hand side of the road, and descends under half a kilometre later towards uiskentuie farmhouse. if you're driving, you'd perhaps almost miss it, but the fact that the road curves means that any vehicle behind a cyclist can't see oncoming traffic, particularly when ascending from either direction. this hasn't stopped every member of the velo club peloton having been passed by motorists either oblivious or ignorant of the consequences both for them, or more concerningly, for those slivers of carbon fibre with cyclists aboard.
as i returned from my coffee supping and caramel biscuit crunching, still being outpaced by the colnago, approaching blackrock from the uiskentuie side, i was aware of one of those tankers behind me, presumably having come from bruichladdich distillery. always willing to return reciprocal courtesy, i had little wish to slow the truck more than absolutely necessary, slipped down a few gears and gave the cranks as much welly as i had left to give. sadly that really wasn't saying much, though the effort seemed to have been at least recognised, as the driver tooted his horn and flashed lights as he passed, followed by several other vehicles.
i, however, was casting my eyes about for any sign of a passing paramedic; the colnago had already divested me of any reserves that might have been in place before leaving the house. there has to be a solution to this somewhere; my only concern is that the solution will involve hard work, technically known as training.
posted saturday 29th january 2011..........................................................................................................................................................................................................
last week i reviewed endura's stretchy equipe neoprene overshoes, items of footwear that had me initially confused as to how they should be fitted over a regular pair of cycling shoes given that they bore no zip at the heel, a feature seen more commonly on similar products from others. and in that review i mentioned that while water resistant, these were most definitely not waterproof. printing such a stark rebuke, though not quite how i meant it to read, led to a reply from endura describing the waterproofing qualities of the product thus: 4000mil waterproofness (which is higher than the standard 2000mil requirement); the equipe overshoes are made of a waterproof thermal neoprene and have a welded construction strengthening the waterproofness. the construction uses the same technology as a wet suit would, using welding machines. the upper of the superstretch overshoe is waterproof.
of course, they are absolutely correct, and i have amended my review accordingly. however, as my test was carried out in the pouring rain on a cyclocross bike, involving more than a few occasions that necessitated walking through muddy puddles, water soaked my shoes through the cleat holes on the bottom. worn on the road in the pouring rain, i would agree entirely with endura that the uppers are completely waterproof, and i perhaps used the product in a way unforeseen or unintended. however, as the saying goes as soon as you make something idiot proof, they build a better class of idiot.
i just thought you should know.
posted saturday 29th january 2011..........................................................................................................................................................................................................
i haven't yet learned to leap aboard like sven nys, and i really prefer stopping while still seated, after unclipping one foot. not for me the leg over the saddle and hitting the ground running. hitting the ground is about as far as i've got. of course, this is all entirely academic, for there is not a chasing 'cross peloton, or more likely in my case, a peloton needing to be chased, so my mounting and dismounting habits are nobody's business but mine.
thankfully, much of this incompetence is practiced in the confines of bridgend woods where the few other inhabitants are either walking the dog(s) or just eager to distance themselves from designer scruff on a lime green bicycle. now with pink hubs. it is, i will reluctantly admit, perilously close to my mountain biking days, though astride a far more manageable and lighter machine. persuade me all you want, but i doubt very much that even a twenty-niner with endless travel springs could match the fun that the ibis has provided.
but before the fun part is explored in more detail, i must pay tribute to a bicycle that enabled me to achieve my stated aim of riding all five hundred of those rapha festive kilometres. islay is not world renowned for its winter sports, simply because snow is as rare as a full bottle of single malt remaining full overnight having been left in the car park in the morning. but this past festive season, it defied the rules and provided the roads with a substantial covering of cold white stuff.
i am confident that my cielo would have shrugged off deep and crisp and even with its customary aplomb, but i really have grave doubts as to whether the pilot would have managed the same. so in order to occupy a number of hours each day while still supping the obligatory soya cappuccino, i leapt aboard the ibis (a bit of opportunistic artistic licence there), and continued on my merry way. the hakkalugi has a higher bottom bracket and a more stable approach to life. wider tyres with a bit of tread didn't go amiss either, it must be said.
this sort of fulfils ibis ceo scot nicol's intentions for the bicycle; yes this bicycle under different steersmen has won races including national titles; but cyclocross affords a short season. unless the competitive urge is strong, it's a bit of a luxury to own a machine such as this and have it resting for around nine months. couple that with its two sets of bottle bosses, and the hakkalugi can be seen to have wider ranging attributes and ambitions.
bearing this in mind, i have chosen my moments less than carefully, because the ibis would have it no other way. planned days in the woods somehow seem so contradictory and against the grain. spontaneously choosing the ibis over the other occupants of the bikeshed inevitably leads to more glee, particularly in the fog last saturday. it has to be global warming; first we get uncharacteristic snow, then fog that lasts all day. a flashing red light on the rear seatstay and a lime green jacket to match the paint scheme, and it was a simple option to keep out of traffic's way.
the only changes that have been made since test number one last year have been in the rotational department. the easton wheels and michelin tyres have been swapped for a pair of chris king cyclocross wheels and continental king cross tyres, both seemingly eager to play in the mud. and talking of mud, a modest degree of protection has been appended in the shape of a crudguard and raceguard, detracting slightly from the ibis' svelte form, but restraining mrs washingmachinepost from harrying me over the quantity of muddy clothing in the washingmachine.
the vincero design 'bottle cage' has remained in place on those downtube bolts. despite all and sundry cheerfully pointing out there was no way that bottle was going to remain in place, stuck only with a magnet, it has managed to do just that. despite one or two bicycle/snow interface incidents during december, with frozen contents in the bottle, the only time it came off was when needed. proof of concept i'd say.
i would love to relate a tangible and noteable improvement in my bike handling skills, gained from more hours spent splashing through hitherto untrammeled paths. you would have no choice but to offer up grudging respect. however, if i'm perfectly honest, my proclivity for remaining upright in the face of adversity is almost undoubtedly the province of the ibis. i would not be the least bit surprised to discover that hakkalugi is norse for sure-footed. closer investigation of this phenomenon has produced no satisfactory answer; the bicycle seems to have my best interests at heart for which i am truly grateful.
negatives? not a lot. the drive side rear cantilever boss managed to unscrew itself from the frame in snowy circumstances, though this is not a feature that has repeated itself since. and it seems a shame that the four bolts holding the stem faceplate weren't of stainless steel; islay's winter weather has provided them with a patina of ferrous oxide that could likely have been avoided at minimal expense. that aside, i have found no other problems, despite studious incompetence in the field.
now, whether mr nicol's plans for his sole cyclocross offering stretch as far as traversing disintegrating public road surfaces i know not, but in the real world, such employ is beginning to look increasingly likely. on the sunday ride before last, while testing the more recently added continental tyres, it was more than apparent that i aboard the ibis was having an far easier time rumbling across crumbling tarmac than the accompanying peloton, all of whom were on more race-ready bicycles.
it is conceivable that, in view of the current range of government spending cuts, the roads beneath us will see repair and billiard table like surfaces far less often than we have become used to. soon people who have never heard of zydenek stybar (let alone pronounce it) will be clamouring to own a cross bike, and i would tender that the ibis is one of the more prepared for that task.
hopefully my hours of unadulterated joy aboard this stunningly light carbon will continue through the coming months. mud and squidge are of winter's frame, but long grass and hardpack will provide fun of a bouncier nature.
posted friday 28th january 2011..........................................................................................................................................................................................................
just as you leave debbie's cafe and head towards bruichladdich distillery, there's a small, almost inisgnificant road on the right leading up to conisby. if this were the mainland, or a less rural society, conisby would signify perhaps a substantial agglomeration of dwellings with a shop and perhaps a pub. on islay, place names often refer to one house; in the case of conisby, it refers to a gaggle of houses, most of them recently built and the preserve of the incoming retired with a few dollops of cash in the bank.
the road itself is nothing to write home about, providing views of the darkened distillery bonds on the left, and open fields on the right, but the road's significance, as far as we are concerned, is that it heads in an upward direction towards consiby. that is, it has gradient. in 2010, we used that road for the very first ride of the falling rain hill-climb, and there is a strong probability that it will receive gainful employment of a similar manner in 2011.
for those who have not travelled to the principality on previous occasions for rotfr, it is ultimately necessary to arrive, at the very latest, on saturday evening off the late ferry from kennacraig. however, many refer to disembark anytime from friday afternoon, though the majority reach islay on saturday morning. things are a little slower over here, so it took us a year or two to realise that islay now had a substantial amount of cyclists twiddling their gear levers on saturday pm; all dressed up and nowhere to go. this was particularly socially inept and unwelcoming of us.
therefore, in the 2010 running of the ride, the hill-climb was born in order to occupy that portion of saturday afternoon, allowing a frothy cappuccino (one of your five a day) prior to competition, and another post ride for consolation or victory. the gradient and length of this hill-climb does not preclude the younger members of our entourage from taking part, and though there may be a prize or two in the offing, it's more the spirit of taking part than who you were able to soundly trash without changing gear.
the ride of the falling rain will this year take place on sunday 7th august, leaving from debbie's cafe in bruichladdich at 10am and arriving back at same whenever you finish. the ride incorporates more escape routes than colditz, and the total distance of 100 miles is simply an ideal; you can ride as much or as little as you feel capable of. the midway point (more or less) is the old kiln cafe at ardbeg distillery, where you can be fed and watered to your heart's content, before deciding whether the return trip should be circumlocutious, or perhaps a tad more direct. most folks completing the full distance arrive back in bruichladdich at around 4-4:30pm
the touristy bit: the route is designed to give maximum exposure to this beautiful island, taking in the atlantic coast as well as the craggier coast along the south of the island. the return trip from ardbeg rides through pretty much the central part of islay, but due to the bumpy bits being round the edges, there are only a couple of climbs that will make use of bottom gear. aside from the stop at ardbeg, the route takes riders past, bruichladdich, bowmore, laphroaig, lagavulin and kiclhoman distilleries, though in the interests of better cycling, it's better not to stop, but just look. though august is the height of islay's summer season, and there are more cars on the roads than at present, relative to the mainland, it's very quiet.
this is, as rapha would say, an unsanctioned ride; there are no marshals, no feed stops (other than ardbeg) and no official mechanical support. however, since much is across single-track roads, we'd advise that you take heed of motorised traffic behind and in front; be as courteous as possible, and everything works fine. take some food and drink with you, and at the very least, a couple of spare inner tubes, a tyre lever and a pump.
it is now traditional to hold an apres ride pasta party, and we have every intention of doing the same again in 2011, though this early in the season, we don't yet know where. while there is no entry charge for the ride, there will be a small charge for the evening's food, and we do ask that every rider make a voluntary donation of £10 monies that we pass on to a nominated charity. there will eventually be a downloadable form on the ride of the falling rain website, simply to give us an idea of how many riders to expect, and how many will be partaking of the evening's repast. i'll let you know when it's there.
as mentioned above, islay is busy in august, and the availability of accommodation is limited, so i'd advise that if you intend making rotfr one of the season's objectives, now would be avery good time to book. the fact that the islay half marathon is held the previous day does not help with this availability, so don't dilly dally (see websites below). if you will be arriving by car, it is essential to book your return ferry passage; similarly air travel if that's your preferred method.
if you've any queries, or would like to join the disappointingly infrequent e-mail newsletter, feel free to e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, and it would be very nice to see you at the coffee binge on sunday 7th august.
posted thursday 27th january 2011..........................................................................................................................................................................................................
because all these pixels reside on a web server, technology sits at the gate and counts every pixel out, and every pixel back in again. that way, should i find myself unable to get to sleep at night, or i find myself with several days to fill, i can browse through graphs and columns of numbers relating to all those marching pixels. i can see how many of you got here via google, how many came from elsewhere, the ip addresses at which you all reside, and how often you make the post a part of your daily life. as one with an inherent dislike of numbers, i pretty much ignore most of that, but the one thing that these statistics do not tell me, even assuming i wanted to know, is whether you're male or female. it wouldn't change anything if i knew, but i have a sneaking suspicion that the fairer sex are in the minority, if only because that seems to be the general state of things in the world of bicycles; especially when it comes to racing.
it is, therefore, greatly encouraging to note that in 2011 the women's horizon fitness rt team are on one of those onwards and upwards trajectories, helped along the way by additional sponsorship from mick and andy at prendas ciclismo. the team's directeur sportif is stefan wyman, husband of prominent british rider helen wyman. the two of them met while racing for the same sponsor; "It was very clear to me that helen had a lot of talent, and over the following years, i actually sold my bikes to get some money to buy her some new equipment." did he ever long for his own racing days rather than those of ds? "i gave up racing quite a few years ago, but have since done a few races in belgium, which i have regretted each time."
the progression from former racer to directeur sportif is not an unusual one; many a retired cipollini has done just that. stefan started running teams between 2003 and 2004, but it seemed worthwhile asking why, despite the eminence of his wife at the top of women's uk racing, he decided to concentrate his talents on bringing on a women's racing team. "having seen the lack of opportunities for female riders with helen, i felt something needed to be done. i still feel that way now."
the team is based on the premise of being a development team, how does he intend to encourage and plan this development? "i feel i need to make sure female riders in the uk have opportunities. that's not just about making my team 'big', it's about contributing to the development of the sport in the uk. for example, the introduction
of a women's round of the tour series in 2010. we sponsored this event, the horizon fitness gp, to give teams the chance to step up, get on tv and reward their sponsors.
"hopefully it also gives new targets for riders, along with well organised, safe road-racing for all the keen riders out there."
cycle racing, whether male or female would be hard-pushed to exist without financial input from sponsors, either for commercial reasons or because someone at the top of the company has an obsession with cycle sport, and the wherewithal to support it. horizon fitness rt are no different. title sponsor, horizon fitness are manufacturers and purveyors of (surprise, surprise) fitness equipment, the sort of thing you'd find in gyms. however, for 2011, the good guys of cycling mick tarrant and andy storey of prendas ciclismo have stepped up to the metaphorical plate and supplied some snazzy new santini clothing. bearing in mind the foregoing, is the prendas name on the side panels of the horizon jerseys for commercial reasons, or are they just so in love with the sport?
"it's a combination of the two. there's no grand prendas marketing plan as such; we are just trying to get our name out there. it still amazes us that we get orders every day from people that have never heard from us, but are really happy when the product arrives. it's all about trying to widen our customer base. it would be easy to just advertise in a bunch of magazines, but team sponsorship is a positive thing to do. it's costly to do properly, but ultimately we are putting something back into the sport that has provided us with a living for a number of years. in addition, cycle sport has seen more women being involved in recent years and it seems that a lot of the 'tifosi' don't take them too seriously. we appreciate that it's tough for a women's team to attract sponsors and we hope that our involvement will add something to their credibility."
but which way round did the approach arrive? the new team kit is made by santini in italy, a company world-renowned for quality of product, and one with which prendas have been long associated. in which case, was it a case of santini being the nominated supplier, and prendas becoming involved through their being one of the principal uk distributors? "the kit is from santini, due to our long-term relationship with them. the jerseys, bib shorts, gilets, etc are all hand-made in italy, race proven and top quality, although in the world of retail, nowhere near the top of the pricing ladder. we've always based our business on quality clothing offering value for money. i think that also pretty much sums santini up." is clothing supply the sum total of prendas' commercial involvement? "yes. we are happy to do what we have expertise in. stef's a top bloke, honest, enthusiastic and knows his stuff. i really can't see mick doing a "signor squinzi" a la paris-roubaix in the team car!"
horizon fitness rt originated in 2009, competing throughout the 2010 season. for the 2011 season, sponsorship and team kit is all in place, the women will be riding dolan hercules bicycles, and the roster is now set, a roster that has an impressive strength and depth; "there is no age limit on the riders in our team. it's about taking riders that fit in with the existing squad, and have the talent to move forward in the sport. we have claire thomas who's 38, and a fantastic rider (a member of team scotland in the 2010 commonwealth games), and we also have riders like ruby miller and penny rowson who are 18. it may be putting the cart well before the horse to ask, but if the current team provides the hoped for degree of success, does wyman hope to keep the team together for 2012. or is it a measure of the success of a development team that others come a knocking and pick off the best performers?
"it's my aim to be able to move the team forward as fast as the riders can develop. so for sure i'd like to keep them together, however if a big, well structured team came in for a rider and offered them a good path in cycling, i would be really proud that we've been part of their development.
"i think that's the great thing about the group of partners we have on the team (horizon fitness, cnp professional nutrition and prendas), they'd actually agree with that. it would great, however, if riders can move onto some of the world's top teams."
sound infrastructure is a rather obvious necessity for any team planning to take to the uk roads in the name of competition. with the financial and personal demands, to say little of responsibility to those sponsors decorating the jerseys, shorts and team vehicles, there's the not inconsiderable negotiations with the uci and race organisers. all this before even one pedal has been turned in competitive effort. though sponsors and riders are keen to see their names in race results, surely there's the obligatory pre-season training camp followed by the real reason for the team; racing?
"we'll have a very varied year. for the road, we'll start with a training camp in italy and the mpire cycling centre. this is run by former pro jamie burrow, and he's working with us in 2011 as a race consultant, passing on his knowledge to our riders.
"from there the team will split; one team with start in the uk, and the other will take part in the gp roeselare in belgium (uci 1.1). june is going to be about getting the best prep for the nationals, as we have some really strong U23 riders.
"so a bit of everything, to ensure each rider gets the races they need. before the road even gets under way for women, we hope to have some of the riders taking part in the world track championships, and maybe even the manchester world cup."
"the uk is going to key to us into the first half of the season with the bedford two day race, the tour series, smithfield nocturne, and the national championship. on top of this there are various key tt events in the uk that riders will target.
"the second half of the season will involve a lot more racing in europe, including some professional stage races along with professional one day events."
with many a team sponsored by those involved in the cycling business, for some the actual race results may almost be an incidental. have prendas plans to take development benefits of a different kind from their association with the team? "yes. we'll be working with the riders to develop new products. female specific summer gloves is the first project on the list." is it possible, therefore, that 2011 might presage the formation of a prendas ciclismo road team for 2012, with them taking on the role of title sponsor?
"no. we just don't have the will, the time, the budget or the ego."
this isn't the first outing for the prendas name on the front of a cycle jersey. in 2010 they held co-sponsor status with the big maggies, prendas, wilier team. does the name on the horizon jerseys mean that they are spreading themselves across more lycra for the coming season? "the big maggie's, wilier team will continue in some shape or form in 2011, but we will not be involved. i would say that we achieved most things out of the relationship that we wanted to, but as with everything in life, things don't always turn out as you expected. we admit it was a big disappointment that the team did not make the tour series, but some of the product photos that we received of the guys using the kit during the season to illustrate the website were excellent and are still being viewed by visitors to our site every day. we supported some of the guys for a long time (ben, mark, grant) prior to the team's existence and we still remain friends."
everytime things look up slightly with regard to british cycling teams, male or female, the media at large start talking about a new golden age of british cycling. on the grounds of being less than fully informed, i excuse myself from this classification. with constant reference to the current economic situation hanging in the air, commerciality is keener on hanging onto its money than spending it on allowing folks to go cycle racing. however, the relatively recent realisation that women are from venus, and men are from mars, has led to prominent players in all strata of cycling, providing more women specific clothing, cycles and general awareness that it's not all blokes on skinny wheels. the existence of horizon fitness rt as a specifically women's development team is encouraging to say the least.
maybe james brown's 'it's a man's world' will receive less airplay in 2011.
the team horizon rt santini clothing will be available direct from the prendas ciclismo website.
posted wednesday 26th january 2011..........................................................................................................................................................................................................
as total pedants, involved in our own little subjective world, we are highly discriminatory when it comes to bicycle choice. lately the head tubes have begun to form partnerships with the fork crown and many an eye is easily swayed by the smoothness of form encouraged by a headset inside. then again, there is much to be said, in a rustic sort of way, for the exo-skeleton of a threaded headset. the one that needs employ of substantial flat spanners to adjust. or it could just as easily be the enormity or pencil thin-ness of a honed down-tube, or perhaps the overall shape and build. pleasing to the eye.
this pleasantry can be subtly enhanced by colour, and you needn't think they don't know this. all is extraneous to the bicycle's purpose, much all but invisible from the cockpit, and assuming maximum effort, probably not the only aspect of the ride that is seen through misted eyes.
as referred to in tim hilton's 'one more kilometre and we're in the showers' a disproportional number of cyclists have involvement in the visual arts; perchance we think more with our eyes than with heart or soul. if correct, that explains much about the endless forum chatter debating the merits and demerits of team jerseys and bicycle design; superficial chit-chat that has little bearing on the tour podium. but that pre-supposes first across the line is the centre of your world.
a common denominator across all aspects of the cycling world, whether downtubes, jerseys, wheels is so cotton pickin' obvious that it is all too easily missed. discussion of this has even occupied a percentage of my inbox from time to time. while plenty are inquisitive as to the method of tube joining in the frame of their dreams, and weight-weenies have their own agenda, what about the humble (and not so humble) typeface. fonts; the world would be a far less comprehensible place without them, and can i not be the first to query whether some of those anodyne far-eastern monocoques might not be so identifiable were it not for the writing on the side?
what font do campagnolo use on their bora wheels? which typeface imposes ernesto's name throughout the europcar team truck? you can, perhaps, begin to see my point. even those with no formal training in the wiles of typography cannot avoid the small picture. has the kerning in the name pinarello been tightened to pay attention to its place on the carbon? don't say you don't care; few are the inhabitants of this world who are not affected in one way or another by the lettering pertaining to their favourite bicycle brand. i need hardly open the debate on jerseys.
if i may be permitted to revisit my lengthy piece last week on the recently announced rapha bicycle collection, mr james selman, progenitor of beloved cycles, had the foresight to emblazon the wall of the cielo workplace with the typographical equivalent of onomatopoeia. while the bicycles are to die for, even the most hardened roubaix rouleur with a penchant for type would find it hard to resist the urge to order at least a beloved cycle cap. just for the word.
art lies in the details, something the bicycle people are not always fully aware of; many a tubesmith has 'upgraded' their lettering in the name of modernity, and while nostalgia was rarely a concern of yesteryear, changes don't always take account of the untold esteem in which corporate wording is held on a daily basis. pinarello again.
in an undertaking worthy of mention, id like to make an example of rapha's tourmalet jersey. perren street produced this to commemorate the centenary of the mountain's incorporation in the tour de france; half-heartedness would have allowed considerably less than the typography offered. the word tourmalet was painstakingly culled from a french poster of the era, and convincingly reproduced in all its typograhical accuracy on the front of the jersey. few will be aware of the myriad of preparatory drawings necessary to reveal such authenticity, and that, indeed, is the way it should be. it makes its own way in the world.
there is little money to be made from selling typefaces to the great unwashed. few appreciate the hours of work involved in re-invigorating an original or presenting a new face to the world, happier to filch for free when the opportunity presents itself. this lack of deep coffers has likely kept the world's foundries from entering the sponsorship fray; who better to have their lettering on a jersey front, or a carbon downtube?
one that has taken the race jersey by the cuffs, and is the most notable exception to the rule, is house industries, whose script logo adorns the black and red of the richard sachs cyclocross team. sadly, this will probably remain an isolated instance of typefaces flaunting their ubiquity in our faces, but next time you find yourself with bicycle choices to be made, think on whether you're being swayed more by the manufacturer's words than the carbon.
click the pic to view the movie.
posted tuesday 25th january 2011..........................................................................................................................................................................................................