not that it is particularly germane to the following, but the velo club have a rule book. not a real rule book in the sense that we have copies printed and bound each year, but one that exists in the ether; an hypothetical rule book if you will. after we have dispensed with the opening pages describing the office bearers (also hypothetical, but the necessities must be covered), page one of the rules in force carry on thus: rule one-there are no rules. rule two-see rule one. and that, to put not too fine a point on it, is all.
you can perhaps see why we don't bother having any printed.
however, the notional existence of a fictional and hypothetical rule book convinces the easily led (the entire membership of the velo club) that we are properly constituted. there may well be an annual general meeting, but only in retrospect should the charities commission enquire too closely, and more than likely this would have been carried out in the saddle. somewhere out by loch gorm if you must know. it is enough for those of us comprising the sunday peloton to be aware of the above, even the rules have never been invoked in anger (or any other emotional state, come to that).
though not operated as designed, for if i'm honest, we're not that circumspect, taking a glance at our incorporation from a wholly different perspective, often accompanied by a coffee, i can see how civilians and more intent cyclists could take it that we are cycling ironically.
finding one's way into the world of cycling is often , by its very nature, a tentative one. there are youngsters who are brought up in the ways of the jedi who step easily and eagerly from normal, regulated existence into the sphere of pain and suffering almost as if they were one and the same. this is not ironic, but simply one of blind faith. the majority of us are grabbed unceremoniously from a more mundane existence and shoved into one of spokes, gears, bars and a seemingly never ending variation of tyres and tread patterns. induction such as it is, ought truly to be a smooth, uneventful affair, but that is rarely the case. in the manner experienced by many of dr who's accomplices, we are more likely dragged kicking and screaming into a world that made little or no sense only a month or two previously.
such a state of affairs often means that a sense of perspective is lost, and those lunchtime conversations round the office table will almost inexorably lead to the subject of bicycles and their paraphernalia, even when resolutions have been made to avoid just such a happenstance. it's what could rightly be described as obsessive behaviour, and i think it likely that not only are some still immersed in such, but others are only just beginning to realise that such is their all encompassing surroundings. tactfully, there are but a few ways out of such a dilemma, always assuming you find it so, and have had the perspicacity to discern that such is the case.
the real difficulty with such a situation is weighing up whether irony is a part of the equation or not, but to further illustrate my laboured point, let me give you a couple of examples.
'tis the weekend before easter, the start of the school holidays, and there are the intrepid who figure holidaying on the principality is the orderly thing to do. though i feel it only fair to keep their real names a secret, let me just say that the paltry numbers currently constituting the velo club peloton were joined this sunday past by peter and chris. if you had existed on the usual suspects throughout a long, cold lonely winter, you too would have welcomed both with open arms. someone else to talk to. both are experienced cyclists, likely more so than yours truly, but the eye of discretion could not but land upon the velocipede ridden by one of these gentlemen.
a steel dawes road bike is not a marque that one would have espied in the ronde van vlaanderen of yesterday, but in the parochial world that surrounds debbie's cafe, it is a more than acceptable choice. given the unseasonable weather that has pervaded the lands north of the border since around november last year, a set of mudguards was also less than remarkable. in fact, almost to be expected. what did raise an eyebrow or two was a pair of mavic cosmic carbone wheels front and rear. had these been fitted to the mighty dave-t's carbon focus, or even peter's wilier, neither would have looked out of place, but on a dawes?
the problem here is comprehending whether these were being worn ironically. none of us had the temerity to ask, even when the poor soul suffered a puncture inflicted by one of the glen road's cattle grids.
because we know him so well, my second example is more readily apportioned to an ironic plausibility. lord carlos of mercian was kind enough to provide a review and photographs of his thorn audax bicycle earlier last week. and had you been paying attention, you'd have noticed the surly collection of headset spacers sitting phalicly above the steerer. at least a part of this is due to lord carlos's fear of being let loose with a hacksaw. and who can blame him. however, having now placed the bars and stem at a comfortable height, the front of the bicycle now requires a flashing red light atop the headset cap in order to alert overflying aircraft.
there are many variations on the act of so doing, a few more of which i related to the assembled company today while waiting for chris to fit a new inner tube in those cosmics. it's an effective way of informing the eagle-eyed observer that you are over the induction period and now at an acceptable degree of comfort with your new life. the only way one can underline this insouciance is to be so disturbingly fast into a headwind that the irony will be lost on no-one.
the downside to such reliance is itself, somewhat ironic; in truth, nobody really cares.
posted monday 2 april 2012...........................................................................................................................................................................................................
i have long been a fan of the rapha continental as played out across the more obscure roads of the north american continent, consisting of a loose agglomoration of riders creating a whole that was greater than the sum of its parts. it's sort of nice that the original continental gave credence to many of the framebuilders for which america has become rightly famous, but it's not really the black with tinges of pink that made me sit up and take notice.
my knowledge of british geography is rudimentary at best; that of north america verges on the non-existent. imagine my surprise on discovering that folsom prison sits just off the lengthy cycle tracks in sacramento (where johnny cash used to live). therefore waiting week on week to discover hitherto unheard of parts ridden by the continental, over obscure roads, dirt tracks and accompanied by photography that almost changed the rules and subsequently by dave christensen's videos was like waiting for a new series of the big bang theory to start.
the originator of the continental project was a man by the name of daniel wakefield pasley, who was subsequently recruited by rapha usa to mastermind the first couple of seasons. daniel and i were introduced over the internets several years ago, and continued to converse across the water until my recent trip to portland when we met for the first time in the lobby of the ace hotel in stark street. as often happens in the movies, it's like we'd known each other since school.
the real rapha continental will continue unabated across parts of the united states, though in the manner of all long-term projects, it may vary slightly from the well ridden formula. but perhaps the best of news is the announcement by rapha that the continental series will start to roll out across other parts of the world including, as it happens, the united kingdom. officially launched at bespoked bristol last weekend, the uk continental will consist of several of those you may happen to meet in perren street of an afternoon and it won't be that long before we all find out just where they intend to ply their trade riding specially commissioned bicycles from the cream of british craftsmen.
the man at the head of the rapha phenomenon is ceo simon mottram, the chap whose singular vision came to fruition some eight years ago with the classic jersey and has now extended to a confidently wide range of apparel recently joined by the first pair of rapha shoes. i thought it only fair that, now the continental has arrived on these shores, mr mottram ought to join in one of the forthcoming rides, if only to show faith in the product, so i suggested this to him.
"Unfortunately we always try to make sure the Continental riders are: hard riders, good looking and interesting. I doubt I qualify on any of them!"
though i dare say there is a touch of false modesty in that answer, i do rather see what he means. i would scarcely consider myself to be a hard rider, gale force winds notwithstanding, i have never been commended as particularly handsome, and most folks fall asleep after a few minutes conversation. thus, i find myself in similar straights to mr mottram, though he does have the clout to muscle in on any continental ride he wishes. perhaps he has already done so but jst not appeared in any of the photographs. therefore, it seemed pertinent to suggest an alternative, encompassing a group of riders who'd struggle to meet the demanding entry qualifications for the continental.
so, only one week after the launch of the rapha continental in great britain, i have the pleasure of launching the rapha accidental. this will eventually consist of six riders, headed up by simon mottram and myself. my black belt in photoshop will help make the photographs seem as full of pain and suffering as the real thing, while advances in modern cgi will make the videos seem almost real. custom black and pink bicycles are currently being sourced from branches of halfords to best present the accidental in all its glory.
it is necessary, of course, to recruit at least a further four riders to make up an appropriate peloton who will represent the nadir of british cycling. in an about turn from the usual expectation, it's likely that it is the national audience who will experience the pain and suffering. if this seems like the sort of gig that you figure you're more than qualified for, e-mail email@example.com and tell us why. we'll be happy to let you know what it is you might have let yourself in for.
posted sunday 1 april 2012...........................................................................................................................................................................................................
in the early nineties, northumbrian piper, kathryn tickell played a concert in bridgend hotel accompanied by an acoustic guitarist from near her home in northumbria. bridgend is about three miles from my home in bowmore, an easy bike ride to accomplish, but with the concert set for evening, one that necessitated a set of lights. prior to the compact and bijou versions on offer nowadays, some of which would rival those of a boeing 747, the de rigeur fitting to any bicycle was a set of the cumbersome ever readys. fitting those risked life and limb for the unfortunate velocipede, valiantly trying to fit the metal clamp to front fork and rear seatstay without removing much of the paint in the process.
after a modicum of success in so doing, the ever ready lights, which were little more than plastic cases for large and heavy batteries with a bulb on the front, were affixed to the hard won brackets. this is not a process that ought to have been attempted by either the faint-hearted or those possessed of a handful of thumbs, but neither were a set of ever ready lights an affixation for those who preferred the quietude of cycling. they rattled like a full percussion section even if the bicycle didn't. unfortunately what they also didn't do was light up the road particularly well. though doubtless perfectly adequate for commuting or rding after dark in urban or city settings, when confronted by the absolute darkness of the rural idyll, the were about as much use as a candle in the wind.
however, should it have been possible to convince oneself that the illumination was approaching a useful level of adequacy, the practical life of those enormous batteries was shorter than the time taken by the british olympic team pursuiters to clock 4,000 metres. thus, almost midway through my three mile ride to bridgend, the front light dimmed to an insignificant glow, and by the time i was parking the bicycle outside the hotel, calling it a light would have been in serious breach of the trade descriptions act. the ride home after a most enjoyable concert was fraught with concern for my personal safety.
though i am one of those who prefers to think of star trek as a documentary, i confess that it had not occurred that photons actually existed. granted, they may not yet have been fashioned into torpedoes that could take out a romulan cruiser without so much as a by-your-leave, but that is surely only a matter of time. photons are the very kernel of the modern compact replacement for those gosh awful ever ready clunkers discussed above. for light emitting diodes, or leds, are their solid state replacements, operating from often a single triple-a battery and lasting for years (provided you remember to bring them in from the bike shed during the winter months). though the light emitting properties of semiconductors were known as long ago as 1907, it was seen as something of a curiousity until recent times.
a light emitting semi-conductor diode operates in the following manner: a negatively charged n-type region is conjoined with a positively charged p-type region. the negative ions flow towards the positive and at the junction of the two regions, they find themselves confronted by some holes into which they, not entirely unexpectedly drop. in the process, the negative ions fall into a lower energy state, releasing photons in the process.
though i do have a higher certificate in physics, i doubt very much whether any of the lessons that led to this unusual set of curcumstances ever concerned light emitting diodes. so, allowing for even a modest degree of intellect on my part, where on earth did i glean such highly useful, but ultimately academic information? though i'm sure i could increase my standing in the eyes of my reader by pretending it was just something i already knew, the truth is perhaps more interesting.
while wandering aimlessly around the gaps between booths in the sacramento convention center, a bearded man approached me to enquire if i would care for a copy of bicycle times, an american publication following hot on the heels of its stablemate dirt rag geared (pardon the pun) more towards the offroad community. bicycle times is less concerned with the formula one peloton and the intricacies of high modulus carbon fibre, leaning more towards the elcectic.
issue fourteen of which i was handed a complimentary copy has a pleasing selection of writings concerned with the aforementioned light emitting diodes, just what is a gran fondo, a classic italian bicycle craftsman, hardcourt bicycle polo and several regular columns dealing with the minutiae of riding a bicycle. the contents are a somewhat refreshing change from the staple diet proffered by the more mainstream publishers, both in north america and here in europe. a six issue subscription in the usa costs $16.95, with the rest of the world requiring to add a further $15. however, opt for an apple newsstand subscription playable on your ipad, and the cost for a year's bicycle times reduces somewhat to a more manageable £11.99.
paper versus pixels.
to employ the mighty dave's word of the week, i think it rather fortuitous that i bumped into the gentleman with a pile of bicycle times in his arms, and that he was happy to hand me a free gratis copy of his excellent publication. though it may be better known across the pond, i thought it a suitably entertaining and informative read to bring to your attention.
in issue fourteen, there are even helpful diagrams explaining the origin of those photons. perhaps dilithium crystals will occupy a future issue.
posted saturday 31 march 2012...........................................................................................................................................................................................................
during my recent visit to portland, after having become completely lost (if that is indeed a possibility in downtown portland), i eventually made my way via someone else's iphone directions ("oh i love your accent. which part of scotland are you from? my partner and i visited the outer hebrides last fall, and it was just fabulous") to westend bikes, passing the appointed rendezvous at the ace hotel in the process. if you'd paid attention at the time, you'd know that all the foregoing was in order to leave my beloved every day in the safety of the cycle store while supping stumptown coffee in the (very) funky environs of the ace hotel lobby.
meeting over, goodbyes said, i crossed the road back to westend where owner mark ontiveros gave me the grand guided tour. you'd be surprised how much you can learn and see in one bikeshop if the owner has as much enthusiasm as mr ontiveros. however, what i did not relate at the time was not only his pride of ownership, but pride in his surroundings. for it was not enough to guide me round the inside of westend bikes, the tour extended to its immediate environs. to the eccentric leanings of a local nightclub (seen in daytime), through the lobby of a local hotel and what appeared to be a mall of sorts to the point where i know i would not have found my way back to the bike store had i not been following mark's footsteps.
one of the stores that we almost passed by, before mark decided that he simply had to introduce me to the owner, was pinkham millinery on southwest washington. pinkham's is almost a throwback to the forties and fifties when proper milliners still existed, forging hats out of fanciful fabrics, and offering fabulous off-the-shelf creations as well as bespoke for the more discerning and wealthier clientele. i was mentally kicking myself for not having brought my camera with me, for the interior of the store was worth the price of admission alone (a figure of speech; dayna pinkham doesn't actually levy a charge to walk through the door).
aside from the hats on display, the immediate environs and shelves are filled with the dummy heads on which hats could be appropriately displayed along with various shaped wooden items that not only implied a purpose, but added to the joie de vivre of the shop's interior. mark obviously was held in high esteem as ms pinkham, wearing a wig of feathers (strangely, not as bizarre as the description might infer) came out from behind a backroom curtain to greet him warmly with a hug and to shake hands with yours truly.
i live blissfully unaware of the figureheads of the millinery world, but dayna pinkham apparently commenced her career in seattle, apprenticed to the late john eaton, a venerated milliner and fashion designer. her four year apprenticeship taught the time-honoured methods necessary to become a first class milliner; steaming and shaping felt, straw and buckram over wood blocks. this at least explains the plethora of similar sounding implements casually, yet orderly scattered about the shop. if you ever make it to portland, it behoves you well to pay a visit to the store, though obviously you should attend westendbikes either before or after.
the surprise for me was perhaps less about the style and quality of hats on display, but more that a business concentrating solely on the design and creation of hats could conceivably exist and survive in a modern world that seems less and less concerned with traditional ways. technology has made the building of many items, including millinery to be such a simplified process, concerned less with actual manpower, that necessities such as hats are quite often produced as an adjunct to several other items within the one business. as a themed visit not only to portland, but subsequently to the american handmade bicycle show, mark's introduction to dayna pinkham, in retrospect, seemed particularly apt.
the double-whammy if i may be so crude as to invoke the vernacular was to come across walz caps of vista, california occupying an entire booth at nahbs, consisting of nothing but cycling caps. granted, the wooden blocks and dummy heads were conspicuous by their absence, but that's not to say that such cycling millinery does not rely upon these constructs back at the ranch. using the slogan 'a singular focus for a superior product' offers testament to the fact that walz caps are 100% handmade in california and that walz make nothing else besides. while such dedication to singularity would not be seen as out of place when applied to bicycles, wheels or specific components, that it can (and does) appertain to items of cycling millinery is to be applauded in this day and age.
though making nothing but caps, walz vary the experience slightly by offering more than one flavour. there are cotton blend three and four panel caps, three and four panel caps made from a moisture wicking fabric and, possibly the ultimate of the genre, wool caps not only in three or four panel but in a fabulous range of colours and tweeds even extending to those with ear-flaps for the winter months (portland and islay in early march). all are available in sizes small to medium and medium to large.
were it not deemed sufficient to lay out such a substantial offering in the first place, walz can also customise by means of embroidery, silk-screen or sublimation print, retaining a similar affection for bespoke as pinkham's in portland.
when it comes to surveying the estates from the luxury of a brooks saddle, i find it hard to justify anything other than that of wool separating skull from helmet. the inside of the mavic plasma and giro aeon both state, quite clearly, s/m, so a walz cap of similar size complements both or either. i'm very much a peak down sort of guy, a posture (pose?) that i feel suits the wool cap better than the pointing upwards option. though not of merino wool, certain traits are akin to the latter, meaning breathability is just as good, if not better, than that of cotton and, for all i know, that of walz's moisture-wicking variety. the alternating grey and red satisfies my desire for subtlety and glaringly obvious in the one garment and it is definitely worth mentioning, in the light of my opening millinery gambit, that the fit is noticeably closer and better than the more common one size fits all casquette inhabiting our closeted little world.
it is comforting to know that, as the world becomes more modern and technologically adept in larger and larger steps, that there are still folks intent on keeping certain traditions alive without feeling the need to sit in the past.
one luddite in the house is more than enough.
the walz wool cap reviewed retails across the pond at a more than reasonable $24.99. in the uk, a range of walz caps can be obtained from urban hunter from around £19
posted friday 30 march 2012...........................................................................................................................................................................................................
as italy began to rebuild itself after the second world war, one of the principal difficulties was that of transport, mostly due to the lack of a competent road structure. five years of war had taken care of that. though the bicycle had been the darling of the italians for many a long year, and still held great affection in the world of competitive racing, it had its limitations with regard to ultimate mobility. italy's car industry had effectively stalled; the road system would scarcely have coped with a dramatic increase in the number of motorists in any case. thus it was left to piaggio and co. to come to the aid of italy's mobility in the shape of the vespa scooter in 1946. a year later ferdinando innocenti aided and abetted the vespa by foisting his own lambretta scooter upon an eager italian public.
in the 1960s, british youth, renowned for its varying disaffection with public authority chose to separate itself into two rival clans, one identifying with classic fifties rock 'n' roll (thus unsurprisingly labelled rockers), while their nemesis identified more with r'n'b, soul and ska responding to the epithet mods. in the true fashion of present day football fans throughout the british isles, these two factions divided themselves by way of daily apparel, and an apparent dislike for each other. the rockers were described as somewhat scruffy and loafish, rode motorbikes and dressed in leather jackets. mods favoured the lambretta and vespa scooters while dressing more formally in suits and ties. neat and tidy unless beating the stuffing out of a passing band of rockers. the mod uniform was topped off by a distinctive mop top hairstyle.
the mods v rockers battle came to a head in 1964 when both discovered they'd booked their easter holidays in the same seaside resorts as each other. the resulting police arrests attest to a common dissatisfaction with this arrangement.
as is perennially the case, adherents of a particular style of music have an inherent need to display visual affection towards their musical heroes. i can recall queuing at glasgow's apollo theatre for a david bowie concert and being all but surrounded by a substantial number of ziggy stardust look-alikes. though i confess to finding this slightly humorous, it became even more so upon discovering as the concert began, that bowie had metamorphosed into aladdin sane, in one swell foop making all laughably outdated. however, certain styles of dress allied to musical genres seem never to go out of fashion. there are still punks visible across the world, teddy boys, though few and far between, still exist, and more than a few rockers have passed through bowmore astride sizeable and loud triumph motorcycles.
and then there is paul weller.
as originator of the jam in 1972, along with bruce foxton, steve brookes and rick buckler, they adopted the mantle of mods of their time, releasing six albums before their eventual demise in 1982. weller moved on to form the style council, becoming in the process, less punk and rock influenced, leaning more towards soul and rhythm and blues. though the music had changed, the style remained the same. despite being born in 1958, weller still sports a hairstyle that identifies him with the mod movement of the early 1960s.
despite there being an age gap of twenty-two years, bradley wiggins often comes across as being paul weller reincarnate. he has not decried the association with mod-ism, sporting paul weller hairstyles when free from the constraints of competition. bringing the comparison even closer, brad has an affinity for playing the guitar, perhaps better than he's willing to admit, but probably centred round a love for the ubiquitous rickenbacker. mods are not as numerous as they once were, and it is perhaps no real surprise that those who still harbour born in the fifties aspirations will inevitably club together. it is this association that brought wiggo to invite edinburgh-based photographer friend, scott mitchell to accompany him on his first tour de france with team sky, perhaps with a view to recording on film his progression to the podium after recording fourth place in 2009.
that particular outcome, sadly, failed to come to fruition, but we were treated to an excellent portrayal of the joys, travails and vicissitudes of twenty-one days in july through the pages of the mitchell/wiggins collaboration on tour. scott, at the time, was at pains to protest his lack of familiarity with the metier of cycling photographer. in my review of the book, i preferred to disagree; a perceptive photographer, in my opinion, has the ability to record whatever is placed in front of them. mitchell has thus far proved my theory correct.
i, of course, have no clout in my chosen second (unpaid) profession; my opinons are mostly scattered to the four winds, without clinging to any object they meet on their journey. the folks at team sky, however, suffer not from the vagaries of attempting to be prophets in their own land, and have seen fit to appoint mr mitchell as their official photographer for the forthcoming season. so while we recover from too many sunday afternoons gazing at the spring classics come april's end, scott is off to the tour of romandie, before moving swiftly on to denmark on may 5th to cover the 95th running of the giro d'italia.
it would be a common reaction to ascribe this appointment to lady luck, but scott is too good a photographer for that to be the sole reason for his recruitment to team sky.
sometimes the right guy gets the right job.
posted thursday 29 march 2012...........................................................................................................................................................................................................
the phrase tested to destruction more usually conjures up mental pictures of sizeable yellow hydraulic agglomorations pushing and pulling in most every direction to seek the weak point in some construction or other. the bicycle industry carries out this sort of procedure on a regular basis; there is little point in unleashing the world's finest carbon fibre on an unsuspecting world for it to disintegrate at the first sign of trouble. it also keeps the legal and insurance people happy.
we in velo club d'ardbeg eschew the need for anything so mechanical in design. we have our own method of testing components until they fail. his name is carl reavey. carl has broken more bits of bicycles than we had ever realised bicycles had in the first place. i have little doubt that the people at thorn bicycles cringe at every telephone ring, now that the man has installed himsefl on a british racing green thorn tourer. i leave you now in his capable hands.
I seem to break bikes. This is presumably due to a combination of factors - a rider weighing 15 stones, poor roads and a salt-laden maritime climate - plus my machines get ridden all year round in some of the worst weather in Britain. Cycling on the west coast of Scotland really is cycling on the Outer Edge.
So I have tested a lot of components to destruction. I have had three frames break under me, a Marin, a Mercian and a Thorn. This last casualty was an old-ish British built Audax 853 that had done some serious mileage but eventually succumbed to zero maintenance and sheared at the weld between the seat tube and the bottom bracket. Corrosion probably.
Such is my respect for the build quality of the Thorn marque however, that I bought another one - this time a Taiwanese-built Audax 3. I have now ridden it for a couple of thousand miles and thought I would share a few impressions because it has taken some getting used to. I bought it on the net, without trying it first (test rides are tricky to arrange when you live on the Outer Edge). I thought it would be similar to my old Thorn Audax, but it is not. The geometry on this new one is very upright, which has resulted in dropping the bars a long way down the very long steerer. This is an absolute requirement to make the bike feel as if the front wheel is connected to the back - but now I have that sorted I do love the riding position - it is fairly throwing me into even quite sharp climbs. It does now look a bit weird, with a sort of permanent erection, which I guess could be sorted with a hacksaw, but I am scared of hacksaws...
The frame I bought was advertised as being suitable for a rider between five foot nine and six foot one. I am five foot eleven, but would suggest that it is actually a bit big for me and I may yet buy a shorter stem to help with this. The tubing is called 'Thorn 858' - which is of course entirely co-incidental and nothing to do with the nomenclature of any other well-known British cycle tubing. On good road surfaces it is very comfortable, however it is also very stiff, and transmits every imperfection from the rubbish I routinely commute over. You takes your choice I guess. The most comfortable bike I own is a 1947 steel, Rattray-built Flying Scot with banana shaped, pencil thin front forks. Lovely over the rough stuff, but the old frame flexes significantly when the hammer goes down. You can't have it both ways, no matter what the brochures say.
The paint finish on the new Thorn is good and tough. I haven't used the wheels it came with (they frankly don't look man enough to me, and they have white rims. White rims! Save me....). I really don't like the Tiagra gear change system, where the brake lever is also one of the changers. It is cumbersome, and difficult to use, especially while wearing heavy waterproof gloves, which are essential for six months of the year here. I will change that for my favoured bar-end shifters when I break the Tiagras, which won't be long because they feel flimsy to me. It may even be before that, because the bike's cables are already showing significant signs of rust and may not outlive the levers. They will need changing for Jagwire before much longer. The Tektro brakes too, are showing signs of not hacking it. They stop the bike well enough, and they show an admirable left/right balance missing on a lot of systems, but their associated nuts and bolts are rusting like crazy already. That should not happen on a bike that retails at £1,300. These things should be stainless at that price point. My only other small gripe was the handlebar wrap - which came adrift during my second ride. A detail, but an irritating one.
You may think I have given this bike quite a hard time, but believe me, the Thorn is a far better prospect in these conditions that many of its competitors. I'm enjoying riding it, and hope it lasts me for a couple of years at least...
posted wednesday 28 march 2012...........................................................................................................................................................................................................
i have little experience of newspapers from countries other than great britain, so i may be introducing a concept that only exists on this side of the pond. but i tend to think not.
my own choice of a newspaper for the weekend consists of the guardian. i do purchase (though often fail to read) the daily version, but the saturday edition consists of endless different sections plus a colour magazine. if i'm brutally honest, i really only purchase this for the review section, one that consists of book reviews, interviews and informed opinion on literature and the arts. sorry if that makes me sound rather pretentious, but where else would i find so many incomprehensible big words to use?
i have eschewed the purchase of a sunday paper since i moved to islay. though matters have become less isolated of late, before we had two boats running the route, the sunday papers would not arrive in the island's newsagents until 4pm on a sunday afternoon, way too late to devour every section before monday morning arrived, and often out of date with regard to certain sporting predictions. so the saturday guardian it has to be.
i have not taken regular note of the pagination of each week's magazine, but the most recent issue, from saturday 24th march, consisted of 96 including the front and back covers. out of those, 38 pages consist of advertisements, and of those, six are for various makes of motor vehicle. to that could conceivably be added the one page per issue dedicated to a motor car review. this depends on sam wollaston's opinion of whatever he has driven recently as to whether you'd consider that an advert or not.
it is worth pointing out that, once in a blue moon, the car review is replaced with a bicycle review, nowhere near frequently enough in my opinion, but we ought to be thankful for the few crumbs that fall on our plate now and again.
the guardian's demographic probably comprises middle class and upwards; many a uk newspaper's readership seems to depend upon ingrained political affiliations, but quite how much that affects sales, i know not. however, the guardian's weekend readership likely encompasses a wide range of the population with differing interests, income, needs, wants etc. presumably this is why there are car adverts as diverse as that for a (two page) vauxhall zafira tourer (model shown retailing at £23,600) to a back page advert for the jaguar xk at around £65,000. a reasonablly wide price range i'd say.
so why, it has occurred to me, are there no advertisments anywhere to be seen for any kind of bicycle?
in the latest issue of procycling magazine, there are seventeen advertisements for bicycles, not unsuprisingly, all racing bicycles, but that pretty much goes with the territory. that is not up for criticism. but to a large degree, the latter are being preached to the converted. selling bicycles to those who already think of themselves as cyclists is hardly going to grow the market. if i had a windfall and found myself with sufficient folding stuff to acquire a new colnago and perchance a bmc, though two more bicycles would have been sold, the pot remains the same.
there are, of course, a number of those advertising in procycling and the like, who really only manufacture performance bicycles, and the thought of trying to flog those to your average guardian reader might be considered a mite pointless. however, folks such as trek and specialized quite happily churn out quality cycles for the masses, those who think that venge is a made up word. if cycling is indeed experiencing a renaissance these days, and not just in britain, then surely it would make sense to proselytise to the civilian population?
always assuming the marketing departments of each respective manufacturer could get their heads into gear and produce advertisements that did not scrape the barrel of creativity that we, the cognoscenti, have to suffer in our monthly press, they may just entice more bums on saddles. if that's as far as it goes, that would be just ginger peachy. but taking into account the law of averages, one or two of those who purchase a two-wheeled transportational device may just become smitten and move upwards into the realms of high modulus carbon fibre.
it's a simple matter for me to sit in front of a warm keyboard, telling my granny how to suck eggs. no doubt each and every one could produce numbers gleaned from market research and focus groups to prove that the average guardian reader could not tell one end of a bicycle from another, thinks that bradley wiggins was the lead guitarist in the jam (as does bradley) and mark cavendish is the labour member of parliament for barnstaple. based on not very much at all, i think they're probably wrong. considering the amount of money invested in the development of the venge and its mclaren sibling, i find it hard to believe specialized couldn't afford a page advert in the guardian weekend magazine.
what harm could it do?
posted tuesday 27 march 2012...........................................................................................................................................................................................................