it is a little known fact that, with continued technological development, cycling apparel has become a tad more discipline specific than was originally the case. reverse back up the hill just a smidgeon and it was a simple matter of purchasing any team jersey on special offer and subsequently wearing it for back-flips on the half-pipe down the bmx park on a saturday afternoon, wearing it to the newsagent on sunday morning before riding the national championships that very afternoon. ubiquity coupled with versatility and just a soupcon of penny-pinching. hard to believe that eddy merckx wore the same molteni wool jersey for four years without washing (much).
but then, that's what you did in them days (verified in conversation with the mighty dave t)
but there's no real point in all that research and development if all it does is provide a smoother, shinier and quicker drying molteni jersey. that would be oh so close to shimano's di2 and campagnolo's eps; yet another solution looking for a problem. diversification has become the name of the game; imbuing the average fabric with genetic modification that makes it more appropriate for one form of cycle sport than that of another. you surely didn't think that rapha's cross kit was merely sportwool and lycra placed under a separate thematic heading? how the mighty are deluded.
it has, therefore, become incumbent on the inveterate cycle clothing reviewer to either make strong representations to the apparel provider as to the niche in which they would prefer their kit to be reviewed, or more tantalisingly, to simply wear those jerseys or shorts in a variety of situations before judging in which they would be better placed. sort of like the blind tasting between diet coke and diet pepsi.
well, not really.
jackets, mysteriously enough, do not conform to such idealised parameters even though one could confidently state that this particular genre of cycle clothing has been on the receiving end of the greatest amount of research and development. i know not why this is the case. i have worn softshells, hardshells and lightweight stowaway jackets across every discipline in which i have experience (so obviously not bmx then) and even with a blindfold on, i'd be hard pushed to separate their endeavours. therefore, in the light of the following, i am happy to offer the jackets amongst us a free hall pass.
jerseys are, however, a different kettle of ceramic bearings altogether. in something heading ominously towards that of a confidence trick, i find clothiers very reluctant to impose such specifics upon their garments. thus, the cream and white coolmax jersey that arrived from devon's veloist carried with it only a tag advertising its coolmax construction. a solution would have been to e-mail james at veloist to point out his glaring omission and ask the obvious question, but for a man of my esteemed ignorance that would surely have been tantamount to admitting to the fact. thus, the short sleeved jersey was subjected to its own blind testing in order to bring out the best or the worst in its behaviour.
admit it; you would have expected no less?
i'd be the first to point out that, at certain latitudes, the ambient temperature surrounding a speeding bicycle is less than pre-disposed to bearing arms. not in the sense of blatant weaponry, but that of flying without armwarmers and the occasional softshell to cushion the blow. thankfully, as i we have already discussed, jackets are immune from categorisation. i have my own definition of big long ride which i have little doubt differs from your own, but if we can agree to disagree, i might point out that this is what the veloist jersey, with its professional full length front zip and uci mandated zipped fourth rear pocket was subjected to aboard the black cielo.
scientifically speaking, it would have been nice to take measurements of velocity to place all in some sort of ordered context, but for the time being you will have to accept my observation that it acquitted itself rather well and behaved impeccably while i dropped in for coffee. so far so comfortable.
moving on a day or two and without prior notice, i subjected the selfsame garment to an hour or so of exploring the undergrowth aboard my lime green ibis. i must think myself fortunate that the included run up a craggy, leaf strewn path is all but concealed by overhanging trees and greenery, for while the words lithe, sure-footed and supple spring to mind, none of them could be applied to my own performance. wheezing, slipping and aching may be thought more appropriate. i am in the throes of discovering that my solo cyclocross outings in the woods are having considerable positive effect on my core fitness, though i would hesitate to bring the word training into the equation. however, three circuits of rock, squidge and squirm in quick succession would hassle the living daylights of any cycle jersey, short sleeve or otherwise.
i realise that, at this point in my review, i ought to be party to sufficient knowledge to come down on one side or t'other when recommending the veloist jersey, but it has me truly confounded. in either case its simplicity of concept and lightness of being represented it well. even on a chilly but sunny autumnal day, a pair of merino armwarmers were all the accompaniment it required. encased under a fleece-lined softshell in the depths of the forest seemed also to present it with little by way of complaint. add to that, it does have a certain style all of its own, one that seems to belie its £54 price tag.
in summing up, as they say in franklin and bash, it would seem the veloist short sleeve jersey can be comfortably worn on the bike whatever the occasion with nary an inappropriate snigger to be heard. in the infamous words of bill and ted...
"we are not worthy."
monday 8 october 2012..........................................................................................................................................................................................................
i hated poetry at school, and to a certain degree, the sentiment remains. i think it likely had a lot to do with the interminable dissection of every word, every phrase and every rhyme; always assuming there was one. it seems it is/was insufficient simply to read and enjoy the poem whether the subject was obvious or otherwise. by the time class was finished, we had effectively killed off any magic the poetry may have owned in the first place.
i do, however, enjoy the more whimsical side of poetic exploration, perhaps becasue the humour is often blatantly stated leaving no room for endless debate and discussion. whimsies such as those written by spike milligan...
i must go down to the sea again
to the lonely sea and sky
i left my vest and pants down there
i wonder if they're dry?
the hardman sport of cycling is thankfully, invaded by the rhyme rarely and sparingly, lending itself more to the wrangled written word and grainy black and white imagery. however, every now and again, a real gem arises that demands a wider audience. written after the 2007 cyclocross season, the following ode to a cupcake was written by richard sachs and can be found on his website. but on the off chance that you missed it, here it is below.
Oh cupcake, oh cupcake, please take me away
for five months each year so I can just play
with my pals in the rain, on the grass, and in snow,
and then after the Natz I will stubbornly go
back to real life, deadlines, and dreams about 'cross
and pretend for a while that I am the boss.
I'll make up some frames and deliver them too,
But all of the while I'll be thinking of you.
Oh cupcake, my cupcake, you're part of it all,
like Fangos and Sram and frames that are small
so that people all over can remount with ease
when barriers and sandpits offer their tease
at venues like Glousta', Grenogue, and at NoHo
as BikeReg each week informs where we should go
and fight for the points and chances for call-ups,
ignoring our ages and pretending we're young pups.
But cupcake, oh cupcake, the truth is you're here
'cuz Jack Chapman showed us your magic one year.
A baker named Patty made us all take a look
that one day in Auburn at your Sucker Brook.
She brought us examples of cream-topped delight
that I have been craving from morning 'til night.
Her cupcakes are surely each autumn's best eats -
and so, so much better than mayo and frites.
sunday 7 october 2012..........................................................................................................................................................................................................
newspapers all over the world have closed or moved their entire operation onto the web, either as a result of changing demographics or, quite frequently to lower costs. the local newspaper at which i ply my trade from time to time has, so far, bucked this trend; they have made available a pdf version available online but subscriptions have not been as large as expected. however, the print version continues to sell as many copies as ever, and the advertising has remained at a decent level.
however, were we to consider launching a newspaper at the beginning of next week, there's every possibility that print would be eschewed completely; pixels rule ok.
cycling, currently, seems particularly well supplied with the printed word. aside from the perennial weekly comic that we all know and love, between british and american publications, there's a lot to choose from and a great deal of duplication to be picked through. there is little more humouring than reading of exclusives with the same rider on the cover of two individual magazines. the upper echelon of cycling periodical literature is arguably identified in the shape of rouleur if only due to its superb photography, quality writing and a complete lack of reviews.
however, in addition to the printed page, cycling also suffers/benefits (delete as applicable) from a whole slew of websites offering similar fare to that issuing from the offset printer. and these are not confined to the uk. it would thus be a total recluse who was unaware of the factions, rumours, results and reviews affecting the world of cycling whether paid for at the newsagent counter or nabbed for free in regularly updated pixels.
this latter feature is surely the main benefit to be accessed from pixellation? once the paper is printed, packaged and sent out in subscription envelopes it is, to misappropriate a metaphor, cast in stone. all the printed words in cycle sport and procycling regarding mark cavendish's move from team sky are likely now redundant; the web can update as many times in one day as required.
so bearing all this in mind, why on earth did dennis publishing feel the urge to gather a resplendent staff and put together the launch issue of cyclist, a new monthly on the newsstands in mid to late september? dennis publishing are currently responsible for a wide portfolio of publications such as macuser, maxim, computer shopper, auto express and others, but up till the release of cyclist it was bereft of any velocipedinal publications. i asked editor pete muir why, in what is known as the internet age release a new paper and ink cycle magazine on an unsuspecting public.
"Paper isn't dead yet. There are a few sectors of the print market still thriving; specialist titles and premium titles, and Cyclist fits into both. We have also produced an enhanced iPad app of the magazine, so digital customers are catered for.
"I don't think that people are abandoning paper for digital, rather they are choosing how to consume their media depending on their circumstances. So, the iPad is handy for when you're on the move, but I think people would rather sit down with a magazine when relaxing at home."
the launch issue's lead cover feature is entitled the hidden alps, the article inside involving henry catchpole's riding of the swiss alps. as the subtitle explains 'this epic Swiss circuit should go straight to the top of your 'must-do' rides list.' in perhaps the best use of the printed page, text is accompanied by particularly fine photography by paul calvier. other features are a couple of fine pieces by former madison press officer, stuart clapp; choosing a new pair of wheels and stuart's riding of the velothon berlin sportive. but is it all just the same old, same old? what is it that will make cyclist different from all the other cycle monthlies available?
"We're targeting a gap between Cycling Plus and Rouleur. So it's more aspirational than the mass market mags, but a bit less niche than Rouleur. The focus is on in-depth articles, great photography and desirable gear and rides. We're not doing the group tests that are the bread and butter of the other monthlies."
however, with the above in mind, is there perhaps no satisfying the peloton's appetite for the written word and cycling imagery? much like the apocryphal jimi hendrix japanese import album, it's possible that it only takes one or two articles not available elsewhere and we're happy to hand over our £5 (just as an aside, it's nice to see a magazine unafraid to charge a nice round number, rather than hiding behind £something.99). who does pete see as his target audience? It's aimed at the top end of the road cycling market, people for whom it is a passion."
the magazine has a less than imposing typeface as its masthead, sandwiching 'The thrill of the ride.' between the page top. the remaining acreage features a colour image of two riders in the swiss alps. many of the contents are either accompanied by an appealing quantity of photos or the image is the article with text overlaid. will cyclist place greater emphasis on the words or the pictures, or hope for a successful marriage of both? "Both. Photography is vital to us it has to look great but we also want to have intelligent, insightful articles. It's meant to be something you settle down with for a good read, rather than something you dip into for tips."
perhaps the obvious way to have a foot in each camp, aside from the aforementioned ipad version, would be to leverage the immediacy of the internet to augment the printed word. in this day and age, few are the periodicals that do not provide the luxury of accompanying pixels. however, take a peek at cyclist's website and you'll find a taster of the current issue but nothing more other than a variety of subscription options. it would be unfair to criticise too heavily at this point, for neither procycling nor cycle sport are any better, though cycling weekly seems to fair particularly well. in mitigation, future publishing, owners of procycling also own bikeradar.com and cyclingnews.com while velonews.com is the online appendage of velo magazine, and though i have no idea if the former has harmed the sales of the latter, their existence must prove something.
is the intention to leverage the cyclist website as an accompaniment to the printed word, or will it remain an online means of selling subscriptions? "For the moment it will remain a marketing site. We'll look at expanding it in the future if we can make the sums add up."
a fair point.
at this juncture, it's worth taking a look at the never mind the quality, feel the width point of view. due to the limitations of the printing process, our local newspaper is stuck at 28 pages whatever the circumstances: editorial or advertising. however, there can be few of us who have not become aware of magazine covers propounding phrases such as largest ever issue and similar claims designed to inform the reader as to the impressive value for money to be found within. cyclist launched with an impressive 130 page count. is that the optimum, or does pete muir expect that to gradually increase?
"That will probably depend on advertising. I want to keep the ratio of editorial to advertising about the same as now, so if we increase the ads, we'll increase the editorial proportionally."
as cycling becomes more of an international sport, coverage begins to transcend borders. bradley's victory in this year's tour de france has raised the profile of british cycling, meaning that the uk press simply can't get enough of it all, while america and elsewhere have had to provide it with several more column inches. it is currently something of a novelty to receive an issue of either peloton or road and find features on british cycling where none would previously have existed. it must surely, therefore, provide a wider market for britain's quality cycle press, including that of cyclist. is the magazine predominantly aiming at the uk market, or does it have international ambitions?
"At present it's predominantly UK, with a small number of copies going to the States. However we have already had interest from several countries about licensing the title, so there could be foreign editions in the pipeline."
riding in the mountains, bicycle wheels, component, bicycle and clothing reviews, bike fit, sportives, chamois pads, wiggo's ride to the yellow jersey (with photos from scott mitchell), and an excellent feature on ernesto colnago at eighty. interesting fare it must be said, but similar in intent to that we might expect elsewhere. are there any cycling subjects that cyclist doesn't intend to cover? "Nothing is off the agenda, but we'll most likely avoid subjects such as commuting and specific race reports, although we will cover the pro scene in our own way."
by all accounts and several twitter feeds, the launch issue of cyclist has been well received by the cognoscenti. there is nothing included that leaves itself wide open to critcism and a great deal that deserves our congratulations and enthusiasm. even the editorial staff, however, will need to wait a few issues to see that everything falls into place as hoped/expected. but just like the first album for any pop band, it's the second and third that are the hardest to produce after the expectations engendred by the first. what can we expect to see in the second issue?
"Issue two is on the shelf on 17th October and includes an amazing ride along Norway's Atlantic Ocean Road, a profile of Dave Brailsford by Jeremy Whittle, an expert guide to handlebars, a look behind the scenes at the Tour of Britain, and Eddy Merckx with a gun."
i like print. despite david carson's apocryphal statement, it has a lot of life left in it yet and it's very much to cyclist's credit that they opted for inak and paper as opposed to purely pixels. apart from that, taling an ipad or laptop into the bath was never going to be a good idea.
saturday 6 october 2012..........................................................................................................................................................................................................
the modern day track cycling poster boy (if he'll forgive me for framing him so) is sir chris hoy. while the cycling press quite rightly praise his every move round a velodrome, the mainstream press do so when the olympics come around; debbie's is currently partially decorated with posters of chris hoy doing what chris hoy does best. this is a situation enhanced by the fact that chris is as pleasant and courteous in person as he comes across on television mere seconds after throwing everything into crossing the line first.
though we have garnered intermittent track success over the years, it is quite a while since a british rider has been quite so dominant on the track, particularly in the now persona non grata discipline of individual sprint, chris hoy's preferred domain until the ioc decided to remove it in favour of other types of olympic cycling. the last to achieve comparable success was reginald hargreaves harris, more commonly known as reg. born in birtle, lancashire in march 1920, much against the trend of the customary british lack of success in international events, reg harris won the amateur sprint title in 1947, a couple of olympic silver medals a year later before winning the professional sprint title in '49, '50, 51 and again in 1954. not unnaturally, such success brought with it a slew of accolades and adulation.
harris's father died when he was six; harris was the name of his stepfather when his mother remarried. his schooling was less than outstanding, and he left without any academic qualifications, entering employment as an apprentice motor mechanic. he won his first race - a half-mile handicap grass-track event - in 1935, the point at which author robert dineen strangely commences his narrative.
i use the word strange less because it is unusual not to begin a biography with the subject's early years in life, but because the chapter is entitled '1935'. it's a theme that is continued throughout the book. cast a cursory glance at the table of contents on opening the book for the first time and you will find it hard to ignore the fact that each chapter heading is named after a specific year in harris's career.
in the years immediately after i moved to islay, i was invited to join the committee of the local annual festival, an invitation that i mistook for a form of tacit acceptance by the great and the good. the undermining of this situation was brought home by an apparent non-sequiteur of regular meetings. at one we would be asked to consider the booking of certain attractions prior to discussion at the next meeting, yet at the following meeting, a visible clique of members would announce conformed bookings prior to any discussion having taken place. several of us left out in the cold began to suspect that we had missed an interim meeting.
this is precisely that which affected my reading of this book. in the chapter entitled '1939', the last dated topic is of october 1942 a few pages from the chapter's end at which point harris was involved in national service. the following chapter is '1945', leaving a three year gap in which we must assume, nothing of import took place. such a situation occurs several more times throughout the book, leading me on more than one occasion, to suspect i had missed a chapter or at least a portion thereof.
this lack of british success at international level was something that seemed almost accepted as part of uk cycling life at the time, and it is interesting to note that harris used his raised profile to its best advantage. on receipt of the daily record sportsman of the year award in 1950, (the precursor to the bbc's sports personality of the year) he used the opportunity to point out one or two deficiencies in the system that he felt maintained this lowly status quo. it is a telling state of affairs that nothing seems to have changed between this speech and the latter part of the 20th century when lottery funding began to host the changes proposed by harris.
"We have in this country a lot of very fine athletes, cricketers, footballers and what have you. Yet somehow or other, when it comes to international competition, generally speaking we seem to fall just a little too short of the mark. I can't help thinking that if people here in this country of ours were given anyhting like 50 percent of the facility that is given to our opponents from the continent, that the prestige of this nation would be upheld in a very much better manner."
that harris made this speech at all was not only due to his status, but a lack of temerity in speaking out against what he saw as an impediment to his further progress. by all accounts, reg harris was far less interested in the fortunes of his fellow competitors than in his own. his success apparently brought with it what can only be deemed delusions of grandeur, outwardly evident by his elevated mode of dress and, as dineen states in the subsequent paragraph following the above quote 'Harris once spoke with an accent that could have 'drawn pigeons from the sky' yet nearly all trace of his lancashire accent was gone.'
the book is subtitled 'the rise and fall of britain's greatest cyclist', emphasised by a back cover quote 'He conquered his sport like no Briton had ever done, but then fell further into disgrace than anybody knew.' that, to me, suggested dodgy and underhand dealings which would bring a flush to the cheeks at the point of reading. what transpires, however, is considerably less salacious, though his eye for the ladies did not endear him to many, least of all the women to which he was married at the time.
as mentioned above, harris seemed often preoccupied with money and success, two factors that he not unnaturally saw as interlinked. but if we consider the plight of the professional track cyclist in the 1950s, it was a far more hand to mouth existence than that of the current crop of lottery funded individuals. large portions of harris's annual income depended on winning. though he was sponsored for much of his career by raleigh bicycles of nottingham, this did not amount to the multi-million pound deals enjoyed by the likes of bradley wiggins and the substantial sums by way of sponsorship remuneration that chris hoy et al are set to enjoy.
harris's retired from top level competition in 1957 continuing his career by devoting himself to various business interests, including the purchase of fallowfield stadium which he renamed harris stadium. few of these ventures covered him in glory or added substantially to his income, but as dineen states in respect of his purchase of fallowfiled velodrome 'he soon found that he had taken charge of the stadium ahead of the most precipitous downturn in cycling's popularity' up until this point, with little prior knowledge of harris's career, i found it necessary and perfectly equitable to accept the author's accuracy in the recounting of events. however, the following paragraph contains an inaccuracy of rather substantial proportions that had me wondering.
according to dineen, in 1959, Ford produced its first Mini...', only the mini had nothing to do with the ford motor company, being the product of the british motor corporation. on the following page dineen continues 'Shortly afterwards, the Morris Minor - that other ubiquitous hatchback, had become the first British car to sell 100,000 models.' though the sales figures may well be accurate, by no stretch of the imagination did the morris minor fall into the category of hatchback.
no doubt it harms my review to undermine the veracity of a cycling book based on motoring criteria, but along with one or two inadvertant grammatical errors and spellings, i have to wonder just how fastudious has been the proofing and fact checking prior to publication.
it is all too easy, nowadays, to consider a cycling personality to be always a cycling personality; it is hard to imagine sir chris hoy arriving at a bicycle store as sales rep for trek bikes. in the 1950s however, that was often a prime consideration for a former champion track cyclist, and though harris's subsequent business life featured several failed ventures, i can't say i found any of them to have been completely distasteful. after a career of having to look out for number one, it must have been difficult if not downright impossible to alter the modus operandi. additionally, having had the wherewithal to afford the finer things in life, and mix with the upper echelons of society, anything less must have looked imperiously like failure.
though weighing in at 344 pages, the text is well-spaced, making it a less than onerous task to enjoy the read, and by and large, it is an enjoyable read and particularly well illustrated by way of two photo sections. harris's story is very much one worth reading, particularly in the light of britian's recent track successes, not only to provide a sense of perspective, but also to become better and entertainingly informed.
robert dineen's biography of reg harris may have its flaws (which book doesn't?) but it is comfortably paced and well written, with the luxury of a well specified index at the back. harris made a one-off successful yet dubious comeback at the british championship in 1974, settling for the silver medal the following year. he is now most tangibly remembered by a bronze statue in manchester velodrome. robert dineen's biography can but add to that.
friday 5 october 2012..........................................................................................................................................................................................................
many have marvelled at the amount of money ploughed into team sky, from the jaguar team cars, two death star plush coaches, and then there's the tie-up with rapha clothing for 2013 and beyond. in the language of professional cycling, the fewer sponsor logos that appear on the jersey, the larger the sponsorship budget. sky's team apparel seems only to mention the jersey provider, sky and ig markets. oh, and the thin blue line. the surrounding plushness hardly becomes dave brailsford's professed love for marginal gains.
they are, however, not the first to present a united and sophisticated front to cycling's aficionados. there is little doubt that a well presented cycling team, with smart, matching jerseys can do little but provide the ultimate bang for buck on behalf of the sponsor(s). and with the improved tv coverage available nowadays, it makes riders much easier to identify from the helicopter shots.
in the early 1970s, erstwhile eurosport commentator david duffield was marketing manager at raleigh's head office in nottingham. tom barnsley, director of both tube investments and raleigh industries charged him with the task of setting up a professional cycling team. though a household name across the world, the raleigh brand had failed to gain a foothold in europe, mostly due to the various import duties levied on behalf of each country. thus only the well-off could afford a raleigh bicycle.
however, britain's joining of the european economic community (at that time known as the common market) dispersed such tariffs, opening a whole new market for the nottingham brand. management saw the formation of a professional cycle team that would compete in all the major classics as well as the big tours, thus shifting the marque's emphasis from track to the road. duffield met with peter post at the london six day race, a well-respected former racer and offered him the job of team director. "he was just the man i needed'. post turned him down. however, one of the brands that came under the raleigh umbrella was that of gazelle, previously owned by wim breukink, but who had recently sold out to raleigh. he persuaded post that the position would be very much to his advantage.
therefore, in 1974, raleigh built a factory in ilkeston to handbuild the team's racing bicycles. 'so our story begins and is a happy reminder of bygone days, when dutch riders wearing the familiar red, yellow and black jerseys produced a unique string of victories in the international cycling arena, making raleigh a household name on the european continent to complement its already famous reputation in the rest of the world.'
i think it commendable and a little left of centre that raleigh chose to celebrate their 125th anniversary with a book depicting the ten years in which those red, yellow and black jerseys infiltrated every european podium. more commonly such an historic landmark would have endowed us with a blow by blow account of the company history over the years. so far, so unpredictable. revered riders such as henk lubberding, joop zoetemelk, johan van der velde, gerrie knetemann and jan raas were a part of the ti raleigh team over the years between 1974 and 1984 during which they won the grand prix des nations, ruund um den henninger-turn, tour de suisse, the four days of dunkirk, stages in the tour de france, amstel gold, ronde van vlaanderen and a considerable number of other prestigious races.
each chapter of the book is introduced over the course of two pages, stating the principal twists and turns that took place and the protagonists of which we should be aware. bizarrely, the narrative reads like the voiceover that accompanies many a tv or cinema documentary. to wit...
'When Post takes stock at the end of the cycling season, he once again has reason to be pleased. But midway through the season, things seem very different. Then, the lacklustre performances of classification riders Zoetemelk and Van der Velde in particular are not up to scratch.'
it's a style that is mildly irritating to begin with, but its consistency gradually lessens as the chapters fly by. however, i defy anyone to acquire this book on the basis of its writing. the whole raison d'etre of this publication is to display the utterly fabulous photography, much of which has likely not seen the light of day before filling the majority of this volume's pages. printed in both colour and grainy black and white, these are truly to die for; fascinating to see the apparel of the day and just as important, those beautiful, campagnolo equipped steel bicycles, all with downtube gear levers and one or two, if my observational skills are as honed as i'd like you to think they are, replete with band-on pump clips atop the seat tubes.
the narrative contains many an insight into the behaviour of both riders and management; it's not just the bikes that have changed. peter post was, by all accounts an extremely hard taskmaster, but that's hardly telling you anything you didn't already know.
'That evening the rest of the team are in their rooms, when two riders, Frank Hoste and Johan van der Velde, decide to have a drink at the bar, clearly breaching the rules laid down by Peter Post. When Post walks past unexpectedly, it's already twenty to eleven. Hoste: 'He saw us, but didn't say anything. We knew what was coming. Next morning after breakfast, Post came to my room and really let me have it. When he left, he slammed the door so hard it's a miracle it was still in one piece.' Dominic Hoste is despondent. 'I thought, I might as well tear up my contract. Post said to me, "I'll pay you till the end of your contract. But I'm leaving you home in future. You won't be racing again."
i cannot deny that this inhabits the world of coffee table books, but it truly is no less desirable for acknowledgment of that fact. the mystery is partly down to how one would acquire a copy of this book. a google search shows it offered on e-bay for $149, though it's also around and about for a lot less. its recommended retail price is £40, but i'm pleased to say i can offer you one for no cost whatsoever. in fact, thanks to the largesse of raleigh parts and accessories, i have ten to give away to the senders of the correct answer to the following question.
raleigh recently offered a ti raleigh team replica bicycle. from which flavour of reynolds tubing is the frame of this bicycle manufactured?.
please e-mail your answers to email@example.com and please include your full postal address in order that i might send your copy if you win. closing date will be thursday 11 october and winners will be notified as soon after as i remember.
thursday 4 october 2012..........................................................................................................................................................................................................
those of you embroiled in the fizz and the hiccups of the great metropolises will scarcely give a second thought to your caffeine intake. in the majority of european and american cities, it is hard to take more than a few steps without experiencing the waft of freshly ground coffee, protected from the masses by a barrier of goats cheese and sun-dried tomato pannini, square slices of carrot cake and the odd defensive almond croissant. the options staring down from a wall-sized sign behind the friendly faces offer more coffee options than many will have ever realised existed. i have sat at the coffee bar in debbie's when unsuspecting visitors have dropped by for a bite to eat and a warm beverage.
that there is coffee on offer is beyond obvious, but service is akin to an iq test. would they like an espresso, double-espresso, latte, cappucino, or americano? the floundering option is to plump for a cappuccino due to a faint familarity with the name, but if all else fails, a simple black coffee is the order of the day. amongst the disoriented, this foreign language is beyond comprehension; "could i have a cup of tea please?"
but debbie's is an oasis in a rural desert, several kilometres distant (fifteen, to be precise) and thus pragmatically unavailable for a morning coffee on the way to the office, and just as distant at lunchtime. there can be little doubt that this has saved me and several others from a caffeine addicition that would be a less than pretty sight, but safety has ways of being obfuscated.
we bought a coffee machine.
i cannot remember the maker of this mid-afternoon saviour, but it seems only fair to commend it for making double espresssos that are far superior to those its price would have suggested. as with many such devices, there is a wand exiting the right side which, the manual tells us, will allow the steaming of milk, should an apres lunch cappuccino be desirable. i've had a go at this on one or two isolated occasions, but have not the same professional knack of an experienced bruichladdich barista, so double espressos with around a half-inch crema it has to be.
however, like most everything in our world of convenience there is a downside that really isn't. the supermarket only a few steps distant offers two espresso grinds, both of which are more than equitable in a rapha espresso cup, but 'tis not long before one's taste begins to find its own sense of adventure, desiring alternative blends to accompany a packet of red, white and blue m&ms. just such a pack of coffee was ordered from that saviour of the cyclist friendly coffee stop, patisserie cyclisme. louise not too long ago appended an online shop to the reviews on her site offering badged teas and coffees for the discerning velocipedinist. considering myself among such esteemed company, i took the opportunity to order a pack of espresso grind, patisserie cyclisme coffee for a more than agreeable price, only to be informed that all that could be sent was a pack of whole beans.
like many an amateur coffee aficionado, i had neglected to order an accompanying grinder with the coffee machine, explaining, perhaps, the need to purchase ready to use from the supermarket. meanwhile, i had delivered the pack of beans to debbie's in the hope that they would see their way to grind them as a favour. which they did. eventually. and only when i remembered having dropped them off in the first place.
so several weeks later than intended, i present you with an honest review of the hopper blend, rainforest alliance blend coffee obtained from louise's local lancaster roaster, j atkinsons, packaged for patisserie cyclisme. the label on the commendably plain brown paper packet promises dark, chocolate, punch. i've no idea why each word is separated by a comma; grammatically it makes little sense. the coffee, however, is a different proposition altogether; it makes perfect sense. though the method of making has more than just a little to do with the end product, it is not unusual for a strong coffee such as a double espresso to taste a tad bitter on occasion. not so the patisserie cyclisme offering.
ground to the same standard as the world's finest available at debbie's, two successive quaffs did provide the merest hint of chocolate, but more evidently a strong, smooth and not even remotely bitter cup of coffee. i am one more keen on a double espresso that holds greater strength, but i'm inclined to go easy on supping too many. this blend offers the opportunity to have more than one biscuit and more than one cup. for a mere £5 per 250g pack (general grind or beans), what's not to like?
i am now considering recommending patisserie cyclisme as an appropriate coffee stop. which would be just a touch paradoxical on a site that prides itself on reviewing others. what goes around, comes around.
wednesday 3 october 2012..........................................................................................................................................................................................................
in my youth, there was a junior science type programme on the bbc called tom tom. as i recall, the programme was titled after the ancient method of passing on information by means of drumbeats, something i have attempted every year at the islay jazz festival but i doubt anyone's listening. the name has returned to me with the recollection of the logo encapsulated in an enamel pin badge of which i owned an example when knee high to a somewhat large grasshopper. it was an educationally enjoyable programme broadcast from 1965 until 1970, encouraging young viewers to follow the formula one grand prix series (how could i have been so shallow?) and hosted by presenters jeremy carrad and john earle.
one of the principal reasons for recalling this particular show was an annual competition to submit drawings of inventions that us youngsters might have thought of on the way to school or while eating the evening meal. my own entry (two years in succession) was for a hover-scooter, a vehicle that would eschew any wheeled motion by substituting high powered propellors in a similar manner to that of a hovercraft. despite a complete lack of any comprehension of the laws of physics, these small propellors, similarly sized to that used in xpelair or vent-axia extractor fans would lift the scooter clear of the ground before re-aligning themselves in a horizontal position to provide forward motion.
just as an irrelevant aside, did you know that in one episode of 'star trek: the new generation' an alien species featured known as the 'ventaxians'? strange but true.
with regard to my hover scooter, those with a better grasp of gravitational fields related to newton's laws, will have realised that removing the vertical lift in order to provide forward motion would have dropped the scooter onto the tarmac. stationary positioning was already a well-known and respected invention. at the age of twelve, however, newtonian physics were yet to become a part of my school curriculum or thought processes, meaning i struggled to understand why (two years in succession) my design had failed to win a prize. it did, however, provide me with the aforesaid enamel badge.
nowadays those who figure they have a great idea or the solution to one of the world's problems can raise funds for its production or further research by means of crowdsourcing, particularly via websites such as kickstarter. the post has featured the site and at least a couple of projects on previous occasions, one of which was proposed by nick slone this past april: griprings.
designed as a method of customising handlebar grips with a variety of coloured silicon rings, this kickstarter project successfully achieved its funding total and subsequently snowed its progenitors with orders, so building a website that allowed potential customers to choose the pattern of rings required has kept them occupied in the interim. though rings can be purchased individually, the fun in choosing is surely to be had via the aptly named griprings builder. simple clicking on a naked handlebar highlights a dotted outline representing a grip ring at which point, the desired colour can be chosen. carry on until the sequence is complete, and an add to cart button finishes off the process.
each coloured silicon ring costs only $1.50 (£1) and provides a colourful method of customising a pair of handlebars while retaining an appropriate degree of practicality. i asked nick if the grip rings could be adapted to the needs of the pelotonese by decorating a set of classic bars, bookending a pair of brake and shift levers. "We only suggest they get fitted to rather straight sections of bar. That could be track style bars for example, either up near the stem or in he last section of the drops. They aren't designed to properly accommodate bends and are much heavier than bar tape." so for all those with moustache bars and track bars on their fixed gear velocipedes, these would seem the ideal method of accessorising.
at the risk of digressing offroad for the merest hint of time, popping a matching set on flat bars would appear to fit well with the psyche of the bouncy farm-gate brigade.
it's always nice to be associated with a success story, even if only because i happened to mention it several months ago, so if you happen to have an appropriate set of steering implements on the bike, here's where bicycle life becomes a tad more interesting and colourful.
tuesday 2 october 2012..........................................................................................................................................................................................................