very much at my behest, we bought an espresso coffee maker for the office, a machine that would provide a little something by way of a mid-afternoon pick me up. it also has the ability to steam milk with a view to offering a cappuccino or two, but initial efforts to duplicate the froth more usually supped in debbie's came pretty much to nought, so froth production has been put on hold for the time being.
i used to own a gaggia espresso maker that sat in the corner or our kitchen, providing a daily tipple until the seal faded somewhat and lessened the pressure available to offer an appropriate tiny beverage. however, confident in my ability to produce the ideal espresso from any random machine, i proceeded to make espressos for all and sundry, sure that i would soon be able to add the epithet of'barista' to my business card.
though the machine produces espressos with a thick, light brown crema that really ought not to be the case considering how little we paid for it, my regular efforts at espresso making have fallen ever so slightly short of the mark. one of the girls in the office, however, who claims never to have tried an espresso in her life, has brought an uncanny knack for making an espresso shot that would garner rave reviews at any cafe you care to mention. this, as you can imagine, is more than just a little embarrassing, and i was eventually pressed to enquire just how she was so regularly managing such a feat of coffee making.
"i read the instructions" she replied.
ah, the instructions. that comprehensive little booklet contained within the packaging that i had nonchalantly placed to one side when extricating the coffee maker on arrival, and subsequently had no idea where i'd put it. though simple in their directness, it turned out that, had they been followed to the letter, as done by my colleague, i would presumably have ben enjoying a series of daily espressos that would have undoubtedly have made my knee-caps crinkle on a regular basis. yet, having followed the same instructions, i have yet to equal, let alone surpass her efforts.
and it is the lack of reading the appropriate literature that almost led to the cervo rosso garment under discussion being given a lower rating than it truly deserves. the ibrido is a not easily definable garment that could be a jacket if approached in the correct manner, but could just as easily be a jersey when advanced on from another direction. which it is, depends somewhat on the circumstances in force at the time. my misapprehensions were based on a cursory glance across the description on the cervo rosso website, coupled with the numerous tags hanging from the internal label.
the ibrido (which means 'hybrid' by the way) is constructed from acqua zero fabric, described as non-wetting. i'm not entirely sure what that means. the garment is available in either black or red with a dramatically large cervo rosso logo printed over the upper portion of the left sleeve and shoulder. not so visible to the wearer but rather glorious for the rest of your peloton. it's a graphic treatment of which i heartily approve. however, to return for the moment to my misdirection, i read the following from the website. 'Respecting the views of the purists and understanding the role of a jersey vs. a jacket, we gave ourselves the challenge of developing what we believe is the perfect 'in between' for unpredictable days. Those days when heading out with a long sleeve jersey can potentially catch you unaware if caught out in light showers or short rain falls or the days when layering a long sleeve jersey with a jacket can leave you overheating and an unwanted feeling of bulkiness.
in retrospect and with an honours degree in hindsight, the idea of heading out in sub zero windchill wearing only a long-sleeve baselayer, short sleeve cervo rosso corsa jersey and the ibrido over the top was something of an error of judgment. though the ibrido pays lip service to windproofing, coupled with its thinly fleeced lining, in point of fact it's not entirely windproof, at least not in the sense that something like cervo rosso's intermedio jacket. that is exactly the garment which should have been paired with the ibrido considering the sub-zero gale force windchill to which i had subjected myself.
however, perhaps it is better to learn by one's mistakes. i had confused the ibrido's constitution with that of the current trend for all-purpose jackets that promise immunity from everything between bike-shed draughts to polar bear attacks. in mitigation, however, the fact that while i was comfortably supping a real cappuccino, the weather turned entirely, and though benefitting from a tail wind home, it was accompanied by cold, torrential rain. back to those instructions again.
cervo rosso contend that, despite the absence of taped seams, the fabric offers 'excellent water repellency', adding that 'The IBRIDO is water proof. What this means in riding conditions, is that drizzle and light rain will literally roll off.' in this contention, they are not entirely wrong, for the initial attack of precipitation did indeed offer up little baubles of water on each sleeve, and i cannot say i felt internally wet at any point of the proceedings. however, by the time i had changed direction at bridgend, that gale force, rain laden wind was hitting head on, and i think it likely that only a serious piece of rainwear would have kept the intrepid, if a trifle foolish, cyclist bone dry.
intriguingly, on arriving home, the only internal regions that exhibited wetness were the sleeves of my baselayer. the torso of my cervo rosso corsa s3 jersey was commendably dry. perhaps that's what's meant by non-wetting. and equally as commendable was the short period of time it took for the outer surface of the ibrido to dry. cervo rosso profess that a cup of water placed in the middle of the jersey will not go through, even after two hours. while i have not had cause to replicate the experiment, the dryness of the fleece lining on arrival at the warmth and safety of the croft may just be the evidence that proves their point.
but apart from the technicalities, how good is the ibrido really? well, the full-length front zip features a zip garage both top and bottom, while the collar is laudably high at the rear, dipping slightly in the interests of comfort at the front. i am a great fan of long-sleeve cycling apparel (something i may have mentioned before), but with arms of greater than average length, it's a feature of which i am more than just acutely aware. those on the ibrido are truly excellent, and featuring a zipped closure at the cuffs to aid ventilation. the rear of the jacket/jersey contains the usual three substantially sized and easily accessible pockets, with the centre of the three featuring a zipped fourth on the outside. somewhat of a mandatory requirement nowadays.
as is my usual predilection, i opted for size medium on which the fit was exemplary. the fleece-lined fabric is non-too heavy and exhibits an excellent degree of stretch without losing its shape, and though of superficial concern, it does look remarkably stylish.
in an effort to redeem my reputation and perhaps that of the ibrido erroneously tested in conditions unbecoming to its constitution, i took it out again, but this time with the added appendage of a waterproof jacket as my outer shell. here's where it scored eleven out of ten, providing all the benefits of a fleece-lined long-sleeve jersey that not only breathes well, but offers a second barrier to any moisture ingress. this particular outing was one that tested the mettle of both rider and apparel to a degree that probably neither were particularly comfortable with. sub-zero gale-force windchill and somewhat risky crosswinds (there's a very limited market for deep-section carbon wheels over here), i was happy to be wearing not only the rainjacket, but the ibrido underneath.
i can see the dilemma (self?) inflicted upon cervo rosso by the ibrido; it's neither a jacket nor a jersey, though probably more of the latter than the former. when the weather picks up a bit (probably around mid-august), a garment such as this would relieve the necessity of carrying a rainjacket stuffed in one of those three capacious rear pockets, secure in the knowledge that, should the weather turn nasty, one might laugh in the face of sudden rainfall. at this particular time of year, i wouldn't necessarily recommend it as your sole outer garment, rain or shine. even over a winter l/s baselayer and short sleeve jersey, i was a bit cooler than i'd hoped to be. but all in all, it was pretty damn fine; with the inclement weather almost guaranteed on scotland's west coast, i may be in danger of wearing it out prematurely over the ensuing months.
don't say suprese, say ibrido.
monday 28th january 2013..........................................................................................................................................................................................................
in the corner of my bedroom is the scary cupboard, one that served initially as a wardrobe when mrs washingmachinepost and i moved into the croft some twenty odd years ago, but which has taken on so much of a life of its own in the intervening period, that neither of us are too keen to open the door and deal with all that it now contains. the top shelf lays claim to a large number of large format, or coffee table books, none of which i have even caught sight of let alone read in the past couple of years at least. this is not due to any rank untidiness on the part of either mrs twmp or myself, but simply the acquisition of stuff that seems to apply to any family over a given period of time.
i appreciate that a sizeable amount of this cupboard/wardrobe's contents belong to yours truly; one cannot operate a daily cycle review column without being sent quantities of items either for research, review or both. and though i'm not a great one for revisiting each and every book, there might conceivably be a time when such becomes necessary, and i have an inbuilt aversion to throwing anything away. a hoarder, if you will, but in the nicest possible way.
in the interim, another wardrobe has been purchased and installed in the opposite corner of the room, though i cannot but admit that it too encloses a tad more clothing than it was originally designed to hold. it is simply an inevitable corollary of modern life, especially if i may bring up the cycle bits and bobs yet again.
the scary cupboard, however, has inherited a substantial number of soft goods, few of which are my specific property, a large plastic box which most definitely is my property, and somewhere in the deepest recesses of its limited space is a snow-scene decorated biscuit tin, containing a partially filled stamp album and rather a lot of loose postage stamps from more than just a few countries, some of which quite likely no longer exist.
philately. that's the name for the hobby of collecting postage stamps, and in the days prior to my shifting lock, stock and barrel to islay, i was a member of the bridgnorth stamp club, a service that would send out a small book of stamps each month for careful selection, and one would return the appropriate level of compensation for the stamps chosen. i doubt i remotely resembled what could easily be described as a philatelist, for i truly had no real idea of the rules of the game. my stamp album had a thematic section, which i had long ago discovered meant a grouping of stamps according to the themed illustrations they bore on the front. that was my sole criteria for stamp choice, one that had no sense of possible value, but that bore closer resemblance to choosing pictures for the sitting room wall.
those stamps are still at the back of the scary cupboard, a residence they will doubtless enjoy for a good many years in the future, unless i take a sudden re-interest or the thought of possible financial gain outweighs that which awaits within. though i have collected all manner of cycle memorabilia and paraphernalia, along with various percussives across the years, i've never again had the notion to assemble a collection of items that could conceivably be stuck into an album.
until now, that is.
deltiology is the correct term for one who collects postcards, a hobby those of us at the office could possibly have joined in using the substantial number acquired over the years from holidaying staff members and friends over the years. these used to populate the inside wall of the main office until a couple of years ago when we'd to remove all in order that the inner sanctum might be decorated. the removal procedure included the wide range of cycling postcards i'd been kindly given over the years, and though i know just where those are kept, i've no idea where all those sent from holidays have gone.
however, my deltiological aspirations have been immeasurably enhanced with the receipt of a set of ten postcards from the dynamic duo at prendas ciclismo, the latest fruits of their lengthy association with john pierce of photosport international. as mick and andy have mentioned on the prendas website, "During the design process of the various years of our annual calendar, we ear-marked our favourite photographs for a later date and now we are delighted to bring this postcard set to you.". these a6 sized cards are printed on thick card with a very shiny colour or black and white image on the front and proper postcard marks on the rear. should you wish to do so, you could actually send these through the post to a delighted recipient.
subjects include a superb photo of tommy simpson, a muddy bernard hinault, an earnest felice gimondi and a grimacing sean kelly replete with toe-clips. these are all enclosed in an illustrated card envelope to keep them safe and unmarked should you wish to start or continue a deltiological collection of your own. this collection of ten postcards is not only a self-contained delight, but ever more attractive when you check the cost; a mere £3 for one pack or, if i understand the prendas rules and regulations for their multi-saver deals, simply add a second pack to your basket, and two will cost only £5. this is quite likely the bargain of the year.
and if i ever get round to digging my philately collection out the cupboard, i'll send you a postcard.
thanks to the generosity of prendas, i have two sets of postcards to offer as prizes to the first two senders of the correct answer to the following question (answer on the website):
'how many years have prendas been trading?'
e-mail your answers to firstname.lastname@example.org along with your postal address before sunday 3rd february, and the first two randomly selected entries will receive a set of these excellent postcards.
sunday 27th january 2013..........................................................................................................................................................................................................
about five miles off the main bridgend to bruichladdich road, accessed from the turnoff at foreland (just at the end of uiskentuie strand) is rockside farm and trekking centre. as its name would suggest, the farm caters to those who prefer a larger saddle, four legs and a mane. though not operating during the winter months (the ponies and horses are in a field adjacent to loch gorm), come easter or at least early spring, it's possible to watch trekkers riding along a track paralleling the singletrack road to machir bay on islay's atlantic coast. depending on the ability of the appropriately saddled, the route involves simply returning along the same well-worn path, or a more convoluted vector to the south of the bay.
but rockside farm is also home to islay's most recently built distillery (2005), named kilchoman rather than after the farm in which it resides. naturally enough, kilchoman is known as a farm distillery, which, as far as islay is concerned means compact and bijou. in fact, it may be that it's the only distillery on the island whose visitor centre is larger than the production area (most definitely if you discount the malt barn) and a good bit larger than those at either of islay's two largest distilleries at bunnahabhain and caol ila.
as with all of islay's distilleries, it's possible to join a tour and be shown the compact and bijouness of the premises. though not entirely true, we have posited that one could step onto the upper floor next to the copper still, and spin round in a circle. tour complete.
if you leave your bicycle against the wall of mark unsworth's islay studios in islay house square and walk only a few steps, you'll come across islay ales. rather incongruously living on an island that features a total of eight malt whisky distilleries, the company was constituted two years before kilchoman distillery and currently offers a range of eight distinct products, including the gold medal winning single malt ale. aside from the latter, it has in common with kilchoman distillery a somewhat condensed production area; in this case it is quite literally a matter of spinning in a circle to complete a tour.
however, it's products are well respected locally and further afield, adding yet another string to islay's beverage laden bow.
in both of the above cases, the principal guiding light behind each was a commercial desire to produce the finest spirit or ale that conditions and aspirations would allow. other than offering appropriately decorated clothing, whisky and real ale are the two sole products of each respective premises. rather bucking that trend, in a multi-tasking sort of way is derek mclay of wheelsmith in larbert.
not content with consistently producing some of the finest wheelsets on the planet, derek is a closet lager, beer and ale producer on the sly. in contrast to the above mentioned establishments, this is not for any mercantile purpose, but predominantly for his own amusement and consumption, as well as for that of his friends, customers and acquaintances. "if anybody is in the area, they're welcome round for a pint or to bring an irn bru bottle and take some away. Any excuse to give it away, I can't sell it and it's a good quaff."
in keeping with his production of several wheelset variations, derek seems less than content with only one offering of lager or ale. "I have four on the go most times; 'Lummox Lager', a Porter 'Bonk Beer', a hoppy Pale Ale 'On Yer Bike' and something else like a pear cider or stout. Apart from the lager, it's all cask conditioned. Everything is brewed to the Reinheitsgebot or German Beer Purity Law of 1516, ie. malted barley, hops and water; nothing else except some sugar for priming the cask, which is eaten by the yeast and turned into carbon dioxide." i have to admit, this has come as something of a surprise; most cycle related component providers or bike people seem keener to concentrate on offering a particularly vibrant espresso grind or carefull selected and roasted coffee beans. i have not come across anyone who brews his own bottled beverages. but it doesn't stop at the liquid in the bottles.
a friend of mine on the mainland used to produce his own beer, stored in a cupboard full of white plastic buckets. the latter feature i recall only too well, as he placed tightly fitting lids on all of them, and the effervescence produced blew all the lids to the ceiling. one of them stuck. but when he eventually filled some carefully washed brown beer bottles with his brew, the labels took the form of roughly torn bits of paper sellotaped to the outside and the name scrawled with black indelible felt tip.
such shamateurism is not for derek. as can be seen from the graphics reproduced here, he has gone more than just one stage further and produced some superbly designed and printed cognomen for the bottles. "The labels are a result of meeting a talented artist pal on Facebook (Paul Tonner) and asking him if he could do 'a beer label. That was all I said. The rest is history.
i realise this may be entirely incidental to the business of conjoining hubs, spokes and rims to realise such as those fabulous racer 23s that currently enhance my colnago master, and brought new life to steven shand's skinnymalinky. but the process of building bicycle wheels is a precision exercise, one that is best handled by a true artist in every sense of the word. witnessing derek's attention to detail where truly, attention to detail could be perceived as wholly surplus to requirements, gives me even greater confidence in his wheels.
i may not drink alcoholic beverages containing hops or barley but i have faith in a man who makes his own.
saturday 26th january 2013..........................................................................................................................................................................................................
at least some of you will remember the bottom brackets of yesteryear, the very fixtures for which i have a whole slew of redundant tools affixed to the toolboard on one wall of the bikeshed. the days of adjustable cups and fixed cups have been relegated to so-called bicycle shaped objects. were it not for a smattering of those still lying unloved and uncared for in garages and sheds all across the island, there would be no point in my retaining possession of these tools for other than matters of posterity. and though the bottom bracket is a component that has seen endless development over the past few years, there are times when i miss the relative simplicity of a couple of bearing races sitting comfortably inside the aforementioned fixed and adjustable cups.
from an assembly point of view, popping in those bearing races must have been simplicity itself, even more so when you discover that more than just one or two seem to have left the factory minus any form of lubricant whatsoever. aside from the obvious frictional disadvantages, a lack of salient lubricant on the bearings quite frequently hastened their demise; the steel races simply disintegrated, leaving insufficient bearings to fill the resultant space. those who've ridden cranks that limp will understand of which i speak.
aside from the brute force and ignorance required to shift the cups, it was a simple matter of cleaning, filling with grease and popping in as many quarter inch bearings as space would allow. from that point onwards, there was very little that could conceivably go wrong. even 50 pence worth of cheap bearings will take a long time to wear away under normal usage.
bicycles, to a greater or lesser extent, still rely on adequate lubrication to function. chris king's offer a rather nifty device to allow the imposition of fresh grease into their quality bottom brackets, virtually guaranteeing continued smooth operation well into my dotage, and cartridge bearings appear to have greater longevity than their loosely countenanced brethren in any case. judging by even the high number of rusty chains i've seen, however, few cyclists even make it as far as considering the bottom bracket or headset.
by extrapolation, the whole of cycling, well, at least the sporting side, relies on lubrication to continue its successful operation, and though i'm being willfully obscure at this point, those lubricants seem to receive as much attention as the white lithium grease exiting the nozzle of a grease gun.
i'd love to make comment from the first person, from personal experience if you will, but there are so few of us involved in island cycling, that there is truly no need to volunteer for anything other than to pay for the coffees on a sunday morning. that the recent london cycle show in the docklands excel centre featured a nocturne event, brought to mind the apparent demise of the edinburgh event that formerly occupied an annual space in the grassmarket. this evening series of individual races was much loved by both competitors and spectators alike, and i am somewhat saddened that the organisers seem largely unconcerned about its revival, particularly since the london event at smithfield market continues unabated.
however, events such as the nocturne series, held in the middle of a busy city centre, relies on more than just a few volunteer marshals to keep both riders and spectators safe both from themselves and unconcerned motor traffic. and, of course, it's not just self-contained racing such as the nocturnes that need volunteers, it's more or less every form of racing and most sportives too. like it or not, we live in a motor vehicle dominated world, with more than just a few of whose drivers become inexplicably antagonistic if their undeniably important journeys are delayed for more than a few minutes.
that's sort of why cycle sport needs volunteers to smooth the path of the invincible.
the subject was brought to mind both from last year's call to arms by the london olympics and more recently, that of glasgow's commonwealth games organisers for next year's events. for though there are paid officials in place to take the ultimate responsibilities and to organise their ambassadors, few, if any events could survive were it not for the army of volunteers willing to give up a morning, a day or a week to assist those with more competitive urges to assuage. i'm definitely not an individual much given to joining clubs for any particular reason, and i don't doubt there are others of similar mind, but perhaps, if racing is not on your agenda, you might wish to become a member of your local cycle club in order that you may make your services available for the panoply of events on the syllabus.
or if club membership bothers you to the level that it does me, just give them a call, or drop them an e-mail to let them know they can count on one more to stand at the roadside in a fluorescent yellow or orange tabard with a smile on your face.
there seems little point in despairing at the lack of quality cycle racing in the uk, without first attempting in your own quaint little way to help keep alive the races that still exist. just think of yourself as an oil magnate.
friday 25th january 2013..........................................................................................................................................................................................................
though not a major subject of conversation in these columns, scottish opera celebrated its 50th anniversary last year, and is currently in the throes of spreading these celebrations far and wide across the more compact and bijou regions of the country. this particular month will see four singers and a pianist (which, in itself, would be an ideal title for an album) visit venues in bathgate, peebles, hawick, stranraer, tarbert and, perhaps more germane to our current conversation, bowmore village hall.
having moved to islay some 25 years ago to ply my trade as an artist, and having spent many very cold and wet days out in the field making as many pencil and charcoal drawings as i thought practicable, i had closeted myself in the studio to make watercolour paintings. those of you who have either done likewise or even considered so doing, may well be aware that the art of the watercolour is rarely the speediest profession. there were many long, lonely hours to be whiled away between those four walls. what was necessary, i unanimously decided, was some appropriate musical or auditory accompaniment. radios one and two played the usual selection of beat music, the insistent rhythms of which i found slightly distracting.
i put this down to my drumming background.
radio four, on the other hand, consisted of an endless stream of highly interesting, but also highly involving discussions and news items, something that i also found most distracting, often sitting down to better digest the implications of radio four's words, instead of remaining industrious with paintbrushes and pigments. the best option seemed to rest with radio three, a diet of almost seamless orchestral music which could be mentally shifted to the background, or brought to the fore in short bursts simply to relieve the focused concentration. (i'm not sure even i believe that last bit).
daily listening, while being creatively productive, existed happily for many a long day, an experience that took a slight hiccup, but a fortuitous one at that, when radio three commenced broadcasting a series of operas on a thursday afternoon. these were presented in a user-friendly format, the announcer explaining the history of the composer and the particular opera under consideration. appended to this was a description of the narrative about to be sung in act one, a concession repeated for each subsequent act, and one gratefully received for rarely were any to be sung in english.
this exposure to the world of opera, not one that i had given too much thought prior to my days of painting, encouraged a need to explore further, a need satisfied by the purchase of several multi-cd packs, more often than not, accompanied by a thick booklet fufilling the absence of a radio presenter.
the only difficulty that subsequently revealed itself after radio three ceased these thursday afternoon recitals, was making the not inconsiderable periods of time available to listen to any particular opera from start to finish. bear in mind that possibly the largest expose of opera composition, wagner's ring cycle, consists of 14 compact discs, and you perhaps begin to see the difficulty of apportioning suitable listening time (even assuming a minimum running time of 60 minutes per disc, that's still fourteen hours if you don't come up for breath).
however, what i find it hard to reconcile, are those opera's greatest hits recordings, that pick out all the populist tunes and string them together on one album. a sort of now that's what i call opera type affair. my argument rested principally on the removing of songs from their natural habitat, and it is this, now that i've made it back to the start, that will form the basis of scottish opera's presentation in bowmore hall come next tuesday eve. however, having been presented with a complimentary ticket, there's every likelihood that i will swallow my prejudices and pop along anyway.
i have, you will perhaps be disinterested to learn, the same misgivings about race highlights, the very same as seem now to inhabit the virtual pages of youtube during the tour down under. for instance, the most recent stage, and indeed the leader's jersey has been won by sky's geraint thomas. i have no idea as to whether there are any live broadcasts of the race being shown on british television or even on the interweb, but given the international time difference, it seems unlikely that it would be easy to shoehorn viewing time into a regular sleep pattern. eager to keep up to date, i have been checking the web each morning to assuage my curiosity.
not content with simple facts and figures, this morning i discovered a video by cycling central presenting several rider interviews from the stage end, along with extremely brief highlights showing thomas's initial breakaway, then quickly switching to his superbly timed and victorious sprint, team sky's first of the season. however, though i have appraised myself of the result and a vague notion of how it happened, i feel slightly cheated, for you and i both know that the stage distance was 116km, kilometres that presumably took a lot longer to ride than the 3 minutes 15 seconds the video lasted.
for instance, how did thomas reach the front of the peloton in the first place? when did his sprint compatriots catch up with him? who did he outsprint? was the remainder of the stage as exciting as the portions cycling control chose to show us? i feel sure you now see exactly where i'm coming from. i know that with sleep and work demands, it's darned near impossible that i might follow every section of every stage, even if my undiminished enthusiasm was equitably disposed towards doing so. but in the same way that i have studiously avoided listening to even a speck of wagner's ring cycle until i have the opportunity to appreciate the entire seriously constituted opera, i think the most beautiful of sports deserves to be witnessed in its entirety, day after day.
but all credit to geraint thomas, that was a remarkably opportune and well-executed sprint.
thursday 24th january 2013..........................................................................................................................................................................................................
the piece of twitter software i have on my macbook air to allow a ceaseless stream of smart ass one-liners does not, unlike the web page, alert me to what manner of subjects are trending. some may find that a more than acceptable feature or lack of. displaying these twitter trends is, presumably, a digital method of encouraging the sheep mentality; am i therefore expected to notice these apparent trends and join the happy throng, thus reinforcing the trend and lifting it further up the list? always assuming, of course, that the system works in such fashion (and i'm not altogether sure that such is the case.)
i bring this to your notice becasue only the other evening, a member of the twitterati enquired as to why scotland was trending. i confess that i did not, nor do i now, have the faintest clue as to why this was the case, but i do not see the trending of my home country as something of particular remark. but then i would say that, wouldn't i?
one of the more favourable aspects of cycle racing is the substantial variety of different forms that the sport takes. aside from the high profile of road racing and latterly both downhill and cross country mountain biking, there's cyclo-cross, bike polo, several inscrutable variations of track racing, bmx, time-trialling and the american favourite, criterium racing. i'm sure there are several others that have escaped my attentions for the moment, but i think the aforementioned are sufficient to be going on with. few other sports, i would contend, can compete with such diversity. what is often an added bonus is the agglomeration of more than one of these at a time.
several years ago, in 2006, the tour of britain commenced in glasgow, the start proper leaving from the people's palace in glasgow green, but the evening prior consisting of most entertaining cycle racing on a course centred around george square. in addition to the racing there were several exhibition stands mounted by various cycling retailers combined with an mtb trials team who entertained the younger members of the public with trials skills that might have inspired one or two to nip home later and try the same thing in the relative safety of their back gardens. though the tour has arrived in glasgow since that time, with the demise of the late lamented edinburgh nocturne, national cycle racing has seemingly done its utmost to avoid venturing north of the border.
though conciliatory rumblings were made in the first year of rapha's supercross series about brining one race to scotland this past year, in fact, it didn't happen, a situation that seems unlikely to change.
however, the worm, if i might characterise a nation in such derogatory fashion, is turning. in preparation for the 2014 commonwealth games, the lack of a state of the art indoor velodrome has been remedied with the construction and subsequent opening of the sir chris hoy velodrome in glasgow's east end. this facility has already been christened with a round of the uci track championships late last year, along with the braveheart thunderdrome accompanying the scottish national track championships in the autumn of 2012. the track will, yet again, play host to world class track racing on saturday 2nd february when competitors in the final round of the 2012/13 revolution series take to glasgow's polished boards.
i have ventured on twitter that we could care a little bit less about yorkshire's 2014 tour de france start now that british cycling have confirmed the 2013 british national men's and women's road race and time trial championships will be held in glasgow in the days leading up to sunday june 23rd. scotland's population will likely never rival that of south of the border, leading to a far smaller catchment area for cycling talent. yet sir chris hoy, craig maclean, graeme obree, james mccallum, david millar and robert millar have all contrived to provide the country with a cycling reputation that rivals many of their world peers.
as councillor archie graham, deputy leader of glasgow city council and executive member for the commonwealth games, said: "There's never been a more exciting time for cycling in Britain thanks to the outstanding performances of our cyclists at the London 2012 Olympic Games and last year's Tour de France. Glasgow is committed to the development of cycling at all levels as shown by our investment in the £113 million Emirates Arena which includes the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome. "Our desire to bring major events such as the 2013 National Road Championships to the city with events such as this and the recent UCI Track Cycling World Cup, which sold out in under half an hour, will help inspire the next generation of cyclists to fall in love with the sport."
that'll likely be why scotland is trending, i shouldn't wonder.
wednesday 23rd january 2013..........................................................................................................................................................................................................
i cannot deny the accusation that i am amongst the obsessed, at least in connection with all things cycling. let's face it, anyone who writes around 11,000 words a week on such matters, without receiving financial recompense is presumable displaying obsessive tendencies. additionally, i do not write and photograph so frequently simply for the public approbation of my peer group, however that may be constituted. it is some considerable time since i last looked at my server statistics to note how many or how few are reading on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. it's not that i do not care, but it would not change a thing; i can see looks of disappointment at the back.
i have made light of my distaste for numbers on a least a couple of previous occasions, but that in no way lessens the truth of the matter. server statistics are arrayed in a myriad of different ways, few of which make a great deal of sense to whichever part of the brain it is that deals with such information. but let's suppose that, having deduced certain useable details from their inscrutable presentations, i find that there's one heck of a lot of folks reading in venezuela; precisely what am i going to do about that?
i have never been to venezuela, i have not a scooby about the state of cycling either as an activity or sport in any part of south america let alone a country the location of which i would be hard pressed to pinpoint on a map. all i can tell you about venezuela at present is the knowledge that their recently re-installed president is currently in cuba recuperating from cancer surgery. and site statistics or not, i think it unlikely that many of you are particularly enamoured with the specifics of south american politics. despite the completely misleading title of these black and yellow pixels, the content, as far as is humanly possible, is more often than not concerned with cycling in its many forms.
would we have it any other way?
however, my daily travails generally preclude much in the way of cycling activity. it is a well-worn travesty that i have no verifiable commute; i live way too close to my imac. and business hours offer only infrequent opportunities to survey the estates from a brooks leather saddle, cloistering, as it were, the bulk of my cycing around the weekends. not being a great fan of riding in the dark, nor subjecting my sensibilities to the numbing possibilities offered by the soul-sucking turbo trainer, early morning or late evening sorties are currently persona non grata.
you can call it 'wimping out' if you like.
at weekends, however, mrs washingmachinepost becomes a cycling widow, a situation i can see in many a red face is a more than commonplace situation. after five days sitting in an admittedly comfy chair, pressing keyboard keys and manouevring my forefinger around a slanted trackpad, i am in a state of contained explosive decompression. there need only be the mere hint or suggestion that the bicycle shed beckons, while dusted froth awaits the intrepid, and i am gone, leaving mrs twmp to take care of the household chores that i steadfastly maintain are totally unnecessary.
i vacuumed last weekend for heaven's sake.
and as if missing in action on saturdays were not enough, there is the rigid immoveability of the traditional sunday ride. my disappearance every sunday morn prior to 09:30 is tempered with the wifely knowledge that i would be like a caged bear should prevention be placed in my way. there are extremely few sundays that have been spent indoors, other than the annual vacation, though there are more than just a small number when i/we should have paid more attention to the inclemency of the weather and held onto life and limb indoors.
the sunday ride is usually over and done with by 12:30 and home has been often breathlessly reached by around 1pm, leaving the rest of the afternoon for a period of marital bliss and informed conversation (does any of this sound familiar?). but over the past few months there has been an almost never-ending broadcasting of european cyclocross on the interweb, much of which i would have been well-disposed towards watching. every sunday afternoon. but one has to know how and when to temper the obsessiveness that i broached in my opening statement.
despite the fact that many, if not all, of these cx broadcasts are commentated on in a foreign language, allowing for viewing with the sound turned off, i think it possible that ire and daggers might be vociferously pointed in my direction. so, in the interests of my being a 21st century man, if only for a brief period of time, i have eschewed almost the entire season's mud and gloop, consoling myself with reading the results on velonews.com. i'm not suggesting that you emulate the sheep inhabiting the field behind washingmachinepost croft and follow this example blindly and unquestioningly, but it may just be worth considering every now and again.
do i get brownie points for this?
tuesday 22nd january 2013..........................................................................................................................................................................................................