rule #90 dictates never get out of the big ring, obviously a rule crafted by those who've not spent a winter (or summer) cycling in the hebrides. however, with both colnagos strategically fitted with compact chainsets sporting 50 teeth outer rings, it is possible for around 95% of any ride to remain in the outer ring. this provides ample opportunity to to bask in the glory that such purported hardship confers upon the pelotonically inclined.
however, a subset of this rule, not noted on the pages of velominati nor, i believe, in the book of the same name, is to ensure that the bike is in the big ring when left outside the coffee shop. even though the entire ride may have been completed in 34/25, causing endless hardship for the attached garmin, the chain should be surreptitiously slipped onto the outer ring before parking. i need surely not have to point out that anyone viewing an unattended bicycle sitting in 50/12 would immediately assume that sean yates or johan musseuw was sat inside, supping froth.
the corollary in civilian life would be dressing in a sweatshirt imprinted with ucla on the front, despite the wearer never having even visited california let alone attended its premier further educational institution. the latter may be a poor example, but i'm sure you catch the bulk of my drift here; in order to aggrandise our efforts of mind or physique, it may be desirable to practise certain mild untruths. society, including that of the velocipede, is rife with such examples.
in 2014, the giro d'italia commenced its three weeks of cycle racing in belfast, continuing with a first road stage that came within 24 miles of islay's shores. in order not to have any regrets over this proximity, a few of us chartered a boat from islay sea adventures across the water to ballycastle to watch what turned out to be a very wet passage through the pink painted town. now, while i cannot pretend to be over impressed with cheap tat, there were certain self-imposed pressures to return to islay grasping a pink giro t-shirt, baseball cap and other pointless bits of stuff, if only to prove to friends and family that, yes, we'd actually been there.
the equation would have been complete had they actually cared one whit.
this year, however, the race did not venture further than the italian mainland, and gus at islay sea adventures could not be persuaded to sail his boat as far as the ligurian sea. that was probably just as well, for i dread to think of the cost. this means, however, that despite those three italian weeks offering some fabulous racing, none of us have anything in the cycling wardrobe to pretend that we might have returned to the land of neapolitana for a second year. and now that the race has ended, and bertie is off home with the trophy, prize money and a selection of pink jerseys, the opportunity to even pretend we were there in the first place has gone for good.
or has it?
those two fine fellows at prendas ciclismo are now offering a selection of official merchandise at reduced prices, allowing the faux cognoscenti to fill their musettes with the sporting equivalent of gelato. whether you decide to carry off the conceit that says "i was there" is entirely up to you and the perceived gullibility of your immediate peloton of colleagues and relations. this does not, however, detract from the opportunity to add to a growing selection of race memorabilia that, in years to come, will mark you out as one to watch and/or follow.
who wouldn't want that on their palmares?
monday 08 june 2015..........................................................................................................................................................................................................
there are convincing arguments as to why any given set of wheels ought to display a versatility commensurate with their perceived value or need. after all, any wheelset is simply a combination of hubs, spokes and rims onto which we affix our favourite set of tyres. or perhaps more likely whichever set of tyres was on special offer that particular week. versatility ought not to be an option; not all of us have a shedful of the blighters from which to choose depending on the psyche of the day or intended route.
if i might be more specific, even at this time of year in the hebrides, blustery atlantic squalls are apt to make every attempt to impede velocipedinal progress from pretty much every direction. sometimes all at once. thus deep section road wheels can present far more of a liability than accessory after the fact. considering the value of many of the principal marques, i'd be loathe to part with such sums of money for a pair of hoops that might only find use on sporadic and unpredictable days of the season. far better, in my opinion, to acquire the tried, tested yet perhaps less than trendy.
however, the fact that such is the stuff of which dreams are made, scarcely presumes that the product will perform in the manner expected. take wheelsmith's aero 38 wheelset for example. these found great favour when skewered into my colnago c40 providing yours truly with many a happy kilometre in the saddle. not only did they emulate the look and feel of those grand tour and one-day classics heroes, but acquitted themselves remarkably well in the galeforce crosswind stakes. yesterday, had i been riding the c40 rather than the colnago master, would have been the ideal example, had they not been currently grasping a pair of 38mm gravel grinders on the ibis hakkalugi 'cross bike.
you may find the logic of so doing somewhat obscure at best, downright idiotic at worst. watching the professionals and even athletic amateurs riding the mud, sand and rock on bicycles fitted with deep-section wheels has always elicited a silent harumph. is not the principal raison d'etre of such roundness to fend off those pesky aerodynamics? without wishing to appear disrespectful, cyclocross courses rarely give rise to a verisimiltude of the lee valley velodrome or your average prologue time-trial. so while the winner is predominantly the rider who rode fastest over the period of an hour, the speeds achieved rarely hit the 30kph that derek at wheelsmith considers the break-even point necessary to view the aero 38s in their best light.
it is, however, highly conceivable that the inverted 'v' shape of the aero rims provides a level of torsional stability that a flatter, u section can only aspire to. this does not necessarily presuppose that amateurs such as myself have the leg strength and bike handling skills to give them anything like the hard time someone such as sven or jeremy might impart. but the wheels themselves may have need of working a darned sight harder to save someone like me from my own incompetence, hitherto unknown levels of which are infrequently on display in the nether regions of bridgend woods.
much has been made of the fact that professional riders are not paid to be comfortable; the job entails reaching the finish line ahead of all others. if that means being sat upon carbon stiffness that could loosen dental fillings, then so be it. we, on the other hand, mostly spend inordinate amounts of our own money simply to look the part, but preferably doing so in relative comfort. even allowing for the 38mm width of rubber cushioning each pedal stroke across rocky inclines and tight bends, it helps greatly if the hub/spoke/rim combination dissipates as much of the after shock as can be reasonably expected.
in this instance, the aero 38s offered succour to the inept. though i seriously doubt my forward speed would place me anywhere other than dead last, in the eyes of the saturday morning dog-walkers, i'd prefer to appear as a blur of speed. but when that rocky road turns to miasmic undergrowth and squishy mud, i'd really rather the ibis continued along the path we'd planned together. and if i can be really demanding, i'd quite like those wheels to possess a skill that dwarfs my own.
bridgend woods, like many a cyclocross course, is rarely troubled by pesky crosswinds; any headwinds have been diluted by the surrounding trees. the aerodynamic properties so impressively displayed by the wheelsmiths on the c40 are therefore all but surplus to requirements. it is of no great nevermind, for their versatility allows that impressiveness to remain visible when adversity changes shape. if you consider their price of £480 to be now divisible by two, there are even more reasons to be cheerful.
sunday 07 june 2015..........................................................................................................................................................................................................
procrastination, with only a little effort, can be turned into a practicable if not necessarily enviable skill. after spending way too many hours searching hither and thither online to find just the very vintage snare drum that i don't really need, even when i find just what i think i might be looking for, i can very easily talk myself out of purchasing it. though this may not be the specific definition of the word procrastination, the aftermath of my spurious deliberations most definitely is.
since we're rarely talking about mortgage sums of money, clicking the buy now button would be a reasonably safe decision, always assuming i can arrange delivery to the office; mrs washingmachinepost may not see my percussive decision in quite the same light. yet i can successfully argue myslef into a frenzy over whether i should really opt for die-cast hoops over triple flanged, whether seven plies of maple/mahogany will likely sound superior to fewer plies of maple and gumwood, and could i really be satisfied with a covering of anything other than vintage marine pearl.
see what i mean? an advanced degree in procrastination coupled with a phd in indecision.
bicycle choices are not immune from the very same lengthy and ultimately futile processes. i'd like to think of myself as occupying an intellectual position that rides above such flim flammery as colour. after all, until they can prove otherwise, i firmly believe that a red bike is every bit as fast (or slow, in my case) as a blue one. that being the case, the choices are simple; should the frame be of carbon, aluminium, steel or titanium? if steel, do i want fillet-brazed, lugged or tig-welded? should that top tube be of traditional pattern or sloping? and that's really only the beginning. i'm sure you can all fill in the blanks with as much ease as i can. and what colour should i opt for.
supposing you even make it as far as deciding upon a purchase and collecting your latest pride and joy, ony to discover after one or two exploratory perambulations, that it doesn't fit. or you don't like the colour. or you should have bought a road bike rather than a mountain bike. all the very scary thoughts that might conceivably prevent you from even choosing a bicycle in the first place?
evans cycles, either the scourge of the independent bike store or benefactor of those estranged from the latter, have introduced a form of velocipedinal salvation they call 'right bike guarantee'. according to the evans store manager in london's spitalfields, faizul shaari, "Buying a bike can be a confusing prospect and sometimes raises more questions than answers; road bike or mountain bike? What really is a hybrid? Carbon, aluminium or steel? What size do I need? How many gears do I need? The 'Right Bike Guarantee is a great way of demonstrating confidence in our ability to guide customers through the cycling maze."
evans' bike category manager, stuart read said, "Buying a bike is an important decision for all of us. With over 94 years of expertise, we have always believed we can find the right bike for our customers. Now we are making this a guarantee. Should a customer decide that they should really have gone for white rather than black a week after purchase for example, they still can." eligible bikes can be returned in any condition as long as it they're clean and not broken. for example, even worn brake pads and tyres are deemed to be acceptable
it may be outside the commercial reach of smaller bike stores to offer anything similar, but should your own procrastination be not only driving you nuts, but round and round in circles, independent bike shops still possess a wealth of expertise and experience to try and ensure you make the right choice in the first place. as indeed have evans cycles.
saturday 06 june 2015..........................................................................................................................................................................................................
we may as well accept the fact that we are, as a peloton, a shade different from the more regular members of the population. at least, that's the way we may wish to portray ourselves or, indeed, be portrayed by others. but it has always provided something of a quizzical conundrum to note signs that state open to the general public when those standing on the other side were, until that moment, also members of the general public. the names that we apply to things and people can often be arbitrary and, perhaps to a lesser extent, entirely relative.
within the velo club sunday peloton, i am perfectly capable of holding my own (so to speak) when the road heads upwards, but drag me off to provence in the company of some stalwarts from rapha, and suddenly i'm puffing and panting at the back. similarly, within my sphere of influence, i'm regarded as an expert in adobe photoshop, but compared to many others, my skills are rather mundane. that does not, however, dismiss the fact that no matter the purpose of our daily toil, when we are collectively sat on our collective saddles, to the outside world we are classified as cyclists. it's hard to argue with such classification, for no matter our differences, that's precisely what we are, in the same manner as we see motorists and pedestrians (both groups of which we can also be members at times.)
but one of the pet joys of the human race comes under the heading of pigeon-holing where it suits our purposes well to categorise those we come into contact with. it is something of a tautology in the world of marketing, where products have need of being aimed at a certain strain of humanity. this is mostly based on income, social strata and predilection towards certain activities, hobbies or pastimes. though we may all think of ourselves as individuals, marketing strategy would often have it otherwise. and it was ever thus.
but underneath the all encompassing umbrella of the cyclist moniker, our individualities can do little but shine through. even within the sporting facet of our milieu, there are rouleurs, grimpeurs, domestiques, sprinters that, when seen from the helicopter merges into a speeding mass of jerseys, bicycles and helmets. and even within the more mundane buzz of everyday cyclists, those individualities are cultivated or maybe even adopted, recognised by the cogniscenti but similarly dismissed by the great unwashed simply as cyclists.
one such member of the cognoscenti with not only the observational skills to distinguish the foregoing, but the artistic ability to turn those into a series of graphics, is ste johnson. ste is a freelance illustrator living in the liverpool/manchester area, who has produced work for clients such as bbc learning, the national museums, liverpool, the nationwide and more than one or two others. having always favoured the world of cycling (he was once a co-conspirator at the discerning cyclist) his most recent work has been to commence work on a series of cards (also available as posters) depicting a variety of cycle types.
the first selection matches the letter m with milk monitor, c with chic, h with hipster (what else?) and s for speedster. there is, so far as i can see, no specific inherent purpose behind the series, but a six year-old girl in the care of mrs washingmachinepost found them quite fascinating, spending a good fifteen minutes recognising the letters and memorising the various cyclists on display. that does not, however, detract from the quality of each individual illustration, all of which can cheerfully be enjoyed purely on the basis of their own visual worth.
in the process of his more regular work, ste said "I missed drawing cycling stuff and wanted to get back into it. I also wanted to try a new style, coming up with c first for chic then hipster inspired by a guy at work. Speedster was inspired by women's racing and m is a homage to my mate who brings the milk in everyday at work." there is every likelihood, in my opinion, that these bear all the hallmarks of future collectors' items; if you agree, pop on over to ste's etsy sales site and start collecting. price is £3.50 per set of four.
friday 05 june 2015..........................................................................................................................................................................................................
i began my morning with a plate of epo (extra porage oats) topped with four peach slices as opposed to my more usual three on weekdays. purgatory needs feeding.
i confess i'd taken a rather lackadaisical approach to my hour record, not least of which was having switched from thursday to wednesday based entirely on the projected weather forecast for both days. i spoke to graeme obree only a couple of weeks ago after listening to his more than graphic description of opting to go once more for the hour record, after failing on the initial attempt. if only my conversation had revolved around the subject of cycling fast, rather than how close my mother's flat is to the runway at prestwick airport where he'd been testing out the beastie a couple of years ago.
prince bradley had been briefly interviewed on radio four's today programme on wednesday morning, but i failed to glean any last minute advice, though i did check his current hairstyle for aerodynamic clues. a beard was never really on the cards.
my equipment for the day offered no route for excuse, should the kilometres have flowed less encouragingly than logic dictated they would. rapha had kindly sent an official team wiggins long-sleeve jersey (it's only june in the hebrides, so short sleeves were never going to be one of my marginal gains) and a matching cap. a hitherto unseen level of sartorial elegance has never gone amiss in the face of self-imposed adversity.
a no less serious consideration was how to document #myhour. i had hoped that scott mitchell would be available to snap at my heels most of the way round, but apparently his pal brad decided to go for a bike ride this weekend and (rather unfairly, i thought) had first call on his lenses. this fellow brad seems also to have mopped up every spare uci official between now and monday, and i refuse to resort to strava as a means of verification. so i gave sepp blatter a call, figuring he'd be at something of a loose end at the moment; perhaps, i thought, he'd be willing to sit on a deckchair at the roadside to make sure everything was above board. however, each time i 'phoned, i kept getting through to a voicemail at the fbi. go figure.
in situations such as this, it seemed prudent to maintain an air of professionalism, so i put a new pair of cleats onto my rapha climber's shoes, wore a race cape and took the colnago master out for a few miles of warm-up before the get go. i won't bore you with the details of my route, nor of how i now need a new pair of legs; it would be unfair to steal bradley's thunder in this respect. i am all too well aware that wiggo has been provided with smooth, polished boards running in an indoor circle as he whiles away his sixty minutes. i pummeled myself across a frighteningly varied selection of road surfaces into and out of a relatively benign islay wind.
who knew islay's roads were less flat than i've told everyone they are?
for any others who have yet to undertake #myhour of their very own, i figure the trick is to keep your eyes on the ride time, while studiously ignoring any other numbers relating to either speed or distance. and make sure you are clad in professional level apparel; an (official) team wiggins jersey and cap, the latter topped with a giro air attack helmet (i needed all the aerodynamic assistance i could muster) were easily worth an extra three kilometres. my target distance had originally been 28km, because i figured a boring old fart on a colnago would be lucky to get much further. it's always nice to have friends in high places.
with the islay hour record distance of 31.15km achieved, i rolled more slowly down uiskentuie strand to debbie's café for a victory soya cappuccino. i'm willing to bet, however, that prince bradley has no need of popping into the office after lunch as did i, shaky on my screaming legs though i was. ever keen to offer my professional advice, i tried giving bradley a call simply to give him a heads up as to what he might expect on sunday.
you'd think he could have spared an hour to chat.
many thanks to kati jagger at rapha for sending an official team wiggins long-sleeve jersey and cap to aid my sixty minutes of purgatory. wiggins replica kit is now available from rapha's online shop. thanks are also due to derek at wheelsmith for the race38 aero wheelset.
thursday 04 june 2015..........................................................................................................................................................................................................
come monday 1 june, the very opening gambit of summer (so you would think or hope), was welcomed in the hebrides by freezing rain and galeforce winds of sufficient force to cancel all but the early morning ferries to islay. though the latter situation is hardly one we've not come across before, i can't recall the last time it happened at this time of year. it's of no great comfort, in both senses of the word, to pop out for an early morning walk dressed in a survival jacket from the north sea and a portland design works woolly hat. and according to recent evidence, the pharmacy has not been overrun by hordes requesting sun cream.
this contrasts sharply with the weather witnessed during last week's giro d'italia. though snow was in plain sight on the upper reaches of the stelvio and mortirolo, there was scarcely a cloud in the blue sky and those remaining in the final week's peloton seemed content to ride in shorts and short sleeve jerseys. those are items of apparel not seen on these shores since august of last year. though the giro is ostensibly about three weeks of superb racing, the scenery and weather portrayed via motorbike and helicopter succeeded mostly in instilling a hankering after a visit to the land of neapolitana and gelato.
which may not be the bridge too far that some of us have taken it to be. though the highways and byeways of islay are considerably less than onerous (it's sort of difficult to get totally lost), italy has one heck of a lot more on which the geographically challenged such as yours truly could easily disappear from public view for longer than is quite seemly. while i have been happy to guide several through the maze of cattle grids populating the back roads, there's not a chance in velocipedina i figure i could find my way back home from the deepest recesses of italy's chianti country.
it therefore occurs that i am the very customer at which andy mackie's testa della corsa guided tours are aimed at. so far so good, but how many of us figure that, as one of the original hubs of cycling culture, isn't italy a tad overrun with the wannabe pelotonese?
"I would have to say 'no'" said andy. "In comparison to Majorca, Italy hasn't even scratched the surface." but, on the basis that testa della corsa' is his brainchild, wouldn't we expect him to say that anyway?
"Having lived in Tuscany for eight years, I was always suprised at the lack of cyclists. Typically Italians go out and ride on their extended two hour lunch break. There are always big groups at the weekend, but they ride early and finish around mid-day in order to get home for lunch.
"But if you were to go up north to Bolzano for example, you'd see a massive number of exploring sports cyclists. I think it stamps a seal of approval when you see lots of people out on bikes in these areas, and there is plenty of room for everyone."
so, if there's plenty of space for visiting cyclists, why does the testa della corsa website offer only three visits this year? aside from two rides in the chianti region in august and september, and a weekend on the stelvio this past may, the only other offering from tdc is a mid july visit to the hebridean isle of skye (about which more later). surely as a recently incorporated venture, andy would be keen to fill those italian roads with visiting cyclists?
"I've firmed up these three dates for this year, as I don't want to stretch myself too far. I want to make sure that everyone who comes has the best experience possible. It is very easy to try and do too much at one go. Experience has taught me to walk before I run, if you'll excuse the analogy, but it's true. Without a doubt I'll be building for next year with a view to perhaps ten trips in total including a few three day weekend style trips as well."
the latter option, though perhaps a smidgeon heavy on the travel front, would offer time-starved cyclists the opportunity to indulge their passion after a long week in the office and before jumping into the next one. if even that seems an option that might hardly squeeze into your tight schedule and busy social calendar, there's little doubt that the isle of skye is somewhat closer for even those ensconced in london village and all places south. however, as one domiciled not too far away from the isle of the cuillins i can testify that italy's climate bears as much resemblance to that of skye as does a boris bike to bradley's pinarello bolide. isn't skye something of a quirk in the testa della corsa firmament?
"The inclusion of Scotland came to me on a weekend cycling trip on Skye last November. I rode with four friends, and despite the weather being pretty foul, it was an amazing experience. Two of the guys were Swedish and they raved about it. I am amongst the least patriotic of Scotsmen, but I was blown away by the natural rugged beauty of the area.
"To add to the experience we dined at the Michelin starred 'Three Chimnies' restaraunt. That brought me full circle to the thought of a weekender style trip. It's specifically aimed at the time-poor amongst us and also the London centric population who can escape on a Friday night to have two days great riding with everything taken care of."
i confess i'm struggling to find a flaw in all this, so suppose i take the plunge and sign up for one of testa della corsa's italian trips. what can i expect when i get there? do i need to faff about in airport departure lounges dragging a recalcitrant bike bag round duty free displays, incurring the wrath of those keen simply for a week at the beach?
"First of all, you'd be signing up for the cycling experience of a lifetime. I'm well aware that pretty much anyone can fly to Italy, rent a bike and find roads to ride and places to eat. However, finding the best roads, the best places to eat and forging relationships with others of like mind, is something built on time and experience and not something you're likely find in a book from the library or Amazon.
"I moved to Italy in May 2005 to learn Italian and ended up staying to set up Tuscany Bike Tours with a friend a year later. We started out with an old blue van amd ten bikes, growing the company to a fleet of four vans 50 bikes and a fleet of 15 Vespas. I sold up at the end of 2013 season, at which point the company had over 5,000 paying customers per season. I'm now placing this learned experience at the service of Testa Della Corsa's customers.
"You can therefore expect a fully comprehensive tour and service, including even the smallest details such as the ordering of coffees and pastries, to eating in some of the most select local establishments. There are many off-the-beaten-path places you won't find in any guidebook.
i have perused the testa della corsa website on my very own to find out what i'm likely to be riding; no need to take my own bike it seems which is, need i point out, something of a travelling boon for one living on a rock in the atlantic, escape from which necessitates a two-hour ferry trip (skye has a bridge). i truly have little enthusiasm for persuading a west coast motors bus driver that, yes, that bike bag will fit in the hold of his bus. but unlike the true professional who basically rides what he/she is given, what if i don't like what's on offer?
"We provide a fleet of flawless Giant Propel frames with perfectly-tuned Ultegra Di2 groupsets, complete with full mechanical support. Additionally each guest receives a personalised bag that includes jersey and bib shorts, arm and leg warmers, socks, cap, and water bottles."
but assuming i've popped over for most of a week, surely a jersey and shorts is scarcely going to keep me in pristine condition for several days? "Not a problem. We'll wash your kit after each ride and have it ready for you the following morning. There's even the option of a post-ride massage."
testa della corsa's italian rides are villa-based in a tiny hamlet in the heart of chianti country, just outside the town of san donato in poggio. quite frankly, as a cyclist with a self-confessed aversion to geography, i'm happy to take andy's word for that last bit. short of clicking through to google maps, i have no real idea where that is, but it definitely sounds italian enough to be highly inviting. however, harking back to the ride on the isle of skye, as one currently well aware of what the hebrides can bring in the way of weather even in the summer months, aren't riders on this island more than likely to experience a degree of unexpected meteorological adversity as an added attraction?
A very apt question. As you probably know better than most, the Hebridean weather can be particularly adverse. This tour will be marketed with this in mind, all guests being made well aware of the fact it might rain on both days. That was also was a factor in designing the tour as a 'weekender' tour. In my experience guests can handle a couple of days' rain, but any more starts becoming a bit of a slog.
"With full back-up, we're able to carry extra rain jackets and wet weather gear to allow guests to change mid-ride. That said it could be blazing sunshine. Either way there is a degree of epicness involved, and I believe it's an area that needs to be seen and experienced either in rain or sun. I also believe that any bad weather could be just as easily seen as an attraction."
though the heavy climbing of the gavia and stelvio have passed for this year, there's still time to sign up for a weekend of rain in skye or for the softies amongst us, a couple of weeks riding italy's white roads in the chianti region.
if i can throw mrs washingmachinepost off the scent, i might even see you there myself.
wednesday 03 june 2015..........................................................................................................................................................................................................
johannes gutenberg is largely credited with the introduction of the movable type printing press to europe around 1439. though we pretty much take it for granted nowadays that posters, books, leaflets and other printed matter can be easily and economically produced, prior to the appearance of gutenberg's printing press, the situation was less amenable. the movable type was produced by creating molds for each letter and pouring a molten mixture of lead, tin and antimony to fashion each individual letter. of course, having created his monster, there was the inevitable collateral damage, by which i refer to the subsequent need for typefaces.
tautologically, handwriting preceded the printing process, the latter effectively imposing a necessary standardisation on a literature that could now be reproduced in far larger quantities, doubtless making many a monk redundant in the process. for those who may have studied or investigated calligraphy and copperplate, it will be apparent that, despite similarities of style, there were considerable variations in the presentation of type. there's also little doubt that any textual errors could now be relatively easily corrected without having need of starting over at each inadvertant slip of the quill.
if a variation in type was now required, a new strata of employment was created that has expanded over the centuries into a subset of society every bit as fervent and geeky as the pelotonese. i know of no alternative to classifying the originators of typefaces as type designers, but those responsible, even if self-appointed, for the setting of type and all matters relating to same are generally referred to as typographers, while those of us with a penchant for collecting typefaces and avidly reading related printed matter have often been called typophiles.
to place all this in context, several type societies abide by the motto/mantra 'who dies with the most fonts wins'. this has parallels with stamp or coin collecting in that a certain level of discretion has to be applied by those involved in the intrinsic world of typefaces. though many of the great unwashed have a tendency to use whichever font is set as the default on their computer software, often failing even to adjust the type size in the interests of decency and/or legibility, type pedants such as myself will often give careful procrastination time as to which of our several hundred (thousand?) fonts would best fill the bill.
you would think that, once we've accepted that there is serif, sans serif and italicised text, that the world would have been set to rights and we could simply get on with the real life that includes bicycles. but no; those type designers have need of being gainfully employed, and type is no less at the mercy of fashion than the colour of our carbon top tubes. thus, what at one time was referred to as a type foundry based on the previously mentioned molten metal and type molds, is now still referred to as a foundry, but with the word digital used as a modern adjective.
such a one is house industries based in yorklyn, delaware.
regular inhabitors of these pixels will have read me make mention of these fellows on previous occasions, not least as the progenitors of the recently released vélo typeface and designers of richard sachs' corporate image. this latter function has extended not only as far as the frame colours for his cyclocross team, but to the team kit, including socks, with the temperature of saffron varied depending to which team member they belong. such is their current involvement with the world of the velocipede, that exhibits consisting of font-related clothing and vélo appliqued bicycles have appeared at rapha's cycle clubs across the pond.
a prominently featured item midst this cornucopia of type and bicycles is the exquisitely presented merino wool vélo jersey, with the word 'house' embroidered large on front and back, set in the vélo typeface. in my particular case, house industries were not only kind enough to send a jersey, but a strikingly original vélo cap and matching socks (from portland's the athletic community).
you would think, perhaps, that the jersey (produced by woolistic) was one more aimed at the leisure market, but i am here to immediately disavow you of that notion. though weather conditions (where has summer gone?) dictated that i match it with a pair of merino wool armwarmers, the house jersey fulfilled pretty much every function demanded of it. this stretched (if you'll pardon the pun) to the ubiquitous three rear pockets of which i required that they caretake a stowaway waterproof, a spare jersey for the mighty dave t (don't ask) an essentials case with coffee money and a digital camera as well as a musette in which to carry a bag of jumbo porridge oats on the way home.
for those who have covered their eyes or are cowering in the corner, no, such a bulky cargo did not stretch them to the point of shapelessness. in fact, devoid of its luggage, the jersey maintained a funky insouciance that i believe is more than likely to be conferred upon all who sail (ride) in it. the so-called euro size fitting of my medium sized example was quite impeccable. there is a time and place for the cutting edge of technical fabrics, but debbie's café on a saturday lunchtime is hardly it. house industries may hold a deserved reputation as a quality if quirky digital type foundry, but it's nice that they have seen fit to apply their typography in our particular direction in such a superb, yet understated style.
the house 'vélo' merino cycle jersey retails at $150 (approx £100), the italian made 'vélo' cap at $20 (approx £13) and the socks $25 (approx. £16). the vélo typeface can be downloaded direct from house industries at a cost of $275 (approx £181) licensed for up to ten machines and including a total of 16 fonts in various weights.
tuesday 02 june 2015..........................................................................................................................................................................................................