i think it would be fair to say that the world is composed of idiots and non-idiots, many of which will crossover to the opposite side at unpredictable points of the curve. for if we knew when someone held a specific propensity to be idiotic, the effect could probably be comfortably avoided. it is also fair to relate that amongst the idiots, some drive cars and some ride bicycles. those of us on two wheels can self-righteously hold the moral high-ground, but i've seen enough idiocy from both visiting and indigenous cyclists to know that we're not always right.
however, in order to rally round the flag so to speak, you will forgive me if i highlight a less than sterling piece of driving experienced on return from yesterday's sunday ride.
it took seconds, and to be honest, the three of us comprising our compact and bijou peloton were never in any real danger. unfortunately, the driver of the car travelling in the opposite direction was the fellow who might have had more cause for concern. we were overtaken by a motor car travelling in the same direction as ourselves, leaving us plenty of room; the only fly in the ointment was the fact that there was indeed a vehicle travelling in the opposite direction, narrowly avoided by the chap at fault pulling in rather sharply. was this a lack of observation, a lack of sense or a lack of visibility on our part?
the latter option seems a tad unlikely since, as i said, we were given reasonable distance as the car passed us. but you do have to wonder if we'd been more brightly coloured would the driver have thought twice before overtaking? probably not. couple that with the incident taking place in broad daylight and it was most likely a simple error of judgment.
probably quite rightly, the bulk of cycle clothing that concentrates on more than just a modest degree of visibility is aimed at the commuting cyclist, and likely for two reasons. firstly, and i mean no disrespect, the commuting cyclist by and large, rarely has sartorial elegance as their principal concern. yet again, i have no desire to point a less than aesthetic finger at the producers of such highly visible clothing; many do their very best to offer both form and function. however, i think many of us would agree that fluorescent yellow is probably not the way to go in terms of style.
a lack of form-fitting in many of those jackets only adds to the hiatus.
but secondly and more importantly, commuters frequently have little say over the route taken to work and the time at which that route must be traversed. therefore, dayglo visibility can be more of a necessary defence mechanism taking precedence over how cool you might look in polite company. with only a matter of weeks before the clocks go forward an hour, ealry mornings and late nights are going to be clothed in darkness, quite rightly engendering a christmas tree mentality.
however, at the risk of raising ire in that particular sector, it is one well taken care of. that's not to say there isn't room for improvement, but even the occasional saunter throught evans cycles or any other sizeable cycle retailer will demonstrate a large choice for the itinerant commuting cyclist.
the pelotonese are arguably less demanding in their need for hi-viz and certainly less pressured by awkward timing to go out riding or training. thus many of the current offerings feature sporadic panels and flaps of scotchlite to bounce headlight illumination back towards a following driver. that may well be considered sufficient in many instances, but in truth this is an area where excess is not a word or concept that will ever meet with disapproval. i'd far rather be visible from the international space station than a victim of smidsy.
however, the latter notwithstanding, i'd prefer my daylight face to be of a more sober presentation. in the case of proviz's pixelite race jacket, daylight shows only black and grey, the latter being the subtle presence of a considerable square centimetrage of scotchlite fabric partially concealed behind mesh paneling. this is, i'd imagine what gives the jacket its name.
if i might step back from the visibility factor just for a minute, the jacket itself is a great deal more than just adequate. with a full-length front zip, high collar, three rear pockets aided and abetted by a zipped chest pocket up front and another at the rear, it has pretty much every base covered. add to that its form-fitting constitution and flappage is not a word that could ever be used accusatorily at the pixelite. to help with autumn and winter temperatures it is thoughtfully fleecy lined with tight-fitting but excellently long sleeves.
what's not to like?
that front zip ends in a zip garage at the neck, a feature for which i am moslty grateful on any jacket or jersey. however, i can only surmise that the growing inclusion of zip garages at the bottom is on the basis that it can be done rather than the fact that anyone has figured out why you would want to. that lower zip garage makes zipping up into a far more faff imbued hardship than it deserves to be. and which part of my body is it designed to protect?
as can hopefully be seen from the photographs, the reflectivity of the panels across the front, back and forearms is highly impressive. it's an excellent jacket made even better by its visibility factor. though i rarely go out riding in the evenings, many of the routes surrounding the village are in open countryside, devoid of streetlighting and in which i would prefer emulate a lighthouse or super trouper stage light.
there's no way you can successfully legislate for any idiocy that may be as prevalent after dark as it is post sunday ride, but at least this way "i'm sorry mate, i didn't see you." is no longer a defensible statement.
the proviz pixelite softshell jacket is available in sizes ranging from small to xxxl at a retail cost of £119.99.
monday 12 october 2015..........................................................................................................................................................................................................
the big trouble with the scottish weather is its unpredictability. time was when you could rely on october being a graduated introduction to winter, with each passing week experiencing lower temperatures and steadily increasing winds. then, when november scuttled over the horizon, having to collect the washing from a village some miles away was less of a surprise than it might have been.
in the days prior to mrs washingmachinepost and i moving to the hallowed isle on a permanent basis, we paid at least two visits per year to stay with relatives. and on those occasions you could pretty much guarantee that the waves would be hitting off the upper deck windows of the calmac ferry, and our daughter, now married and expecting our second grandchild, would serially roll off the seat onto the floor of the seagoing lounge.
ah, them were t'days.
currently we seem to be in the middle of what i believe is known as an indian summer, reference to a warm period in autumn first noted by the american indians. or at least, first mentioned to the settlers by them. apart from one hebridean day's rain in the past couple of weeks, the sky has been clear and the sun unseasonably warm. definitely not the ideal conditions in which to wear and review winter-weight bibtights.
or maybe it is.
for despite having classified this as unpredictable weather, the island itself harbours unpredictable pockets of the birth of cool. on the high road, just past dunlossit estate's deforestation policy, the ambient temperature dropped by a most noticeable few degrees, and a strengthening wind lowered the average temperature elsewhere. it's what we like to call windchill. as it turned out, conditions such as those described were just ideal to highlight the versatility of the latest hoy vulpine winter bibtights.
unlike almost every other pair of bibtights on the market, winter or otherwise, sir chris's are not black. in fact, they're a rather fetching mid-gray with an obvious and refelctive hoy vulpine logo emblazoned on the calf region of the right leg. the side of both thighs features a similar logo but applied in a clear gloss over the fabric; stealth mode. it seems most likely that those wearing such a garment would be keen to let others learn of their sartorial commitment. but with subtlety.
the tights feature a sort of waistband, not restrictive in any way, but extending the reach of the tights front and back to the mid stomach area. the rear bib section pretty much covers your whole back, keeping any potential draughts just where you'd prefer them to be; outside. the flatlocked seams, coupled with a generous width of bib straps means that in the heat of battle (or maybe just the ride for coffee and cake), they stay firmly in place without advertising their presence.
at the other end of the equation, namely my finely-honed ankles, hoy vulpine have dispensed with any zips or foot loops, relying on gloopy grippers on the inner hem to hold the legs in place. of course, no zips means there's no chance to pull these on over a pair of cycling shoes. but does anyone ever do that anyway? footloops i usually find more of a hindrance than a help, since they're often a total faff when it comes to putting on that previously mentioned footwear. this seems the ideal compromise.
the fabric itself, lined as it is with roubaix fleecy fabric, is thinner than i'd have expected. though this might have taken me by surprise, considering how many cycling garments these days are thinner than our toilet paper, it can hardly be seen as anything of a real disadvantage. we're hardly in the depths of winter at present, but i gained the distinct impression that the hoy winter tights are intelligent enough to gauge the ambient tempreature and behave accordingly. ok that's perhaps a trip too far into anthropomorphism, but their incredible lightness of being is both a boon to cycling pleasure as well as a demonstration of just how cycle clothing technology has improved over the years.
my only fears would be a couple of wear points at the waist where my jacket has bobbled the fabric slightly after only a few admittedly lengthy rides. these are but superficial and currently hidden from view; closer inspection showed no actual damage, so i'm probably concerned over nothing.
concomitant with the thickness of the fabric, the italian-made integrated cytech pad also displayed a thin(ish) constitution, once more demonstrating how clever some cycling boffins really are. for, all across those allegedly extensive kilometres, it would have been very hard to fault any particular aspect of sir chris's bibtights. i only wish i was as svelte and speedy as they made me look.
but perhaps the finest point about these hoy vulpine winter bibtights, one that will warm the hearts of many a wallet, is the price. £109 for quality and constitution such as this almost seems like an administrative error. the blame for this must surely be placed at the door of vulpine's top fellow, nick hussey. we all know sir chris to be one of the most stable and down to earth gents in the sport; nick on the other hand, is prone to bouts of eccentricity, so before anyone attempts to cure him, get online and order in case he realises a couple of the digits are the wrong way round.
hoy vulpine bibtights are available in mid grey only and in sizes from small (reviewed) to xxl
sunday 11 october 2015..........................................................................................................................................................................................................
i believe it might have been patrick lefevere, manager of the ettix quickstep team who once said that he didn't pay his riders to be comfortable. one assumes that this was restricted to their bicycles and did not intrude into their home lives. i may be guilty of amalgamating two different scenarios here, but this might have been in reference to specialized's launch of the original venge, designed in conjunction with mclaren. the latter are not renowned for the stunning comfort engendered by their formula one cars; at this end of the spectrum, performance is king and pretty much everything else just gets in the way.
though very much at the opposite end of the cycling food chain, my taurus corinto, of italian origin, is constructed from very narrow lugged steel tubing. the bottom bracket is of the dependable but now archaic, square taper variety while the single chainring leads the chain to a sturmey archer three-speed hub gear. i seriously doubt whether the fine folks at taurus have even contemplated the word performance. but neither have they made any appreciable inroads into the world of stiffness.
though riding this italian machine is relaxed and sedate enough on its own, my posterior is cossetted by a leather brooks b16 sprung saddle, just in case any tactility on the roads has the affrontery to be passed onto my person. and were i to summon up the courage to stand when ascending small hills, i can definitely feel the movement in the bottom bracket region. however, since this is hardly the bicycle that mark cavendish would employ in a sprint at milan-sanremo, it is of academic interest.
bicycles such as the venge, however, and i think this encompasses the majority seen in the pro tour nowadays, are designed to channel any rider input directly into forward motion. this has led to the cliché lateral stiffness but vertical compliance.. in old money that means it doesn't sway from side to side, but it's none too harsh up an down. possibly even verging on a semblance of comfort.
there are several factors involved in the perception of comfort when riding a bike, possibly the most obvious being the saddle, since that's mostly where your backside resides during any kind of ride. it makes sense therefore, that your chosen seat offers a decent amount of padding; or does it? harking back to mr lefevere's apocryphal remark, though a comfortable saddle scarcely detracts from a frame's stiffness, it could add one or two undesirable grams. and though climbers are generally the chaps we think of as riding featherweight machines, when you consider the composition of the grupetto that has also to make its way slowly over the same summits, a few grams saved here or there could be the difference between making the time cut and watching the race on telly.
italy's san marco saddles are currently celebrating eighty years in the business, with luigi girardi having put the town of veneto on the map in 1935 by first offering quality bicycle saddles. to celebrate the rich history of a company who gave the world the first bio-anatomical saddle in 1978 (the concor), selle san marco currently offer an entire vintage range including the san marco regal which currently adorns my colnago c40. the original version of this saddle first saw light of day in the very year that robert millar won the king of the mountains jersey in the tour de france (1984) it's a classic in the true sense of the word, having perched under the posteriors of riders such as lemond, chiappuci, cipollini, boonen and now yours truly (spot the odd one out).
featuring real (honey coloured) leather, this particular version is said to darken with use, offering a most satisfying patina. i'll need to get back to you on that one when the time comes. its most distinguishing visual feature is the presence of six copper rivets along the rear edge, certainly an attractive feature, but i've no idea whther these are mere decoration or an intrinsic part of the saddle's construction. either way, the regal offers a vintage look that cleverly would not seem out of place on the latest colnago c60 (other bikes may be available). it certainly looks very much the part on my c40.
but with so many contoured profiles on today's saddles, often matched with big holes in the middle, does the regal determine that yesterday's cyclists were of hardier posteriors and subject to lefevere's dictum or is the modern way just so much smoke and mirrors?
in truth, though i've ridden a good few hundred kilometres on the regal, i'm not really any closer to learning the truth of that enquiry than i was when i first set out. in the main, it's as comfortable as many others i have ridden, but every bit as dependent on the constitution of the chamois pad in my tights or shorts to fine tune that comfort. and as with pretty much every other saddle, your mileage may vary. what suits my backside may not suit yours.
considering the huge variations in saddle design, composition and development nowadays, i was somewhat fearful that the regal might be a triumph of form over function, a design that had been clearly superseded of late and appearing vintage for the sake of it. as my mother used to say "pride bears no pain". thankfully those fears appear to have been unfounded. yes there has been the odd moment of saddle discomfort, but that's an accusation i could level at every seat i own. and external circumstances are often to blame, such as a constant headwind.
there are possibly more comfortable saddles on the market, but not by much. but taking into consideration the law of diminishing returns it might cost you a lot more for little by way of improvement. the san marco regal is possibly only a smidgeon less comfortable than the best, but in its favour, has never looked like an anish kapoor sculpture. 380 grams is probably considered heavy for a saddle nowadays but since few of us are actually going anywhere that demands a featherweight bicycle, what's a few grams between friends?
available in black, brown, honey and white, as well as rino leather and bianchi celeste for only £70 with steel rails, it's a piece of cycling history well worth owning. and not just for its good looks.
saturday 10 october 2015..........................................................................................................................................................................................................
though i have many american friends and acquaintances, it's not that often that i feel particularly sorry for them, mostly because there seems little reason so to do. a country that has ideally named towns, cities and roads with which to entitle many a popular song, such as 24 hours to tulsa, route 66 et al does not need my sympathy. when the scottish equivalents would be something along the lines of half an hour to milngavie, or 'get your kicks on the m77', it is perhaps this side of the pond that ought to be on the receiving end of deserving sympathy.
however, what the americans do not have is autumn, that magical time of year when the skies are clear, there's a defined chill in the air and there are golden brown leaves all along the roadside verges (oddly, quite often where there are no trees. presumably wind-driven). there is little better than arriving early at work with a spring in one's step announcing to all within earshot that things are looking decidedly autumnal.
america, on the other hand, only has the fall, announcement of which occasionally gives rise to being mistaken for an odd sounding pop band. or maybe even for having suffered an unfortunate incident of a gravitational nature. entering that same early morning office environment announcing that 'it looks like fall outside' clearly has the same effect as my reference to milngavie. thus, in meteorological and seasonal terms, the continent of america deserves a soupcon of sympathy.
nomenclature, however, does not detract from the tangible benefits or disbenefits that the season engenders. no longer is the sun as high in the sky as was the case only a month or so ago, and the mercury in my neighbour's thermometer struggles to reach the heights it once hoped it could become used to. the anemometer atop his garden shed will soon threaten to take the roof with it as the atlantic gales become commonplace once more and roubaix-lined bibtights and softshell jackets become the dress du jour.
however, if the layering system has taught us anything, it's the necessity of choosing those layers carefully. though it's not too hard to remain toasty when riding, any mechanical misfortunes or punctures interrupting our demonstrable souplesse, and substantial cooling can easily become our bête noire. i have found through years of experience, that beginning with a long-sleeve merino baselayer is often the most strategic of clothing decisions, one that will ameliorate any subsequent stupidity in the choosing of outer layers.
the time for beginning such a regime would appear to be round about now.
i know very little about the economics related to farming, despite having lived in an agricultural region for almost thirty years. no amount of perusing the prices received for cattle of sheep will give rise to any logical sense and i am often given to learn that it can cost more to have the sheep sheared than will ever be recouped by onward selling of the fleeces. though merino wool occupies a superior strata, you still have to wonder how supermarket brand aldi can retail an excellent long-sleeve merino baselayer for a mere £15.99?
suspicions would quite rightly be raised at such a price, when others sell for almost three times as much. is it inferior quality wool? is it half the thickness of the more pricey brands? how long will it last? at present, i'm unable to answer the last question and probably will remain unable to do so for a good number of washes and wears still to come. but on initial acquaintance, i'd say this merino baselayer is pretty darned excellent.
in common with almost everything merino based (with the possible and strange exception of socks), it seems impervious to sweaty smells. and in the heat of battle, even when rather damp, it fails completely to transfer that sensation to the rider. on slightly warmer days, i wore it alone, devoid of jersey, under a light(ish) weight jacket with no complaints on the chittery front. other than a small pure merino tag at the hem, it is devoid of logos. should it be the sort of thing that might bother you, there's nothing outwardly to signify you bought it from a supermarket rather than a cycling outfitters or café.
the biggest problem i can foresee is aldi's continuing habit of offering such a garment as part of its super buy sales days, meaning that there's no guarantee that your local branch will have any in stock, or that your size will be amongst them. it's a bit of a shame, but the next time you're in autumnal mood and near an aldi's supermarket, pop in and buy every last one you can find.
friday 9 october 2015..........................................................................................................................................................................................................
it's less than so-called rocket science to put on a cosy hat when popping out on a cold day, because, as every schoolboy and schoolgirl knows, the principal means by which body heat is lost is through the head. or at least, that's been the story up until relatively recently. science, however, always one to whip the carpet from under cleated shoes has debunked this myth. perhaps unsurprisingly, the military is entirely to blame having printed in a survival manual from 1970 that covering your head when cold was highly recommended as 40 to 45 percent of body heat was lost through your head.
several years ago, two health researchers from the university of indiana stated this to be utter rubbish, on the basis that we would be every bit as cold if we ventured out minus our bibtights as without a merino hat under the helmet. well, actually they didn't mention cycling at all; i just did that to make what follows slightly more relevant.
current thinking is that the original contention by the military was based on a misinterpretation of a vaguely scientific experiment held in the 1950s. those studies concerned volunteers dressed in arctic survival gear subsequently exposed to very cold conditions. because the head was the only part of their bodies left uncovered, it was the part showing the greatest heat loss. you can sort of see where they might have gone wrong. but since the face, head and chest are the most sensitive to changes in temperature, we generally feel as if covering them up does most to prevent heat-loss. in fact, covering one bit of your body is every bit as effective as covering any other part.
it's eminently possible that wearing a streamlined dod of polystyrene on your head confers its insulation properties upon that person 'neath its substance, but many of us augment that possibility by wearing a casquette or winter cap, and just maybe a merino winter collar scrunched behind a high jacket or jersey collar. yet on cold, wet and windy days, it's rarely my head that offers the greatest cause for concern.
in 1994, i was involved in a serious (to me at least) road traffic incident, one which resulted in two weeks' in hospital and rather a lot of plastic surgery to my right arm. though none of this gives me any grief nowadays, my right hand tends to take a bit longer to heat up than its leftmost counterpart. since i'd rather not be mistaken for a golfer or michael jackson, i prefer to wear a pair of long-fingered gloves when the ambient temperature becomes a bit cooler.
these days there are numerous options available for right this minute, with more insulated and waterproof alternatives as winter chunters over the horizon. and right this minute, i have an excellent pair of rapha's pro-team gloves in their less startling colour option (black). the major benefit here is the proven technology; ostensibly these gloves share the same fabric as featured on the pro-team softshell, my cheerful companion on last year's festive 500.
this fabric protects the skin from the elements, yet offers perspiration the chance to escape into the weather from which we'd rather be protected. and though i am generally device agnostic (no garmin on the bars), the fingertips allow unfettered swiping of any such surfaces without need of removing the gloves. softshell also has what i might term elastication, allowing a really close fit under jersey or jacket cuffs without an honours degree in dexterity to get them on in the first place.
though not quite bespoke, rapha do offer a downloadable sizing diagram to ensure you order the right pair of gloves for you. from my point of view, rapha have a press officer who is far more accurate than i'd likely be, so i reviewed an impeccably fitting large-size pair of pro-team softshell gloves which not only performed their prescribed function with aplomb, but were darned comfortable on the bars and hoods with commendably minimal padding. for the visibility impaired, they can also be ordered in a bright coral pink.
though everyone around me delights in the indian summer currently being experienced in the hebrides, i personally can't wait until it's time to wear a softshell baselayer under a pro-team softshell, rounded off with these ginger-peachy gloves. perhaps matched with a pair of coral pink pro-team overshoes would be the perfect icing on the cake.
it's elemental my dear watson.
rapha's pro team softshell gloves are available in sizes ranging from xs to xl both in black (reviewed) or coral at a cost of £70.
thursday 8 october 2015..........................................................................................................................................................................................................
sod's law has endless variations, many of which can be experienced in one day, confounding all the good stuff by quietly pulling the rug from under the smiley bit. however, such situations can often be mitigated by cycling, based entirely on the premise that cycling cures everything. it's a mantra i have repeated more often than my non-cycling work colleagues would truly prefer.
every now and again, i have the good fortune to land a couple of percussive gigs in tandem; the good fortune relates to the fact that i can leave the drumset in situ between gigs. all drummers will know of which i speak, being able to pop the sticks in their bag and simply walk home in the early hours of the morning. the sod's law part of this equation relates to distribution of the newspaper at which i frequently ply my trade.
published on a saturday every two weeks means my arising shortly after 7am to meet the distribution van for island wide delivery, before dropping the local copies into a couple of shops (one of which is sensibly closed at that time of th morning). unfortunately, participation in these infrequent gigs (it's a small island) almost always coincides with the newspaper's publication weekend.
thus, the ability to walk insouciantly away from the drums and cymbals is totally undermined by an early rise the following morning. add to that the iniquity of the band in question being somewhat on the loud side and the evening's physical exertions invariably result in sore shoulders, neck and probably a case of hi-hat knee.
and that's where the cycling bit comes in.
though the sunday morning ride is carved in stone, saturday lunchtime also results in an unbreakable appointment with a double egg roll and a cappuccino at debbie's. the fact that i often take the long way round in order to get there in the first place, allied to a similar diversion on the way home, is surely neither here nor there. thus, on arriving back to a hot shower, any stress, strain and niggling pain garnered from my percussive activities has vanished into the open air.
cycling cures all ills.
but my discomfort and being subjected to the law of sod is purely transitory. even if the saturday eve's noise results in a similar set of inquities, the sunday morning ride will surely take care of them too? others are less fortunate. for them, sod's law sits on their shoulder day in and day out making sure that pain and discomfort occupies the chronic end of the spectrum. i'm pretty sure you can't get this from sitting behind a drumset for a couple of evenings each month, nor indeed can it be activated by clouting your shin off an spd pedal. chronic pain is often the result of acute injury, sending the body's nervous system into overdrive.
though the human body is a marvellous piece of engineering, every now and again its internal wiring can be thrown off kilter. the nervous system becomes, for want of a better word, hyperactive, continually sending alert messages to the brain, engendering the aforementioned chronic pain. it's a situation that affects one in seven of the uk population and one in five across the world. however, it continues to be a poorly understood condition and thus receiving of less medical and patient support than it truly deserves.
daphne kaufhold of this is cambridge has suffered from chronic pain for the last five years after a road traffic accident. she subscribes to my mantra. "Cycling is an immensely important part of my life. The training, challenge and achievement gives me the strength, focus and purpose to help me manage my daily life of pain. The natural endorphins provide me with temporary pain relief, which in turn helps me cope better with the pain throughout the day. There is no question that the psychological and physical effect of cycling is an essential part of staying resilient and coping with this immensely challenging condition"
fortunately, daphne and her partner at this is cambridge have the ideal weapon to give sod a taste of his/her own medicine. their caps ought not to need any introduction from me, regularly featured as they are in these black and yellow pixels. the latest, an addition to the panache plume range displays the 1 in 7 logo under the peak, with £5 from every cap sold donated to fund essential research.
"Our initiative hopes to actively encourage people to exercise as a pain management tool. However we highly recommend that anyone considering partaking in any physical exercise, especially if they have had a prolonged period off the bike, to consult with a medical expert and physical trainer prior to doing so."
this is cambridge's 1 in 7 caps sell for £24.50. unlike most other caps on the market, tic do not favour the one-size-fits-all, so the panache series is available in sizes ranging from xs all the way to xl and in colour options of black/grey, black/pink, and black/red. the example shown on my eager young model is size small.
this way you get a nice, hand-made cap and help banish chronic pain forever.
wednesday 7 october 2015..........................................................................................................................................................................................................
it was all three technical subjects that provided my most difficult time at school. up until my very first technical drawing class, i was sure i was going to be an architect. with a father in the building trade and me with my precocious artistic abilities, this was the direction in which i'd been pointed. already at home was a drawing board, t-square, set squares and many sheets of lovely cartridge paper. i'd already progressed from drawing the plans for single houses and was embarking on housing estates when i discovered that, in point of fact, i could draw a straight line more accurately freehand than i could with a t-square.
when all around were producing perfectly formed isometric drawings of oddly shaped widgets, my sheet of paper had all the hallmarks of a jackson pollock painting. using a sharpened pencil, lines took on the mantle of engravings and there were more rubbings out than there were final marks on the paper. i'm not even going to mention the grubby finger marks.
in short, it was all a bit of disaster.
woodwork and metalwork were scarcely any better. while the rest of the class was producing stylish coathooks; a backing plate with a thick metal hook rivetted to the front, the two rivet holes on my hook failed to match those on the backplate. similarly on cutting a dovetail joint to seemlessly amalgamate two pieces of wood, no matter the amount of measuring and re-measuring prior to a lengthy bout of sawing, the gaps surrounding the joint took a fair amount of plastic wood to save myself from a stern talking to by the woodwork teacher.
i'd love to say that things got better as the years rolled by, but then i'd be guilty of telling fibs. that artistic precociousness tended to err more on the side of approximation. if it looked like it might work, then there was a better than evens chance that it would. or, at least, might. sadly that has remained my modus operandi up till the present.
which is sort of where saturday found me. the vittoria open pavé tyres, at 24mm wide, have stood me in good stead over the past few years, but wear, tear and farm roads have finally caught up with their constitution and i'd already started a mental list of tyres i might like replace them with, including, it's only fair to say, the same vittorias on which the colnago was already riding.
but, you may recall, last year i reviewed a pair of challenge paris-roubaix 700x28mm road tyres, rubber that i had fitted to my ibis cyclocross bike on the basis that it was the only one that appeared to have clearance for the increased width and height. i did have a shot at placing them on the cielo, but that proved another error of judgment when the front tyre failed miserably to clear the underside of the front full-wood fender.
however, based on pure supposition, i figured that, in the days when steel bikes were ridden over the cobbles of paris-roubaix, they quite probably didn't build a whole new set of frames just to accommodate wider rubber for one race (perhaps they did, but that part didn't fit into my plan of approximation). on that basis, i thought it just possible that my steel colnago master (mapei, buckler, wordperfect etc.) might offer sufficient clearance to provide a new home for my 28mm super tyres.
it turns out, for once, i was correct. the rear easily cleared the seat-tube and is nowhere near either chainstay, while the front still has a centimetre or so on either side of the grubby chrome. where there might have been a potential problem was under the calipers; the master is fitted with a pair of sram red brakes which don't allow for much more than a cigarette paper between tread and alloy, but nonetheless, both wheels rotate freely, offering succour to the severely shaken.
cattle grids now offer little by way of chattering resistance, while the gravel, potholes and other obstacles can be insouciantly pushed aside with with impunity. even inflated to 100psi, the comfort level has been noticeably improved and the only sign of minor friction is a quiet rubbing noise when climbing out of the saddle. no more so than the fully inflated 25mm on those full-wood fenders.
though it is worth my mentioning that your mileage may vary (literally as well as metaphorically), those of you with road bikes styled on models from a bygone age who have long dreamt of riding on wider rubber might wish to consider a pair of challenge paris-roubaix 28mm open tubulars.
but if there's any doubt, perhaps careful measuring would be the way to go.
challenge tyres are distributed in the uk by paligap. the paris-roubaix 700x28mm open tubular clincher is available in black with either a tan or black sidewall at a cost of £52 each.
tuesday 6 october 2015..........................................................................................................................................................................................................