i am currently considering appropriate wording for my letter to the self-styled #home of cycling (british eurosport) concerning their total lack of cyclocross coverage, more specifically, the super prestige series. in years gone by, it was relatively simple to find a dodgy internet feed that would at least allow a visual appreciation of the series despite total incomprehension of the belgian or dutch commentary. but this season, every feed i find has either been geo-restricted or features two large boxed adverts that simply refuse to go away when clicking the crosses in the top right corner.
at least the uci have fostered their very own youtube channel that broadcasts superb coverage of the world cup series. but there are far fewer races in that particular series than is the case in superprestige, so sunday afternoons sat for an hour with macbook air on knee are becoming very few and far between. surely with the alleged increasing interest in cyclocross, it is not outwith the bounds of possibility that the #home of cycling could get their act together and provide us with unfettered coverage of the superprestige series.
i will, of course, attempt to be diplomatic and understanding with my query.
america has been well served in the cyclocross milieu for quite a number of years via the website of cyclocross magazine and its associated website. on my first trip to 'cross obsessed portland, i was fortunate to find a print copy of the magazine in powell's bookstore, but due to the cost of a postal subscription, i have made do with the digital edition of the magazine, along with frequent perusal of the web pixels.
on this side of the pond, we are remarkably fortunate to have such an excellent selection of cycling magazines, both monthly, weekly and the less frequently published tomes, but none of them have any dedicated cyclocross content, even allowing for our proximity to mainland europe and an almost fanatical need to be faux belgians on behalf of more than one or two of us. yet the other off-road world, besotted with its springy farm gates is every bit as well-served as is the road department. so how come cyclocross slipped through the net?
it is therefore of great good fortune that go far enterprises, publishers of the highly respected mountain bike magazine singletrack took the 'cross world to the goodness of their corporate hearts, introducing the online cyclocross magazine grit.cx, offering a british perspective on such an excellent and exciting sport. for having the perspicacity to do so, the makers of singletrack are to be soundly congratulated. my only caveat would be the pixel-only rendition, making it very hard to read in the bath.
in the manner of those messages sent to santa each year, up the chimney if that hasn't been blocked off in favour of central heating, someone at go far must have been reading my mental letters to their editorial department, for now you can have cyclocross in print, and print that offers the same delightful aroma that follows each and every copy of rouleur. this i can read in the bath and its tangibility offers almost as much comfort and joy as does the content.
i'm now mentally composing yet another letter that would have them offer the magazine for sale on the shelves of any local newsagent that might happen to be in your locale, as well as the eponymous w h smith. currently the print version is only available as part of a subscription package offering digital as well as paper for only £20 per year in the uk, or £30 worldwide.
the current issue at 116 pages thick offers a peek at japanese cyclocross, a wheelbuilding feature including sugar's jude gerace and a superb article about everybody's favourite, jeremy powers. there's also a smattering of bike and equipment tests, all wrapped up in marvellous printed excellence. if you enjoy your cyclocross as much as i do, there's really no decision to be ruminated upon. for your benefit, i have linked the subscription page below.
but i'm still cross at eurosport.
monday 14 december 2015..........................................................................................................................................................................................................
the life of a professional athlete is hardly imbued with security. and unlike the starving artist in his/her garret, painting as if their lives depended on it, the athletic milieu is rarely one tinged with receipt of a sympathetic ear towards the iniquities that must be suffered in pursuit of a very different art. we all like to cheer and support a winner, but rarely have time to dwell on those of a lower order or adjudged a few years past their sell-by-date. i recall the fervour of debate and opposition when it was suggested that school teachers have their salaries depend on rated performance, yet from those whose very careers depend entirely on annual performance, we hear very little by way of complaint.
the professional cyclist, even at world tour level can often only count on a year's contract, perhaps two at best. in essence this is mostly a two way street; perform well over the duration of the contract and what happens next is as much at the rider's behest as it is at the discretion of team management. fail to meet the challenge however and there's always a distinct possibility that a contract renewal will either be at a reduced rate of remuneration or simply non-existent. add to this, the fact that riders themselves cannot continue to perform at the top level as they get older and you can see that it's a career choice that could be very short or only a matter of a decade or so before a team car driving seat beckons.
kristian house is a rider whose amateur career began in 2003 with team pca orbea veneto zeus, progressing to that of midex t-mobile in 2005 before turning professional the following year. i recall coming across him sitting on some building steps at george square in glasgow during a pre-tour of britain criterium, at which point i made some banal remark in order to present my impeccable cycling credentials. at that time he was riding for recycling uk. how did he make the step from the amateur ranks of midex t-mobile to the professional scene?
That's not an easy question to answer and if I'm honest I don't really know. I had a few close moments to move up to a second division team as it was at the time, but it never really came to anything. The last time was when I had a deal all set up with Wiesenhof for the end of 2005 and 2006 and at the last moment it fell through. I was almost ready to pull the plug on it all, but John Herety said to me to come to his team that he'd just taken over (Recycling.co.uk) and give it everything for one more year, to see if I could get a contract. I did that and had a pretty amazing year, both in the UK and abroad. I ended up with a contract for 2007 at Navigators as a result."
there is, of course, a further part of the equation that can often play a major part in the progress accorded the intrepid bike rider: that of speciality. while we expect our team leaders to be able to sprint, climb and time-trial, those with upward aspirations may find the need to specialise in one of the preceding. being regarded as one of the sport's better climbers could conceivably make him/her of great use to a team leader. in the early part of his career, did kristian have just such a speciality, or was he more keen to be seen as an all-rounder?
"I don't think I've ever really had a speciality. Maybe that was an issue when I was 18 or 19. I've always been an all-rounder. When you look back at the races I've won, I think it shows that. Not just in the types of races I've won, but also in the way that I won them. I never really thought about what 'type' of rider I was viewed as; I just raced to the best of my ability."
though house was born in canterbury, england, he grew up in austin, texas where he began cycle racing. at 17, his cycling career moved him to belgium, before the roads of the uk beckoned. he has, however, not lost all trace of his american accent. after a season with john herety's recycling team, he signed with the american navigators team. was this an intentional return to the usa, or simply the result of circumstances. did he always plan his future to be based in the uk or europe?
2006 was my year to really give it a go to get a pro contract. I really focused on several races to win, and I was able to pull that off most of the time. I think that year I won races in six different countries, from February to November. When Navigators offered me a contract, it had nothing to do with the USA. In fact, I think i only did three races in North America that year. I was signed to be part of the squad that would be based in Belgium. I never really thought about where I would be based."
it would not be stretching credibility too far to state that house is best known for his years at rapha condor and subsequently jlt condor. now that he will ride the 2016 season in one-pro colours on a factor bicycle, no longer will we expect to see a black jersey being swapped for the tour of britain king of the mountains jersey, nor winning the revitalised milk race. kristian house has been the backbone of the men in black; would it be safe to assume that he found john herety's teams to be the ideal place to fulfil and progress his career?
"I've really enjoyed the last eight years riding for Herety's team. I always wanted to move back up to the pro ranks but I wasn't willing to do so if it meant riding for a team that was unorganized or just there to make up the numbers. I had some options in the years that followed, to move back, but it never felt right. John always had a great mix of supporting the UK scene but also venturing into Europe to give riders the chance of progressing, and that was important to all the riders that came to the team."
In the 2013 road race championships held in glasgow, i followed the race in the rapha condor team car with john herety. he remarked that the others with whom kristian was riding in the latter stages were better sprinters and that the 9th place he figured was achievable, would be considered an excellent result. then as we entered glasgow green for the final time, house nipped off the front and took a highly creditable sixth place. was that a calculated move or a spur of the moment decision?
"Ha! Did he! If I had of gotten 9th in that group I would have been disappointed. In fact, part of me was still disappointed. When Luke Rowe attacked, I could have (and should have) gone with him. And I know I should have been part of that group up front, although I don't think I would have gone the distance if I had been up there. It became a calculated decision in the few kilometers leading up to it. I remember two of the other guys, who were a bit quicker than me in the sprint, eyeing each other up leading into it. They would miss turns to get in the right position. It happened two or three times. They'd leave gaps, and I would fill it and it would happen again. So that last time when it did, I hit them right away, knowing they would hesitate."
in the light of house's decision this year to leave the jlt condor team and move to one-pro cycling, it seems a stupid question to ask, but was the decision to move on after eight years a hard one to make?
"Yes and no. It's never going to be easy leaving a team you've been part of for eight years. John and I are more than just rider/manager; we're friends. I had the opportunity to leave last year, but the offer came so late, that I couldn't do it as it wouldn't have been right, even though I was keen to try something different."
the rapha condor set up remained at uci continental level throughout its seven year existence, with the jlt condor team continuing in similar vein. riding one step of the ladder up at pro-continental offers greater opportunities to race the professional calendar's major races, always assuming a wildcard comes your way. one-pro cycling raced at continental level throughout 2015, but are moving up to pro-continental level for the 2016 season. has kristian decided to move as a means of reaching a higher level of racing before retirement beckons. or will his role at one-pro be more as an advisor to the team's younger riders?
" I actually signed prior to the team deciding to make the step up to Pro Conti, with the sole intention to work with Steve Benton to see just how far I could push my abilities. No doubt being one of the more 'experienced' riders on the team, I'll be looked at to help the younger riders, something I'm looking forward to doing as the team really grows."
at the risk of being impertinent and proving how little i really know about professional cycling, isn't it a bit late in his career to be switching teams?
"Who says it's late in my career? (Kidding:-) No, I don't think so. This move was all about pushing my body limits with a new approach and coaching."
john herety has proved he has an uncanny knack of turning out some excellent british riders, several of whom subsequently achieved success with his team and others. and one scottish rider in particular who saw out his final season with nfto before taking on a position as directeur sportif with one-pro cycling. thus in 2016, house will be reunited with jimmy mccallum. was that a factor in the move?
"It's going to be great working with Jimmy again, though now he's obviously retired from racing, it's in a completely different fashion. He's a great character and will bring a lot to the team. Again, I signed before he had announced he was working with ONE Pro."
despite house's protestations that he is not yet in the twilight of his career, it's probably never too early to start considering where that career might usefully lead when it's no longer necessary to take the bike from the shed seven days a week. many, as previously mentioned, head to the team car driving seat, taking on a managerial role. but with cycling's increased profile and television airtime, there are now greater opportunities to work in the media. kristian's presence alongside matt barbet during this year's tour of britain was impressively relaxed and informative. is cycling related television something he'd consider, post career?
"Thanks. I'm not really sure. I've had a lot of really positive feedback from the TV work I've done. Working with Matt and Rob was really easy. They both keep it pretty natural and make it easy to work with. The solo presenting I've done so far has been... well a little more nerve wracking, so we'll see where that leads. At the moment, I don't see myself slowing down and I'm not really looking at alternatives to racing."
and finally, as he enters his sixteenth year as a bike racer, does he still have the same enthusiasm for the job as when i made his brief acquaintance at that glasgow criterium nine years ago?
"In a word... Absolutely."
thanks to kristian house and one-pro cycling for their assistance with this feature.
sunday 13 december 2015..........................................................................................................................................................................................................
on leaving school at the end of sixth year, i took a summer job with the catering company that serviced the terminal buildings at prestwick airport. my employers had staff placed in the so-called aerogrill, the kitchens that supplied food to the very same restaurant and the bar that welcomed prospective diners. there were also employees populating the nattily monikered tartan kitchen, offering snacks, teas, coffees and surprisingly expensive breakfasts. there were also staff busy in the international departure lounge, an area referred to throughout the airport as airside for fairly obvious reasons.
with great good fortune i was offered a position in the central stores, a department hidden away in the depths of the terminal building featuring largish rooms filled with biscuits, cakes, beer, spirits, cleaning products, freezers, walk-in chills and everything you'd figure would be needed to keep a catering franchise running twenty-four hours a day. one of the principal benefits of working for a catering company was the almost endless supply of food on tap at all times of the day. though there were naturally enough, descriptive break times to which we were required to adhere, any peckishness that inflicted itself at other times could almost always be satisfied, even if surreptitiously.
not being in the public eye, per se, presented major benefits both by way of designer scruff and how we, or more likely, the storeman scheduled the day's list of jobs that required to be done. however, the very nature of the stores' location, meant that there was no defined means of entry; via the back stairs from the rooftop cafeteria, similarly from the main kitchen, or by front and rear entrances. though such a panoply of access routes offered many an emergency exit on lazy weekends, should a member of management feel the need for an unannounced visit, we were remarkably vulnerable.
though the daily travail was somewhat different from a previously sheltered life at school, those unannounced management visits were obviously an addendum to murphy's law. on more occasions than i can truthfully recount, after taking in a string of deliveries and stowing them in their appropropriate resting places while simultaneously delivering goods to impatient airport outlets, we'd sit down for a cup of tea and perchance an ill-gotten biscuit only for a smartly dressed manager to appear from nowhere and point out the iniquity of our unscheduled break.
the latter is scarcely an unusual happenstance. in offices, factories and warehouses all across the world, hard-working (or otherwise) employees are defying the man and indulging in tea or coffee and a biscuit when they really ought to be working. some may even have the option of dropping in at their local cafeteria or artisan roastery while an intensive board meeting takes place along the hall. in the chance that the latter is not an option open to most of us and assuming the majority do not work for catering establishments, there is a defined requirement for vittles and sustenance of which to partake during even a break that you're supposed to have.
as members of the pelotonese, even during those sneaky cuppas, standards have to be maintained. i'm figuring that if a small cubby-hole such as that inhabited by my colleagues and i can afford to have even a domestic sized espresso machine in the kitchen, then the bulk of the nation is in a similar position. but the question still remains what to put in it?
with such endless, repetitive mentions of the word break, it seems quite incredible that it's taken this long for some genius to translate that to the very java we all have need of to perk up the day. yet packets of freshly ground coffee, cleverly labelled break fluid have only just reached our visibility spectrum. their mission, as evinced on the break fluid website, is to deliver to our doorsteps, the best tasting, highest quality easy to brew coffee.
oddly enough, the intervening years since that first summer job have seen me find less of a need to take a break during working hours. apparently time flies when you're having fun, and lately the latter aspect seems to have doubled in size, to the extent that lunch is really the only time when i move from behind the imac. however, those quiet hours between the evening meal and bedtime demand a break all of their own, one that i have been most grateful to fill with a cup of break fluid espresso grind (a blend of brazil's fazenda ponte funda natural, tanzanian tweega aa washed and buena vista from el salvador) concocted in the trusty moka pot over one of the cooker's smaller rings.
as with every coffee grind, it takes a cup or two to determine the ideal ratio of water to coffee, a ratio that has been speedily achieved with my pack of break fluid. it may not offer the deep brown crema that can be fostered by the brasilia industrial machine at debbie's, but it does provide a more than satisfying cup to accompany a club orange biscuit (is it just me, or do they simply not taste the same any more?) or a dark chocolate kit kat.
break fluid coffee blends start at £7.50 for a 250g packet, providing approximately 15 cups of coffee, or single origin and decaff can be ordered from £8.50. prices include postage and packing. the coffees are despatched in foil envelopes which easily fit through a regular letterbox and they don't take long to arrive. the folks at break fluid will be happy to set up a subscription based on how much coffee you drink at each break, or you can order at random from the coffees on offer. as if to prove just how enthusiastic they are about the product, allow me to quote from the tasting notes for rocko mountain reserve - natural yirgacheffe ethiopia: strawberry laces and chocolate! "we love ethiopian naturals but this one is crazy! a total fruit bomb!" (their exclamation marks, not mine.)
everybody needs a break at sometime or other. it's nice to have some break fluid to match.
saturday 12 december 2015..........................................................................................................................................................................................................
the narrative with which i am about to regale you is one that scarcely touches upon the circumstances enjoyed by mrs washingmachinepost and i. living as we do in palatial surroundings inhabiting regally decorated apartments above the staff quarters, the biggest decisions that impinge upon the daily travail are whether we should spend the evening in the east or west wing of twmp towers. this has become so much a case of disagreeable discussion of an evening that it often seems the only solution will be to draw up a rota. the current state of affairs almost equals the argument that surrounded in which dining room we ought to place the steinway.
it transpires, however, that the proletariat do not enjoy such fripperies, with far more pressing questions to be answered on a daily basis. arguments no doubt rage over who's turn it is to take the kids to school and whether the weekly shop ought to be done on friday eve or whether it will be necessary to run the gauntlet on saturday morning. and for those perhaps ensconced in what i believe the correct term is an upstairs flat, i should imagine that many hours of sleep have been lost over just where to put the bicycle(s).
i cannot deny that it would be less than fun to finally make it to the front door or stairwell to discover that leaving the chain in the big ring for macho reasons has proved something of an error, oil having transferred itself to any piece of apparel not coloured black. there's no doubt that a bicycle in the bedroom will lead to matrimonial strife, while one or two in the hallway is considerably less than pragmatic.
there are, however, several space solutions currently on the market, some of which are darned ingenious yet others often promise to create as many problems as they were designed to cure. though it's pretty hard to avoid a bicycle clamped to the wall, it's all too easy to catch your best sportwool on the empty, protruding clamp when the bicycle is elsewhere. i like to think that these iniquities have continually spurred the world's great thinkers towards designing the ultimate solution, after which we all sit back and offer a collective sigh of relief.
it's possible that ireland's stowaway might just fit the bill.
if i might describe the stowaway apparatus in less than technical terms, it consists of an upside down l-shaped wall mounted bracket that snugs its right-angle at the junction between the wall and ceiling. after fitting a harness to bars and seatpost, a counter-weighted pulley system allows those of you domiciled in modest accommodation to lift the bicycle heavenward. were the cycle to remain there, wheels ready and waiting for an accident to happen, i could understand any serious misgivings that you may currently harbour. however, raising it vertically is only part one; a second attachment connected to the lower part of the cycle then allows the opportunity to raise the bike laterally, leaving it pretty much flat against the ceiling and out of harms way.
clever, don't you think?
of course, as in anything that looks too good to be true, there's a but and in this case that but concerns the necessary cash to put the whole shebang into economic production. and to put it bluntly, that's our job. like many of today's ingenious ideas, there's currently a kickstarter campaign looking to raise €100,000 and at the time or writing, the stowaway folks are a bit short of their target with 13 days still to go.
if you no longer spend your weekends at the country mansion, or are living in compact and bijou accommodation until movistar phone with the contract details, this might be the very means of storing that disc-equipped, eps actuated colnago or pinarello when it's not on the roof of the team car.
friday 11 december 2015..........................................................................................................................................................................................................
in the office today, we came across a press release alerting us to a motion in the scottish parliament to outlaw inconsiderate parking of motor vehicles on pavements and lowered kerbs. in my estimation, any parking on any pavement is an inconsiderate act. when you figure how many thousands of expensive road kilometres are available to the country's motorists, i fail to see why it's necessary to park cars on the pavement/sidewalk. this is an irritation on which i have made my position perfectly clear on previous occasions in the office which is apparently why my colleagues had asked the editor to keep quiet about it.
i have asked the local police as to why they do not insist that pavement parked cars are moved on? if parking on the pavements is currently not outlawed, would they make me shift a car (assuming i owned one in the first place) parked outside the local supermarket? apparently they would, but under the heading of causing an obstruction rather than simply for the inconsiderate nature of my hypothetical parking.
it will take an act of parliament to alter this current iniquity, though currently it is the responsibility of the local council to enforce parking regulations and not the police. this probably means that everything will remain exactly as it is, at least locally. meanwhile, i have come to the realisation that jumping up and down, voicing frequent battle cries against the motoring public probably is a less than effective strategy. it strikes me that i should simply stick to riding my bicycle as often as possible and throughout the inclement weather that is a recurring feature in the hebrides.
an ambassadorial role, if you will.
it's a position that has taken on a greater significance within the world of the peloton in recent times. rather than fly in the face of incredulous indifference on the part of the uninitiated, becoming an ambassador renders the approach just a smidgeon more subtle, replacing belligerence with enthusiasm. so efficacious is this gathering of potential zeal and fervour, that the perspicacious folks at ashmei have decided to invite a new batch of recruits for 2016.
ultimately, the selected athletes (no longer just passive ambassadors) will receive an entire wardrobe of rather excellent ashmei apparel along with the opporchancity to assist in the development of the next generation of ashmei clothing by testing new products, participating in both exclusive events and photo shoots, all the while representing the brand while cycling. the application process ends on 12 february next year, so if this sounds like the sort of ambassadorial role for which you were placed on this earth, click the link at the foot of this feature and make your way to the application form.
i have previously featured one or two ashmei products in these very pixels, and believe me, a wardrobe of such garmentage is very much something to be desired, especially when worn in an ambassadorial situation.
thursday 10 december 2015..........................................................................................................................................................................................................
i have never been directly accused of parochialism, but i'm well aware that it's something of which i am indubitably guilty. even in the furnace of the daily scribbling, i am obliged to take note of the many occasions on which i make mention of islay's distilleries, of the froth supping at debbie's and many other less subtle attempts to make you feel as if you too lived on the edge of the atlantic. were that this identification ended there, i'd likely have scarcely mentioned the affair, but there have been occasions when an undeniable scottishness has infiltrated my literary endeavours, predominantly in respect of the weather.
the latter, not unsurprisingly, was under discussion earlier today (and on more than just a few of the preceding days). we are mostly of the opinion that despite several pinpoints of dramatically untoward after effects from storm desmond in other parts of the country, things are pretty much as they always were. the media, with their yellow, amber and red weather warnings have introduced a previously absent level of melodrama, leading us to query our collective memories as to the climate we thought we knew well.
but weather is only one of the many factors that have helped shape what i previously described above as scottishness. the rolling hills, the quaint little seaside villages, the isolated bothies in the middle of nowhere all conspire to make scotland what it is. but aside from the visual attractions, it's also the people. i'm sure that glasgow city has a slogan that embodies that very principle (if only i could recall precisely how it's worded).
i apologise if those of you without the good fortune to be born or domiciled north of the border are either feeling a tad left out, or have simply given up and gone elsewhere by now. for those of you in this predicament, it may be that the eventual result of my obscure and parochial diatribe will be of great literary or visual benefit.
jack luke, over the last few years, has made use of the website residing at mycountry.cc "as a platform to develop my writing, promote my photography and discuss the aspects of cycling culture I am interested in." but sometimes, inhabiting your own pixels for too long as a solo performer can lead to a sense of isolation every bit as tangible as staying one night in a cairngorm bothy. this isolation is rarely of negative inference, but in mr luke's case, it has promoted a sense of wellbeing that he'd like others to share with him. "I'm ready to take the project to the next stage and create a submissions based 'zine focussing on Scottish adventure cycling."
which is pretty much where you and i come in.
for those with bicycle and an admiration for moors of heather, jack luke would welcome your submissions from writers, designers, photographers and plain old heavens to betsy adventurers. as one with a self-imposed daily deadline, i have scarcely allowed myself the luxury of thinking too long or too hard before putting fingers to mac keyboard, but that's not a discipline that i've found to feature strongly in many others. therefore, if the idea of offering contributions to this most admirable of projects has sparked a smidgeon of interest, be aware that the deadline for contributing is 29 january 2016.
at the moment, that seems like ages away, with plenty of time to get your act together. but it's not. there's christmas and its inevitable pantomimes, carol services and village parties to be attended to. there's the eight days of rapha's festive 500 to be suffered through and no doubt several of you will find it necessary to consume more than one can of diet pepsi on hogmanay/new year's day.
so, what i'd suggest is that, the minute you've finished reading this scottish monologue, pop over to mycountry.cc for the information i haven't bothered to mention. and, in order to be more inclusive, since the 'zine will relate to scottish adventure cycling and whatever that might mean to you or jack luke, there seems to be no specific barrier preventing those from the more southern regions taking part, so long as their ministrations concern the scottish countryside. those of you who feel marginalised on the basis that you weren't planning on cycling in scotland before the end of january, should simply bookmark the site and hopefully marvel at the results.
don't say i didn't tell you.
all photographs © jack luke.
wednesday 9 december 2015..........................................................................................................................................................................................................
liege-bastogne-liege was first run for amateurs at the end of the 19th century in 1892, though the 250km route was at variance with the current parcours. at that time, the amateur entrants rode from spa to bastogne and back again and due to the high cost of a bicycle in those days, the sport was almost exclusively for the wealthy. it might almost have been referred to as a gentlemen's sport. without the dubious benefit of a governing body and its associated world tour, the numbers on the start-line were a smidgeon less than was the case earlier this year. in fact, 33 riders left spa to ride to bastogne, but only 17 made it back, with several making it to bastogne before promptly boarding the train to head back to spa.
the professionals got their opportunity to race in 1894, the last edition of the race until 1908, when the route had become closer to the modern day edition that we all know and love. like many a cycling event, lbl was cancelled during the first world war as well as suffering a few interruptions during the second. despite missing fourteen years at the beginning of the 20th century and those war interruptions, liege-bastogne-liege continues to be recognised as the world's oldest cycle race, alternatively referred to as la doyenne (the old lady).
events such as this, many another race that constitutes the world tour and several events that find themselves no longer within the approved cycle (if you'll pardon the pun) have become a part of our birthright. they are the staples of the cycling calendar and provide a frame of reference to which we might look forward at the beginning of each year. as the popularity of cycling, particularly in the uk, has continued on an upward trajectory, there are many other welcome features that have inveigled their way into the velocipedinist's psyche. one of these has been the crowd written pages of the ride journal, a publication that comfortably straddles the line between periodical and book, curated by the diprose brothers, philip and andrew.
it is/has been something of a labour of love, a publication that was never designed to reach issue two, let alone number ten. consisting of mostly single-page articles written by the great and the good, accompanied by some of the finest graphic illustration and photography previously found hiding in the undergrowth, all ten issues have been as a breath of fresh air when matched against the plethora of professional writing occupying the peloton. this lack of professionalism is in no way to be seen as a disparagement; the simple fact is that all the profits are donated to charity with contributors providing their services free of charge. in the vernacular 'no money changes hands.' until point of sale.
however, such altruism has its limitations and perhaps like liege-bastogne-liege, the ride journal might have need of taking a break now and again. thus, number ten will be the last issue, though philip diprose qualified that by adding "for now". one of its major strengths has been a catholic approach to the content: "all bikes, all terrain, all good.", meaning, quite bluntly, that there is not only something for everyone, but a highly likely possibility that your approach to cycling will be appreciably widened.
if you've just returned from a lengthy overseas posting to outer mongolia and wondering what all the fuss is about, previous issues can be downloaded in pdf format. and i have little doubt that number ten will eventually find itself available in similar format in the goodness of time. but believe me, you do not want to wait that long. there truly is no substitute for the aroma of printer's ink on paper and the comforting thud all those pages make as you plop it on the coffee table. aside from which, pdfs are less convenient when reading in the bath.
liege-bastogne-liege, milan-sanremo, paris roubaix and ronde van vlaanderen are all equally compulsory viewing. so is issue ten of the ride journal.
it's been a good ride.
tuesday 8 december 2015..........................................................................................................................................................................................................