it is, i believe, necessary to congratulate the guardian newspaper for its occasional variance from the strictures of reviewing motor cars on a weekly basis. every saturday, in the weekend magazine, only a few pages from the back, a journalist has a tendency to deconstruct a popular motor vehicle in the space of a few pithy and often humorous paragraphs. while i have no great love of the motor vehicle per se, i generally find these features quite entertaining.
the reasoning behind my congratulations, however, is not for their publishing of something that appears in many other publications, but for the occasional interruption of same. and those congratulatory plaudits are due because the interruptions are usually provided by the paper's manchester editor, helen pidd, who every now and again, reviews a bicycle.
sadly for those providing the occasional bicycle, her reviews have rarely been overly favourable, though often the bicycles under question are drawn from the lower end of the food chain. however, this past weekend, the value was suddenly raised quite considerably to a few pounds under £7,000. the cycle in question was sourced from london's cycle-fit and took the shape of a seven titanium road bike fitted with sram gearing that ms pidd found a tad awkward to use.
however, the part of the review that will doubtless have raised the eyebrows of the regular motoring readers is the almost £7,000 price tag. you and i would scarcely pay heed to this factor (unless, of course, you were planning to purchase one), but considering there are motor cars on the market costing less, maybe the eyebrow raisers might have a point. and when you come to think of it, though a seven titanium bicycle would be an undoubted boon for the less athletic amongst us, you have to admit that your £7,000 does not seat more than one person, has no tangible luggage space and were the rider to experience a sudden outburst of precipitation, they'd get wet.
that is, of course, unless the perceptive owner/rider has had the perspicacity to also afford themselves at the very least, a waterproof jacket, a fine and reputable example of which i just happen to have hanging on the back of the bedroom door.
showers pass will be well known to most of you as the portland, oregon purveyors of waterproof outerwear. in the light of the amount of rain annually dumped on fair portland town and the number of folks taking to the bicycle in the pacific northwest, it's really of little suprise that someone had the foresight to commence waterproof production. and, based on previous items received for review with no notable exceptions, a remarkably fine job they've made of it too.
the latest, their spring classics jacket has the singular benefit of having been race developed at the highest level. in 2014, the katusha team opted to use waterproof jackets sourced from showers pass. 2015 saw the team change clothing sponsor, one that featured its own waterproofs, so that connection is now no more. however, prior to the dissociation, it seems that the spring classics jacket was already well on its way to seeing the light of day.
perhaps firstly, i ought to make mention of the sizing employed by portland's finest. i have considered myself from time immemorial to be a medium when considering jackets, jerseys and baselayers. so absorbed in my own sense of historical correctness have i been, that i have always ticked the medium box when requesting review samples. however, this time i paid close attention to the sizing chart on the showers pass website and realised that in fact, a small size might be more appropriate. it behoves me well to report that the received spring classics jacket fits perfectly.
the fabric seems particularly reminsicent of that employed in showers pass' elite 2.0 hardshell jacket and is thus a smidgeon less flexible and stretchy than many of its competitors. that, however, seems to be totally ignored by the jacket, principally due to the waterproof softshell fabric used on the sides and inner section of the sleeves. i have worn it over a succession of sportwool type long-sleeve jerseys without restricting the flow of blood to my head, nor cutting off all respiratory functions.
the full-length front zip takes a minor detour to the left as it reaches the high and fleecy lined collar, obviating any bunching at the neck. the cuffs on the sleeves provide a very close fit, one that didn't really allow for pulling on over a pair of thermal gloves. the latter have need of being worn after the jacket is on. here would have been the ideal opportunity for a pair of zipped cuffs.
though the fabric is impressively breathable (i deliberately wore too much under its protection to give it a hard time), the opportunity to alleviate any predisposition to cook inside can be made by opening two zips with easily grabbed tags situated at the junction between the hardshell and softshell side panels. additionally, and still the only manufacturer i've seen implement this, there is a short zip neath the collar at the rear. it's a vent that proved suprisingly effective and without any apparent ingress of water.
the existence of a single, zipped rear pocket is something of a dual-edged sword. while it is highly beneficial to feature a rear pocket on a stowaway jacket of any make, i'd really rather that the one pocket were three individual instances. however, it is possible to pack the entire jacket into its own pocket to take up as little space as possible, arguably justifying one with a zip. i harboured fears that the hardshell nature of the spring classics jacket would make it difficult if not impossible to cram it into a rear jersey pocket when not required, but i'm pleased to say i was totally wrong.
in practice, the combinations of well-tailored sizing and an impressive dgeree of waterproofing provides lasting testament to the benefits of professional race development. as mentioned above, the breathability is particularly of note, while as a long-time owner and wearer of a showers pass elite 2.0 hardshell jacket, the ability of the classics jacket to allow pretty much every level of invasive precipitation to simply roll off was a joy to behold.
islay's weather currently shows no signs of improvement whatsoever, meaning more than gainful employment for this bright red waterproof for several months to come. the jacket is available in sizes ranging from xs to xl and also comes in black. the price of £199 puts it amongst the more pricey offerings from showers pass, but on the basis of several cold, wet and windy days between christmas and now, it seems very likely that your return on investment will be sooner rather than later.
monday 11 january 2016..........................................................................................................................................................................................................
it is normal practice in the real world to think of the seasons as the four semi-distinct portions of each year about which vivaldi waxed orchestrally lyrical. were i to traipse into work on monday morning and announce that it was almost season's end, there would be several quizzical and puzzled looks from behind the computer screens. yet, in our own wee, cliquey universe, one season truly is almost at an end while another is ready to begin in warmer antipodean climes down under.
the latter, though obviously of no little degree of interest, is currently of academic intrigue. despite being what i like to consider an aficionado of the road-going section of the velocipedinal world, i'd never be any good at punditry, for i really have little or no idea who is riding for which team, what their 2016 jerseys look like and who might conceivably be on form, as they say. despite my alleged years of experience, i am more than content to sit back, relax and watch whatever racing may take place on my television or computer screen.
but then, you probably knew that already.
however, the very season that is inexorably heading towards its seasonal finish is that of cyclocross. this particular weekend saw the majority of national championships taking place before the world's in heusden-zolder, belgium, over the weekend of 30/31 january. admittedly, that's a few weeks away, but it is visible on the virtual horizon and leads me to the question you're all thinking of: is it ok to continue riding a 'cross bike after the worlds? after all, i wouldn't want to appear out of step with normality.
i recently watched jeremy powers' the book of 'cross, chapter 2 on youtube and was pleasantly suprised to note that jpow (as we of the cognoscenti refer to jeremy) undertook his road stamina training aboard his cyclocross focus mares. and in this, he is not alone, for at one point he meets up with friend and competitor, stephen hyde from the cannondale-cyclocrossworld team, also aboard a 'cross bike. there is no obvious reason why this should not be the case, but i had somehow expected them to train on bona-fide road bikes.
now, though i'm aware that this road training took place during the season currently in progress, nothing suggests that either rider intends to switch to narrower tyres after february 1. and based entirely on this speculative observation, i'm inclined to take it as incontrovertible proof that clambering over make-believe hurdles in bridgend wood, or shouldering the bike just as i arrive in the expansive car park near washingmachinepost croft, will not only not put me out of step with at least one aspect of fashion, but has all the markings of making me something of a trendsetter. it's stretch credulity a bit far, i admit, but everyone has to approach celebrity status from a lowly position at sometime in their career.
i cannot promise that i will still be aboard a ridley cyclocross bike come august's ride of the falling rain, but there's every possibility that it will still be the case as the spring classics make their presence known. for rather than adopt the stance that the road season simply gets in the way of next october's cyclocross season, i intend to stretch this one to the the ultimate. after all, i did not spend several hours learning to leap aboard the saddle in an approved fashion to have my victory undermined by a bunch of blokes on skinny tyres.
sven and jeremy would be proud. and probably so would richard sachs.
sunday 10 january 2016..........................................................................................................................................................................................................
though i would like to have you believe that i keep an earnest eye on the media outpourings of the cycling industry, the truth is rather different. i cannot honestly admit to being particularly enthused by the majority of the current monthly cycling magazines, but i tend to think that says more about me than it does about them. i can't see that things have changed too much in publications that i was once eager to receive every month, so the fact that such enthusiasm seems to have all but evaporated must be my fault rather than theirs.
if i was one of those organised people, the following feature on an annual basis, such as was once carried out by our local newspaper. at a specific point of the year, one that completely escapes me at present, a check was made on the prices of basic products in our local averagemarket. items such as potatoes, milk, vegetables, cornflakes and the like were noted and compared with the price of the same items at the same time on the previous year. the idea was to keep tabs on the local economy, if you see what i mean?
and thus, from time to time, i have published admittedly subjective opinions on the state of bicycle advertising as seen in the colour pages of the cycling press. with the thousands of pounds that it costs for a single page, coupled with the cost of having an agency prepare an advertising campaign in the first place, you'd figure that the big boys would make sure every column inch was made to pay its way.
my original contention was that those advertising were effectively wasting their money. almost every advertisement displayed a bicycle photographed at an angle either from the front or rear, augmented with a web address and distributor details and perhaps a pithy slogan. ultimately, all any of them were really saying was 'we make these. buy one.' taking a leaf from the books of those not advertising bicycles, marketing strategies have developed to a standard that is, in certain cases, everything up to quite impressive. it seems little of this has rubbed off on the bicycle industry.
perhaps currently the most notable factor in at least two of the principal uk publications is the lack of adverts for bicycles at all. in one 122 page magazine, there was a sole double-page spread for a pinarello dogma, while in a corresponding 130 page magazine, there were only two double-page spreads. move up to what might be reasonably termed the quality press from both sides of the atlantic, and things improve somewhat, at least numerically if not qualitatively.
nothing really stands out from the crowd; basically we're still looking at the we make these, buy one cliché of the past few years. slogans such as 'aerodynamic. fast. elegant.' 'engineered perfection' and 'the road doesn't stop. what about you? do little to add any encouragement to any innate desire to purchase several thousand pounds worth of carbon fibre. bianchi at least attempts to explain the inclusion of the allegedly vibration dampening properties built into their latest carbon, but totally ruin the effect by having badly photoshopped some cobbles into a backdrop of what i take to be the tuscan countryside.
though i cannot pretend to be currently in the market for any of the bicycles on offer, i can assure you that not one of the adverts viewed would persuade me to part with so much as a luncheon voucher. i'd be far more likely to search for a pertinent review of any bicycle i had in mind and judge my spending power on that basis. so does that mean they're wasting most of their advertising budgets on pointless adverts?
actually, it might be worse than that. though i cannot claim to be widely read when it comes to the substantial range of periodicals on offer at my local newsagent, i still do not see many, if any, bicycle advertisements in non-cycling magazines, though perhaps encouragingly, there seem fewer car adverts in the cycling press. if cycling is to continue its current expansion, it seems only logical that proselytising to the unconverted would be where market growth might conceivably be found.
meanwhile, jaw dropping bicycle adverts in that which many of us read on a regular basis are conspicuous by their absence, a factor that might be viewed by some as either complacency or a complete lack of understanding of the market at which the current desultory offerings are aimed. if cycling has become the darling of the great unwashed, it may behove the industry well to be a tad more prudent in their outlook. discs or no discs, it looks as if we're still waiting for progress to come back and collect us.
on a plus note, it looks as if specialized might be getting the hang of it.
saturday 9 january 2016..........................................................................................................................................................................................................
a few weeks prior to christmas, i received an e-mail from the nice folks at glasgow's rhythmbase drumstore, just across the river from argyle street, advising me that a nice, new, shiny snare drum had arrived as per my order with drum workshop in oxnard, california. while it's possible to walk into any dw dealer in the world and purchase one of their drums, or even an entire drumset, if you want a particular finish, type of wood and depth of shell, a bit like having a frame built, it really is simply a case of placing an order with the dealer and the industrious folks at dw go right ahead and build it for you.
the embarrassing part here is that this is my fourth drum workshop snare drum (a six-inch deep cherry shell drum with two inch re-rings and a vintage marine pearl covering). i say embarrassing because, if you sit and think about it, islay has never been mentioned as the hub of the scottish music scene, so gigs are not anything like as frequent as bike rides. to place not too fine a point on it, i really don't need four snare drums, even in the light of my owning two dw drumsets. because i can only play one at a time (so far), with a requirement of only one snare drum at a time.
there is, however, a distinct separation between need and want.
velominati's rule #12 states that the correct number of bicycles to own is n+1, where n is the number of bicycles already in the bike shed. an empirical formula such as this is concerned with neither need or want; it is simply a convenient rule of thumb to allow for the purchase of an ever increasing number of velocipedes in the face of marital pressure to the contrary. i have seen one or two graphics recently attesting to owners' concern that when they die, their wives might sell their bicycles for what they said they cost in the first place. in general, no matter how difficult it is to close the shed door, we all figure there's still room for one more.
in comparison to many, my own collection seems rather modest. i have two bona-fide road bikes, one cyclocross bicycles, a steel all-rounder and a beautiful italian lugged steel sit-up-and-beg. there's also a steel frame still in the box for which i have pretty much all the components but an unhealthy ability to procrastinate, keeping it from becoming an entire bicycle anytime soon. and there's a lovely kid's bike that's way too small for me.
i have been able to self-justify the need for all of them, even the two road bikes from the same manufacturer featuring identical geometry. if backed into a corner by mrs washingmachinepost, i have little doubt that those reasons would evaporate just as quickly as wd40 on a bike chain, but i try hard to avoid such confrontation.
however, no matter how logical one's reasoning, there's no denying that none of us can ride more than one bicycle at a time. granted, if you're a cyclocross racer it may be possible to explain why two or three are ultimately necessary along with a karcher pressure washer and an efficient pit crew. but assuming you are only a member of the local velo club, popping out for the sunday ride with coffee in between, that can easily be accomplished on the same bicycle week after week after week.
am i being too obvious?
so is there a case, as proposed by my friend mr dan russell, for downsizing? (as long as you realise this is in no way applicable to snare drums or cymbals). could you nominate only one of your bikes to be your soulmate for whatever is left of your cycling career? i know i can, even if that nomination depends greatly on whether i've just watched jeremy powers' 'the book of cross' or nibali descending in last year's giro di lombardia. or maybe i've seen something more earthy from my friends in portland. and therein lies the problem.
to paraphrase joni mitchell 'you don't know what you've got till it's gone'; the scary thing about downsizing, if even for perfectly credible reasons, is the nightmare thought that you might get rid of the wrong bike.
therefore, though i am in perfect agreement with mr russell's sentiment, and even if, as he himself has stated "i find myself contemplating n-1, albeit from a ridiculously high base", i cannot deny a renewed and growing affiliation with the concept of procrastination. by which i mean i am all in favour of reducing the number of bicycles in thewashingmachinepost bike shed to a sole occupant, but i'll need a few (very long) moments or two to consider my options.
thanks to dan russell for the genesis of this article.
friday 8 january 2016..........................................................................................................................................................................................................
it's on the high road, almost opposite the entrance to torra water works and moorburn cottage. you wouldn't have thought it too much of a difficulty to have spared a few kilos of tarmac to spread across the passing place when the road was being re-surfaced. or at least, when that short stretch of road benefited from something smoother than the original mess. but no, that appears to have been an effort too far. so what's left only separates itself from the roadside verge by dint of the scarcity of grass.
the hapless cyclist (or even a similarly countenanced motorist) has scarcely a solid piece of ground to ride upon before chancing upon a water-filled relief map of the himalayas. riding into it once was an experience i won't forget in a hurry, but having to do so a second time in as many days was surely adding insult to injury?
then perhaps we might consider the corner of the ballinaby road, just down the hill from that red phone box near carnduncan. in recent years, this corner has taken to flooding quite substantially during periods of heavy rain, filling to a depth of almost one foot for an appreciable distance. with water up to the hubs and feet submerged on each crank rotation, it's not a patch on the travesty recently visited upon the north of england, but that doesn't make it any easier to traverse on a bicycle.
these island features and more have been a part of my festive 500 attempts for the past four years, so this past festive season i decided to take the bull by the horns (so to speak) and leave the road bikes cosily ensconced in thewashingmachinepost bike shed and cover the entire 501.4km on a cyclocross bike. madison/sportline graciously allowed me to retain possession of their ridley x-ride 20 for a few weeks longer in order to investigate the practicalities of riding the road on a bike designed for offroad.
it is a salient fact in the uk at least, that many cyclocross bikes are sold for use as commuting transport. to an extent, that explains the existence of two sets of bottle cage bolts, a feature that could only be seen as a restriction for real cyclocross. despite being fitted with a set of shimano ultegra disc brakes, the ridley still offered the opportunity to fit a set of mudguards/fenders, though an opportunity i ignored for reasons of expediency. my various routes around the isle, however, did bear closer resemblance to the average cyclocross course than london's old street or euston road.
i'm generally in favour of leaving review bicycles precisely as they are delivered, on the basis that as complete cycles, that's pretty much how everyone else will receive them. however, for the purposes of an extended review of a couple of other items, i replaced the factory-built fulcrum wheels with a pair of wheelsmith aero handbuilts, shod with challenge limus 32mm cyclocross clinchers and lifted off the stock saddle in favour of a brand spanking new brooks cambium c13 with carbon rails. i also noted during my review of this bike that the stem was a few millimetres too short for full comfort, but come the 500, i opted to leave it be.
recent research by the world's cycle tyre companies have elicited that, contrary to popular belief, the wider options tend to roll better than narrower. however, i'd be very surprised if that extends up to the width of the minimally knobbly limus 'cross tyres. i could have opted perhaps for a set of 28mm challenge paris-roubaix, but at the risk of stating the obvious, that might easily have defeated the point.
over the festive period, islay's roads are inundated with large audis, range rovers and mercedes vehicles, the very blighters that profess offroad capabilities, but whose owners seem blissfully unaware of such possibilities. thus, more often than not, it remains the province of the cyclist to get the heck out of the way, usually onto wet grass or into passing places as described in my opening paragraph. it's a situation that has impinged on my previous 500s, as well as many other innocent rides around the principality.
hence my querying heading.
actually one of the principal benefits of the cyclocross bike is a greater inherent stability than present in most road bicycles. this affords me the option of popping onto the grass at strategic points when islay's crosswinds threaten to either upend me, or blow me into the path of passing vehicles. it's a lot easier to fall off on saturated grassland that wet tarmac, a factor not entirely ignored in my favouring the ridley over the festive period.
so how did it go?
as many may have surmised, it all went remarkably well. the wheelsmith shod ridley acquitted itself admirably, allowing the traversing of wet cattle grids at speed, offering succour to the windswept when experiencing stronger crosswinds than were admittedly safe, and being only marginally slower than the archetypal road bike. aided and abetted by that carbon brooks cambium, the comfort level was easily up a notch or two over previous years, to the extent that i may have created a truism out of my initial query.
it would not be stretching credibility too far, to state that i'd happily ride the ridley for the rest of the year at the expense of all my other bikes, colnagos and all (i might just let them out for the odd weekend, but otherwise...)
with the sad demise of britain's roads, nowehere better illustrated than on some of islay's singletrack farm roads. riding bicycles that the professionals use for those three weeks in july, just to end up having froth at debbie's in bruichladdich, does seem just a little idiosyncratic to say the least. i now completely understand why cyclocross bicycles fulfil many of the requirements of the fast commuter and even more so out here in the wilds.
as a testament to this particular model, the ridley behaved impeccably throughout every one of those kilometres. aside from the squealing of wet disc rotors, stopping power was never an issue, while the mechanical shimano eleven-speed gearset quite literally never missed a beat. never. i had been riding in galeforce winds for a couple of days before it dawned on me that those wheelsmith aero rims had been shrugging off strong sidewinds with total insouciance. the wheels and the ridley are a perfect partnership made in islay.
though the outcome of this experiment was never really in doubt; the ridley was always going to survive to fight another day; i was partly surprised at just how much i enjoyed the ride. the shortness of stem did give me occasional numbness in my left hand, but nothing serious and a situation that would be alleviated had i fitted a longer version. and simply to confirm that observed on the orginal review, though the ridley hasn't lost any weight in the interim, it still rides as if it was a lotto soudal climber's bike. which, as i'm sure you could imagine, was most welcome a lot of the time.
i've now hidden the ridley in the back garden so that they can't take it back.
thursday 7 january 2016..........................................................................................................................................................................................................
i quite enjoy messing about on twitter, a version of social media through which it is possible to demonstrate one's insolence without ever giving away too much personal information. or at least that's the way i see it. constraining the chitter chatter to a mere 140 characters also prevents an overarching level of verbosity and mostly encourages self-editing of whatever it is i figure i want to say. disappointingly i'm sure, for the generators of this fine example of modern communications technology, i most often use my twitter account for a stream of smart-ass one liners. i probably didn't have to explain that.
facebook, on the other hand, not only has me cowering behind the sofa from its appalling and thoroughly confusing interface, but at the same time, marvelling at what folks find it necessary to post for a large proprtion of the world to see and read. do i really care that yesterday your child was sent home from school with a tummy bug? do i have to view your photographs from the window of a virgin pendelino en-route to somewhere or other? and why should i be impressed that you ate every bit of your pizza takeaway from your nearest branch of domino's?
because i'm not.
i did cycle with a conceited and smug grin on discovering that very few facebook owners were aware that gps information could be gleaned from posted photographs of their homes, images that were not too far from details regarding their being off on holiday for a week. there's nothing like letting folks know when the house is going to be empty and unattended.
the latter has displayed a variant on the facebook application for cyclists: strava. apparently those with an interest in purloining high value bicycles have found it a simple matter to ascertain when the owners of such are likely to be out getting the miles in, leaving their other bikes unattended at home.
my theory behind the facebook and strava obsession (and believe me, that's what it is) is a corollary and partner to the similar preoccupation with celebrity, whether you perceive that to be film stars, pop stars or cyclists. open the majority of daily newspapers and it's almost always possible to find words and pictures concerning some so-called star or sports personality and events pertaining to their social life. in many cases, they have taken legal action to prevent such information entering the public domain, the very information that the great unwashed seem not only happy to provide, but almost desperate to tell all and sundry, whether interested or not.
having ridden an impressive (for me at least) 110km last week in pursuit of my festive 500, i was moved to log the distance on twitter, but with the addendum that strava knew nothing about it. almost predictably, someone replied to the effect that, if it wasn't on strava, it didn't happen. sadly, that's a supposition that might become all too true purely on the basis of its repetition. if you're still not convinced of the enormity of the situation, bear witness to their recap of 2015, based on all the information many of you have freely provided to mr and mrs strava.
according to the evidence a staggering 5.3 activities were uploaded and shared on the network every second. if you will excuse my arithmetical incredulity, that's 318 per minute, 19,080 per hour or only a few thousand rides less than half a million a day. that so many people go out to ride their bicycles is highly encouraging, but i am at a total loss as to why they all found it necessary to share that with the rest of the world. i can assure you that even my cycling friends could care less about where i rode my bike on saturday. and it's never been the principal subject of conversation over coffee at debbie's.
of course, it doesn't stop there. globally, strava became home to almost 116 million rides covering a total of four billion kilometres and ascending 40.6 billion metres in the process. just to place all this in totally idiosyncratic perspective, and as if it has any real relevance to anything whatsoever, sunday 7 june was the most popular day for cycling.
of course, that's not really the case, for the latter day was, in fact, merely the most popular day for strava connected cyclists to ride their bikes. luddites who actually enjoy cycling without a set of numbers strapped to the handlebars didn't bother to tell. unfortunately, and i include members of the velo club peloton in this, riding with a gps unit on the bike in order to upload the gory details on reaching home, is becoming, or has become the de facto standard.
in essence, all this sharing of velocipedinal information appears harmless enough. but do you think that mr and mrs strava just write it all down and store it in the kitchen drawer? to quote simon klima, strava's uk country manager, "this latest release of strava's data (note that it's now their data) demonstrates once again the great depth of insight which is available when collating the activities of the world's cyclists and runners."
i realise i'm making mountains out of strava recorded molehills; we're already bombarded with targeted advertising based purely on which websites we exhibit proclivities for. those cookies are harmless, but only depending on how you define the word 'harmless'. but don;t be too suprised if your inbox begins to acquire all manner of cycle-related sales info that you can't recall having asked for.
meanwhile, try this out for size: if you're a strava user, ride at least once a week without a gps and see if you make it home in one piece. go on, you know you want to.
wednesday 6 january 2016..........................................................................................................................................................................................................
there's a tv channel available on our dinky little freesat box that began showing christmas movies on sunday afternoons around late october, ramping up a gear in december by showing them pretty much every day up till christmas day. naturally enough, with only so many festive movies having been made, the programming revolved around simple rotation; in short, it was possible to watch the same film several times before christmas.
many of the films were obviously low budget, presumably made for american tv with actors either on their way up or, more likely, on their way down from former stardom and popularity. the content varied from downright atrocious to borderline unbearable, but the one feature they all had in common, as pointed out by mrs washingmachinepost, was that it always snowed right at the very end. this, presumably, was/is the festive equivalent of living happily ever after.
though an unexpected twist such as encasing han solo in carbonite at the end of the empire strikes back is very much the exception rather than the rule, the majority of screenplays make use of happy ever after to varying degrees. that's probably the guaranteed means of having cinema audiences leaving their empty popcorn buckets and pepsi-cola cups behind, with a satisfactory smile on their faces. remember, the customer is always right.
and it gives me great pleasure to add to that panoply, even if a previously related review ended considerably less well. in respect of crank brothers egg-beater/candy pedals, i will thankfully refrain from once more listing the failings prevalent in the original design with respect to the inboard needle bearings fitted as standard. suffice it to say that almost moments after posting a largely favourable review of their candy #3 pedals some years ago, both pedals failed within hours of each other on a single ride.
i'm willing to admit that crank brothers did include literature with each set of pedals advising that the more diligent amongst us refurbish the bearings once a year. that, in truth is a not uncommon nor onerous request, but given our increased laziness in this respect, it was advice that more often than not was completely ignored. and for many, bereft of any mechanical ability whatsoever, it was an unwanted bike shop expense.
however, this particular pair of pedals were less than two months old and had been ridden considerably less than 200 kilometres. in other words, a situation that should never have happened, though one cheerfully covered by the manufacturer's warranty. however, who amongst us would then continue to ride the pedals with confidence given their short-lived opening introduction?
so the news that crank brothers had allegedly now remedied the problem by replacing the inner needle bearing with a plastic glide bearing, had me persuade extra, the uk distributor, to send a pair of the very latest candy #7 pedals for review which you can read here. however, given the propensity for their forebears to fail miserably while still shiny new, it seemed prudent to reserve final judgment until they'd been given a harder time than was initially the case.
rather conveniently, this second part of their examination has a happy ending, though it didn't snow at all.
what it did do in the intervening period was rain a great deal, leading to a modicum of localised flooding. this was nowhere near the devastation seen in norhtern england, but enough to give just enough trouble to a pair of candy pedals. the agricultural nature of the island provides acres of belgian toothpaste, the sort of stuff that is traditionally held to be anathema to bearings of any sort. part of the problem with the original candys was the ineffectiveness of the rubber seals protecting those inboard needle bearings.
so apart from making the attempt to expose the pedals to every local iniquity of which i could conceive, they were also completely submerged on more than just a few occasions. lest you think this was simply a momentary set of trials and tribulations, let me advise that aside from every bike ride both on and offroad (they are attached to a ridley x-ride cyclocross bicycle) prior to the festive holiday, they were my constant companions throughout the festive 500, through both storm edith and her brother frank.
quite frankly (see what i did there?), they have been perfect companions for those 500 kilometres and more besides. they have been used with four different makes of shoe, though obviously with the same style cleats and have behaved impeccably. i am given to believe that the necessity for dismantling the pedals on an annual basis to promote their mechanical well-being is no longer a mandatory condition, so the technically inept need (apparently) worry no more.
a pair of crank brothers candy #7 pedals is not exactly cheap; around £120 i believe. so having them disintegrate before your very soles is not the ideal option, for either us or them. on the basis of just how smoothly both pedals continue to rotate, even after the hassle they have recently endured, i figure crank brothers and their current and prospective customers can cyclocross, mountain bike and road ride with impunity. worry about traffic, tree roots or hurdles and forget about the candys.
now it can snow.
tuesday 5 january 2016..........................................................................................................................................................................................................