if we're brutally honest, the average sliver of carbon fibre with its electronic gears, is pretty useless. granted, hunkered down on the drops, easing into the eleven sprocket, the speed of passage can be undeniably impressive, but it rarely comes to that on the way to work in the morning. and though we're continually in thrall to the incredible lightness of being that can be easily, if expensively purchased, at the risk of scaring the bank manager, lifting a bicycle with one finger centred under the top tube only works as a party trick on rare occasions.
or does it?
while reviewing one of the aforesaid slivers of carbon fibre a few years ago, i cannot deny that even the civilian population seemed obsessed with just how light a bicycle it might be. aside from decrying the unwanted attention, i really have to wonder where this line of inquiry originated. not that i've ever owned a brand new car, but do motorists on filling station forecourts query each other as to the weight of their new, self-parking corsas? i tend to think not.
cast a knowing eye over the bicycle adverts in the monthlies and two words you will scarcely come across in the often vacuous copy are pragmatic or practical. if you've need of a bicycle for family rides at the weekend, the occasional shopping trip or a three week traversing of the gobi desert, wind-tunnel crafted high modulus carbon fibre would probably not be your first option. in fact, it's probably not going to be an option at all.
witness the recent campaign featured on the world bicycle relief website portraying the people of palabana village in south africa. aside from transforming the lives of often poverty-stricken people, it was edifying to watch a steel fabricator cycling many kilometres across an unmade road, only to return with several dozen kilos of steel plates and bars carried on the back of his steel buffalo bicycle. many of us would react adversely if required to carry more than a couple of inner tubes on the sunday morning ride. and how many of you carry paper money for coffee in that zipped pocket, rather than sully your sprint speed with pound coins?
as stated on the wbr home page "this is not a bike; it's an engine for economic and cultural empowerment." step into any branch of evans cycles, halfords, or even your local bike shop, and i'm pretty sure that's not the line they'll spin when you ask about monocoque construction. nor has it appeared on many bicycle adverts.
however, even were we to substitute our carbon obsession for that of steel or aluminium, a frame bearing a remarkable resemblance to that of chris froome's dogma, or alejandro valverde's canyon would be every bit as pointless in the real world that we're trying hard to pretend doesn't really exist. at least, not on a sunday morning. but machinery constructed with an ability to play host to mudguards/fenders and with rack mounts does not disqualify itself from a club run.
i well know that many club members ride machines of that ilk over the course of a british winter, partly out of consideration for their immediate peloton and every bit as much out of concern for their hindquarters in the rain. yet the majority of bicycle racks seem destined to find themselves bolted to the seatstays, out of sight and all too often, out of mind. i surely cannot be the only hapless individual to have reached home minus at least one item that i could have sworn was firmly attached to the rear rack. i know of one individual who lost an entire pannier without noticing.
which brings us neatly round to the porteur rack, a stable platform attached to both the front forks and the hole to which we used to bolt the front calipers before disks reared their ugly heads. there's every possibility of hanging a couple of front panniers below that platform, but more importantly, the opportunity to contain a 3kg bag of green city jumbo oats under an elasticated net while taking the scenic route home over uiskentuie's sand dunes. bouncy it may well have been, but confidence of retention was high because never once were the oats out of sight.
it is remarkably common to find bicycles on the shop floor with a rear rack already arriving as part of the package. in the uk at least, it seems a porteur rack is a less than popular appendage. that really ought to change; the porteur is the ideal means of bringing the shopping home, but i have to advise that loose, flying cabbage leaves will always be a significant hindrance in the sprint.
that'll be why degenkolb, despite needing houseroom for all that caffeine shampoo, prefers to leave his in the team bus.
monday 25 april 2016..........................................................................................................................................................................................................
there's an eatery in the village of port charlotte currently named yan's kitchen, serving food, you may have sussed, of a far eastern nature. yan is of chinese descent, i believe, while his wife is german and they bought over the premises a couple of years ago, a restaurant formerly known as the croft kitchen. this particular eatery featured in very early chapters of thewashingmachinepost with specific reference to the espresso run, due to the croft kitchen being at one time, the sole purveyor of designer coffees.
pretty much every saturday, i would ride from bowmore, the twenty kilometres to port charlotte simply to partake of a a double-espresso before riding the same twenty kilometres back home. on occasion, when the spirit of adventure was willing, i'd travel via the circumambulation of loch gorm, just to work up an appetite for an accompanying slice of carrot cake.
prior to mrs washingmachinepost and i moving ourselves lock, stock and barrel to the hallowed isle, we would spend a couple of holidays each year staying with relatives on islay and exploring the hinterlands. and it was at the very croft kitchen that i recall a fellow standing deliberately ostentatiously on the low wall around the car park, talking loudly on an early mobile phone, roughly the size of a shoebox with a lengthy arial pointing skywards.
those were the days when mobile phone ownership was confined to those who figured they were important enough to be seen carrying one. this fellow obviously felt he fitted into that category. since those days, however, mobile phones have become smart and in the process become a heck of a lot smaller, thinner and more powerful than was previously the case in the halcyon days of yore.
miniaturisation is very much a corollary of modern life; though tv screens have become impressively larger, with no cathode ray tube to worry about, they have become correspondingly thinner. as i write, my chair-side table is home to a rather small, bluetooth speaker system that could cause permanent hearing loss if the volume is cranked up far enough, yet it's not that much larger than the ipod with which it is most often matched.
it seems it is the modern way.
and then, on saturday, the doormat in the porch uttered a less audible thud as a copy of the latest issue of rouleur dropped through the letterbox. contained within the cardboard pouch was a more compact and bijou edition of our favourite cycling publication. and not only was the format a smidgeon smaller than its predecessors, but the cover price had also shrunk to a most amenable £7.50.
the included slip of paper featuring ian's editorial on one side, offered a few words from publisher andy hill: "the same illustrious content in a new, more portable and accessible package." in fact, the subheading on the front cover has labelled this smaller edition of rouleur, the travel edition. admittedly, it is still a mite too large to fit comfortably in a jersey rear pocket, but i seriously doubt that's the travel to which they refer.
i cannot deny that the usual size of rouleur magazine occupies a not insignificant amount of space and weight inside my rapha backpack when i travel on the boat and bus. though i have grown to admire and welcome its heft, i think my admiration has just grown in direct proportion to rouleur's diminishing size. featuring mario cipollini, sacha modolo, campagnolo, the col de la finestre and robert millar, it seems there is every bit as much to enjoy in miniature as there was in supermarionation, along with leaving enough change for a double espresso in the coffee lounge of the mv finlaggan.
sunday 24 april 2016..........................................................................................................................................................................................................
life just gets better and smaller at the same time.
it may surprise you to learn that i have, on occasion, received welcome praise for the photographs that accompany my reviews and occasional features. while such positive commentary is excellent food for the ego, in truth, i really cannot take full, if any credit for their alleged excellence. if anything ought to garner plaudits, it is the ten-second timer built in to the camera's electronics.
despite the occasional e-mail directed to the team operating at thewashingmachinepost, there is only me. that has always been the case, and there's every likelihood that it will remain that way for the foreseeable future. i might also mention that i do not own one of those oddly-named selfie-sticks, a device i feel sure i'd be unable to use effectively in any case. thus, all the photographs in which yours truly features, dressed in stylish apparel that belies my natural affinity with designer scruff, are the result of standing in front of a blue panasonic lumix compact camera until the timer click signals it is safe to move.
many years ago, when mickey heads, manager at ardbeg distillery had only just assumed his new managerial role, i was asked to snap a portfolio of images of the man at work. the brief provided over the phone was to take hero shots, nomenclature that subsequently was found to refer to photos where the subject affects to be unaware of the photographer. i have attempted to use the same strategy when gathering imagery to accompany my latest review, with only a moment's prevarication to consider just what ben ingham might do were he to find himself in my position.
sometimes it works, sometimes it fails miserably. somewhere, consigned to the pixel bin in the sky, is a phalanx of photos in which i fail to appear at all. this is mostly due to my having completely misread the direction in which the lens was pointing; it's apparently a remarkably easy mistake to make.
those images that do finally accompany my carefully honed narratives are, to perhaps state the obvious, frozen moments in time. if i cast my browser back across several years of washingmachinepost archives, i can see where i was, what i was doing and just how much younger i appeared in those erratic moments of timer photography. the words too, fulfil a similar function. where i may have attended an event, watched a race, or cycled a sportive, they capture an admittedly opinionated and subjective view of what was happening at the moment. or, more likely from the vantage point of a few days hence.
it is, consciously or otherwise, the ultimate point of a biographical or autobiographical book. if ever the notion occurs where we, as the reading public, are curious as to what it was like to be a rider, directeur sportif or mechanic at a particular point in time, a book is as good a starting point as any other. the interweb has admittedly undermined the uniqueness of the book experience, but in my opinion, there is little to substitute for the joy of settling down of an evening with both feet on the basset hound, a coffee and kitkat on the side table and a collection of poignant chapters to occupy the silence.
admittedly, some are better than others, but i have no qualms whatsoever in recommending david millar's the racer, the hardback edition of which was published last year. for those who may have missed this encapsulated experience by one of britain's more characterful and controversial riders, one of you may just be in luck. on 5 may, yellow jersey press will publish both the e-book and paperback versions of millar's autobiography and thanks to the publisher's generosity, i have one copy to give away to the sender of the first correct answer to the following question:
"with which cycle team did david millar end his cycling career"?
e-mail your answers to firstname.lastname@example.org and the first entrant with the correct answer chosen at random will receive a pristine paperback copy of 'the racer'. please include your full postal address along with your answer. closing date is friday 29 april.
saturday 23 april 2016..........................................................................................................................................................................................................
after an early career scare involving my complete lack of ability to read a drum score, i knuckled down with a book of rudiments and commenced learning how to read. sort of. probably the rudiment at the head of most drummers' lists is a five-stroke roll, consisting of two right strokes, two left strokes and a single, often accented stroke. it is common practice to start these rudiments slowly, gradually increasing the speed as control is achieved at each stage along the way.
after a month or two of continuous practice each evening, i attained escape velocity and could play a smooth, consistent five-stroke roll at the drop of a hat. the only fly in the ointment relating to the foregoing was the discovery that i had always been able to play a decent five-stroke roll, except i had no idea that's what it was called. had there been some drum guru nearby who could have blasted out one of these rolls and informed me as to its nomenclature, two months of partial drudgery could have been avoided.
it is, i'd imagine, acceptable to the majority of us when what might be termed the glaringly obvious is pointed out by a superior being, thus metaphorically rubbing the dust from our eyes. this is a situation that has recently occurred due to a confluence of factors involving bicycles and adventures.
specialized bicycles have very kindly sent me an awol elite, the middle model from their steel-framed awol range. if you ever have cause to peruse this particular section of the specialized website, you will come across illustrated links to the exploits of yonder journal, the interweb home of some serious adventuring on specialized bicycles. as it happens, the fellows who indulge in such unrestrained exploration on two wheels happen to be friends of mine, so it is hardly unseemly that i communicated with them in the light of my having received a similar style of bicycle to those featured on yonder journal.
now do not misunderstand; i am not advocating that you all grab yourself a specialized adventure bike and head off to the hinterlands of new zealand, bolivia, or obscure parts of the united states (though don't let me stop you if that's how you feel). but i do think that we might all benefit from experiencing even a greatly scaled-down version of their exploits. but just before i head off into a tentatively related narrative, let me implore those of you with an unhealthy carbon fibre obsession that there is a great deal more to the bicycle than learning how to outsprint peter sagan on a verisimilitude of his bicycle.
inspired not only by the constitution of the specialized awol, but also the dead reckoning exploits of messrs. pasley and von hoezendorff, joe and i decided to recconnoitre a paltry adventure all of our own, one that would take us to the beginning of the road to proaig, a mid 19th century settlement of which only a few stone walls and a bothy still exist.
the fellows at yonder journal spend weeks if not months of pre-planning before embarking upon their monumental undertakings, planning that includes the gathering of appropriate bike luggage and the necessary survival kit with which to fill it. we, on the other hand, simply ensured that we had tyre levers, inner tubes, money for lunch (we'd pass ardbeg's old kiln café on the way) and at least a waterproof jacket in case the sunny weather ran off and left us.
as a confirmed non-drinker, it pains me to say that i know far more about single malt whisky than i either want to or deserve to, but given that there was a certain amount of emulation to be considered and our route would take us past laphroaig, lagavulin and ardbeg, it seemed the only decent touristy thing to do to stop and take photos en-route.
joe rode from keills to bowmore and we both headed off in the direction of port ellen, sidling past islay international airport on the way. 'tis but a simple matter to cycle into the village of port ellen and then cycle back out again at the other end, heading towards the three distilleries. rather than take the main road, we opted to ride on the recently completed three distilleries path, a well tarmaced path shared between walkers and cyclists, separate from the roadway and leading directly to and past both laphroaig and lagavulin before terminating at ardbeg. it has already been nominated for an award and has succeeded not only in providing residents with a safe walking route, but in keeping often slightly inebriated whisky aficionados from impaling themselves on passing traffic.
it is meant as no criticism to point out that whisky aficionados will usually end their journey at ardbeg (for obvious reasons), while we continued past the revamped entrance, through ardbeg village heading ultimately to claggain bay, some seven miles north east of the distillery.
it hardly seems necessary to point out that the road from this point onwards is expressly singletrack, though in a better state of repair than was the case the last time i passed this way many years ago. we carried on past the kildalton cross and chapel, intending to stop on the return journey. claggain bay was deserted, even on a fine, sunny, warm(ish) day such as the one we'd chosen.
ardtalla farmhouse, the very last occupied property in this direction, constitutes one of several ardtalla cottages holiday properties, distinguished from its compatriots by a complete lack of electricity. indeed, if you really feel the need to get completely away from it all, spending a week in a former farmhouse that is around ten miles from port ellen village and with no mains electricity, this is the place for you. joe and i were both wont to remark that should you decide upon this as your ultimate holiday destination, you'd be well advised to arrive in a landrover defender; the track from the farm gate entrance right up to the courtyard at the rear was challenging enough on an adventure bike and a cyclocross bike. heck knows what it would do to the underside of your audi.
the road to proaig is signposted by a small painted bit of wood tied to the gatepost. this is repeated on a second gate containing three horses in the intervening field. thankfully, they were less interested in two cyclists than some juicy looking green grass. through the second gate, it's a simple matter of cycling towards a small burn at the opposite end, a stream of water crossed by means of a makeshift bridge. this past week, that's as far as we went, predominantly due to a lack of time and any accurate planning.
on returning to the kildalton cross and chapel, we took advantage of cakes at the cross, an enterprising spread of coffee, milk, sugar, tea and cakes stored in plastic containers, one of which was a sizeable cool-box in which the very last apricot and sultana flapjack resided. unless you were joe, of course, who had a piece of lemon drizzle cake. it is of great comfort to know that the honesty system (it is incumbent on participants to leave the correct money for whatever they choose to eat and/or drink - there's even a tin with change) is alive and well and living on islay.
the kildalton cross is an eighth century high cross, reckoned to have been carved by devotees of st columba travelling between ireland and iona further north situated off the coast of mull. it is the finest intact high cross remaining in scotland and stands in the shadow of kildalton chapel ruins. once more, the access road should not be attempted in a formula one car.
we retraced our tyre tracks to the old kiln café for paninis and designer coffee.
it was, as wallace and gromit would aver, a grand day out and, under our circumstances, a bit of an adventure. well, just a teeny tiny bit. we've both resolved to return in just over a week and attempt to reach the bothy at proaig to discover just how much of the last part of the trip can be undertaken in the saddle. if the guys at yonder journal can get themselves into and out of far more complex locations aboard specialized awols, than one situated on the south-east coast of islay, joe and i figure that even a couple of softies ought to manage to travel a public right of way.
we'll soon find out.
friday 22 april 2016..........................................................................................................................................................................................................
before the dawn of the age of helmets, a cyclist's head covering was mostly limted to the ubiquitous casquette or, should one of the spring classics beckon, the not particularly well-named hairnet. the latter consisted of several sausage-like tubes of padded leather married to a similarly constituted headband. apologies if that's the least comprehensible explanation you've heard of such a device, but it's the best i can do.
now that we are in the era of made-to-measure casquettes, a facility that pretty much, hands down, beats the old one-size-fits-all, it seems a crying shame that this new-found millinery skill is most often concealed under a brightly coloured chunk of polystyrene.
search out photos from the era of jacques and eddy and you will frequently find them either mid-peloton or flying solo, wearing a sponsor's badged casquette that looks as if it couldn't possibly remain in situ for longer than it took the photographer to press the shutter. it maybe that such is precisely the conditions under which the images were captured and the fields of france and italy were once littered with untold herds of cotton cycle caps. but now that the era has gone forever, we may never know.
on the few occasions i have ventured out minus my cycle helmet, i have been singularly unable to achieve that particular look, where the cap sits atop one's head rather than firmly elasticated across the brow. possibly the ability to achieve the former is yet another skill that has escaped us?
but, in all my perusings of many a coffee table book filled to overflowing with photos of those particular decades, i have scarcely come across any in which the legendary hard-men of the day are wearing what we would contemporaneously refer to as a belgian-style winter cap. you surely know that of which i speak; styled similarly to that of the regular casquette, but born of a heavier material and sporting a flap that covers both ears and the rearmost portion of intervening head?
on the basis that the members of the velo club began wearing such headgear towards the end of last november and can still frequently be seen garbed thus, even now, it is odd that i have not come across many of a pelotonic bent in the photos of yesteryear. there is every likelihood that we will stil be wearing such millinery come early may, for an hebridean winter is every bit as long as you think it might be, a time for the head equivalent of super-roubaix and then some.
which is why it seemed prudent to offer a modicum of suspicion regarding a merino wool winter hat emanating from salt lake city in utah, a north american state that is just a tad too close to the pacific to comprehend just what a faux-belgian winter can truly be like. it has, according to legend, a dry continental climate, not a phrase often heard in conjunction with either scotland's west coast or the classic routes of western europe. however, the same legend points out that salt lake city does sometimes get cold, with a record low of -30 degrees.
if i was willing to give salt-lake city based snek cycling the benefit of the doubt, the arrival of their merino winter cap all but undermined that possibility. lifting the garment from its cardboard box, i seriously had to wonder how on earth anything that thin was ever going to shield my ears and head from sub-zero windchill. in the words of the great confucious "there must surely be some mistake?"
not for the first time in my career was i subsequently forced into a main course of humble pie.
built from a polyester/merino wool blend and featuring a micro-fibre suede sweatband, the heather grey (also available in black) snek winter hat was positively brilliant over 140 kilometres of serious windchill that had me reaching once again for my thermal gloves. my head was kept at a temperature equating to regular operating parameters. and not only that, but with a comfort level that twice had me checking to make sure i'd put the cap on before leaving the coffee shop.
as if its thermal properties did not recommend it highly enough, wearing it on a day when islay's mercury entered double digits for the first time in a long while, only underlined its marvellous versatility. while the option of tucking the ear-flaps under the cap when warm is hardly unique to snek, on doing so there was none of the usual suggestion that my hair had become suddenly a whole lot thicker than it had appeared when in front of the bathroom mirror. and had we inadvertantly experienced a mid-april heatwave, the cap is of such slim constitution that not only would it have easily fitted a rear pocket, but would have scarcely troubled the elastic in the process.
at a price of $62 (approx £43) it's hardly an impulse purchase, but rest-assured, if you choose to order either colour in one of the two available sizes, you will not be disappointed, particularly in the light of it having all the potential to become the only cap you'll ever need, winter or summer. the one caveat i might highlight, however, is that it will never make you look like jacques or eddy.
thursday 21 april 2016..........................................................................................................................................................................................................
rather delightfully, i have a brand spankng new bicycle occupying space in thewashingmachinepost bike shed at present, even if that makes it even more awkward to reach the spanners at the furthest point on the tool board. and, as we all know, new bicycles are a huge pleasure to ride, particularly for the length of time they tend to remain on holiday on islay. it's simply a matter of clambering aboard and rolling down the path in front of the croft to head off into the wide blue/grey yonder.
yes indeed, new bicycles are almost always totally silent, gliding through the principality with only the heartwarming sound of rubber on disintegrating tarmac. granted, the front gear mech had not been precisely set and there was an annoying rubbing noise to be heard in the big ring, but that was a simple matter to correct without needing to reach for any of the more obsucre tools on the board. the one i mentioned earlier.
it's a well-known fact that bicycles of a certain age become villifyingly crafty, bringing rise to hitherto unrealised squeaks and groans that certainly weren't there yesterday. if the bicycle was a company car, it would be a simple matter of turning the volume up on the radio, or if i might paraphrase from lennard zinn's 'book of road maintenance' 'i couldn't fix the squeak, so i made your horn louder'
when such an irritating situation as this appears, there will usually follow hours, days, weeks, even months of trying vainly to track down the source of the insurgent sound. occasionally luck is on our side and it's a simple matter of tightening a pedal, a quick-release lever or a saddle bolt, but more often than not, it's a lot harder than that. and supposing the source is eventually found, what are you going to do about it?
i did enquire thus of a colleague who had suffered the above iniquity over an extended period of time, tracking the errant noise to the headset crown race. almost predictably, he averred that this would be simply cured with a quick squirt of wd40, a rather superficial and ultimately unsatisfactory solution to a problem that had cause endless anguish and irritation to him and anyone within earshot. i advised that a smidgeon of grease would be a more effective remedy; that proved to be the case.
there is a veritable panoply of suitable greases on the market, several well qualified for velocipedinal use. i have a large tub of white grease that i've had since eddy merckx was a wee boy; a bit like the magic porridge pot, no matter how much i use, the quantity never seems to diminish. but at the risk of repeating myself, it's big tub of white grease, so applying it to almost any part of the bicycle necessitates scooping out a fingerful and smearing it where it needs to be smeared.
far better, you would think, to use a grease gun nozzle. and even better if the grease in question were a bit kinder to fair skin than the majority of greases. the solution to both problems is undoubtedly green oil's plant-based eco grease, a product now available in a grease gun friendly, 200ml tube.
naturally enough, my passing reference to the number of bicycles blocking access to my impressive collection of redundant cycle-specific tools was not the innocent remark it may at first have appeared to be. for yes, you have correctly guessed that one of those efficacious doohickies is my grease gun. this, if you are predisposed to look favourably upon, is the very reason why my application of eco grease to a couple of quick-release skewers was by forefinger rather than grease gun.
its constitution, however, removed any concerns that i might contract some grease inflicted skin condition. and despite the old-skool means of application, both q/r skewers are working well, thank you for asking. as indeed are the hinges on the sitting room and the kitchen door. i'm well aware that the latter two are distinctly non-velocipedinal in nature, but if you don't tell, i won't either.
eco grease in a 200ml tube will be available at the end of this month from stockists at a cost of £8.99
wednesday 20 april 2016..........................................................................................................................................................................................................
visible light, as we were all taught in physics, is composed of varying frequencies which manifest themselves as, to simplify greatly, the colours of the rainbow. this particular effect is known as diffraction and caused by light passing through a prism. such as raindrops. think pink floyd's 'dark side of the moon' and any words i can add from here on in are unlikely to highlight the facts with any greater clarity.
irrespective of the order in which the colours appear, and there is an order fostered by the various wavelengths of light, red will appear at one side and blue or violet at the other. this is a factor exploited by astronomers and astrophysicists to categorise features of our solar system and the universe at large. observation has taught them, and subsequently us, that objects emitting visible or non-visible radiation at the red end of the spectrum are speeding away from the observer. this is known as the red shift, some of which can be held to be examples of the doppler effect.
in cycling terms, we have more than just a passing interest in this red shift, almost entirely due to the observable effect. other than those embedded in the world of cycle-touring, the speedier wannabes (for the purposes of discussion, that's you and me) will almost always prefer to be seen to be disappearing into the distance. assuming that to be the case, you can take it from me that we will be emitting red light to those left struggling in our collective wake.
if you've been paying attention, you might just have made an observation all of your very own; that there's a slight flaw in my argument, but a flaw that appears to have an amenable and economic solution. if, like yours truly, speed seems to be one of those acquisitions just a rear wheel too far from your grasp, wearing a red jersey ought to pretty much solve an otherwise unsolvable conundrum for those bereft of a degree in astrophysics.
just ask craig hardie. he knows.
thus, on opening the rather salubrious looking musette that arrived from la passione, all the way from italy, joy was mine to behold in the shape of a bright passionate red, long-sleeve winter jersey. this was huddled in the company of a highly appropriate pair of leg warmers, black bibshorts, arm warmers and a houndstooth patterned short-sleeve summer jersey. the latter will have to wait its turn for review when the hebrides gets warmer, but that red jersey, featuring super-roubaix backed fabric was everything that the phrase 'ginger peachy' was invented to describe.
though currently mid-april, well into british summertime and heading inexorably towards summer, the temperature on islay remains steadfastly low, dropped even further by a cutting windchill. thus, when all and sundry are trumpeting their spring/summer collections for the intrepid velocipedinist, we're still in long-sleeves, jackets and either bibtights or those aforementioned leg warmers.
there is also little doubt that amenable cargo space is something of a necessity, for aside from the compulsory coffee money, with just a tad more loose change for an accompanying belgian chocolate brownie, atlantic clouds are always threatening rain, necessitating the additional carrying of a waterproof jacket in the middle pocket. and who could forget the mini-pump and a spare pair of gloves? augmented by a centrally mounted zipped security pocket, la passione's winter jacket array of stretchy rear pockets welcomed all the above with open arms (pockets).
the garment has a pleasant retro look about it, almost like the sort of thing eddy would have worn when demonstrating his own redshift. the only flaw i could find - and it's a minor one - was the lack of a zip garage on the mid-height collar. in keeping with italy's penchant for presenting cycling-kind with figure hugging apparel, both the jersey and the bibshorts favour the honed athlete's slim and bulge-less physique. if this sounds not at all like you, i'd maybe opt for a size less resembling the spray-on look.
unlike the jersey, the black bibshorts appeared to be of a more summery constitution, mitigated by the superb la passione leg warmers which, contrary to one or two other makes i own, eased on with little or no faff, despite no (in this case) unnecessary ankle zip.
i was able to demonstrate my very own redshift along the belgian road leading to the atlantic ocean, where the thought of that belgian chocolate brownie and the presence of a torso-warming wrap of red super roubaix belied its italian origins and assumed a flandrian mantle for the occasion. the shorts are unfeasibly comfortable both in the seating department and over the shoulders, while the lycra on the inner thighs and pad exhibits a novel waffle-like pattern. i can only surmise that this might be to fend off any slide-factor inherent in the saddle/shorts interface.
if not, it's still quite cool.
it's most comforting to learn that italy has lost none of the savoir faire of haute couture, if you'll pardon the mix of languages, when it comes to cycling apparel. and assuming this to be a tangible 'thing', la passione appear to have it in spades.
la passione's long-sleeve winter jersey is available in 'fast' red and several other colours in sizes ranging from xs to xxl at a web price of £83. the bibshorts are available in black only also in xs to xxl at a particularly favourable cost of £75. la passione only offer online sales, with orders of more than £75 sent post free world-wide.
tuesday 19 april 2016..........................................................................................................................................................................................................