getting wet isn't that big of a deal. if it were, i'd be seriously concerned for the economic viability of the nation's swimming pools. in premises such as those, people actually go out of their way to spend money to get wet. and not just in the swimming pool itself, but subsequently in either the post-swim shower or sauna. yet those of us who would rather undertake pelotonic duties have a concern about getting wet that seems dramatically overwrought at times.
in my early years of being an expeditionist, riding as far as scotland on my bicycle laden with more panniers than were truthfully necessary, i met up with a fellow of similar intent on arran. while i was clad in a pair of been bags (now sadly demised) and goretex overtrousers, matched to a waterproof breathable jacket, he wore a simple pair of black bibshorts and lightweight waterproof jacket. according to this chap, obviously more experienced in this particular art than was i, there was no benefit to be gained from riding in any weather conditions in anything other than standard lycra shorts. provided the upper torso was protected from the elements, there really was little need to worry about those pins.
on the basis that my legs were bathed in perspiration at the time, despite the avowed breathability offered by goretex, i really had little by way of a counter argument.
the world's cycle clothing manufacturers have spent years and years of research and development in a collective effort to keep us dessicated, with, it has to be said, varying degrees of success. as no word of a lie, whenever any purportedly waterproof garment arrives for review, when the rain finally turns up i go riding in the fervent hope that the associated marketing spiel is more factual than rhetorical. aside from the potential disappointment of getting wet, it is quite embarrassing to write paragraph after paragraph, eventually leading to the salient fact that the garment is less averse to precipitation than both the manufacturer and i would wish.
generally speaking, i have found the more salubrious purveyors to make claims closer to the truth. since it is pertinent to the current discussion, rapha's recently reviewed winter classic jacket claims only to be water-resistant when in point of fact it kept me totally dry in the face of adversity. but when considering their shadow range of waterproof clothing, the ball-game is not quite the same.
rapha's initial offering of shadow clothing got off to a slightly inauspicious start, launched as it was on 8 january this year. though that may seem the ideal time to offer waterproofs, considering the range then consisted of a short-sleeve jersey and bibshorts, it was either a brave or foolish individual who headed out on the sunday ride clad in such a minimalistic style in the depths of winter. the good part, however, was the knowledge that the new shadow fabric was pretty much every bit as waterproof as they said it was.
to recap briefly, the threads which constitute the shadow garmentage are coated with a durable water repellent prior to being woven into lengths of fabric. this is then shrunk to minimise the tiny gaps between threads even further. more water repellency is then applied before it becomes a jacket, bibshorts, armwarmers or kneewarmers. from personal experience, that seems to work remarkably well.
now that we're into the ravages of a cooler autumn/winter climate, rapha have now released a long-sleeve version of the jersey which, if i may be so bold, should probably have been first on the list. despite having vindicated the shadow fabric quite comprehensively at the start of the year, i cannot deny a certain tentativeness on first wearing the jersey on a particularly wet sunday morning. in this case, i wore only a long-sleeve merino baselayer below the shadow jersey, augmenting this with a distinctly non-waterproof gilet purely for visibility on a very grey morning. though i do understand the limitations of the material (it cannot be dye-sublimated) it's a shame that a jersey designed for the darker months is available only in black.
and while i'm on that point, it has become something of a trademark for rapha jerseys and jackets to feature a hoop on the left sleeve. the shadow l/s jersey is no different, but in this case that hoop is built with scotchlite reflective material for enhanced visibility. however, since we in britain ride on the left-side of the road, this means that this reflective feature is effectively on the 'wrong' sleeve. a point worth considering, i think.
however, after over two hours in pouring rain, during which time many of my fellow pelotonese would have been every bit as well having spent the time in bowmore's swimming pool, my torso was completely dry and warmer than i'd expected to be. it is far easier to keep warm when you're dry. in fact, on reaching home and divesting myself of the shadow jersey, the merino baselayer was bone dry. and as if to underline the point, a mere five minutes later, i was able to fold the completely dry jersey and put it away in the drawer.
my only fear is that the vision of the shadow fabric sloughing off all that rain is so addictive, that i'm likely to bang into a sheep or ride into a ditch while my interest is thus diverted. the three rear pockets, while reasonably capacious, are often a trifle awkward to get stuff in and out due to the elastic nature of the fabric, but it's that same factor that provides the incredibly close fit.
if keeping dry is one of your many velocipedinal obsessions, rapha's long-sleeve shadow jersey ought to be top of the list. it's the first jersey i've ever worn that offers this level of protection from the elements; pair it with either a winter classic jacket or a pro-team softshell when the temperature demands and you need never go swimming again.
rapha's long-sleeve shadow jersey is available in black only, in sizes ranging from xs to xxl and at a retail cost of £240.
monday 21 november 2016..........................................................................................................................................................................................................
i can understand that an admission such as the following will surely undermine any street cred i may have been fortunate enough to have hung onto up till now. but i think, in the grand scheme of things, it's an admission worth admitting to; if it saves even one pelotonic apprentice from being sniggered at, it has all been worthwhile. and as you might expect, it concerns the minutiae of sartorial elegance while velocipedinally occupied.
when assessing the necessity of lycra and polyester in my early days aboard 531 steel, i experienced the paranoia and self-consciousness that undoubtedly makes itself known to the majority of us. it's all very well knowing that you'd scarcely go swimming in a pair of levis 501s, but an entirely different matter to be seen in public wearing shiny black shorts that appear to have a pampers nappy attached. mind you, such attire more than eased any possible discomfort when sat upon what most of my non-cycling friends still refer to as a razor blade.
i should perhaps point out that this was back in the dark old days of yore, when cycling apparel was considerably more rudimentary than is the case nowadays. but i cannot deny being particularly unsure as to whether, when buying a pair of tights (what the heck were bibtights?), i ought to base the sizing on my waist or height. this unsurety led me to purchase a hideously patterned pair of lycra tights for the winter months, that resembled nothing more than an explosion at the dulux factory. at that point, the paranoia increased considerably, because i'm sure i heard sniggering as i passed on my red 531.
life has changed considerably since those days; it is still of considerable surprise to me that a relatively minor activity such as cycling is able to support quite so many clothing companies, all of whom seem to think of themselves as unique. yes, there are several individual features abounding, but when all's said and done, the majority are simply offering variations on the jersey/jacket/bibshorts/bibtights panoply; they know it and we know it. granted, the price ranges available make it easy to satisfy desires, needs and disposable income, but that's just as it should be.
and then there's portland's wabi woolens.
i do not wish to imply that harth huffman has discovered something of which the others are blissfully unaware, but there's no doubt that his modus operandi is just a tad different than big biz. started in 2008, wabi woolens is a solo flight by mr huffman; product design, materials sourcing, manufacturing, order processing, shipping; you name it, he does it. this may appear less than impressive, for how hard can it be? but it's not his only job. harth teaches at a large high school outside portland village, necessitating a 30 mile round trip and wabi woolens fits in round that.
it's a nice story and just a smidgeon different from the majority, but the end result is 'simply' a jersey, and truthfully, why should we care? i would tend to agree with you, were it not for the fact that in my very first review of a wabi woolens jersey in march 2008, only a matter of months into harth's opening gambit, i described it as "the rolls royce of merino cycle jerseys". i still have that jersey and nothing that has transpired in the interim has given me cause to alter my opinion. yes, it's just a tad careworn after eight years, but it still fits well, it is still eminently wearable and the espresso brown colour has not degraded to a latte.
i'm sure that mr huffman would not disagree if i pointed out that the progress at wabi towers has not been all plain sailing. unlike the mainstream cycle apparel purveyors, the graph has not been straight and true in the years since 2008, but that scarcely matters one whit when the latest, 2016/17 winter weight merino jersey has demoted the original from rolls to bentley.
if there's one thing about which mr huffman can be recognised as an expert, it's merino wool and its subsequent fashioning into the shape of a cycling jersey. the latest edition sports a fit that is darned near second to none. if any criticism may be levelled it's possible it might be a shade too long at the back, but that's in comparison to today's so-called race-fit jerseys; this is the way jerseys ought to built for those of us who think nothing of rolling up to the coffee house, intent on a hour or two of froth supping prior to continuing the velocipedinal activity on the other side. and on the bike, you'd never notice anyway. this is immediately your favourite jumper which can be worn to the averagemarket, bicycle or no bicycle. in fact, if such is your fancy, wabi offer a similarly styled jersey minus the rear pockets.
and since we were discussing those pockets (we were, weren't we?), it's only a slight exaggeration to mention that you could probably carry a couple of spare wheels, tyres and inner tubes and still have space for a multi-tool, gloves and a large bottle of san pellegrino. then there's the zipped fourth for coffee money.
fan as i am of long-sleeve jerseys, the sleeves on this particular edition are luxurious, allowing more than just a few merino ruffles on the sleeves as they approach the cuffs. i do so like that. though full-length zips have become almost de rigeur these days, wabi have maintained a most desirable, quarter length zip fastening atop an admirable collar height. merino is a wonderful material from which to fashion a cycle jersey; it seems most likely that's what all those sheep are bred for in the first place. given that this is positioned as a winter-weight garment, i spent my first ride clad in a long-sleeve baselayer under the jersey with a thermal gilet in one of those capacious rear pockets. i swear there was steam rising from me in debbie's at lunchtime.
yet pop a jacket over the top when conditions outdoors demand and the comfort and practicality diminish not one millimetre. if the uci were to impose a rule restricting us to a single long-sleeve jersey, this is the one you'd want to have in the wardrobe. even when brand new and just arrived from portland, it's the jersey you've lusted after since forever. and immediately it is that jersey.
sometimes a comparison with rolls royce seems so inadequate.
the wabi woolens winter weight jersey, hand-sewn in portland, oregon is available in small to 3xl, with tall versions available in small, medium, large and xl. colours are pacific blue or burgundy (as reviewed) at a cost of $175 (£145). wabi will ship worlwide.
sunday 20 november 2016..........................................................................................................................................................................................................
berkely, california-based design and type foundry, emigré, at one time sold mouse-mats, in the days before mice featured little red leds, with the legend 'design is a good idea'. it's a statement that works on at least two levels, an undeniable truth on either. design could conceivably be defined as neither style nor substance, but an equitable marriage of the two, a means of maintaining functionality and looking good at the same time.
as the world's motor manufacturers spend ever more time in the wind tunnel (as do many cycle companies these days) and equally the same amount of time analysing computer renders of the latest in car body styles, the motor vehicles rolling off the production line would be a tad less attractive if left in their original chassis state. in this case, design is a very good idea. even the ever-changing yet simply conceived products that festoon our pride and joy in the bikeshed have been pored over by both designers and engineers to ensure they look every bit as good as they hopefully function. you didn't think those tyre treads actually had to change every couple of years, did you?
however, we didn't get to where we are now completely by accident. the bicycles available on the shop floor of your nearest independent cycle retailer are a compromise between what is technically possible and the often oddly luddite restrictions imposed by the unione cycliste internationale. though racing a bicycle may well be the very last thing that you and i would consider, the manufacturers of high-end velocipedes have need of acquiescing to the dictates of aigle, for it is not altogether unlikely that a portion of their customer base will have no other purpose in mind.
one notable british bicycle engineer who has probably every bit as much experience of the brick-wall that is the uci as has graeme obree, is mike burrows. if the name seems vaguely familar, you will most likely have heard of him in connection with chris boardman's 1992 olympic gold winning lotus carbon bicycle. that particular design, with its monoblade carbon fork and single rear chainstay seemed a portent of the way the bicycle was destined to go, particularly when pinarello built a remarkably similar machine for indurain and olano. that we are still aboard bicycles that feature the perennial double-diamond configuration is a situation for which responsibility must rest squarely with the uci.
chris boardman's introduction remarks: "The UCI had taken one look and re-written the rules - specifying a bicycle must be made out of 3 main tubes - to ensure it was outlawed. But 5 years later, the UCI revoked its ban on monocoque frames, a decision that would precipitate a renaissance in bicycle design (and throw the UCI's technical commission into turmoil for the next twenty years) " that revision would then be revoked once more to provide us with our present predicament.
but the lotus bike and the '92 olympics were 'simply' mike burrows' fifteen minutes of fame, as even a cursory glance through the latter portion of from bicycle to superbike will avow. though burrows has aimed his engineering and design experience more towards the recumbent or human powered vehicle side of the equation, he was also the gent almost singlehandedly responsible for shifting road bikes away from the traditional to the sloping top tube via his three-sizes-fit-all giant tcr design.
"...by lowering the top-tube, you break the visual linkage with size becasue the seat post is now so long, and it can be made aerodynamic. The repositioned frame will be slightly stiffer in torsion and slightly more forgiving in vertical compliance."
mike burrows himself is responsible for the narrative accompanying his often revolutionary 38 years of bicycle and hpv design, but the bulk of the burrows story has been furnished by author and publisher tony hadland. this he has done in a largely unconventional manner, but one that offers a compulsive and engrossing read. aside from detailing mike burrows' biography from his birth in april 1943, there are many illustrative excerpts from burrows' writings for several cycling publications throughout the years. most of these are of a technical nature, yet written in a fashion that makes comprehension almost second nature.
"The answer is 98.4. That's right! Not only is 98.4 degrees (F) the ideal operating temperature for your cycle's 'engine', it is also the percentage efficiency of its transmission system, when correctly lubricated. [...] you might reasonably expect the chain to be placed on an altar of design efficiency to be revered by one and all, not least by bicycle designers. But no! Instead we see ill-conceived, folding, fashionable, plastic answers to the world's commuting problems..."
the book's design and format is well-conceived and must be considered an essential read for those even tentatively interested in the career and design genius of mike burrows. though that lotus bike will always hover in the background as public testament, there is little doubt that the man has scarcely received the recognition he is undoubtedly due. in mitigation, hadland does point out that some of this is due as much to burrows' reticence as it is a perceived national prejudice against those working and thinking outside the box, particularly in the field of bicycle design. however, short interviews with those who know him well, do much to redress the balance; all that's needed to complete the circle is for my reader to purchase a copy and spread the word.
an excellent christmas present for a cyclist near you.
saturday 19 november 2016..........................................................................................................................................................................................................
there's no other way of describing the great man, but the mighty dave-t is a hardy individual. though he may not venture out on a sunday morning when inclement weather pervades, as he is in favour of constantly pointing out, he's a pensioner; there's no need. while we're all slaving away over a hot imac on a schoolday, he's out traversing the highways and byeways with flair and devilment. and the acute observer will have already taken note of his proclivity for wearing short-fingered track mitts even in the depths of winter.
though his weather-related absence on a sunday morning raises the temptation to point him in the direction of rule #5, this would be a beginner's mistake, for there are few of hardier constitution, other than perhaps johan museeuw and bernard hinault. and i'm convinced that, if you were to search websters dictionary under badass, the definition would contain both mighty and dave.
the end result of this knowledge is to accept that no amount of well-meaning text from the fine fellows and fellowesses at café du cycliste is likely to attract his attention towards their mid-season wind-resistant gloves. and this despite the empirical knowledge that islay has quite literally, lashings of wind just waiting to be fended off by the attractive softshell panels on the back. for those of us less acquainted with stoicism and hardiness, however, they look to be a far more attractive proposition.
while the phrase 'mid-season' might be open to interpretation, depending on the time of year and the hemisphere in which one resides, in this particular case the apellation straddles both autumn and winter. if you live in the hebrides, it may also contain just a soupcon of spring. if it were simply the blue softshell back panel (also available in camel, red and black) between you and the elements, questions would undoubtedly be asked in the house. but thankfully, between inner and outer surfaces is a fleece-backed liner, keeping those flexible digits as toasty as a very toasty thing.
and, truth be told, they more than live up to their purported reputation.
that wind of which i made previous mention has been given every opportunity to break that fleece/softshell barrier, all to no avail, while the reinforced and minimally padded leather palms offered a comfortable grip on the bars. if i have a criticism, it might relate to the sizing; the samples sent (at my request) were size large, offering a good fit on my hands and in particular, the thumbs, yet the fingers were just a smidgeon too long. in mitigation, this extra length was well short of iniquitous, but i think worth pointing out nonetheless.
they are distinctly not waterproof, soaking up any precipitation in very short order, but then café du cycliste make no claims in this direction. they are pleasantly lightweight and feature a loop on the back of the middle finger to enable easier removal and the long, lycra cuffs bear a second tab to ease getting them on in the first place. if, like me, you do not possess the hardy constitution of the mighty dave, a pair of mid-season gloves could well be the very items needed to insouciantly ride alongside in the sunday peloton on a cold mid-season day.
and on such days, when the atlantic wind encourages a runny nose, there's a soft coating on the thumbs with which to salve your stature as one of life's more conscientious individuals.
café du cycliste mid-season windproof gloves are available in blue, camel, red or black in sizes ranging from xs to xl at a price of £60
friday 18 november 2016..........................................................................................................................................................................................................
oddly enough, it always seems to happen during the early part or midway through a bike ride, just far enough away from civilisation to make it highly improbable that the germ of an original idea will survive until coffee. that might be something of a generalisation, because i've little doubt this says more about me than it does about you. heck, on one saturday am, while en-route to coffee, having left considerably later than expected, i met a car driving in the opposite direction, but on my side of the road. you'd think that a noteworthy enough escapade to be immediately related to anyone within earshot at debbie's, yet by the time i'd made it to bruichladdich, i'd all but forgotten.
so the chances of an earth shattering cycle jersey design being recalled in minute detail on reaching home must be perilously close to miniscule.
it's likely a common situation played out in pelotons or one man echelons all across the country. the season is effectively over, the time when a young man's fancies turn to next year's jersey. or in the case of yours truly, the never-ending quest for a combination velo club/ride of the falling rain/debbie's jersey that we might ultimately foist upon an unsuspecting stream of visiting cyclists. ideally, said jersey(s), whether for a bona-fide club, or the make-believe in which we have invested so much time and coffee, will resemble nothing else on the planet. in our case, a collective arrogance and false sense of importance demands that we stand out in a crowd (as if we didn't already).
for those of you practised in the art of vectors, bezier points and perhaps even tesselating patterns, adobe illustrator will serve as the ideal vehicle to approximate what you (or more likely i) can remember of that early ride graphic notion. but if you've ever seen the various jersey components laid out on a sheet of dye-sub paper ready to meet their lycra, you will no doubt have experienced the same visualisation difficulties as have i.
and, if you consider the cost of having a single jersey produced simply to test your theory in the flesh (so to speak), i believe the resultant state could reasonably be described as a quandary.
well, quandary no more.
scotland's pride and joy endura cycle clothing, clothing supplier to nairo quintana and his pals, have removed the word quandary from the velocipedinal lexicon. launched earlier this week, their endura.me allows the dextrously and graphically adept the opportunity to not only apply a design to their own cycle jersey and/or bibshorts, but the ability to inspect it in three-dimensions before endura's large format printers have even been switched on before morning coffee.
the process is simplicity itself. first, make your garment choice from either the race jersey or classic jersey or two variations of bibshort. download the associated template and colour it in with one of several software programmes such as the aforementioned adobe illustrator, photoshop, corel draw or something pretty darned close in function. once you're reasonably happy with your scribblings, upload them to the 3d portion of endura.me. from here you can rotate, zoom and pan the jersey in every which way, to ensure that how you thought it might look, is exactly how it, in fact, does.
when it comes to a jersey design that requires the approval of an inadvertantly included committee (him or her indoors), there's every likelihood that this process will be twice as long and half as productive as you originally thought. however, endura assure that this step in the process can be edited and re-edited until all are satisfied and you are now hopefully not faced with the polyester equivalent of a camel.
at this point, having saved the design, you can place your order, whereupon it is reviewed by endura's design team to make sure the design is print ready and your money is about to be well spent. currently, they figure on delivering your jersey, shorts or both within three weeks of the order being placed.
if only i could remember that utterly brilliant idea i keep having.
thursday 17 november 2016..........................................................................................................................................................................................................
velominati displays a total of ninety-five rules to which aspiring cyclists ought to adhere, rules that have stood the test of time (for a few years at least) and assuming assiduous and conscientious practice, should result in a fine figure of a velocipedinist after which a phalanx of team managers will undoubtedly queue, proffering world tour contracts. but missing from that list of ninety-five is a rule with which most of us can readily identify: 'always adopt the mindset of a professional, even when your external demeanour would suggest otherwise.'
from my point of view, it's a potential ninety-sixth that should scarcely require further explanation, but for those dithering on the perimeter, let me clarify just a smidgeon. even on those friday afternoons, when playing hooky from the office and dressed in civvies aboard a steel italian three-speed roadster, it is incumbent upon me to mentally emulate alejandro valverde or wout van aert (if the road's just a tad muddy). for how otherwise is one to embrace rule #5? i can scarcely be expected to harden the f**k up if i think of myself as but one stage removed from nipping to the averagemarket for pesto and a packet of spinach and ricotta pasta.
i'm sure you can see precisely what i mean?
adherence to my hypothetical rule is only logical, for aside from the perennial joy of riding one's bike, there is an expected mental aspect of cycling that ought to pervade each and every aspect of the sport/activity. just ask steve peters. thus, on the days when carbon fibre, bendy bars and skinny tyres is flavour of the day, that mental attitude will be honed almost to perfection. if we assume that this is the state of affairs applicable to all in lycra and sportwool, when time comes to adopt the echelon position, all will be second nature; there will be no difference between classic and pro; all will be presented as a gestalt.
i used the simile of the echelon for good reason, though principally to add a soupcon of seasonality to the proceedings. though the ambient temperature (even in the hebrides) has maintained its remarkably mild constitution, a blustery outlook is not only predicted but in point of fact, already here. only today, caledonian macbrayne had cause to cancel the ferry sailing from oban to castlebay on the isle of barra. this is due to winds gusting in the upper regions of 80kph. try getting to debbie's in that without forming an echelon. even on your own.
such conditions also impose upon the practised professional the need for appropriate attire, even when professional practice is not necessarily the order of the day. for reasons not altogether clear, my hypothetical world tour contract is valid only on saturdays. that is the very specific day when, should i wish to ride as far and as fast as i can (please note that all speeds and distances are relative), i do. that is the day on which it is necessary to infiltrate only the professional corner of the cycling wardrobe. sean yates length bibshorts, race-fit jerseys, casquettes with the peak in the up position and short-fingered track mitts, no matter the weather. at this point once again i might remind you that hebrideans are the flandrians of the west.
but what of sundays, i hear you ask? though maintaining that scrupulous professional attitude throughout, the sunday ride is undoubtedly no more than the sunday ride. no-one much cares whether your jersey is short enough at the front to prevent bunching in the sprint. nobody cares one whit that the same race-fit jersey has no zipped fourth pocket for coffee money. and nobody is much bothered that your rapha classic winter jacket is bereft of the plastic coated central rear pocket and zipped cuffs seen on the pro-team softshell. for those would mark you out as the professional who worked on the sabbath.
rapha have an enviable reputation for creating cycling jackets that proffer not only an almost unrivalled sense of style, but a practicality that places them amongst the very best of the very best. for this latest jacket, they have taken the finest features of their original classic softshell and seamlessly married them with those of the classic hardshell. and occupying as it does the classic end of the cycling milieu, the lack of zipped cuffs, coated rear pocket and race-fit are respectfully absent. the latter are the sort of things that get you through a saturday; not a sunday.
i recall riding with rapha travel in provence, leaving a most welcoming café to ride up the glorious road along the lanesque gorge into more than just a smattering of french rain. the rider ahead of me had the luxury of wearing a classic hardshell and had the grandeur of the gorge not been occupying my gaze, i'd actually have been quite fascinatedly content to watch the rain baubling and running off the back of the jacket, leaving the rider almost oblivious to the precipitation.
in situations such as the above, when the ride distance was ultimately over 120km, incorporating well over 2,000 metres of climbing, the non-professional would surely be grateful for not only the weatherpoofing but the more relaxed fit befitting a gentleman.
the new classic winter jacket is every bit as impressive and then a little bit more. i have always thought that underarm zipped vents would have been as grand an accessory on the hardshell as they were on the original softshell. my wish has now been granted. rapha describe this as the most versatile foul weather jacket they've ever made, and on the basis of both my comfort and dryness in the face of withering adversity, i'm inclined to agree. the once inexplicable offset front zip has come to be a desired necessity; the fully taped seams and appreciable breathability both welcome features when puffing and panting in the rain and wind. granted, its insulation properties are limited to its highly effective windproofing, but the sizing more than welcomes a cosy layer of long-sleeved sportwool below, coupled with a merino baselayer.
the stowaway drop tail that first appeared on the original classic softshell is still there for those no-mudguard-low-visibility-moments, joined by the remarkably well-concealed front pocket (in addition to the four other pockets) and a fully-taped ykk full-length zip. it's the very jacket for each and every one of those non-professional, but ultimately professional escapades. this is the garment you will come to rely on during this year's festive 500, granting access to the rule #9 hall of fame and diminishing the need for adherence to rule #5 by the time the new year's day ride arrives.
them's the rules.
rapha's classic winter jacket is available in sizes from xs to xxl in colours that include chartreuse, dark orange, dark grey and black at a retail cost of £260.
wednesday 16 november 2016..........................................................................................................................................................................................................
a pile of newspapers on the floor. next to the comfy leather armchair. in front of the telly. that, i'm ashamed to say, is the extent of my do-it-yourself abilities. a new shelf in the bathroom? fixing a broken leg on the kitchen chair? changing the lightbulb on the stair light? not a chance. i am a man of words, pictures and excuses. fortunately i have a son who is not only a qualified electrician, but possessor of a remarkably high level of practical skill.
nor does he read newspapers.
sunday was a dreich day which promised the luxury of skiffing through the myriad sections of saturday's guardian newspaper, accompanied by the occasional cup of green tea and perhaps a butter biscuit purely for medicinal purposes (it's one of my five-a-day). but part way through a telephone conversation with the mighty dave-t, mrs washingmachinepost alerted me to an unannounced water leak in the kitchen. thankfully, it transpired this was simply a broken waste unit, the retaining screw having corroded and top and bottom sections having gone their separate ways.
my rudimentary diy skills managed to cobble both sections together temporarily and a replacement part has now been sourced and received from the local branch of buildbase. except, i now had to fit the darned thing, the part of the day's proceedings towards which i was not looking forward. in the celebrated style of a master of procrastination and ineptitude, i managed to put off the crunch until after tea. for in truth, if i thought there any chance of actually getting a plumber to turn up before the end of the month, i'd rather have left it to an expert.
the latter has been the accepted process at massif central, at least up till now. the stalwarts at mc have not only been glad to receive bucketfuls of data from the great unwashed, but skilful in their graphic interpretations, resulting in some very fine wall candy indeed. according to howard smith "We've done prints including the Marathon Des Sables, TransAmerica, a Gastronomic Paris to Berlin, Paris-Brest-Paris, a Pyrennean Raid, a challenge to cycle between and climb the five highest peaks in the UK, plus loads of Ironmans and one day rides. The variety has been great."
despite their undoubted expertise in the field (so to speak), the amount of work involved in creating a never-ending series of masterpieces meant that these bespoke prints edged perilously close to pricey. in order to better satisfy the clamouring hordes, massif central have now had their own software developed offering "more flexibility, where we can preview and amend things much more easily and we can make them quicker."
now that the early software development period seems to be over, it's apparently our turn. "The idea is to take the software to the next level and have people be able to interact with it themselves. They go online, link some of their GPXs, make choices about look and design from our templates, add their personal comments and we print it for them. additionally "We are testing our software with 3D printing and laser cutting, as well as digital versions at lower cost."
not unsurprisingly nowadays, the need for funding to achieve these developments is a necessary part of the procedure, resulting in massif central creating a kickstarter project to fill the coffers. at the time of writing, they've already achieved nearly £11,000 of a necessary £55,000 with 24 days yet to go. if you fancy creating your own graphic based around your very own strenuous data, i think the kickstarter meme is already part of my/your velocipedinal dna.
click and enjoy.
tuesday 15 november 2016..........................................................................................................................................................................................................