rapha ultramarine pro team softshell

rapha ultramarine pro team softshell

water colour painting has always been regarded as the preserve of the amateur, yet in my opinion, its relative complexity makes it a tad harder than painting with oils. watercolour relies on the luminosity of the paper to bring the painting to life; lighter shades, including white, must be gauged at the very beginning of any work, for there's really no practical way to correct an error of this type later in the work. oils (and acrylics), however, can be easily scraped away or overpainted at any point during the painting process. if the highlights are found to be wanting at any point, 'tis but simplicity itself to add white.

despite this rather tautological observation, when at art college, watercolours would only be accepted as studies for a final work in oils, acrylics, or as the trendier and more pretentious among us, would often ascribe, mixed media. for individuals such as yours truly, this situation had a rather detrimental effect on my progress in the drawing and painting department, for at the time, i had greater prowess with watercolours than tubes of oils.

rapha ultramarine pro team softshell

and as with many an artistic endeavour, there was often a reproducible trick that presented one's work in a more accomplished light than was truly the case. as one with landscape pretensions, all but very few of my watercolours would feature skies of varying demeanour. should it have been found necessary to depict a grey sky such as that afflicting the hebrides at this moment, there was a formula that created a luminescent grey that took great advantage of the underlying paper grain.

oddly enough and definitely not a process that i'd have discovered for myself, mixing even quantities of ultramarine (a bright blue) and light red (think teracotta) would result in an excellent grey with the added benefit of a delightful grain courtesy of, i believe, a chemical reaction between the two pigments. the latter proved to be heavier than each pigment on its own and thus sank to the bottom, randomly inhabiting the paper grain in a most attractive fashion.

rapha ultramarine pro team softshell

mixing ultramarine and light red oil paint would create an equally pleasing grey, but totally devoid of the effect engendered by their watercolour cousins. and to think this was thought to be within the domain of the amateur artist.

the original ultramarine in the time of michelangelo and leonardo was created by grinding the precious rock, lapis lazuli into a fine powder. the latter was imported by italian traders into europe from mines in modern day afghanistan, the name ultramarine being derived from the latin for beyond the sea. should you fancy recreating this for print purposes, the cmyk numbers are 100,75,0,0.

synthetic ultramarine pigment arrived in the early nineteenth century, bringing a welcome level of economy to the amateur watercolourist.

rapha ultramarine pro team softshell

in this context, it's as well that we are considering the influence of water, for the design boffins at rapha's imperial works have chosen ultramarine as the ideal colour for the latest edition of their pro team softshell, a jacket that purports (and succeeds) in keeping precipitation definitively on the outside while allowing the modest perspiration produced by the typically athletic cyclist to pass through unhindered. this, of course, is the holy grail of protective clothing, the very apparel that allows us to be #braverthantheelements.

and while we're also on the subject of art, it is a factor for which i am willing to suffer, having manfully embraced velominati's rule#9 for a couple of hours on sunday morning, when the winds had cancelled the ferries and turned relatively modest rainfall into a verisimilitude of a karcher power wash. despite this equivalent of lengthy shot-peening across the bows of the jacket for longer than is seemly in polite company, the jersey concealed beneath was as dessicated as it was on leaving the croft. pretty much the perfect result as far as i (and probably rapha) am concerned.

rapha ultramarine pro team softshell

and despite the official name for this brightly coloured jacket, peppered here and there with bright pink forcats de route stripes paying more than just lip service to the professional milieu, this amateur was greatly impressed by its grain, if you see what i mean.

as is to be expected on a garment of this quality, both cuffs featured gussetted zips that ease the wearing and removal of a pair of pro team gloves and can be closed to retain heat, or opened to heat the great outdoors with the sweat of our own brows (wrists?). the high collar featuring a set of those forcat stripes and a monogrammed rapha, keeps the worst of the elements at bay, while the plasticised strip over the centre rear pocket has proven itself to be a deal more than a gimmick. those pockets are capacious in their cargo abilities and accompanied by a fourth zipped edition for coffee money or a sable watercolour brush. fully-taped internal seams complete the forcefield.

rapha ultramarine pro team softshell

rapha are to be congratulated for exploring the colours less travelled in the quest for pragmatic alternatives to the ubiquitous fluorescent yellow, in this case, beautifully contrasted with bright pink detailing. the hebrides are now well into the season for which this jacket is expressly designed; it is a mere matter of varying the density of the undergarments to cope with the descending temperatures the sedgeway into winter will probably bring to our attention.

i may now laugh in the face of adversity with a gratuitous sneer.

rapha's pro team softshell is available in ultramarine, rich burgundy, or black, in sizes ranging from xs to xxl at a retail price of £200.

rapha ultramarine pro team softshell

monday 2 october 2017

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it's the future jim, but not as we know (want?) it

non-stop brian aldiss

for decades, the steel road bike was king. alternative materials were either unavailable or simply not considered as replacements for the trusty ferrous product, once joined together with lugs or fillet brazing, but more recently via the more economic tig welding. arguably, the end of the cold war changed the bicycle, or at least its manufacture, as we know it. with no longer any pressing need or market for unrestrained technical development in the aerospace industry, many subsequently underemployed corners of fabrication had to look elsewhere to bolster the profit margin. for reasons i don't quite comprehend, many seem to have chosen the humble bicycle.

this resulted in steel having to compete with titanium, a metal that was far harder to work and weld, but one potentially lighter than steel and sufficiently resistant to corrosion that the top frames could remain unpainted. i can even recall a $24,000 bicycle frame built from beryllium, possibly the worst of the market's brief splurge of excess. in the light of this ostensibly non-cycling market looking for new customers, the jump from metal to plastic (carbon fibre) seems less incomprehensible, and at least partially explains why we are where we are.

early carbon frames such as those from colnago or alan, featured carbon tubes joined with either carbon or aluminium lugs, the latter proving less of a success in the longevity or structural stakes. colnago, however, still offer a lugged carbon frame. everyone else shifted to monocoque construction via the now ubiquitous mold method, which has brought us a never ending variety of shaped tubes and unparalleled (and possibly unwanted) stiffness. the mold build has effectively forced many of those who'd prefer a handbuilt, made-to-measure frame to once again look at steel or titanium.

however, once pandora's box has been opened, it's all but impossible to put everything back. it pretty much brings me back to my oft-repeated question: once you've sold everyone double-glazing, then what do you do?

though the uci has said little publicly about how their disc-brakes-on-road-bikes assessment is progressing, pretty much everyone in the industry accepts that there's really no stopping their wholesale adoption, mostly because the industry wants it to happen; disc mounts cannot be retrofitted to carbon frames, so the double-glazing question has been answered.

much of the future of technical development rests on the uci re-examining the lower weight limit currently applied to world-tour road bikes. quite clearly it is possible to manufacture a relatively sturdy frame that arrives a few hundred grammes lighter that the mandatory 6.8kg. this might be less of a problem than it seems at present; a frame lighter than legal can often be brought back to parity with the addition of hydraulic discs.

and then there's electronica. sram may currently hold the upper hand by featuring wireless operation, but at sometime you have to figure that the other two will follow suit. once that happens, even pandora might be aghast, for surely an integration of all sorts of unlikely componentry considerations will ensue? what would be the odds on a fully automatic gearset appearing within the next few years, where shifting will occur independently of rider actuation. and all extra-curricular activity will be integrated into the bars and stem along with a visual display to inform the rider of the choices made by an artificial intelligence brain concealed within the seatpost.

after a shaky and uncertain start in life, the so-called e-bike is now coming into its own, grabbing market share in a market that wasn't there at all a few years ago. there's already an entire race series for electric racing cars, so it seems a less than outlandish thought that cycling might follow suit sooner rather than later. carbon bicycles with integrated, artificial intelligence enhanced electronica, automatic gearchange combined with hydraulic disc brakes and an electric motor are now looking less like science fiction, but at the risk of underlining my already self-admitted luddite tendencies, isn't that what we might legitimately call a car?

just saying.

sunday 1 october 2017

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a sense of balance

bicycle with stabilisers

when i started playing in a band while at college, a friend told me that i'd never be able to listen to music in the same way ever again. and he was right. it is currently well nigh impossible for me to listen to any recording, whether jazz, blues, pop or rock without forming my intial opinion on the drum sound. occasionally, i am intrigued and spend inordinate hours trying to tune my own set in similar manner, oblivious to the fact that much of it may well be due to studio or software trickery. more often than not, however, i can't help saying out loud, "what on earth were they thinking?"

this is not, of course necessarily a bad thing; i have managed to fashion it into an arguably more educated way of appreciating music, but sometimes not even i am convinced of that.

it's a similar situation with bicycles. though i do have my own bikeshed full, riding those is frequently interspersed by the arrival of nice, new shiny carbon fibre or perchance some quality steel. this means that i am now in the position of rarely riding a bicycle for the sheer pleasure, the default process being more often than not concerned with how stiff the ride is, how well/badly it climbs, whether the balance is well set, etc., etc. once more, this is not necessarily a bad thing; the more often i do so, theoretically the better i'll be at reviewing that shiny carbon.

however, one aspect of cycling we're probably all guilty of ignoring is just how the darned things balance in the first place. the fact that bicycles do not balance all by themselves can be aptly illustrated by the fact that we now put our kids on so-called balance bikes or distinctly worse, stabilisers to stop them falling over.

according to science, it is the forward motion of the wheels combined with an inherent gyroscopic proclivity of the average cycle that allows us to pedal hither and thither, slowly or quickly, without falling off with embarrassing regularity. dr hugh hunt, however, conducted experiments with a second front wheel spinning in the opposite direction which ought to have cancelled out any inherent gyroscopic activity. the fact that it made not one whit of a difference, led him to conclude that the gyroscope effect was pretty much inert.

science, of course, is one thing, practicality another altogether. as i mentioned only a matter of days ago, it took me many a long year to master the art of riding a bicycle and i know of many an adult who is still unaware of the joys of cycling. which is presumably one reason why the ford motor company has recently patented technologies to aid the balancing of the two-wheeled bicycle; aiming to 'keep a wobbling cyclist upright' as a report in bikebiz states.

ford's principal raisen d'etre may well be the manufacture of motor cars, but they are not so inept as to underestimate the congestive effect of cities becoming ever more populated by an excess of vehicles. there's a reasonable case for positing the bicycle as a pragmatic solution to inner-city congestion, while the car remains available for longer journeys to pastures new. success in persuading the average human to buy into this future transport scenario might well depend on aiding those with no great desire or ability to ride a bicycle to do precisely that.

of course a cheaper alternative might just be to encourage more folks to learn to ride a bicycle correctly in the first place through early years practical education. or does that just seem a tad obvious?

maybe soon there'll be an app for that.

saturday 30 september 2017

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when it's nice to have good friends

grimpeur brothers - helen wyman

a week or so ago i posted a feature on the richard sachs cyclocross team, concerning not only the necessity of sponsorship, but the nature of his and the team's relationship with those sponsors. i had asked richard if running a four-person team for a full-season would be doable without this financial assistance, to which he replied "It would take a small fortune to do all of this independently and without a support system similar to the one we have in place. America is a large continent, and the traveling alone consumes a major part of the budget." imagine, therefore, the financial necessities of participating in a full women's 'cross season that encompasses not only racing in north america, but the european circuit too.

grimpeur brothers - helen wyman

just think what that would cost.

helen and stefan wyman form a partnership that has allowed mrs wyman to compete at the very highest level for a number of seasons, but like richard sachs, helen is utterly dependent on financial sponsorship from a number of sources. yet, however amenable those sources are to assisting such a successfully competitive rider in her quest for sporting success, there will always be room for a (large or small) smidgeon more.

"It's such a great time to be involved in the sport of women's cyclocross. For the past four years, I've been pushing for change as part of the UCI Cross Commission, and I'd love to continue riding at the top level to see those changes take full effect."

helen is sponsored by kona bicycles and receives support from challenge tyres, shimano, and verge clothing amongst others. but as the sport of cyclocross gets to the parts that other sports fail to reach, the cost of following the mud doesn't get any cheaper. stefan and helen are therefore looking for another partner to keep her racing into 2018.

grimpeur brothers - helen wyman

"It's a pretty scary time as an athlete when you know you're possibly going to be without a team, but I have good people around me.  My other half is working hard on things everyday, and I have a solid media strategy in place. I just have to focus on turning the pedals and getting results."

however, as helen alluded to above, things are changing in the women's branch of 'cross; she has been instrumental in garnering equal prize-money to achieve parity with the male side of the sport. and she's not simply an individual with a sporting ego to feed. "I'm just trying to race and make things a bit better for the next line of riders. I've been lucky. Some riders have had it far harder than me, but I would love to continue for a few more years and pass on some of my knowledge to riders of all levels."

grimpeur brothers - helen wyman

life would possibly be less complicated if helen simply concentrated on helen, but she's perfectly well aware that 'cross won't progress as much as it needs to if left entirely to its own devices. if the more experienced competitors remained totally insular and obsessed with number one, the next generation would surely have need of reinventing the wheel (no pun intended). "It would be a huge downer to do the work and not be a part of the sport when it's all working and settled. But that might be the reality."

"Having equal prize money, and all the same races as the men wouldn't mean our sport is necessarily in a healthy place. But proving that partnerships with women riders can yield a good (commercial) return, as well as making a difference, is definitely going to help. So that's what I'm trying to do."

grimpeur brothers - helen wyman

helen is not necessarily the only competitive cyclist experiencing these seasonal struggles; making a living as a professional cyclocross rider, especially when you're neither dutch or belgian was always going to be something of a delicate balancing act. but when media exposure depends on results which, in turn, have a detectable bearing on the confidence of existing or potential sponsors, as the years roll by it's a situation that can only become a tad more of a struggle.

"All I can do is keep trying to provide a valuable return, do my bit for the sport in general, and try to grab results wherever possible."

but then, just when you'd put your head down and accepted that the slog will remain a tangible prospect, along comes a cup of coffee to offer not only a welcome boost, but potentially a sliver of financial aid into the bargain. and this is where you and i can be of specific help, but only if we act very quickly. in fact, by day's end tomorrow, 30th september. and i really can't underline just how important it might be that you deal with this now rather than later.

grimpeur brothers - helen wyman

grimpeur brothers is a coffee company based in austin, texas and brooklyn, new york, a company whose motto encourages you to "ride your bike, drink great coffee". a connection between cycling and coffee has existed since fausto coppi was a wee boy, so perhaps the fact that grimpeur bros. are intent on swelling the wyman battle coffers should perhaps come as no real surprise. whizz over to the grimpeur website immediately to sign up for a $200, six month, limited edition helen wyman coffee subscription (usa only, but perhaps you could negotiate) and founder dan manco intends to pass on the profits to support her 2017-18 'cross season.

apart from seeming like a darned generous offer of support, i really had to ask dan why, when there are an untold number of american riders, did he choose helen wyman?

"So why did I decided to support Helen with a six month coffee subscription? Well, she's a great champion and incredible ambassador for cyclocross. And we LOVE cross. Also I fully support her campaigning for equal prize money for women racers. It's 2017 and it's mind boggling that there aren't always equal payouts."

grimpeur brothers - helen wyman

and are those the only reasons? "Ah, also she complimented my Kona Jake the Snake when I snuck onto the Louisville CX World's course with some friends during a practice session. "Nice bike," made me an instant fan. Heh."

perhaps that's a strategy that the world's 'cross riders have neglected. potentially the coffers might be full to overflowing if they all took the time to compliment prospective sponsors on the bicycle(s) leaning against the corporate van. but what ironically maybe swung the situation in wyman's favour was this year's #saveargyle campaign. "Both Stef Wyman and Mark Legg (Katie Compton's husband) wrote blog posts about how a fraction of what Slipstream was crowdfunding, could fund their racing and deliver tremendous value for a brand. That got me thinking: I wish I had a spare US$50k marketing budget and I'd fund a women's CX team with Helen, Katie, and Amanda Nauman, plus another racer."

cycling history is peppered with enthusiastic sponsors who have ladled money into the sport purely for altruistic reasons; it's the perfect storm when obsession and marketing budget meet happily in the middle. but with no disrespect intended, few of those have been coffee roasters. "We're (only) a small coffee company. What could we do? However, the idea of a subscription plan popped into my head. Subscriptions get paid upfront, so we could get money to Helen quickly. So I emailed Stef with the idea on a Wednesday night in the US. Thursday morning we started working out the details. Helen's supporter coffee subscription was launched the following Monday."

the subscription has, according to dan, been a great success, but it does end on 30 september, north american time. you know the drill.

grimpeur brothers - helen wyman

grimpeur brothers helen wyman subscription coffee

friday 29 september 2017

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bicycle users manual

some of you may have read a piece on the excellent red kite prayer website concerning the apparent failure of the bars/stem/tri-bar unit on the factor time-trial bike belonging to rider maxime roger. video of this unfortunate, but thankfully less than serious accident, found itself on youtube where it did what many seem to do nowadays and 'went viral', as the saying goes. i'm none too sure as to whether there's a specific number of views that needs to be reached before qualifying as viral, but at the time of writing, 1,261 folks had taken a look.

as pointed out with great accuracy on red kite prayer, the fault lay not with the bicycle, its carbon fibre, or indeed the construction of the bar/stem combo itself. it transpires that the problem lay with a mechanic unfamiliar with the mechanical intricacies of the unfairly blamed component. as the saying goes, "shit happens", particularly with a little assistance from members of the human race.

maxime roger accident

however, while the bicycle in question - an ag2r factor carbon time-trial machine - could reasonably be considered state of the art and probably out of reach for most of us, there is, as the component industry is fond of saying, a trickle-down factor involved (no pun intended). that's why each professional cycle team has need of professionally trained mechanics, fully conversant with the fiddly bits and iniquities of modern bicycle technology.

you and i, however, are more than likely nowhere near that level of professional competence, yet hand any of us a multi-tool or a spanner and we exhibit no fear or reticence to fettle the nearest allen bolt or handlebar clamp. that we ought perhaps to demonstrate a tad more circumspection can probably be highlighted by the modern trend of printing torque-wrench numbers in close proximity to the aforesaid clamps and bolts.

several years ago i published a comprehensive article about the dos and don'ts of torque settings written by the inestimable graeme freestone king. however, though i've no doubt that days or even weeks of research have gone into calculating those newton metres, it's a salient fact that very few of us own a torque wrench, and in the case of those who do, do you know how to use it correctly?

maxime roger accident

the situation is, of course, somewhat more complex than that. it was rather appropriately stated by factor's north american manager, richard wittenberg: "This isn't (about) an old Cinelli stem where once you know how it works, you know how every other stem out there works." and that, to put it in a nutshell, is the potential problem.

to use the cinelli stem as a suitable example, these originated in the days when (quill) stems were inserted into the top of a threaded steel steerer. a wedge was tightened into place by way of an external bolt or countersunk allen bolt. the height could be adjusted up or down with ease, as long as the maximum height mark was carefully observed. the bars had to be wiggled into place; there was no stem faceplate, simply a single bolt to clamp them in place in the one-piece stem.

compare that to the parlee stem that featured on the recently reviewed sven pathfinder bicycle. the similarly branded carbon bars were held in place by two separate clamps necessitating a total of four allen bolts requiring even tension. the possibility of the bars coming loose during an offroad bike ride was thus multiplied by a factor (again, no pun intended) of four, should my mechanical incompetency have merely reached an abysmal level.

i make no claims of even coming close to the abilities demonstrated by that of the professional mechanic, but i am reasonably familiar with the necessities of assembling and disassembling certain aspects of the modern-day bicycle. however, i will hold my hand up as incompetent when it comes to electronics or hydraulics.

torque settings

though any bike shop worth its salt will have professionally setup any new purchase and you would expect no less from a bona-fide online retailer, there are always going to be moments when your new or recent purchase needs adjustment, one that you have every inetntion of carrying out by yourself. sadly, even if you do as advised and read the manual before spanner wielding commences, you will doubtless have discovered just how pointless those manuals actually are.

with thru-axles becoming ever more prevalent on disc-brake equipped bikes, it was something of a disappointment to read an accompanying booklet (not with the sven pathfinder, i hasten to add) that explained how to fit a quick release lever. that same booklet also described the necessary adjustments on a set of (not even) dual pivot calipers. as the bicycle and its componentry become ever more complex, it's right and proper that we seriously consider leaving the majority of work to a professional bike mechanic.

however, if the bicycle was purchased online, asking your local bike shop to carry out repairs might not be the best way to win friends and influence people. and with more and more manufacturers following the lead of internet-only brands such as canyon, what's a hapless cyclist to do? might i therefore issue a plea to the world's bicycle manufacturers to spend as much time on the production of their user manuals as they do on the veracity of their carbon layup? it surely can't be that difficult to write a manual that matches the bicycle it accompanies?

maxime rogers' tri-bar breakage | red kite prayer

thursday 28 september 2017

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the autumn dilemma

the autumn dilemma

i do not for one moment wish to infer that i hold any particular sympathies for the sport; i'm very much an adherent to velominati's rule #42, to wit: 'a bike ride/race, shall never be preceded with a swim and/or followed by a run.', so i'd be most grateful if you didn't consider me to be a triathlete. for starters, my swimming resembles nothing more than a mobile jacuzzi and i truthfully cannot run the length of myself. however, having previously participated in a team triathlon event, where i had need solely of pedalling, i am aware that there is such a thing as a transition area, where swimmers switch to the bike and subsequently to a pair of trainers.

in real life, autumn is the cyclist's transition area. though i'd be more than amenable to commencing autumn/fall at the beginning of september, even if we accept that the season reputedly officially begins on 22 september, we're definitely down the taxi-way and onto the flight path. the reason that it can be considered as a transition is, as we are all aware, due to the weather. as with everything weather related, the chillier, windier and wetter variations tend to reach the north earlier and leave later. locally, the day after islay's annual agricultural show has taken place is denoted as the onset of winter; autumnal considerations are merely the stuff of myth and fiction.

though an arguably wiser person than i apparently once said "there's no such thing as bad weather, just poor clothing choices", it's a statement loaded to the perimeter with indecision and a total lack of pinpoint accuracy. i cannot speak for regions other than my own, but this far west, the weather has no compunction in altering at lightning speed and more than once in a single day. thus the day's velocipedinal apparel choice(s) can rarely be seen as cut and dried (oh, that the last consideration were true).

if i might offer a relevant happenstance, on sunday past, the weather forecast as per our favoured displayed its usual lack of daily or even hourly consistency. thus the weather for sunday morning left rather a sizeable window of options, leading to my piling the top of the bathroom cabinet high with jerseys, shorts, jackets and gloves that might satisfy whatever it was i woke up to.

and there, precisely, is where the dichotomy arises. we, as the community of cyclists that chris boardman denies exists ("a mode of transport, not a species") are often remiss in our proselytising, of mentioning the costs inherent in year-round participation. personally, i am less than dogmatic over what standard of bicycle one ought to be seen riding. like bicycling magazine editor, bill strickland, i figure you ought to ride whatever is available, or what keeps you happy; the cost is immaterial.

however, it would be a tad misleading to infer that the same criteria is applicable to cycle clothing. that cheap cagoul bought from the supermarket is unlikely to equal the weather protection offered by cycling-specific apparel from the likes of assos, rapha, endura, castelli and the like. and though there are cheaper alternatives to those named, that frequently brings into play yet another old saying 'buy cheap, buy twice'. there's a research and development reason as to why top level clothing often costs rather a lot.

while many a mechanic or well-meaning advisor would argue that the finest upgrade anyone can bestow upon their bicycle is a quality pair of wheels, i'd be inclined to initially eschew the no-expense-spared-on-the-bike scenario in favour of chucking most of my hard-earned in the direction of the clothing rack. though your mileage may vary depending on your location, i for one would prefer to ride my bike all year round, safe in the knowledge that i could triumph in the face of climatic adversity.

and to think that, for the civilian population, 'tis but only one of the four seasons.

the autumn dilemma

wednesday 27 september 2017

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it's a (lack of) skill

peter sagan - s-works diverge

peter sagan is a highly skilled cyclist, a man who can not only nip out of the melée in bergen to deny any others the opportunity to wear a rainbow hooped jersey, but can more than adequately demonstrate the sort of trickery that can be achieved aboard an s-works diverge while pedalling (quickly) through the forest.

no doubt the man has bmx and mountain biking in his undisclosed background, from whence came those much admired wheelies and bunnyhops often on display across the finishing lines of mountain stages. if you're going to be a crowd pleaser, it helps to have some definably extra-curricular skills to show off.

peter sagan - s-works diverge

those of us possessed of a less ostentatious nature, a factual statement that often adequately covers up a complete lack of demonstrable velocipedinal skills, can simply marvel at a gent who might reasonably be considered the professional's professional. however, this is not intended as a fanboy paean to peter sagan, despite the above paragraphs of sycophancy, but a probably vain attempt to comprehend the range of skills required by the (average) contemporary cyclist.

there can be few amongst us who have not experienced the embarrassing ignominy of that first ride in clipless pedals. not the successful part where everything ran smoothly, but the part where you forgot that the shoes were clipped into the pedals, just as you tipped sideways onto the tarmac at a major road junction surrounded by a crowd of pedestrians and at the point when the lights turned to green. we can all laugh about it now, when professional pride allows the luxury of unclipping with either foot, no matter the circumstances that demand it. but the embarrassment lives on, nonetheless.

peter sagan - s-works diverge

and then there's cyclocross, a side of the sport that allows any individual the luxury of examining the undergrowth at extremely close quarters, when in fact one ought to be sat atop the saddle. i have previously confessed that i thought the act of clambering aboard a cyclocross bike was a physical ability with which one was blessed at birth. for any others who thought likewise, i can but forcibly disavow you of that mistaken notion.

clambering off the bicycle to complete the second half of that process is really no better. it's all very well for the simon burneys and jeremy powers of this world to advise how to raise the right leg over the back of the saddle while stood on the left, but remember to read the part where that left foot is told to unclip before you begin to run.

that's the second means of examining the same undergrowth.

however, the skill that very few of us appear to have mastered to any convincing degree, is that of clipping-in with the second foot, whichever of the two you prefer that to be. this was manifestly and frequently obvious throughout all three days of this year's hot chillee london-paris ride, where one or two individuals were seen to fall to the ground having run out of forward momentum before managing to clip in. i'd like to snigger, but people in glass houses really ought not to throw stones.

peter sagan - s-works diverge

as three of us headed home on saturday after a modest repast at debbie's, despite an invasive, galeforce crosswind, we approached the small bridge at the foot of the hill at blackrock. a large tractor and trailer headed downhill towards us and, since the bridge is too narrow to accommodate cycling and agriculture side-by-side, we pulled almost to a halt to allow tractor and trailer to pass unhindered. we're courteous that way, for while the guy in the cab was obviously working, we were only playing.

it transpired however, that the tractor, trailer and driver were even more courteous than were we, stopping mid-descent before waving us on. disappointingly, i had already unclipped my right foot, ready to halt before i'd suddenly to lurch forward, upwards and in completely the wrong gear for the task at hand. the gear situation was handled with aplomb, but the right foot persisted in its bid for freedom, forcing me to effectively climb steeply with one leg.

i doubt that peter sagan has the faintest idea of that of which i speak.

tuesday 26 september 2017

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