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showerspass trailhead merino/bamboo hooded sweatshirt

showerspass trailhead hoodie

it was an ibis cycles embroidered cap that did it. what cycling now refers to as a podium cap, but most of us know as a baseball cap, is an integral part of the uniform of many around the island. it would be an unusual day indeed to cycle the highways and byeways of the principality without at least one boy-racer passing in his matt black corsa, baseball cap peak pulled low over the eyebrows. for no reason whatsoever, i've always wanted to be able to wear one of those and look as if i was born doing so. sadly, baseball caps generally make me look like a complete dork; and as for the practice achieved by the female of the species of having their ponytails peek above the rear adjustment strap, just don't get me started.

showerspass trailhead hoodie

but around the turn of the century, two american chaps arrived on the island, bringing with them a single-speed mountain bike, painted lagavulin green and known as an ibis single-malt. aside from kindly letting me play on the bike for a day, they also presented me with an ibis t-shirt and a beige coloured baseball cap. that was the first and only baseball cap that didn't make me look like a dork. at least, from my point of view.

that cap is long gone, though to where, i'd be fibbing if i said i knew. and as the years roll by, any need to appear 'down with the kids' has melted into the ether. nowadays, it's sensible trousers, sturdy, waterproof jackets and leather brogues, a uniform that not too many years past, would have been total anathema to a bike-riding jazz drummer with a ponytail. but apart from a totally unrealistic notion that chick corea will soon phone to ask that i play drums on his next tour, is the sneaking suspicion that i ought at least to be prepared in case he does.

showerspass trailhead hoodie

having watched youtube videos on which steve gadd plays drums with mr corea, it takes only a matter of moments to realise that brogues and sensible jackets would hardly allow me to fit seamlessly into this world of percussive creativity. sweatshirts and jeans; that's the ticket.

however, you well know that no matter my possible ascent to superstardom, the velocipedinal bug will be there, no matter what. meaning that, even during soundcheck at the blue note, there's nothing that says the hooded sweatshirt can't be fashioned from merino wool and bamboo, all the while sporting cycling pretensions. yes, the very mention of the word trailhead in the name would offer indications that we're in mountain bike territory here, yet 'tis but a short hop from springy farm-gates to the world of cyclocross, the very type of bike i'm sure would fit in the back of chick's tour bus.

showerspass trailhead hoodie

meanwhile, back in the real world, i have worn said merino/bamboo hoodie, day in day out for over a week, safe in the knowledge that the fabric provides a force-field against odours and is thus safe in which to be dressed while in polite company. the hood will (just) actually pull over the top of a helmet, though i'm mystified why anyone would want to, while the zipped, two-sided, front full-width pocket is large enough to carry a showerspass wind jacket. though the bamboo/merino knit is soft and marvellously cosy, windproof it isn't, so a quick burst into the hinterlands at this time of year, needs a smidgeon of protection.

showerspass trailhead hoodie

the hood features two lengthy drawstrings that dangle fashionably down the front of the sweatshirt while the sleeves are of excellent length when stretching for the brake-hoods. and unlike virtually any make of baseball/podium cap you care to mention, i'm satisfied that the hoodie is bereft of inherent dorkness. i'm aware that, unlike yours truly, not all of you will be adept at filling the drum chair with chick corea, but that's not to say that the showerspass trailhead hoodie won't confer the air of someone who just might.

now, go practice your paradiddles.

the showerspass trailhead hoodie is available in either grey or blue (as reviewed), in sizes ranging from small to xxl. cost is £95 with free shipping on all uk orders. | showerspass trailhead hoodie

monday 05 february 2018

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if it ain't broke, don't fix it

broken trek carbon frame

the ultimate fate of a cycle helmet is to find itself bashed against the ground, shattering into several pieces in the process of protecting its owner. and no matter how minor that infraction, it is recommended that the helmet be replaced, for good though the latest versions are, they're not designed to do the same job twice.

the same rules, however, do not necessarily apply to bicycle frames and for that we must be truly thankful. though cycle helmets can cost more than a couple of hundred pounds, they are ultimately an insurance policy against serious head injury. to place a price on that may not be the best idea any of us ever had. but modern-day bicycles, particularly those fashioned from carbon fibre, can cost several thousands of pounds and though it's never a great idea to bounce them off the ground, inevitably, for some of us at least, that's an unavoidable situation.

in the majority of situations, the latter scenario will result in road rash for both rider and cycle alike, both of which may result in hidden damage. for while steel bends under severe impact and aluminium has a tendency to crack, carbon will often shatter. the problem is that, due to its layered form, this is not always visible to the naked eye. it's a corollary of its method of fabrication; raw carbon matting is a remarkably pliable material, made into rigid format by impregnating it with resin. when the resultant material is heat-hardened, it forms a remarkably strong construct, but one that has little or no 'give'. any untoward force applied in excess of its designed parameters will almost inevitably result in a dramatic breakage.

thankfully such situations are few and far between when related to the number of carbon frames currently employed across the world. but once again, in similar light to that of the hapless cycle helmet, if the damage is more than just scraped clearcoat, it might well be safer to retire the frame from use. not everyone, however, seems to accept this situation. a few years ago, i came across a colnago time-trial frame for sale on ebay at a very reasonable price. on closer examination, the few pounds requested turned out to be the result of one of the seatstays having parted company with the remainder of the frame.

the seller made mention that perhaps the successful bidder could have the breakage repaired.

you can almost tell that i'm straining at the bit to point out how much more efficacious and long-lived would be a steel frame, if only the cognoscenti would pay heed. but carbon fibre cannot be uninvented and it's extremely unlikely that the world's bicycle purveyors are going to listen to a confessed luddite such as myself.

if only i could offer up an example pointing out the error of their ways.

sunday 04 february 2018

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flat out

 bloc beer

i have a vague inkling of just how visiting dignitaries must feel, based on my first foray into the cycling nirvana that is/was portland, oregon. though it was some eight years ago, i can remember much of it as if it was last week. the dignitary part came via the attentive ministrations of chris distefano, who, though now with slate olson at chrome industries, in 2009 he was the marketing genius at chris king in west nela street. on his midweek return from new york, he dedicated the remainder of the week to not only introducing me to more than half the town's cycle community, but eventually driving me to the airport for the return trip at week's end.

i had previously reviewed 'pedaling revolution', a book by jeff mapes, political correspondent for the oregonian and who had written a commentary on how cyclists were changing america's cities. chris had arranged for me to briefly meet with him at the green dragon pub on portland's east side. incidentally this iconic hostelry has now been demolished, reconstructed and resides under the considerably less attractive moniker of 'east side pub & pilot brewery'.

ah, well.

the green dragon featured both an indoor hut and an al fresco area with trees, picnic benches and wall-mounted bicycle parking. though i'm very much not a drinking sort of a chap, one of the principal attractions of the green dragon was its varying selection of belgian beers which, i am reliably informed, tend to be a tad stronger than those originating from most other countries. what was very much to my liking, however, was the availability of frites and mayo, the very food beloved of belgian cyclocross fans.

and me.

it seems that portland's partial besottedness with flanders extended further than their european flavoured pub lunches. on the sunday morning ride that had me struggling after twenty-six hours of travelling, i met with a few members of hup united, a high-profile local cycling club whose desire to be thought of in european terms extended as far as having their team kit made by franz verbeek's vermarc. underlining the levity with which this obsession was viewed, their jerseys were emblazoned with the words 'top tube goes here', sublimated on the right shoulder for cyclocross purposes.

thankfully, thewashingmachinepost enjoys a comfortably low profile on islay, an island not renowned for any sort of velocipedinal obsession. i mention this because, on an island with currently eight malt whisky distilleries and two more on the way, even allowing for a brewery only a few miles from the croft, mentioning beer might not be the most tactically prudent move. and despite my distaste for alcoholic beverages, even the strongly brewed juice of the hop, that's pretty much what all this is leading up to. perhaps my oft repeated contention that hebrideans are the flandrians of the west, is about to become more true than i had at first considered.

evidence for the above comes from the announcement that dutch (bear with me) bicycle beer brand à bloc is now being brewed in the uk and set to become more widely available. those of you well read in the spirit of the velominati will know that à bloc when translated into our lingua franca, means riding 'flat out', a factor endemic to our weekly bike rides. lest you think i have mistaken the origin of my marbles, let me explain further; though à bloc is of dutch parentage, this particular brew is described as 'an unfiltered, belgian-style, blonde beer'. and were you curious to discover any tentative connection between this blonde beer and your own intrepid velocipedinal activity, i might inform you that its strong flavour 'is enriched with proteins and vitamins'.

if ever there was a handy excuse to follow coffee and cake with a 'cold one', as i believe is the correct term, this could be it. i have no information as to whether a bottle of à bloc will fit the standard bottle cage.

à bloc beer

saturday 03 february 2018

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stop

sram s-900 dorect mount caliper brakes

i have commenced reading a book by a well-known cycling author concerning european racing from the latter part of last century. jerseys were still of the woollen variety, clipless pedals had yet to become a gleam in the eyes of bernard hinault and the brake cables, far from being hidden inside the frame, exited the top of the levers. crashing of gears, though generally absent amongst the professionals, was still a distinct possibility due to a complete lack of anything resembling indexing and were they to dismantle their bicycles at the end of a stage, they'd notice a few inches of threading atop the fork steerer.

sram s-900 dorect mount caliper brakes

when i first discovered the joys of road-bike riding over twenty years ago, it was partly as a reaction against the fickleness of the mountain bike world. seemingly every week, a new anodised widget would appear, claiming necessitous affixing to the bike in the shed, while componentry often seemed to be replaced long before it had reached its sell-by date. roadies, on the other hand, appeared to be reaping the benefits of their investment; threaded one-inch steerers still prevailed, steel was the only party in town with tubes joined by means of eye-pleasing lugs. add to that, componentry was not only polished alloy, but any new version seemed similar enough to its predecessor that shame would not be felt by those unable or unwilling to upgrade.

sram s-900 dorect mount caliper brakes

i've been writing thewashingmachinepost for more than twenty-one years and if you've been reading for even a few of those, you will doubtless be aware of my luddite tendencies. most people don't like change and i'm quite probably one amongst their number, but i warm even less to change that seems largely uneccessary. carbon may be the predominant flavour on sale today, but for all its purported advantages, it is often quite dependent on technological faffing to enhance its woven blackness. those are the bits that offer marketing departments the opportunity to wax lyrical.

arguably the biggest change to land on road bikes from a great height, is that of the disc-brake; neither integrated headsets, electronic gears, nor oversized downtubes have given the uci cause to ban them until assessing their veracity in the peloton. and though permission to go ahead in the 2018 season has now been given, even by the sometimes myopic british cycling for discs to be used in the heat of battle, it seems that there's still life in the humble caliper brake yet.

sram s-900 dorect mount caliper brakes

i have a cyclocross bicycle that features hydraulic discs, the existence of which i have had good cause to celebrate on more than one occasion. however, all the occasions that gave rise to this gratitude, involved unforeseen changes in terrain. road cycling is far less prone to such iniquities, particularly amongst those without a professional contract in one of their three back pockets. dual-pivot calipers, despite their failing fashionability, are still perfectly ok by me.

but though you'd think that the encroachment of discs would have wheel manufacturers ditching their braking surfaces by the dozen, while sram, shimano and campagnolo boxed their caliper production in favour of shiny spinning plates, it seems you and me might both be wrong. i do, however, have my suspicions that the wholesale continued development of calipers might conceivably be viewed as a one-time hedging of bets against the possibility of discs being permanently disallowed in the peloton. but the promoted advent of so-called direct-mount calipers, not entirely unexpectedly, brings a new set of dependent baggage that, just like discs, entails acquisition of a new frameset. and compatible examples of the latter are just a wee bit thin on the ground at present.

sram s-900 dorect mount caliper brakes

direct-mount calipers, a new model of which has just been announced by sram are arguably lighter, stiffer (but of course they are) and more aerodynamic than their dual-pivot brethren. but they demand that the forks and stays feature integrated bosses (similar to those required for cantilever brakes) to which the calipers can be bolted (one each side). i've not ridden any bikes equipped in this fashion, so once again, i may well be speaking out of turn, but i tend to think not.

i'm all for continued development in all areas of bicycle design, but i truly wonder if, one day, messrs. sinyard, colnago, campagnolo, shimano, pinarello et al will awake of a monday morning and realise that actually, they got it right a long time ago.

and i live in fervent hope that, at some time in the foreseeable future, the brake cables will once more exit from the top of the levers.

sram s-900 direct mount caliper brake | photos courtesy sram corporation.

friday 02 february 2018

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trading places

closed

i recall a conversation in garde du nord in paris, while awaiting departure of the london bound eurostar and after riding the 2008 hot chillee london-paris. we were discussing previous modes of employment during which conversation it transpired that one of our number, an editor at a popular cycling periodical, had, at one time, worked for a trade magazine concerning itself with car parks. in bald print, that looks as if it may be an invented whimsy. but he assured us that there was such a thing as a car park cognoscenti and that all expenses paid junkets to the far east to write about the opening of a new car park was a real thing.

you see, while we're all wrapped up in the advent of the latest in carbon, garmentage or electronic componentry, there are those who eagerly appreciate their own flavour of mundane matters. though physics has proved the bicycle to be one of the most efficient means of transport and we are all besotted with our own contributions to strava's heat map, others may well view the bicycle trade in the same way as i'm sure most of us appreciate that of the humble car park.

and it's not just places to leave your vehicle that attract fervent enthusiasm. a present day colleague publishes his own bi-monthly magazine wholly concerned with grass-cutting and its associated groundsmanship. who knew that week-long exhibitions were held in locations such as harrogate, featuring all manner of sit-on lawn mowers and several contemporary means of grass treatments. there's probably a lot more besides, but like most of you, all i can think of is the move's 1967 chart hit "i can hear the grass grow". grass is not high on my appreciation list.

but it would be unfair to denigrate an industry that quite obviously has an important, if mundane, place in contemporary society. for there is also a notable cycle trade magazine, both in print and online, catering predominantly for those who earn their living from selling bicycles and associated ephemera. the print edition's monthly contents tend to consist of in-depth articles about pertinent cycle-related subjects, while the website offers shorter daily updates, making excellent use of the medium's immediacy.

though there are many news items providing good cause for optimism, like many strains of modern commerce, not all is rosy in the velocipedinal garden.

the enthusiasm surrounding the so-called bradley bubble has waned somewhat, undoubtedly at least partially due to mr wiggins' retirement from the sport, coupled with his current robinson crusoe persona aboard a rowing machine. chris froome, the modern tour de france poster boy, is arguably deficient in the personality engendered by wiggo, so despite accumulating a few more tdf victories than his team sky predecessor, froome's sphere of influence on cycling's popularity is a tad smaller. could it be that this lack of a forceful personality is responsible for a marked decline in bicycle sales?

to offer a snapshot in support of my tenuous contention, a quick peek at a recent news page from the bicycle business shows just how quickly reality tends to bite. while the transition of a former online bicycle retailer to bricks and mortar should pique our optimism, this news is undermined by the closure of a northamptonshire bike store only a few hours after the same website reported on the liquidation of the company behind a birmingham cycle concept store. whatever the reasons behind either of those closures, it can hardly be regarded as good news for cyclists such as ourselves.

how often have i, or other media outlets, recommended regular patronage of the archetypal local bike shop? and if this decline in ibds continues, for how long will so doing remain relevant? i'd love to say i have a simple solution to the situation, but sadly, i don't. unfortunately, im not sure anyone else has either.

thursday 01 february 2018

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the heat is on

strava heat map

if you promise not to tell, i'll let you into a hebridean geographical secret. as is our wont on pretty much any day you care to mention, in order to head directly to debbie's for cake and froth-supping from washingmachinepost croft, 'tis but a simple matter of heading in the direction of bridgend. yes, there are a couple of ways to do so, but as one possessed of a large dollop of equanimity, i don't really mind which one you choose. on crossing the bridge that didn't actually give the village its name, the intrepid velocipedinist ought best to take a sharp left in the direction of bruichladdich.

i'd say that from this point onwards, there's nary a chance of losing the plot, so to speak, but that would be to discount a fork in the road just past crosshouses and that's where the secret begins. if you can stave off the caffeine pangs for long enough, you can flip to the right, temporarily leaving the route outlined above. in case you have any misgivings over this slight detour, let me allay your fears; this might be the long way round, but ultimately there are still a couple of ways to reach debbie's.

eventually.

strava heat map - islay

an enterprising five kilometre excursion, it ends at coullabus, right on the edge of the rspb reserve at gruinart. this singletrack, rough-surfaced road passes west carrabus farm just as the road heads slightly upwards just a tad, before later peaking out at borraichill, coincidentally where mrs washingmachinepost's granny was born. though the hill to the left rises a few hundred metres more, the road skirts the foothill (singular), while still affording excellent views of both loch indaal and the previously mentioned loch gruinart. the path to the latter runs past the small, idiosyncratically named farmhouse at lagstoban, where immoveable cattle are regularly to be found standing in the middle of a very muddy (euphemism alert) patch of road.

it's just off to the right where islay's secret military base is not to be found (if you catch my drift). were it that easy to see, it wouldn't be defined as secret. the site is generally unmanned, so there's little in the way of human activity that might give the game away. unlike, several of you will have read, the many top secret military bases that have had their locations broadcast to the world by unguarded personnel using their garmins and fitbits, then uploading the recorded data to strava. because strava's data algorithms are also largely unmanned, not only were the military unaware that their places in the sun were being revealed to one and all, but the hapless uniformed athletes were every bit as in the dark.

except, now they have all been forcefully enlightened, if you'll pardon the pun. for strava's heat map displays a comprehensive overview of more uploads than are seemly in polite athletic company. not unnaturally, life on a secret military base is somewhat restricted; popping out for a 100 mile ride before breakfast would no doubt be looked upon with less than good favour by the top brass. therefore, in order to complete a thorough cycle workout, it may become necessary to make use of every available roadway on the base, even if that entails repetitively riding up and down a runway, day after day.

i'm sure i have no need to point out that the gps traces, as displayed on the heat map, will thus delineate pretty much every geographic detail that up till now was thought to be top secret. in short, a remarkably large oops moment, that has no doubt resulted in one or two stentorian admonishments across the military world.

as to the top secret region near lagstoban on islay, well, i'm afraid i made that bit up. but i bet it made you look.

p.s. the really bright route showing on the map, is the direct route from bowmore to debbie's. i'm pretty sure you know why it shows brighter than other islay routes.

strava heat map of islay

wednesday 31 january 2018

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get a grip

romain bardet - ag2r la mondiale

the mondialisation of cycling by the governing body means that no longer are the spring classics the rugged start to the season. in fact, examining a portion of that last sentence a tad more closely, there would surely be a strong case for maintaining that the season as it relates to professional cycling, no longer has a beginning or an end. when recently reviewing a reflective merino jersey from rapha, i thought it prudent to point out that while the garment would not be the ideal choice after dark in the northern hemisphere, it would be just fine and dandy below the equator. so while cycle racing is arguably reckoned to be the birthright of the european continent, the uci have made a decent fist of denying that part of our heritage.

the attractions of racing in australia at the tour down under are easy to see. while even those of us who simply play at being peter sagan on the weekend are dressed up to our merino and dwr coated eyeballs, images from racing way down south, are festooned with short-sleeve jerseys, bibshorts and early season tanlines. not at all what we're used to up north. however, at the risk of extending the cliché, they hardly reinforce the epitome of pain and suffering and probably wouldn't hold the same cache in black and white. ben ingham probably ignores the tour down under.

this dilution of that which many of us were happy to have become used to, has actually been in progress for longer than we're perhaps willing to admit. yes indeed, the uci have spread their inflatable podia far and wide, ostensibly in search of the velocipedinal dollar, rupee, and many another indigenous currency, bringing our wonderful sport to parts of the world that were previously accustomed to more arcane forms of sporting endeavour. but while aigle has increased the number of days available for cycle racing, many participating riders have been heading in the opposite direction, choosing where and when to display a fine set of custom footwear.

the unofficial height mark for competitive riders has to be that of eddy merckx, a man whose nickname pretty much tells the whole story. sadly, i am no better than my peers by trundling out the same old same old, citing his preparedness and fitness at the beginning of the season (in march) which continued unabated until the leaves fell in italy. nowadays, by way of dramatic contrast, riders such as froome, nibali, quintana and the other boys in the band, choose a few races in which they feel confident of a decent result and spend the rest of the time watching the boats sail into harbour at monaco.

many of us are more than endeared by the prospect of paris-roubaix, despite its being preceded by several other worthy races. it's an event that has featured on the racing calendar since 1896, with the parcours having altered little over the past few decades, only changing slightly to accommodate recently discovered or restored sections of cobbles. it's a hard race that tends to suit a certain style of rider, a prerequisite for which must surely include a soupcon of masochism. but i doubt that it would be undermining its magic to relate that its arrival each april is hardly cause for surprise.

thus, when those dastardly individuals at the amaury sports organisation throw a curve-ball, by including sections of cobbles in the tour de france, even this early in the year, before any racing has begun properly (sorry australia; no disrespect intended), concerned individuals are already in the process of bouncing their carbon nanotubes across a series of unkempt cobble stones in a worried frenzy, behaving as if cobbles were a recent invention. ag2r la mondiale rider, romain bardet (who photographer scott mitchell informs me displays notable mod tendencies) has already made his bicycle all muddy, presumably because, to quote velonews "the potential damage and opportunity the stage presents has been resonating in the mnds of every gc favourite since the 2018 route was announced last october."

would it be rude of me to mention rule #5?

photo: ag2r la mondiale

tuesday 30 january 2018

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