many years ago, when islay not only had sufficient cyclists to undertake time-trialling, but some left over to act as start/finish marshals and timekeeper, we'd put ourselves through hebridean purgatory between bowmore's round church and islay international airport. and, of course, back again. this distance had some affiliation with the regular ten miles we'd read about in the comic each week; in our estimation, it was close enough for jazz. this is a temperament eeked out each day and encapsulated beautifully by david adams, tour guide at laphroaig distillery: "on islay, everything is manana, only not quite so hurried."
on hearing last week that alex dowsett had reduced the british national record for such a distance, i could only remark that he'd have had a hard time being that quick over the 'islay ten'.
the mighty dave t is a former resident of nottingham and almost a lifelong cyclist. on moving to the principality it was not an unforeseen event that he'd nip out for a bike ride, during which it was even less of an unforeseen eventuality that he would be rained upon. or, as in this case, hailed upon. correctly figuring that this hailstorm would last only minutes, he decided the best course of action was to take temporary shelter, bringing to light the bete noir of any islay velocipedinist; there is no shelter.
our former ten mile time-trial course fulfilled that same predicament. once you've left the environs of bowmore, just past the laggan bridge, the road is wide open to whatever takes it's fancy to drop upon you from a great height. and inevitably wind-assisted. this would have been an almost equitable state of affairs had we been talking about a headwind out and tailwind home, but more often than not, that galeforce wind hits from the side, meaning that throughout those ten miles(ish) it was omnipresent.
i do so hope alex is paying attention.
having recently reviewed michael barry's shadows on the road, one of the more memorable phrases uttered by his first coach was to keep pedalling hard in a time-trial "until you see jesus". i'm eternally grateful that the gentleman was not my cycling coach, for that sounds way too much like hard work. i have generally only ridden hard enough to see one or two black spots in front of my eyes, and then only on very rare occasions. now that i'm well past the point of even having need of repeating the word competitive, i have found the ideal pragmatic solution. one that brings new meaning to not peaking too soon.
the happy folks at this is cambridge would appear to have provided themselves with the ideal means of keeping the wolf from the door by offering a very attractive range of cycling caps. not only is there a special edition tdf sunflower cap, thoughtfully coloured in yellow and black (i wonder where they got that idea from?), but it forms part of a new range entitled panache, one of which features a fluorescent yellow underside to the peak speckled with large black dots. powering along at the speed du jour it is therefore simplicity itself to raise one's eyes heavenward and see a verisimilitude of the very black dots i mentioned earlier.
it is in your own interests that i point out the remainder of the cap is fashioned from very black black brushed cotton, in a 'one-size-fits-all' as long as it's xs, s, m, l or xl. should black dots seem a less than appealing addendum to any bike ride, the peak is also available with blue sky and clouds, or rather more mysteriously, with the word boom, a la roy lichtenstein. i am firmly of the opinion that any helmet ought to sandwich a cotton cycling cap between head and polystyrene, almost always peak down. there are very few occasions in the hebrides when riding with the peak in the up position would be considered acceptable. fluoro yellow with black dots is, however, most acceptable.
i assume chris boardman's level four entailed black spots didn't it?
tuesday 10 june 2014..........................................................................................................................................................................................................