'the probability of an individual adopting any belief increases in proportion to those who have already done so.'
it's hard to deny that humanity has rather unconsciously adopted the herd mentality; that unrelenting need to adopt the activities of others. i have lately had discussions with the local school regarding their apparent lack of enforcement of the uniform policy announced at the commencement of last session. observers other than i have also found it difficult to avoid commenting on the fact that schoolkids are generally averse to wearing a designated uniform. they'd rather all wear the same thing instead. it's a feature, however, not confined to those of school age. when reaching the upper reaches of teenage years merging into the twenties, the word fashion becomes the catch all.
the world of the cyclist is not immune.
you may recall the initial demise of steel as a frame material, being replaced by refined bauxite before eschewing metal altogether and entering the world of burnt plastic. and the latter has become our bread and butter over the last number of years. as the quest for light weight and stiffness continues to obsess the marketing departments' copywriters, we have wholesale bought into the whole experience, despite the majority of us having little or no need for anything like the level of equipment required by those who make a living from their cycling ability.
we're all mostly and massively guilty of jumping on the bandwagon.
it only needs an individual or group to lead in a particular direction, and hey presto, we're all there in a less than orderly queue, line astern. take the phenomenon of the sportive ride. at one time these were the province of the italians and their gran fondos, stultifyingly hard yet beautiful rides through more italian mountains than were probably healthy, before descending to a tour round the campagnolo or pinarello factories. in a strange move for the world of cycling, denying an obvious opportunity for pretension and pomposity, pretty much all have settled on the name sportive. this in itself is a contraction of the word cyclosportive.
it really didn't take too long before this burgeoning part of the cycling market was invaded by the world's principal cycle manufacturers, many of them offering so-called sportive models designed to accommodate the apparently different style of riding required for such events. the fallacy here is that many taking part are hell-bent on showing off their finest peletonic carbon fibre; this is perhaps the most appropriate opportunity to show just how close to a professional contract one had reached. joining the assembled throng is merely a case of slumming it with the great unwashed.
chris sidwells, sad to relate, is no exception to this velocipedinal cascade, having just penned a book that (mis)appropriates the title cyclosportive +. i'm not too sure whether the little plus sign is indicative of anything extra, but for the purposes of the review, i will pretend it's not actually there.
i tend to despair of any cycling book that impresses upon its readership more than one page of training plans, particularly those headed training plan for an 80km cyclosportive. chris sidwells provides two of these; the aforementioned and another for double the distance. these often seem to take no account of the fact that most of us have other facets to our lives other than riding bicycles all day, despite the temptation to do so. perhaps i'm just not organised enough to follow these sort of things past the first day or two.
two page, six week training plans are scary.
the book is particularly well illustrated with quality colour images, but i do find the necessity and relevance of some of those to be questionable. surely a sequence of three photos showing how to remove a bottle from its cage, take a drink, and replace it is rather trite and patronising? if this is not already an accomplishment, thoughts of riding anywhere other than to the shops should not be a serious consideration. nor can i see the value in full page photos of domestic professionals doing exactly what professionals do, other than to fill a few extra pages.
it is a bit of a shame really for there are many nuggets of wisdom contained within, particularly in the shape of case studies featuring the likes of richard newey, a veteran of the race across america. it is extremely unlikely that the intended readership have this particular event in mind, but newey's approach has a certain relevance. and there are several pro tips scattered throughout the book's 159 pages, such as this from robert millar; "keep something in your pocket that you really enjoy eating, and save it for when you go through a bad patch and need to restore your morale."
the introduction commences, rather bizarrely, with a section headed what is a cyclosportive?; surely it is already knowing the answer to this question that led the reader to pick the book up in the first place? and the chapter entitled 'getting started' then asks 'what kind of bike do i need?' and proceeds to highlight the verenti kilmeston as an entry level machine, and the boardman 9.2 as one to which the reader might aspire. aside from dating the book rather quickly (given the rate at which models are superseded these days) it seems a tad unfair to the myriad of other manufacturers with offerings of their own. would it not have been better simply to describe what it is the prospective cyclosporter should be looking for in an appropriate cycle, and leave brand choice to the individual?
and do we seriously need a series of photographs showing how to clean a bicycle with soap and water?
the cyclosportive skills chapter is perhaps the one most open to criticism related to jumping on the bandwagon. pace judgement, cadence, pedalling technique and bike handling are surely all skills that pertain to every form of cycling and not simply the world of the gran fondo? do not misunderstand me; most of these chapters will be of interest to many entry level cyclists across the globe, but it is the re-packaging of information under the cyclosportive banner that grates most of all.
perhaps, however, i protest too much. as i inferred in my opening gambit, cyclosportives have all but taken over the cycling world, and it is not entirely unheard of for an enterprising publisher to take commercial advantage of that fact. however, £20 seems quite a lot for a few salient words and an over preponderance of photos, many of which are unquestionably surplus to requirements. i'd be far more inclined to wait for graeme obree's the obree way which contains around 99% less faff than this volume and eschews the fault of over illustration.
i can but advise that you have look through its pages before choosing whether it is an appropriate choice of training manual or not. maybe i just have differing needs; though often riding a cielo sportif, i'd be be somewhat distraught if referred to as a cyclosportive rider . it's a bandwagon i'm happy to leave to its own devices.
posted thursday 8 september 2011..........................................................................................................................................................................................................