the suspension of belief is a marvellous ally to the intrepid marketing executive. within reason, there seems no barrier to the limits of disbelief he or she might point in our direction, and we sit puppy-like ready to lap it all up. if i might cite my home product as a particularly apt example, basically the amber nectar is the end product of an amalgam of water, barley, peat smoke and yeast left for several years in a wooden barrel. there's nothing particularly magical about it, though you'd be hard pressed to tell that from the hard sell.
yes, i am guilty of gross simplification, even though whisky is the result of a well-documented chemical process. and even though the distilleries in which this magic is created, are simply intriguingly constituted industrial units (just ask the scottish environmental protection agency (sepa)), the managers are often feted with the same level of adulation as rock stars. none that i know of on islay even owns an electric guitar.
it is also suggested, if not clearly stated, that the clear liquid left in those wooden barrels (the golden colour comes from the wood) is left to mature within breathing distance of islay's salt spray blowing in from the atlantic. that is certainly true in a number of cases, but in most others, the simple fact is that it leaves in a truck on the ferry to see out its period of nurturing in a warehouse on the mainland. and while the majority of whisky aficionados are well aware of all this, en masse, they prefer to look the other way.
and we, as members of the worldwide peloton, are guilty of similar self deception.
for instance, though first bradley wiggins, and secondly chris froome were able to occupy top spot on the paris podium having reached those lofty heights aboard one or two pinarello dogma variants, in actual fact, we all know the result would have been the same had they been astride any other brand of taiwanese built carbon fibre. quite rightly, pinarello were happy to advertise both victories as being testimony that a dogma ought to be the next bicycle squeezing into the bike shed, if only in an attempt to recoup their substantial financial outlay in supplying sky with the bikes in the first place. there's rarely any such thing as a free lunch.
it is, of course an integral factor in the world of so many sports, where manufacturers are keen to have their product(s) associated with successful athletes, knowing full well that, despite our knowledge to the contrary, we'll be happy to avail ourselves of the aforementioned products, ever keen to declare our own association. it's the very model by which sponsorship works, and it's very unlikely i'm telling you something you don't already know.
in at least a couple of the current editions of the cycling monthlies already on the bookshelves, you will find an advertisement featuring the head and shoulders of 2012 word road race champion, philippe gilbert, rather naughtily clad in his world championship jersey several months after it was acquired by someone else. however, in this advertisement, philippe is keen that we make at least a mental note of his italian shoe sponsor, dmt, and more specifically the dmt vega which appears floating an inch above his open hand to indicate, i would imagine, its uncanny lightness of being.
i would dearly love to profess that i am above buying into the whole fairytale, but the truth is, i'm just as gullible or entranced as the rest of you. in the case of the vega, the equation was experienced the wrong way round, for i had a pair of these shoes (220 grams for size 41) in my possession and on my feet before i spied the adverts, and in this case, that placed rather a different spin on the situation.
it is perhaps not unnatural to find the copious literature contained within the box of an italian pair of cycling shoes to be written perdominantly in italian. however, a smidgeon of english in this case would not have gone amiss. for though the shoes were alarmingly light enough to have me wonder whether the box contained anything other than tissue padding, lack of appropriate instructions led to a momentary period of embarrassment.
the dmt vegas sport the quite commonly used boa closure system, a means of tensioning a loop of high tensile nylon, to effect a remarkably tight fit when closed. however, not all boa systems are created equal; they all tighten in the same manner, but they don't all release the same way. thus, on receiving the shoes, i placed both of them (minus cleats) on my feet, closed them appropriately, then discovered i couldn't release the tension. fortunately i was in my sitting room with no real intention of going anywhere soon. the enclosed italian literature offered nothing by way of succour and nor did a quick search on the web. only when, in desperation, i pulled hard on one of the boa dials did i discover that pulling up on each shoe's two dials is precisely how the tension is released.
in practice, it's quite excellent, and now that i've figured it out, i wouldn't be without it, but if anyone from dmt is reading, could you just pop in a piece of paper in english?
the well-ventilated upper is constructed from a shiny, yet resilient plastic material, pretty much all white apart from a grey stripey pattern applied to the toe, swooping along the shoe's sides. though proving a trifle inconvenient in sub-zero windchill, there are substantial vents along each side filled with a pliant gauze. however, come the last few kilometres of the ventoux in late july, i'm sure my feet would be my best friend.
my fastest bike still remains an original colnago c40 to which i have attached a pair of mavic iclic road pedals. having acquired an pair of matching cleats, set to the minimum q factor i made every racing manoeuvre that ensures i'll never be the subject of a dmt magazine advert (or of any other shoe manufacturer for that matter). there is little to disbelieve about these shoes; though i doubt they played any major part in gilbert's world championship win, they've played a great part in my skittering about the countryside. with superbly rigid soles that make it well nigh impossible to crouch down and oil a chain, climbing even short bumps is a smile inducing pleasure. clamped tightly to both feet via the inscrutable boa system, there's all the benefits of well-built rigidity and virtually no weight penalty.
for ageing amateurs like me, it doesn't really get much better. except, of course, for those freezing winds when you forgot to wear overshoes.
cycling footwear is undeniably one of the major contact points between rider and bicycle, and not one of the bits that you want to get wrong. in this particular case, i'd be happy to take philippe's word for it, bolstered by the fact that the vegas are a fabulous pair of shoes. they even come with their own waterproof bag; there's nothing worse than winning at paris-roubaix and discovering you've made your team kit all muddy by shoving the uncleaned shoes in the kit bag.
so i'm told.
dmt vega road shoes are available in euro sizes 39 to 46 and in either black or white. dmt are distributed in the uk by paligap.
tuesday 4 march 2014..........................................................................................................................................................................................................