the early days of just about everything can be remembered as either embarrassingly funny or, in most cases, just embarrassing. as one who now lives inside photoshop seven days a week, recollection of my early attempts to appear proficient at using the software brings new meaning to the word inept. filling the intervening years with endless use and more than just a few training videos (why don't adobe package each release with how to videos anymore?) has led to more competent usage and an appreciation of how each insurmountable problem should be approached. though i cannot but admit to many a stifled laugh, some of the photoshop work i receive in my daily employ brings back many of those embarrassing memories.
same goes for my cycling. the early days of paper rounds and travel to and from school were carried out on the much vaunted raleigh twenty; the one with a sturmey archer three-speed. as is perhaps all too obvious, given the gear nomenclature of the above, there were none too many gears to manage. changing was by means of a handlebar twist grip that worked perfectly well except when it didn't. complicating the cycling mechanicals in my mid twenties with the acquisition of a ten speed racer was, at the time, just a stage too far.
for instance, unlike the raleigh, the racing bike had two chainrings at the front (sorry to be seen stating the obvious). what would happen if i changed from the inner ring to the larger outer ring? did this mean that the chain would make its way back to the largest sprocket at the back in order to start all over again? after all, driving a car meant starting in gear one and working through the intervening ratios to reach number four (yes, cars at one time survived quite happily on four gears. that said, at one time, as witnessed above, bicycles made do with a total of ten), surely bicycles worked in similar fashion? believe it or not, it took more than a couple of weeks of ownership before i plucked up enough courage to press that front derailleur into use.
in retrospect, it may have been a more pragmatic way of approaching this with baby steps by not having the chain in the 14 sprocket; in old money, now equivalent to an 11. oh how the knees suffered.
yes, i can laugh at it all now in these modern times of electronica, when gears shift at the touch of a button and the derailleurs talk to each other to make sure they're singing from the same sprocket. but at the time it was a question of great philosophical debate. it seems, however, that there are several stages of newbieness to plough into head first before attaining a state of almost permanent je ne sais quoi. for having acquired a ten-speed racer, or the modern equivalent with far too many sprockets at the rear and a wheel dish that strains the laws of physics, it was time to seriously consider the not unimportant question of suitable attire. at this point it is necessary to decide whether, as with lord carlos of mercian, one is content to be merely a bloke with a bike, or whether one has aspirations to be considered a cyclist.
at the time, with a copy of the comic on order at my local newsagent, it would have been unseemly and doubtless disrespectful to plump for option one. how would i maintain any degree of integrity with the local populace if i continued to wear a pair of levis and a woolly pullover on board a red, 531 frame enhanced with campagnolo chorus trinketry? thus it became necessary to consult the back pages of the aforementioned publication to find clothing that might fit the bill. thankfully cycle clothing has progressed in leaps and bounds since those halcyon days of yore, as has my knowledge and perception of what was appropriate in a conservative rural community. all because the lycra tights that arrived from parker mail order resembled nothing less that those psychedelic wraps proffered by the gretsch drum company in the mid-seventies.
while i still have a hankering for owning one of those gretsch kits, i have no desire to revisit my sartorial faux pas in the leg covering department. however, one soon learns that the three points of contact (seat, bars and pedals) are the ones to which attention should be paid. i had already failed miserably on the first, and memory will not reconcile how i fared with the second, but i do remember that with regard to the third, i was well south of the mark. those were the days of toe-clips and straps for the rest of us; trainers were the order of the day, coupled with a pair of socks of the type that my mother gives me for christmas.
a sartorial and ergonomic failure.
cycling socks come in many different flavours, everything from flimsy little polyester things topped with blue, red or yellow all the way to flimsy little polyester things topped with blue, red or yellow. oh how things have changed in the intervening years, culminating in the pair of endura equipe cashmere socks sent a matter of days ago. yes, in the interests of comprehensive reviewing, i should wear these for weeks on end, washing frequently for reasons of hygiene of course, and scientific perception of wear. but these are just so cotton-picking fabulous, i have to tell you about them now, if not sooner.
midst the freezing cold imbued ride this morning, when i couldn't feel any of the fingers in my right hand for over an hour, and the thumb not even on returning home; when i'd to stop along the high road and face off the golf-ball sized hailstones with my back to the wind (hailstones on the face are less than enjoyable), my feet were consummately warm. i'd go so far as to say cosy. that this should be seen as a not entirely standard state of affairs was brought to my attention upon meeting a cycling colleague in debbie's. he, having cycled a similar distance to myself was complaining of frozen tootsies, at the very point in the conversation when i was singing the praises of the cashmere socks.
it looks like we may be in for a long, cold, lonely winter, when cold hands, cold noses and cold feet will be largely unremarkable. do yourselves a great favour and obfuscate the latter by ordering a pair of such luxurious footwear. nobody but you will ever see the www.enduraequipe.com along the soles, but others might just see the lime green 'e' atop the rear. so much more sophisticated than blue, red or yellow, and one heck of a lot more so than thin polyester.
i'd still like a set of those gretsch drums though.
endura equipe cashmere socks can be purchased from any equipe dealer in either small/medium or large/extra large at a retail of £15.99.
posted saturday 17 december 2011..........................................................................................................................................................................................................