i used to be able to impress my cycling colleagues by telling them that i'd once passed mark cavendish when participating in the annual braveheart ride several years ago. it's a perfectly true story, but what i failed to mention was that he was actually riding in the opposite direction at the time, information that would have seriously harmed my street cred. so i judiciously left that bit out.
at that point and until recently, co-participation in the braveheart ride was essentially the only thing that mr cavendish and i had in common. let's face it, though i might have occasionally proved victorious in the sunday morning sprint at bruichladdich, there's no way my winning speed could be compared to the manx missile. and though i pride myself on being one of the first to the top of port askaig brae, even cavendish's confessed lack of climbing ability is more than just a smidgeon better than my own.
the closest i've ever been to the tour de france was watching the opening stages of the ill-fated 1998 edition, many years prior to cav's first green jersey. but more recently, circumstances have brought the two of us closer together, not quite to the point where he's likely to invite me round to see his jersey and olympic medal collection, but a tenuous connection nonetheless.
it transpires that mark and i both ride with not only the same brand of bar tape, but according to recent images i have come across, the very same pattern. it's just a shame that it's a pattern of which i'm not overly fond. however, if i'm riding with my spirits still intact, my head will be up and the handlebars won't impinge upon my direct vision. the lizard skins black and white swirly pattern, which takes on similarity to camouflage when installed, might look rather fetching on the dimension data cervelos, but i fear it does no favours for a molteni coloured colnago master.
it transpires that this is what may accurately be termed a superficial disagreement, for in practice, the tape does everything it promises and then some. though cavendish, cummings and teklehaimanot depart a hotel breakfast each morning to be greeted by professionally fettled bicycles, bar tape expertly wound to the point of obsession, in this case (and probably yours too), yours truly was entirely responsible for its affixation. it's a task that offered its own set of difficulties.
till now i have experienced only cinelli style cork ribbon and the brooks leather variety, both of which allow the inept user to pull the tape tightly as it reaches from the bar ends, up past the levers and on towards the stem. so doing all but exorcises any irregularities in one's bar wrapping skills. lizard skins, on the other hand, expressly forbid any propensity to stretch whatsoever and that's where i quite literally came unstuck. at the close of the initial installation, along with the once mentioned campagnolo potenza groupset, aside from admittedly untidy finishing tape (i mistook the endpieces for those fitted beneath the levers and spoiled the whole effect), all seemed fair to middling.
but then i did the unthinkable and actually rode the bicycle, both to check the veracity of my groupset install and investigate just how grippy the lizard skins tape actually was. in the latter case, which involved more rain than was employed in the noah movie, i was very, very glad to have my ritchey handlebars thus wrapped. 'grippy' was a scarcely adequate description.
it transpires that my 'no stretching' adherence was considerably further from perfection than my publicity handout would attest, though i'm resting the bulk of my excuses on a loose left-hand lever. unfortunately, that was also installed by yours truly. thankfully, and unlike many cork-type bar tapes of which i have experience, re-wrapping a single side of lizard skin was almost childsplay, meaning that symmetry is now mine of which to boast.
the tape, however, is available in colours other than that used by my best friend mark and myself; in fact, it's also used by my other pals, nairo quintana and alejandro valverde, though unlike us brits, they've opted for a more sombre black regime. as if variation of colour were insufficient, there are three thicknesses available, making this the ideal bar covering if your velocipedinal proclivities extend to paris-roubaix or, perchance, cyclocross (1.8mm, 2.5mm and 3.2mm). price, depending on thickness, is between £23 and £25, while its recently and successfully explored waterproofing abilities make it ideal for anyone who rides a bike in the uk or portland, oregon.
in a word, superb.
sunday 2 october 2016..........................................................................................................................................................................................................