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interviews & features | dvds | equipment | clothing | books | videos | portland 2009

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this is cambridge
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tell them we sent you (part one)

somewhere in the world it's always going to be sunny, and the honed athlete will thus always be in need of an appropriate choice of designer/sports sunglasses. this link ought to do the trick.

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house industries
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the mighty dave t's words of the week

the mighty dave t

"as the senior member of the velo club, it is only right that i have a leather purse for my phone."

©2014 the mighty dave t, is a prendas sponsored rider and le patron of the thoroughly decent fellows. the mighty dave t recommends purple harry products

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going along for the ride

the ride journal number nine

the world of popular music is littered with the remnants of bands who split early on in their fulsome careers through so-called musical differences. there are of course, exceptions to this state of affairs; status quo and the rolling stones spring to mind, but frequently it is the seeming iniquity of the royalties system that puts paid to future musical co-operation. many who started out as friends start to resent the fact that the singer and/or guitarist/keyboard player seem to be accumulating a small fortune in publishing royalties that have failed to trickle down to the drummer and bass player.

such a potential point of disagreement often leads to the latter hastily composing their own number one hits to bring their remuneration up to parity, only to be informed that the material is of derisory quality. hence those musical differences.

the ride journal number nine

should, however, those close friends have decided that royalties would be equally split amongst all band members, it's possible that egos start to interfere. who amongst us has not come across the musician surreptitiously moving his/her mixing desk fader ever upwards in the hope of increasing the volume of their own contribution, blissfully unaware that the other members have already done the same thing? what started out as a chart topping concept album ends up as a somewhat disparate cacophony.

in my own experience, the format that worked best of all was when one musician had been responsible for creating the band in his/her own image. rather than making contributions to the overall sound, it's necessary for each recruited musician to submit their structured suggestions. it is entirely the opposite of a democracy, but everyone generally knows where they stand, quashing so-called musical differences at birth. it doesn't negate the royalties question, but once again that's a situation that either never comes up in conversation, or is made perfectly clear at the outset.

this is not to decry the nature of a democracy; they can work remarkably well and though not a precise definition of the publication, it's just how the inestimable ride journal comes across.

the ride journal number nine

though ostensibly curated by brothers philip and andrew diprose, the nature of the contributions both written and illustrative give the impression of having been assembled by a co-operative. when asked to write for publications other than thewashingmachinepost, i'm inclined to send my piece well before the specified deadline because i expect to be edited. on both occasions i've been fortunate to have had work included in the journal, it seems all that was necessary was correcting my spelling and adding a few necessary capital letters. this plays well to their skills as editors, because i know i'm not really good enough to be left well alone.

now about to reach issue nine ("I certainly didn't expect it to last this long" - philip diprose) the alternative nature of the publication allows it to comfortably stand out amongst a veritable crowd of cycling publications. as if testimony were required, number nine includes contributions from such luminaries as jeremy powers, nicolas roche, taj mihelich and helen wyman, and its geographical spread takes the reader to patagonia, israel, china, new york and nepal. the ride journal's catholic taste sits not solely upon one genre of cycling: couriers, tourers, racers, commuters and track riders all have their place in its pages. it truly is a marvel that all the above can be accessed for a mere £10.50.

number nine (or ix, in publishing nomenclature) will be sent out on 15 december, and is currently available for pre-order at the address printed below. don't leave it until 14 december, because you'll forget. do it now.

the ride journal number nine

friday 28 november 2014

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the ride journal number nine ..........................................................................................................................................................................................................

cross party support

milton keynes

though it may not be the current state of affairs in british art schools, during my own tenure as a third year graphics student we occasionally were presented with real world briefs to solve. however, for one particular project, deliberately or otherwise, a relatively important aspect of the design process was never passed onto any of those participating. we were asked to design and produce a publicity poster for the charity shelter which i decided to base on the slogan 'campaign for more umbrellas'; i know, but it made perfect sense at the time.

milton keynes

all this took place long before the days of the apple mac computer and its attendant adobe illustrator design software. thus all had to be hand-drawn and coloured, so any errors that happened along the way had either to be ingeniously remedied, or it was a case of starting all over again. this is not quite as onerous as it may seem, for unlike the real world where posters may be required within a single day, we had an entire term to practise our skills, (such as they were).

this possible propensity to err happily failed to impinge upon my own efforts, but not that of the fellow sat at the adjacent desk. for reasons i really cannot recall, the word yogurt featured in the slogan atop his own poster, yet he had not only spelt it 'youghourt', but succeeded in carefully painting that very mis-spelt word without going over the lines. it took an entire morning of deliberation on my part to decide whether to point this out or not, but i eventually succumbed to pragmatism and let him know.

without the benefit of google to settle the argument, he maintained that his spelling was 100% correct, and left it well alone on his now less than error free poster.

milton keynes

neither of us won the poster competition; in fact, none of the students in the college were even in the top three for one very good and salient reason. we had all produced beautifully coloured posters, but since shelter is hardly awash with money, the winning design was monochrome. a lot cheaper to produce.

duh.

i'm not too sure whether my fellow students, or even my lecturer quite understood my allusion to umbrellas as a means of shelter, but there's no doubt that it is/was a method of weather protection that found a great deal of favour in aberdeen's union street, only but a few miles from the college. not, you understand, with the large body of students - that would have been decidedly uncool - but certainly with the indigenous adult population. it's an implement that is conspicuous by its absence on islay, in fact, quite possibly across all the hebrides, mostly i should think, due to the propensity for windy days. aside from the fact that local rainshowers are often horizontal, thus defeating the usual vertical nature of an umbrella. but should it be directed towards that incoming horizontal rain, the wind would more than likely turn it inside out.

granted, though on the occasional trip to glasgow, it can still be something of a navigational challenge to make it from one end of buchanan street to the other without attendant ducking and diving to avoid permanent scarring, it's a weather device that seems also to have made considerable inroads to the world of sport. golfers have long seen the benefits of enormous, multi-coloured umbrellas while standing aside the green, hoping their compatriots would miss that final putt. and though rarely exposed to precipitation, i believe i have noticed young women standing beside formula one racing cars, holding sponsors' logo'd umbrellas for reasons that escape me entirely.

milton keynes

and yet, for such an anachronistic contraption it has successfully inveigled its way into the fabulous world of cyclocross. you need only click over to the website for this weekend's milton keynes uci world cyclocross race (saturday 29 november) and have a look at the merchandise page to find a rather fine, red state of the art example. for a mere £25 you can stand head and shoulders above anyone dressed in a dirk hofman scarf for the day. and as a souvenir from the first time a round of the uci world cup cyclocross series has taken place in the uk, it would be hard to beat. in fact, should you find it prudent to extend your cyclocross weekend, there's a round of the british national trophy the following day on which that umbrella could once more be paraded in front of an adoring public.

american national champion, jeremy powers asked whether i would be attending the race (with or without umbrella), but due to work commitments here in civilisation until late friday, there is no real practical way i can make it to milton keynes without a great deal of effort and expense. so i'll watch it on the uci's youtube channel come saturday afternoon. those of you within travelling distance not attending the sunday race can, however, meet up with jpow for a jeremy powers special cross ride leaving from and returning to the rapha cycle club in central london. if you fancy that, sign up via the link at the end of these words.

but leave the umbrella behind the counter.

rapha club ride | milton keynes cx

thursday 27 november 2014

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make it so...

velon

apparently those playing the principal characters in the big bang theory, are not as obsessed with science fiction series such as star trek, star wars, babylon five and lord of the rings as their on-screen characters portray. i guess that's why they call it acting. on the other hand, many of those watching (i have my hand up) find the programme quite humorous at least in part because we are (obsessed, that is). much of the lexicon associated with such tv series have entered our very own, and our personal knowledge is enhanced to a greater or lesser degree by immediate recall of names and technology that in truth, don't actually exist.

it explains why there is a metaphorical cheer when star trek characters such as wesley crusher and geordie la forge appear on the big bang couch. it's also why phrases such as 'beam me up scotty' hold sway in common parlance. this extends even to the eccentricities employed in naming entire interplanetary races in star trek-the next generation.

before we had new double-glazing installed in the office to improve necessary ventilation during those hot scottish summers (a lttle hebridean humour there), there used to be a more or less defunct expelair fitted to one of the office windows. though it made an uncommonly incongruous noise when in use, the sense of peace and quiet that resulted from it being switched off was almost palpable. and while it would have been decidedly naff for gene rodenberry to have deigned an entire species, the expelarians, star trek's writers did in fact, resort to using the name of the aforementioned air-conditioning company's principal rivals.

thus in one particular episode of the next generation, captain picard came up against the ventaxians. stunningly obvious and gratuitously twee now that it's pointed out, but many viewrs will likely have missed the reference at the time. if you own the boxed set, go look it up. sadly it is often true that real life imitates fiction, rather than the other way round.

i have long wearied of the fact that in the world of football (soccer), no matter the logo or brand seen on the jersey front, the name of the team remains the same year after year. manchester united will always be manchester united. however, belkin used to be rabobank who were buckler before that and wordperfect before that. if garmin had been simply slipstream, then the change to cannondale and whoever else would not alter the name of the team. it could simply have been slipstream sports, riding either cervelo or cannondale bikes and sponsored by liquigas or whoever. but formula one cycling doesn't work that way.

as such, the ever-changing jersey situation hardly encourages an established fanbase, while a lack of tv money, transfer fees and the nature of international cycling effectively removing the ability to charge an entrance fee or season ticket money, makes the teams entirely dependant on commercial sponsorship. admittedly, the teams frequently belong to folks other than the sponsor. but such is the iniquity of the situation, that offering to name the team after the sponsor has become the standard operating system. perhaps not surprisingly, today's business oriented team owners are less than impressed with their straight-jacketed dilemma.

but after murmurings in the jungle for several years, with various amalgamations of tier one teams threatening to break away from the domination of aso and the uci, some of them have finally agglomerated to form a rights management company representing eleven of those teams "to drive a financial model that, in line with other international sports, ensures a sustainable future for the teams." and what did they call this vanguard of velocipedinal muscle?

velon.

if uci president brian cookson were a cowering super hero with the power to alter the hour record rules on a whim, he would likely be hiding behind the couch even as we speak. and to accompany such a fright- inducing name, is a decidely odd purple hued geometric logo that, in the finest of traditions, seems to bear no relation whatsoever to the realm in which it lives. remove the word velon and fax the logo to bernard hinault and the badger would be every bit as confused as i am.

and in the truly dramatic fashion expected of a new world super-power, the first earth-shattering move made by velon (incidentally, chaired by a former commercial director at liverpool football club and who has also worked at uefa and nike) is to extend the use of on-bike cameras 'to bring races alive from the riders'perspective, showing fans what it's like from the saddle.'

i bet manchester united wish they'd thought of that one.

velon.cc

wednesday 26 november 2014

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it seems friends might not be electric after all

kevin pauwels

apropos of not very much at all, i watched the superprestige cyclocross race from spa-francorchamps on sunday via belgium's vier website, providing picture quality and size that i hope a few other broadcasters have viewed with envy. for even when the inevitable adverts were shown, they occupied on-screen boxes of their very own, while the live coverage continued alongside. in the past, while watching cycle racing on sporza, i seriously questioned the intelligence of blocking out the live coverage with adverts inviting a clickthrough. who on earth switches on to watch live sport, and midway through decides to follow a link to spurious online advertising?

me neither.

however, as per usual, i digress somewhat. despite disc brakes being of legal tender in the world of cyclocross for the past two years, it's notable that the majority of european riders are still brought to a halt by front and rear cantilevers. across the pond, messrs. powers et all seem in thrall to the disc brake, a factor that may or may not be the result of slightly differently constituted 'cross courses. however, whatever the reason, kevin pauwels crossed the line well ahead of second place, lars van der haar. granted, the latter occasioned a slip on the final lap, placing himself too far back to mount a challenge for first place.

jeremy powers

admittedly van der haar was riding a disc-equipped giant, but if my eyes do not lie to me, third and fourth places were also aboard disc-less bicycles. i'm darned if i can figure out just what that actually proves, but at the very least, in the light of continuing discussions over the possibility of discs becoming road legal, they do not appear to have taken the cyclocross world by storm.

disc brakes may not, however, be the principal point of concern (for those of us who find it of concern). the elephant in the room might possibly be more insidious; electrics.

campagnolo record 2015

though we've had electric/electronic shifting on road bikes for a number of years, its existence still seems more of a solution looking for a problem. it's a notion that may have been at least partially confirmed by campagnolo's recent issue of their 2015 record groupset. if i might quote from their website feature "shifting under load is no longer a problem and when you realise that the chain has moved from the small chainring to the large one, you may even think you are using an electronic EPS drivetrain!". though there's no denying the high cost of even a mechanical campagnolo record groupset, the price of the electronic version as what i like to describe as astronomical. so if their latest mechanical setup behaves as advertised, then perhaps we're witnessing if not the demise of electrics, then perhaps at least their plateau.

e-mountain bike

and the very same might be the case with electric bicycles, or at least a particular subset. i have long maintained that the electric bike market is pointed in the wrong direction. they may be constituted as bicycles jim, but not as we know them, but the addition of a motor surely moves them more into the region of scooters and mopeds. two-wheeled vehicles with the ability to move folks back and forward with the minimum of effort, providing few of the promoted benefits of cycling as we know it. however, there is no doubt that an electrically powered bicycle can provide at least a degree of that much vaunted independence to those less physically able.

the problem comes when those electric bikes begin to infiltrate the bastions formerly rightly occupied by athletic prowess and cardiovascular exuberance. at present, that almost solely concerns those who potter about on farm gates with springs and knobbly tyres. but there's nothing that says it has to stop there.

moab

the exotic 'slickrock' sandstone trails in moab, utah have been the object of many an offroad pilgrimage even in the days when i owned and rode a mountain bike. and that wasn't yesterday. recently, the u.s. department of the interior's bureau of land management that oversees moab's mountain bike trails has added the following addendum to its website: "The Moab BLM has determined that motor assisted bicycles (electric, gas or diesel) are motorized vehicles. Use of motor assisted bicycles is only allowed on motorized trails. The use of motor assisted bicycles is NOT allowed on mountain bike trails."

conjecture and related rumblings in the world of the twenty-niner intimate that this may just be the first of many to instigate such restriction. there have been (possibly apocryphal) tales of mtb riders descending highly technical downhill courses, only to meet others on electrically assisted mountain bikes riding up in the opposite direction. if you've ever experienced the weight of a bona-fide downhill bike, you'll know that being ridden uphill is not one of its advertised features. there might be the possibility that moab's ban is something of a knee-jerk, yet preventative measure. there are many areas both in the uk and across the pond, where mountain bikes are already a touchy subject. if this is exacerbated by the interference of electric bikes (more or less motorbikes if truth be told), there's an outside possibility that it could lead to the banning of all bicycles in areas that have almost become traditionally theirs.

suddenly the prospect of cancellara having a motor inside his trek's seat tube seems rather trivial.

tuesday 25 november 2014

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goggles and dust. images from cycling's glory days. velopress hardback 106pp illus. $16.95 (£11.99)

goggles and dust

many years ago, a relatively well-known piper with an ego somewhat larger than our practice room visited islay and took it upon himself to come talk to us and offer the benefit of that substantial ego. though he may well have been a more than competent practitioner of the highland bagpipes, he spent most of the car journey to and from tuesday evening practice regaling us with tales from his brief interlude in a new york loft with former members of david byrne's talking heads. the sum total of his satisfyingly brief time with us was to point out that he thought us little more than a "social club with pipes and drums".

bottechia

the irony was that, despite his intending the remark to be a put down, we were rather enamoured with the description. for in truth, that's pretty much what the band was at that time.

no doubt there are cyclists also possessed of such acuity of observation coupled with the brass neck to think themselves of comparable velocipedinal importance. i believe just such a person would be inclined to describe the velo club in a similar manner, substituting bicycles and helmets for pipes and drums. and they would be not far wide of the mark. apart from the last few kilometres heading towards the coffee stop, it would be prudent to replace the garmin with a calendar. any strava segments we may roll through would be very unlikely to register movement of any interest.

and in the course of this week's sunday ride, our conversational abilities were concerned, at least in part, with chris boardman's stance on the ever present helmet debate. the mighty dave t spent his entire racing and time-trialling career wearing little other than a cotton cap on his head. (and jersey and shorts of course). antonin magne in my case, i wear a helmet to protect myself against my own ineptitude on gravelly corners rather than any motorised intervention. not unnaturally, this brought us onto the dfferences between modern day formula one cycling with unrecognisable riders clad in helmets and oakleys, and the halcyon days of yore when riders were noticeable by their riding style and the fact that you could see their faces, even when covered in grime.

evidence, for those more involved in the modern idiom, unaware that gears were ever changed from levers on the downtube, that toeclips ever existed or that indexing came from fishing reels, is fabulously encapsulated in the compact and bijou hardback from velopress entitled goggles and dust. one hundred black and white photos from the early years of cycling's great past follow an introduction by brett horton who, with wife shelly has amassed a not inconsiderable number of such images.

honore barthelemy

"I must admit that my wife Shelly, and I never set out to collect original vintage bicycle racing prints. In fact, the only reason we initially acquired them was to document and help authenticate some of the older racing jerseys and accessories in our collection." (the horton collection is one of the most revered and comprehensive collections of european cycling memorabilia in the world.)

this is cycling at its grittiest, when roads were little more than gravel tracks, bicycles had two gears at best and riders wrapped spare tubulars around their torsos. it is also something of a curiosity that more than just one or two of those fixed-gear cycles carried two pumps. and if i had my way, bottle cages would still be hung in front of the handlebars. in fact, i had once hoped to ask sacha white of vanilla cycles if i could purchase such an item after seeing them decorating one of his show cycles.

in his introduction, brett horton lets slip that his collection of images now numbers close on 350,000, maurice de waele so it must have been something of a gargantuan task to slim the choice down to just five score. perhaps that augurs well towards a whole series of books like this. i'd very much like to think so. not only is it a totally droolsworthy volume, but perfectly sized for sitting in the armchair of an evening, wondering where it all went so wrong (well, apart from compact chainsets and brake lever shifting. obviously.)

aside from the historical content of each image, it's well worth appreciating the quality of the photography itself. though obviously not all by the same photographer, consider that digital was probably a word not thought of in the early 1900s and cameras were considerably less portable than they are today. when it was probably not simply a case of grabbing one of two (or three) nikons or canons hanging round your neck to snap that essential shot. goggles and dust when it's ever likely that heavy wooden tripods were likely to be involved. yet, aside from the inevitable posed shot, many of those included in goggles and dust are every bit the equal of their modern day counterparts, enhanced by the patina of the many intervening years.

it really makes no nevermind whether you're considering the latest in carbon fibre and electronic shifting for next season, or happy to ride thirty year-old steel with five-speed downtube shifting, this is the book that you need to get for christmas. and it's also the book you need to buy everyone in your sunday peloton for christmas. some of them might not understand just yet, but eventually they'll get it.

to be viewed while wearing wool, a cotton cap and a healthy appreciation of heritage.

'goggles and dust' is available from cordee books in the uk or from velopress in the usa. very many thanks to dave trendler of velopress for the above selection of images from the book.

monday 24 november 2014

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you can take the boy away from cycling...

holiday_14

in our office in main street, we offer wi-fi internet access, and though we charge a nominal amount for this service when the council offices nearby offer it free of charge, we do have something of a slight advantage. you see the council insist that their own computers are used, and because they're on the council's interweb network, there are certain things that are simply not do-able. this usually means an inability to connect a laptop or tablet in order to access either proprietary software or specific password protected servers.

we allow, nay encourage both the above options.

it will perhaps surprise you not at all to learn that the main users of our wi-fi service are those on holiday armed with their laptops and tablets, but rather than simply wishing to check their facebook pages, twitter feeds or simply e-mail, many are intent on carrying out work-related tasks, the very part of life from which i had thought a holiday was intended to provide a break. seemingly not.

holiday_14

on the basis that nobody on their death-bed has ever remarked "i wish i'd gone into the office more often." it seems a shame that these folk cannot take a week or two weeks away from work, without having to place orders, check stock levels, or maintain communications with those not on holiday. though many of us will at sometime or another have returned to work after a pleasant holiday to discover that the brown stuff has collided with a rotating object, in order to have some semblance of real life, a holiday away from work and impending domestic duties would seem one of life's essentials.

so how hard can it be?

mrs washingmachinepost and i boarded a caledonian macbrayne ferry on saturday 15 november ready to cut all ties with what passes for normal life for a whole seven days. i do not own a mobile phone, so that was one iniquity that remained the same on my behalf and nor do i own a tablet of any description, so already i had no need of leaving behind that which others may consider a necessity. i do, however, own a macbook air on which i type these very words, but that too was fully charged, placed in sleep mode and left behind in its ageing carry-case on the sitting room floor. my week of pretending that cycling played no great part in my life started with intent and conviction.

holiday_14

even during our stopping off point in glasgow, en-route to our eventual destination, i made no moves to visit the larger of the city's cycle stores, popping only briefly into pronto gara to keep malcolm off his work for an hour.

there are those who believed me not that my week's holiday would not feature bicycles in any way, even if the only concession would have been to hire one. however, i was adamant that this would be a complete break, allowing me to return to the principality with renewed vigour and a greater sense of perspective regarding my place in the firmament. aren't you proud of me?

i'd hold off for a minute or two before answering that question.

holiday_14

despite my being seated on an aisle seat on the glasgow bus, i still strained my neck to view any cyclists passed on great western road. purely to check the groupset and name on the downtube, you understand. and on reaching our holiday destination, literally the first bicycle i came across was a bso from halfords with the front forks assembled backwards; the v-brakes pointed to the downtube as did the dropouts. if you don't believe me, ask mrs washingmachinepost; she was given the benefit of a ten-minute monologue on the subject. and then there were others aboard unnecessary mountain bikes with under inflated tyres, indexed gears in sore need of adjustment, kids with their helmets on back to front and an entire peloton's worth of riders with the seats too low.

and everytime i came across parked bicycles, i couldn't help but check the quality of components and modernity of frame. and that disc-equipped boardman should not have been discarded derailleur side down.

granted, i wrote not one word about bicycles or cycling throughout the entire week, i excluded the interweb entirely from the days' activities and satisfied my recreational requirements by accompanying mrs twmp on lengthy walks to nowhere in particular. though i'm now back at home refreshed and needing to check tyre pressures before the sunday ride, ready and willing to impose daily diatribes upon an unsuspecting public, it seems that it may be possible to take the boy out of cycling, but darned near impossible to take cycling away from the boy.

sunday 23 november 2014

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crunchy peanut butter clif bars

crunchy peanut butter clif bars

real men, it is said, don't cry. nor do they wear their underpants on the outside of their trousers. and real men eat crunchy peanut butter; only softies spread the smooth variety on their bagels. trust me, i know of which i speak.

the guy with whom i shared a room when in digs at art college, took a summer job in holland between first year and second year, working in a large factory that packed all manner of pickles as well as penaut butter. when we returned to the same accommodation for our second year of drawing pictures (or sculpting clay as was his wont), he brought with him a couple of large jars of the peanut butter he had been responsible for filling. quite how i had managed to reach my very late teens without ever having tasted peanut butter, i will probably never know. and though i approached with trepidation my first slice of brown bread spread with the smooth version, in point of fact, it was rather tasty.

crunchy peanut butter clif bars

and my introductory paragraph may well have taken on an altogether different hue had it not been for the fact that the local averagemarket stocked only the crunchy version. therefore, when the dutch variant was finished, those peanut butter sandwiches took on a more tactile texture. and it has remained so ever since, though there was a recent episode where the local store's peanut butter shelf bore only the smooth version of the sugar-free organic stuff. that wasn't a good week.

the relatively recent notion that we cyclists would benefit from a healthy dose of protein mixed with carbohydrate makes peanut butter a prime candidate for on-the-bike munching. it also chucks in a beneficial helping of potassium and other minerals, good fats, fibre, energy and a frosting of essential vitamins. however, if i recall the size of those peanut butter jars hauled all the way from amsterdam, there's not a chance one of them would have fitted in a jersey back pocket. and from bitter experience, stuffing a brown bread peanut butter sandwich in a pocket will almost always end in tears, cling wrap or no cling wrap.

crunchy peanut butter clif bars

which is why crunchy peanut butter clif bars are the new black. unlike many an energy bar designed for velocipedinal consumption, these are a doddle to open and very teeth friendly when crunching. add to that a very moderately sweet taste, and it's a wonder it's taken me this long to find these benefits. each 68g bar not only makes the ideal accompaniment to a large cup of froth at debbie's, it provides over 250 calories for both recovery purposes and getting home after a sunday ride into the wind. and more importantly, it tastes pretty darned good. and unless that last box is ticked, all the fibre, energy and vitamins are simply numbers on the back of the packet.

aside from the delectable crunchy peanute butter flavour (real men, etc., etc.), clif bars can also be purchased in choc chip, oatmeal raisin walnut, blueberry crisp, chocolate almond fudge and white chocolate macadamia. gastronomic luxury, wouldn't you agree?

i have now refrained from creating an almighty agglomeration of a peanut butter and cling film mess in one of those back pockets. and honestly, though i'd be stretching credibility just a smidgeon too far in stating the clif bars made me quicker, they sure as heck strengthened my resolve in the face of climatic adversity.

but i still refuse to wear my underpants on the outside.

thanks to the generosity of extra uk, distributors of clif bars throughout britain, you too can have the chance to become a real man (or woman). in order to win a box of twelve crunchy peanut butter clif bars, simply tell me why they are called clif bars. answer, along with name and a complete postal address to brian@twmp.net. closing date is friday 21 november.

a box of 12 bars costs around £17.99 | clif bars

friday 14 november 2014

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rouleur issue 51 ..........................................................................................................................................................................................................

going somewhere. a bicycle journey across america. brian benson. a plume paperback. 277pp £9.85

'Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body. But rather, to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming, "Wow! What a ride."'

going somewhere

mrs washingmachinepost and i head off on our annual holiday this coming saturday morning (i'll talk to you about this later). as you may surmise, the actual holiday doesn't start until monday, but there's the joy of removing ourselves from the island all the way to scotland in order to put us just where we need to be to start the aforementioned holiday. i do not tend to leave my hermitage too often, so when the situation occurs, the very act of boarding one of calmac's ferries followed by a citylink coach is, from my point of view, the very beginning of my holiday.

for the rest of my family, the bit that exists between leaving home and reaching any destination in scotland comes under the heading of unwanted faff. from their point of view, it is simply a necessary evil, whether travelling by flybe direct flight to glasgow, or by boat and bus. in truth, it's an emotion shared by a majority of the island's dwellers, but not by yours truly. yes, there may be little to do on the ferry, and even less to occupy the hours on the bus, but i don't really care; i'm of the mindset that it is better to travel well than to arrive (though i quite like the last bit too).

brian benson would probably agree, though i have no indication from the pages of his memoir, 'going somewhere' that he has ever experienced a calmac ferry trip.

the memoir opens in northern mexico where benson and his pal dave are in the process of undertaking a year-long trip from mexico to southern argentina. the fly in that particular ointment arises in the shape of rachel, a girl from portland, oregon, singer in a local jazz band and volunteer at a local charitable community organisation.

"She plainly had a life here, a community, and her rootedness and confidence added to her beauty. Or rather, they complicated it. After a few minutes, I wasn't sure if I wanted to be with her or wanted to be her."

in a work of fiction, benson's ability to play more than just a bit of jazz guitar, well enough to join the band and thus move closer to the girl of his dreams would have been considered somewhat contrived. but truth is often stranger than fiction, and it wasn't long before dave and brian took note of the latter's now altered perspective, and the former headed off to argentina on his own.

both benson and rachel are depicted as individuals besotted by wanderlust, though the narrative gives credence to benson's objectives being more concentrated more on lust than wander. both were destined to eventually leave mexico and return to north america, an inevitable situation, but one which benson was keen would not mean total or complete separation.

'Rachel had mentioned that while she couldn't see herself travelling that way ever again, she had for years dreamed of biking across the States. [...] "I'll finish school next May, and I was hoping to maybe go then." i doubt it's giving away too much of the plot to reveal that brian benson had little intention of not doing likewise...

"What if we did it together?"

their bicycle trip on his and hers fuji bicycles pretty much started at that point. well, actually they began in part two, eccentrically entitled 'The Wisconsin Glacial Episode'. from chapter three until the end, 'going somewhere' details the ups and downs of their lengthy cycle trip from wisconsin, an eastern state that lies on the shores of lake michigan, pedalling all the way to the pacific northwest and rachel's home town of portland. it's obviously a cycle trip unique in and of itself, but essentially no different in nature than countless others in both directions, many of which have also been consigned to print.

so why would you read yet another one?

well, a hint as to why, is contained on the page hiding behind the front cover (a rather fine front cover, if i may make so bold). for here we are informed that brian benson now lives in portland where he teaches writing at the attic institute. also that this is his first book. benson's writing style is admirable, well-paced and leaves itself wide open to compulsive reading. his sense of humour isn't lacking either.

"He pulled a ratty paperback from his bag and opend to the bookmark. I slumped down, jack-knifed my legs against the seat in fornt of me, and stared out at the roadside market, at the mangy dogs and roasted corn and stacked tortillas and seven-cent avocados and people, so many people, headed here or there or there or here or...Honestly, I could no longer tell the difference."

for benson, the road trip eventually subsumed his puppy love character, revealing more about himself to himself, to rachel and the world at large, though it's likely that the latter could care less. though his narrative by its very nature involves those two heavily laden fuji bicycles, (and in the case of benson's, a predilection to break rear wheel spokes), the book is not really about bicycles or cycling. in fact, to be quite honest, it's not really about the subject of cycling at all. in the pages of 'going somewhere' the act of cycling is reduced merely to a means to an end; a self-sufficient method of travel that could move two people from wisconsin to portland. the author's skill is in revealing the entire world that existed in between, one that is clothed in a highly enjoyable, yet serious and revealing story. and that world did not remain static from east to west.

'going somewhere' rather delightfully transcends its purported subject. in this case, a trans-america bike ride forms the scenic backdrop to the scenic backdrop of the greater united states, but just like those holographic stickers applied to dvd covers, look at it in a slightly different light and it's a complex story about human relationships. it's a grown-up story about two people growing up in full view of north america.

with bicycles.

thursday 13 november 2014

twmp ..........................................................................................................................................................................................................

bikmo cycle insurance

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vulpine packable disc jacket

vulpine disc jacket

it was, at one time, a swiss army penknife. or at least a copy that cost smidgeon less than the real thing. it was of little concern to an early years teenager that the knife was barely sharp enough to cut through plasticine and the corkscrew was of no earthly use to one who drank only cartons of orange juice. it was more the presumed kudos conferred upon the carrier of such an object. that was, until it was decided (quite correctly in my opinion) that carrying a knife, even one that would scarcely have troubled a plate of wet noodles, was now an illegal activity.

vulpine disc jacket

that knife, which still resides in a dark corner of my bedside cabinet drawer, was replaced millennia ago by an altogether more practical tool. a drum key. the conversion took place at art college, when i acquired drumsmanship, and it seemed only right and proper that i should carry a drum key in my jeans' pocket. you just never know when you might find yourself in a music shop with need of tuning a snare drum before demonstrating that hard won prowess in front of three guitarists all trying to play stairway to heaven or smoke on the water.

i'm sure you know of that to which i refer.

that drum key is still there at this very minute, though i've swapped my beloved drum workshop version for an altogether more impressive affair from glasgow's rhythm base. i'm just waiting now for an opportunity to tune any snare drum that moves within fifty paces. it could be a long wait.

vulpine disc jacket

however, times change, people grow up (allegedly) and there are times when drum keys and swiss army penknives will no longer suffice. let's be honest, when caught in a blustery downpour on the way home from debbie's, neither of the aforementioned items are likely to offer much in the way of protection. at least, not so that i've noticed. apparently something a more appropriate to the conditions makes a lot more sense, probably something like vulpine's disc jacket.

now, along with many others, i received vulpine's delightful e-mail alerting their extensive customer base to the release of this desirable item. and i'm also fairly sure that i, in common with many others, wondered why on earth they called it a disc jacket. this is something that will become stunningly obvious the minute you set eyes upon the jacket in its natural state. rather ingeniously, nick and his pals have designed a windproof and waterproof jacket that scrunches into its own pocket, and that pocket is round; disc shaped to be more precise.

and on the top is a sizeable vulpine logo which, on the red version, is delineated in a rather bright fluorescent orange. like a great big tablet (not the ipad variety).

vulpine disc jacket

like many similarly constituted items of emergency apparel, i did rather wonder quite how this compact and bijou disc contained a jacket that would actually fit me. but it did. vulpine's instructions give credence to the notion that loosening a portion of the contents from its enclosure will then allow a smart flick of the wrist to release the whole enchilada from its prison. in practice, try as i might, i was unable to replicate this behaviour, though mrs washingmachinepost did enjoy several humorous moments watching me try. an inability to be vulpine-like in this manner really is of no real nevermind; it is simplicity itself to drag the contents into the real world, even in the face of a somewhat breezy wind.

the disc jacket's fabric is provided by swiss weatherproof coatings specialists schoeller, meaning the material is considerably thinner than any toilet paper we own or have ever owned. yet it's strong enough to remain in one piece throughout all scatterbrained attempts to wear it in a hurry, and repels all sorts of guff that might mess up its public image. the vulpine emblazoned disc is small enough to fit in a jersey rear pocket if you use it on such rides (see below) or drop it into one of those brooks brick-lane panniers on the back of a taurus corinto.

vulpine disc jacket

once pulled over your head, there's a quarter zip to close to the neck, while that now inside-out pocket is large enough to hold a compact digital camera and an ipod (substituting for a smartphone on this occasion). dragged from a pocket in a vulpine harrington jacket, it has sufficient volume to encapsulate the three layers worn on this occasion without restriction, yet manages not to replicate a human hot air balloon. there's a conveniently placed drawstring at the hem which can be adjusted to suit your form factor.

though vulpine are not yet in the business of clothing the pelotonese, i cannot deny that i wore it over the top of a competitor's long-sleeved jersey on the sunday ride. a rather cold sunday ride i might add. adhering to the rule of not being comfortably warm until after the 5km point has been achieved, i confess i rather thought i had seriously erred. though the jacket is windproof and water resistant, its astounding thinness bears no thermal properties whatsoever. i'll admit to being rather chilly as i left the boundaries of bowmore village.

however, the 5km rule proved to be fortuitous; once past i remained comfortably warm throughout the ensuing three hours, using that quarter front zip as a thermostat.

vulpine's disc jacket now joins the ranks of that ineffective swiss army knife and the highly effective rhythm base drum key, as an item to be permanently carried about one's person. and that whether on or off the bicycle. it's a very clever, cool and fun piece of apparel; the fact that it's immensely practical is a very welcome bonus.

vulpine's packable disc jacket is available in blue/green or red/orange (as reviewed) in sizes ranging from xs to xxl at a cost of £99 from a vulpine dealer or direct from the vulpine website.

vulpine packable disc jacket

though i have made mention that vulpine are not currently in the business of offering peloton-like cycle clothing, they are particularly vociferous in their support of women's racing, adding the vulpine name to the jerseys of the matrix fitness team. laura trott joins the team for 2015 alongside lucy martin, elinor barker, molly weaver, harriet owen, mel lowther, jessie walker sara olsson, christina siggaard and penny rowson. said nick hussey of vulpine "we're still sponsoring, but with matrix fitness taking the title role on the jerseys. the profile of the team jumped ahead of what we expected with laura signing."

wednesday 12 november 2014

twmp ..........................................................................................................................................................................................................

pronto gara ..........................................................................................................................................................................................................

powered by hippo technology

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sportif magazine> ..........................................................................................................................................................................................................

portland design works ..........................................................................................................................................................................................................

solo cycle clothing ..........................................................................................................................................................................................................

prendas ciclismo ..........................................................................................................................................................................................................

 wabi woolens ..........................................................................................................................................................................................................

synaptic cycles ..........................................................................................................................................................................................................

mousehold-press

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tell them we sent you

quick mention for those intending to visit islay's shores on a bike during the summer. velo club d'ardbeg recommended coffee/tea stops - in no particular order.

club headquarters at the old kiln cafe, ardbeg distillery. excellent food as well as designer coffees with froth. the single malt is apparently just ginger peachy. open monday to saturday from easter to september, seven days from june to september.

debbie's cafe

bruichladdich mini market (debbie's cafe), a few hundred yards from the distillery. highly commended designer coffees with outside tables. we like. open all year round with a cycling wall in the coffee corner.

welcometogreatcoffee.co.uk

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as always, if you have any comments, please feel free to e-mail and thanks for reading.

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.......................................................................................................................................................................................................... thewashingmachinepost

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