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fassa bicycle protection

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the mighty dave t's words of the week

the mighty dave t

"tardiness is the new black."

©2019 the mighty dave t, is a prendas sponsored rider and le patron of the thoroughly decent fellows.


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this is cambridge

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the name of the game

registered trademark

just prior to my first visit to the fair town of portland, oregon, i came across the wheelbuilding skills of jude gerace (née kirstein) and her fledgling business entitled epic wheelworks. with the hospitality guidance of chris distefano, i paid a visit to her compact and bijou workshop, situated on the city's lower east-side. the elevator taking us to the first floor was almost as big as the small office festooned with rims, wheels and boxes of spokes adjacent to a couple of wheelbuilding jigs. it would be hard to imagine a smaller, small business.

but despite the relative insignificance (no disrespect intended) of epic wheelworks, the name had alerted the legal eagles at the specialized bicycle corporation, principally because mike sinyard's company produced a bicycle bearing the name epic. they issued a 'cease and desist' letter in order to protect their trademark, despite the fact that jude's cupboard could hardly be considered one capable of being conceived as a threat to the might of one of the world's largest bicycle manufacturers.

unsurprisingly, jude sensibly opted to change the name of her business (it is now called 'sugar wheelworks'), if only on the basis that specialized had far deeper pockets.

dorset's prendas ciclismo also suffered, though less drastically, at the hands of a slightly smaller, italian framebuilder. in the cult movie, 'white men can't jump', wesley snipes, playing the part of a basketball hustler, is regularly seen wearing a colnago casquette. it transpires that this was not a one-time stock item, but a design created specifically for the movie. i know; i spent years trying to find one. mick tarrant and andy storey at prendas, tenaciously tracked down the design and had a number made for sale on the prendas website.

after only a few days, colnago's lawyers visited a cease and desist' order upon the hapless pair, though the cap's popularity pretty much ensured that it had sold out before the order could be enforced.

in pretty much all industries, it's frequently hard not only to come up with an original product name, but one that isn't already in commercial use, no matter how obscure. yes, the internet has made that process a smidgeon simpler, but not everyone has the legal wherewithal to ensure no infractions occur. just recently i was asked to write a review of a cook book in which one of the recipes quite blatantly, but undoubtedly innocently, appropriated the name of a commercial product. chances are, the holders of the tradename will never find out, but you just never know.

but sometimes the big boys have need of shoring up their own commercial presence and once again specialized enters the fray. a friend of mine owns a rather expensive version of their current roubaix model, the one with the bouncy stem, while another owns the previous version. it transpires that the tradename roubaix was not actually in the possession of specialized in the first place, but licensed from the owners advanced sports since 2003. sadly, advanced sports has fared considerably less well than specialized, having filed for bankruptcy at the end of 2018.

thankfully, the company in demise agreed to remove the roubaix trademark from the filing cabinet before their assets are auctioned off later this month and specialized have, in the interim, taken on any related rights and obligations. had ase not agreed to this, it could have seen specialized bereft of the trademark it needed for one of its best selling bike ranges.

specialized have agreed to pay $700,000 for the rights.

so why would the bigger companies have a go at the little fish for what appear remarkably minor disturbances in the force? i mean, in the case of the colnago caps, what's the worst that could happen? one or two more colnagos might be sold? the problem is one of precedent. if we hypothesise that i have the skills to build my own bicycle frame for sale and i decide to call it an allez. specialized presumably own that trademark, but it's unlikely that mine would resemble theirs, and even more unlikely that any sales of my frame would impact upon specialized's bottom line.

but, if trek were subsequently to offer an allez badged bicycle for sale, things might be considerably different. and if specialized had left me alone, trek's lawyers could argue that this had set a precedent of not protecting their trademark. a ruling to this effect could cause all manner of upsets.

aren't you glad we only ride bikes?

thursday 17 january 2019

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peter sagan is such a copycat

specialized allez sprint

along with the my reader, i like shiny stuff, particularly if it's composed of the very latest three-layer, nano-fibre carbon, all tricked out with the very best of componentry and wheels that would make me go fast and look good. i'm also particularly well aware that my bank balance is scarcely up to the job of paying for such a droolsworthy velocipede and that ultimately, none of the foregoing, no matter how lightweight, will make me any quicker to debbie's for a bout of froth supping.

specialized allez sprint

but meanwhile, back in the real world, less might not be more, but it's a darned sight more affordable. so, while i would dearly love to have the very top of the range sitting in the disintegrating bike shed, eagerly awaiting yours truly to give it a good seeing to around the highways and byways of the southern hebrides, so doing might just be a tad redundant, not to say, self-indulgent.

though my reader would be the first to agree that relevance is scarcely my watchword, when it comes to reviewing bicycles, i like to think my choices reflect the wherewithal of the majority, rather than that of lottery winners. therefore, since the onset of the festive 500, i have had the luxury of a satin finish specialized allez comp sprint disc edition. historically, aluminium has not featured amongst my most favoured of frame materials, more by way of prejudice than objectivity, but in the carbon era, despite working particularly well for marco pantani before the turn of the century, it tends to feature at the lower end of the food chain.

specialized allez sprint

it's an observable fact that the ubiquity of carbon fibre has promulgated this situation, something that encouraged my asking specialized for this particular bicycle to review. though my monologue probably ought to have commenced with a spoiler alert, the actual review of the bicycle is a few days distant, as i have a cunning plan, the veracity of which has yet to be tested. however, it's probably not giving too much away to state that all rides so far have been conducted with a confident grin upon my visage.

but while i apply my meagre critical faculties to the job at hand, the professional peloton has already been left trailing in the wake of quick-step's elia viviani, winner of the opening stage of the tour down under. and though i'm reasonably sure that the folks at specialized uk are not given to breaching manufacturer/reviewer confidentiality, it seems clearly evident that somebody has spoken out of turn, when really they shouldn't have. for how else do you explain that, a mere matter of weeks after 'my' allez comp sprint arrives, bora hansgrohe rider, peter sagan, is reported to be riding the very exact identical frame?

specialized allez sprint

here is a rider who has worn the world championship stripes on three separate occasions, the possessor of bike-handling skills that most of us would sell our back copies of the comic for and whose own 'limited edition' specialized s-works venge retails at the very wrong side of £10,000. yet he chooses a sub-£2,000 metal bicycle on which to ply his trade, the verisimilitude of a machine that i just happen to have in the shed. (i checked with specialized; other than colour choice, the frame is identical).

if this doesn't get me upgraded to major influencer status within a month, my name's not peter sagan.

specialized allez sprint comp disc

wednesday 16 january 2019

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dram fine cycle clothing

port charlotte cycle jersey

a bit of history.

more years ago than i can place a date and time on, a group of folks from glenmorangie whisky's bottling plant travelled to islay in order to participate in the annual half marathon, sponsored as it is, by ardbeg distillery. those with a specific interest in the amber nectar will have already made the connection: glenmorangie are owners of ardbeg, so to keep the tradition, this particular assembly wore ardbeg cycle jerseys, produced by livingston's endura clothing. these had previously been ordered for a twenty-four hour mountain bike event.

prior to this moment, the notion of a cycle jersey bearing whisky bottle graphics was pretty much unheard of, so i figured that i really needed to own an example of this ardbeg emblazoned cycle garmentage. speaking to one of the chaps thus clad, he informed me that they'd only had around 15 of the jerseys made, so there were no more to be had. for the next two years, i made a total nuisance of myself with ardbeg's brand manager, trying every subterfuge to have him agree to have some more jerseys produced. i'll give the fellow his due; at anytime during those twenty-four months, i would have told me to take a running jump, but eventually he caved. "we're going to have forty jerseys made, just to keep you happy, but that's all."

ardnahoe cycle jersey

one year later, at ardbeg's open day during the islay whisky festival, he confided that he was glad i had pursued my selfish task, for the jerseys had been a raging success. currently, they sell around 200 per year at the distillery shop and more from the manufacturer's online store.

this minor cycling success was followed by another from bruichladdich distillery, unfortunately designed by a gentleman who could scarcely distinguish a bicycle from a vacuum cleaner, blissfully unaware that the regulation apparel ought to feature three rear pockets. this was followed by a manifestly better option, but still bearing a design from the dark-side. latterly, endura took it upon themselves to produce a well-designed paean to bowmore distillery (but a few hundred metres from where i sit) and sold in a box remarkably similar to those containing a 70cl distillation of water, yeast and barley.

port charlotte cycle shorts

with the increase in ferries travelling to and from the island since the middle of last decade, augmented by the existence not only of a youth hostel in port charlotte and a campsite but a mile farther south, islay has become something of a mecca for cyclists with a predilection for its peaty and not so peaty whiskies. the ideal accompaniment to a bottle of the hard stuff, from their point of view at least, is surely a cycle jersey demonstrating their cultured affectations? yet oddly, though lagavulin and laphroaig have both tested the water, until recently, the number remained at three.

ardnahoe cycle jersey

you see, bruichladdich distillery produce a mind-numbing variety of whiskies, one of which takes its name from the former distillery at port charlotte. in one of those, right-place-at-the-right-time moments, i was asked if i'd be willing to undertake the design of a cyle jersey in tribute to this particular distillation. and not just a jersey, but a matching pair of bibshorts, the results of which you can see here. much as i'd love to take all the credit, most of the design work was already contained within the multi-page style guide handed to me from the outset.

meanwhile, at the north of the island, islay's ninth distillery nears completion at ardnahoe, quite a few months past the date expected. always willing to undermine an already fragile situation, i opted to design a cycle jersey as a bit of a wind-up. they might not have had an operable distillery, but at least they'd have appropriate velocipedinal apparel. much to my surprise (and i confess, i originally thought they were playing me at my own silly game), they sent the design through to endura and as of yesterday, these have arrived at the not-yet-open distillery.

port charlotte cycle jersey

the fact that my copy of adobe illustrator produced at least a portion of the design work for both of these cycle kits, is really neither here nor there. i simply offer this as a public service, to (as sheldon cooper would have said), inform you thusly. the rest is up to you. bruichladdich's endura-made port charlotte kit is currently available from the distillery, but if you really, desperately have to have an ardnahoe jersey, i daresay you could contact the distillery direct.

a pair of port charlotte bibshorts retails at £90, while the matching jersey costs £60. check with ardnahoe for the cost of their jersey.

bruichladdich shop | ardnahoe distillery

tuesday 15 january 2019

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frahm utility field jacket

frahm utility field jacket

in my first year on islay, i rather mistakenly figured that there were certain features that ought best be adopted in order to seamlessly fit in. to give you an idea of that of which i speak, i figured that making the attempt to learn gaelic would be a smart move, study the wide range of birdlife that surrounds every aspect of islay life and buy myself a waxed-cotton jacket of the type made famous by barbour.

frahm utility field jacket

to be honest, none of it ended well. for starters, i was blissfully unaware that there is more than one dialect of gaelic and the bbc book 'can seo' that i purchased, along with the accompanying cassette (yes, it was that long ago) was not the one spoken on islay. secondly, gaelic pronunciation bears no resemblance to the written word.

secondly, that indigenous birdlife. 'the observer's book of birds' initially seemed remarkably helpful, until i had actually to identify those winged creatures when spotted in the middle of a field. since then, i have adopted the stance that there are geese and there are not geese.

frahm utility field jacket

lastly, the waxed-cotton jacket. it might surprise you to learn that my more economic barbour copy was possibly the least practical garment in which to cycle, and, to be quite honest, it bore a less than attractive aroma. i began to see why folks paid the extra money for a proper barbour. though i'm not proud of it, at one point i also purchased (and actually wore - once) a waxed cotton flat cap. had lord margadale invited me out for a picnic on the estate, i probably wouldn't have looked out of place. everywhere else, i definitely did.

frahm utility field jacket

having spent many a winter, studiously avoiding so-called 'twitchers', who think nothing of stopping anywhere they like, having doubtless spotted a a rare white-breasted something or other, i'm very glad i failed to pursue the bird-spotting thing. it's almost politically incorrect to make any adverse comment about gaelic, so i will resist, but i invite you to read between the lines. and lastly, i really have no great desire to be mistaken for a 'hooray henry', over for a shooting weekend.

frahm utility field jacket

but then the recently formed frahm jackets, kindly sent me a review sample of their machine-washable, waxed cotton, utility field jacket. the philosophy underpinning frahm's modus operandi is the limited production of a single jacket design; once they're gone, they're gone. they then move onto the next design. the last few examples of the jacket under review are still available if you're quick, before the harrington racer makes its debut next month. so why, you might ask, has this particular waxed jacket given me cause to revise my apparent animosity towards the genre?

frahm utility field jacket

for starters, as a confirmed cyclist, writing a blog about bicycles, ultimately read by other folks who are interested in cycling (that would be you), this particular jacket has bicycles woven into its dna. in other words, it's simplicity itself to ride a bike while clad in its waxed protectiveness. the latter extends to a full-length front zip, protected from the elements by a poppered external storm-flap. and for those, like me, who can never have enough pockets, even if we can't remember in which pocket we've placed our co-op dividend card, this is pocket heaven.

there are two lined handwarmer pockets, precisely where you'd hope they'd be, overlaid with two external, double poppered outside pockets. those are mirrored with two remarkably similar chest pockets. but, were those six for starters, simply insufficent, there is a zippered internal pocket top left, capable of swallowing an ipod (in my case), or even one of those 'phablets' (in your case). then, still within the jacket's inner sanctum, there's yet another pocket in which the more prescient amongst us might consider keeping our wallets.

frahm utility field jacket

or, perchance, a paperback copy of will fotheringham's eddy merckx biography.

the pleasantly tall collar features another two poppers, providing the equivalent of a waxed-cotton force-field against any unwarranted and inclement weather. the cuffs are scalloped (which i believe is the technical term), offering additional coverage for the wrists and nicely overlapping any gloves with which you may have accessorised. the fit is very far from baggy, of particular advantage when cycling, but not what the italians would refer to as 'race-fit'. there's no real movement restriction and it's perfectly possible to wear a specialized hooded sweatshirt underneath without looking like you left the coathanger in place.

frahm utility field jacket

i am insufficiently well acquainted with waxed jackets to know if it's normal practice to throw them in the washing machine, but a cursory glance of barbour' website would tend to suggest not. however, the average cyclist has a tendency to chuck everything in the machine without first reading the care instructions. the utility field jacket's construction from millerain staywax, allows you to do just that. but then, we really, really want to know if it's actually waterproof; form and function are always a good match. my attempts to photograph this garment on a particularly wet and gloomy saturday morning rather proved the point. i got particularly wet, or rather, i didn't. there is no need to doubt the weatherproofing.

frahm utility field jacket

frahm would appear to be onto a winner here. granted, the price tag might engender a sharp intake of breath, but a bit like those patek philippe watches, this is a garment that you'll be effectively looking after for the next generation. yes, it claims to be breathable and it probably is, but never as breathable as a cyclist would want it to be; that's just velocpedinal life and it's unlikely to change anytime soon. i do have marginal reservations over the black colour with nothing in the way of refelctive details, but i suppose you can't have everything.

the frahm website positions the utility field jacket as "...your go-to jacket for everything from frosty bike commuting to drizzly dog trekking." this is not a garment that will be seen in the heat of a professional peloton anytime soon, but then you'd scarcely go for a walk along the beach in your three-rear-pocket, race fit winter jacket.

everything has its place and the frahm jacket makes it a happy place.

frahm's waxed-cotton utility field jacket is available in sizes ranging from small to xxl in black only, at a retail price of £395. there are, apparently very few examples of the original 100 made, so if you want one (and you probably do), click the link sooner, rather than later.

frahm utility field jacket

monday 14 january 2019

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a bit of rough

rough stuff fellowship

there's little denying that the americans have taken to cyclocross like the proverbial duck to water. on a visit to portland some ten years ago, the hup united team had not only jerseys with 'top tube goes here' on the right shoulder, but those jerseys had been manufactured by vermarc, in order to emphasise the belgian connection. however, the sport's history is firmly rooted in mainland europe, even if the origins are a tad obscure.

rough stuff fellowship

rumour has it that european professionals, desperate to hang onto some of their summer fitness, would challenge each other on courses leading from one village or town, to the next. quite how you got there was up to you; in order to emulate a flying crow, that often meant climbing over stone walls, running across fields and fording streams. by comparison, the routes over which matthieu van der poel destroys the opposition nowadays, are remarkably well manicured.

rough stuff fellowship

so, while europe, including the uk, was happy with its cyclocross bicycles, the marketing departments of america's bicycle manufacturers invented the gravel bike. this machinery replicated the 'cross bicycle quite closely, but dispensed with the uci's limit of 33mm tyres and never even considered cantilever brakes. you could be forgiven, therefore, for mistakenly accepting that riding the rough stuff was an american invention; it's even possible that some actually believe that. and also that taking a bicycle off the metalled roadways demanded 44mm knobblies, hydraulic discs and a shiny carbon frame.

rough stuff fellowship

in truth, the rough stuff fellowship was first formed in 1955, in a pub close to the border between wales and england. history will record that this makes it the oldest off-road club in the world. in the 1950s, there were only 'dumb' phones; smartphones with cameras, well supplied with pixels, were still some fifty-odd years away. therefore, those in possession of cameras, tended to be individuals with studied photographic abilities. there was little or no discrimination amongst those welcomed to the rough stuff fellowship as members and their subsequent adventures across the uk and the world at large were often recorded by a smattering of those photographers.

rough stuff fellowship

an advert placed in a 1954 issue of the bicycle magazine, called for founding members. subsequent trips to iceland, switzerland and italy in the 1960s, along with slogs through lake district snow, the cairngorms and brecon, were archived for the future. and now author, max leonard, has started a kickstarter campaign to raise sufficient funds to publish these archives in conjunction with the rough stuff fellowship archivist, mark hudson. leonard's isola press will take care of all the design, layout and production matters, as was the case with his last, esteemed and successful publication, 'rough stuff cycling in the alps'.

rough stuff fellowship

however, a bit like that archetypal old lady, helped across the street by a kindly boy scout, despite the fact that she didn't actually want to cross the street in the first place, i may be guilty of offering succour and support where it is not required. though the campaign still has 28 days to go (at the time of writing), it is already oversubscribed to the tune of almost £8,000. i'd find it hard to believe that there is anyone here who has not once perused the pages of kickstarter, so yet again, i will simply post the appropriate link below. i'm sure you know the rest. an early bird price for the book will cost a highly reasonable £27, while there are also a couple of limited edition editions available at higher cost, but still one heck of a lot cheaper than a new gravel bicycle.

£1 from each book sold will be donated to the rough stuff fellowship.

at the very least, owning just such a publication will allow you to adopt the moral high ground in the midst of any gravel bike dudes you might meet in the course of a day in the coffee shop.

the rough stuff fellowship archive

sunday 13 january 2019

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colouring book

rapha + education first

i have already mentioned, this past week, america'sconsumer electronics show, where the industry demonstrates and displays the latest in televisions, computers, and any number of associated products, some of which will be in the shops later this year, others that will (probably with good reason) disappear without trace. and in a couple of weeks, in anaheim's convention centre, the american national association of music merchants (namm) show, will bring the latest in drums, guitars, amplifiers, keyboards and other musical accoutrements to the attention of those with an interest in such things (me, me, me).

rapha + education first

and before the peloton even approaches the cobbles of paris-roubaix, the taipei international cycle show will give a rather large sneek peek at the technological developments we can expect to see on manufacturer's websites and bicycle shops either later this year, or at the beginning of 2020. some of those developments will be consolidated by the time eurobike hustles along in early september this year, a show that might gain more significance, now that america has abandoned its annual interbike

but what of the peloton's uniforms for the forthcoming season? some of these have already been launched in ad hoc fashion over the past few months leading to the season opener at the tour down under, commencing this weekend. around this time last week, i brought to your attention, the limited edition, all-black kit produced by rapha in advance of the more colourful kit launch that took place in australia yesterday. this state of affairs was choreographed to allow antipodean members of the team to participate in their national championships without stealing the thunder of a team launch this weekend. the women's tour began on thursday, while the men won't actually roll out until tuesday, after the considerably shorter down under classic tomorrow.

rapha + education first

this past year, i have been involved in designing a couple of cycle kits on behalf of both bruichladdich and ardnahoe distilleries. one of those was a tad more restricting than the other, but at least the only logos/graphics necessarily incorporated were those of the respective distillers. building kit for the professional peloton must surely be harder by a considerable order of magnitude. there is not only the team management to be satisfied, but the principal sponsors too, many of whom have a commercial interest in being best represented by not only the colours on display, but the size of their logo in relation to those of the sub-sponsors.

it's not a job i would relish.

however, the majority of pelotonic jerseys tend to follow a relatively staid formula, revolving around colours that will not clash with the leaders' jerseys in the grand tours. fortunately, many of the world tour teams sport one major sponsor; fitting a myriad of logos onto the likes of androni giocatoli, a team far more reliant on a panoply of sponsors, must be a graphic designer's nightmare.

rapha's design for jonathan vaughters' education first team, for which they have become clothing and media partner, is somewhat less traditional than even last year's kit, one which grated on the senses somewhat by clashing lime-green with fluorescent pink (not exactly a colour with which rapha are unfamiliar). the 2019 design, thankfully dispensing with even a hint of green, is described by imperial works as a "...disruptive and fresh design...", somewhat reminiscent of the tie-dye era of the sixties and seventies. in fact, on closer examination, tales from topographic oceans cover designer, roger dean might well note his subliminal influence.

rapha + education first

in the true fashion (see what i did there?) of football jerseys, team replicas are now available to purchase direct from rapha, should you wish to show your educational support over the coming season. we can but hope all parties will see fit to change the design as little as possible, allowing early adopters to remain true to the faith for as long as possible.

the collection is, to say the least, extensive, including t-shirts that bridget riley would be proud of, a bucket hat, casquette, water bottle, essentials case, both men's and women's aero jerseys, bibshorts and black training jerseys. whether the design is to your taste is, to a greater or lesser degree, unimportant; it's different enough to be instantly recognisable in a peloton brimming with colour. with the team intent on riding not only the dirty kanza gravel race but also the three-peaks cyclocross event, it appears vaughters and rapha are keen not simply to change up the art of jersey design.

rapha education first team kit

saturday 12 january 2019

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pit stop

mclaren bahrain merida

it would surely not be overstating the case to say that probably the highest profile news of the fledgling 2019 season, announced before its beginning down under, was sky's announcement that they will withdraw from sponsorship of dave brailsford's team at the end of the season. though for many, including sir dave and the team, this must come as something of a disappointment, given cycling's fragile relationship with its sponsors, it's hardly the biggest surprise ever sprung upon the professional peloton. yet the news of a sponsor leaving the sport, apparently garnered more column inches than did the arrival of another.

had that other sponsor been of minor and obscure stature, that would be perfectly understandable, but in point of fact, it was the winner of several formula one constructors' championships, the mclaren group. the motor racing fiends have joined forces with the bahrain merida team as 50% joint venture partner, though the specifcs of this new partnership may be a few months in the reckoning. i cannot deny that it seems a tad odd for a formula one team which relies on sponsorship (their orange coloured cars bear several logos: dell computers, sap, logitech et al) to operate its race car team, to have found the wherewithal to have its logo applied to the bahrain merida jersey sleeves.

of course, mclaren is hardly a single entity; though it is perhaps best known for its race cars and frighteningly expensive production sports cars, it owns a subset referred to as mclaren applied technologies. perhaps the most obvious connection with cycling, in the short term, would be through its expertise in wind tunnel testing. however, the applied technologies lab website currently offers insights into its work with autonomous vehicles, aviation and, perhaps a little oddly, rickshaw construction. beyond that, i'm somewhat in the dark.

however, there is a more obvious connection, based far more on who you know, as against, what you know. the mclaren group is majority owned by bahrain's sovereign wealth fund. but unlike my diatribe of yesterday where the subject was of cycling's apparent commoditisation by external forces, less in thrall with velocipedinal life than ourselves, bahrain seems genuinely intrigued with the sporting potential. his highness shaikh nasser bin hamad al khalifa made that plain by stating "Our partnership with McLaren is one that gives me great national pride and excitement for the future of Bahrain cycling. We want to be the best in the world and an example to others of how to compete in this most challenging of elite sports."

of course, that doesn't necessarily mean that the sheikh has a bike shed full of carbon fibre meridas, but you'll notice the total lack of the words 'strategy' and 'consumer', so that's got to be cause for optimism, right?

i confess that i am completely unfamiliar with the mores of formula one (or any other formula) motor racing, unlike many corsa owners with drainpipe exhausts, but i'm unaware of any other high-profile commercial and technological crossover between two such disparate sports. i am of course, bearing in mind that mat have previously collaborated with team gb on performance management systems ahead of the 2012 olympic games. there are a number of racing drivers who include cycling in their training schedules, but that hardly counts as cross fertilisation; i'm sure tom boonen probably has a mclaren in his garage in monaco and maybe vicenzo nibali is about to do likewise.

but given the continual, almost daily, appearance on twitter, of visible consternation and aggravation between cyclists and motorists, maybe there's a chance that this partnership will start to make us the best of pals. however, thoughts that the team budget might aspire to that of team sky, were undermined by team manager, brent copeland. according to him, the benefits are more likely to encompass mclaren's expertise in technology, data, commercial and marketing, rather than crinkly pounds or dollars. dave brailsford can presumably lessen the effects of his current need to search for a sponsor by taking comfort that this is surely a tangible result of his own original quest for marginal gains.

it does, however, prove just how mature the modern-day cycling aficionado has become in the last seventy-years. the press-release announcing the partnership seems to have been welcomed with far less of a sharp intake of breath, than was the case when fiorenzo magni introduced the backing of nivea for his fuchs team in 1954.

what mature, technologically aware and ever-faster people we have become.

friday 11 january 2019

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endura cycle clothing ..........................................................................................................................................................................................................

flavour of the month

wall street

the world in which we live has become one governed by observable trends, a fact that was once appreciably passive, but has now seemingly taken on not only an active role, but one that has reached knee-jerk status. when i say 'passive', that is perhaps slightly inaccurate, for if the world of commerce truly remained so in the face of changing patterns, the act of observation would have become rapidly redundant. but in the past, consideration would have been given to any upward or downward trend, considerations that would have ultimately affected any future strategy. yet, nowadays, with share trading often carried out in digital milliseconds, stock prices rise or decline every bit as fast.

take apple computer's recent sales warning that it thinks will affect its profits within the quarter ending later this month. here is a company that became the first to be valued at over a trillion dollars, but is currently trading closer to 700 billion. the fact that such enormous amounts of money are discussed in the same way we would talk about pocket change, should surely be enough to describe contemporary financial markets. this profits warning encompasses the fact that the amount of money entering cupertino's coffers will still be close to 80 billion dollars. if you or i had a bank balance of that size, we'd hardly be warning anyone.

the bicycle industry, like many others, has experienced changing fortunes over the last few decades. figures relevant to the usa point to there having been approximately 6,000 storefronts around the turn of the century, a figure that had declined to 4,800 a mere three years later. by 2014, those numbers had decreased further to 4,000. though no concrete figures exist for the years between then and now, there's every likelihood that they will have declined even further. the uk probably never had quite so many bike shops in the first place, but it wouldn't be outwith the bounds of credibility to think we will have been similarly affected.

of course, that doesn't necessarily mean we have fewer options when it comes to purchasing bicycles or componentry, but many of those options are currently concentrated around one or two major online retailers. despite remonstrations that 'the internet can't fix your bicycle.', whether the current situation is good or bad, depends on your opinion and/or geographic location. when we read of halfords introducing the chinese made, alexa enabled cybic later this year, it would appear that the 'good old days' of one-man bike shops run by an elderly chap in brown overalls are gone for good.

john humphreys on radio four's today programme, earlier this week, reporting on the las vegas 'consumer electronics show' asked what surely must rank as the pertinent question, when he queried whether anyone had actually asked to have their bicycles internet enabled. this leads to the not altogether unreasonable summation that cycling, in the manner of many other factors in contemporary life, has become commoditised. while we drool over the new sram wi-fli twelve speed, reserving the right to be concerned over their creation of one piece, double chainrings, big business sees the velocipedinal universe as a suitable vessel for investment.

the elderly fellow in the brown overalls who ran the local village/town/city bike shop did so because of an inherent love of the bicycle. lord knows it wasn't for the money. and individuals like richard sachs make it their life's work to build finely crafted lugged steel bicycles for precisely the same reason. peter faricy, on the other hand, discovery channel's direct to consumer manager, is considerably less likely to harbour the same passions.

"Our partnership with Play Sports Group accelerates our global direct-to-consumer sports strategy and gives us an unprecedented opportunity to create a single global cycling destination for fans around the world."

the keywords in that quote are 'consumer' and 'strategy', in case you hadn't already sussed that one out. mr faricy was referring to discovery channel's takeover of play sports group, owners of cycling media agency shift active media. such commoditising has also resulted in simon wear, founder and ceo of play sports group, stating "...we could not be more perfectly aligned with Discovery's deep-rooted history in serving passionate, specialist audiences with super high-quality content." discovery channel is also the owner of eurosport, the acknowledged home of advertising.

now, mistake me not; there's nothing inherently wrong with the above scenario. at present, it's a win-win situation, with discovery earning greater dividends for their shareholders while we potentially get to watch more cycling on the tellybox and any mobile device that happens to be in our possession. but it's worth reminding ourselves that, just like the relationship apple computer shares with wall street analysts, falling out of love with cycling is probably every bit as simple as falling in love.

we might still think that cycling is ours, but until those speech bubbles seen above the sunday morning peloton read thus: "this is a hugely important investment that aligns fiully with our broader strategy of super-serving passionate fans across screens with valuable demographics and growth potential.", we're far closer to being those on the outside, looking in.

thursday 10 january 2019

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

rouleur magazine ..........................................................................................................................................................................................................

'tis the season to be jolly

commentary box

i remember brian smith's first solo flight as a commentator. if memory serves correctly, it was the world championships road race on the now defunct cycling tv. brian was to have been one half of a team of two: a commentator and a pundit, with brian fulfilling the latter function. however, the commentator failed to arrive and brian was left to handle affairs all on his lonesome. it is testament to his professionalism and substantial knowledge of the sport, that he muddled through, getting progressively better as the race unfolded.

nowadays, though he might still regard himself as more of a pundit than a commentator (it says so on his twitter bio), he has become a welcome addition to the team of presenters on british eurosport.

a good commentator, no matter the sport under discussion, makes it sound remarkably easy. pay just a smidgeon of inattention and you'll find yourself thinking it the very vocation for which you've been overlooked. i have, it shames me to say, thought those very thoughts, mistakenly confident in my knowledge that i could step in for brian, should he find himself indisposed for one reason or another. sadly, though i'm not often right, i was wrong again. it took only a few minutes of attempting to demonstrate my non-existent skills over a replay of a tour stage (with the sound switched off, obviously), to realise that i may not actually have any knowledge of cycle racing whatsoever.

having visited cycling tv's london studios several years ago, i know well of the rather minimal size of the monitors available to the men in the hot seats. these are substantially smaller than the 60" flat-screen oled televisions currently on sale in john lewis opposite buchanan bus station in killermont street, glasgow. therefore, when you have difficulty identifying the third rider from the left, in the middle of the peloton as seen from the helicopter camera feed, believe me, the commentary team have even fewer pixels from which to figure it out.

of course, it could all be sleight of hand; how many of us would feel the need to vociferously disagree if eight colour pixels were identified as vincenzo nibali rather than geraint thomas (obe)? a bit like the faith invested in the girl behind the perfume counter in the same branch of john lewis, we (almost) always figure the voice on-screen is bound to be right. but, in order to ensure that is truthfully the case, brian smith and his pals have to do their homework, an area in which i know for a fact i would fail miserably.

my channel four highlights introduction to top level cycle racing centred around riders such as robert millar, stephen roche, sean kelly, miguel indurain, marco pantani, et al. though i'm sure the power of recall is playing games with my memory, it often seemed that the above named and the other guys in the band were permanent members of a changeless peloton. that, i'm embarrassed to relate, no longer seems to be the case. take team sky's egan bernal, for instance. until last year's tour de france, i'd never heard of the guy, yet by the time we reached paris, he had become effectively the most valuable player. it's a persona he reprised imaginatively in the tour of lombardy later that same year.

i'd love to tell you that i have made every effort to rectify this blissful state of ignorance, but then i'd be fibbing. it's one of the very features of contemporary bicycle racing that i actually adore. yes, there are riders it is hard to ignore; i'm thinking here of peter sagan amongst others, but just as i prefer to ignore the wall to wall punditry (sorry, brian) and endless columns of print forecasting who might be in the form of their lives, i prefer the anonymity of my ignorance. when tweets arise from the likes of cyclist magazine or the comic, enquiring as to who we think might be the stage victor, i could really care less. it's the racing that i adore, the clichéd 'chess on two wheels' that mostly has me in thrall to the sport. who finally takes victory is really only of importance to the winner and those who held similar hopes.

so, as the 2019 tour down under gets underway this weekend, hows about you join me in the depths of my ignorance and enjoy the season for its own sake? let's revel in our ignorance of who that really is in the second row from the back, wearing the bluish jersey and the grey helmet. it's alright to listen to the commentary, but pay as little attention to the punditry as you can.

once again, sorry brian.

wednesday 9 january 2019

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

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

the singularity approacheth

cybic

if you're not already bored to tears with the information that, as a card-carrying luddite, there is no such thing as a smartphone in my life, then you've not been paying attention often enough. however, i do stretch as far as an ipod, one that sports excellent internet connectivity and most recently, quite substantial storage space in something that slips easily into the inside pocket of a frahm field jacket. concerned that apple were likely to discontinue this excellent music-playing device in favour of forcing its iphone on all and sundry, mrs washingmachinepost generously bought me a shiny blue model for christmas.

the minor downside to any new electrical device these days, is often the need to run through a setup process to ensure it works at its optimum level from day one. in the case of the ipod, a part of this process involved letting apple know whether or not i wanted to make use of siri. at one time, i'd have had to explain just what this voice-activated, artificial intelligence persona, actually did, but so prevalent is this concept in the clothing of microsoft's cortana, google's assistant (they must have been up all night naming that one), or perhaps more pervasively, amazon's alexa.

cybic

personally, i have great difficulty with the notion of speaking to a slim electronic device such as an ipod or ipad, or even more unlikely, talking to a small round box on the kitchen worktop, to ask what the weather's going to be like, or whether i need to order more soya milk. it still suprises me that people are happy to have one of these boxes listening to everything they're saying and storing it in the cloud. meanwhile those same folks are scared to write down their amazon password in case it's seen by someone else.

it should, therefore, come as no real surprise that the technology would eventually make its way onto a bicycle near you. the surprising part, for me at least, is that it has done so quite as quickly as has turned out to be the case. exhibiting at the consumer electronics show in las vegas this week, is china's cybic electronic bicycle, a product that has been exclusively snapped up by halfords for sale in the uk this coming summer.

cybic

since a plain, ordinary, electric bicycle is hardly the height of technological innovation, you would be correct in assuming that the cybic bears features hitherto unseen in the world of the velocipede. with reference to my opening paragraphs, this particular bicycle has been accessorised with amazon's alexa technology, via a bar-mounted control unit with voice activated menu. thus, the connected cyclist can enquire of ms. alexa as to traffic directions, weather forecasts and any number of additional fun things that have, until now, been sadly lacking from the world of cycling.

according to alexa voice services product manager, david kumar, "the combination of alexa and cybic enables riders to enjoy a great range of innovative, integrated bike features, without their hands ever having to leave the safety of the handlebars."

cybic

of course, talking to an ethereal, non-existent person to get from a to b, is only the beginning, there's also the option of including personalised light settings (?), an hd music player (??) and a security lock and alarm that can be accessed via the inevitable app. but, if like me, you're wondering how on earth alexa can connect the rider to the great big interweb, that particular task is enabed via an included vodafone sim with three years of free data. but the real cruncher and surely adding insult to injury, is the fact that the cybic is wi-fi enabled.

admit it, you're worried now.

halford's alleged bike expert (but not as we know it, jim), andy whitehall stated "...we predict that the next big trend for commuters, will be smart bikes.", most probably because they'd like it to be. much like disc brakes on road bikes, adding bicycles to the internet of things, seems much more a case of it being done because it can be, rather than as a result of insatiable consumer demand, but once the genie is out of the bottle... neither cybic not halfords have announced prices for this horror of horrors, but analysts expect £1,000 to be the expected drain on your bank account.

cybic

it's not too much of stretch of the imagination to expect world tour bikes, in a matter of seasons, to have their very own alexa, siri, cortana or assistant connection. this will potentially dispense with any need for a tour road book. riders can simply query the box on the bars as to the length, gradient and severity of the climbs on their horizon, as well as at what power output they ought to approach the ascent in order to leave nibali quaking in their dust. and for what earthly or unearthly reasons would you have need to contact the directeur sportif in the following car?

at the risk of repeating myself, remember the days when we used to simply go out for a bike ride?

tuesday 8 january 2019

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

galloway cycling

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campagnolo

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showers pass ..........................................................................................................................................................................................................

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

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

port mòr bistro. now that the original debbie's is run by her mum, aileen, debbie has taken over the catering franchise at port charlotte's port mòr centre, where you can have some of deb's famously wonderful coffee as well as a wide range of foodtsuffs. highly recommended.

braehouse gallery, portnahaven. sited at the entrance to portnahaven village, the gallery also offers takeway coffees and a range of cakes. there's also quite a wide range of photos, islay souvenirs and other desirable odds and bits. though you can't sit in for coffee and cake, there is a table and chairs outside along with an adjacent bicycle rack for parking.

and recently opened in islay house square, bridgend in the islay studios photo gallery, a fine selection of designer coffees are now available while you admire the surrounding imagery.

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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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