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tic epic l/s jersey

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dromarti ..........................................................................................................................................................................................................

the mighty dave t's words of the week

the mighty dave t

"i'm never sure if i'm talking flemish or utter bollocks."

©2016 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 and n+1 cycle t-shirts


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

specialized sequoia elite

specialized sequoia elite

specialized bicycles have, to put it mildly, a rather substantial range. in the interests of propriety, i attempted to count the individual models available on their website, but gave up when i lost count. and that was only the mountain bikes. the sequoia elite reviewed here is categorised under their adventure series, from which i've already featured the rack-festooned awol. similar to the latter, the frame of the sequoia is cro-mo steel, but this time with the added benefit of a sturdy carbon fork. though i and my partners in crime would be more likely to describe the colour of this as duck egg blue, specialized prefer the less descriptive but more endearing california white sage.

specialized sequoia elite

the steeply sloping main triangle is formed with tig-welded steel tubes, featuring an almost anorexic (by today's standards) bottom bracket and a tapered head tube. the down tube offers three bottle cage bosses to allow more specific placing of the cage to suit your requirements, augmented by a further two on the seat tube and another set under the down tube near the bottom bracket. all cabling for both the shimano hydraulic 160mm discs and the wide-range 105 gearing follow the underside of the downtube and are held in place by sturdy frame clips. this means that the gear wires are completely encased in cable outer from one end to the next.

specialized sequoia elite

the almost spindly seat stays bear a couple of bosses at the top for a rear rack, with corresponding threaded bolt holes on the dropouts. intriguingly welcome are bosses on the front carbon fork on which to mount a low-ride rack. the word dropouts has become something of a misnomer of late and not just on bicycles from specialized. both front and rear hubs are held in place by allen-bolt fastened thru-axles. i can only surmise that the absence of ratcheted axles as seen on the crux elite 'cross bike has to do with their fragility in the face of potential adversity. my friends at yonder journal have made far more rugged use of this bicycle than have i and i can only imagine how long external appendages would last in the bolivian hinterlands.

specialized sequoia elite

in contrast to the steel main triangle, the carbon fork offers internal brake hose routing on the left leg, leaving no dangling accidents waiting to happen. the headset is of the semi-integrated type, tapering from 1.125 to 1.25. the relatively short alloy stem grasps a pair of shallow parabolic drop bars, flared outwards slightly in the manner once sported by every touring bar on the market. the lookalike denim bar tape is nicely matched to the denim effect phenom saddle sitting atop a 27.2mm steel seatpost.

though i have no idea if it is indicative of a sea change in californian thinking, the bottom bracket is of the external bearing cup design as opposed to the increasingly common, yet increasingly loathed press-fit variety. this plays home to a cold -forged alloy fsa sub-compact chainset, featuring a 48/32 chainring set. matched to an 11-32 cassette at the rear, this provides the intrepid rider the opportunity to clamber up the side of houses with a 1:1 gear ratio. such a widely spaced set of sprockets is handled by a long-cage shimano 105 gear mech, with the same manufacturer providing the clamp-on front mech.

specialized sequoia elite

however, perhaps the most obvious and ultimately impressive aspect of the sequioa is the substantial pair of amber-walled 700 x 42mm wide sawtooth tyres with a less than chunky tread. specialized have positioned the sequoia as a viable alternative to owning a road bike and a touring bike, by combining the best features of both into one bicycle. though not the lightest machine on the planet, the all-up weight pays testament to the fact that steel though no longer cutting edge, still has its place in the modern velocipedinal universe.

going for a ride

specialized sequoia elite

as mentioned above, according to specialized, the sequoia is effectively a road bike with a tad more than just wanderlust pretensions. there is an image in yonder journal's dead reckoning photo book of this very bicycle, festooned with framebag, bar pack and other luggage associated with heading into regions of earth devoid of much in the way of population. however, wimp that i am, january and february's weather precluded any investigations into islay's rustic hinterland. sad to say, this particular sequoia was only saddled (pardon the pun) with a seatpack containing tube and tyre lever and, ironically enough, a dead reckoning water bottle. in the face of my less than intrepid personality, i opted to review the bicycle on its less rugged propensities.

specialized sequoia elite

the one blatant and apparently obvious detriment to its assuming pelotonic status would undoubtedly be those large 42mm tyres, yet that is a conclusion to which it is distinctly not in our interests to jump. i cannot deny that defying gravity is not one of their better traits, but when it comes to the flat, those forty-two millimetres behave as if they were only 25 or 28. i will readily admit that the sunday morning velo club peloton would scarcely see peter sagan's rear wheel for dust, but they failed to leave me wallowing in the same.

and with reference to the sequoia's climbing ability, that 32 tooth inner ring was welcome on more than just a single occasion. however, the surprise arrow in its quiver was repeatedly revealed on the subsequent downhill, where the extra kilogramme or so, allied to a quite enervating sense of balance, often meant that i was at least first in the queue for the next uphill slog. once again, however, i must raise the subject of a stem that was several millimetres too short for yours truly. this was offset marginally by a welcome length of top tube, but the real reason i make mention has more to do with colour than length.

specialized sequoia elite

were this my very own californian sage white sequoia, i would be publicly embarrassed to replace the stock stem with any substitute that did not embrace that selfsame colour and i'm not altogether sure that specialized stock replacement 130mm stems in this particular colour (though i'll admit i didn't ask).

as one brought up with campagnolo coursing through my veins, sheer prejudice has conditioned me to approach shimano with temerity, mostly, it should be admitted, because i formerly found their sti levers less than ergonomic. however, though their newer models obviated that criticism several years ago, those that actuate a set of hydraulic discs have managed to offer brake hood nirvana, only marginally lessened by the shortage of stem.

specialized sequoia elite

i have frequently quoted myself as saying the finest compliment that can be paid to any new bicycle is scarcely noticing its newness or, in other words, its often significant difference from one's usual ride. tom ritchey may have been onto something when he noted the realness of steel; in the case of the sequoia, aside from that beefy carbon fork, there's no doubt that a steel frame can be more easily repaired when several hundred miles from home. however, if that aspect were to get in the way of the invisibility of its personality, the elite would have been far less endearing than it transpired.

specialized sequoia elite

there is a point on that rear cassette, when reaching for the bigger sprockets, that shimano's legendary precision of shifting experiences a minor hiccup or two. however, such is the plethora of sprocket teeth available, it's unlikely the rider will be at terminal velocity when a determined change becomes necessary. and to be honest, if you've need of grasping for the 32 tooth dinner plate, you're probably already seeing black spots and breathing through your ears in any case. seamless gearshifting at that point is likely of purely academic interest.

specialized sequoia elite

the cockpit offers every bit the same level of comfort and balance as offered by the crux cyclocross bike. the width and slope of the bars took a bit of getting used to, but are well matched to the bicycle's personality. however, i fear i have to decry the parabolic curve. the further along the curve, the further your hands are pulled from from the brake levers. any extended downhill period in the drops does eventually bring on soreness of thumb. it's scarcely an onerous problem on relatively flat islay, but it might be less amenable in the upper reaches of khatmandhu. meanwhile i cannot praise specialized's range of saddles highly enough; throughout all the foregoing, the comfort of my posterior never really entered the equation.

specialized sequoia elite

the sequoia, despite first impressions when, marcel wust-like, it was rolled from its enormous cardboard box, turned out to be far less landrover-like and perhaps a bit more porsche cayenne like, if you'll forgive the imposition of a vehicular metaphor. yes, despite their dislike of squishy mud (though they laughed in the face of gravel, grass and sand) the tyres produced a superb noise on the road while offering only a fraction of the rolling resistance their size suggested. and despite the width of both tyres and wheels, the handling was, dare i say it, well towards the perky side of ginger peachy.

it would have been nice to have experienced the 'fully loaded' scenario, but i want, i want, doesn't always get. at only £1750, the sequoia offers a great deal for, relatively speaking, not a lot of dosh. though many of us harbour notions of disappearing into the undergrowth of some far flung country, bikepacked to the gunwhales and ready to live off the fat of the land as long as we have our thru-axles, there's a greater than evens chance it'll never happen.

but it would be really nice to think we could if we wanted to. a truly marvellous and adventurous bicycle.

specialized sequoia elite

wednesday 22 february 2017

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specialized bicycles ..........................................................................................................................................................................................................

maratona spring classics jersey

maratona spring classics jersey

self-styled cask whisperer jim mcewan, a man who could confidently be described (as we say north of the border) as having the gift of the gab, retired some 18 months ago as master distiller at bruichladdich distillery. originally an apprentice cooper at bowmore distillery, he rose through the ranks to become manager, before moving across the loch to take charge at bruichladdich when messrs. coughlin and reynier rescued it from its mothballed status at the end of last century.

the man is revered throughout the whisky industry. if evidence of the latter were needed, his masterclasses held each may at bruichladdich's open day during the annual whisky festival, were regularly sold out months in advance. He once proclaimed that distillery managers were the rockstars of the 21st century, the veracity of which you'd be more than well aware if you were in any way associated with islay's distilleries.

maratona spring classics jersey

however, just like frank sinatra, jim mcewan's retirement was short-lived.

As if eight malt whisky distilleries on one island were not enough, glasgow's hunter laing have purchased land from islay estates at ardnahoe, around half-way along the singletrack road to bunnahabhain to build a ninth. and lo and behold, the aforementioned mr mcewan has surfaced as a distillery consultant to hunter laing, perhaps an astute move on their part, but time will tell.

however, the press release that accompanied this announcement featured all the rhetoric and hyperbole for which both jim and the whisky industry is famed. the site of the new distillery is, in fact, particularly picturesque, overlooking as it does the sound of islay, the paps of jura and north to colonsay and the isle of mull. though apart from a few years in glasgow, mr mcewan is an islay lad born and bred, yet professed "...when i visited the distillery site... it absolutely blew me away", despite having travelled the road on more than just a few occasions during his time of island residence.

maratona spring classics jersey

but then, just to move things one stage too far, he claimed "It felt as though the stars were aligning."

i would therefore like to adopt some of this verbal and philosophical superfluity in the telling of my weekend tale involving weather, bicycles and apparel.

at the time of writing, there are a but a few days until 'proper' cycle racing commences at omloop het nieuwsblad, closely followed a day later by kuurne-brussels-kuurne. at that particular point, we have entered the period dearly beloved by cycle fans the world over, known as 'the spring classics' a particular genre of one day events that includes milan-sanremo, ronde van vlaanderen, paris-roubaix and several other iconic events. not only do several of the aforementioned demand closer attention to the model of bicycle being ridden, but the terrain over which they are raced and the traditional european late february/early march weather provide a certain 'je ne sais quoi' totally absent from the grand tours.

maratona spring classics jersey

maratona cycle clothing is relatively new on the uk market, currently offering a compact and bijou range of men's and women's jerseys and shorts featuring an intriguing range of designs, the most notable of which (in my opinion) is their spring classics jersey reviewed here. in common with james mcewan,it seemed as though the stars had aligned in my favour when the jersey was augmented by a brand new specialized roubaix and particularly inclement weather, necessitating the wearing of a showers pass waterproof jacket.

it is, i believe, a pertinent fact that hebridean temperatures at the end of february preclude the al fresco wearing of a short-sleeve cycle jersey, even for a swift 80km around the estates. underline that fact with persistent rain and you will perhaps forgive my accompanying said maratona jersey with a pair of armwarmers covered by the showers pass jacket. however, this is something of an occupational hazard at this time of year and scarcely impinges upon the efficacy of any jersey review under these conditions. in fact, it's possible that so doing gives it a harder time than would otherwise have been the case.

maratona spring classics jersey

it is nice to see that the new kids on the block have adopted that to which we have become accustomed. aside from a most welcome full-length front zip, the three capacious rear pockets have been augmented by the all but compulsory fourth zipped security pocket. however, where this italian made jersey really scores is the detailing: a camlock ykk zip with attendant zip garage at the top, close fitting sleeves and a highly breathable fabric that did its level best to cope with being stuck under a waterproof jacket for most of its first day out.

the decor, which, on a technical jersey probably ought to be the least of your considerations, is quite magnificent. aside from the bright pink design paying testament to the spring classics, the names of the pertinent races are subtly included as a background pattern on the jersey body, contrasting nicely with the leaves design seen on the sleeves, the latter being bordered by a striking set of coloured hoops. the principal design feature is repeated in smaller format on the back, though i fear its presence was likely mostly obliterated by my ponytail.

maratona spring classics jersey

much as i'd love to have adopted a tom boonen stance and ridden sleevelessly hard all day, i am too much of a wimp to be included on anyone's spring classics roster. however, divested of outerwear in the process of froth supping and toastie munching, the jersey did attract favourable comments from those usually too distinterested to comment. my subsequent verbal dissertation on the joys of omloop, dwars door vlaanderen and the importance of cobbles in day to day life probably left them wishing they hadn't.

in what has become something of an overcrowded cycle clothing market, it's nice to see a new company with at least a smidgeon of creativity and originality and one that appears to have hit the ground running. the medium-sized jersey reviewed is available for a most amenable £65 in sizes ranging from small all the way up to xxl. if you're really quick you could have one in time for omloop and kbk this weekend.

maratona cycle wear

tuesday 21 february 2017

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closed

i can recall when sunday was pretty much a commercial no go area, when it was the de facto day of rest and nothing moved unless it involved going to church. up until relatively recently, there was no ferry service to the outer hebrides on the seventh day; the very thought brought palpitations to the clergy. the southern hebrides were less draconian; in all the years i have lived on islay, there has been a regular sunday ferry service and in the past, there was even such a thing as a sunday bus service. that particular fact will probably be lost on the two girls passed by the velo club peloton, wearing rucksacks and trailing one of those small items of luggage on wheels.

we can only guess that they were expecting to leave by means of the afternoon ferry and unable or unwilling to pay for a taxi to port askaig. the distance from bruichladdich village even to bridgend (just under half-way) is six miles, so they did well to be a mere two miles from the latter as we returned from the morning cycle. however, the lack of a sunday bus service on islay, has nothing whatsoever to do with religion but far more to do with a lack of council funding. in truth, the only sunday bus likely to feature any passengers would be that meeting the ferry. nobody on islay has any real reason to travel anywhere by bus on a sunday.

it therefore beggars the question as to why there frequently seems to be an excessive number of motor cars plying the obscure routes on which we find ourselves cycling. it is eminently possible to ride the full length of uiskentuie strand without once catching sight of a motor car, yet just as it becomes time to turn into debbie's in bruichladdich, you can be sure that four or five cars will have suddenly appeared line astern causing a halt or an overshoot by a few unnecessary metres.

and even the old boys' network does not work to our undoubted advantage. despite the local roads engineer being a forceful and welcome member of the velo club peloton, all calls for closed roads on a sunday morning have fallen on deaf ears. with one of our principal routes being a perambulation of loch gorm, we have frequently suggested that it would take only a road closed sign at the uiskentuie road end and similar signage at foreland to make sunday mornings completely traffic-free. of course, kilchoman distillery may find it necessary to protest just a tad, but that's only whisky and doesn't really matter for only one day. (actually that last bit's probably unfair and untrue.)

however, purely by chance, while momentarily stopped in a passing place to allow unhindered passage of a pot ale tanker, the perfect solution came to mind. brilliantly, it will involve the creation of possibly the finest team jersey ever seen, so just to point out, this was our idea and you can't have it. what we plan to do is to have a road closed sign dye-sublimated both front and back of the jersey, signifying to both oncoming and following traffic that they can go no further. it is a genius variation on the idea of a rolling road closure.

no wonder albert einstein was inclined to ride his bike when ruminating over the theory of relativity. next weekend we expect to solve the problem of cold fusion.

closed road jersey

monday 20 february 2017

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closer and closer

minimum passing distance

only a matter of a few weeks ago, cycling weekly ran a feature on birmingham police who have undertaken a novel means of highlighting the number of vehicles driving too close when passing cyclists. due to the above average number of serious collisions involving cyclists in the area, they have deployed an officer on a road bike, dressed in much the same way as you and i are wont to do on the sunday ride, along with a parked patrol car. any drivers found to pass too close to the cyclist over a prescribed circular route are recorded on a bar-mounted camera and reported to the patrol car by the cycling officer. the patrol officers subsequently pull the driver in and have a few words.

the recommended distance at which we ought to cycle from the kerb is 0.75 metres; the minimum distance from a cyclist at which drivers ought to pass, is a further 1.5 metres. the highway code does not stipulate a minimum distance for motorists passing a cyclist, but they do recommend that they ought to offer the same clearance as they would when passing a car. the 1.5 metres minimum distance advised by the police is based on the average length of a large car door.

though we have no specified minimum distance, south australia passed a law last year making it illegal for drivers to pass a cyclist within one or 1.5 metres depending on the speed limit in force at the time. though this is definitely a step on the right direction, there's no doubt that it's a remarkably difficult piece of legislation to enforce. i'm not sure i would gain much traction by visiting my local police office to complain that a new and surprisingly large kia sportage passed within half a wing mirror's distance as i rode passed bridgend hotel. yet that is precisely what happened yesterday afternoon when i was unfortunate enough to catch the afternoon ferry traffic as i headed home.

the same thing happened a matter of minutes later. i'm sort of willing to invent my own excuses on behalf of both drivers; they'd both left mainland roads only a matter of a couple of hours previously and had yet to acclimatise themselves to the narrower roads and more laid-back attitude that goes with a visit to the hebrides. however, i do continually query the mentality of those who travel to islay for a well-deserved break, yet continue to hurry as if there was anything to hurry for. but simply to add insult to injury, a matter of a couple of kilometres further on, one of those drivers who had yet to adjust to islay time decided to overtake me, despite the presence of an oncoming vehicle.

invisibility appears to be yet another string to my cycling bow.

not that i wish to curry disfavour with the local constabulary, but so rarely have i caught sight of any police vehicle over the last few months, i and my fellow island cyclists have little option but to make ourselves as wide as possible by riding close to the centre line on the approach to blind corners or summits where we'd prefer not to be overtaken, sight unseen. sadly, it rarely makes much difference.

the above scenario is a less than frequent impediment to safe cycling in the rural idyll. those of you who ride in the city and on urban roads will experience the same situation more often in one week than i will over the course of a year. in short, i have a bit of a cheek even mentioning it. but on the basis that calmac's most recent passenger numbers for 2016 show an increase in the numbers visiting the western isles, it seems quite likely that cyclists favouring the hebrides for a bit of r and r, could well find that the iniquities of their regular commute have followed them west. and taking into the account that car sales in the uk are reported to be on the increase year on year, island life may never be the same again.

it's a worry.

photo courtesy west midlands police.

sunday 19 february 2017

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

the devil's commute

ardbeg distillery

brexit and the fall of the pound against the dollar has pushed the price of my american copy of wired magazine just a shade over the point where it no longer makes economic sense to continue with my order at the local newsagent. in the space of a month, the price has increased by £1, not in itself an alarming state of affairs (though since we've yet to leave the european union, a state of affairs i fail to comprehend), but it would appear too that the magazine has become almost anorexic. more money and fewer pages does not a happy bunny make.

however, one aspect that seems not to have suffered is the quality of the articles, one of which, this month, is entitled 'how to ride again'. the introduction to this avers that though the professionals wear 'body hugging' clothing for a slight aerodynamic advantage, in the case of the great unwashed, this is of no measurable benefit, so we should just dress for the weather. there is a certain amount of truth in that statement, but i'm not sure that even the pros wear cycling-specific clothing necessarily for any aerodynamic reasons. though it may be at the risk of upsetting unwritten sartorial rules, cycle clothing such as padded shorts and the humble cycle jersey are most often chosen for their comfort factor.

you wouldn't go swimming in a pair of levis now would you?

of course, reasoning aside, the feature writers at wired are essentially correct; cycling ought not to be the sole preserve of the pelotonese. ideally cycling should be an activity that can be undertaken by anyone at all, wearing whatever they like. and in fact, unless this becomes the de facto state of affairs, cycling in the uk will never gain the foothold it already has in cities like amsterdam and portland.

the wired feature continues '...most situations are best handled by a boring bike with practical width tyres, fenders, racks for gear and upright (not drop) handlebars.' i'd definitely take issue with the latter point, predominantly on the basis of a hearty dislike of flat bars. drop bars undoubtedly offer more hand positions and on scotland's west coast, offer welcome relief and some aerodynamic benefit when slogging into an atlantic headwind. 'horses for courses', so to speak.

this is a not entirely hypothetical discussion, a fact i can attest to from my friday afternoon commute. though i would normally take the word commute to signify a repetitive route ridden at least five days per week, in this case it was the second time in a week, so i have provided myself with special dispensation. since the end game involved half an hour's work at the other side of my 18km bike ride, including the need to clamber up and down ardbeg distillery's open steel stairways, a pair of cleated road shoes would have been persona non grata, not to say something of a health and safety faux pas.

though this point of the year is hardly the peak of the distillery visitor season, it would still have been less than seemly to have dressed as an exile from the peloton while clambering about what is currently a bit of a building site. so i arrived in civvies, my only concession to comfort being a pair of padded boxer shorts.

however, the other definition almost implicit in the word commute, is a navigation of urban or city streets, replete with their slaloms of corporation buses, taxis, road furniture and errant pedestrians. yesterday's ride to ardbeg distillery consisted initially of ten miles of dead straight slog into a headwind on a road bordered mostly by peat bogs, interrupted only by islay international airport just past the mid-point. on reaching the village of port ellen, i joined the excellent foot/cyclepath beginning at the primary school and leading me past first laphroaig distillery, then lagavulin, ending at my ultimate destination, ardbeg

i am not unaware of the fact that it's a commute many would give their di2 for.

ardbeg distillery

it scarcely needs me to tell you that the return trip was eased greatly by that headwind having translated to a tailwind, though this time i took the high road rather than the low road. all very quaint, in a scottish/hebridean sort of way.

it would have warmed the cockles of my bottom bracket greatly had i come across at least one other cycle commuter in either direction. let's face it, if the civilian population of islay could be convinced that cycling was the ideal way to get from here to there, we might just be onto something. but it seems that, despite an impressive array of cycle racks at ardbeg distillery, there might still be a way to go yet.

it therefore leaves me only to end this monologue with a few more words of inexplicable rumination from wired magazine. not content with simply advising straight handlebars over drops, they qualify their choice by pointing out that "you don't walk leaning forward 45 degrees, so why pedal that way?

good grief charlie brown.

saturday 18 february 2017

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that new bike smell

specialized roubaix

in the dim, distant days of yore, when my business card claimed that i was a bicycle maintenance technician, my daughter was most enamoured with popping into the bike shed on a semi-regular basis. this, sad to say, had little or nothing to do with a fascination for bikes, or even an apprenticeship as one who might one day repair the loveable blighters, but purely for olfactory reasons. it turns out that she adored the smell of rubber that permeated the inner sanctum of that shed.

specialized roubaix

when i had more time and space to effect a regular repair service on behalf of the (very) occasional local cyclist or more often, those who'd come a cropper while visiting during the summer months, i used to keep an almost comprehensive supply of inner-tubes, tyres, gear and brake cables and even a large box of caliper brake shoes, the majority of which still live in their little corner, unsold and unloved. and only the other day, while rearranging some wheels at the back of the shed, i came across a pair of scott, greg lemond drop-in bars. i'm sure there are more than just a few of you reading, who haven't an earthly of which i speak.

specialized roubaix

around a year ago, mrs washingmachinepost and i had shiny, new double-glazing fitted to the croft in order to better insulate ourselves from the hebridean winters. i'm glad to say that it appears to have been money well spent, not only for the glazing itself, but for the superb job made by the joiner in fitting red pine wood surround on each window, effectively increasing the windowsill space on which to sit wholly unnecessary nik-naks. yet, despite the interim passing of almost twelve months, on entering the upstairs rooms and the bathroom, the errant interloper is still met with that new wood smell, an aroma i thought would have all but disappeared by now.

however, i'm quite pleased that it hasn't.

specialized roubaix

though i have a small collection of bicycles of my own, i'm in the very fortunate position of frequently receiving brand new bicycles for the purposes of reviewing on the post. some of these arrive in the wrapped fashion they left the shores of the republic of china, while others have been expertly built at the distributor's warehouse, delivered to the croft, encased inside colossal boxes on which i'm sure someone is paying council tax. the latter offer no less excitement than the bubble-wrapped versions, for 'tis a simple matter of cutting the tape at one end and wheeling a bundle of velocipedinal delight from the innards.

specialized roubaix

but is there actually such a thing as a new bike smell? my daughter used to insist that there was, but i believe she confused the smell of new rubber with that of the whole enchilada (if you see what i mean). only yesterday afternoon, one such tenement sized box was delivered to the front door, containing a brand new, blue and black specialized roubaix, the one with a modest degree of suspension built-in to the headset/steerer assembly. there's no doubt that a brand new bicycle, unridden by anyone else, displays the sheen that only a new bicycle can. but, purely in the interests of aromatic research, on severing the tape and opening the box, i stuck my head inside and took a deep breath.

there is indeed, such a thing as a new bike smell.

friday 17 february 2017

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yonder journal ..........................................................................................................................................................................................................

is it just me?

cobbles and sand

much has been made of cycling's rich heritage, an intangible past that remains largely undefined, existing exclusively in black and white. fausto coppi, jacques anquetil, gino bartali and eddy merckx are all names that reputedly embody the golden age of cycling, a state of affairs that, if i'm reading between the lines correctly, is generally acknowledged no longer to exist. in the current blame culture, the easiest target at which to point as the reason behind this, would surely be the union cycliste internationale, the sport's governing body, but it's doubtful that they are entirely to blame.

very little happens nowadays in any walk of life, that isn't related in some way or another to economics. in short: money. it would be naive to think that it has not always been so; perhaps we're just less embarrassed about admitting to it nowadays, but the proliferation of cycle races held in the middle east have little else to hide behind.

it would be a true protagonist indeed who could defend the tours of dubai, oman and abu dhabi on the basis of their scenic beauty. or, perhaps more pertinently, the number of spectators seen at the side of the road. from the few photos and live coverage to which i've been exposed, the latter have not appeared to be several rows deep along the deserts' edge. yet cast your minds back just a week or so to the cyclocross world championships and recall the substantial numbers that attended in often sub-zero conditions to watch the muddy practitioners ply their trade through mud, ice and hurdles.

that, to my way of thinking, is sort of the point. that's why, even in the midst of an alleged economic downturn, there are still businesses and individuals willing to spend their money in return for a logo on a cycle jersey. the lack of spectators in middle-eastern countries, with no discernible road racing tradition must surely point to an alternative reason behind the staging of these events?

at any rate, bearing in mind it is still quite legitimate for individuals such as myself to hold an opinion that might not equate with that of my betters, i have steadfastly refused to become interested in this part of the season. in my cloistered little world, this is the part of the season when the principal protagonists ought better to be concerning themselves with either an early season training programme, or getting the race miles in by riding the trofeo laigueglia, la vuelta de murcia or the clasica de almeria. the more unpronouncable, the better.

these february races are the precursor to the real start of the season which, as everyone knows, begins on 25 february with omloop het nieuwsblad. it really doesn't get more unpronouncable than that. that is followed immediately by kuurne-brussels-kuurne and there's little doubt that, from that point onwards, we're good to go.

yes, i'd seriously prefer that the current world tour regulations did not require each and every world tour team to participate in each and every world tour event. and i truly wish that the uci's globalising actions had not led to the demise of so many historic european events (2017 waves bye bye to la méditerannéene). but, as mrs washingmachinepost is continually reiterating to the children in her care "i want, i want, doesn't get". never a truer world was spoken.

i am under no illusion that my little world of cyclocross and spring classics scarcely relates to the real world that seems hell-bent on carrying on without me. but there is at least minimal satisfaction to be gained from the knowledge that i am pretty sure i'm not the only one. money, says the song, makes the world go round; that will likely remain a truism for the foreseeable future and there will probably be more changes to the racing calendar of which i will wholeheartedly disapprove. but as long as i have omloop, kbk, milan-sanremo, paris nice, flanders, roubaix and liege, i think i'll survive. but, more importantly, so will professional cycling in spite of, rather than because of, if you catch my drift?

only 52 more sleeps till roubaix.

thursday 16 february 2017

twmp ..........................................................................................................................................................................................................
prendas ciclismo ..........................................................................................................................................................................................................

own a bit of the temple

temple cycles

though you and i think nothing of discussing our requirements or favourites amongst the genre we happily describe as 'road bikes', such an apellation can prove confusing to the ordinary man or woman in the street. those i like to refer to as 'civilians'. but look at it from their point of view; with the exception of the springy farm gates with knobbly tyres, doesn't every bicycle qualify as a 'road bike'? when faced with such unassailable logic, you'd have to admit, they do have a point. could it be that they're right and we're wrong?

temple cycles

and in point of fact, close observation would elicit the realisation that even mountain bikes spend way more time on the road than their name would suggest. there is even a case for pointing out that the bendy bars and skinny wheels do not always make for the most appropriate of road bikes if taken in a generic sense. scuttering through heavy traffic in the morning rush hour, you'd pretty much have to agree that a set of drop bars are not always the most pertinent of choices.

the factor that most usually comprises our own definition of a road bike is one that embodies the very concept of the word svelte. nowadays more often than not built from hi-tech carbon fibre, lightweight both in form and factor, able to accelerate from nought to sixty in a matter of seconds with the ability to immediately confer both the mantle of cognoscenti and pelotonic status without raising its pinky finger from the tea-cup handle. yet despite those features, often put to pretty good use on a sunday morning, the number of gears, electronic doohickies and somewhat frantic handling is scarcely constrained to present itself as all things to all people.

temple cycles

yet there is really no discernible reason why velocipedes at the more mundane end of the spectrum ought to be any less inspiring than their more thoroughbred counterparts. granted, carbon fibre does not play well with metal bicycle racks, their lightweight wheels remain quite unimpressed by heavily reinforced security locks and fitting a set of mudguards or fenders without learning several new expletives in the process is something of an accomplishment in itself.

though tom ritchey quite rightly contended that'steel is real', it's also pretty resilient in the face of adversity. and let's face it, the intrepid man or woman about town cares less than a metric whit about unsprung weight. the latter ideals are those beautifully fulfilled by the bicycle outpourings of matt mears, owner of bristol's temple cycles. originally concerning himself with restoring classic bicycles while studying at bristol university, in 2014, he founded his bike building company with a view to creating a range of stylish and comfortable bicycles whose career paths did not involve alpe d'huez or the croix de fer. it would be a tad over-critical to suggest that he has not already attained that particular goal.

temple cycles

"We want to make beautiful, stylish British bicycles here in Bristol and sell them throughout the world. There was a time when the UK's bicycle industry was the envy of the world; it's our dream to bring those days back"

of course, £5,000 of your own money might be a good start towards that particular aim, but it's probably not going to take you all the way. so matt wants to sell his bicycle company. not altogether, you understand, just little bits of it at a time and he wants to sell it to like-minded individuals who are ready and willing to put their money where his mouth is. in other words crowdfunding, through the auspices of crowdcube. assuming his to be a successful bid, temple cycles will use the finds to research how best to batch-create more of their beautifully pragmatic frames along with the addition of fifteen new members of staff. all being well, the latter will enjoy long-term careers as skilled cycle practitioners.

mears and his current colleagues hope also to farm the intellectual equity that comes with new and interested investors, ultimately growing not only the temple cycles' range but its status as a key part of britain's cycle manufacturing resurgence. the crowdfunding campaign goes live on tuesday 21 february and individual investment can be made from as little as £10. more information and pre-registration via the link below.

temple cycles crowdfunding investment opportunity

wednesday 15 february 2017

twmp ..........................................................................................................................................................................................................
wabi woolens ..........................................................................................................................................................................................................

six months on a crux

specialized crux elite

when my son was but a mere babe in arms, his final feed of the evening tended to be around 11pm. as the typical husband, i had no real need of staying up that late; of what earthly use could i be? however, in an attempt to show some solidarity with mrs washingmachinepost, i figured it would be less than diplomatic to head off to bed at that particular point. yet, i was still disinterested enough to have need of something that might occupy my waning, late night interest and the solution turned out to be american football.

specialized crux elite

channel four had begun broadcasting the sport on this side of the pond, a sport that, to the uninitiated such as myself, seemed shrouded in obscurity. how could a game that ought only to have lasted an hour, take four hours to play? why were there different blokes on the field depending on whether their team was defending or offending? how come there were so many timeouts? though i've no doubt all this is second nature to native americans, it took me several weeks to figure out what the heck was happening.

but repeated exposure to first downs, quarter-back sackings and field goals meant that the whole enchilada finally began to sink in to the specialized crux elite point where i figured i understood enough to enjoy what i was viewing. this new found enthusiasm brought with it the unwritten obligation to watch all four hours (and then some) of the season closing super bowl in early february which, by dint of the time difference, meant staying up till well into the wee small hours. and on a school night too.

those days are long gone (my son gets married in a matter of months) and the interest and intrigue engendered by american football has all but evaporated. this year, for the first time, i made no attempt to watch the super bowl game, even as far as the usually apalling half-time entertainment and thus a chapter of a past life has come to a quiet close.

however, as one door closes another one opens, one that did so several years past when, in common with many obsessive others, i started to view the road season as simply getting in the way of cyclocross. to modify that sentiment just a smidgeon in my favour, i equate the period occupied by the spring classics as on an equal footing with 'cross season, but the grand tours have begun to lose their lustre just a bit. and in the general way of things, it seems quite disingenuous to obsess over each twist, turn and hurdle offered by the super-prestige and world cup seasons without looking forward expectantly to the annual world championships.

specialized crux elite

at the risk of placing all things out of kilter, i have begun to appreciate that the cyclocross world championship may very well be the highlight of the season. well, apart from van der poel's puncture, that would definitely have been the case.

yet, though my interest in american football brought with it no desire to don either a helmet or an oversized jersey with shoulder pads, cyclocross has pleasingly encouraged a desire to hurtle through the undergrowth, bereft of the skills demonstrated by van aerts or jeremy powers. however, in much the same way as the punk generation proved it largely unnecessary to play a musical instrument, with no overwhelming need to race, it is perfectly possible to enjoy life on a cyclocross bicycle without trying to emulate sven nys. and not to overstate my grasp of the sport, i have also achieved the capability to discriminate between machinery that is good and that which is even better.

specialized crux elite

the very brightly coloured specialized crux elite has not only proved to be my constant and selflessly encouraging companion across all manner of less than forgiving terrain, but often a welcome conversation piece with the civilian population, predominantly due to its fluorescence. yet the orangey/red that meets the lime green of the fork legs and rear dropouts has been cleverly constituted by specialized to gently degrade under ultra-violet light to a particularly fetching darker red. at least, that is the strategy; with a dearth of uv light in the hebrides, that has yet to come to pass.

specialized crux elite

the £2300 crux elite x1 is bordered above by the expert version costing £600 more and below by both sport and e5 versions. i refrained from requesting the expert version on the basis that it's plainly something i'm not. it is, however, very hard to comprehend how much better than the elite the expert could possibly be.

i have already stated my delayed conversion as to the efficacy of thru-axles as a means of improved tracking on the bike. those meandering, narrow sheep tracks along uiskentuie strand have become as mere bagatelle even to one with demonstrably little in the way of navigational skills. and the sram rival hydraulic discs they were designed to serve have helped both bicycle and rider remain scar free. in common with many reviewers, though keen to test a bicycle on its supplied merits, i'd usually change the saddle for one more endeared to my posterior. however, after six months on the specialized cro-mo phenom comp i'm really in no hurry to even consider an alternative.

specialized crux elite

i'd be fibbing if i said i have a noted record of each and every on and offroad kilometre; bar-mounted gps units are simply more than just a few digits too many in the way of a bike ride. but over the last twenty-something weeks the crux has had few opportunities to rest on its laurels. yet encrusted crud aside, you'd be forgiven for thinking the terra pro tyres had been taken from their boxes last saturday. in fact, now that you come to mention it, the whole bike still has that new man about town persona, one which it wears insouciantly in the face of adversity. it's a situation i expect to remain so for the foreseeable future.

i'm a firm believer that a bicycle is not just for christmas, but nor is it, in this case, purely for wearing during the cyclocross season. i am on record as mentioning the crux elite to be one of, if not the finest bicycles i have ever ridden. nothing has transpired over the last six months to give cause for reconsideration. if you only want or need one bicycle...

grateful thanks are due to specialized uk for allowing the crux elite's extended review period. it's possible there may be another update in a few months.

specialized crux elite

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specialized crux elite

tuesday 14 february 2017

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rapha core ..........................................................................................................................................................................................................

green oil ..........................................................................................................................................................................................................

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powered by hippo technology

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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

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.

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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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