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this is cambridge

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condor cycles ..........................................................................................................................................................................................................

the mighty dave t's words of the week

the mighty dave t

"coinciding with bruichladdich distillery's open day on 24 may, i will be conducting a cheese masterclass on the veranda at debbie's. maybe."

©2015 the mighty dave t, is a prendas sponsored rider and le patron of the thoroughly decent fellows. the mighty dave t recommends purple harry products

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

a bit of italian faff

campagnolo power torque

i recall many years ago a reasonably well-known computer scientist disparaging the apple computer interface and experience on the basis of its simplicity. he, apparently, thought computing ought to remain the preserve of his information technology elite, well-versed as they were in the art of the command-line interface. such juvenile technology as drag-and-drop and point-and-click missed the true purpose of the technology, reducing it to its simplest terms. and i have no doubt that he still rattles away at his dos command line and exquisitely complex word processor, relying on colouring blocks of monospaced text to signify bold, italic, underline and all manner of other pre-wysiwyg technology.

bicycle technology, on the other hand, has seemingly a great deal of difficulty deciding just where it stands between user-friendliness and user-servicing. where once there were wires that pushed and pulled things, now there are wires that transmit electricity to little motors that push and pull things. and yet again, where once there were wires that pulled on a pair of caliper brakes, now there are tubes full of hydraulic fluid that do the same thing to metal discs.

campagnolo power torque

from the point of view of user-friendliness, the above has been greeted with open arms, but when it comes to servicing such systems, the onus has been placed more squarely upon the ever broadening shoulders of the local bicycle shop. though youtube is awash with amateur and professional videos demonstrating every last technique required to keep the more complex modern bicycle running in tip-top condition, such knowledge often depends on a set of tools that ever so gradually is pricing itself out of the range of the weekend mechanic.

and before you point out that this surely the way things out to be, might i point out that there are a number of regions in the uk that find themselves substantially distanced from any form of bicycle repair emporium. one need only flick through the comprehensive manuals that accompany the likes of genuine campagnolo parts to note the bold text underlining that attachment of such parts really ought to be left to the professionally qualified mechanic.

i couldn't agree more.

campagnolo power torque

except i am a two hour ferry journey and at least one hundred miles away from just such a person. and by implication, so are any cycle tourists who happen to find themselves in difficulty on the majority of the scottish isles, the western highlands and probably the more rural parts of england, ireland and wales.

i have a reasonably comprehensive set of specific bicycle tools, the majority of which have been seriously outmoded by the inexorable progress of the bicycle industry. many of today's chains arrive with easy to fit links that have remaindered the chain rivet tool of yesterday. impressively large headset spanners hang unused on their tool board, along with crank extractors and bottom bracket removers. even pedal spanners have almost had their day, many now being fitted via an allen socket at the end of the axle.

if you're a lonely individual with a predilection for tinkering with bicycles, not only must you be seriously frustrated by the wholesale incompatibility of pretty much everything on the market, but somewhat aghast at the alarming cost of tools that you may be lucky to use once per year. though it's perhaps unfair to single out one manufacturer, i hope you'll forgive me if i do precisely that: campagnolo.

campagnolo power torque

i, in common with many others, harbour a not so secret adoration for the componentry produced in vicenza, italy. i delight that the brake levers have a separate lever for each function, that the freehub offers impressively substantial splines to keep the cassette sprockets in place, and though shimano often seems to trump them in innovation, the italian build quality is second to none. but there's little denying that they are perhaps a tad more idiosyncratic than the average and not so average mechanic would prefer that they were.

and the iniquity is that the lower priced components, often purchased by those with shallow pockets and thus more likely to attempt their own maintenance, are the least likely to conform to any idealistic standard. take veloce cranks for instance. unlike shimano and sram who offer bottom bracket cups pre-loaded with the bearings, campagnolo affix the right side bearings to the crank itself, only embedding a bearing in the left cup. once the crank is inserted into the right-side cup, there's an odd little wire clip that has then to be popped into two small holes on the cup's circumference. and if you need to remove that bearing...

campagnolo power torque

unlike the more expensive ultra-torque crankset, with its two half spindles and central hirth joint, the lower cost power torque has a full-length spindle affixed to the chainset itself. not so very different from shimano or sram, now that you come to mention it. but where the latter two feature a left-side fixing that doubles as a built-in extractor, using a relatively standard sized allen bolt for the purpose, campagnolo fit a tensioning bolt that requires a distinctly non-standard 14mm allen key/wrench. it's a tool that's relatively hard to come by and, as far as i know, fits no other known bicycle component.

way to go vicenza.

the awkwardness, however, doesn't end there. once that bolt has been satisfactorily tightened in place, should you have need of removing that left crank, no self extractor is anywhere to be found. instead, it is necessary to purchase two compatible toolsets from park tools (for example) costing only a shade under £100. suddenly that £70 chainset doesn't look like quite the value it seemed on the website. i am prompted to ask why, but i doubt i'd receive anything like an amenable answer from the company who answered 'why eleven speed?' with 'why not?'

and don't even get me started on those darned infuriating chain rivets and their £135 rivet tools.

sunday 26 april 2015

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tern cycles ..........................................................................................................................................................................................................

brought to book

gironimo

bordered to the west by france, piedmont to the north and tuscany to the east, is the italian principality of liguria. the capital, genoa, is not that far from nice, cannes and saint tropez. sitting upon the coast of the ligurian sea, it's just that sort of place. and should we wish to take closer look at its italian neighbours, both lucca and florence are within reasonable cycling distance. even pistoia, home of the rather delectable and sonorous ufip cymbals is but a (distant) stone's throw away. the larger ride cymbals may prove an ungainly addition to any musette you may have opted to take with you.

it's also not that far from sanremo, a town that has particular significance in the world of cycling

bordered by a ring of hills, yet in relatively close proximity to the sea, the principality's climate remains mild all year round, with winter temperatures hovering between 7 and 10 degrees celcius. however, the effect of close-by mountain ranges often means substantial rainfall; genoa itself can experience up to 2,000mm per year. that's more than in an hebridean year, and compares less favourably with the more regular mediterranean amount of 500 to 800mm.

on saturday 9 may, the peloton of professional cyclists intent on the quest for the 2015 pink jersey, will depart from san lorenzo al mare and head south west to sanremo, missing out both the cipressa and poggio on this particular occasion. the stage profile is, as they say, pan flat all along its 17.6 kilometres and by late afternoon, those of us interested enough in the outcome of the first grand tour of the season will be aware of who'll wear the first leader's jersey.

the buzz, professionalism, glitter and pizzazz of the modern peloton and stage starts bears very little comparison with the giro of 1914. in those far off days, a mere 81 riders set out from milan, riding bicycles weighing considerably more than today's featherweight carbon, devoid of gears other than flip-flop fixed hubs at that time in search of a heavier woollen pink jersey. stages in that race of more than 100 years ago occasionally reached 400 kilometres, greater than the distance covered in the modern-day milan-sanremo.

if ever evidence were needed to prove that the intrepid stage racer of the early twentieth century was built of sterner stuff (and possibly less intellect) than the cossetted fellows of today, those figures ought surely to be testament enough. and should you ever wonder just what it would have been like to participate in the 1914 edition of the giro d'italia, short of riding the route yourselves, you might like to take a closer look at tim moore's gironimo!

yes, i know; several of you are already asking yourselves "isn't this the very book you reviewed almost precisely one year ago?", to which i can only answer "yes". and the reason i bring it to your attention once more is because 'gironimo!' is soon to be published in paperback. and through the generosity of yellow jersey books, i have a copy to give away to the first chosen correct answer to the following question.

gironimo was written by a) richard moore b) tim moore c) roger moore?

please e-mail your answers and full postal address to brian@twmp.net. closing date is friday 1 may 2015.

best of luck.

saturday 25 april 2015

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

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

icons of cycling number one and a half

prendas cap

cycling is, essentially a mechanical activity. the act of clambering aboard a double-diamond frame fitted with two wheels, bars, saddle and pedals in order to travel essentially or leisurely from point a to b requires the input of physical effort. if we, as humans found this sort of thing to be the stuff of our dreams, there would probably be shampoo and lawnmower clubs. there has, i would therefore venture, to be a great deal more to cycling than the simple, straighforward description offered above.

to watch both the ronde van vlaanderen and paris-roubaix to witness a veritable forest of yellow and black lion of flanders flags waving in the wind is testament to the level of fandom that accompanies these major one-day classics. the fact that many will stand for several hours outside a team bus both prior to and after any racing, just waiting for a glimpse of their heroes is undoubtedly a reflection of just how large a part the competitive milieu plays in our more mundane existence.

prendas cap

yes, perhaps escapism is one aspect of such idolatry, but i doubt this could be pinpointed as the sole reason. hoping for a degree of emulation by riding the selfsame bicycles as the professionals while dressed in all aspects of team kit might risk ridicule from the amateur peloton, but if you're comfortable in that skin, who cares what others think. you might, however, wish to spend more than a few moments on a training regime; it's all well and good dressing as a pro, but the laughter will be long and loud if you get dropped on a humpty back bridge.

cycling is many things to different people. i put my hands up as being seen to be guilty of favouring the competitive element, but there are many who have scarcely heard of mark cavendish and are convinced that bradley wiggins is a fast bowler for the essex cricket team. it does us well to remember that cycling is also positioned as a singular strand in the future of inner-city transport, allegedly the solution to future gridlock. but even in this aspect of velocipedinity, rarely is the bicycle or cycling considered purely functional. in all strains the sum of the parts is frequently greater than the whole.

prendas cap

which is precisely why it has its icons. whether these are inanimate objects or real life people is of no great nevermind, for they are the little chinks in the firmament that, by common consent, are regarded as ripe for veneration by the great unwashed (you and i, by any other name). if we were to resort to the inimitable venn diagram, the point at which all the circles intersect encompasses the very iconography that brokers no argument.

depending on your point of view, there will be heated discussions over the veracity of anyone's choice of icon, particularly mine. but as in many realms of modern existence, there are those objects or people whose position in the firmament are beyond reproach. all the foregoing notwithstanding, as number one and a half in an open ended series, i'd like to nominate the prendas ciclismo black cycling cap; the one with the reflective white stripe down the centre and the word prendas writ large on the side.

prendas cap

to be seen wearing one of these will mark you out as one of the cognoscenti, yet without the pretensions often associated with other casquettery. it is supremely functional, instantly recognisable and pays tribute to an online cycling emporium that has enjoyed as many years in the business as has thewashingmachinepost. unlike other caps which pay testament to current or past professional teams, the prendas reflective stripe cap offers kudos to its originators, two gentlemen who, were they not to exist, would have to be invented.

as the cycling world teeters on the edge of the 2015 season, in close proximity to the nuoveau tour de yorkshire and the giro d'italia, it is time to prepare even in minimal fashion to be associated with all that follows between now and paris tours in mid october. such is prendas' favour within the fabric of the sport, and possibly even amongst the commuting public, that there would be no shame at all attached to persistent wearing of the cap during the cyclocross season.

if you do not have one of these caps pegged in the corner of your cycling wardrobe, i feel confident that you will be thanking me for pointing out the error of your ways. go forth now unto the prendas website and order this venerated cycling icon retailing at a particularly modest £7.50. and while you're there, on the basis that mick and andy are currently offering four caps for only £25, nabbing a few spares might be an economy worth taking advantage of.

prendas reflective stripe black cap

friday 24 april 2015

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bill posters is innocent

"the best races are the ones where you bite off more than you can chew and live through it"

morvelo city cross poster by richard mitchelson

in the late 1990s, i was attempting to bring our local newspaper into that portion of the twentieth century by providing some sort of internet presence. this was based less upon a desperate need for them being there (private use of the internet at that point was relatively minimal) but more on my own current belief that the best time to have a website was when you don't really need it. by building it prior to the point of perceived necessity, by the time it became a part of local society, the interweb would have expressed its love and held it to its bosom.

one member of the board was highly suspect of my doing anything on the web and considered it along the lines of my garnering new toys to play with. payback came after he'd visited relatives in canada only to discover they were all keeping in touch with each other by means of e-mail and he was being left out of the loop. his attitude changed at that point.

shift forward a couple of decades and the landscape has changed considerably, particularly with the advent of so-called social media. since using either facebook or twitter is essentially free of charge and can be quite effective as part of a marketing strategy, this has brought about what i'd regard as a misguided approach. there are more than just a few who have eschewed paid-for advertising in favour of placing notice of forthcoming events and items for sale on these free noticeboards, bypassing the printed word entirely.

i call this misguided because there are still those (and it's a significant number) who have no truck with either facebook or twitter. thus the short-sighted strategy oultined above misses a portion of its intended market. combining both free and paid for print advertising, whether in periodicals or by way of the old-fashioned poster would seem to be a more effective and intelligent method, given that most businesses have already identified an advertising budget in the first place.

however, always willing to make an apparent negative into a positive, there are those still enamoured with appealing to our sense of the earthy approach. take morvelo, for instance.

the cycle clothing emporium are in the throes of approaching their 2015 city cross, an event taking place in rowntree park, york on saturday 13 june. in the spirit of deconstructing the arbitray pigeonholing that would normall accompany any specific competitive cycling event, city cross offers a new freedom for the eager racer. as event organiser emma osenton says "We want to mix up different disciplines of cycling and take the elistist snobbery out of it. You got a bike? Any bike? Yep, you can race it." so how precisely would one go about doing so?

"We wanted to make a course which was fun to watch, making obstacles, finding natural ones. We made the course much shorter, we made it hurt, we made it fun. Beer hand ups for novices. The first race even saw them pelted with cabbage leaves."

that, apparently, is city cross.

as i have repeated ad nauseam, it's one thing to sponsor a formula one car, but then you have to tell folks that you've sponsored a formula one car. and that means advertising. morvelo being in possession of the aforementioned clothing emporium along with the obligatory website, facebook page, twitter feed, youtube channel etc., etc. there are several means of advising all and sundry of what to expect on 13 june. yet over the past few years they have continued to support the very finest of britain's cycling illustrators. city cross two was endorsed with a jo burt poster, while number three featured matthew burton. this year's event has been blessed with an illustration by the esteemed richard mitchelson, a limited edition artwork that will be screen-printed by one of the finest practitioners of the craft i know, dan mather.

in order to produce what is a work of art in the first place and an advertisement second, richard said "I design it and Dan just works his magic with the printing. I consider the amount of colours involved mainly because of cost and the amounts of screens needed to print it." it is what might be truthfully named, a symbiotic relationship. "I chose to work with Dan. He's printed for me in the past and is fantastic at what he does. We've known each other and been friends for years." that, i have to admit, makes perfect sense.

there's no doubt that cycling's profile in the uk has grown in leaps and bounds over the past few years, what some may like to term the wiggins effect. however you like to consider this undeniable fact, cycling is still somethng of a niche activity. even dan would likely agree that screen-printing occupies an even smaller niche, so it came as something of a surprise that mather's order book contains nothing other than cycle related orders.

"I'm pretty busy right now, and yes ALL of it is cycling related would you believe? I have a couple of design jobs that are also from cycling clients plus the usual print work." it makes perfect sense that emma, a morvelo sponsored rider and event organiser and richard mitchelson, an artist almost exclusively associated with the world of cycling would seek to work with a printer who has their best interests at heart.

"Rich and I discussed the artwork a few weeks back, but only verbally. It's 50/50 between clients being prepared with artwork and wanting a quote, and the others finalising their piece and thinking screenprint would be nice process to use. It's a lot easier for me to make a judgement call when it arrives in my inbox whether screenprint is the best process. With all prospective work that I'm happy to put my name to, I work together with the client each step of the way, advising on colours, papers, print techniques etc."

i find it not only comforting that there is an almost invisible infrastructure surrounding the tangible existence of cycling, but that there are those who step further into that all but unseen fray to ensure that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. such artisans should reap the just rewards of their endeavours. if you find yourselves anywhere near rowntree park in the city of york on saturday 13 june, attending or entering morvelo's city cross would reap some of those rewards for both parties. and should you find yourself somewhat distantly challenged, consider acquiring one of the mitchelson/mather limited edition event posters. yet again, rewards will be justifiably deserved on both sides of the course tape.

morvelo citycross 2015 | richard mitchelson | dan mather

thursday 23 april 2015

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live, love, ride

live, love, ride, portugal

Though the sport's governing body is determinedly aiming to globalise cycle-racing, those of us who have had a vested interest of sorts, recall the halcyon days of yore when there were but a few regions that spoke fluent road-cycling. perhaps the most obvious, from the uk's point of view, is just across the channel, home of the self-styled greatest sporting event on the planet. it would be insidious to pretend that france holds only one three week race per year, but bearing in mind yorkshire's tour is preceded by le tour de, it would be fair to at least pay lip service to its influence.

live, love, ride, portugal

given that its scope encompasses the bulk of the nation, there are few gallic crevices that could not be considered pertinent to those wishing to live at least a part of the dream on their own bicycles. france is easily reached by a fine cross-channel ferry service or in more 21st century style by travelling under the channel on the eurostar.

if we remain close to the french border, home of cyclocross and cobbled spring racing, belgium has to be the very best reason for splashing out on a lion of flanders black and yellow flag or espresso cup to demonstrate to the initiated precisely where your proclivities lie. a bit like having those little oval tanned patches on the back of each hand, club membership is not only exclusive but often clandestine.

live, love, ride, portugal

in the world of three-week stage races it would be something of a major travesty to exclude italy and spain, particularly in the light of the former heading our way in the very fullness of time. beginning in liguria on 9 may, the latter is arguably more about the racing than the circus that the tdf has become. meanwhile spain's move from early april to the end of august may not have benefited the vuelta as much as someone somewhere had hoped. and with one or two minor exceptions, those are the nations that are likely top of many specialist cycling subjects on mastermind.

but what about portugal?

live, love, ride, portugal

there is little doubt that the smaller portion of the iberian peninsula has contributed some fine riders to the world of professional cycling. but while the french, italians, belgians and spanish can be readily identified as cyclists i confess that, in my ignorance, it would seem that the portuguese are not backward in coming forward when velocipedinal matters are at stake,

pedro rocha is a cycling enthusiast from portugal who also works at live, love, ride portugal, who offer a comrehensive range of cycling tours designed specifically to attract cyclists like wot we is. "Portugal is a beautiful destination for road cycling. And as Portuguese riders we're keen to promote our country as an ideal destination for cyclists."

live, love, ride, portugal

currently offering eleven tours, some of which are self-guided and range from a single day in the saddle up to ten, live, love, ride portugal has had the perspicacity to tailor their routes to include more than just perfect scenery and challenging roads. a quick flick over to their website indicates that usa today has designated the nearby alentejo region as the best wine country of 2014. already i can see a few heads have perked up.

for a few more details pertaining to what i cannot deny looks like some fabulous cycling country, take a look at pedro's 'ride portugal' blog, as well as the link to a neat little video which temptingly opens with rather delectable food and drink that would surely justify a cycling trip in the first place.

and apparently the weather's not too bad either.

live, love, ride, portugal | ride portugal blog | ride portugal video

wednesday 22 april 2015

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discretion is the better part of choice.

flying scotsman sportive

the world of cycling, in the uk at least, is decidedly awash with sportives, a form of velocipedinal activity that surely must cut into the regular activities of cycle clubs in all four corners. perhaps gone for ever are the weekends of the uninterrupted club run, thundering along well-trodden local highways and byways leaving behind any newbie with the temerity to have joined in the preceding weeks. for nowadays, the strategic planner sits in front of the central heating in late january, armed with a copy of sportive weekly and lists in order of severity, the very sportives that will leave his/her clubmates wondering why their weekend peloton is so depleted.

that is, however, not to make out that the advent of wall to wall sportives is, in essence, a bad thing. though the velo club are not overly supplied with an endless variety of routes on which to display our athletic prowess, i get the distinct impression that, dressed in regulation club colours, many larger and better constituted cycling organisations are no more adventurous than are we. therefore, the possibility of cramming several 14% climbs into every 50 metres surely must offer a more enticing couple of days at the end of the week.

flying scotsman sportive

in which case, discretion undoubtedly needs to be exercised during the period of choosing. quite how you'd go about that, pretty much depends on your own predilections and permission from her/him indoors. there's also the not inconsiderable matter of transport. though cycling offers the opportunity to demonstrate impeccable green credentials to anyone who might care, taking into account the miles of motorised transport just to get there... well, feel free to draw your own conclusions.

and then there is, of course, the inevitable clash of dates. the very sportive that you've been building up to for months on end, the very event that will be ridden by mark cavendish, bradley wiggins, geraint thomas and alex dowsett while being photographed by scott mitchell turns out to be on the same weekend as your nephew's wedding in durness. or some variation on that theme.

i am proud to record that i have a slightly more than passing acquaintance with the flying scotsman, graeme obree. and each year for the past wee while, his very own sportive has taken place so close to the ride of the falling rain, that it has prevented me from renewing that acquaintance while trammeling the roads of ayrshire. this year, however, the date has been brought forward considerably to the month of june. and were that not sufficiently encouraging in itself, sir chris hoy has decided that one scottish icon on a sportive is simply not enough, and joined the fray.

flying scotsman sportive

except, i have need of percussing that very week, as well as a two-nighter at one of bowmore's local hostelries stretching into the weekend. thus when you are all chatting cheerfully to graeme and chris on sunday 21 june, i will be searching for the most practical way to squash several drum stands into a protection racket trap case. as a famous cycling media person, i feel i should have been consulted, but i'll settle for someone telling graeme i said hello.

the flying scotsman sportive will take place in ayrshire's loudoun valley, site of a considerable network of relatively traffic-free roads. the flying scotsman route covers 44 miles (around 71km) or the beastie over 78 miles (126km). as graeme said "We are really fortunate that in and around Kilmarnock there are miles and miles of quiet roads where you can cycle till your heart is content. I am out on these roads most days and it is great to get away from the main roads and get taken into the great beauty that the Ayrshire countryside offers. I am looking forward to riding the event and my form is coming on fine. I rode The Dunoon Run and Ride event at the weekend, my first ride against the clock in a few years and I was top in all three timed sections; so I can't be going too badly for a man of my vintage."

don't let him kid you; graeme's still faster than we'll ever be. book now before chris nabs your place.

obree.com

tuesday 21 april 2015

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sportif magazine ..........................................................................................................................................................................................................

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

challenge tyres ..........................................................................................................................................................................................................

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shand cycles ..........................................................................................................................................................................................................

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vulpine clothing ..........................................................................................................................................................................................................

powered by hippo technology

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bikmo cycle insurance

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tell them we sent you

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

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

debbie's cafe

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

welcometogreatcoffee.co.uk

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

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