it's the domestiques i feel really sorry for. the guys who have to drop back to the team car to collect a whole phalanx of bottles for their team leaders and the others who are strategically trying to keep the leaders in contention. it's all very well being fit and strong enough to lead from the front and remain there when push comes to shove, but those poor unfortunates loaded down with full bottles, have then to power their way back up to racing riders and enter the distribution stream. a notable clip from the tour of poland showed some poor chap stuffing bottles down the back of his jersey only for them to fall out the bottom and onto the road.
you have to wonder if we're not kind of missing the point in the quest from wattage, lightness and unadulterated speed. take a look at the average touring bicycle; irrespective of the frame material, there are usually fixtures for a couple of racks and panniers, a bar bag and anything up to four sets of bottle bosses. were the world tour guys only to adopt this particular stance, we could all but nullify the need for a substantial train of motor vehicles following the cyclists' every move. granted, speeds might be a shade slower than at present, but surely the sight of bertie the accountant or sir wiggins pulling to the roadside on the ascent of the galibier to rifle through a rear pannier for those gels they're sure they packed along with a copy of the comic, would be worth the price of admission alone?
i'm not the first person to have pointed out the iniquity of bicycle racing that supports around 200 riders with an almost similar count of motorbikes and motor cars. for all our self-righteousness regarding our green-ness, we may have to step back and take a clearer look.
however, the majority of racing bikes, the modern equivalent of the ten speed racer, are not sold to racing cyclists. in fact, the professionals have no need of thumbing through catalogues, visiting cycle shows or peeking at websites at all; they just ride what they're given. we, however, have often need of emulation, perhaps choosing a bicycle on the basis of hero worship or perhaps just the colour that was available at the time. there is no shame in either because whatever we own, it is likely far better than our meagre abilities require in the first place.
and that includes standard features such as a second set of bottle cage bolts.
even on those long rides on which i like to kid myself i am copying the work ethic of cavendish or froome, the sort of distances that take more than three hours (with only a couple of coffee stops), i have rarely found it necessary to carry more than one bottle of water or carbo refreshment. even if that bottle has contained a salutory 750ml, very rarely do i arrive home with an empty bottle. observation of the majority would tend to suggest this is a common occurrence. and even on very hot days (snigger) in the uk, it's nearly always possible to drop by a local hostelry for a modicum of liquid refreshment.
so just what are those second bottle bosses for? even when the disgraced michael rasmussen had colnago build him a unique extreme c with bosses on only the downtube, the theme was not carried through into the retail product. a true cyclocross racing bike ought not to have bottle cage bolts at all, for the cage would get in the way of shouldering the bike, but in a one hour intensive race, there's little opportunity to reach for a bottle in any case.
but still we're happy to purchase 'cross bikes with two sets of bosses. think of all that unnecessary weight being ridden or carried into battle.
which is where the humourously named silicone tidds enter the fray. these are not, as i initially thought, alternative means by which a bottle cage might be affixed to the bicycle frame, but a substitute for the two useless bolts carrying nothing on the seat tube. the tidds will almost without doubt attract themselves to the weight weenies keen to replace everything on the bicycle with something lighter. however, i would venture that employing them for such a reason may well be regarded as a touch eccentric even by ww standards. you would probably gain the same weight reduction with a good sneeze.
however, the tidds have at their beck and call a more pragmatic reason for existence. it does me no favours whatosever to admit that the two bottle cage bolts in the seat tube of my steel cielo have corroded to the point of non-removal. this is hardly a major cause for alarm given that i barely drink from the single bottle most often carried on the downtube. but the existence of the silicone tidds at the time the cielo arrived from portland would likely have obviated this problem by having kept the threads clear of corrosion.
fitting the tidds couldn't really be simpler. assuming your own cage bolts have not rusted in place, simply remove them, put a drop of lubricant on each tidd, then push and wiggle them into place. i admit i was unable to sit them flush with the top of the bottle boss, mostly due to the inherent flexibility of the tidds, but we're talking only a millimetre or so. barely worth considering in my mind.
they simply don't work on my colnago c40, but that bicycle owns a smaller set of bolts than is currently the norm, and the guys at silicone tidds have to set out their stall somewhere. when i can fight my way past the front of thewashingmachinepost bikeshed, i'm going to become a real cyclocrosser and fit a couple of pairs to the ibis hakkalugi.
it's a good idea, well-thought out, bizarrely named and pretty much the same price as a pair of cage bolts. the weight saving will never gain you a professional contract via improved climbing prowess, but they're pretty much guaranteed to maintain the integrity of the boss threads no matter the constitution of your frame material.
silicone tidds are available in black, white or pink at a cost of £3.99