not drowning, but waving


in 1998, a cycling friend and i took a ferry from campbeltown to ballycastle in northern ireland, from where we cycled to just south of the border for an overnight stay, before continuing to dublin the following day for the start of the tour de france, famous for the so-called festina affair and subsequent victory by marco pantani, not exactly an innocent himself when it came to doping practices.

as a brief aside, i hadn't taken into account the fact that southern ireland measured its road distances in kilometres. having calculated that we needed to ride approximately 80 miles or so to our accommodation in dublin's fair city, i was somewhat aghast to note the first road sign indicated a distance of 130, which i took to be in miles. kilometres are so much easier.

anyway, we were due to stay in dublin for a couple of days, taking in the prologue time-trial, and the following day's road stage through the wicklow hills. on both occasions you quickly come to terms with just how much of the event you can actually witness from the roadside. for instance, despite having a clear view of every competitor passing at speed on their time-trial bicycles, at day's end, neither of us had any clue as to who had taken the yellow jersey (it was chris boardman), if only because our vantage point was too far from the finish line to hear the public address announcement.

and then, on the following day, we watched the peloton and road cavalcade ride over the bridge across the liffey, before we wandered around the city ainlessly for most of the day, before settling into our places near the finish line in order to watch tom steels' winning sprint for the finish line. following that first road stage, the event moved onto enniscorthy, and my colleague and i commenced our cycle north towards ballycastle and the campbeltown ferry, punctuated with a stop at the same accommodation we'd picked on the way down.

those were still the times of the northern ireland troubles, and an error in map reading while cycling well to the west of lough neagh, took us perilously close to a town in which there had been fatalities only a couple of days previously. irish net curtains are a lot more threatening than those in scotland. however, the only other matter of note during that return trip was being caught in a torrential shower only a matter of a kilometre or so from the ferry terminal, the floor of which we then all but flooded.

there's no real doubt that watching any cycling event on television (with the possible exception of track cycling) is likely to return a far better overview than standing by the roadside. the justification trotted out by all and sundry, probably including yours truly, is that of atmosphere, an intangible factor that simply can't be replicated on the telly box. however, when it comes to cyclocross, there may be certain exceptions to that contention.

though i doubt it's possible to witness every twist and turn of a cyclocross race, the fact that the parcours tends to continually double back on itself and the persistent raising and lowering of the topography, allows many of the spectators to witness a greater than average portion of the event. of course, that depends on which event we're discussing, and the effort put in by those at trackside. it has not been uncommon to watch attendees running across the enclosure in which they are situated to catch the riders passing a few corners later.

i can but admit that i have never attended any cyclocross event, whether in scotland or mainland europe, satisfied to watch every jump over the planks, bike change in the pits, and run through the mud from the comofrt of my armchair. that's why eurosport was invented. that said, when i see fans wearing bright yellow and blue bobbled x2o badkamers woolly hats, or those tucking into frites and mayo, i realise just what i'm missing, even if those would be outdone by the effort of getting there in the first place.

however, this year's various trophy series, of which every episode has been brilliantly broadcast by eurosport, with expert commentary from ian field, jeremy powers and helen wyman, has, from visual evidence, attracted substantial crowds, proving, if nothing else, that european cyclocross is as popular as ever it was. compare the crowds with those seen at the british championships in falkirk, and it's clear that we have a long, long way to go in the popularity stakes.

but what i don't understand, is why you'd make the effort to attend a championship cyclocross event, buy your frites and mayo, grab a badkamers bobble hat, and as the leaders pass your vantage point on each lap, you'd ignore your presumed heroes, and wave to the camera.

on every single lap.

monday 12 february 2024

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what an oaf

roll and eggs

when you're (relatively) young and naive, it's esy to be fooled into practices that are essentially the preserve of our betters. nutrition, for example, is a subject rarely too far away from the weekly pages of the comic, a publication that was religiously purchased each week by the younger me. and if they were apt to advise a change or reinforcement of one's effectively, non-existent, nutrition programme, there was every likelihood that those changes would be enthusiastically adopted.

of course, it's hardly cycling weekly's fault that i, and doubtless others, fell hook, line and sinker for every paragraph, illustration and recipe, despite clear editorial that made it plain such strictures were aimed squarely at the professional racer, or elite amateur. such practices were scarcely likely to be the preserve of the enthusiast whose weekly travails were confined solely to around 25km each and every sunday morning.

therefore, at the grand départ, there would usually be two water bottles topped up with flavoursome isotonic drinks, while at least one of the jersey's three rear pockets would bulge with sickly gels and the odd carbo bar. carbohydrates were pretty much the order of the day, whether truly necessary or otherwise. i recall sunday rides, even in the early part of this century, when i truly should have known a great deal better, which featured a mid-ride stop to consume a power-bar or its cheaper equivalent. and that was in addition to coffee and cake at debbie's.

so while the psyche was convinced that a ride of only 65km was bordering on unparalleled hardship, and thus deserving of increased carbohydrate intake, in point of fact, it was nothing of the sort. present day sunday morning rides take in a similar distance, though the stop at debbie's has been reinforced with a cheese and tomato toastie (purely to save having to make lunch on the victorious return to the croft). yet, almost without exception, my single water bottle, containing only plain water, is frequently filled at the same level as it was when i left. and i really can't recall the last time i possessed a gel, or carbo bar of any description.

the mighty dave-t advises that, in his day, anyone taking a drink within 60 miles was considered to be a tad flakey. real men (and presumably, women) would never be so insolent as to require fluid intake prior to coverage of at least 100km. and across the many training manuals sent for review, the majority underlined the need for carbo-loading, purely on the basis that it was that particular component that fuelled the sprint for the village sign at bruichladdich.

but, as with almost everything bicycle related, even nutritional requirements seemed to be every bit as subject to fashion as internal cabling, one piece bars and stem and dropped seatstays. and, in the true velocipedinal manner, there was invariably a scientific reason proposed as to why carbohydrate intake was over-rated, and we really ought best to be paying heed to our protein, or fats, or amino acids, or any number of unpronounceable words. do not misunderstand me; i'm well aware that human biology is a complex subject, and that scientific research trundles on, ad finitum, bringing new theories and discoveries to light. a bit of a moving target, if you will.

but the one aspect of this is that, essentially, it's still predominantly aimed at the serious competitor with something to prove or win. most of it comes under the heading of 'overkill' for the (very) average sunday morning pelotonese.

however, there is one characteristic of nutritional science that i fear has been missed, both by those involved in the research, and the editorial department of the comic. according to my own rudimentary research, the average free-range egg contains 6.3g of protein, 5.2g of fat and a miserly 0.7g of carbohydrate. as i understand it, unused carbohydrate is stored in the body as fat, hence the advice to refrain from sugary foods and liquids. protein, on the other hand, is essential to promote muscle growth and repair; a high protein, lower-carb diet will help reduce body fat. however, pop into debbie's of a saturday lunchtime for a double egg roll, and it seems that this essential food covers all the bases; not only do the two eggs double the numbers listed above, but the roll itself apparently contains around 26g of carbohydrate.

best described as a win-win situation.

debbie's doesn't fry the eggs with oil, preferring, to plop the two of them onto a george foreman grill for added health and vitality. thus, it is but a hop, skip and a jump to dietary fulfillment if you can all persuade your local coffee stop to offer double egg rolls along with a latté or cappuccino. if you feel this may undermine your professed stoicism, simply opt for a double-espresso instead.


sunday 11 february 2024

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a losing battle?

no sale

far be it for me to bolster the psyche of the nation's motorists, but many would no doubt be encouraged to learn that new car registrations in 2023 reached almost two million. that will probably incur despondency in britain's cyclists, if only on the basis that such figures may demonstrate there are now even more cars with which to contend on our shared roads. of course, without placing such a figure in some sort of perspective, it's hard to know whether this is an overall increase, decrease, or a maintaining of the status quo. but the society of motor traders, having clouted us with such a large initial number, then delivered the second blow by quantifying that as a 17.9% increase on new car sales in 2022.

bear in mind that both those years are regarded as post-covid, but additionally, categorised as blighted by the so-called cost-of-living-crisis, the purported effects of which were supposed to have the populace curbing their spending, to better survive increased energy and food prices. the latter is certainly one of the principal reasons touted by the bicycle association, which despondently announced only a matter of days past, that mechanical bicycle sales in the uk over the course of 2023, were quite possibly at their lowest ebb this century. sales declined in 2022 by a significant 18%, and according to the association, fell by a further 8% last year.

now, as i have pointed out on a previous occasion, these figures represent a comparison with previous years' sales, and 2021 and 2020 are significant in that they were the years of lockdown across the nation, when we all read reports of bicycle stores' shop floors being emptied by consumers, desperate to acquire a means of transport that would keep them isolated from the virus. so if, for example, sales over those two years increased by, say, 50%, subsequent declines are being measured (or not measured, as may possibly be the case) against that number. thus, while current sales may be down considerably, as far as i can see, little heed seems to be paid towards the dramatic increases during the covid years. and if a great many folks availed themselves of a bicycle during 20-21, they probably don't need to buy another one now, if only because it's now languishing in the shed or garage, unused and quite possibly, unloved.

i'd be quite happy if someone were to point out that my assumptions are well wide of the mark, and that doom and gloom is most definitely the order of the day, but i remain to be convinced. it's also worth my mentioning, that i am in no way qualified to offer expert comment on the situation, but as i've been told, when has that ever stopped me before?

at least one reason for my suspicions is provided by the knowledge that both road bikes and gravel bikes saw sales increases of 8% and 11% respectively. neither of those velocipedinal genres are what we might term, basic transport, reputedly appealing more to the enthusiast than the commuter. you and i, while affected by the cost-of-living-crisis as much as the next cyclist, cheerfully come under the heading of obsessive and thus more likely to continue spending on our obsession than those who view the bicycle as more of a utility. that said, the surprise statistic might be that applied to sales of e-bikes, not so long ago, seen as the potential saviour of the industry. sales of battery power declined by 7% in 2023, still ahead of pre-covid levels, but considerably behind the european average. once again, it is eminently possible that those wishing to avail themselves of an e-bike, have already done so during the covid years, and are still quite content with their purchases.

all that said, bicycle imports, given that britain has no notable mass producer of its own, are at their lowest for almost a quarter of a century. and it will likely not surprise you to learn that a degree of blame is being apportioned to the governments' failure to invest in cycling infrastructure, a lack of an e-bike subsidy, and funding to aid the uk cycle industry to innovate (whatever that actually means).

oddly, if you recall the article i posted yesterday, the uci world championships in glasgow had reputedly encouraged a substantial number (80%, or more than 4 million) of the scottish population to indicate they were seriously considering cycling more. were that statistic to have proved correct, surely scotland alone would have saved the industry single-handed? the big problem often appears to be the statistics themselves, a bit like bicycle manufacturers claiming their latest carbon frame is 8% faster, without actually listing how they arrived at that number, and precisely what it is being compared to.

anecdotally, it does seem that the bicycle industry is on a bit of a downer at present, possibly not quite as much as portrayed, and surely difficult to apportion blame to the cost-of-living-crisis, if more expensive car sales are on the increase. however, the bicycle association's report was not entirely despondent, with expected growth towards the end of this year and into 2025. and i can see how the downturn is likely to be affecting the hard-pressed bike shop; it's all well and good having sold truckloads during lockdown, but that was at least two years ago, and about which today's cashflow probably remembers little.

at the risk of being pilloried, however, i do wonder why the finger of blame is always pointed at the government. i understand that continual polling suggests that, were there to be a drastic, government funded improvement in the nation's cycling infrastructure, more and more folks have indicated that they would transfer their allegiance away from the motor car towards the bicycle. but human nature being what it is, there's every likelihood that those polled, told the pollsters precisely what they thought they wanted to hear. increased bicycle use during lockdown was, for reasons i fail to comprehend, expected to be maintained once the danger had reputedly passed. that was never likely to be the case.

but it's worth recalling, if ever far enough away from the news to forget, that britain's climate has never been overly favourable. with recent storms, wholesale flooding and substantial rainfall, it's largely unsurprising that the great unwashed have little incentive to travel by bicycle. on a micro level, i spent every sunday in december riding on my own, predominantly due to the hebridean weather. the wimps who should have been accompanying me, would usually be counted amongst the cognoscenti, sufficiently enthusiastic enough to endure minor meteorological hardships in the quest for velocipedinal enlightenment. that being the case, it's hard to see the less well disposed rushing out to buy bicycles simply to get to school, work or the shops.

saturday 10 february 2024

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but is it?

mathieu van der poel

there was much celebration north of the border when glasgow was announced as the first city to host the uci's combined world championship events, notably excluding those of cyclocross. i believe unanimous opinion would state that the events were adjudged to be a particular success, both in terms of spectator attendance and the quality of the courses and cycling facilities employed for the purpose.

however, while the championships may have been gauged a success on a velocipedinal basis, following the announcement that scotland's arts and culture budget was about to suffer a £6.6 million reduction, holyrood admitted that the glasgow championships had gone £8 million over budget. you can but imagine the response from the nation's arts and culture organisations, not only on hearing of the cuts to their funding, but that the overall cost of a few cycle races, featuring remarkably few scottish competitors, had reached a total of £60 million. and as if to add insult to injury came the news that creative scotland, the public body responsible for supporting the arts and creative endeavours, faced a further reduction in their own budget, of £4 million.

no doubt another spurious reason to berate the nation's cyclists about their failure to pay road tax.

however, succour may be gained by the scottish government and glasgow city council from a recently released report by the union cycliste international which contends that scotland's economy benefitted from hosting the championships to the tune of £205 million, along with the alleged creation of 5,285 jobs (though whether permanent or temporary is left unsaid). uci president, david lappartient described this boost to the national economy at the behest of people riding bicycles very fast as, "an unprecedented success."

the agglomeration of 13 different cycling disciplines, over 7000 athletes from 131 nations was described by the uci as "the biggest cycling event ever organised." there are a myriad of statistics contained within the uci's report paying tribute to the number of visitors employing active modes of transport, and that almost 80% of scottish residents intended to cycle more often. i should point out that, when compiling that last statistic, the uci officials obviously neglected to visit islay, because it's painfully obvious that the number of islanders cycling, even prior to last august's championship events, would scarcely equal even 1% of that number. no doubt there will be those working in scotland's arts and culture sector wondering in which bank account that £205 million currently resides.

however, from an entirely selfish point of view, those of us with a vested interest in bicycle matters, will be happy to trumpet the headline figure to each and every innocent bystander, content that we enjoyed a highly successful series of events, whether from the roadside, trackside, or sat in a comfy armchair, staring enthusiastically at the tellybox. and, as hierarchies go, mathieu van der poel's acquisition of the rainbow jersey must surely have been one of the crowning glories to be observed, particularly in the light of the dutchman having already nabbed a similar cyclocross inflected jersey at hoogerheide the preceding february.

with tadej pogacar and wout van aert present in the world's road race in glasgow (though no sign of jonas), few would argue against van der poel being a convincing and justified winner, having even survived a self-inflicted crash on his way to the finish line. however, such approbation has not always been the case, depending on the chosen parcours for the annual event. rarely does the latter provide hope to the world's grimpeurs, those who specialise in the art of riding up steep hills rather quickly, and many are the other riders who opt to give the world's a miss, on the basis that it "...doesn't suit my strengths."

so is it not just a tad iniquitous that the wearer of the rainbow bands may not have snatched victory from his equals, but from the jaws of an arguably less than competitive peloton? does that not call into question the veracity of being proclaimed 'world champion' when a part of that world that might have given chase, was in fact, at home or on holiday?

as is often the case with these monologues, i have deftly subverted the true point of my diatribe, for it is not actually glasgow's world championships with which i find a problem, but last sunday's cyclocross world championship event in tabor, czechoslovakia, won for the second time in succession, by road race champion, mathieu van der poel. though the past season's events would suggest van der poel may have turned out victorious under any circumstances, those likely to have given him at least a smidgeon of trouble en-route to the podium, were demonstrably missing in action. namely, wout van aert and tom pidcock.

in hoogerheide last year, van aert ran van der poel a close second, failing only to anticipate the dutchman's explosive sprint round the last corner. this year, van der poel led from start to finish, never once relinquishing first place. so while that made him a deserving winner, did it, in fact, make him a deserved world champion. granted, it's hardly mvdp's fault that the close competition had other things to do on the first weekend of february; that may be more the fault of the uci. though i'd agree that comparisons between formula one motor racing and cycle racing have become a bit tired, can you imagine mercedes or ferrari opting to sit out the occasional grand prix, even if they were allowed to?

and that's sort of the problem. it surely does the sport's credibility no good whatsoever to have two of the top riders drop in and out of the season's events on a whim, then give what is surely the season's major event a body swerve? i get it that each nation has an allotted number of places on the cyclocross grid, but it seems highly unlikely that wout and tom would not have been chosen by their respective nations, had they expressed a willingness to participate. uci mandates are often unpopular (choosing the angle of your brake levers, for instance), but it wouldn't seem too draconian to forcefully suggest that any rider intent on participating in the uci's cyclocross world cup series, ought best make themselves available for the world championship event.

surely a one hour race, no matter how hard, is unlikely to harm their chances in the spring classics? mathieu might soon prove that to be a false notion.

friday 9 february 2024

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my flabber has never been so ghasted

lightweight meilenstein

it is not at all uncommon for islay's distilleries to release expressions of their single malts not only in limited editions, but at prices they believe are commensurate with the propounded limited availability. quite whether you agree that the quantity on sale fits within the description 'limited' is entirely between you and your bank account. the oddity, perhaps, is that no matter how many bottles are on the shelves of the island's visitor centres, the liquid within the coloured glass containers cost the distillers exactly the same amount as did their standard fare.

for instance, an islay festival bottle, reputedly one of only three hundred and priced at perhaps £300 each, contains the same 75p worth of whisky as does the ten year-old base product, of which thousands exist, priced at only £44. if that paints the distillers in a poor light, that is not my intention; while the combination of water, yeast and barley may only be pennies worth in and of itself, there are many highly expensive overheads that mean the sales cost is considerably higher.

and then, of course, there are the intangible 'market forces' which provide apparently legitimate reason to charge whatever they figure the market will bear. much of this is based around the alleged limited availability; we are frequently informed that there was only one or two casks of the amber nectar filled in that particular year, offering an opportunity to charge a higher price.

however, no matter how much you are willing to pay for a limited edition, and therefore expensive, bottle of whisky, there is a widely-held belief that it will only increase in value, and may provide a welcome boost to your finances at some indeterminate time in the future. recent advice from financial markets contends that investing in single malt whisky was likely to provide greater financial return than putting your money into the art market or vintage cars. just like land, a 1974 bottle of single malt can never be produced again.

but, as just mentioned, assuming the distillery to be honest and open in such matters, that the whisky will never re-appear, it can ultimately be classified as a legitimate limited edition. the same, however, cannot necessarily be said about limited editions that are not whisky.

drums, for instance.

i recently purchased a signature snare drum, purely on the basis that the signature in question was that of a drummer i hold in high esteem. on the inner shell is a sticker bearing the real signature of the batteur himself, alongside a number suggesting that these drums were produced in a limited production run. the latter is of no great interest to me, but undoubtedy, were the manufacturer to decide to reprise the edition, they could do so with ease, thus undermining any potential benefit to be gained from the purported scarcity of the original.

concerns were once expressed over diageo's decision to rebuild port ellen distillery, following their 1983 decision to close it for good, before dismantling it completely in the early part of this century. there are many, many casks of whisky produced by the original distillery still sitting in the surrounding warehouses, all of which have accrued indeterminate wealth purely because the distillery in which they were created was no longer in existence. granted, it's likely to be at least ten years before the revitalised distillery has a product likely to gain worldwide approbation, but the worry was always that diageo was in the process of undermining its own value.

i am reliably assured that this is unlikely to be the case.

but then along comes carbonsports lightweight carbon wheels, keen to impress upon us the limited availability of their latest meilenstein evo signature gold edition branded wheelset. with 99 sets available worldwide (33 to europe, 33 to asia and 33 sets for the americas), and the inclusion of 23 carat gold leaf on the rims and ceramicspeed bearings, lightweight have leveraged the benefits of those previously mentioned 'market forces' by applying an eyewatering price tag of £7,699 per pair.

i can think of no-one outwith the professional ranks who would benefit from a gold-plated, 1100gram wheelset that would add such an astronomical financial burden to your favourite bicycle. having ridden two sets of lightweight wheels, i will happily attest to their ride and construction quality, but there's no denying that, if willing to part with almost £7700, you're very unlikely to receive a greater amount in return, should you opt to sell them after a few years. an unopened 25 year-old single malt, if nothing else, will still be a 25 year-old single malt even several years later. even a limited edition set of carbon wheels will show some level of wear after a year or two, surely rendering them less financially attractive as time goes by.

i'm aware that lightweight wheels are highly labour intensive to build, and comprise some of the finest materials in the industry. but £7,699?

i'll get back to you.

thursday 8 february 2024

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room with the wrong view


if you haven't read carlton reid's excellent book 'roads weren't built for cars', you really ought to do so, even if you're a dyed-in-the-wool petrolhead who arrived here while searching for a washing machine. in the earliest of days of the motor car, it was mandated that a gent run ahead of an approaching motor vehicle carrying a red flag to warn pedestrians and early cyclists of impending doom. at that point, the motorist was the usurper, flagrantly upsetting the apple cart with nasty fumes, noises that upset the horses and horns to frighten the children.

as you'd expect, however, as it headed towards the point of ubiquity, with the owners of such vehicular transport tending to err on the richer side of the population, they commanded sufficient clout to have the trappings of civilisation altered in their favour, until reaching the state of affairs with which we live today. though it might be less than convincing to suggest that these historical changes have been so subtle in nature, that none of us saw the congestion and imposition creeping up from behind, in point of fact that might be alarmingly true.

there's also the inescapable fact that the motoring lobby appears to have a great deal more clout than pedestrians and cyclists combined. if that seems hard to digest, witness the number of popup cycle lanes that appeared during covid that have since been removed by town and city councils as a result of direct complaints from the motoring public. but while on that particular point, given that the motor car began life as the lowliest form of transport, how come we have cycle lanes, rather than car lanes?

if we temporarily remove the pleasurability of cycling, along with the known health benefits and high degree of pragmatism, the bicycle can be thought of purely as a means of transport; nothing more, nothing less. just ask richard sachs. that being the case, in an allegedly democratic nation, we have free choice as to how we go about many things in daily life, including the option to choose a means of transport that equates with both our financial means and philosophical approach to life. objectively, transportation is simply a means of getting from a to b, hypothetically immune from social class distinctions. in other words, driving ought not to be seen as having greater status than cycling or walking.

in the real world, however, life's not like that. anecdotally, motorists are inclined to see themselves as the superior class. and within that class system, there are particular hierarchies; the guy with the porsche is likely to look down upon the woman in a fiat 500. but it's quite likely that both see themselves as 'better' than the guardian reader on a brompton, to employ a well-worn cliché. ultimately, this has resulted in a transport system heavily weighted towards the motorist, making life difficult for even the experienced cyclist.

imagine how that feels for the young cycling apprentice.

actually, we probably don't need to use our imaginations; looking at a study by the bicycle association, the sales statistics for children's bicycles indicate a 30% drop between 2019 and 2023. a comparable study by the folks at bikeability shows that the lack of sales reflect parental concerns over their children's safety on congested roads. this highlights the contention that there is insufficient, safe, segregated cycling infrastructure, despite investment by governments north and south of the border in active travel. if only that investment was the equal of that spent in favour of the motor car.

and though my opening argument is every bit as valid as any opposing argument, it's not the result of apparently convincing theory that has created today's unfortunate situation.

it is perhaps illuminating to consider the strength of opposition to the various low emission zones introduced in several national cities, including criminal damage to the cameras employed to enforce the legislation. while organisations such as cycling uk continually lobby governments to improve the cyclist's lot, certain factions of the motoring public have taken a more physically argumentative stance and, on occasion, the law into their own hands. and it's hard to deny that cyclists and pedestrians have rarely come out on top. many a motorist has left court almost scot-free despite having seriously injured or caused the death of a pedestrian or cyclist.

it might be good for the velocipedinal psyche to think that, in the era of climate change and environmental sensibility, the bicycle will ultimately win out against the dark-side. but if the current state of the nation is not stalled in its tracks, by the time victory is assured, there will be few, if any, of us left to benefit. recent changes to the highway code which advised riding in the middle of the road to improve personal visibility, simply resulted in a backlash from the very motorists who caused the advice to be officially offered in the first place. why the hostility towards those simply exercising their option not to travel by car?

currently, that's a problem that seems to be lacking a suitable solution.

wednesday 7 february 2024

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i'm confused

ritchey logic

i have scarcely finished arguing that gravel bikes have existed for decades in the shape of cyclocross bicycles, than yet another comes along from a framebuilder you'd figure ought to know a bit better. my conspiracy theory behind the gravel genre is america's frustration that cyclocross is a european invention, leaving them as the adopting fathers. a situation that, despite the wholesale adoption of barriers, planks and mud by the likes of portland two decades ago, the lack of homegrown machinery remained an insult to the american dream.

hence, gravel.

but as with almost everything in life, it's possible to become overly enthusiastic, an emotion that can apparently lead to one forgetting a previous and all too tangible enthusiasm. it is but a matter of weeks when i lavished praise on not only the roodfoort brothers for their altruistic support of dutch cyclocross rider, ryan kamp, but colnago and campagnolo for kitting him out with their state-of-the-art produce to aid his career in this and the next cyclocross season. unfortunately, in the strictest sense, colnago no longer offers a bona-fide cyclocross frame, muddying the waters and effectively proving my point by seating mr kamp on a g3-x gravel bike, on which campagnolo have festooned their top-of-the-range wireless road groupset.

confused? you will be.

though i believe that ernesto has remarkably little to do with the current crop of colnago frames, it would appear that his saudi partners/owners are currently demonstrating their complete lack of perspicacity by having, if you'll pardon the pun, reinvented the gravel wheel. as mentioned above, colnago already features the g3-x in the range, admittedly a taiwanese monocoque, but now they have introduced another page to the c68 book, via the c68 gravel bike. this now accompanies the c68 road bike, c68 titanium (a carbon bike with titanium lugs) and the c68 all-road (in other words, a bike that can be ridden on gravel if necessary with room for 35mm wide rubber).

but they are still denying their european heritage by failing miserably to admit they now effectively offer three cyclocross bikes.

though tadej prefers a colnago vrs rather than any of the c68 range, this is because colnago gleefully admitted that the taiwanese vrs monocoque is not the bike for everyman, but reputedly faster than any of the c68 variations (i'm still very much of the opinion that the rider is the part of the equation that brings the speed). and though colnago may have lost track of its origins and inventory, it has gained the ability to offer highly pretentious hyperbole in the service of the product.

"The C68 Gravel isn't a mere gravel bike, it's the epitome of Italian craftsmanship, meticulously crafted for cyclists who seek the ultimate riding experience. For those who yearn for the thrill of pure speed on the wildest gravel roads - and everything in between, but also demand more than just a carbon frame - they seek a bike with a soul, steeped in heritage."

and while i'm disparaging cambiago for its adoption of the american way, to the detriment of a european background, when time comes to offer a frame-only, or three differently specced complete bicycles, colnago's componentry choices rest entirely on sram and shimano, completely ignoring the ekar 13-speed gravel groupset of near neighbours, campagnolo. the majority of taiwanese built carbon features oem sram and shimano kit, principally on the grounds that they too are resident in the far east. however, the c68 gravel bike is handbuilt in cambiago due to its lugged construction, so the nearest componentry is likely to be italian.

go figure.

compare that with tom ritchey, a man who, like ernesto, knows more than a thing or two about framebuilding. in revitalising his highly respected logic steel road bike, he has not deserted those of us who prefer rim brakes to those new-fangled disc thingies. and mr ritchey would appear to have our financial security uppermost in his mind. while colnago will charge you £5269 for the gravel-based carbon fibre, tom is happy to collect a mere £1407 for the logic. and ritchey contends that the frame is able to cope with 30mm tyres (though i found it depends on the clearance available 'neath the front brake caliper - you should be ok if opting for the disc version).

though i still have a thing about colnago, my flag is firmly nailed to the ritchey mast. and when it's becoming a tad harder to find a quality disc frame that doesn't demand you fit electronica, tom says, "Mechanical shifting fans are sure to love the fact that the Road Logic Disc frame also retains cable stops for mechanical groupsets."

rumour has it that darth vader rode discs, and we know how that turned out.

colnago c68 gravel | ritchey logic frames

tuesday 6 february 2024

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