ferry stories

jura fast ferry

not that i wish to come over all cycling plus on you, but every now and again, the odd travel story tears you away from titanium sprockets and the like. islay and jura are not always the easiest of places to get to by bicycle, not because of transportational difficulties across the wet bit, but mostly because the approach roads from glasgow are, in summertime, some of the busiest around. the fact that they twist and turn the closer you get to the coast, means that motorists end up seriously frustrated because they can't pass, and either sit on your tail and fume, or do something stupid and pass where one ought not to pass.

the principal alternative used to be travelling by ferry from ardrossan to brodick on arran, cycling across the top of arran to lochranza, and taking the little ferry from there to claonaig then across the kintyre peninsula to kennacraig and the islay ferry. however, over the past couple of years, there has been an even more enterprising solution that involves a rather faster piece of water borne machinery, arriving at craighouse on jura. warren sanders and esther tacke, both previous visitors to islay decided this was a route that just had to be experienced. and now you can too.

With time on your hands after a ride, you sit in front of the TV with a mug of tea, wearing as much compression kit as you have the energy to pull on. If The Dave Harmon show isn't on, then you may find yourself in amongst the dinosaur and shark channels and Nick Crane hosted somethings that can fill gaps in your pub quiz education. I know that Nick now tries to come across as a benevolent Oxbridge Don but he was, and perhaps still is, a great cyclist who first taught us the concept of cutting our toothbrushes in half to save weight; and yes that umbrella has seen time on the hill as Nick's only accommodation; trust me he is hard as nails. It's on these channels that Nick will point out how the sea connects the west of Scotland and indeed Ireland.

jura fast ferry

I know you may think this a reference tof the spread of Christianity and rather unseaworthy craft, but last year this was made outstandingly clear following a tour on my bike in the area. A check of the next month's itemised mobile bill for that tour showed calls apparently made from Ireland: short straight line distances indeed.

This would be a good time to open an OS map and check all the ferry routes allowing the linking together of even short bike rides. My personal best is five ferries with only 65 miles of cycling. But a note of caution: picture me here tapping the side of my nose in the way that David Duffield would, because the map does not show all the ferry routes, and it's of one such hidden gem that this tale is concerned.

The standard way to the Isle of Jura is by CalMac ferry from Kennacraig to Islay, then a short hop across to Feolin. But last year I discovered by chance, when riding up a dead-end road looking for somewhere to camp near Lochgilphead, that there is the fast ferry way. The photo on the website is of a small(ish) rubber boat (they're called RIBs; Rigid Inflatable Boat) stating quite clearly that both foot passengers and bikes can be transported. Not convinced, I emailed them twice to make totally sure and even checked again when I made my reservation; yes they did take bikes.

jura fast ferry

There was a circle to be closed.

When you make your booking for Branson's spaceship in a few years time you won't be surprised to see, in the terms and conditions, about it being inadvisable to make a booking if you have a history of back problems. The G-forces you see (and there will almost certainly be a torturously incomprehensible paragraph or two about their policy on the carriage of bicycles). The Tayvallich fast ferry you may be more surprised to learn, also has such a note of concern about back problems. It's the first ferry i've been on in which a four point harness is standard on all seats. And yes they did take bikes.

The plan was simple. Start at Tayvallich with this fast ferry to Jura, cycling its one and only road (stunning, and as ever on these occasions, verging on epic), then turn back for the ferry to Islay. Right there you have done almost 40 miles. Of course you could have turned left and straight to the Islay ferry at a cost of only eight miles, but you would miss so much. The ferry from Jura to Islay is fairly regular, so no need to fret about timetables. You and can just stand, watch and wait as it copes with the speedy tidal flow between the islands. It's only a short distance but would be a challenging and perhaps suicidal swim at times. It's not unnatural for the ferryman to assume that you are using the return part of a round trip ticket, so in such confusion you have already sort of made money. The only hard bit now is the 14% gradient out of Port Askaig.

jura fast ferry

This is the where we sort out the truly hard men. It should be possible in theory, working the timetables to your advantage, to ride across Islay to Port Ellen (21 miles) and close that loop in a day. You may be the first ever to do this providing major bragging rights; It is there for the taking.

We, however, had the comfort of a night's stay with one half of the Wiggle brothers and so took two days. Much talk that night was about bikes and the merit of lightweight touring equipment, accompanied by a 30 year old malt. It was agreed that front panniers only is the way to go. We are big fans of Nick Sanders who rode around the world in 80 days. He went with a race bike and front bags only. We concur (he must have been so upset when they changed the round the world rules).

Carving this into a two day trip meant we could join up with the VC d'Ardbeg peloton from Debbie's of a Sunday morning. Accompanying 'The Mighty Dave T' is akin to riding alongside Yorkshire cricket legend Geoff Boycott, assuming he'd had a dramatic change of sporting codes. "No lass you don't have to point out them holes; I know 'em all". It seems I had spent unnecessary time teaching my wife peloton etiquette for the day.

Weather and the stress made the distance to the ferry seem longer, so the pace was high; too high perhaps, as we arrived 60 minutes early for the boat, sweating enough to require a change of baselayers. The ferry to the mainland takes over two hours, providing your main chance to refuel, rest and seize up. If you ever take the ferry from Bute to the mainland at the end of the five ferry loop, you may find yourself sitting in Lycra amongst drunken hen-party girls, but the Islay ferry on a Sunday afternoon is a more sober and relaxing setting. jura fast ferry

In front of you as you roll off the boat is the longest and hardest section of the loop, hugging the coast before turning left to Kilberry. Make sure there's food in your rear pockets, as Port Ban caravan park is the only re-fueling point, not counting the Michelin star restaurant in the village of Kilberry. We didn't.

This section provides fantastic views over the route you've just cycled but there are some fearsome hills populating the 51 mile section back to Tayvallich. Riding part of the Crinan Canal can be used for those sturdy of wheel as part of the route and is to be recommended.

Total bike mileage can be as little as 80 or as much as 140 if you want to play around, ad-libbing as you go. There is fine accommodation in Tayvalich with which to start and end your odyssey, and a stay in, or near Port Charlotte making a two day trip, seems also a sensible idea.

© warren sanders 2010

The Jura Fast Ferry is operated by Nicol MacKinnon's Islay Sea Safari on behalf of Argyll and Bute Council. It operates a daily service from 25th May to 28th September (except Wednesdays) between Tayvallich on the Scottish mainland, and the village of Craighouse on Jura's east coast. Journey time is approximately one hour, at a cost of £17.50 per person each way. Bicycles are carried free, though there is obviously a maximum number that can be carried on the boat. In other words, arrive early.

Full details can be had from the fast ferry website


posted thursday 13 may 2010

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going for a ride

the ride journal iv

after my first shot at the braveheart ride in kilmarnock, more than a few years ago now, while sitting in a rather dilapidated assembly/gym hall trying to keep my hands warm on a paper cup of hot coffee (which, if truth be told, wasn't all that great), my good friend, matthew ball coined the phrase that i have lived by ever since. as you will be so bored of hearing, thewashingmachinepost was started in 1997, and unlike those who operate under the auspices of a master plan, i just sit down and write. there's is not, and never was, any kind of a plan; the post has simply gone where fortune has taken it. and i'll happily admit that i like it that way.

matty ball had the benefit of looking in from the outside, and having the ability to categorise. i'm not quite so keen on categorisation, but accept it as a necessary part of human behaviour; according to matthew, thewashingmachinepost concerned itself with road bike culture. very keen on the word culture in the foregoing, but by and large, i think he captured my je ne sais quoi in a nutshell. it certainly beats saying it's a lot of words and pictures about road bicycles; a truism if ever there was one, but less loquacious than the posh version.

most streams of human endeavour can be broken down into sections, and mentally converted into sets and subsets, creating alternative colours where they overlap. the disappointment sets in when you find that several of those streams seem to be heading in exactly the same direction. by way of example, every now and again several books appear with tour de france in the title, all of which are essentially the same. just to place things in a more worldy perspective, exactly the same happens in the world of malt whisky books (oh boy does it happen) and those pertaining to adobe photoshop.

the trick, if you will allow me the luxury of referring to it as such, is to find the niche between the overlapping circles, even if, in my case, that has happened by complete accident. there may well be several sites that have arrived since, that occupy a similar strain of pixels, but since i frequent only a few others, i really have no real perspective on this. browsing is too scary. but in the explosive growth of both cycling and the interweb, the law of averages would dictate that somewhere or other there is a washingmachinepost facsimile.

in a way, you would think this would apply even more so to the printed cycling press; since the actuality of printing necessitates money changing hands, economics would dictate that not only is there a cover price attached to each publication, but that sales reach the magic number ensuring profit rather than loss. in order to fulfil this state of affairs, the gallery has to be played to; the customer requires to be satisfied, usually incurring compromise between editorial ideals and necessity. if we accept that the audience for the monthlies is of uniform opinion and needs, it is of little surprise that every month has an interview with mark cavendish.

rouleur has proved the exception to the rule, but occupying an even stranger space in the cycling firmament, one that most of us didn't realise existed, is the ride journal. issue one was the brainchild of philip and andrew diprose, the former a freelance vtr editor, and the latter currently art director of the excellent uk edition of wired. since neither of them are dependent on sales of the ride journal to put bread on the table, sales need only cover the production costs, while profits are donated to charity. but it's the nooks and crannies that the ride journal occupies that has taken it from the quickly sold out issue one to the biggest edition yet about to be released at the end of this month.

the ride journal iv

philip told me they were never sure there would be more than issue one. he and brother andrew simply had the feeling that there was a need for the journal they first produced, but that it may have been sufficient therapy to produce and issue no.1. however, enquiries as to when number two would transpire... well, you know the rest.

as has become a modern and very recent trend for all things cycley in london, the ride journal issue four has become the subject of a launch party, to be held in premises not long party to their own party: look mum no hands, 49 old street, london town at 6:30pm on thursday 27th may. if you can't make it along, ride number four will be on sale from monday 31st. if, by some strange quirk of fate, the existence of this fine collection of print, photography and illustration has passed you by, to celebrate reaching the grand old age of four, ride journal number two has been posted on the journal's website for free download.

don't you just love being a cyclist?

the ride journal


posted wednesday 12 may 2010

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le metier - the interview

le metier

let me present the following scenario: you're just about to undertake a major event in your year, something you have planned for quite some time, and something that has taken considerable preparation. this something has to be commenced at a particular point in time over which you have no control, so it's happening whether you want it to or not.

just to interrupt your concentrated train of thought, some unknown, from a little heard of website, sends you an e-mail, requesting that you supply answers to some questions they thought up about a project recently completed. what do you do?

if it were me, i'd likely point out that i had a rather pressing engagement, and would it be possible to consider those questions in the fullness of time, preferably when the pressing event had run its course. your mileage may vary.

i am that unknown, from my little heard of website. of course, i'm not that insensitive, and in this case, i had made it perfectly clear that i was more than happy to wait several weeks for those unsolicited questions to be given the time of day, but generally speaking, the above is a fairly accurate description of the situation that transpired over this past weekend.

the person about to undertake a pressing engagement was sky cycle team professional, michael barry, and the website in question was indeed thewashingmachinepost. i had contacted matt ward at cyclevox, who is responsible for promotional information regarding le metier, the collaboration between mr barry and camille mcmillan recently published by rouleur magazine, to ask if there was any possibility of an e-mail interview with michael. matt told me he'd ask, but rightly pointed out that there was the existence of a not inconsiderable three week italian stage race which the author was about to start in amsterdam on saturday past.

le metier

i explained that i was more than happy to wait until the giro had transpired before sending my interview questions, but an e-mail from michael invited me to go ahead and send my enquiries which he would deal with as soon as time permitted. that the full answers arrived a day later, just prior to the opening time-trial of the 2010 giro (won by michael's team leader, bradley wiggins) was not only a complete but welcome surprise, but in my mind, a testament to just what a consumate professional michael is, on more levels than simply riding a bike (very fast).

my questions relate primarily to le metier, because the book is of such quality and strength in its writing and imagery, that i was curious to know more, not only on your behalf, but also on mine. michael rather confounded the process for poor camille; the book is as much his as it is michael barry's, and my interview would have been incomplete without sharing responses. i had indicated to camille that the interview was on the cards, but with the giro taking place, i'd be unlikely to send him any questions until early june. it's all michael barry's fault.

camille, however, did not let the side down, and e-mailed answers to my questions pretty much as quickly as michael.

the answers will speak for themselves, but i felt it only fair to describe the background to this; it serves to underline my view that cyclists of whatever hue, and at whichever level, are some of the nicest human beings on the planet, and it makes me a very happy chappy to be involved in my own small way. if you haven't already ordered a copy of le metier, might i humbly suggest that you do so quite soon; those i know in possession of a copy have been fulsome in their praise of this timely look at a professional's metier in both words and images, and from the inside looking out.

read the interviews...

illustrations above are of the limited edition version of le metier, signed by both michael barry and camille mcmillan


posted tuesday 11 may 2010

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rapha giro cd

dan sharp

recorded at rudy van gelder's studio at englewood cliffs on christmas eve in 1964, wayne shorter's speak no evil was released on the blue note label in 1965, and considered by many critics to be shorter's finest album and one of the classics of the hard-bop or post-bop era. from a drummer's point of view, the album's highlight has to be the presence of elvin jones; elvin's style is so much more dense than that of his peers and contemporaries, that there's a great deal of listening to be done, and even after playing it incessantly, it's still a mystery as to jones' modus operandi.

freddie hubbard on trumpet was very much an antidote to the rather more condensed and muted style of miles davis, and the band was rounded out with herbie hancock on piano and ron carter on bass. according to the liner notes, shorter was thinking of misty landscapes with wild flowers and strange, dimly seen shapes - the kind of place where folklore and legends are born. he was obviously also thinking of fairy tales, witnessed by a track entitled fee-fi-fo-fum

dan sharp

in these days of downloadable music, while the album is available on cd at £4.99, the itunes store bizarrely charges £6.99. do the equivalent of online window shopping, and you'll find it can be nabbed from amazon's mp3 store for only £4.83, and it's a recording well worth having if you appreciate music of the highest quality. however, there is not an italian to be seen or heard, and even rudy van gelder wasn't dutch.

i was told many years ago as i prepared to join my first band, that once i started playing music, i'd never hear it in the same way again, a prophecy that turned out to be true. i've rather given that away by mentioning that at least one reason for purchase of the wayne shorter album was to study the playing of elvin. but to hi-jack the prophecy and apply it to a completely different set of spokes, not only will the selection of music on my ipod never be the same again, neither will my approach to the giro d'italia.

"la gazzetta dello sport was first published on april the 3rd, 1896, allowing it to cover the first modern olympic games held in athens. however, its most famous role extends beyond its pink pages of news reporting and features, because since the early 1900s it has been solely responsible for the organisation of the giro d'italia, one of the greatest cycling races in the world."

the opening words of michael jayston, narrator of the classic film about the 1974 giro the greatest show on earth, set to a haunting background music that you might expect to accompany images of high cliffs and circling birds of prey. an apt mental picture with which to start rapha's giro cd. and that is the major strength of this release, a straying into a media territory that one would not readily identify with perren street, that could so easily have been a complete train wreck.

dan sharp

but most emphatically isn't.

michael jayston continues to intersperse a wide variety of italian, or italian inspired music, covering pretty much all bases, from faux jazz (numb, by mescalito) to verdi's la traviata, concluding with puccini's 'un bel di vedromo'. there's music in here that you'd try to avoid on the annual eurovision song contest, but the latter provides no context; here we are celebrating one of the finest stage races in the world, certainly one of the three major tours, and this is the closest you can get to recreating the atmosphere pervading a stage start or finish without nipping round to cippo's for cocktails.

should a cycle clothing provider be blurring the lines this much? somewhat of an academic question since they obviously have, and are currently working on a similar release for the tour de france; more power to their sportwool. this is the ideal accompaniment to pre, during and post giro viewing; it might even be a neat idea to ask david and sean to play it in the background during the eurosport coverage. a triumph of lateral thinking; some of it might be cheesy, but aside from the implied imagery, just imagine yourself blaring it out loud through the sun roof of a fiat 500. or having a soya cappuccino in the new rapha cycle club (leave the fiat outside).

rapha's giro cd will be released this coming thursday (13th may), and will be followed by download availability later in the month. cd cost is expected to be around £11.99 replete with gatefold sleeve with photos by dan sharp; mp3 pricing has not yet been confirmed.


posted monday 10 may 2010

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doing a victor kiam

sharp4prostate team

for those confused by the heading for the following article, victor kiam is famous for having bought the remington shaver company after his wife purchased him one of their products as a gift. doing a victor kiam became a useful euphemism for any future purchase of a company by one of its customers.

paul molyneux is the managing director of sharp electronics uk. in april 2009, he started a considered effort to raise not only sponsorship, but a network of aides who could help with a rather daunting task. sharp uk had, rather creatively and altruistically, adopted the prostate charity as its officially nominated charity, and rather than leave it at that, where it could cynically be seen as a somewhat bald statement of intent, mr molyneux was determined this adoption would reach far greater heights. he, and three of his clubmates committed themselves to raising serious money for the charity by having a mid-life crisis and entering the team section of the 2010 race across america.

paul molyneux

one of the aides on the contact list, primarily as a source of some appropriate apparel in which to ride, was rapha racing of perren street in london. i think it somewhat unnecessary for me to fill in the blanks and months that fill the gap between april and the end of last year. one of the fortuitous offshoots of this initial approach has been a two year sponsorship agreement with the rapha condor cycling team, featuring the sharp name prominently on the bikes, cars and team kit. as paul says 'those are the most expensive jerseys i ever bought'.

but not only are sharp in for at least the 2010 and 2011 seasons, there was still the not insignificant matter of the race across america, and an amount of money which increased from £50,000 at point of initiation to a not insurmountable target of £100,000. i say 'not insurmountable' because when i spoke to paul during this past week, the project had already raised close to £60,000.

adam denton

training for this mammoth event has positives and negatives. i e-mailed paul earlier this year to ask how things were going, and he invited me to join them in malaga where they were training with the rapha/condor/sharp professional cycle team for a week. sadly, i was unable to accept the offer for a variety of reasons, but training didn't just stop there. this is one of those happy situations where the sponsor's relationship with a professional racing team isn't just a one way street. while the team benefit from sharp's financial input, the raam team have access to advice from arguably britain's finest race setup. i again contacted paul last weekend to catch up on their progress and received the following reply "just on the way back from france, having ridden 520K from caen to dijon in two days as part of our preparation". and i was metaphorically patting myself on the back for having reached a total of 145km over this weekend, and that included a couple of coffee and doughnuts stops at debbie's.

the race across america leaves oceanside, california on june 12th, and the team hope to reach annapolis, maryland on america's east coast by june 19th at the latest. that's a total of over 3,000 miles in the space of around seven days. the sharp4prostate team consists of four cyclists: paul molyneux (managing director, sharp electronics uk), karl chandler (an i.t. geek), dan broom (freelance cameraman, photographer and video-editor), and adam denton (head of regulatory policy at gsm). for the race, they will ride in pairs, 30 minutes on and 30 minutes off for each rider over an eight hour period, with the other two taking over for the subsequent eight hours. while those of you in the first spring of youth might consider that to be the proverbial piece of cake, when you have reached the self admitted period known as middle-age, not only is the cake getting a bit crumbly, but the ever-onerous task of fitting training in around the well entrenched day job only makes the task harder and more challenging.

dan broom

mark burgin heads up their support crew of ten, who may just have volunteered for what many of us would consider 'the short straw. thankfully, i don't drive a car anymore, but the thought of driving something a trifle larger all the way across america in probably the equivalent of second gear, is not something that would fill me with glee. but there is no way that four riders could undertake this challenge without backroom staff, and they've had to undertake their fair share of support training too.

with only 34 days to go until the first team wheels roll out of oceanside, the opportunities to join the ranks of the corporate sponsors may be thinning out, but considering this is not only a way of raising some much needed cash for the prostate cancer charity, their very participation raises awareness of the illness, and how much of a killer it is (one in eleven men contract prostate cancer, and approximately 10,000 die each year). after all, you're reading about it here are you not? so on the off-chance that you are head of a multinational, national or local business empire and figure that you'd like to garner a spot on the guys' jerseys, bikes or support vehicles, drop me an e-mail and i'll put you in touch.

for those of us of far more limited means, and without a corporate purse, we can donate smaller amounts in a variety of ways; click the ad at the bottom of this article and the sharp4prostate website will give you all the information you might need. in fact the advert itself points out how you can donate by text. how simple does it get?

karl chandler

the guys will be racing in rapha jerseys and shorts, and it would be remiss not to mention perren street's involvement both in the fundraising stakes, professional advice and as providers of team apparel. it doesn't just end here however; throughout the race, the team will have an on-board film crew, and will be transmitting regular blogs and updates via twitter and facebook. help make it all worthwhile and give as much as you can manage.

video of the sharp4prostate raam team training with the rapha/condor/sharp pros.

sharp4prostate | prostate cancer charity | race across america


posted sunday 9 may 2010

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the weighting room


perhaps we're all weight-weenies, but just have a hard time admitting it, because if you enjoy your cycling in ways other than the daily commute, there is often the desire to be just a wee bit better at it. nipping out at weekends interspersed with the occasional weekday/night, will always help the fitness, and provided you don't complete the same route at the same speed, that wee bit better will happen along all of its own accord. one of the pleasant corollaries of this is that it is usually accompanied by some sort of weight loss; a rather pleasant side-effect as the years roll by. you must have seen the photo of malcolm elliot in rouleur.

however, taking all this into account, there almost always comes a time when a niggling noise at the back of your mind wonders just how much faster forward progress would be if that headset was replaced with one weighing a few grams less. or perhaps a pair of sooper-dooper wheels. let's not concern ourselves with rough roads and cattle grids; if they're good enough for bradley... this does seem to make a bit of sense if competition is uppermost in your diary; there's every possibility that those being raced against are thinking exactly the same as you. funnily enough, this really only makes a lot of sense if there are a lot of uphills to be conquered; on the flat, a little bit of weight never hurt anyone, which is sort of why michael rasmussen was a crap time-triallist. it's all to do with momentum you see.

however, it's not just the obsessed cyclist who watches his/her/the bicycle's weight. civilians have a tendency to exhibit very similar proclivities, only their's are usually accompanied by wide-open eyes and mouths. depending on how astute you have been in following the weight-loss programme, there's every likelihood that jaws, floor and dropping will accompany the ritual bike lifting. because in similar manner to my recently recounted people in a music shop scenario, where all and sundry are compelled to thrum on the drums, civilians have an in-built need to lift any bicycle you happen to be riding (though i confess this may be confined to the road genre; i have not noted any similar desire when talking about springy farm gates with knobbly tyres).


at one point in the past, i believed this to be behaviour brought on only by the appearance of a bicycle that fulfilled the upper reaches of the wow factor even in civilian eyes. not too many years past, i was fortunate to be riding a colnago c50 which arrived co-incidentally with a pair of lightweight ventoux carbon wheels (the really, really light ones that cost as much as a space shuttle and weigh less than a kilo a pair). that particular velocipede was ridden throughout whisky festival week on islay, and had i received a pound for everyone who deemed it necessary to lift with one hand, i could likely have purchased one for myself. it has to be said that such a machine was exceedingly light (and expensive), easily reaching shoulder height, when lifted with one finger (honestly).

but, much as i adore the cielo that currently provides me with transport, fitness and a great deal of joy, it cannot be said to be amongst the lightest on the planet. the bare bones weigh around 1.7kg, which is impressive for an all-steel frame and fork, but mine bears a brooks team pro saddle, not noted for its feather weight, as well as a frame fit pump and a set of full wood fenders. couple that with a threequarters full water bottle, it's practical, but hardly setting the competitive world on fire. yet this morning, as i headed south-west with a richard sachs musette at my back (contents to be revealed in the fullness of time), i met my beat-combo (as mick tarrant would have it) colleagues loading last night's pa into a yellow van.

with barely eight hours having passed since last we made noise together, felicitations were kept to a minimum. but i was nevertheless instructed to dismount, while the three gentlemen proceeded to lift the cielo off the ground in turn, marvelling all the while at how light it is. protestations that this was hardly a helium balloon were shrugged aside, midst claims of unbelievability. i was allowed my bicycle back to continue on my merry way.

the unbelievable lightness of being is not confined to those pedalling.


posted saturday 8 may 2010

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i didn't tell you this but...

colnago c59

i have never been into chasing my tail, a practice that would undoubtedly follow if i spent my time trying to be first kid on the blog with the very latest in technology, clothing, bicycles and other accoutrements. of course sometimes it happens, and i have had probably more than my fair share of good fortune in bringing you pictures, news and words about stuff that either we didn't know existed, or had very little information on. it's nice when that happens, but i have no intention of making a habit of it. there are other websites that delight in that sort of thing, and as far as i'm concerned, they are more than welcome to it. too much aggro and too much hassle. i have more enjoyable things to do.

however, the photograph above, if you look closely enough, is somewhat of a coup. this is the first public photograph, so far as i know, of the new, and as yet unannounced, colnago c59, being prepared for the colnago csf team prior to the giro d'italia. while it's difficult to tell from the pic, it's an italian made, lugged carbon frame, and i hope i can nab some more details as the giro progresses. the headtube looks similar in intent to that of the eps; 1.125" at top enlarging to 1.25" at the bottom, and those are pretty substantial fork lgs at front, and very square at the back.

at the moment, that's all i've got, though it's confirmed that the c59 will join the colnago eps in the 2011 range. it is not intended as a replacement for the latter.


posted saturday 8 may 2010

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devotional practices


on 27th march 2011, those of us resident in the united kingdom will be subject to a government census, a gathering of a set of statistics that will help those in power to better serve their electorate. of course, whether you believe the latter part or not depends on your sensibilities and faith in politicians, but like it or not, the census will be upon us.

one of the questions in the personal section is the nature of one's religion; the options under this heading are nothing particularly unusual, covering all of the major denominations and finishing with the enquiry 'any other religion'.

here's where you come in.

in the last census, apparently a substantial number of respondents allied themselves against the empire, and put themselves down as jedi. actually, i wish i'd thought of that, but i didn't. and more recently, i heard a story on radio four's sunday programme where a concerted effort was being made to encourage those owners of unwashed denims and scraggly, unkempt hair (keep your remarks to yourself please) to avow themselves as adherents to the heavy metal religion.

as a lover of 1950s and 60s be-bop and post-bop, i can't quite see it myself, but it sparked a kernel of, initially, rebellion, then under closer examination, a desire to assist our elected incumbents to better serve their clientele. apparently, no matter how you view the religious world, the criteria defining religion are thus: a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a supernatural agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.



don't tell me that arising at stupid times on a sunday morning (sunday morning. take note.) and pedalling through the firmament to meet up with fellow devotees has not given you occasion to consider the cause, nature and purpose of the universe, particularly when acquiring a puncture in pouring rain? and similarly, don't try to convince me otherwise that the puncture is not the result of a supernatural agency, or even that of kharma.

putting air in the tyres before departing, oiling the chain, washing the bike and replacing cables and brake shoes are nothing if not devotional practices. and is our transportational preference for human power, rather than the need to consume finite fossil fuels not indicative of our moral code pertaining to the conduct of human affairs? add up all the foregoing, and the notion of opting to mark cycling as one's adopted religion come census time seems somewhat of a no-brainer.

but if this seems like just too much tosh and nonsense, just consider my opening statement, pointing out that the gathering of these statistics is designed help government better serve the population. so by noting our religion as cycling, will this not alert them to the need to better cater for our needs? in comparison to the number of suitable cycle paths throughout the uk, just think how many cathedrals and fine churches there are. and bear in mind how adherence to one of the more recognised religions seemingly allows the parking of one of those fossil fueled vehicles in any number of obstructional places of a sunday morning.

and then there's the devotional cappuccino.


posted friday 7 may 2010

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