days of future past

shimano di2 battery

as a teenager, much to my discredit, i had an intriguing obsession with the motor car. from conversations with colleagues and friends who have teenage sons, it seems this is hardly an unusual occurrence, though it would be interesting to track whether those same teenagers retain that interest into their later years. just like i didn't. however, i confess that my own intrigue revolved less around eagerly waiting to acquire a driver's licence than on the mechanical, technical and engineering aspects of the vehicles.

part of the sport, so to speak was to collect as many of the colour brochures available in local car showrooms as the salesmen would let us away with, before poring over the technical specifications accompanying each set of glossy, airbrushed images. these contained more than just a few terms that were outside my sphere of comprehension, something that encouraged further study to have it all make sense. for instance, such an excellent word as syncromesh in relation to gearboxes, was surely just asking for a period of further reading, even if that led only to greater incomprehension?

subsequent years have seemingly cured me of this aspect of teenage naivety, transferring that technical inquisitiveness to the arguably simpler world of two wheels and a pair of pedals.

as i have no doubt related on more than a single occasion, the need to understand how derailleur gears function, how to build wheels and how to adjust both cantilever and caliper brakes came under the heading of self-sufficiency, given the relative remoteness of my hebridean location. there may be current advice to eschew the benefits of the internet in favour of a local bike shop, but when the latter simply doesn't exist, one has to take matters into one's own hands.

however, while the motor car has evolved to rely far more on replaceable rather than repairable components, the bicycle has apprently followed closely in its four tyre tracks. thus, when along came electrics, discs and hydraulics, i figured it was time to call a halt to any propensity to identify myself with the persona of home-mechanic. though the bikeshed contains a panoply of tools that would struggle to find components on which they might practise their art, i can still replace a brake or gear cable and fix a puncture. unfortunately, hydraulic disc brakes have undermined any need to search for the last brake cable in the box and electric gears have necessitated a form of wiring that i am totally unfamiliar with.

it is, as they say, a sign of the times.

but the times are changing on more than a single front, a fact of which i was reminded while watching one of those tv programmes that follows traffic police in the course of their various duties. a young gent arrested on the motorway for allegedly driving an uninsured vehicle, claimed not to have a facebook page which the police found to be both highly unlikely and unusual. though i do take great satisfaction from the fact that i have no discernible facebook page, i feel i am having eccentricity foisted upon me due to my reluctance in joining the plethora of mobile phone owners and resistance to owning a strava account.

however, midst the sight of rome burning with not a violin in sight, it seems that there is still the odd pocket of sanity/resistance to demonstrate that i am not totally alone. i was called on saturday past by a gent, cycle touring on the island, who had unfortunately blown out his rear tyre. the replacement tube had begun exiting the tyre carcass when inflated and the local police had kindly given him and bicycle a lift to bowmore where the visiting folks from the bike station had given him my number.

when offering a replacement, it was nice to note that he was riding a steel claud butler touring bicycle from the time when claud was still in charge of his own destiny. this, he was happy to state, was as a deiberate ploy in the face of increasing technological creep, riding a bicycle that was still the acceptable face of simplicity and which could still effectively be repaired at the side of the road without a degree in electrical engineering (always assuming there was a passing constabulary vehicle).

eccentric? moi?

monday 3 july 2017

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layer upon layer

richmitch assos animation

simon mottram of rapha has always impressed upon me the fact that imperial works dances to a series of five or three-year business plans. it's a philosophy that has not only served them well, but ought probably to be taken as excellent advice by anyone hoping to follow in his tyre tracks, so to speak. sadly, despite having discussed this on occasion over rapha's thirteen years of existence, i have never found the wherewithal to apply this to any form of strategy relating to thewashingmachinepost. if i had need of encapsulating this in any manner, i would have to admit to a hand to mouth existence. i doubt i'm giving too much away by admitting that on more occasions than are prudent, i sit down after a long day, with little or no idea of which i am about to write.

richmitch assos animation

granted, there are generally items for review, such as books, bikes, jerseys and technical bits that can be attached to a bicycle, but it's often nice to intersperse those with self-generated monologues to aid those with insomnia. the only philosophy to which i have adhered throught the post's 21 years of existence can be summed up as 'if you don't ask, you don't get. and if you don't get, nobody died.' without wishing to err too much on the side of self-congratulation, it seems to have worked pretty well for the last two decades.

richmitch assos animation

however, there will always be those to whom i apply for review kit who are either kind enough simply to reply in the negative as in thanks but no thanks, or those who simply never reply. sadly, switzerland's assos fall into the latter category. while i have reviewed clothing from rapha, endura, castelli, santini, prendas, shutt et al, these yellow and black pixels have remained an assos-free zone. and it has not been for lack of trying; many have asked over the years why i have neglected them, but in truth, it's the other way round.

that, of course, is their prerogative and in no way diminishes the quality and design evident in their comprehensive range of cycle clothing. currently clothing sponsor to bmc racing, the swiss company is keen to advise their customers and potential customers of just how the bmc riders, including team leader richie porte, layers and accessorises his assos clothing. while you would think this to be a thoroughly dry subject for discussion, of interest only to those about to head for the assos store in london's regent street, well-stocked credit card in hand, to enhance the discussion, assos have had the presence of mind to employ the talents of the inimitable richmitch.

richmitch assos animation

after a month of richard drawing pictures and animating the results, assos have released the highly entertaining video that clearly demonstrates how messrs porte, oss, scotson and van avermaet choose their wardrobe for each season of cycling. on the basis that assos have adopted a particularly bizarre naming procedure for their garmentage, richard's animation effectively clears up one heck of a lot of questions that have arisen in pelotons all across the world. i asked richmitch if richie porte had seen his animated likeness?

richmitch assos animation

"I think Richie has seen it. He's certainly seen the previous work I created when he was at Team Sky, so hopefully he likes this new take."

i've not stopped each frame of the video to count, but it seems likely that the combinations of clothing and accessories must number well into the hundreds. surely, and purely in the interests of relevant research, richard mitchelson had need of trying on each and every item of quality assos clothing simply to assess how those would subsequently be illustrated?

"Funnily enough, I went to the Assos Boutique in London before I started work on the project to properly research the range; it's massive. Getting to grips with the various layers and seasons they cater for took some time, but I feel like i know it pretty well now."

perhaps unsurprisingly, this animation has been released to coincide with the start of this year's tour de france which began in a very wet dusseldorf yesterday, but there are a number of other races yet to fill out the rest of the season when the three weeks in july are over and done with. richard's animation style is highly compulsive and entertaining, one that suggests assos might be prudent to retain his services and extend this single instance into a series, one which would likely prove every bit as compulsive as the first.

"I'd love to do some more work on this in this style. I'll keep my fingers crossed."

assos, if you're reading...

richmitch assos animation

sunday 2 july 2017

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build it and they will come

the bike station's build your own bike

along with many a bicycle mechanic (if i might temporarily include myself in that club), in the past i have often received kid's bicycles for repair when a smidgeon of preventative maintenance might conceivably have kept them well away from my door. the very same situation has also occurred when asked to check bicycles at the local primary school in advance of their cycling proficiency course. to indulge in a soupcon of nostalgia for a sentence or two, when i were a lad, my parents made sure that i took good care of my own bicycle. the chain had to be cleaned each week before lubrication, the brakes adjusted along with attention paid to the sturmey archer three-speed gear. if i got a puncture, i'd to mend it myself.

the bike station's build your own bike

though the days of kids spending time on their bikes the minute school was over, have long gone, this change in juvenile behaviour has been accompanied by scarce attention being paid to bicycle maintenance. in the case of primary school kids, i'm inclined to blame the parents, though to be honest, they're probably every bit as much to blame for the older generation, having not instilled a regime of care and attention in the first place.

it was therefore with some trepidation that i read a rcent advert in our local paper, inviting teenagers between the ages of 15 and 19 to sign up for a four-day bike building course in the local secondary school. for starters, this began a couple of days ago on thursday, and continues today and tomorrow. realistically, was there any chance that youngsters would be happy to forgo a half-day on friday and spend their saturday in a classroom with a workstand and a wide range of bicycle tools? it's also a disappointing fact that boys in particular, over the age of 16, tend to consider themselves apprentice car drivers with scant interest in either building or riding a bicycle.

the bike station's build your own bike

the course, offered by the local third sector interface (i know, me neither) is being taught by richard and charlotte from glasgow's bike station, a charitable organisation with an enviable history of reconditioning used bicycles and offering them for sale complete with a three-month warranty. with all of their mechanics fully qualified and more than enthusiastic about encouraging all and sundry in the way of the velocipede, it would likely be hard to find better tutors.

once again, the world of the intrepid bicycle mechanic is periodically infused with the need to open bicycle boxes sent all the way from taiwan, before spending way too long removing bits of cardboard, bubble wrap and zip-ties before any work can be started on bicycle fettling. it has to be admitted, however, that the present situation with regard to assembling a bicycle is a tad less onerous than was once the case. but in order to acquaint the twelve willing trainees in the way of velocipedinal hardship, richard and charlotte had further dismantled the brand new dawes mountain bikes to add a frisson to the weekend's machinations.

the bike station's build your own bike

tyres and tubes had been removed from the wheels, linear-pull brakes were no longer affixed to their fork pivots and there's every likelihood that the handlebars were bereft of grips or twist-grip gear selectors. there is more method in their madness than mere devilment. it is far more educational to have need of plopping the end of a brake spring into the appropriate slot on the fork pivot; that way, when time comes to tune the brakes by way of the adjustment screws, it's a lot easier to undertand why this is being done and why it's necessary.

the bike station's build your own bike

the bike station supplied all the bits and bobs needed to produce the finished article, including professional workstands, all the appropriate tools and carried more than enough spare brake and gear cables to cope with inadvertent fraying or having cut them just a wee bit too short. though the sessions were impressively informal, the tuition and assistance provided was highly professional, meaning that at the end of day two, all one dozen participants were able to ride their bicycles up and down the school playground before posing for a photograph (see above). however, richard and charlotte took them all back to the classroom for final mechanical checks.

today was concerned with pre-ride preparation and possibly a short trip along one of bowmore's nearby singletrack roads. this will be followed by a 'proper' bike ride on sunday. though each pupil had to contribute a small amount towards the cost of this course, in order that they are allowed to keep their very own bicycle, they will be required to participate in several organised rides over the summer months, which is exactly as it should be. and if they suffer any untoward mechanical malfeasance during those expeditions, they'll be more than well prepared to cope.

the bike station's build your own bike

the bike station has branches in glasgow, edinburgh and perth, though it may be that the build your own bike course is available only via the glasgow outlet. however, if they charlotte and richard can make it to islay, they can probably come to your town too. the cost of a course involving six participants is approximately £2,500, a more than equitable amount considering it equates to just over £400 each and includes keeping a bicycle worth in excess of £300.

hopefully this might encourage one or two of islay's youngsters to adopt the way of the bicycle and lower the average age of the boring old farts who make up the g.c.ristorante debbie's sunday morning peloton. it would be nice to think that when the revolution does come, it will, indeed, not be motorised. charlotte, richard and the bike station are making that a tad more likely.

the bike station's build your own bike

the bike station's build your own bike

saturday 1 july 2017

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rocket science

rocket espresso

"with a rocket espresso machine in your kitchen, you'll be faster" #fact.

over the years, on each occasion that another addition to the world of cycling apparel comes along, i have offered the latest kid on the block the space to explain what brought them to what i consider an all but saturated market. though i may be guilty of over generalisation, many have cited the apparent lack of 'just what i was looking for' in the shops as at least one of the reasons for strking out on their own. at one time in the last couple of decades that may well have been the truth, but nowadays, if you can't find something remarkably close to your ideal jersey or pair of bibshorts, then you must be ruddy hard to please.

andrew meo

i'd be tempted to say the same thing about coffee, if only the situation were as simple as choosing a decent jersey. i'd be fibbing if i said i was perfectly well-acquainted with the international market for domestic or commercial coffee machines; i'm most certainly nowhere near that state of grace. however, i can't be the only one who's noticed that the quality of espressos emanating from the same machinery but in different cafés, varies wildly. therefore it would seem that finding the very espresso that would make your kneecaps crinkle and your eyes water, depends on a symbiotic confluence between machine and barista.

since i'd imagine that the number of café owners reading is probably quite low, it seems more pragmatic that i concern ourselves with the humble and not so humble domestic coffee machine, because that would entail the above mentioned confluence being of concern to you and me. there is a small espresso machine sitting in the office kitchen from which i create a daily cup using the bog standard espresso grind from bowmore's local averagemarket. that daily cup would probably benefit greatly from my getting hold of a more pleasurable roast from the numerous mail-order outlets, but not only am i too lazy to do so, but i'm not sure the coffee machine is capable of noticing the difference.

rocket espresso

let's not mess about here; we all know just the coffee machine we'd like to have sitting in the kitchen or the bikeshed, and it's most likely one of those offered by rocket espresso milano. as evidence for this contention, prendas ciclismo featured two of the aforementioned on their stand at last year's rouleur classic and i did spend much of the evening with crinkly knees and watery eyes after being served the ultimate cup by orica's christian meier. the surprising part, to me at least, was learning that the owner of said company, andrew meo, is in fact a new zealander, despite that last part of the company name mentioning milan in italy.

how did a kiwi come to be in charge of one of the world's most outstanding espresso machine manufacturers? "My wife and I owned a restaurant and coffee roasting business in new zealand, where we were also importers of an Italian brand of coffee machine. We learned that this company was experiencing financially hard times, despite the quality of the machines on offer. so my business partner and I flew to Italy and made an offer for the company. They accepted, we sold up and some ten years ago moved to Italy to operate what is now Rocket Espresso Milano."

though i and several others have tentatively examined the connection between cycling and coffee, pretty much without ever coming to anything like a logical conclusion, there's no denying the connection exists nonetheless. one need only observe the village départ before each stage of the tour de france to note that more than just a handful of riders are wont to enjoy a strong espresso or two prior to heading off for a day of purgatory in the saddle.

rocket espresso

rocket espresso's connection with cycling, stems from andrew's own successful past as a competitive cyclist ("I'm 55 now and still too stupid to stop competing.") having been a onetime masters champion in italy.

"In 2009, in the 100th year of the Giro d'Italia, I suggested that we make one-hundred special edition coffee machines engraved with each winner to date, pink detailing and in celebration of Denis Menchov's victory in Milan. Those sold out quite quickly and the connection with cycling was established."

however, one of the initial attractions of owning a rocket espresso machine has to be the aesthetic as well as the potential for a great cup of coffee. in much the same way as my finding those chunky, black dslr cameras advertised in the colur supplements impressive, despite displaying no predilection for taking photographs whatsoever, i just know that at some time in the near future, i need to own a rocket espresso machine. on the basis that you never get a second chance to make a first impression, is the aesthetic of the machines every bit as important as the engineering?

"In a word, yes. The engineering hasn't altered much since Faema introduced the E61 in the early 1960s, though there have been evolutionary improvements over the years, but we want our machines to look every bit as good as they perform."

rocket espresso

obsessed as we are with the misguided thought that espresso was invented purely for cyclists, it was intriguing to learn that cycling is, in fact, a very small part of andrew's business. "There are many individual world tour cyclists who have bought their own machines and we've made branded machines for Mavic, Pinarello and Sagan's Bora-Hansgrohe amongst others, but the market for espresso is far larger than just the peloton."

if memory serves, the words prendas ciclismo essentially refer to italian cycle clothing and it will not have escaped your attention that mick and andy do a very nice line in clothing from santini including the recently updated rocket espresso jersey and shorts. that there exists a connection between prendas and rocket is hardly revelationary, but how did this actually arise? according to andrew, he thinks mick purchased one of those giro anniversary models in 2009. mick tarrant of prendas told me...

"He's right enough. I don't remember where I saw it, but with the rosa pressure gauge, all the winners up to 2009 engraved on the side panel and a tricolour stripe detail on the back panel, I had to have one. I had a lever operated Gaggia at the time which I'd bought on one of my road trips to Italy, but the coffee quality was hit and miss. I was suprised to get a reply to my request from Rocket in English; I had no idea that Andrew was a partner and furthermore, that he was a keen cyclist with a decent pedigree in the sport.
"Anyway, he was already aware of Prendas Ciclismo and a deal was struck. The machine duly arrived and I had a heap of ongoing questions for him, which he patiently answered, but suggested that I visit the factory when next in Italy. Rocket is less than an hour's drive from Santini and nearer another of my suppliers, so I dropped by on a visit.
"I was given a factory tour and I thought that the ethos of Rocket Espresso was similar to ours. We had lunch and got on well. Lunch was repeated on several occasions over the years and we kept in touch with the occasional email.
andrew meo "Sometime around 2013, suffering with an overload of the constant references to cycling and coffee culture by many who had only recently discovered one or the other, or both, I thought that it might be good to involve the two companies with a decent heritage in both. So I asked Andrew if he would be interested in a Rocket branded jersey. He was up for it, as it took away the need for him to justify just such a project to his business partner. After all, they're in the espresso machine business.
"I was keen to offer a royalty for use of the name, but he declared himself happy with a set of kit for his son and himself plus a few bits for associates. Andrew said, if I was insisting, we could donate to a charity that all parties were happy with. I tentatively suggested the Dave Rayner Fund, all the while thinking that it benefiting British riders only might be a deal breaker. But all at Rocket were happy so I figured that a fiver a piece would see a total of £10 donated to the fund for each garment sold. We do NOT get a price break from Santini, so it's one of those philanthropic gestures; profit is not the be all and end all."

from andrew's point of view, he says putting money into cycling has very little to do with marketing. reflecting on his previous statement that the sport is a very small part of their considerable market, the knowledge that they support an under 23 italian cycle team is more a case of "Putting something back into a sport that I've happily competed in for many years." you can see why mick tarrant considers each company's philosophy to be quite similar.

rocket espresso

it is hard to think of a manufacturer of any product who is not as subject to the whims of fashion as any other. for instance, andrew's views on the current predilection for adding disc brakes to road bikes is that it's a trend that might not be one to last more than a decade. as to coffee machines, "With care and attention, a Rocket Espresso Machine will last twenty-five to thirty years. We build our product to last; the engineering has scarcely changed since the 1960s. All the internal metalwork is of brass or copper, bolted and screwed together by experienced staff and each machine is tested thoroughly before despatch." no doubt there has been the occasional fashionable addition to the rocket persona over the years, but espresso is pretty much still made in the same manner as has been the case for the last half century.

thankfully rocket's take on that tradition still makes your knees crinkle and eyes water. just ask christian meier.

rocket espresso | prendas ciclismo

rocket espresso

friday 30 june 2017

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the end of the world is nigh (part 42)

strava club posts

if you're of a certain age, you may recall the inevitable games of football held during lunch break at primary school. in my case, the only available spot in which such games might take place was a wide area of tarmac, bounded by a stone wall against which jumpers could be placed to delineate the goalposts. it was customary for those with particular skills in the game to choose those they wished to be on each team; selection continued until every available player was used up, no matter what size the teams subsequently constituted.

those of us who were worse than useless (it's comforting to see a large number of hands held aloft), were generally the last to be picked, more out of misplaced pity than any specific need to bolster a potential team strategy. it's a game i have never had any affinity for, either in terms of playing or spectating and i can only recall ever having scored a goal on a single occasion. i'm pretty sure that would have been what i believe in sporting parlance is referred to as a 'total fluke'.

strava club posts

however, no matter the whys and wherefores of elementary education's sporting recreational activity, the one thing that playing football (soccer) could be guaranteed to encourage, no matter one's ability, was that of personal communication and interaction.

cycling, on the other hand, is celebrated as being both a singular participatory activity as well as that predisposed towards group participation. as someone wiser than i once said "nothing ever seems worse after a bike ride."; if justification for a solo bike ride were ever demanded, that would surely serve the purpose more than adequately. but the sunday morning ride offers great potential for conversation between riders who, under normal circumstances would scarcely be thought of as comrades in arms.

the opportunity for conversing prior to the grand départ while arguing over just where the day's parcours might take you, to the breathless banter when ascending the day's only climb, and ultimately the gross overstatements that generally accompany froth supping in the coffee stop, all sits under the heading of personal communication. it's what cycling's all about really.

strava club posts

however, while the spirit of those days of football in the playground may still infiltrate the weekend peloton, it would be somewhat foolish to ignore the rise and rise (for the time being at least) of social media and its digital entourage. up till now the latter could probably be encapsulated in a single world: zwift. for those unfamilar with the word, basically we're looking at the folks who'd rather remain indoors, tethered to a sophisticated turbo trainer connected to a television. instead of feeling the wind in your hair and the mud on your bottom bracket, the only sounds accompanying your sweat-induced, frantic pedalling will be the tyre on the roller and the hum of your central heating.

now, just to add insult to injury, those arguably misguided folks at strava have offered their adherents the prime ability to offer up club posts, sharing content and information on the platform. so what was once simply a means of continually snatching each others' podium position on arbitrarily defined road sectors nearby, what i have frequently referred to as 'facebook for cyclists', has in fact become 'facebook for cyclists'.

i win, you lose.

to quote from the press-release "Strava club admins can now share a variety of posts with club members including announcements, questions, stories, photos, routes and segments, articles, product reviews, and other engaging athletic content." fortunately it seems, for the time being at least, sign-up isn't compulsory.


thursday 29 june 2017

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going postal


islay's local newspaper is published every second week, a frequency that originated only a few years after the first few issues were published on a monthly basis beginning in october 1973. in order that copies of the paper might be distributed around the island, it is currently down to yours truly to arise at the crack of ten past seven every alternate saturday morning to hand over mailbags full of newspapers to a postie with a post van. at one time, these bags were carried in one of two post buses, but these were curtailed in budget cuts and islay no longer has a post bus service at all.

in fact, along with everywhere in the uk and quite probably all across the world, the number of letters sent has diminished quite dramatically, a fact that can only be attributed to the rise and rise of the internet and high-speed communications. when a pdf or selection of phots can be sent anywhere in the world in a matter of seconds, essentially free of charge, it makes no sense at all to print out complex colour documents, place them in an envelope and pop them in a nearby post box.

and even where items such as printed colour brochures still exist, the pre-press process makes it more or less a single click procedure to create a pdf file from the design file. once more, e-mail comes to the rescue. so though there has been no reduction in the postal service on islay, according to the postie that i see on a saturday morning, they're delivering far fewer letters and packets than was formerly the case.

however, while there may have been no reduction in service or of staff on the island as far as royal mail is concerned, it seems we are served considerably less satisfactorily by post office counters, an entirely separate business affair.

bowmore's post office proprietrix retired towards the end of last year, with a new incumbent taking over prior to christmas. for reasons best known to herself, this failed to work out in the manner originally hoped for and the unfortunate retiree has now had to return to the fold, albeit on a part-time basis, because post office counters were, to put not to fine a point on it, utterly useless when it came to making alternative arrangements. but just to add insult to injury, she was only back in the post for one day before the computer system crashed and her pleas for an engineer to visit seem largely to have been ignored.

at the time of writing, bowmore village, home to over 1,000 souls has been without a post office for just over a week. the closest post office is but three miles away in the tiny village of bridgend, however, islay's rudimentary public transport system means that there are many who are unable to make such a short journey over a practical timescale. bizarrely enough, argyll and bute council's service point in the village no longer allows its customers to pay their council tax at the facility; that was devolved to, you've guessed it, the post office. additionally, over the years, the post office has convinced many individuals to collect their pensions, make cash withdrawls and deposit money at their local branch on the basis that their opening hours were more user friendly than that of the major banks.

it's educational to see how that's worked out in bowmore.

however, i had need of sending out a book to the winner of my last competition, while mrs washingmachinepost had several packages to despatch, all of which needed the scales and computer of a post office to determine the correct cost. in these modern times of fibre broadband, at least two cars to every household and a population who can scarcely walk the length of themselves, it's nice to know that there was a most amenable solution to my conundrum.

i cycled the six mile round trip and posted the lot. bikes are good like that. come the revolution etc.

wednesday 28 june 2017

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paint it black

peugeot 208 black edition

in 1966, keith richards and mick jagger of the recently formed beat combo, the rolling stones, released the single 'paint it black'. it has been alleged that jagger gained inspiration from the 1922 james joyce novel 'ulysses' given the latter's theme of depression and desperation. the music, however, was perhaps a little more optimistic, brought on by guitarist brian jones' interest in moroccan music and one of, if the not the, first pop record to feature a sitar instrumental. this notwithstanding that the sitar is hardly recognised as a north african instrument. nonetheless, the recording's number one chart position on both sides of the atlantic meant that the colour black enjoyed slightly more than its fifteen minutes of fame.

meanwhile, back in the day to day humdrum, black has its own connotations, particularly when related to the apparel of those affecting specific personalities. goths, for example, would scarcely consider a bright orange jacket and tartan trousers as de rigeur, while it has often been noted that those practising the art of graphic design are wont to dress predominantly in black. likewise, the late steve jobs of apple computer seemed permanently to be wearing a black turtle-neck sweater. it seems black is a colour not entirely without baggage of its very own.

but when applied to cycle clothing, it's a colour that often raises the ire of those not wearing it. granted, on a bright sunny day in the midst of the rural idyll, thundering about the highways and byways dressed in a black jersey, black bibshorts on a black bicycle would hardly constitute the stealth approach. high contrast makes for excellent visibility, though admittedly a similar result could be achieved while wearing garmentage of a brighter hue, but the discriminatory disparagement aimed squarely at those wearing black is surely just a tad misplaced?

alter the conditions of visibility, however, and the story takes on a different narrative. i would be the first to agree with those who rail against commuting or even training while dressed in black cycle clothing. with motor traffic seemingly on an increasing trajectory commensurate with a diminishing of the patience demonstrated by those driving, it ill behoves the cyclist to minimise their chances of being seen by those possessed of an apparently minimised attention span. however, the wearing of black or dark colours, despite the cycle being lit up like a flashing christmas tree is often used as supporting evidence against the cyclist, should there be a coming together of these two distinct methods of transport.

but what about the situation shoud the roles be reversed?

french motor manufacturer peugeot, once supporters of merckx, simpson, millar, yates et al has recently begun an advertising campaign featuring a special edition of the compact peugeot 208: the black edition. to quote from their advertising copy "This sporty 3-Door's appeal comes with black personalisation...", underpinning the image shown above. as can be seen, the car is almost entirely black; tinted windows, bodywork, tyres, wheels, radiator grille and wing mirrors. park it or drive it in a dimly lit backstreet of an evening and a passing cyclist or pedestrian. might well be forgiven for missing its presence entirely.

i do get it that, through perhaps misdirected socialisation, a black car offers bucketloads of sporting pretensions. and even though it might be bereft of the wherewithal that would make it faster than its more brightly coloured peers, an all black car attracts those who are impressed by its advertised pretensions, keen to draw attention to their formula one potential.

in the light of this realisation, why is it that cyclists and their apparel providers can be roundly criticised for their adoption of the colour black, yet motorists are ostensibly admired for choosing and driving the selfsame hue? if the problem really is the colour black, surely it's a problem common to all road users? it is useful to point out that even black cars feature a set of headlights, fog lights and red tail lights, but nowadays, the same could be said for the majority of cyclists riding after dark.

i'm off to look up double-standards on google.

tuesday 27 june 2017

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