a taxing problem

oregon state

i seriously doubt i am alone in being on the receiving end of the "why don't you lot pay road tax?" statement from a disgruntled motorist who may have had to wait anything up to fifteen seconds to get past on a blind corner. the waiting part i'm genuinely unsurprised by, for this is the age of instant gratification, when you can place an order with amazon in the morning and have it delivered by a drone just after lunch. and if cars are going to continually have their acceleration properties improved, sitting behind a slow-moving cyclist for even a fraction longer than deemed necessary, provides no opportunity whatsoever to make use of this formula one derived improvement.

oddly enough, that much-vaunted acceleration seems to all but evaporate when approaching cyclists waiting in a passing place.

however, to return to the tax issue, those of us with an interest in such matters and more than just a single copy of a book by the irrepressible carlton reid, will be well aware that road tax as originally paid by motorists, was dispensed with in the 1930s. since that time, britain's road infrastructure has been paid for out of general taxation. disappointingly, the opportunity to explain this to an irate motorist rarely presents itself, but it's true nonetheless.

thus, though crawling along at a mere 15-20mph behind a solo or group of cyclists might be infuriating for even a few seconds, apportioning blame for allegedly avoiding payment for the roads along which we slowly travel is an unconstitutional inaccuracy. in short, we are not guilty as charged.

what was displayed in the bottom left side of the windscreen until recently is known as car tax, an imposition that applies solely to the motoring fraternity and hardly applicable to the smugly levy free cyclist. in this context, it's worth my pointing out that there is also a growing number of motorists on britain's highways and byways who emulate our own tax-free status by virtue of their vehicles' allegedly minimal toxic emissions. it would seem highly unorthodox, therefore, to have a means of transportation completely devoid of such emissions liable to pay into the treasury's diminishing coffers.

yet, though the road tax is now conspicuous by its absence, there is little doubt that even those exempt from car tax continue to cause wear and tear on britain's roads, wear and tear that the average cyclist could only achieve by riding the same stretch of tarmac for several hundred years. surely that calls into question the sanity of offering an amnesty to even low emissions vehicles?

however, knowledge of this state of affairs seems not to have reduced the spurious demands for the cycling fraternity to make financial contribution, despite the reality that even were we to pay tax of any flavour, it would scarcely reduce the amount of time motorists would have to sit patiently behind us on blind corners.

but in the interim, it seems all this vehicular clamouring has finally borne fruit, at least in america's pacific northwest.

i have visited the city of portland, oregon on two separate occasions, the last being some four years ago, drawn by its admirable cycling culture and being home to companies such as chris king, rapha, sugar wheelworks and an enviable number of framebuilders. though other north american cities have laid claim to the title of cycling capital of america, portland is still regarded as the poster-boy for the ideal place to live and work if you're a cyclist.

you will therefore probably find yourselves as surprised as am i to learn that the state in which portland sits has opted to impose a so-called 'sin' tax of $15 on all new adult bicycle sales worth more than $200. cynically, i would point out that cycles of such monetary value would be generally regarded by the cognoscenti as bicycle shaped objects and scarcely deserving of a state imposed tax in the first place. oregon reckons that, despite costing around $100,000 per annum to administer, the tax will raise $1.2 million in each fiscal period.

in mitigation, it should also be pointed out that their current transportation bill includes plans to introduce a congestion charge for motorists, more to be spent on public transport and nothing whatsoever spent on freeways. the monies raised from the new bicycle tax will be set aside "for the purposes of grants for bicycle and pedestrian transportation projects." as to the means of collecting the tax, that will be carried out by oregon's bicycle shops. it seems also that things could have been worse, for prior to the decision to impose a flat fee, oregon state had been considering a four or five percent levy; a substantial amount on a $10,000 dollar carbon machine.

if you're sat in front of your tablet or computer screen feeling a smidgeon of sympathy for oregon's cyclists, but largely unconcerned because, well, we don't live in oregon, it's hardly inconceivable that not only other american states, but governments in other countries might be currently reading and thinking "hey, we'd like a piece of that..."

though portland at least may already be considered to have achieved what we might call critical mass and possibly largely unconcerned that the tax will negatively impact on cycling growth in the state, in the uk at least, where westminster purports to be marginally pro cycling, a similar tax might conceivably put paid to all that has been thus far achieved on this side of the pond. with the world's road bike market currently worth an estimated $47 billion, there are doubtless many governances eager to garner even a small slice of that for themselves

i think the word i'm looking for is apprehension.

monday 10 july 2017

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endura movistar team issue gilet & l/s jersey

endura movistar team issue gilet

the phrase 'to look a gift horse in the mouth' has never been one that i felt would ever apply to yours truly. long have i waited to happen upon the very opporchancity that would make my fortune, with a holiday home in the bahamas and a bank balance that ensured the manager would send me a calendar at new year and regularly invite me to cocktails in the lounge. it hasn't happened so far, and the likelihood of it doing so in the next few years seems remarkably slim.

however, had i the strength of my own convictions and more than just a few words of spanish, last weekend might have offered the ideal situation.

endura movistar team issue gilet

i am privy to the e-mail address of matt rendell, author of that book about marco pantani, as well as a particularly engrossing dissertation on the art of salsa dancing. matt was, at one time, the pr person for spanish world tour team movistar (and for all i know he might still be there); either way, he probably knows someone who knows someone, and last saturday i figured that's all it would take. for the lovely folks at scotland's endura cycle clothing had kindly sent a team movistar l/s jersey along with a similarly decorated gilet.

since i was already in possession of team bibshorts and socks, i figured that a few hours under the sunlamp and a lack of shaving for a day or two would enable me to pass myself off as alejandro valverde, no longer a part of the tour de france due to a lack of stability on wet corners. my own record in that department remains unblemished. i figured that mr rendell could sneak me into the team bus and as long as i didn't come too close to nairo on the climbs, nobody would be any the wiser. surely a cunning plan indeed?

endura movistar team issue gilet

i base this surefire career move on the fact that the movistar team kit that can be had from any endura authorised dealer is identical to that found in the old mahogany wardrobe at the back of the movistar bus. granted, my climbing skills aren't what they once were, but on recent observation, that's a curtailment that seems equally applicable to nairo quintana.

i have reviewed the long-sleeve movistar team jersey on a previous occasion and suffice it to say the current production is every bit as good as the original, with highly accommodating rear pockets, excellently judged sleeve length and just a few more endura logos than was originally the case. but the real objet de jour was that of the team gilet, a type of garment i find myself particularly enamoured with due to its unerring pragmatism and ease of stowage. though perhaps not particularly relevant at present, even at the threshold of an hebridean summer, a gilet is the very item of garmentage poised to be worn on the oft-times chilly, early morning rumble to debbie's for the start of the sunday ride.

endura movistar team issue gilet

by the time escape velocity has been achieved and maintained and those honed muscles are at operating temperature, it is simplicity itself to divest oneself of the gilet and unceremoniously scrunch it into a rear pocket beside the mini-pump. i have yet to meet a gilet that takes any of this personally. it is also serendipitous that we find ourselves discussing pocketry, for that is frequently the undoing of any self-respecting gilet. having stuffed everything bar the kitchen sink into the three jersey pockets, there then follows much huffing and puffing accompanied by a sucking in of stomachs in order to have the hapless gilet actually fasten at the front while accommodating the cyclist's equivalent of a bactrian camel at the rear.

not so, however with endura's team movistar gilet, for it too bears three excellently sized rear pockets into which the aforementioned cargo might easily be placed. when eventual divestment proves necessary, 'tis but a simple matter to transfer the ballast to the jersey pockets.

endura movistar team issue gilet

(prior to acknowledging that the movistar team gilet featured those pockets mentioned above, it is testament to the fabric's stretchability that i actually managed the above fastening exercise with scarcely a ripple of my six-pack).

if i aver that the gilet's windproofing is up there with the best of its peer group, i'm sure you can trust me on that score, but aside from the pockets, the garment's finest trait is the ease with which the full-length zip can be manouevred up and down with one hand while fending off stupidly dressed roadside fans with the other. i see this as yet another feather in my cap when surreptitiously sitting in for the unfortunate mr valverde.

a bit like the humble bottom bracket, the gilet is a much maligned and misunderstood component in modern-day cycling. if only more had been aware of the benefits during 2013's milan-sanremo, there would perhaps been fewer riders who remained in the team bus never to emerge again. or not, as the case may be. it ill behoves any member of the pelotonese to leave home without one, even those who live in sunnier climes than scotland. i may never ultimately have need of checking the teeth of a gift horse, but i will have my gilet to fall back on (possibly in both senses of that phrase.)

endura movistar team issue gilet

sunday 9 july 2017

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see you, jimmy

everysight raptor hud glasses

i once thought of myself as belonging to the section of society deeply in thrall with technology. though computers form a major part of many folks' day to day, there's a distinct difference between using them to get the work done and being intrigued by the technology for its own sake. learning how to use a whole slew of keyboard commands as opposed to the menus was, i thought, particular indication that i was skimming the edge of an obsession, one that could only lead to tears later on.

as a daily user of several of adobe's so-called flagship products, it seemed only a matter of time before i'd be introducing the word pixels into daily conversation, the very entrance to the slippery slope that would soon have colleagues, family and friends dozing off as i reached mid-sentence. however, i have had good cause to revise this detrimental appreciation of my faculties, beginning with the knowledge that the macbook air on which i currently type, is some five years old, with very little disk space remaining and yet i cannot bring myself to terms with the fact that it will soon have to be replaced. in fact, if i'm perfectly honest, that should have happened at least two years past.

but on a more cycling-related note (and this is hardly the first time i have broached this particular subject) i have little truck with the technology that is being imposed upon what was once a delightfully simplistic activity. to ride a bike into the sunset (or galeforce headwind - the choice is mine) without a care in the world was and is, one of the finest inventions mankind has offered the great unwashed. and according to graeme obree, this is only equalled by the invention of the duvet and who can argue with that?

but though my every wish was always to retain this level of simplicity, a state of affairs that seemed to vary from week to week, the rest of humanity is apparently hell-bent on bursting my little self-contained bubble. aside from the usual subjects that impinge way too many liquid crystal displays upon my point of view, the encroachment of electronica into an activity that once served as a release from working with it every day, does not come under my heading of optimism.

yet everytime you'd think the situation surely can't get any worse, it does. spun off from israeli defence contractors elbit, everysight producer of the aggressively named raptor sunglasses, has now brought to market a pair of cycling shades that feature a heads up display on the inside of one lens. the rider can choose the data displayed while riding, metrics such as speed, heart-rate and even power output. should that offer a distinct lack of appeal on the basis of being, well, whatever, allegedly one of the most impressive features is a scrollable map offering turn-by-turn directions. and where once any piece of new technology had need of featuring a usb port to gain affirmation, currently anything bereft of a video camera would likely receive short shrift from the pelotonese.

unsurprisingly, the raptors have an on-board camera.

if the manufacturers find a way of incorporating strava sections and the times posted by your closest enemies, who would bet against raptors taking over all but one small hebridean corner of the world?


saturday 8 july 2017

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vive le velo

vive le velo

as a famous member of the cycling media i should, by definition, be of impartial taste, all the better to review that which is sent in my direction. but, contrary to popular belief, i'm just as human as the rest of you, possessor of many failings and foibles which undoubtedly influence my opinion even if sub-consciously. so i do have favourites, one of which is to have my bicycles festooned with the componentry originating in vicenza, italy. sadly, campagnolo have all but lost their seat at the top table, allegedly due more to their european domicile as opposed to any perceived failings in their product range.

vive le velo

this immediately puts them at a price disadvantage with the other two, who mostly manufacture in the far east, a situation that places them most favourably as original equipment suppliers to those who coincidentally manufacture their frames in the same neighbourhood. however, expressing a modicum of favouritism in no way diminishes the quality and operation of the components most often found on the modern bicycle.

vive le velo

road bike history has a heritage that once revolved around separate purchase of frame and componentry, either assembling by yourself if you felt competent enough, or choosing via the local bike shop and having their mechanic carry out the necessary in arguably a more competent manner. the advent of the mountain bike pretty much changed all that; it was not at all uncommon to purchase a complete mtb, ready to ride straight out the box. and if everything was being built in the same far eastern factory, why not simply hang the bits and bobs about its person, stick it in a box and ship it (along with several thousand others) to the west?

vive le velo

the current standard of technology means that, above a certain indefinable price bracket, it is very hard to spend money on something that you'll later regret. the big three spend inordinate hours ensuring that each bit works seamlessly with the next bit and then several more marketing hours convincing you that this is a necessary part of modern velocipedinal life. and though many of us may be reluctant to admit it, everybody actually does live happily ever after.

vive le velo

however, i have little doubt that in every sunday morning peloton across the world, is an individual who, in the belief that he/she is a discerning individual, finds it necessary to e-mail lennard zinn to ask if shimano dura-ace, nine-speed bar end levers will work with an eleven-speed campagnolo super-record rear mech and a sram yaw front mech. and if the stronglight double chainset was replaced with an easton carbon triple, would that be likely to further complicate matters?

vive le velo

no matter the attractive price at which a bicycle is offered and how well tested the drivetrain, someone will always want to swap out a component for something else and not always one from this century. i admire mr zinn's tenacity in following up many of these spurious requests and painstakingly answering such bizarre and ultimately unnecessary queries on velonews. the majority of us are quite happy to drag the bike from the shed and enjoy the ride; in my case if it features camapagnolo shifting so much the better, but i rarely, if ever, spend the ride distance wondering if a new campagnolo centaur rear mech would serve me better than the sram cx-1 version powering my gearchanges at that particular moment.

contrary to mr armstrong's contention, it's not always all about the bike.

vive le velo

my pleas, however, will mostly go unheard, for i think needless component swapping and mismatching is likely an identifiable illness. observation has led me to believe that the individuals who practise this sort of thing on a regular basis are only happy when spending hundreds if not thousands of pounds on new shiny stuff that they don't need and won't actually work anyway. they are usually identifiable by a bicycle on which the gears always crunch, dressed in cycling's equivalent of the black bin bag. perish the thought they should ever spend money on comfortable, stylish and quality apparel.

unless it's in the sale.

vive le velo

however, the upshot of such circumstances is that, at sometime, you're going to be stuck riding next to them and without so much as a nod to the social graces, each conversation will revolve around recent and prospective purchases, few, if any, of which will make an appreciable difference to their cycling ability. so in order that you might successfully cope with such moments without resorting to bad language, i have devised the ultimate cunning plan, which i think i might patent in the interests of acquiring vast sums of money from anyone who adopts the pose.

granted, it is simply a variation on the ubiquitous pub quiz, but one conducted at speed on two wheels. the minute that conversation seems as if it might concern ill-advised bicycle bits, simply ask "who was the last rider to win the tour de france on a metal bike and in what year?" i think it likely that this class of cyclist will be unlikely to know the answer*, but even if they do, you should successfully have headed them off at the pass by changing the subject.

vive le velo

granted, it will be necessary to have a few more questions at the ready just in case you have to ride home with them after coffee, but suitable, bike-related facts can be gleaned from mikey quinn and associates at digital agency, parallax. seemingly on the basis that they can, they have created the vive le velo website depicting a total of eight famed bicycles across the years, ranging from eddy's 1975 molteni coloured de rosa all the way to chris froome's 2016 pinarello dogma. salient facts about which can be uncovered at the mere press of a button. and it appears that prints of each might well be available soon.

sadly there is no sign of graeme obree's old faithful, but i don't suppose you can have everything.

so, when either ned and david or rob and sean go to the ad break, take a quick look around, always on the lookout for sunday morning peloton pub quiz questions. and if you'd like to leave your royalty payments behind the podium, i'll collect them later.

vive le velo

*marco pantani won the 1998 tour on an aluminium bicycle. every tour since has been won on a carbon framed bicycle.

friday 7 july 2017

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the cycling cartoonist. an illustrated guide to life on two wheels. dave walker. blloomsbury hardback 143pp illus. £10.99

cycling cartoonist - dave walker

i read recently of a new book entitled giles' war edited by tim benson, a reputed expert on the histroy of the british political cartoon. the subject of this esteemed publication was carl giles, a cartoonist who rose to fame through publication of his work in the leftwing sunday newspaper reynolds news, which, surprisingly, contained no words of wisdom on how one might braze or weld tubing such as 531 or 653.

giles, a lifelong socialist took his appreciative audience by suprise in the autumn of 1943 by shifting lock, stock and ink to the publication owned by tory peer, lord beaverbrook: the daily express. i recall my late father being particularly in thrall to the lavish and comical illustrations of giles, even though i as an apolitical halfwit (a state of affairs that continues to this day), frequently hadn't a clue about that which giles was trying to impress. of course, his work did take the odd digression; he was well known and loved for his support for the royal national lifeboat institution, providing them with illustrative humour that was frequently sold in the form of christmas cards and calendars to swell the coffers of this invauable organisation.

cycling cartoonist - dave walker

when fred r barnard used the phrase "One look is worth a thousand words" in an advertising trade journal appearing in the 1920s, he fostered the modern usage of the phrase that may well have helped the case of political cartoonists such as carl giles. whether this was intended as a bolstering of the advertising industry or as a comment on the general standard of literary education at the time is not altogether clear, but it's a philosophy i've come across more than once in my time in even the fringes of the publishing industry. and there is no doubt that a succinctly crafted illustration or image can frequently put across an idea or message that several paragraphs might only serve to further obscure.

cycling cartoonist - dave walker

such would appear to be the forte of cartoonist, dave walker. though a cartoon from the pen of a consummate humourist can provide a platform for joviality, it can also serve to put across a message in an effective but no less forceful manner than a soapbox speech or written manifesto. the cycling cartoonist achieves pretty much everything i'm sure the author/illustrator intended, whether it be self-deprecation on behalf of a cycling audience or reinforcement of the iniquities visited upon an allegedly eccentric portion of society.

of course, i realise i have completely undermined the premise on which my review is based, having written several hundred words about a book i am claiming works a thousand times better than that which i offer as commendation. such is the nature of the beast.

cycling cartoonist - dave walker

walker has included features such as cycling uphill - levels of severity consisting of several lines drawn on the page accompanied by helpful descriptions as to their illustrative efficacy, including one entitled "line drawn accidentally whilst compiling book. this faces another which allegedly demonstrates the author's regular route "showing gradients, headwinds, and angry dogs." such light-hearted humour, however, is contrasted with pages demonstrating potential hazards to be found along any route, reasons why people don't cycle ("main reason: idiots who might kill you" captioned above a drawing of a car) and cycling safety amongst others.

dave walker's cartoons are noticably less sophisticated than those of carl giles, but probably no less effective for that. i would be very surprised if there wasn't at least one page in this book with which any subculture of cyclist could not identify. i have made a career out of taking my cycling seriously but not taking myself too seriously and there seems every likelihood that mr walker is of similar mind. you'd need to be a cyclist well acquainted with the way of the handlebar to have the perspicacity to illustrate a trip to the off-licence in the manner of a tour stage profile. and that goes every bit as much for a page entitled "the cycle route" depicting the various potential hazards to be encountered along the way. according to the asterisked subtitle, "all obstructions* are removed from the path of the cyclist - *except traffic, pedestrians, parked cars, signs, trees, idots etc., etc.

a serious book in a fun setting.

thursday 6 july 2017

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velofocus - balint hamvas

i am readily assured by those whose task it is to develop all manner of logical puzzles, that one's grey matter has a tendency to age about as gracefully as the rest of the body. though i can't be absolutely positive, i think this might be a polite way of stating that, since i'm nowhere near as fast as i once thought i was, my brain still thinks that i am because bits of it are no longer sure. and the majority of those bits are the very chaps that used to remember stuff. so when i relate the following anecdote, you would be well advised to treat it with a healthy degree of circumspection.

velofocus - balint hamvas

the recollection was brought forcefully to mind last week when, as the scottish schools prepared for their end of term and the subsequent weeks and weeks of summer holiday, many of them held a sports day. while it's possible to see the local primary school from thewashingmachinepost croft, i'd be fibbing if i pretended that any sporting activities taking place were advertised by anything more than a lot of screaming and shouting. therefore, i have no idea whether the modern-day sports day is substantially different from that of my own, long-forgotten childhood.

velofocus - balint hamvas

i do remember that, in my case, this particular end of term event was held on playing fields locally referred to as the oval on account of the fence surrounding it being oval. this was at least a couple of miles from the school and in those days of greater self-sufficiency, we all walked two-by-two from here to there and back again, chaperoned by the teaching staff. there was none of this clambering into the back seat of mummy's mercedes/audi/bmw (delete as applicable) and being driven to the scene of junior sporting prowess.

velofocus - balint hamvas

aside from the regulation racing events measured in yards, there were the inevitable whimsical events such as the egg and spoon race, the sack race and the three-legged race. while the former two allowed for individual success or embarrassment, the latter had necessity of being paired with a partner for participation. hopefully, all being well, this would be with one of my best mates, legs fastened securely together with a school tie. but inevitably, even in those days of minimal equality between the sexes, there would be that singular occasion when the only individuals left partner-less would be me and a girl.

velofocus - balint hamvas

the opposite sex really didn't feature as objects of attraction until at least second year at high school (i was a late developer), so the very thought of being tied to even a particularly attractive schoolgirl was the sort of thing about which i'd have been pilloried throughout those two miles back to school when sports day had ended. perish the thought that we'd actually win the race and draw greater attraction to our predicament.

there's every possibility that this state of affairs still continues to this day and could likely be trumpeted as the reason behind segregation of the sexes when it comes to the sporting milieu. that being said, it doesn't really explain why it is that, in the main, the male expression of athleticism gains far mor applause and tv time than does the female side of the equation. and to say nothing of the frequent disparity in the prize funds available for the winners. surely there should just be sport without the need to prefix the word with men's or women's?

velofocus - balint hamvas

thankfully, the latter situation, in cycling at least, appears to be moving towards better days. granted, offering male competitors a three-week race in july accompanied solely by a few laps around the champ elysées for the women could reasonably be cited as encouraging a contrary impression, but it would be hard to deny that women's cycling has a higher profile nowadays than was the case only a matter of years ago.

as if in testament to this situation, photographer balint hamvas, perhaps better known for his services to the cyclocross industry, sports a female alternative, or should i say 'complement' to his cyclephotos website in partnership with sean robinson. velofocus - balint hamvas exists as a showcase for women's cycling and at least partially explains what balint does with his time when cyclocross is in summer hibernation. and as if posting regular photographic updates to velofocus were not enough, mr hamvas has commenced a kickstarter campaign towards the printing of a photo album entitled 'women's road cycling 2017' publication of which, all being well, will be in november of this year, just in time for christmas.

at the time of writing there are just seventeen days to go and balint has raised approximately a quarter of his target figure. i truly have no idea how many members of the fairer sex read the post, but on the basis that their boyfriends and husbands probably do, just think how appreciative your significant other will be when you present them with a copy later this year. it may even lessen the ferocity of the scowls in your direction at the mere mention of a di2 upgrade. but even if you're currently flying solo, it's still well worth your support.

velofocus cycling annual kickstarter page

all photos © balint hamvas 2017 |

wednesday 5 july 2017

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the time crunched cyclist - race-winning fitness in 6 hours a week. chris carmichael and jim rutberg. powered by strava. velopress softback 430pp illus. $21.95 (£19.99)

the time crunched cyclist - carmichael/rutberg

i am fortunate in that i am of slim build and of a disposition that means i rarely eat the sort of stuff that's considered less than favourable, should one wish to acquire a honed physique. i stopped eating sweets when i was about nine years old, became a vegetarian at around 14, i don't much care for chocolate and i have no liking for any form of alcoholic beverages. the latter is often remarked on as being somewhat of a humorous situation considering i'm now surrounded by nine single-malt distilleries with a tenth under construction, but a little bit of idiosyncracy never went amiss.

thus, even in my advanced years i can comfortably fit into a medium-sized jersey from pretty much every cycling apparel purveyor on the planet and small sized bibs or tights. dieting is something i view from afar but in which i have never participated. i tell you this not as a form of conceit but as a prelude to admitting that i could hardly be considered a poster boy for any kind of fitness regime. yes, i can ride my bike all day if necessary, but i will most likely be at the cow's tail when any form of sprinting is taking place up front. were srm kind enough to send a power meter in my direction, i doubt that its liquid crystal display would be much troubled in the course of its duties.

the short answer to this apparent conundrum is a lack of both time and application. thewashingmachinepost, despite numerous technological advances, still does not write itself and with a predilection for regular percussing of an evening, there are dotted quavers and accented sixteenth notes to be practiced, to say nothing of the day job. would that there were more hours in the day, but then i'm sure that's a wish that pertains to a great deal more individuals than yours truly.

it would appear, therefore, that i am the very person messrs. carmichael and rutberg had in mind when they put pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard and offered their collective wisdom on just what i ought to do in order to leave my fellow riders trailing in my wake at the bruichladdich sprint. however, what i omitted to mention in the introduction was my almost pathological lack of any organisational abilities. and while reading the time crunched cyclist, if nothing else, it appeared that in order to make the best use of those six hours, a modicum of organisation would be a pre-requisite.

foiled at the first hurdle, it would seem.

however, it would also be necessary, i tend to think, to put a great deal of commitment into the act of training, with a view to observing ideal results in the quest for victory. this would be undoubtedly true whether your cycling took you offroad, onroad or in direct contravention of rule #42. sadly, i am particularly lacking in that ability too, so perhaps mr carmichael and mr rutberg were not thinking of me after all?

in keeping with many training manuals and, in my experience, those emanating from the carmichael training system, the crunching of time would be far more effective if the first 116 pages did not insist on explaining concepts such as the new paradigm for endurance training, or measuring intensity in the information age. i would not for a moment dispute that the contents of those chapters are a necessary part of race-winning fitness, but i would be a tad more forgiving if the authors had found a means of incorporating those into the training programmes themselves.

there seems a perceivable danger of those with little spare time skimming the opening chapters and heading straight to the nitty-gritty beginning on page 117. however, it would be unfair to accuse the authors of unnecessary prevarication, when they at least admit as much in the introduction...

"This is a book for people who lead busy lives, people who wake up early and hit the ground running, juggle one or more jobs while raising one or more kids. Time is in short supply, and the whole point of this program is to get more from less. So why is this book so thick?"

i may be alone in admitting to this, but not only do i have no real interest in reading "The end product of all three systems is ATP, which releases energy when one of its three phosphate bonds is broken.", but i don't really know what that means. and even if i did, i'm not sure it would change the way i ride my bicycle. of course, i could be oh so very wrong. but then as the book progressed, i realised even more that i am ill-suited to adopting the way of the six hours.

"Precision comes from having detailed, real-time performance data you can use to monitor, evaluate, and adjust your training. And by far the best piece of equipment for providing that information is a power meter, which measures the true amount of work you produce as you ride."

i am famous in my own living room for having a distinct aversion to numbers; i truly cannot see me sitting at my laptop of an evening, disseminating the data generated by the day's ride. and in case you were wondering when the powered by... label on the cover would make itself known, the introduction to power meters brings us very close. after a dense few pages explaining where and why kilojoules enter the fray, the continued effectiveness of using a heart-rate monitor and how, if all else fails, to make use of the 'perceived rate of exertion' paradigm as opposed to spending substantial amounts on bike-mounted data gatherers, the narrative culminates with a sub-chapter entitled "Using Strava for Data Analysis".

at that point, i'm afraid i lost the will to live.

however, lest you perceive the story so far as a character asassination, nothing could be further from the truth. i do not consider myself as the centre of the cycling fitness universe; in fact, i have narcissistically phrased the foregoing in order to make it plain that The Time Crunched Cyclist is probably the very book you've been looking for, precisely because it doesn't suit me at all. aside from stringing the reader along until page 117, before unravelling that for which you came, carmichael and rutberg would appear to be pretty much right on the money. and considering strava can be either free or available in the pro version for an economical annual fee, it truly is ideally placed to assist the trainee in analysing their progress.

the training program(me)s cover criterium, road race and cyclocross along with centuries, gran fondos, gravel racing, endurance mtb and even one for commuters, all of which are laid out in logical fashion with tables showing the daily requirements of each. those are followed up by a section dealing with weight loss, nutrition, hydration and something that most uk readers could ignore, heat-stress management.

assuming you adopt the way of the six hours and find yourself in possession of unrivalled fitness, the authors end the programme by explaining how to supplement the training schedules with blocks of endurance training and subsequently making the most of that which has now been achieved. there is a great deal of information to be absorbed here and it would ill-behove the fitness aspirant to treat it with the insincerity i affected at the beginning of this review. velopress are to be congratulated on having commissioned such a manual and to have made it available at such an attractive price.

add to this a more than comprehensive reference and recommended reading section followed by an excellent index, the rest, as they say, is up to you.

velopress publications are distributed in the uk by cordee books. cordee books |

tuesday 4 july 2017

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