never be found in the wrong gear again

g.c. ristorante debbie's jersey

just prior to commencing some keyboard tickling in pursuit of today's article, i inadvertently clicked the itunes icon which sits in the dock adjacent to that for my html software. so doing, not unexpectedly brought the itunes interface to the fore, displaying a series of album cover thumbnails for currently available recordings. though my own taste in music tends more towards the jazz and blues end of the spectrum, i couldn't resist a quick flick through those on offer, just to see if there was anything of appeal.

it scarcely rates mentioning that the relationship between cover art and the music contained within is somewhat tenuous at best, but in similar manner to book covers, there needs to be something that provides an initial point of attraction, unless i'm already in thrall to the featured musicians. sadly, amongst those depicted in small format on itunes, there was nothing that caught my eye or imagination, though i'll admit i didn't subsequentyl pop over to the jazz section for a slightly meaningless comparison.

however, since rock'n'roll began in the mid to late fifties, that would entail close on sixty years worth of album covers, graphical representations that have shrunk massively from the 12" card sleeves that once encased black vinyl, down through cassettes and compact discs to the software icons that now comfortably fit on an ipod or iphone screen. that can only mean that the not so average graphic designer has had his/her palette of expression substantially restricted in a very short space of time.

however, in fairness, album covers are not the only available canvasses that might be showing a little wear around the edges. were we to consider the ubiquitous cycle jersey, an object that has survived far longer than the pictorial album cover, it is not outwith the bounds of concern that we're remarkably close to having explored pretty much every avenue available to the conscientious practitioner of adobe illustrator. the advent of dye-sublimation printers has left far behind the need to embroider the sponsor's lettering onto a wool jersey. allowing for the restrictions of shape and fabrication, the world of the modern-day jersey designer has pretty much to be his/her ever decreasing oyster (so to speak).

yet, here we were on the outer edge of the west of scotland, keen to update the jersey design applicable to our collective home from home in bruichladdich and garnering inspiration from an old school italian wool jersey one of our number found on ebay. though it may be something of a stretch to equate a small islay café with that of an italian restaurant, in point of fact, that's exactly what we did. therefore the legend sported on our latest cycling gear, while retaining the same maroon and cream colouring of the original, now states g.c. ristorante debbie's, the g.c. translating as gruppo ciclisti.

these jerseys were sourced from shutt velo rapide under the slight misapprehension that they would be supplied in sportwool. as it transpired, shutt did make a particularly fine job of both printing and fabricating a set of fine italian-made jerseys in a fabric that's midway between polyester and sportwool, if such a material exists. the initial order closed a few months back, but due to one or two of our number having chosen sizes that turned out to be a smidgeon on the small size, we opted to go for a reprint and to include those others who had enquired about ordering one of their own.

such has been the mild clamouring to join the team, such as it is, i have therefore decided to post details of how to order a g.c. ristorante jersey of your very own (cost is £74.40 each). sizing of small and medium seems to be pretty close to that of other brands, but if you're large or xl, you might want to consider ordering up a size. and because these are custom jerseys, if you order and it doesn't fit, there's not an awful lot can be done about it. if it helps, i'm 5' 10" tall, slim build with a 38" chest measurement and the medium size fits me just ginger peachy. the ordering link is posted below, the only proviso being that you please advise ( when you've ordered (before the end of august), because once the numbers are in, we need to close the order process before shutt put the jerseys into production.

of course, subsequent ownership means that you'll have to visit islay at least once within the next couple of years.

g.c. ristorante debbie's jersey

monday 14 august 2017

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

you may want to skip this in favour of some gardening

pinarello edss

i do seriously wonder sometimes if, as i get older, there is a previously dormant, yet natural knee-jerk reaction that comes to the fore to protect my sensibilities every time i am appraised of yet another less than necessary development that has appended itself to the humble road bike. i'm fairly sure that those "in my day, the gear levers were on the downtube and indexing was that which appeared at the back of a good book" monologues were suffered in silence by all those around, straining to continue the sickly grin for as long as they felt necessary in the hope that i'd soon go away, or be unceremoniously dropped from the bunch.

it's so easy for a man of my decrepitude to forget that there's a whole generation who have been brought up with the gear levers at their fingertips, though possibly a stretch too far to think that some have no idea that eddy was regularly victorious without resort to electronica. there's really nothing like a good bike ride to help place everything in some sort of contemporary perspective, even if carried out on a bicycle with cables rather than wires. yet so doing, if nothing else, proves that it's still possible to ride close to 100 miles using one's own power reserves to flip those gear levers and still have the energy to scoff an entire plate of mac'n'cheese with a hand-held fork at the end.

as many of you will already be aware, rather than charge the unwary a token sum of money to ride round the principality on the first sunday of august each year, we ask that each participant in the ride of the falling rain donate at least £10 to world bicycle relief. if you've read the stories on their website, or watched any of the videos, you will hopefully agree that the purposes for which they donate bicycles are those that demonstrate the real power of man's greatest invention. the buffalo bike may be heavy and unsophisticated, but its power to transform the lives of those with considerably less in their favour than those of us in the so-called civilised world is little short of miraculous.

pinarello k10-s

however, our own sophistication, such as it is, means that we are forever tinkering with trivialities. electronic, eleven-speed transmissions may be state of the art, but likely unprepared and unsuitable for the uses to which those in rural zambia would expect. secretly, they're probably laughing at us in our pomp and circumstance.

it would be naive to think that the sunday ride would consist of a peloton astride heavy, three-speed roadsters when technology can provide us with so much more, but even then, surely there ought to be boundaries left unsullied? electronic gearing will probably always remain as an optional extra, so those of us with inherent luddite tendencies can point and stare, but simply avoid bicycles to which electronica has been attached. hydraulic disc brakes are possibly a more invidious optional extra, now that vicenza has joined the party. more and more machinery is being re-invented as next year's model, emerging from the changing room with metal discs attached to the wheels.

however, though specialized have outfitted their roubaix and diverge models with springy stems, by and large, road bikes have been mercifully suspension free. for us old-timers, properly inflated tyres and relaxed legs take care of any infirmities found along the way without the need to resort to springs of any flavour. that said, roubaix has been used as the target for many an exercise in suspension over the years, despite the majority of victors having reached there on rigid machinery. while specialized have concentrated on the front end of the bike, team sky sponsors, pinarello, have opted to footer with the rear (if you'll pardon the phraseology). this resulted in the dogma k8-s which featured an elastomer within the wishbone atop the seatstays. it's a form of suspension i first experienced on a muddy fox mountain bike in the early 1990s.

whether it improved anything for the men with the blue stripe, i really have no idea, but not content with leaving things alone, pinarello opted to bring a soupcon of electronics to the party by introducing the dogma k10-s. in this case, aside from the addition of disc brakes, the hydraulically actuated electronic dogma suspension system (edss) reads the road surface over which the bicycle is travelling and correspondingly adjusts the suspension to compensate. the battery that allows it to do so is concealed within the frame.

no doubt systems such as the edss will lose a smidgeon of their lustre if the uci see fit to lower the minimum weight limit for road bicycles, but for now it's the sort of technology that can be accommodated without complaint. fortunately paris-roubaix is not an event that favours the grimpeurs. however, it does beggar the question as to whether the demands of the world tour are disproportionately flavouring the cycles available on the shop floor. while pinarello's system can be effectively switched off by the rider, the weight remains. and though i can attest to the infirmity of the average rural road, peppered as they are with cattle grids, i've ridden them for the last thirty years without the benefits of suspension and survived just fine.

would life atop the cobbles not be every bit as comfortable if pinarello and their friends simply fitted appropriately inflated 33mm tyres? or, as in many a case, have i once more completely missed the point?

sunday 13 august 2017

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

this is cambridge men's bibshorts

this is cambridge bibshorts

throughout my career as a famous member of the cycling media, i have failed to work out whether, in the process of reviewing one item or another, i ought to concentrate on giving whatever it is, a particularly hard time. i bring this to your attention in the knowledge that, had i purchased said item, i'd probably not put all my efforts into trying to rip it to pieces or break it apart. however, safe in the knowledge that i'm not everyone and that there may well be plain clothes activists amongst you whose very purpose in life is to do precisely that, perhaps i ought to be trying very hard to outdo the lot of you.

this is cambridge bibshorts

if i might offer a reasonable verisimilitude to my concern by way of fitting a new chain. though i agree it's very old-skool, in the good old days we were always taught that riding with the chain in the big ring and big sprocket was distinctly persona non grata, due to the excessive wear placed on the chain links. admittedly, chains are a tad more flexible laterally these days, but still... however, in order to ensure that should a situation inadvertantly occur, nothing untoward would happen to the rear derailleur, it was necessary to place the new chain over big to big and check that such tension would be unlikely to break the spring.

this is cambridge bibshorts

nowadays, single chainrings aside, it seems that everyone rides permanently in the big ring without a care in the world as to what that might be doing to the chain or, indeed, that rear derailleur. on the basis that said individuals may offer similarly scant regard for other items of cycling equipment, maybe i ought to be heading them off at the pass?

andrew and daphne at this is cambridge made their initial inroads to the cycling market by way of handmade cotton casquettes, offering several different sizes of each and available in an ever increasing range of designs. buoyed with their success, it wasn't too long before their higher, further faster motto led them to create jerseys, baselayers and socks. rather pointedly, the only thing missing was a pair of bibshorts that might complete the set and allow sporting of an entire corporate image while trying to live up to the self-imposed credo.

this is cambridge bibshorts

tic have been testing various bibshort iterations prior to releasing the very pair under consideration here. and just to provide them with an appropriate baptism of fire that would seriously test their mettle, i wore them during this year's ride of the falling rain. in my case, as velo club representative on the conversational ride, that equated to 125km, the majority of which were ridden in pouring rain. for it is circumstances such as this that are likely to eke out any minor or major failings in the firmament.

my personal measurement of suitability, as far as bibshorts are concerned, is how difficult they are to put on. a well fitting pair of bibshorts ought to be something of an effort to pull on (unless, of course, you've ordered the wrong size). this is the very aspect that often comes home to roost in weather conditions as described above; sublime ease of fitting will often result in a moveable squishiness when the rain no longer stays mainly on the plain.

this is cambridge bibshorts

this is cambridge have obviously seen this coming, as the included instructions advise working the shorts into position at slow speed. i'd augment that advice by saying you ought never to pull them up by the bibs or the legs, always by way of the pad. this avoids ripping or stretching before you've had a chance to cycle in them. there's also the unavoidable fact that the substantial width of gloop on the legs of these shorts, simply grabs hold of your shins and won't let go.

just the way it ought to be.

this is cambridge bibshorts

i'm around 5' 10" in height with a 30" waist and the small-sized bibshorts reviewed were an impeccable fit. after a relatively hard and undeniably wet 100 plus kilometres, my posterior was every bit as comfortable as it had been at the start. the well-judged length of the legs had remained resolutely where they were meant to despite gallons of precipitation doing everything to ensure the opposite was the case. even when soaking wet, the fit and comfort was admirably impressive.

lest you think that a sole ride in the rain be insufficient hardship, they have since been washed, dried and subjected to more kilometres of a less precipatory nature. they have not been found wanting. with so many cycling apparel purveyors eager to have us purchase their wares, there's an overwhelming need for any new product to succeed at the first pedal stroke, because there are plenty of alternatives from which to choose. this is cambridge have done themselves proud with their first pair of bibshorts that are as close to state of the art as it's possible to achieve at present.

with a hebridean winter looming on the horizon, that makes me a happy chap. now all i need is a similar pair of bib-threequarters (daphne? andrew?) and i can safely survive till next easter.

this is cambridge bibshorts are available in black only in sizes ranging from xs to xl at a cost of £165. a women's version is also available.

this is cambridge bibshorts

saturday 12 august 2017

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

chrome industries cardiel orp backpack

chrome industries cardiel orp backpack

though i'd prefer not to make a drama out of the remarkably rare occurrence of my painting the garden fence, there's a certain relevance to my forthcoming review that i find hard to ignore. when searching for appropriate and economic wood protection for the aforesaid garden fence, the small print, aside from promising a five-year warranty that rarely seems geared to hebridean weather conditions, there's all manner of copy attesting to the sort of coverage one ought to expect from a tin/bucket of paint.

chrome industries cardiel orp backpack

this information generally relates to the number of square feet or metres that careful application ought to provide and i should point out that i have little doubt that under laboratory conditions, those numbers have been scientifically verified. the problem is that of comparative values; if, for example, the fence paint purports to cover a total of 20 square metres, how the heck do i work that out in terms of the washingmachinepost garden fence? for it consists of three edges and thus six sides consisting of a series of concreted wooden stobs to which rough cut planks have been attached with a few inches gap between each.

chrome industries cardiel orp backpack

for someone as numerically challenged as yours truly, it would take longer for me to work out those numbers than it did to paint one side of the fence.

and therein lies what i shall hereafter denote as the fence conundrum, a remarkable lack of informational consistency in relation to the oddities displayed by the not-so-average garden fence. however, it would be particularly iniquitous to castigate the fence paint industry alone; there are many examples of such measurement eccentricity across many a strain of modern life that are screaming out for some sort of standardisation.

chrome industries cardiel orp backpack

in the case in hand, i have, hanging on a coathook in the cycling wardrobe overspill (which, if i'm brutally honest, currently rivals the size of the wardrobe itself) a chrome industries cardiel orp backpack. though it may seem a rather odd name for a backpack, the orp bit is an abbreviation of operation readiness pack, a military allusion that is reinforced by the cardiel x chrome attack division patch featured on the lower right side of the backpack. in point of fact, there are no other features that might suggest the need to wear combat fatigues, blackened face and a tin helmet.

chrome industries cardiel orp backpack

chrome industries are, certainly on this side of the pond, one of portland, oregon's best kept secrets. ensconced in a building that creeps under the city's fremont bridge, chrome industries are purveyors of quality (non-lycra) clothing and footwear. however, their main claim to fame, based on the extensive range displayed on their website, is backpacks, courier bags, travel bags, camera bags, sling bags and accessory bags. the cardiel orp version is one of the smaller backpacks in the range with a retail price of $80 (£79)

chrome industries cardiel orp backpack

fabricated from ultra-light rip-stop nylon and claimed to be water-resistant, it features taped seams throughout. there's a single internal pocket that will comfortably swallow up to a 13" laptop, though both chrome and i would recommend the computer be placed inside a laptop sleeve simply to protect its outer surface, depending on what else you deem it necessary to carry inside. however, search as i might, i could find no reference to its avowed carrying capacity which is where i figure we need to return to my perceived need for some sort of standardised measurement for comparison.

it's all very well offering up numbers such a ten litre capacity, meaning that it may be possible to haul ten cartons of tropicana orange juice to and from work each day. however, with all due respect to drinkers of original orange juice (with bits), i'd like to suggest that we agree to use a 3kg bag of green-city jumbo porridge oats as the regular means of appraising the carrying capacity of the average backpack. (also sitting in the overspill car park is a much larger, team cinelli chrome backpack to which i intend to apply the same criteria).

chrome cardiel orp backpack

in the case of the cardiel (designed by and named after a track rider of whom i have never heard, john cardiel), aside from my 13" macbook air computer, a waterproof jacket, windproof jacket, camera and a mini pump, it was simplicity itself to top that off with a full 3kg bag of porridge oats. and there was still space to spare. however, it's one thing for a backpack to accommodate those 3kgs of oats, it's another thing entirely to carry them safely and comfortably, a task to which this example from chrome achieved with ease.

chrome industries cardiel orp backpack

the rolltop feature of the backpack presents his and hers buckles at each end which i initially incorrectly fastened to each other as in many of those bikepacking bar bags. it transpires, however, that there are accommodating adjustable buckled straps on each side into which the top ought best to be fastened. folded and fastened in this manner, it ought to keep the contents du jour safe from any light showers (oddly for the hebrides, i've yet to get it wet). the padded straps are also completely adjustable, the rightmost offering a small mesh pocket, a tad too small for an ipod touch or iphone, but ideal in which to keep house or padlock keys.

chrome industries cardiel orp backpack

there's also a handy cordura carry handle at the top for those 'just popping into the office' moments.

once on your back, filled with probably two bags of porridge oats, there's an adjustable chest strap to keep everything in place whether you're sedately riding through pan flat countryside or wrestling the road bike up and down a series of energy-sapping climbs. in order to better appraise the stability of the backpack thus filled, i climbed in a more overwrought manner than warren barguil on a bad day without ever unsettling either backpack or rider.

despite its lightweight construction, the cardiel is just a smidgeon too large to consider scrunching it into a jersey pocket when not in use, but it does lend itself to a smallness of constitution that would allow it to be carried, rolled-up, within a larger backpack for convenience. it's the sort of bicycle luggage that endears itself to daily use to and from the office, school or coffee shop, promising to become one of those cycling accessories that you wondered how you ever managed without.

though chrome industries offer international shipping, the carriage costs may prove somewhat prohibitive, to say nothing of customs and excise charges when it gets here. however, the folks at britain's always riding are stockists of chrome products, sold at more wallet friendly sterling prices and delivery schedules.

i still have no idea who john cardiel is, but if i ever get to meet him, he deserves a high-five.

chrome industries

friday 11 august 2017

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

cycling the lancashire cycleway. the tour and 17 day rides. jon sparks. cicerone publishing paperback. 189pp illus. £12.95

cycling the lancashire cycleway - jon sparks

even in the hebrides, it's summer. yesterday's breezy sunshine allowed me the opportunity to sneak off when no-one was looking and paint one side of the garden fence. though this may seem like something of an onerous task when the sun shines and the bicycles were calling from the bikeshed, sometimes a man's got to do what a man's got to do.

islay is currently absolutely chock-a-block with visitors, the vast amount of whom have arrived by car ferry and are now proceeding to occupy every square centimetre of whatever space they designate as suitable for parking. the co-op delivery truck (of the forty-foot articulated variety) had to engage in more to-ing and fro-ing than usual due to a camper van inconsiderately parked right on the corner opposite the office window. and rather than one member of the family occupied with the task of shopping, whole families trammel the aisles en-masse, preventing anyone else from viewing the empty shelves.

cycling the lancashire cycleway - jon sparks

at one time, several decades past, the compulsory accessory for any visitors to the island seemed to be a barbour waxed jacket. but society has moved on since those days and it is no longer compulsory to appear as a member of the landed gentry. in the active noughties, the current accessory appears to be a couple of road or mountain bikes attached to the car roof. and that car ought best to be an audi or bmw. there is apparently no pressing need for those bikes to ever leave the safety of the roof rack, for the intention is only to outwardly present a verisimilitude of an active lifestyle. if evidence were needed for such a contention, we have frequently met those very cars with bikes still on roof, driving on the roads for which those bicycles were designed.

go figure.

cicerone author, jon sparks, opens his 'cycling the lancashire way' with "Cycling is one of the best ways of getting around and of seeing places, that has ever been devised. It's fast enough to get somewhere, yet slow enough to see everything along the way."

cycling the lancashire cycleway - jon sparks

as members of the converted, few of us would be inclined to argue against the above. it echoes a statement i have often repeated, based on much of islay's finest scenery being visible from its single track roads. attempting to find somewhere to park and return to view the scene espied from the window of the car is hardly the ideal way to see the countryside. it's a situation that likely applies every but as much to lancashire as it does to the hebrides.

domiciled in garstang, a few miles north of preston, jon sparks resides pretty much in the centre of his world, ideally situated to be better acquainted with the surrounding roadways than the majority of his readers. which, to place not too fine a point upon it, is precisely the sort of fellow i'd want to be guiding me around the lancashire countryside north west of manchester.

cycling the lancashire cycleway - jon sparks

the book is effectively divided into three sections, incorporating a 130 mile northern loop, a 135 mile southern loop and a substantial selection of day rides ranging from as short as 13.7 miles to a ride of almost fifty. all are extremely well illustrated with both photographs and clearly defined maps, while sparks' narrative takes the prospective rider from start to finish via every turn in the route. where there might be something of local interest worth mentioning, these are accommodated in what i believe are referred to as box-outs.

cycling the lancashire cycleway - jon sparks

"A large boulder in the churchyard is said to mark a witch's grave - she is supposed to have dug herself out when first buried, hence the need for the stone!"

those northern and southern loops, while suitable for one-day rides by the intrepid cyclist aboard an appropriately speedy machine, are further split into smaller rides that might also occupy a more leisurely approach, festooned with a modest quantity of coffee and cake. each to their own; it's very much to the author's credit that his organisation of the book's contents allows for a very wide interpretation of what constitutes energetic and exploratory cycling.

if you plan on holidaying in the lancashire area for a day or considerably longer, it ill-behoves you to leave home without a copy of this book either in a jersey pocket or ensconced within a bar bag.

cicerone publishing

thursday 12 august 2017

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

the meaning of life, the universe and everything

the meaning of life, the universe and everything

in douglas adams' hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy, slartibartfast revealed to zaphod beeblebrox, arthur dent and ford prefect, that a race of hyper-intelligent, pan-dimensional beings had built deep thought, an enormous organic computer entrusted with the the task of finding the answer to the meaning of life, the universe and everything. as many of you will know, the answer to that question was 42.

the meaning of life, the universe and everything

aficionados of the book and/or tv series will be well aware that encapsulating the answer to such a wide-ranging original question in the shape of two numbers, brought total incomprehension to the faces of those present when the answer was announced. deep thought then explained that the answer was inexplicable because those pan-dimensional beings didn't actually know what they were asking.

by a strange coincidence that smacks of serendipity with perhaps a soupcon of prescience, the figure recently bandied about concerning the monetary value of the road-cycling market worldwide, is $42 billion. surely this cannot be mere coincidence?

i recall several years ago holding a conversation with graeme obree, during which i naively presumed that he would be more than welcoming of the numbers discovering cycling as the outstanding activity that we have all come to know and love. "not at all" he said, "i liked it better when it was something that only a few of us knew about." i was almost tempted to agree with his sentiment, because i do understand where he was coming from. in a similar manner to those who move from the rat race to remote scottish communities such as ours, then proceed to try changing said community to better reflect the one left behind, it can be somewhat frustrating to meet those who bought their first pinarello only a matter of weeks past and like to contend that they're on first name terms with chris froome.

the meaning of life, the universe and everything

however, though the latter statement will hopefully be taken for the exaggerated and generalised remark it was intended to be, there's little doubt that it is the emergence of the mamil (middle-aged man in lycra) that has helped boost the revenue of those intent on supplying our every velocipedinal need, even if we hadn't realised we needed it yet. this would not be the first time i have made mention that i find it hard to come to terms with the incredible number of cycle apparel companies that have emerged in the past four or five years. though i was always questioning as to how many of them survive financially, the answer once more has proved to be 42.

the meaning of life, the universe and everything

yesterday's news that rapha has been purchased by rzc investments for an eye-watering £200 million, surely gives credence to the veracity of that answer. i'm insufficiently aware of the machinations of the financial markets to comprehend just what this purchase/investment really means. several of the comments on a variety of newsfeeds have leaned heavily on the knowledge that the sum of £200 million is twenty times that of rapha's annual profits, but in truth i'm not sure if that's a good thing or bad. the owners of rzc, grandchildren of the founders of america's walmart and also owners of supermarket chain asda, have implied that they are in this for the long-term; that they do not intend to make a quick buck and get out as quickly as they got in.

the meaning of life, the universe and everything

rapha ceo, simon mottram, is highly pleased with this outcome, saying that this investment will allow rapha to expand even further than has already been the case in their quest for world domination. when i first visited the original kentish town imperial works in 2005, there were only five employees including mr mottram and if i phoned, it was frequently he who answered the phone. currently rapha employs 450 folks worldwide.

the meaning of life, the universe and everything

to perhaps place some of this in a perspective relevant to my place of residence, bowmore distillery currently displays a single malt in an ornate bottle trimmed with precious metal and retailing at £100,000. according to the owners, beam suntory, it is one of only twelve bottles filled from a single cask. the distillery has kept two for their own collection, while the other ten have been offered for sale. some of these have already been snapped up, but it's probably a safe bet that those have been acquired as investments; money would have to run through your fingers like water to equate that price with the sort of dram that you'd sip while watching a harry potter movie of an evening.

the meaning of life, the universe and everything

single malt whisky, at least as far as its purportedly rarer examples are concerned, has become more the subject of investment rather than its original purpose as a drink for the cognoscenti. in that sense, cycling is no different. pinarello is owned by louis vuitton moet hennessy, a large conglomerate the first half of which seems to have little to do with the second and remarkably little to do with italian carbon fibre bicycles. it is the parent company of glenmorangie, which, in turn owns ardbeg distillery. in each case, the key to understanding is that of financial investment.

the meaning of life, the universe and everything

road cycling is flavour of the month at present and thus a commodity likely to not only feature in the spending habits of the comfortably well-off, but a market currently showing promising signs of expansion. rzc's steuart walton said, "Our investment demonstrates our enthusiasm for (rapha's) quality products, amazing community of cyclists... and its strong future. [...] We're excited to be...bringing the best sport in the world to more people in more ways and places."

the two partners at rzc are described as cycling enthusiasts, no doubt a principal factor in attracting them to rapha in the first place, but the cynic and realist in me tends to figure that the £200 million investment has far more to do with ultimately increasing that figure than it has to do with unbridled enthusiasm for cycling. my late father always said that you should never mix business with sentiment; if the bubble bursts, there will undoubtedly be other investment opportunities eagerly waiting in the feed-zone.

do not for a minute misunderstand the thrust of my monologue; if the money were not being sent in the direction of cycling, it would be heading elsewhere. we are currently favoured and we should, to a certain extent, be grateful. there will always be those (like graeme obree perhaps) who prefer to be members of the eccentric minority, yearning for the years when wearing lycra conferred a level of social unacceptability. but it's unlikely you'll find many amongst them who own cycle clothing companies or find themselves in charge of long-term financial investments. other than a few misguided individuals at the uci, none of us own road-cycling, nor do we hold any sway over who or who doesn't gain membership of the club.

rapha certainly aren't the first to benefit from enthusiastic financial investment and it's very unlikely they'll be the last. who knew sportwool would be this popular?

rapha cycle clothing

wednesday 9 august 2017

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

singing in the rain


i believe the term was credited to me, but in all honesty, i seriously doubt that it was i who coined the phrase in the first place. somebody somewhere had mentioned that the annual ride of the falling rain could reasonably be described as an anti-sportive; not in an aggressive way, you understand, but perhaps more clearly defined as an alternative to the more regular sportives filling the pages of the cycling press.

and though i doubt i first coined the phrase, i'd be hard-pressed to argue with the definition as expressed above.

historically, it's entirely true. with the explosion of sportive rides since the mid-point of this century's first decade, many of those wishing to participate were allegedly having their entries returned due to a lack of available places. on the basis that those thus rejected might conceivably be subsequently trawling the interweb to find alternatve events, it occurred to me that they might come across the ride of the falling rain and plump for that. after all, islay features eight perfectly good reasons for a visit.

in order that islay's annual bike ride not prove to be a great disappointment to those looking for 29,000 feet of climbing before lunch, timing chips, a free t-shirt, feed-stops and a phalanx of motorcycle outriders as well as a framed certificate proclaiming them to be the finest athletes this side of easter island, i thought it better to come clean. the ride of the falling rain is, to be perfectly blunt, 100 miles of relatively flat and self-sufficient riding with a mid-point break at ardbeg distillery's old kiln café. there's no entry fee; we simply recommend that each participant donate at least £10 to world bicycle relief. and for those less interested in accumulating a century of miles, there's the so-called conversational ride, attempting to recreate the circumstances that existed during the inaugural ride during which the ride gained its current nomenclature.

on that particular ride, it rained from 10am in the morning until 4pm in the afternoon, but the route then employed kept everyone together until the climb of kilchiaran after 80-85 miles. on the basis that none of us were overexcited by the latter example of islay's topography when we least needed it, the route was subsequently amended to place that climb much closer to the beginning of the ride. it has remained thus ever since.

when giving the pre-ride talk prior to sunday's event, advising that the roads were not closed, that the highway code had need of being observed and that there was an alternative to riding the full distance, i thought i had noted an agreeable number of nodding heads when the conversational ride was announced. you might imagine my surprise when stopping at the turn point in port charlotte to ensure all headed in the direction in whch they intended to proceed, that at least 75% of the field headed in the direction of purgatory, leaving a minimal number eager to converse during their perambulations in the direction of ardbeg distillery.

unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your appreciation of the event's title), the ensuing deterioration in the weather pretty much put paid to any manageable conversation only twelve kilometres into the ride. and it didn't get any better. by the time we'd made it to the high road, the rain was persisting down and the wind was hardly blowing in a favourable direction. the very conditions, in fact, that gave us the name in the first place.

i cannot pretend that the wind was in any way innocuous, at least, not as far as islay is concerned. the rain, however, was quite impressive, not lifting at all until mid-afternoon. those of us taking in the scenery on islay's atlantic coast were then favoured with all but dry roads and the opportunity to actually see the constant stream of traffic that plied the road between foreland and kilchoman distillery. around 45-50 riders took part in the 2017 edition of the ride of the falling rain, only a small number completing the full distance for one reason or another. mostly, i believe, due to inclement weather conditions.

major credit is due to aileen and staff at debbie's café for keeping us all fuelled with coffee and cake. similar kudos must be directed towards the staff at ardbeg distillery who fed us lunch with cheery efficiency, speed and a double-espresso to die for, despite the café being feverishly busy with normal customers.

for those who feel they may have missed out on probably the very best anti-sportive on islay, feel free to join us outside debbie's around 10am on sunday 5 august 2018, hopefully for another helping of rain and wind.

ride of the falling rain

tuesday 8 august 2017

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