free at last (for a day)

world car free day

every day, except sundays, a large articulated trailer arrives on the monring ferry at port ellen and drives the sixteen kilometres to bowmore. bringing the daily supplies and stock for our local averagemarket, this large, white truck heads down bowmore main street, pulls into the right, before navigating to the middle of the road, stopping, and reversing towards the store, bumping the driver's side rear wheels up onto the pavement. if you figure that the subsequent opening of the trailer's rear doors and raising and lowering of the tailgate might conceivably restrict safe passage for pedestrians, then you'd be correct. this situation occurs every day and nobody in officialdom does anything about it.

currently, parking on the pavement is not an illegal act, though driving on the pavement is (despite the fact that the former entails the latter). according to the police, there's nothing they can do about it, unless they witness the driving part.

to be honest, it's pretty much the only form of motor congestion that affects the island, other than the regular delivery of children to school in the morning. yes, in a village only a mile end to end, children are driven to school; go figure. islay has no pedestrian crossings, no traffic lights and no roundabouts. the majority of our roads are single track and with a population of around 3,000 the lack of any noticeable congestion is not entirely unusual. but still, there are far too many folks driving incredibly short distances that could just as easily be covered on foot, never mind by bicycle.

motorised life on islay is but a microcosm of car use all across the nation; across the planet. it would be naive to consider that all car use is inherently bad; very few of us would consider cycling from glasgow to edinburgh and back in a day, though many folks undertake the same trip, more pragmatically, by car. sadly, those trips frequently consist of only one person per car, hardly making the best use of the internal combustion engine. the bus or train would arguably make more environmental sense. but in order to physically demonstrate what life could be like were cars to be removed from our towns and cities, though apparently not from our villages, 22 september each year is designated 'world car-free day', a date that happened to be yesterday.

in truth, it's an event that demonstrates all the isolation and lack of common sense shown by 'bike to work day'. according to, "Every year on or around 22 September, people from around the world get together in the streets, intersections, and neighbourhood blocks to remind the world that we don't have to accept our car-dominated society." and in their favour, they continue by stating that "But we do not want just one day of celebration and then a return to 'normal life. When people get out of their cars, they should stay out of their cars."

you will perhaps pardon my incredulity that a statement presented on a relatively obscure website, hopes to promulgate a reduction in car use. if they truly hope for that aspect of world transport to change for the better, the car free day is going to have to expand to a week or more, otherwise it will remain simply a vacuous, unfulfilled statement of intent. with only modest application, pretty much any car driver could manage to leave the vehicle in the driveway. it would take a far more concerted effort to expand that by a matter of six days. and that's why it will likely never happen.

those protesting against climate change have also criticised the event for not only consisting of a single day, but also for taking place on a sunday, when remarkably few folks are at work or have real need of their motor cars. car free day would have a smidgeon more impact if it took place midweek. regular readers will know that each and every year, to the point of boredom, i have criticised cycle to work day, yet another token event that will never achieve anything.

both cycle to work day and car free day are voluntary undertakings on behalf of their participants. there was every bit as much traffic encountered during yesterday's sunday ride than is usually the case, so i think we can discount any adherence within the rural idyll. the only way i can see such ideas gaining any traction, would be their expansion to at least a week and legal imposition by government. if nothing else, it would show tangible commitment to the 'fight' against climate change.

and that's why it'll likely never happen.

monday 23 september 2019

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size matters

presta valve core

over the years i have met many cyclists intent on undertaking a cycling holiday on islay, or simply passing through en-route to somewhere else. islay is the most southerly of the inner hebrides, a matter of twenty-five miles from northern ireland; there's even a rigid-inflatable boat service originating from campbeltown and arriving at port ellen via ballycastle. we were joined at this year's ride of the falling rain by a gent who had made use of this service. thus, our strategic location means we can easily be reached from ireland, as well as from scotland, via the isle of arran and the kintyre peninsula.

if we assume that many of those travelling north or south by bicycle will be on the road for several days, if not weeks, you would think it prudent to carry at least a minimal amount of spares in case of foreseen or unforeseen malfeasances. but it seems that my assumption makes, as a friend of mine oft repeats, "an ass out of you and me". or them, as is perhaps more appropriate under the circumstances. i have taken a selection of inner tubes to a caller who had no earthly idea of his tyre size, despite it being writ large in white on the sidewall of his tyres. i have encountered a couple who had ridden the length of ireland before arriving on these shores who had not a single spare brake or gear cable in their panniers and met more than a solitary individual without an available bicycle pump.

i am well aware that it's impossible to carry every conceivable spare, but as an absolute minimum, a few inner tubes, tyre lever, a couple of rear gear cables, two rear brake cables, a few spokes taped to the left chainstay, spoke-key, a mini-pump, multi-tool and a cassette remover. any more than that, and ascending steep hills might become a less than pleasant enterprise. and while i'd always be in favour of travelling as light as possible, too many tools will doubtless involve leaving out something else. clothes for instance.

but then again, even the minimal tool kit outlined above depends, to some extent, on your being able to use it for the purposes for which the tools were designed. let loose with a spoke key, it's possible to easily ruin a perfectly good wheel. but break a rear wheel spoke, and there's no way you can thread in a replacement without removing the cassette. hence the cassette tool. still, a few minutes prior to departure learning how to use said tool wouldn't go amiss.

i'd scarcely head up the nearest single track road without at least a a spare tube, tyre lever and a multi-tool, though in all honesty, such is its shortness of being, i'd probably be inclined to walk home and carry out any necessary repairs in the comfort of my own bike shed. however, every now and again, it's possible to be hoist by one's own petard, something that should never be admitted to in a publicly read cycling blog.

like this one for instance.

my habitual saturday route takes me along the singletrack roads behind bowmore village, turning south west to bruichladdich after perambulating through bridgend. after a fine repast and froth supping at debbie's, i am wont to turn west at foreland in order to ride around loch gorm, exiting at uiskentuie farm, before returning to the croft. such was my parcours last saturday aboard the basso diamante when, at the furthest point from home (coull farm, on the atlantic coast), the rear tyre punctured.

obviously, as a famous member of the cycling media and the nearest thing to a professional mechanic as it's possible to get without actually being one, a mere puncture was hardly the end of the world. disappointingly, the thru-axle system featured on the basso, is one i have not come across before, appearing to be a cross between a q/r and thru-axle system. however, wheel removal aside, it transpired that the spare tube i carried with me featured only a 42mm valve stem, leaving precious little of it showing past the 35mm campagnolo bora one rim. barely sufficient on which to get a grasp with my mini-pump.

that would explain why it took me so long to get going once again. though of little comfort, a local farmer stopped by in his tractor to inform me that he too had experienced a puncture on his draff trailer that same morning. it had fared far worse than i, having been abandoned in a ditch but a few hundred metres away.

the moral of the story, obviously enough, is that i really ought to have all my ducks in a row before i begin to criticise those who have asked for my assistance over the years. and it would probably be considered best practice to check that the inner tube in my saddle pack, sports a valve stem of suitable length for the wheels to which it will be fitted. had it been the ritchey logic, i'd have been well and truly stuffed, for the bora wto wheels fitted to that, are 45mm deep.

sunday 22 september 2019

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blaeu map of islay

though mrs washingmachinepost and i moved to the hallowed isle well over thirty years ago, our parents remained domiciled in scotland. thus, in order to be dutiful offspring, we had infrequent need of boarding a ferry and heading east to pay a visit. when the kids were younger, mrs washingmachinepost would disembark the ferry and board the citylink coach for glasgow. meanwhile, yours truly, aboard a bicycle of sorts, festooned with panniers and bar bag, would head in the same general direction, but by way of arran and the coastal cycle route from ardrossan. this journey, repeated on more than a single occasion, revealed the hitherto unknown fact that i can't read maps properly.

the route itself was clear enough: ferry to kennacraig, ride over the kintyre peninsula to claonaig, ferry to lochranza, ride round the top of arran to brodick on the east coast and take another ferry to ardrossan. however, on occasion number one, as the islay ferry neared the terminal at kennacraig, it was possible to view a road rising steeply into the hills, a road that i congratulated myself on not having to traverse. except that i did. roughly two kilometres of a 14% ascent, on a ten kilometre route to claonaig.

you see, though i can figure which roads comprise my prospective route, an inability to correctly interpret a map, meant that the existence of this unrecognised climb came as something of a surprise. then again, perhaps that worked in my favour. the road leading from lochranza on arran to brodick, some 24km in length, skirts the base of 'goat fell', the island's highest point at 874 metres. traversing that road on a loaded touring bike was yet another unexpected challenge, the sort of thing that adds a slight frisson to a bike ride.

an enquiry yesterday morning led me to research a vintage map of islay, one known as the blaeu map of islay, describing a shape that modern-day satellite imagery would scarcely recognise as the most southern of the inner hebrides. during my ministrations i came upon an even more rudimentary map of the region that appeared to have been printed upside down; islay and kintyre were at the top of the image, while mull, skye and the outer hebrides were positioned at the lower end of the map. however, the titling, ships and the applied legend were all perfectly in order, if a tad illegible due to the archaic nature of the map.

if nothing else, it demonstrated that our north/south orientation had not always been the default view of the world.

this surely places in perspective, the entreaty by a prominent cycling apparel provider, to ride until the road no longer appears familiar. for many of us, however, that might conceivably take more than a few kilometres to realise; i seriously doubt that there are any roads on islay that i would find unfamiliar, and my experience with maps of the island mean that i have never found myself in unrecognised surroundings. based on this knowledge, i have long been able to pass on advice and information regarding suitably enjoyable cycle routes on the isle, and i have been gratefully on the receiving end of advice and guidance when far from my comfort zone.

but, for the sake of pulling the wool over my own eyes and hopefully engendering a return to the perspective that existed over three decades ago, i intend to try riding my bicycle, accompanied by an imposed naivete, in the hope that i might rediscover aspects i think i might be in danger of taking for granted. one member of the sunday peloton has been here only a matter of a year or more and still experiences a sharp intake of breath when a dramatic view appears upon the horizon. i'd kinda like that to happen to me once in a while. and note that i said 'riding my bicycle', as distinct from riding a screen-fronted turbo in the living room.

keeping it real.

saturday 21 september 2019

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cassette tool

the ritchey logic bicycle that sits happily in the bikeshed is outfitted with a campagnolo record, twelve-speed groupset fitted by my own fair hand. though it's tempting to imply that this was accomplished due to my superior mechnical and technical skills, that would be slightly misleading. on receipt of said groupset from vicenza, i contacted one of the uk's finest cycle mechanics and campagnolo expert, graeme freestone king and asked if there were any secret handshakes of which i should be aware, prior to bolting expensive bits of carbon and alloy to the steel logic frame. graeme kindly complied, which is the real reason that everything worked perfectly from the first ride until the present day.

bolt cutters

i do like to think of myself as reasonably au fait with the many quirks and requirements demanded by modern-day bicycle componentry, possessed of an innate mechanical ability that is the equal of the very best. of course, we all know that not to be true; individuals such as mr freestone king, rohan dubash and guy andrews make my own efforts as a mechanic appear as if from the stone age. however, i cannot deny that many of the skills i do actually possess have been acquired through practical (in)experience and the opportunity to ask incessant and often daft questions of the above mentioned experts. the question is, should you follow in my grease prints?

it's no real secret that component manufacturers such as campagnolo, shimano and sram harbour ruminations over the possibility of excluding home-builds from their conditions of warranty. to a certain degree, this makes more than a soupcon of sense. as bicycle components become ever more complex in operation, expensive and arguably more fragile, the possibility of incorrect assembly becoming the cause of damage or, worse, an accident, is ever more likely. and the fitting of shiny trinketry by mere amateurs such as ourselves might conceivably leave them open to litigation.

campagnolo chain tool

secondly, all three companies spend a lot of time and money ensuring that bike shop mechanics become and remain, highly trained technicians. in evidence, graeme freestone king is campagnolo's resident trainer for authorised dealers in the uk. it would make little commercial sense to spend time and money training bike mechanics, yet let literally anyone purchase a groupset and fit it with no experience whatsoever. were that to be the case, where's the incentive for the bike shops to undertake training in the first place?

torx spanner

however, not everyone's circumstances are the same; to once again take yours truly as an example, there is no bike shop on the island and i have doubts as to whether the nearest mainland store is either a campagnolo, sram or shimano authorised dealer (i genuinely don't know). taking my bicycle for repair or assembly would incur at least a two-hour ferry journey and a 90km road trip to get there, to say nothing of an overnight stay while i wait. having fitted the record groupset, i can well see campagnolo's point of view, but realistically, would you or i accede to the above circumstances rather than have a go ourselves.

i think we both know the answer to that one.

allen keys

so, where do we proceed from here? well, at the very least, you owe it to yourself and your investment to make sure you have the absolute minimum in the way of appropriate tools. in the case of campagnolo, this does not mean rivetting the chain with one of those £10 cyclo tools. i can guarantee that will simply not work and you'll probably damage the chain in the process (to say nothing of your fingers). campagnolo and sram have a knack of varying between allen and torx bolts; resist the temptation simply to bodge it with one style of tool.

if you've spent almost £2,000 on your dream groupset, another £150 on a campag chain tool may not seem overly onerous. however, if it's one of the lower priced sets, you might be less convinced. no matter which set of componentry fulfils your desires, you're going to need a cassette tool, a chain whip or equivalent, bottom bracket tool, cable cutters, allen and torx keys, torque wrench, a workstand, grease, chain tool (if required) and a reasonable level of mechanical skill. and if you damage anything in the process, a few extra pounds in the corporate bank account. bear in mind that, unless you plan to do this on more than an isolated occasion, the cost of all the foregoing is in addition to the price of the componentry.

is anyone beginning to see the advantages of getting a bike shop to do the work?

friday 20 september 2019

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rapha explore winter cargo bibtights

rapha explore cargo bibtights

in my sixth year at school, when choosing a subject for my english dissertation, oddly enough, i opted to study comparative religion, despite being, essentially, a non-religious individual. happily, i found a compact and bijou volume in the local library entitled 'comparative religion'; how serendipitous was that? the author, it transpired, was a presbyterian minister, who carefully outlined the tenets of each religious belief system, including catholicism, jainism, islam, buddhism and several others of which i had not previously heard.

rapha explore cargo bibtights

the various chapters helped me greatly with my dissertation (which i passed, now that you ask), but, after explaining the intricacies of each religion, as a presbyterian cleric, the author would then point out the perceived failings or contradictions inherent in each. apart from, you'll be unsurprised to learn, presbyterianism. though all the world's religions feature quirks that are perhaps magnified to those who do not necessarily subscribe to such beliefs, the weirdest of the lot, from my point of view, was zen buddhism.

rapha explore cargo bibtights

this denomination, to an agnostic teenager at least, seemed rife with not only contradictions, but factors that seemed positively bizarre. for instance, who amongst us could satisfactorily provide an answer to the query 'what is the sound of one hand clapping?' and even now, i'd struggle big time to explain where my lap goes when i stand up. but one saying that is reputed to belong to that of a zen buddhist master, has subsequently become a poignant reminder of one of humankind's principal failings. "don't mistake a finger pointing at the moon, for the moon itself." it is, in fact, taken from the'shurangama sutra' and became more commonly used after bruce lee used it in the movie 'enter the dragon'.

though there are a circle of interpretations, depending on the circumstances in which it is repeated, one of the principle elucidations proclaims that by looking at the finger, you'll miss the moon.

rapha explore cargo bibtights

it's interesting the sort of things you discover while essentially looking for something else at the time. a bit like the recent review process for rapha's pro team, lightweight shadow jacket. so intent was i to make accurate representation of its magnanimous benificence, that i failed to notice the delight to be gained from accompanying said jacket with a pair of imperial works' explore cargo bib tights. i know you now think less of me, having admitted that, even before october has had a chance to promote its appearance on the distant horizon, i have already discarded bibshorts for bibtights, but honestly, there has been more than a single instance of a chilly day recently.

rapha explore cargo bibtights

and, despite being the wrong end of the year, i'm always cognisant of the late david duffield's on-air discourses regarding easter knees. you see the superpower proffered by the shadow jacket, is a propensity to roll raindrops off its surface with an insouciant joie de vivre. yet, at the very same time, the cargo bibtights were effectively doing the very same thing. i have enquired of rapha on several occasions, as to the likelihood of a pair of shadow bibtights (oddly enough, a garment that exists in their women's range), but i have been advised that the likely price of such male leg protection would be decidedly on the wrong side of exhorbitant. yet, here is a pair of immensely pragmatic bibtights that offers almost the very weatherproofing i'd fervently hoped might be encompassed in a shadow version.

rapha explore cargo bibtights

aside from the weatherproofing (which is remarkably impressive all on its own), the cargo apellation refers principally to the pocketage featured about its person. on the right leg is a mesh pocket similar to those you'll find on rapha's cargo bibshorts, augmented by another, smaller version, on the lower back. this is matched with an adjacent second pocket with a waterproof zip, almost identical to another zipped pocket on the left leg. though every rapha jersey you can order sports three rear pockets, at least a part of the idea behind the explore range is that the bibtights can be matched with a technical t-shirt (long or short-sleeve) for a more relaxed and considerably less formal demeanour. in fact, with due deference to victoria beckham's autumn fashion range, i might recommend matching the cargo bibtights with just such technical apparel, covered by a pro team, lightweight shadow jacket.

rapha explore cargo bibtights

you can thank me later.

meanwhile, with impending wet weather, dropping temperatures and autumnal wanderlust, in the cargo bibtights, i may have found my new mojo. flatlock stitching and a fleece backing, promise and deliver on warmth and comfort, while the pockets can carry enough to bring the tights over cabin baggage weight limit for your next flight to somewhere or other. the brevet style markings on the rear of each calf panel will bring you to the attention of any following vehicle or wildebeest. available in either black or dark navy, there's a high possibility that rapha's cargo bibtights are the very leg coverings you'd no idea you needed.

but believe me, they are, and you do.

rapha's explore cargo bibtights are available in sizes ranging from xs to xxl at a cost of £240.
rapha explore cargo bibtights

thursday 19 september 2019

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join the club

campagnolo club

at the risk of offering a sweeping generalisation, people can be divided into two distinct groups: those who join clubs and those who don't. i have both feet very firmly in the latter camp. had i been even remotely aware that there were such things as cycling clubs when at an early age, there's every likelihood that i would not have completed a membership form under any circumstances. i do not propose this state of affairs as that of a confirmed rebel or upstart, and certainly not a course of action i would necessarily advise as one to follow blindly. the disappointing corollary to this is that i cannot, for the life of me, figure out why this has so long been the case.

while at school, despite a propensity for debate (though my teachers generally categorised this as 'argumentative'), i resisted any thought of joining the debating society. and while i'd be loath to class a pipe band as a club - despite the fact that, in essence, it is - i failed miserably to avoid joining one, having thought i was simply there as a drumming tutor. believe me, it's a mistake i don't intend to repeat anytime soon.

so, what of the infamous velo club whose sunday morning rides are often characterised in these very pixels? well, despite the fact that you might conceivably have a point, the word 'club' applied in this instance would hardly be an accurate apellation. for starters, there is not actual rule book, though rule one distinctly states that 'there are no rules', a fact confirmed by rule two ('see rule one'). additionally, though nobody would dispute the fact that the mighty dave-t is the director sportif, we have no elected, or unelected officials. heck, take the annual ride of the falling rain; no marshals, no feed stations, no timing chips and no entry fee. does that sound like the offspring of a fully-constituted club?


however, the other half of society has no qualms whatsoever about joining a club, content to hand over an annual membership fee in return for education, comradeship, prospective benefits and, perchance, a sense of standing in society. it may surprise you to learn that there are members of the pipe band who not only practise in their spare time, but are happy to turn up on more than a single evening per week to confirm their club man/woman ship. and what's worse, they seem to enjoy it.

i am of a generation for which there was little by way of alternative to a campagnolo groupset affixed to a lugged steel frameset. the japanese alternative had yet to make any serious inroads into the world of road riding, happier to make their bed in the nascent world of mountain biking. vicenza did place a tentative foot in the latter genre, but it was a foot that didn't stay there for long, retrenching to the tried and tested after a few years of failing to match the incessant and prescient development shown by shimano. whether we should be thankful that this is the case, is probably a question still debated in more knowledgeable corners even to this day.

campagnolo club

however, despite shimano's quest for world domination in the groupset market, whether on or offroad, vicenza has stood firm, though, profit-wise at least, very much the poorer sibling. some of this is as much at the behest of geography, as it is marketing and research and development. with the bulk of the world's bicycles manufactured in the far east, the fact that shimano and, subsequently, sram are domiciled in the region, makes it far less economical for frame manufacturers to bring componentry from italy, rather than nearby japan and china.

yet, in spite of the rise and rise of far eastern componentry, campagnolo retains a loyalty that the other two would probably swap patents for. i'm more than happy to admit to a distinct impartiality in such proceeedings; assuming i have the choice, i will always opt for campagnolo over the other two (or three, if we include 'rotor'), and it seems i am not alone. so far as i'm aware, there are no fan clubs for componentry beginning with the letter 's' or 'r', but as of right now, there's a campagnolo club, an institution not only eagerly recruiting members, but an american-based collective keen to spread tendons across the world.

the 'campagnolo club' website makes it very plain that they have no direct affiliation to campagnolo srl, of vicenza, italy, and campagnolo have stressed to me that they are not connected in any way, shape or form. it states on their website, however, that "The Campagnolo Club is an international club of Campagnolo brand passionates. A member-based group of Campy loyalists from around the world, Campagnolo Club is open to all cyclist types and riding abilities including amateur, professional, recreational and sport."

you can, i would imagine, see the potential conundrum incurred by the existence of the campagnolo club? while i still subscribe to the maxim espoused by groucho marx, that i would not join a club that would have me as a member, the temptation to send $19.33 (the year that tullio campagnolo began manufacturing) across the pond to become a fully paid-up member of the club, is one that i fear i will be unable to resist. and if, as the borg on star-trek maintained, 'resistance is futile', will you subsequently think the less of me?

mind you, if i do join, it'll be a record.

campagnolo club

campagnolo club

wednesday 18 september 2019

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basso diamante - part two

basso diamante

though i have no particular truck with motor cars, it's hard to avoid the advertisements that proclaim their untold benefits to society, in both the weekend newspaper supplements and tv advertising. with reference to the latter, we will soon be in the throes of christmas advertising, when tv ads for perfumes are given free reign to be as bizarre as possible, a genre that several motor car adverts seem intent on emulating. however, leaving aside any perceived pretension on behalf of the marketeers, i have noted on occasion, that one or two encourage interested parties to 'book a 24 hour test-drive'.

i have every faith that there are several pages worth of terms and conditions surrounding what appears a more than generous offer. let's face it, which self-respecting manufacturer/car dealer is going to simply hand over the keys (assuming the vehicle in question still requires such an apparently archaic method of starting) with the cheery request to "just bring it back when you're finished"? there will more than likely be several required indemnities, possibly including holding your bank manager as hostage overnight.

a full-day's test drive sounds like the ideal means of assessing the car of your dreams before making the first down payment, but in truth, the reality is likely to be somewhat different. i would be mightily impressed if a participant in such a scheme actually drove the vehicle for the full twenty-four hours, and, under all the conditions you might reasonably expect to encounter, were the car to be permanently in your ownership. in the case of island residents, such as yours truly, would i be allowed to take it on the ferry to see if it fits comfortably on the mezzanine car deck of the mv finlaggan, before motoring around many of our singletrack roads? not that i plan to do so, but i seriously doubt it.

basso diamante

but cars must surely require a suitable period to impress their new owners; i have known several individuals who, having purchased a new vehicle, subsequently found it not to be to their taste, by which time, the value had doubtless dropped considerably. conceivably, the same can be said about bicycles. despite a far lower level of sophistication, bicycles cannot always be fully appraised after a quick pedal round the block, while the bike shop owner retains a vice-like grip on your credit card. to a certain extent, that's where reviews can prove helpful, for both cars and bicycles.

italy's basso cycles have been kind enough to supply a metallic blue diamante for review, replete with a super-record, eleven-speed groupset and a disc-equipped campagnolo bora one wheelset. equally as kindly, they have placed no specific restriction on the length of time over which the review might continue, a rare enough feature in the hustle and bustle of the contemporary cycle industry. therefore, i have had the luxury of riding this beautiful bicycle under pretty much every situation available to the intrepid hebridean, encountering twisty, unkempt singletrack roads, punctuated by more than the occasional cattle-grid and the odd, short, sharp, gravelly descent.

and carnduncan's 'egg hut'.

basso diamante

it's only just over a month since i posted my initial review of the diamante, during which, those early observations have become pretty much confirmed and underlined. however, if i might commence with the only bad thing i've discovered, though the paint work makes for a highly distinctive bicycle, it seems a tad fragile in the hustle and bustle of the bike rack. it would be a tad naive to expect a review model to remain in pristine condition, despite strenuous efforts to keep it that way, but a carelessly parked tourist's bicycle in the rack at debbie's managed to chip tiny slivers of paint from the front fork and the chainstay.

the sunday morning peloton are not renowned for their cossetting of velocipedinal machinery, but over the years, none of us seem to have suffered such slings, arrows and chipped paint of discontent. the caveat learned from this is 'be careful with your basso'.

everything else about the bike is, as bugs bunny once said, 'ginger peachy'. it is noticeably stiffer than several other bicycles i ride, as any thoroughbred race bike should be, yet manages not to pass much of that potential discomfort onto the rider. in fact, the italian-built frame seems to have been engineered as much for comfort as for straight-line speed. that inherent stiffness has provided moments of great joy when avoiding carelessly placed potholes and just as carelessly driven cars on the singletrack between foreland and kilchoman distillery. the ease with which it can be manouevred in pretty much any direction you like, slipping in and out of passing places to avoid substantially-sized wing mirrors, almost encouraged me to seek out cycle-oblivious whisky tourists.

basso diamante

i have come to terms with the brake cables being 'the wrong way round', and though the stopping power is sourced from basso's fellow italians in vicenza, the discs, calipers and forks all seem very well matched to the task of bringing everything to a halt in a timeous and well-modulated manner. and when the opposite becomes necessary, sprinting to reach the safety of the nearest passing place, there was never any doubt as to where my meagre power output was being channelled. and i still absolutely love the spring in the bottom bracket's step when attempting to achieve the latter. it is the bicycle's hidden joie de vivre.

sadly, i doubt there is any solution to the likelihood of bicycle companies offering their own '24 hour test ride', but if you're considering a new, italian made, carbon fibre road bike, i would heartily recommend that you seek out your nearest basso dealer, and base your judgment at least partially on the italian largesse that i have been graciously extended. i am more than happy to have suffered for your art.

i should point out that i am riding the 2019 model; the 2020 version has now been released, featuring a number of significant updates.

basso diamante 2020

tuesday 17 september 2019

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