kept in the loop

jacket collar hang-loop

in the days when eddy stalked the peloton on the flat, uphill and on the descents, cycle jerseys were almost all built from wool. though this was obviously well before my time, anecdotally, this wool was not the superfine, machine-washable merino that we have all come to know and love; this was the itchy-scratchy stuff that made men from boys and displayed a distinct tendency to drag on the rear tyre when wet. the latter proclivity was no doubt aided by all manner of items stuffed in those industry-standard, three rear pockets.

though cycle jersey fabric has undergone fewer changes over the years than the average political manifesto does in a week, until not so very long ago, the industry seemingly demanded that three pockets was the mandatory ruling. that, however, all changed in the early part of this century when some bright spark noted that the (distinctly) amateur peloton frequently had need of carrying house keys, coffee money and, more recently, mobile phones, items which demanded more security than an open pocket. though few of the above items were likely to up and remove themselves from a pocket voluntarily, it was not inconceivable that they might become accidentally involved with a snack wrapper or discarded gel.

jacket collar hang-loop

alternatively, finding your mobile phone covered in a thin, sticky film of flavoured gel, was probably not the best welcome home after a tenacious training session.

thus was born the fourth jersey pocket, one which invariably featured a horizontal or vertical zip, depending on the sartorial style of said jersey. initially, this welcome initiative appeared on the jerseys of a very select few cycling apparel purveyors, but if i received a review sample bereft of zipped pocket, i was careful to note that fact in my subsequent review. though i seriously doubt the cycle industry was moved to incorporate a zipped pocket on their jerseys simply due to my less than vitriolic remarks, ultimately, we have been blessed with a regular series of four rear pockets on almost every jersey, other than those specifically earmarked for bona-fide team riders.

this makes perfect sense, for when was the last time you noted any coffee stops or calls from home during a uci sanctioned event?

jacket collar hang-loop

you would think, therefore, that it would be time for a self-congratulatory "my work here is done" statement, even if only as a stringent thought, as opposed to being voiced out loud. but, in truth, i fear my work is never truly done, along with all the other famous members of the cycling media whose lives are marked by a constant series of clothing reviews. for there is another trivial, yet significantly repetitive ommission upon which i regularly come across, one that afflicts the humble cycling jacket, whether replete with rear pockets or otherwise.

i can but admit that the sunday morning peloton is perhaps insufficiently educated as to the finer social conventions practised in normal society. for whether we arrive at debbie's in the finest of trim, or dripping on the floor after a particularly inclement bike ride, the normal habit is to hang our jackets across the back of the chairs upon which we are seated. in the absence of coat-hooks inside the front door, i daresay we could have, in the same way that we installed a bike-rack, have bought a corprorate coat stand, but as i have mentioned above, civilisation still has a way to go before the peloton takes note.

jacket collar hang-loop

however, hanging a jacket on the chair back often means that the total ommission of a collar loop goes un-noticed. at least, until trying to hang a jacket on the coat hooks across the inside of a bedroom door after a victorious return to the croft. fortunately, there are several manufacturers whose designers pay attention to the minutiae of jacket design, but that makes it all the more infuriating when a jacket arrives minus that loop.

i would be kidding myself and my reader, were i to pretend that the velocipedinal clothing industry hangs upon my every published word, immediately retiring to the sewing room to remedy the situation in a timeous manner. however, i intend to point out such a small, yet annoying ommission in each and every jacket review until a hang loop at the collar becomes as ubiquitous as the zipped rear pocket.

you're welcome.

monday 04 november 2019

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

what on earth is an albannach?

albannach custom titanium bicycles

in the latter part of last week, as i departed the newsagent's, grasping a copy of my daily newspaper, i was overtaken by the desire for a ristretto. this may have been the immediate proximity of a coffee shop, or just a fleeting fancy that needed to be satisfied, but either way, i popped in for an impossibly tiny cup of rocket fuel. in the process of making my way to the coffee counter, i passed a table occupied by persons of my acquaint, all of whom hold affiliation to a political party currently in power, north of the border.

albannach custom titanium bicycles

i made some flippant remark about being unaware that they now held party meetings in the coffee shop, then continued to stride towards the machinery of delights. as i waited patiently, a member from the table described above, arose and attempted to fasten to my jacket, a badge featuring the logo of the party to which i have just referred. aside from the fact that this was something of an unwanted imposition, given my party political agnosticism, the jacket was a not inexpensve garment that might well have been damaged by the fastening of this yellow and black pin badge.

albannach custom titanium bicycles

i made my objections known to the person responsible and stuffed the badge in a pocket, for i have no intention whatsoever of advertising affiliation to any political party, let alone that described by the logo. do not misunderstand me; i'm quite happy to be a scotsman, but i am considerably less than fanatical about it and i certainly have no great wish for scotland to depart the united kingdom, simply to satisfy some nationalist whim.

albannach custom titanium bicycles

however, that's not to say that, through these black and yellow pixels, i cannot exercise a form of nepotism and sing the praises of scottish velocipedinal effort, particularly when it relates to a compact and bijou range of rather fine looking titanium bicycles. these are the brainchild of a fellow by the name of jim cameron, a man who hails from an island not that much farther north than where i currently reside. in fact, clear enough were the skies this past saturday, that, on my way to gruinart flats on islay's north western coast, i could see the hills of jim's home island of mull.

albannach custom titanium bicycles

now resident in glasgow, and very recently a father for the first time, to all intents and purposes, jim is albannach bicycles. the word is gaelic for 'scottish', or 'scotsman', but as jim said "I like to use the literal translation; 'to belong to Scotland'. however, unlike the archetypal framebuilder, cooried up in a garage or bikeshed, feverishly brazing or welding metal tubes into a double-diamond shape, jim cameron never actually has to break sweat when providing custom titanium for his eager customers.

albannach custom titanium bicycles

" I design the frames to my customers' exact specifications. While I have a set of geometry tables for my CROIS (cyclocross), RATHAD (road) and TORRAGAR (randonneur) models, the geometry is also completely customisable. That, combined with their choice of brake type (rim / disc), derailler actuation (mechanical / electric / wireless) cable routing, contact-bearing pieces (bottom brackets, head tubes, rear axles), I like to think I can provide a thorough solution for my customers.
"I'm a civil/structural engineer by education and trade. The great thing about offering this kind of service, is that there's always some daft problem that a customer would like to fix. As an engineer it's always a pleasure to be able to provide a solution to their particular problem and see it through with a shiny new Albannach."

albannach custom titanium bicycles

the days are long gone when a new frame for a new season would entail a simple choice between reynolds, or columbus tubing if in europe, or possibly true-temper if across the pond. nowadays, we are totally spoilt for choice, with not only aluminium and titanium on the shopping list, but even one or two builders offering custom carbon. as the sayng goes, 'you pays your money and you takes your choice'. i asked jim if albannach frames were always going to be titanium or had he argued with himself over the other possibilities outlined above?

albannach custom titanium bicycles

"Albannach sort of started from me looking to design my own frame, as I could never get what I really wanted from stock frames. Too often I would maybe find a frame that would be ideal for my body shape (I'm kind of T-Rex shaped, long femurs, short humeri) to then only find design flaws that I couldn't stomach. For example, cyclocross frames with external, bare, down tube routed derailleurs. That's shite and reeks of a designer who's not ridden many cross races.
"So I decided to design my own. I've always admired the aesthetics of titanium frames from afar and there's something quite Scottish and modest about titanium. Why would you need to tart it up in paint when the raw metal alloy looks so vibrant? Truthfully, however, it's the ride quality of titanium that matches the kind of riding I like to do, to the kind of places I ride."

albannach custom titanium bicycles

on a totally unrelated subject, i am currently in the process of designing a bass drum head for the community pipe band, now that the two principle manufacturers of drumheads offer a custom service. disappointingly, the process is becoming seriously bogged down by the continual addition of one feature after another, instead of retaining the graphic simplicity evident at the outset. simplicity is almost always the best policy and it's one that seems inherent in all three of albannach's current range of titanium frames. was that jim's desired intention or did they just turn out that way?

albannach custom titanium bicycles

"Definitely intentional. While I appreciate the classic aesthetic of Nervex lugs on a 'Flying Scot', my frames are absolutely designed with end-purpose at the forefront. For example the CROIS, as standard, comes with a flattened underside to the top tube. The design rationale to this is to spread the load of the bicycle when shouldering it during a cyclocross race. I have often been asked if could I add that to a customer's non-'cross build, as they like that look; however I tend to talk them round to the reason why I use that feature only for the CROIS build. In turn this helps me build a aesthetic that is recognisable as an Albannach."

albannach custom titanium bicycles

i confess that, in my early years of cycling as we know it, the rationale behind owning more than one bicycle seemed built on decidedly shaky ground, though even i could grasp the necessity of a specific offroad machine if such proved to be your pedalling proclivity. however, many years and many bicycles later, i am as inured to the n+1 rule as seemingly everyone else. the intervening years have educated me to the pleasures and vicissitudes of each genre, but certainly rarely from a builder/designer's point of view. what notable differences are there between road, cross and randonneur framesets and has jim ever considered an albannach mountain bike?

albannach custom titanium bicycles

"All of my frames are designed with a nod towards racing geometry, whether it be cyclocross, road or ultra-endurance. In the most simple of descriptions, the frames are increasingly aggressive, leading from TORRAGAR, to CROIS, to RATHAD. They are built with features for their specific purpose. For example, the TORRAGAR is covered in mounts for racks, cages and mudguards, while the CROIS doesn't have a single mount, as it's purpose is to be rattled around a cross course as fast as possible for an hour.
"That doesn't mean to say that features cannot be used interchangeably. I often have requests for a 'TORRACROIS' (TORRAGAR features, CROIS geometry) or 'RARRAGAR' (RATHAD geometry, TORRAGAR features). As far as mountain bike frames go, yes I've designed a couple of personal XC frames, the BEINN, but I'm not quite ready to offer that publicly."

albannach custom titanium bicycles

it's pretty apparent that i'm not a framebuilder, nor indeed, a frame designer. i still delight in the one-inch steerer, head tube and headset featured on my colnago master frameset, and to this day i still cannot fathom the need for anything larger. the same goes for bottom brackets; i've become used to the externality of bb cups, but as to the effectiveness of press-fit, well... however, even a brief perusal of the titanium on offer from the albannach website, will reveal many of those features on albannach's titanium. in fact the road frame's head tube flares from the ubiquitous 1.125" to 1.5" at the crown. is this not a tad excessive on a road bike? after all, eddy won many a race with a 1" headset, so has jim become a slave to the great god stiffness?

albannach custom titanium bicycles

"I'll need to take you for a spin round the lanes south of Glasgow! Honestly though, the industry had gone towards tapered 1.125" to 1.5" diameter fork steerers long before I started designing frames in 2012. Now, if your material of use is carbon, it is more difficult to find a straight 1.125" diameter fork steerer than a tapered one. There are options to adopt a straight 44mm ID head tube with zero stack cups up top and external cups down below to fit the more common tapered fork, but I prefer the uniformity of a tapered head tube with zero stack cups top and bottom. In that sense adopting a 44mm to 56mm ID head tube allows a bit more future-proofing of the frame. It is for that reason that I also prefer to adopt PF30 shells, as the allow the frame the use of 24mm and 30mm diameter crankset axles."

albannach custom titanium bicycles

regular readers of the post will, perhaps, be fed up with my reticent attitude towards the so-called technological developments that afflict the bicycle industry, many of which seem more like inveterate tinkering than true progress. however, i'm almost in a minority of one, so i daresay i'll have to learn to live with that. however, when it comes to custom frames, i'd like to think my luddite attitude could prevail, given that i'd be the one paying. in which case, i asked jim if, hypothetically, i'd be able to order a titanium 'cross bike with cantilever brakes, external cable routing, a 1.125" non-tapered head tube/headset, a standard threaded bottom bracket and a braze-on front derailleur bracket, whether he approved or not?

"Yes, definitely. The ultimate goal of the Albannach FRAMEWORKS is to build your unique Albannach, made to your unique specifications."

albannach custom titanium bicycles

that leaves only the matter of the front forks which, on the illustrations shown on the albannach website, seem all to be fashioned from carbon fibre. is that always the case, or is there an option to have a set of titanium forks to match those glorious, raw titanium frames?

" Titanium forks are an option, but I personally don't like the aesthetic of a metal fork built from tubes. I think that the straight forks made with carbon, suit Albannach frames far better."

so, having created a fine range of three different framesets, all available for custom order, and the mere hint of a future albannach mountain bike frame, what is jim's cunning plan for the foreseeable future?

albannach custom titanium bicycles

"In the past I've had a stab at ultra-endurance races such as the Transcontinental (cue the birth of the TORRAGAR). I love this format of racing, however I'm more inclined to get further and further away from public roads (cue the birth of #theFaultlineTrail) and while I might never get the chance to enter the race, as my first daughter arrived just a few days ago, a real bucket list event for me is to enter the Tour Divide. I've been brewing up something special for that for quite a while. I just need the push to enter the race and see that wee project through. If I do, look out for the ROINN."

if you're in the market for a new frame sometime soon, with a penchant for titanium sporting a scottish flare, a scottish name etched on the downtube and a distinctly scottish head tube badge, you can contact jim cameron via the albannach website.

sunday 03 november 2019

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

prendas primaloft cupron socks and winter thermolite socks

prendas cupron socks

on the subject of socks, velominati is quite clear. aside from the unilateral approach of rule #28, declaring that 'socks can be any damn colour you like', its predecessor in the hierarchy remains a tad more open to interpretation. a sunday morning colleague in the peloton blatantly flouts the 'no socks is a no-no' advice, but since he's bigger and faster than i am, it's a contravention i'm unlikely to bring to his attention anytime soon. however, the contention that socks ought best be 'like goldilocks', is one i'm not sure i entirely comprehend.

prendas thermolite socks

the rule itself begins with declaration 'not too short, not too long', but the only mental picture i have related to goldilocks was her ill-advised consumption of porridge and three furry bears returning home. i assume that the simile is intended to refer to the ideal plate of porridge being neither too hot, nor too cold, but i confess it's a simile that i find just a tad contrived for my liking. nonetheless, i think i begin to see their point.

what i believe velominati may have ommited from this particular regulation is a seasonal disclaimer. now that the clocks have gone back, and british summer time is no more, the weather has followed suit. granted, we in the hebrides have benefitted from several days of clear blue skies accompanied by near zero temperatures. the volkswagen golf inadvisably parked at the point where the road narrows on my morning walk, was seen to have frosted windows at the beginning of the week. sadly, this has now been replaced with drizzling rain and a slight raising of the windspeed.

prendas cupron socks

accepting such to be the case, the bibshort drawer, including at least two thermal varieties, has been placed on notice, replaced by regular access to the bibtight drawer. i daresay it would amount to some form of velocipedinal fashion statement to wear the socks outboard of my tights, but i am noted for my conventional approach to on-the-bike sartorial elegance, and i would (almost) never do such a thing. thus, come the weekend, when there are kilometres to be ridden, the socks-du-jour are carefully ensconced 'neath the legs of my bibtights, just as they should be.

if you're willing to accept this as normal, nationwide behaviour, the length of the socks thus worn, is surely of purely academic interest and a matter between me and my sock drawer?

prendas thermolite socks

despite all the foregoing discussion, the realities of the situation are more generally centred around two sides of one coin; are my feet warm or are they cold? it is entirely possible for a bike ride to come under the heading of 'best ever', yet be totally undermined due to cold feet that failed miserably to warm up during the ensuing perambulations. and though i'm sure there are extreme conditions that would render the following statement to be slightly suspect, i'm happy to recommend that, if the latter seems a potentially likely scenario, then you have a definitive need for one or both pairs of socks under consideration.

prendas thermolite socks

prendas have positioned their primaloft cupron socks and winter thermolite socks in seasonal order, the former being ideal for the current strain of weather, and the latter coming into their own as the temperature begins to drop nearer to, or past the magic zero. of the two, the cupron socks are the more visually impressive, but given that no-one other than mrs washingmachinepost and yours truly will ever see their relative magnificence, this is scarcely a factor likely to be positioned high on the choice criteria. even the strategically placed prendas logo on the back is hidden from view behind thermal lycra.

i beileve i have stated before that the best thing that can be said about socks is that they're all but forgotten while in use, assuming they're carrying out the duties expected. if your feet are cold, you'd be sure to notice and probably likewise if they were overheating. the cupron socks, for this specific time of year (in the uk at least) are ideal. comfortable to wear, cosy in use and not prone to niff, thanks to the cupron yarn featured in the knit.

prendas cupron socks

as if to prove my point, i wore the thermolite socks on the days following my cupron rides, when the temperatures remained similar and my feet were notably warmer, perhaps slightly too much so. acessorise with waterproof overshoes, and you're likely to have scorch marks on your toes. this is, at least in part, achieved by the use of the hollow thermolite fibres, providing impressive insulation without any additional weight. the time will soon be here when these become first choice pulled from the sock drawer, but given the fickleness of the scottish climate, november can hardly be considered too early to make these a priority purchase. it might even be worth your while taking advantage of prendas' current multisaver deal to acquire three pairs of thermolites for a mere £24 (normally £8.99 each).

alternatively, since the primaloft cupron socks are available under the same terms, it might come down to choosing of which you'd prefer to have two pairs. however, if i were you, i'd buy three of each; it's not like you won't need them.

both prendas primaloft cupron socks and thermolite winter socks are available in sizes ranging from xs to xxl at a retail price of £8.99 per pair. the multisaver deal available on both, offers three pairs for only £24.

prendas ciclismo

saturday 02 november 2019

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

an independent point of view

cycling weekly

for a number of years now, i have quietly trumpeted thewashingmachinepost as being the oldest cycling blog in the world. i began writing this stuff over 23 years ago, before either the word 'weblog' or its subsequent contraction to 'blog' existed in common parlance. for once in my life, i was actually ahead of the game (so to speak). however, the fact that this is so, is purely an accident of timing; i happened to be in the right place at the right time.

however, there are others with what i might refer to as a greater level of confidence in their particular section of the media. having once meddled with the new media of podcasting when first it crossed our paths, i quickly desisted for reasons involving a lack of available time and the fact that i far prefer writing to speaking into a microphone. however, the podcast is currently enjoying a resurgence, possibly due to the immediacy of the medium, coupled with an availability of convenient methods of recording said podcasts

i'm sure i need not point out that, when i started these scribblings, the iphone was still over a decade in the future.

this confidence spilled over onto twitter the other day when the progenitor of a cycling podcast declared that his was the one deserving of our support because "...there isn't much in the way of non-corporate cycling media." the word 'corporate' is not one with which i readily identify, and i'm pretty sure many others who offer regularly updated blogs or podcasts feel pretty much the same. i can assure you that there is no corporately liveried skoda in the non-existent driveway, i am pretty sure i'm closer to the bottom of the world's richest persons list than the top, and i only acquire sufficient advertising income to take care of my annual hosting fees.

furthermore, on following the twitter link heading the aforesaid statement, the brief bio describes the podcast to be "...the only collection of top-tier independent cycling (and cycling-adjacent) media in the world" truly, there's nothing like a substantial helping of narcissism to make the world go round.

however, while the above statement is demonstrably untrue and likely to form the legitimate basis for endless argument and consternation, the subject of independence in the cycling media might be one worthy of closer investigation. i say this in the light of the announcement that future publishing, publishers of 'procycling' magazine and owners of bike radar and have just purchased ti media, publishers of cycling weekly, giving them almost carte-blanche in the uk world of cycling (and cycling adjacent) media. having made this purchase, future now intend to instigate £30m worth of cost synergies, which might be a euphemism for redundancies, but it could also mean a facebook-like desire to hoover up all the available advertising.

it also might mean that a corporate opinion presides, with little to challenge it other than folks like me and other cycling bloggers whose corporate headquarters consist of an armchair in the sitting room, a laptop and a logo'd t-shirt. if you feel i may have seriously overused the word 'corporate', let me quote from future's chief executive officer, the colourfully named zillah byng-thorne. to wit : "The largely UK-focused, print-led nature of the TI Media portfolio offers a multiplicity of opportunities to leverage our proprietary technology stack and operating model to develop new audiences and geographic expansion."

ms byng-thorne continued, saying "This deal marks the latest move in our strategy to expand our global reach through organic growth, acquisitions and strategic partnerships. We look forward to working closely with the TI Media team as we continue to expand our loyal communities and give them a place they want to spend their time and where they go to meet their needs."

if you're looking for a defintion of the word 'corporate', that's probably it.

in the era of facebook, twitter, google et al, large corporations buying up the surrounding real estate, can hardly come as a surprise. the lineage of the comic's previous owners is the perfect example: ipc (international publishing corporation) was founded in 1963, and was purchased in 2001 by us-based for $1.6bn. they rebranded it as time inc. uk in 2014. time inc. was then purchased by meredith in 2018, who sold the uk operation to private-equity company eperis for a reputed £130m. time inc. uk subsequently became ti media. now they're being absorbed into the future publishing empire.

you might think that this is of purely academic interest and very unlikely to impinge upon the sunday ride or the saturday blast. you'd be wrong, but with luck, you'll never notice.

friday 01 november 2019

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

the more things change, the more they stay the same

superprestige gavere

for many cyclocross addicts, the world tour road season presents simply a hurdle that has to be endured until the next 'cross season begins around the end of september/beginning october. arguments have been made to the facilitators of the winter olympics to allow cyclocross to become one of the competitive disciplines featured every four years. however, acceptance has, so far, been denied on the grounds that any winter olympic sport must depend on either snow or ice to take place. though many a cyclocross world championship has taken place over a mixture of both, events such as last weekend's round of the super prestige at gavere, if nothing else, proved that neither snow or ice are compulsory.

the growing popularity of a sport that has been the mainstay of winter months in belgium and the netherlands, to say nothing of the occasional forays into france or italy, is probably an aspect that endeared it to north american cycle fans too. when elite races last but one hour plus a lap and take place over a parcours, the majority of which can be viewed from a single vantage point, it allows for a highly varied, one-day programme, including events for both sexes and even a kids' race (possibly north-america only). so doing inevitably makes the sport more attractive to a wider audience.

superprestige gavere

number one son and i will be heading off to chris hoy's velodrome on saturday 9 november to watch world cup track cycling, a visit predicated by our last attendance some three years ago, when the relentlessness of the evening's programme scarcely left time to breathe. well-managed 'cross events frequently offer the same non-stop entertainment, particularly if the racing is close from start to finish. and that's sort of where the international house of cards starts to fall apart.

televised viewing of continental weekend 'cross races such as those that form part of the uci's world cup series, or the aforementioned superprestige, has dramatically improved over recent years. seemingly gone are the days of hunching over a laptop computer, watching, small, highly pixelated images from sporza, with flemish commentary adding a delightful je ne sais quoi to proceedings. last sunday, i luxuriated in full screen, high definition coverage from gcn, augmented by the use of drones to provide aerial footage of the race unfolding in the sunshine.

yet, despite all this, there is an omnipresent downside that insists on invading season after season.

superprestige gavere

in the days of sven nys, the great rider would inevitably make a poor to mediocre start, holding our attention simply to see on which lap he would ride into the lead and disappear into the distance. in more recent years, matthieu van der poel and wout van aert would not only manage clean, impressive starts, but start to distance every other competitor often by the end of the first lap. one or other would then end up winning by a substantial margin. it was a delight to watch the demonstrative ease with which they achieved this, but it did tend to remove any visual excitement from the racing.

you could readily identify with those who despaired over eddy merckx' predilection to win every race he started in the 1970s.

however, van aert is currently injured and unlikely to race in this year's cyclocross season, and matthieu van der poel, after a remarkable first road-race season, seems less inclined to dip a toe in too many 'cross events. thus, the opening laps of the race at gavere promised an hour's worth of close racing, leading to an eventual fight for the finish-line victory.

superprestige gavere

however, my anticipation was utterly dispelled on lap four (of ten), when eli iserbyt, riding for the pauwels sauzen-bingoal team, took advantage of a slip-up by toon aerts and showed a rapidly vanishing clean pair of heels, eventually going on to win by 43 seconds. the gap, up until the final lap, had been over one minute, but iserbyt backed off a bit, when assured of victory. however, that was a greater gap than that achieved by iserbyt a week earlier in bern, when he took victory by 35 seconds.

nobody can blame the victor for achieving precisely what he's being paid for, but here's hoping aerts, van der haar or sweeck can figure out how to keep iserbyt in check and offer an expectant audience closer racing for the rest of the season. otherwise the changing of the guard might be less than we'd hoped for.

mind you, britain's tom pidcock finished an impressive fourth, having made it up to second before running out of steam.

thursday 31 october 2019

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

you know you're a cyclist when...

islay sea adventures

it's a common enough precursor to a list, detailing how sad we all are in relation to our velocipedinal obsession. the correct answers to the above heading usually proceed along the lines of checking the bike first immediately after an accident, or leaving the sofa in the back garden to leave room for the bicycle in the sitting room. when i bought my first carbon colnago, the frame sat on the floor against the wall for a day or two, so that i could drool over it prior to assembly. i know, i know; i'm not proud of it either.

for the past couple of days, this corner of the hebrides has benefitted from clear blue skies and darned near zero temperatures first thing in the morning. on my early, pre-work walk, it has been necessary to accessorise with gloves and a 'king crimson' embroidered woolly hat, shading one eye from the rising sun on the return trip. these are the very conditions in which to pursue the cycling obsession, riding to wherever the bicycle takes me; more than likely involving strong coffee with froth on the top.

however, like the majority of the working population, gainful employment awaits. there is an empty chair in front of a macintosh computer with my name on it (not literally, you understand), one that all but demands occupation by yours truly. apparently sitting there weekday after weekday plays a central part in keeping wolves from our double-glazed front door, something of a killjoy when it comes to heading out on a bicycle for the morning (or day).

but every now and again, the rainbows that have punctuated islay's skies recently, end right next to that office chair.

the artist formerly known as the scottish tourist board, but now presented as visitscotland, frequently displays a predilection for awarding stars to tourist attractions which, in their view at least, have excelled at entertaining the visitors who have availed themselves of the proffered attractions. two of islay's finest have recently and respectively had five stars bestowed upon their efforts: islay sea adventures, based adjacent to lagavulin distillery, and islay's most recently built distillery at ardnahoe, nestling subtly between caol ila and bunnahabhain.

geographically, they could scarcely be situated further apart; if one were to ride from the former to the latter, it would be an approximate distance of around 35km. that, however, does not include the trip to get to lagavulin in the first place, (17km, if riding from the croft) and the return home from ardnahoe (another 17km), that's a total of almost 70km from start to finish, a more than ideal parcours to endure on a sunny wednesday.

the reason i make mention of this hypothetical trip, is as a result of having received an invitation to attend a photo-call featuring a regional director of the aforesaid visitscotland. this, according to hierarchical protocol, is an invite more specifically extended to the editor of our local newspaper, but given the possibility that he would not have returned from a weekend mainland trip, the onus fell upon yours truly to fill those editorial shoes. having given tentative instructions to my office colleagues to'hold all calls', while i pretended that cycling 70 kilometres formed an intrinsic part of the working day, you can imagine my crestfallen demeanour on receiving a missive from said editor, that he would be returning on the tuesday evening ferry and thus available to attend at both locations.

you know you're a cyclist when...

the irony of the above situation is that the editor called off sick, leaving me insufficient time to reach either photo-call on a lovely, sunny day.

ardnahoe distillery

wednesday 30 october 2019

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

hear i come

campagnolo disc caliper

i used to own a thin wedge of metal that allowed easier setup of cantilever brakes on mountain or cyclocross bicycles, in the days before both genres of bicycle acquired disc rotors for stopping. according to my basic grasp of physics, on application of said cantilevers, if the pads were set parallel to the braking surface of the wheel-rim, the twisting motion imposed upon the fork legs or seatstays, would prevent the pads from making flat contact with the wheel, resulting in an embarrassing squeal when stopping.

thus, initial setting of the brake shoes at an appropriate angle to the rim, would result in the twisting motion ensuring the pad met the rim as desired. this could be achieved by line of sight, but inserting the metal wedge mentioned above, made setup a tad more consistent and removed the chance of squealing loudly in front of the cool kids.

i still own one cyclocross bicycle with cantilevers, and there's every possibility i still possess the metal wedge; who knows what lurks in the depths of the bike shed? but now that disc brakes have become ubiquitous across both types of bicycle, the volume and frequency of squeal has reached the next level up. this unpleasant augmentation to the process of stopping in a hurry is allegedly more prevalent on cable-operated discs, due in part (so i'm told), to the existence of a solitary piston inside the disc caliper.

hydraulics, however, feature two pistons, thus offering greater stopping power and justifying the extra expense incurred. yet, still the squealing persists, particularly in the wet.

i have just returned the basso diamante to its italian residence, a bicycle that arrived replete with a pair of campagnolo super-record hydraulic disc-brakes. in even the slightest hint of dampness, to say nothing of persistent precipitation, both rotors emitted voluble evidence of their existence, though they appeared to have been tuned to do so with an almost pleasing harmonic. it grieved me somewhat that such an excellent, high quality and satisfying bicycle should proclaim its existence quite so loudly.

plainly, this is not a happenstance unique to myself; several of my pelotonic colleagues suffer similar disc-related noise, and it was particularly identifiable during last month's word road race championships in a very wet yorkshire. the fact that this occurs on professionally set up machinery is at least of some consolation. there are, of which many will be aware, several remedies offered to cure such situations, pretty much all of which involve faffing with, or replacing the disc pads. the latter, in and of itself, can be the cause of problems from the outset, frequently due to pistons reluctant to return to their cylinders, and subsequently binding on the rotors.

it is, therefore, of great relief to return to the ritchey logic, a bicycle fitted with mechanical campagnolo record calipers, along with red carbon compatible pads to help stop the bora wto carbon wheels. i would be fibbing if i led you to believe that these are entirely silent; they're not. brake shoes applied to a textured carbon braking surface emit a not entirely unpleasant whistling sound, similar to that of mavic ksyriums with their exalith rim coating. i cannot deny that discs offer greater braking power in the wet than a rubber compound on carbon fibre, but given the level at which technology operates nowadays, including the recently reported abs system under development at shimano, couldn't the manufacturers have sorted the noise problem before now?

i have the same problem with vacuum cleaners.

tuesday 29 october 2019

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