thewashingmachinepost




..........................................................................................................................................................................................................

interviews & features | dvds | equipment | clothing | books | videos

..........................................................................................................................................................................................................

ritchey bicycles - built from life ..........................................................................................................................................................................................................

proselytising

beginners hi-viz

along with my percussive tutoring at the local secondary school, i have been assisting with the journalism course held in the english department. not because i am a journalist per se, but re-iterating the big fish in a little pond maxim, i'm possibly the closest approximation the village had at the time. where once the profession of journalist would have been solely apportioned to the newspaper world, the expansion of social media, pr companies, blogs and online news sites means that, while the nature of the occupation hasn't greetly altered, the method of delivery sure as heck has.

part of the teaching schedule involves ensuring that the pupils are aware of the audience for which they scribe. for instance, if penning a news article for the islands' local newspaper, it is only to be expected that it will have need of relevance to the local populations of islay and jura. however, if written for the oban times, a larger publication based in the mainland town of the same name, it should address a more wide-ranging readership. but even there, it is a salient point that one should avoid playing to the gallery and preaching to the converted.

for instance, in the last edition of our local newspaper was published a feature article originally written by a resident of tiree, an island northwest of the isle of mull. in this, she offered advice for those who may recently have moved to a scottish island, or were perhaps consideriing so doing. obviously enough, such advice is of little use to those who have lived in just such an offshore location for more years than they can recall, but the degree of humour and insularity with which the piece was written, took the form of an in-joke, entertaining as wide an audience as possible, without seriously insulting either.

yet, the very fact that you're reading these black and yellow pixels would tend to indicate that either you are of a velocipedinal persuasion or desperately searching for a new washing machine or tumble dryer (it has happened). in the main, that's perfectly acceptable, for you are likely the very readership for which i believe i'm writing this stuff (apart from the washing machine bit). but in that particular spirit, there are bound to be occasions on which the content also inhabits the world of the in-joke, so to speak, where many of the subjects or references imply a certain degree of specialist knowledge to comprehend.

while i have been known to criticise primary school teachers for speaking in riddles, utilising any number of specialist acronyms the meanings of which they have long been in possession, yet forgetting that the average-man/woman-in-the-street is not of their world, it's eminently possible that my behaviour is no different. that aspect has also been pointed out to the journalism students.

what of those who have either inadvertently or even deliberately approached thewashingmachinepost in the hope that their enjoyment and knowledge of the bicycle world will be surreptitiously advanced? is this a comfortable place to live while you try to fathom the obscure references and inferences that populate my daily scribblings? or would you have to have achieved a verifiable level of experience before graduating to the post? personally, i would hope that this is a friendly enough place to hang out (as the kids would say) between bike rides, but i fear that may be more of a lofty ideal than actual reality.

despite graeme obree's tongue-in-cheek protestations, nothing would gratify me more than adding to the panoply of bike riders, no matter of which persuasion, though i doubt avid bmxers will find much of interest. there are, according to informed sources, sixty-million uk residents who would not admit to being cyclists. many of those will have no intention of changing that particular lifestyle, but there will be a few on the periphery who, for whatever reason, would be keen to explore the foothills of cycling, and for whom some well-meaning encouragement wouldn't go amiss, encouragement that they quite possibly find to be missing in action in this happy place.

but this offers a bit of a conundrum, for in order to dispense any helpful advice a tad further than pixeldom, those transients would need to be attracted to visit, otherwise i might find myself guilty of, once again, preaching to the converted. only this time i'd also be guilty of teaching my granny to suck bottom bracket bearings. so, after lengthy consideration, it seems like a ginger peachy idea to flag up any features or articles that are specifically geared towards the aspiring cyclist. quite how i might proceed with that idea, i honestly haven't a dicky bird of a notion.

we might have to talk about this later.

saturday 1 october 2022

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

world bicycle relief

..........................................................................................................................................................................................................

we're not in kansas anymore

yamaha e-bike

my weekly drum tuition visits to the music department of the local secondary school regularly result in my sitting in the recording studio for most of a wednesday afternoon. this particular room is not as soundproof as i had hoped it would be, so despite closing the outer door and the control room door, there is little respite for the remainder of the school from the often loud percussion that emanates through its walls. though i doubt the school would have had the necessary finance, this particular problem could have been solved by constructing a room suspended within a room, a relatively common procedure in the building of soundproofed studios.

the problem is exacerbated by the use of backing tracks to which the pupils have to match the written parts. depending on the volume at which the latter play the drumset, the backing needs to be a tad louder in order to be properly heard.

the drumset on which tuition is carried out is a very attractive amber wood finish yamaha, on which the veneer wood grain is clearly visible. a few years ago, its arrival replaced a cheaper yamaha drumset which now sits in the main music room, a kit that embodied the trend for deeper rack toms in force at the time of its purchase. yamaha also manufacture electronic drum kits, an example of which sits close by to its acoustic partner in the same music room. as many amongst you who are involved in music-making will be aware, the japanese giant makes more than just drums, including keyboards, guitars and brass instruments, sales of which amounted to almost £300 million in 2021.

but yamaha are not solely known for their musical instruments. they also produce motorbikes, outboard motors, jet-skis, golf carts, inflatable boats, studio mixing desks, and dvd players. that, you would imagine, would be more than sufficient for any japanese conglomerate, but apparently not.

there are a number of one-time bicycle manufacturers which surfaced in the early days, and subsequently moved into alternative forms of transport as the 20th century grew older. rover, for one, comes to mind along with humber and even the forerunner of mercedes benz. but since the 1950s, the roadie market has had more than its fair share of reputable marques, from colnago to pinarello, to basso, joining bianchi and others, many of which found themselves responsible for the majority of european and american cyclists fawning over a desire for italiana augmented with a campagnolo groupset.

that particular idiosyncracy was ultimately diluted by the advent of american-based bicycle companies, some of which were born from the 1980s mountain bike boom. several of the established names seem to have found themselves on the backfoot when it came to appraising the nascent e-bike market, finding themselves rather late to the party, while companies of which we've never previously heard, have appeared all across europe offering well-developed electric bicycles, ostensibly increasing the entire cycle market. the e-bike has become ubiquitous, positioned as it is to be the solution to almost everything, from obesity to climate change, despite the continued existence of the analogue bike which needs no more than human power andoften remains at the technical cutting edge.

and it is the former set of circumstances that have seen many car manufacturers reversing the early twentieth-century trend, and turning to e-bike production, construction of which is often subcontracted to those more entrenched in the industry. and it can surely only be the attraction of growing sales in a market that shows no current limits (pun intended), that has caused the yamaha corporation to enter the fray with an initial range of three e-bikes. and not just frame manufacture, but just like specialized, yamaha's e-bikes feature their own motors.

the moro 07 is an e-mtb, the wabash rt is designed for gravel riding, while the crosscore rc offers a versatility that makes it ideal for "...everything from urban commuting through to relaxed leisure riding and fitness training." there are now so many different marques of e-bike, essentially offering similar benefits at varying price points, that if and when the market stabilises, it seems quite possible that there will be winners and losers. but it seems just as likely that the bigger manufacturers, such as yamaha, will still be there when the almost certain thinning out begins to take place.

all i need now is a yamaha e-cargo bike with which to transport a yamaha drumset.

friday 30 september 2022

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

campagnolo ..........................................................................................................................................................................................................

chain of command

campagnolo chain

last saturday morning, following breakfast, i removed the chain from my ritchey logic, ready and willing to replace it with a factory fresh campagnolo twelve-speed chain. this was a happy occasion for two distinct reasons; firstly, i rather enjoy the occasional bout of bike fettling, and secondly, it provided a relatively rare opportunity to make use of my frighteningly expensive campagnolo chain tool. if and when circumstances dictate that campagnolo bring a thirteen speed groupset to market, and i am fortunate enough to benefit from same, i fully intend to mount the chain tool on a wooden plinth and place it on the mantelpiece. it is too fine a device to leave mouldering in the bikeshed when it has to be replaced by a tool capable of handling the extra sprocket.

as i may have mentioned in my review of green oil's agent apple degreaser, it would surely be a grave error to affix a new, shiny chain to a less than pristine trio of derailleur, chainset and cassette, hence the liberal use of agent apple degreaser. however, having carried out those velocipedinal ablutions, i stopped short of applying the same powerful liquid to the newly sited chain. because surely the manufacturer - in this case, campagnolo - would not immerse the chain in their thin film of grease were it not for a specific purpose? and is that purpose not to protect the sideplates and rollers from external afflictions, such as grit, and, round these here parts, the hebridean version of belgian toothpaste?

this is, i'm led to believe, is the very $64,000 question that has been asked since eddy merckx were a lad. in truth, that thin smear of grease is really there to protect the chain while it sits in its box. throughout the distribution process, the average bicycle chain will meet with a whole variety of conditions, not all of which will prove favourable; temperature and moisture could conceivably wreak havoc on those 114 links, leading to experessions of disappointment when the customer opens the box to find a rusting edifice that no-one in their right mind would fit to a shiny bicycle.

i admit that, until earlier this week, i would have procrastinated over any answer, had i been asked if the manufacturer applied grease ought to be left in place until the chain advertises that a smattering of 'proper' lube might be required. however, i am occasionally in the habit of reading lennard zinn's column on the velonews website, a man who seems to know everything there is to know about the technical aspects of the modern bicycle. it appears that the question of whether to degrease or not, is one that straddles the atlantic ocean, for mr zinn, having apparently answered the same question only recently, had been asked the same once again.

in this case, he deferred to adam kerin of zero friction cycling a gent who has made it his life's work to investigate the relative merits of various lubrication systems and products. i have published a link to the original article below, for those who enjoy a good read, but the shortened version is never to rely on the manufacturer applied grease, not even for a single bike ride. either bathe the chain in a degreaser before fitting, or use a chain degreaser when fitted. even if chain manufacturers protest otherwise, mr kerin maintains they should be ignored. degrease the chain and apply your favourite lube.

however, though i have now made a mental note to clean and lube my chain this weekend, perhaps a question that ought to be asked is why, long after the bicycle celebrated its 100th anniversary, we are still asking this question? it's one thing to have endless discussions over sock length and whether the peak of a casquette ought to be worn up or down (always down), but those are mostly aesthetic concerns of a subjective matter. if you wear knee-length socks, you might be laughed at, but it will not cause undue wear to any componentry, increasing the cost of cycling in the process.

where it has become necessary to apply decals under the clearcoat advising that the q/r skewers or thru-axles ought to be fully tightened before riding, surely affixation of a similar decal near the bottom bracket or on the right-hand chainstay demanding that a new chain is fully degreased before setting off, ought to be every bit as mandatory. or, a bit like health warnings on cigarette packets, perhaps each and every chain box could feature a grease warning?

just saying.

lennard zinn velonews column | zero friction cycling

one more city

thursday 29 september 2022

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

rouleur

..........................................................................................................................................................................................................

one more city

early yesterday morning, while updating the office twitter feed, i came across a well-meaning statement from an executive at transport scotland, ostensibly endorsing the notion that cycling has, to date, played a major part in scotland's active-travel plans. the purpose of this statement was to persuade others to participate in this apparent 'success', encouraging others to undertake short, local journeys by walking or cycling, thus reducing car use and helping the scottish government towards its goal of net-zero by 2040.

i fear it may be a forlorn hope; despite continual advice not to judge books by their covers, i cannot deny perceiving this executive as one who may be unable to distinguish one end of a bicycle from the other. i might be well wide of the mark, but the gentleman looks as if he might be more comfortable behind a steering wheel. however, ignoble perceptions aside, i doubt his few words will make one iota of difference, particularly on the basis that the only rationale behind his persuasions seems to be 'do the right thing'. i was under the impression that it had been conclusively researched that specifically benevolent incentives were the one sure way to change aberrant behaviours.

the bicycle has featured as a force for good over several decades, transforming itself from one of the world's more basic methods of transport, to one that ticks a sizeable proportion of the desired boxes. with climate change uppermost in the minds of many a government department, the bicycle is as manna from heaven. here's an affordable means of getting about (as long as you weren't thinking of a replica tour de france winning colnago v3r at £450,000) that is effectively pollution-free, noiseless and very unlikely to cause inner-city or urban congestion. what's not to like?

but it's also a vehicle for forging friendships, breaking down invisible barriers, and raising charitable funds, through a universally acknowledge truth that riding from a to b is likely to incur energy expenditure greater than that of the average man or woman in the street. on that basis, rapha's original 'one more city' project in 2017 involved three cyclists riding from london to paris in 24 hours to raise awareness of breast cancer.

christine o'connel, a keen cyclist and rapha cycling club member was diagnosed with advanced breast cancer after suffering a seizure while cycling to a meeting. she has since teamed up with rapha, to help direct the proceeds of this year's one more city ride towards funding a phd studentship at the institute of cancer research (icr), seeking to improve the outlook for secondary breast cancer patients. alongside the charity ride, rapha clubhouses in london, munich, amsterdam, san francisco and singapore will be hosting day rides enabling more cyclists to support the campaign.

rapha have also produced a themed collection including men's and women's jerseys, socks, a cap and a musette, all profits from which will go towards cancer research funding. said christine, "I'm delighted that this year in collaboration with Rapha we are expanding One More City, with one-day rides happening in the US, Europe and Asia during the month of October, the global Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The goal is to engage with many more riders and supporters around the world and make an even bigger contribution to the future of treatment for secondary breast cancer, so ultimately more cancer patients can live better and longer lives."

leading the breast cancer functional genomics team at the institute of cancer research, london, dr rachael natrajan, said,"We're really grateful to have support from Christine and the 'One More City' team. Our research is constantly moving forward, and we're starting to see great progress in the treatment of secondary breast cancer, but there's still a long way to go.
"The new jersey design may have been inspired by the work of our scientists, but we take inspiration from all those who will be wearing it. Helping to create better treatments, and a better future, for people like Christine, is the reason we keep going. As 'One More City' take on their next cycling challenge, we're moving forward in ours, to improve the outlook for people with advanced breast cancer."

previous years' rides have taken place between paris and amsterdam and amsterdam to strasbourg. during the covid years, the challenge was restricted to this side of the channel, with riders travelling from london to london via the peak district and reading to penzance via land's end. 32 riders will participate in this year's 600km event.

2022 jersey is inspired by scientific images illustrating cancer cells 'on the move' and the story they tell.
rapha one more city | onemorecity.cc

wednesday 28 september 2022

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

joined up thinking

brompton + barbour

bowmore distillery is one of the oldest in scotland, but certainly the oldest on islay, having been 'founded' in 1779, a mere eleven years after the village from which it takes its name was established. i have placed the word 'founded' in italics because it's highly likely that there had been a distillery on the site far earlier than 1779, but effectively illegal prior to this date.

when i moved to the island in the late 1980s, it was known as morrison's bowmore distillery', for the simple reason that it was owned by the morrison family. they subsequently sold a shareholding to japan's suntory, before finally relinquishing control altogether in 1994. and despite the current owners being known as beam suntory, evidence would suggest that it was suntory that took over beam in 2014. that has effectively placed another two of islay's single malt distilleries under single ownership. laphroaig distillery was previously owned by beam, the acquisition mentioned above having now placed both distilleries as part of the beam suntory portfolio.

with whisky having taken on many of the facets formerly applied to wines, there are now more whisky experts than at which you could shake a cask bung. and it has become increasingly difficult to ascertain specific sales figures for each of the island's single malts, partly due to limited editions and partly due to a plethora of top ten lists based on expert opinion, rather than hard and fast sales figures. however, a cursory check would tend to indicate that laphroaig outsells its partner in bowmore.

but in a commercial world where there is arguably little that can be employed to distinguish one single malt from another other than creative marketing, many a distillery has resorted to external sources to create associations that might be seen as an endorsement worth investigating. bowmore are one amongst several, having forged a partnership with luxury car maker, aston martin. thankfully, i am immune from the charms of either, neither owning a car, nor being predisposed towards drinking alcohol in any of its many forms, hopefully offering the ability to view such spurious cnnections a tad more dispassionately.

bowmore have released several bottlings (expressions is the preferred term) featuring historical aston martins on the packaging, along with an aston martin designed decanter of futuristic shape containing a 52 year-old single malt. asking price is a few thousand north of £70,000.

and nor is this type of partnership entirely unknown within the bicycle industry, and i do wonder if there is actually any worth in these often inscrutable conjoinings from a sales point of view. i have been unable to discover whether the presence of an aston martin suv at the distillery has made any inroads into the sales figures of either company. and then there's brompton and barbour.

technically, the latter two may be closer bedfellows than a whisky distillery and a car maker, and they may even have evidence to support that sales are likely to benefit both a maker of outdoor clothing and that of an iconic, british-made folding bicycle. but it does lead to moments of rumination. though the scales are scarcely comparable, there's no doubting that such partnerships seem to exist between makers of items at the luxury end of the market. lest you think my viewpoint is slightly skewed, leaving aside the fact that the brompton/barbour t-shirts have been created in conjunction with 'renowned fashion artist and illustrator' fei wang, £46.95 seems a tad on the expensive side for such a basic garment.

the price of a barbour waxed jacket will probably not surprise you in the least (£379), but £1895 for a six-gear brompton was a bit of an eye opener, given that the image showed a barbour bag, accompanied by the legend 'bags made by barbour fit on the bike...' and learning that doing so will add another £199 to the bill. i am not necessarily decrying the prices (other than the t-shirt), but up until now, brompton had been viewed as a more ideal partner (if such is actually necessary) with brooks, who have also produced custom fit bike bags for the company.

one wonders how many approaches were made by who to whom before a loud 'click' was heard. and the second part of my wonderings are whether these situations exist in parallel with technological research and development, or are offered as a substitute.

brompton + barbour

tuesday 27 september 2022

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

cycling uk ..........................................................................................................................................................................................................

great expectations

world champion remco evenepoel

i am not, as i'm sure i've mentioned before, a fan of football/soccer. i have nothing against the game itself, though it's among many that fail to hold my attention for any appreciable length of time. my greatest despondency originates with the minority of fans, several who have adopted the role of fanaticist, and when that happens, all rational thought appears to disappear out the window. therefore, despite being fans of a specific team, rather than express some degree of disappointment when their team loses, and applaud the playing skills of those who defeated them, the latter become the target of sometimes vicious disparagement, frequently expressed by harrassment of the opposing team's supporters.

that is, of course, somewhat of a sweeping generalisation, but it is a feature that seems to pervade that particular sport. my two grandsons are avid celtic supporters, and along with many others (of any team, for that matter), assuming the team won on any given saturday, they are apt to relate that 'we' won, even though they are demonstrably far too young to have been a part of the winning team. i know of several cycling aficionados who have expressed a preference for one professional team over another, though cycling fans tend to be more specific and favour a rider, rather than an entire team.

i have yet to hear any fan of movistar state that 'we' won today, when the redoubtable annemiek van vleuten nabbed the rainbow bands in australia this past weekend.

cycling of course, though regarded as a team sport, is dramatically different from football, rugby, ice-hockey et al, due to the simple, yet important, knowledge that only one cyclist actually crosses the line to take the plaudits, even though it may have been his/her team-mates that engineered victory. thus there are those who are vocal supporters of wout van aert, or tadej pogacar, or primoz roglic, and happy to wear team colours, but so doing is often of secondary nature. that may not sit well with the team sponsors, but ironically enough, though the rider takes precedence over team affiliation, marketing reports would indicate that cycling sponsorship does actually pay, and sometimes remarkably well.

thus, when an individual rider departs one team for another, the sense of fan appreciation tends to follow. followers of van aert, however, can be safe in their purchase of jumbo visma team kit, since he has apparently re-signed until 2026.

but then consider the hapless pundit; if football/soccer is from whence you earn your living, you have a far easier chance of predicting the winning team, than has the cycling pundit engaged to help predict the winner of the weekend's world championship road race in australia. pre-race favourites were, depending on your sources, either wout van aert, tadej pogacar or mathieu van der poel. unfortunately, the latter was involved in a pre-race incident that no doubt led to his eventual race abandonment.

van aert may have been hamstrung by the fact that his fellow belgian took matters into his own legs from a long way out. whether he had the power to go too is of academic importance, since van aert's personality seems more likely to have him defend a team-mate from behind. a last minute charge by the peloton, at one time several minutes behind the chasing group, almost offered wout the opportunity to place two belgians on the podium, but life doesn't always work out the way you'd like it to.

there has been many a cycle race won by a so-called dark horse, one who failed to appear on the radar of any of those charged with predicting the outcome; new world champion, remco evenepoel, might be the perfect example. and having recently taken the podium at the vuelta, with an honours degree in hindsight, perhaps he should have been. for that very reason, and a good few others, i will always refrain from making any sort of prediction as to the outcome of any given race. i'd far rather simply watch and enjoy. my philosophy is that whomsoever crossed the line first, was probably the best on the day and deserved their victory.

i greatly admire those who have not only adopted the persona of cycling pundit, but, like brian smith and pippa york, tend to be right more often than they're wrong. but it's the sport's unpredictability that i enjoy; i don't feel the need to be informed as to how matters might proceed before a wheel has turned.

does that mean i'm awkward?

monday 26 september 2022

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

quoc pham cycling footwear ..........................................................................................................................................................................................................

green oil agent apple extreme degreaser

green oil agent apple degreaser

i have discovered, much to my initial disappointment, that there is an obvious, yet hitherto unrecognised corollary to my perennial need to ride with a shiny chain. i probaby should have seen it coming and perhaps one or two of you already did, but were too polite to point it out. for the chain, to state the glaringly obvious, is but one facet of a bicycle drivetrain, along with front and rear mechs, chainrings and cassette sprockets. the front derailleur is, perhaps, the innocent party, for it has but one job to perform, and assuming it's correctly adjusted, does it rather well, whether mechanically or electrically.

the rear derailleur sports a couple of toothed wheels, but since they are inevitably black, any effort put into cleaning them is bound to go unrecognised. same goes, in my particular case, for the chainrings. but while we're on that subject, it's a bit of a faff that, in order to present a unified and polished exterior to the world, that the chainring bolts are now on the inner face of the crankset. time was when you could removed the bolts, slide the worn chainring over the crank arm, and then do the opposite with a new one. progress has meant that we now need to remove the cranks to replace either chainring.

what is wrong with these people?

but, to return to the subject under discussion, in the majority of cases connected to the world of the road bike, the rear sprockets (all twelve of them) are of a silver hue and thus will graphically indicate any muck that has attached itself about their person. this state of affairs becomes more apparent when matched with a shiny chain. therefore, a predilection to present a pristine set of chain links, will almost, without question, bring the concomitant need to keep the sprockets clean.

green oil agent apple degreaser

were each and every cassette sprocket to exist in isolation, this would be a less onerous task to undertake, but, presumably for engineering reasons i have failed to comprehend, five or six of them are invariably rivetted together in two sets, meaning judicious use of cloth edges to clean out the gunk sitting between conjoined sprockets. it's a task that is certainly do-able, but on many occasions, remarkably time-consuming. and, slave that i am to (almost) perfection, i have been in the habit of removing the cassette from the freehub, dousing all in a bath of wd40, and cleaning each by hand, prior to reassembly on the hub.

once there, out comes the cloth mentioned above, firmly inserted between the rivetted chappies, and here we go round the mulberry bush. as my mother has always said 'pride bears no pain'.

i can see several of you have already begun to snigger at my apparent ineptitude, aghast that anyone would undertake such lengthy maintenance, purely on aesthetic grounds. but, of course, aesthetics are only part of the result. though your own mileage may vary, depending on the groupset attached to your pride and joy, campagnolo record twelve-speed chains are not noted for their low cost, and nor is the chain tool that they mandate you ultilise to attach a new one. if we combine the grit attracted to the chainlinks in the course of a rural bike ride, with that deposited on the cassette sprockets, we have the perfect recipe for abrasion, meaning reduced chain-life.

green oil agent apple degreaser

therefore, keeping the chain clean is but one part of the equation; allowing identification of any untoward malfunctions, such as cracked or broken side plates, reducing any potential crud build-up, and yes, showing a shiny chain when the cycle is parked outside debbie's. but to complete that equation, it wouldn't do any harm to keep both the chainrings and the cassette in similar condition. if all are subject to abrasion enforced wear, it can mean an expensive replacement programme. campagnolo record chainrings are priced well north of £100, as is a replacement cassette, while the chain manages to nudge above £50.

so while the sniggering has yet to subside, let me advise that i have now seen the light, and employed green oil's excellent agent apple extreme degreaser. having removed the worn chain from the bicycle, though green oil suggest pouring some agent apple into the bottom section of a milk carton, in the absence of the latter, i used an empty tin of peach slices, the contents of which will grace the top of my green city jumbo oats porridge for the next week or so.

employing a nearby paintbrush, i then painted the degreaser onto the chainrings, the derailleur jockey wheels and lastly, the cassette sprockets on the rear wheel that had been removed from the bicycle frame. i have used other brands of degreaser on previous occasions, but on this particular occasion, the agent apple more than deserved the extreme suffix. in well under a minute, the cassette sprockets looked almost as new, before spraying them with water to remove any degreaser left behind. this stuff is as close to magic as you're likely to get. granted, green oil suggest immersing the componentry in the degreaser, but it proved every bit as effective with a brush.

and the best bit is that it can be re-used up to three times. once the cassette was as pristine as when it was born, it was simply a case of pouring the liquid back into the aluminium bottle for next time. the product uses fermented apple extract, natural alcohol, and orange extracts, so it's environmentally friendly, and boy does it smell good. priced at only £16.99 for 300ml, this is a no-brainer. and with autumn and winter genrally being the worst of the crud seasons, now is defintely the time to stock up.

i had feared that, due to recent chain rattles in certain gears, the inner chainring was in need of replacemnt, but following the degreasing process, the affixation of a new chain and a subsequent test-ride, my fears were unfounded and my bank balance can breathe a sigh of relief. all that remains is to replace all the gear and brake cables before winter sets in, but we'll see just how long iit takes before i get round to that.

greenoil.cc

sunday 25 september 2022

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

endura cycle clothing ..........................................................................................................................................................................................................

does this work for you?

ride up

currently, i'm led to believe that the most popular means of purchasing a new motor vehicle could justifiably be described as the 'never, never', a euphemism historically applied to all forms of hire purchase. the model tends to revolve around three or five year periods, during which the customer pays an equitable monthly amount to own a new car. at the end of the agreed period, the customer can either pay off the balance (usually quite a substantial sum), or end the agreement and begin another on a new vehicle.

the benefits of acquiring a vehicle under such a scheme is that the vehicle is always under warranty, occasionally includes servicing, and the vehicle is usually replaced prior to requiring an mot test. of course there are also disbenefits; invariably there's an annual mileage agreement which, if exceeded, can increase the amount paid and even minor damage to the paintwork can result in a surcharge when the vehicle is returned. however, according to an anonymous used car dealer interviewed in a newspaper several years past, this is one of the most economic means of purchasing a vehicle, at least until the cycle ends and the customer no longer has the income to make the monthly payments, yet has a continuing need for car ownership.

but i'm fairly sure that i'm not the only cyclist who has long wondered why a similar model has not surfaced to satisfy the demands of the velocipedinal world. in point of fact, just such a scheme originated a number of years ago, constrained to a few notable marques, but essentially following a similar model to that of the motor car. for all i know, it may still exist, but if so, i've not come across any marketing that would suggest that to be the case.

but now former team sky rider and british champion, russell downing, has teamed up with fellow cyclist ryan owens and entrepreneur, tim hammond, to create ride up. this project will offer cyclists the opportunity of acquiring top brand bikes in return for a flexible monthly subscription, and in order to open it up to a wider potential audience, they're offering partnership opportunties for cycle manufacturers.

ride up allows potential customers to trade in their existing bicycle against the cost of a new one. the minimum term is a paltry six months and could prove every bit as effective for bicycles as is the monthly payment scheme outlined above for motor cars. currently, brands available under the scheme are pinarello, cannondale and basso, all of which arrive with insurance, warranty and a service plan. however, should the scheme prove popular, or more to the point, lucrative, i'd imagine more brands would be keen to join the party.

as has been pointed out, it's possible to upgrade an iphone every time a new model arrives, often in exchange for the older model, yet despite there being little comparison between smartphones and bicycles, there's no real reason why the financial model cannot be similarly applied. co-founder, tim hammond, predicted that, by 2025, more than half the bike market will have converted to the subscription model.

however, as has also been made clear, with reference to smartphones, this method has a tendency to encourage unnecessary waste, with fashion and socially conscious individuals needing to own a new phone every time there's an incremental release. at one time, the bicycle market, particularly the road-going variety, existed far less at the whim of fashion than it does today. manufacturers can now often be guilty of bringing a new model to market that differs little or not at all from the previous year's model, other than by way of colour, or the latest, fashion driven groupset release.

russell downing all but confirmed that fear by stating, "With new bike models coming out every year or two, you can now change to the latest model when it comes out. I know I would upgrade to the latest model every time if there wasn't the cost of buying or the stress of selling my current one. And with the current financial climate, why would you put a bike on a long-term finance plan or buy now pay later, when you can simply rent it and give it back when you want to?"

rideup also intends to offer similar subscriptions to indoor equipment suitable for those in thrall to zwift.

ride up will also allow for test rides prior to subscribing, though several bike shops already feature such opportunities. and should this prove to be a trend that catches on worldwide, it could conceivably encourage manufacturers to introduce new models more regularly to capitalise on a potential increase in sales, but without any other justification. quite where this places the local bike shop, i'm somewhat unsure, since without manufacturer input, this is unlikely to be affordable by many.

i've owned my ritchey logic for around five years, and i rather hope it'll last for several times that before either it or i are forcibly retired. i understand why the founders of ride-up see potential in this sales model, and also that of the manufacturers, but at times when we are being encouraged to consume less, this is perhaps not sending the right signal. then again, it might make availability of quality road cycles more accessible to aspiring roadies. much as i dislike the cliché. watch this space.

ride-up.cc

saturday 24 september 2022

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

hot chillee ..........................................................................................................................................................................................................

weatherproofing

rapha gore-tex

many, many years ago, i was on the isle of arran, en-route to a secret west coast location to visit with my parents. due to the trip taking place at the less clement end of the year, i was clad not only in a purportedly waterproof jacket, but a pair of specially purchased gore-tex waterproof and allegedly breathable waterproof trousers. in point of fact, the latter did carry out their specified task really well, up to a point, beyond which their breathability was marginally called into question.

along the way, i came upon a fellow cyclist heading in the same direction, though our respective trajectories eventually digressed on disembarking the ferry at ardrossan. however, it was hard not to notice that my temporary compatriot was dressed in bibshorts in addition to his less than effective cagoul. on remarking upon his bare legs by comparison with my trouser clad limbs, he pointed out that throughout his many travels, he had noticed that other than substantially sub-zero temperatures, cold legs were rarely the worst of his troubles.

i have occasionally and largely unsuccessfully attempted to follow his lead on such matters, but i cannot deny that there comes a point in the latter months of each year, that a pair of roubaix-lined bibtights simply cannot be beat. and if i were to follow the lead of my more popular media peers, i would be about to embark upon a series of reviews or features entitled something along the lines of 'clothing you absolutely must have for autumn/winter', or 'nine things you need to know about winter clothing'.

for those who are fans of seasonal features such as the foregoing, i apologise, for while i like to think of myself as well-versed in the specifics of weatherproof cycle clothing, i hold a higher opinion of my fellow members of the peloton, to insult their intelligence by assuming the position of mother hen.

i'd imagine that the majority of us are sold on the concept of breathable fabrics, which, for the uninitiated regualrly comprise of three-layer fabrics, the middle of which is invariably a breathable membrane, helping the rider to remain dry on both the outside and inside. the material behind this exists as a close relative of teflon which, when rapidly stretched, forms a series of tiny holes, large enough to allow perspiration to exit, but small enough to resist water droplets attempting to gain entry from the outside.

if you've ever wondered why it is that several of these waterproof fabrics seem to eventually fail in their professed duties, blame must be laid at the door of the outer fabric. this woven material is generally treated with a durable water resistant (dwr) coating, immediately noticeable in precipitative weather, by the cute little baubles of rain that form on the surface. however, dwr coatings are generally described as water-resistant, rather than waterproof; when the outer fabric becomes saturated, it then prevents the breathable membrane from functioning as designed, and the rider underneath gets wet.

unscientific observation would tend to suggest that frequent washing of the garment gradually reduces the effectiveness of the dwr coating, allowing the outer fabric to saturate far more quickly, calling into question just why you'd spent quite so much on a waterproof/breathable jacket. it's also why several manufacturers offer sprays and washes that promise to restore the dwr coating, though not all work as advertised.

so far, the only jacket i've found that obviates the problem altogether, is shake-dry from gore-tex, where the breathable membrane constitutes the whole of the outer shell, completely eschewing any form of exterior woven fabric altogether. thus, there is nothing to become saturated, and the rainwater simply rolls off the surface. after over three years of winter riding in a jacket such as this, i can testify to the veracity of the manufacturer's claims.

if you think that this seems to be too good to be true and that there must be a catch, you would be correct. aside from the price factor, the downside is simply that the membrane is not the most robust of materials (hence the usual reason for an outer fabric). the particular garment to which i refer, a partnership between gore-tex and rapha, specifically advises not riding with a backpack when thus dressed.

but, aside from relating the above explanation that nobody asked for, the existence of such weatherproofed apparel makes it perfectly possible to ride your bike all year round, the cost of which will obviously be discounted by having no need to renew your zwift subscription. billy connolly has been famously quoted as saying there is no such thing as bad weather, simply poor choice of clothing. i think i, and several of my colleagues, would take issue with mr connolly's contention concerning the weather, but would likely agree with the clothing part.

for instance, not that one wishes to blow one's own trumpet to any great degree, but on a recent cycling trip to the neighbouring island of jura, despite a reasonable weather outlook, extensive personal experience of the hebridean climate encouraged yours truly to pack a foldable waterproof, gore-tex jacket, one that came in mighty handy when the rains began fifteen minutes before we boarded the ferry for the return sailing to islay. inexplicably my colleagues, equally as well versed as i, carried no such waterproof garmentage.

and as i remarked to one of the ferry crew on a slightly choppy and wet return sailing, those viking river cruises look quite different on the tv.

rapha guide to changing conditions (women) | rapha guide to changing conditions (men)

friday 23 september 2022

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

rapha ..........................................................................................................................................................................................................

i'm sure this wool work

sheep in the road

you will probaby know by now that, despite my most stubborn efforts, i have ended up as more than just an instructor with the islands' community pipe band. having spent around 15 years in islay's principal pipe band, the seasonal aims of which revolve around the competitive milieu, i had no desire to rejoin the ranks, even if those would eschew any thoughts of competition. however, circumstances have made it very difficult to ignore what has now become a weekly commitment, both teaching and less often, performing.

the venue for what has now become the band's weekly meeting point, is around a mile from the croft, scarcely a large enough distance to make use of the bicycle, so i just walk. i have a decent set of waterproofs and a torch, so even though winter is heading in my direction, probably sooner rather than later, walking a mile each way, can hardly be classed as a strenuous imposition. yet a fellow member of the band, who lives slightly closer, drives their car, insisting on periodically offering me a lift. despite such a short distance, my behaviour and constant refusal is considered to lean heavily on the eccentric side.

likewise during last week's working week, finding myself in need of some photographs to illustrate an article, i opted to walk around 1.25 miles in each direction on a particularly pleasant day to take images of a building's exterior facade. that too was viewed as a tad on the eccentric side, leading me to question society's values. but it occurs to me that were more folks to walk such short distances on a regular basis, as opposed to jumping into a nearby car, just as humanity was once in the habit of doing, and just as many others around the world are compelled still to do, aside from re-adjusting the definition of the word 'eccentric', life might gain a lost sense of normality.

i might cite as evidence for this contention, an experience related by a friend who has recently adopted the way of the saddle, currently for one day of each week. her journey is a lengthy one for a new cyclist, consisting of thirteen kilometres south on one island, a five minute ferry trip, followed by another 17 kilometres to her place of work. at the end of the day, she retraces her tyre tracks. i doubt that this journey will continue with such frequency when late autumn/ winter begins to bite, but it's undoubtedly more than just a few pedal strokes in the right direction.

however, a recent conversation elicited that, even in a relatively short period of time, she has experienced what most of us sadly have to take for granted these days. our discussion revolved around the fact that, while many drivers are diligent when it comes to leaving sufficient space when overtaking, there's always at least one (or two, or three) who quite blatantly don't. our exchange of ideas concerned the latter. unfortunately, neither i, nor probably you, can offer any solace or thought of things getting better. graeme obree did once suggest that driving behaviour is noticeably altered if the cyclist demonstrates a predisposition to wobble a lot, but so doing on a regular basis might make the journey more arduous than it needs to be.

however, judged purely on the direction the conversation was taking, i think i might be inclined to endorse those who insist that learner drivers spend some of their learning time, riding amongst traffic on a bicycle. it seems more than possible that, were more indivduals to learn how other motorists treat those of us who cycle, it might conceivably modify their behaviour.

many of islay's single track roads are occasionally infected with wandering sheep, and it is a salient point that the latter will run from cyclists, who they presumably appraise as human beings, yet they'll stand all day in front of a car, all but oblivious to the human beings within. if sheep, quite possibly the dumbest of all animals, are aware of cyclists as human beings, why aren't more more motorists?

thursday 22 september 2022

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

how many does it take?

saddles

i have mentioned previously that i am, wearing my percussionist's hat, somewhat of a cymbalholic. though this is hardly a situation that has recently come to anyone's attention, i believe the deciding factor that may be seen as the event horizon, was realising that i actually have no idea just how many cymbals i own. with the exception of an elderly pair of k zildjian hi-hat cymbals and a matching set of avedis, all the others are from italian cymbal co-operative, ufip. the majority, as any jazz oriented cymbalholic will recognise, are ride cymbals.

though it's a state of affairs that may also affect other drumming styles, jazz drummers are apt to have a particular sound in their heads when choosing a new ride cymbal, one that is rarely requited, but, to coin a well-worn phrase, 'close enough for jazz'. however, the next one will always be a tad closer, resulting in several different weights and sizes acquired in the ongoing search for the perfect example. it's not only frustrating, but can also be quite costly too.

the problem facing many, and i include myself in this, is that mail order doesn't afford the opportunity to listen before you buy. thus, on delivery, the cymbal may or may not be 'just what i'm looking for' this almost included the ride cymbal i purchased mail order from new york; though the website offered a quality sound file, the perpetrator probably used different sticks than do i, and very likely does not play in the manner that i do. that said, it did turn out to be a worthwhile purchase.

a velo club colleague of mine has recently fitted a new saddle to his colnago, a rather finely sculptured piece of bicycle furniture, that is augmented by a very pleasing decorative and tactile surface. it may be pertinent to point out that this is not the first saddle to be seen on this bike, but just like the aforementioned cymbal quest, finding just the right saddle can be a lifelong search, and one that can take far longer than finding the 'right' cymbal. this does not undermine his previous choices, but if anything, underlines the ever-present problem.

i doubt there are any amongst us who has not found their posterior aboard a decidedly uncomfortable saddle, a model that has proved to be nirvana for a fellow peloton member. i count myself as fortunate to have a saddle-agnostic bum, one that seems quite content aboard any number of different ergonomic solutions. sometimes it may even be a case of minor differences in chamois pads. and just as i regularly question the need for quite so many variations on the ride cymbal meme, i can scarcely fathom the enormous range of bicycle saddles, a sizeable proportion of which must surely duplicate the needs of any number of posteriors.

but, just as i have brought my inquisitive psyche to an equitable state, someone moves the goalposts.

i have spent very few kilometres aboard any sort of e-bike, other than the weeks reviewing specialized's turbo vado. i'd be fibbing if i said i could recall the model of specialized saddle that arrived with said bicycle, though when it moved on in life to the work colleague who subsequently purchased it, she changed it for something on which she felt more comfortable. but, it transpires, riding an e-bike brings with it posterior demands that can not, apparently, be satisfied with the enormous number of saddles already on the market.

according to selle italia's brand manager, roberto bucci, their 'on' range of e-bike specific saddles has resulted from their belief "...that everyone should be able to enjoy riding their e-bike in comfort, whatever their sitting position." i confess that i view this development with a great deal of suspicion and cynicism, all the while aware that selle royal are not the only company to have alluded to the same thing.

it may be that the average e-bike provides a more upright riding position than the sort of technology ridden by you and i, but surely that seating position is already catered for by both mountain bike and commuting styles? selle royal's 'on' range comprises three models, incorporating an elevated rear section designed to prevent riders from sliding backwards when changing between power modes. really? i mean, really? since the majority of e-bikes work on power-assist, altering the power support mode has no immediate effect until pedalling commences, and i hardly think it's beyond the skills of any e-bike rider, to moderate their power input and avoid inadvertently sliding off the back of the bike.

i read recently that a skill applicable to many strains of life, is not to make the simple seem complex, but to make the complex appear simple. obviously saddle design exists outside of that particular concept. however, i can scarcely deny that a ride cymbal featuring complex tonal properties is more than likely the very end result for which i find myself searching.

wednesday 21 september 2022

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

wheelsmith ..........................................................................................................................................................................................................

could i be doing it all wrong?

quoc mono sole

when attending an evening soirée over the course of the weekend, i cycled a couple of kilometres to the venue because that seemd the most effective means of transport. i admit, i could have walked, but the last half kilometre is along a road with no pavement and very little roadside verge on which to avoid traffic. and since the return journey would be in darkness with no streetlights on the opening stretch, a bicycle with lights seemed the safer option. you just never know when you'll meet those boy racers with their matt black corsas.

on arrival, my host was somewhat taken by my brightly coloured specilaized crux, and, apart from its light weight, particularly the size of the pedals. in this instance, the pedals were a pair of ritchey's offroad variety, which, though no bigger or smaller than the average spd-style pedal, must appear quite tiny to those not indoctrinated into the way of the saddle. of course, i had to explain their diminutive size by pointing out the tiny cleats affixed to my quoc weekend sneakers, footwear that had been deemed respectable enough in which to subsequently play snare drum in a civilian-dressed pipe band.

quoc weekend sneaker

i have noted several articles over the years that purport to ensure that the intrepid velocipedinist adjusts said cleats for optimum comfort and power throughput. in fact, recently, i have come across one or two youtube videos that profess to demonstrate the same techniques. as an arrogant sod who thinks that he knows it all, i have generally ignored all of the latter, predominantly on the basis that i'm pretty sure i'm doing it all wrong, but after all these years, i'm inclined to bury my head in the sand, rather than learn of my ineptitude.

almost every cyclist worth their salt commences cycling life with either a naked pair of platform pedals (often the ones that arrived on the bike at time of purchase), perhaps augmented with a pair of toeclips. observation has taught me that very rarely are the latter tightened about the footwear, most likely a pair of trainers with soles that will prove far too flexible for comfortable pedalling. i believe the lack of tension on the toestraps is due to fear of falling when time comes to effect an emergency stop.

no doubt at some time in this hypothetical nascent cycling career, advice will be dispensed by a well meaning expert (locally, that usually turns out to be yours truly) that graduation to so-called clipless pedals will make an immense difference to their velocipedinal enjoyment. for starters, the appropriate footwear will undoubtedly feature a stiffer sole to aid power and comfort, and an ostensibly better connection between shoe and pedal ought to make forward motion more efficient.

but whether the clipless pedals are the ubiquitous, three-bolt look-style road versions, or the two-bolt micro spd style as described above, it is noticeable that the shoes for both allow for a reasonable degree of fore and aft adjustment of the cleat. that particular aspect has always created confusion; in either case, i simply push the cleat as far forward as it will go, while still following the angle of the shoe's centreline, to ensure that my feet don't point inwards or outwards when clipped in.

it stands to reason, of course, that such a variation of potential adjustment must mean that at some point it will be required by someone. yet the only time i have found it necessary to deviate from my standard procedure, was on endura's first pair of offroad shoes, which featured an extended cleat track. having carried out the usual forward affixation, i found an untoward level of discomfort when pedalling, resulting in a degree of aft adjustment on returning home. but i'd be the first to admit that my approach is entirely unscientific.

yet, with the degree of float inbuilt to the majority of cleat/pedal interfaces, perhaps there's actually little requirement for any lateral adjustment, or possibly even the need to follow the shoe centreline. and when learning to ride a bicycle properly during my cycling proficiency training, it was continually emphasised that the ball of my foot ought to sit on the pedal centre, and that pedalling with the instep was not to be encouraged. but in my experience, pushing the cleat as far forward as it will go achieves the desired position. and as far as i can derive, it makes little difference as to the size of one's feet. proportionally, all the shoes appear to achieve the same position.

however, despite the foregoing and the apparent confidence of my approach, there's still the nagging feeling that my methodology is entirely wrong. it's just as well i'm right about everything else.

tuesday 20 september 2022

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

prendas ciclismo ..........................................................................................................................................................................................................

showers pass ..........................................................................................................................................................................................................

wabi woolens ..........................................................................................................................................................................................................

as always, if you have any comments, please feel free to e-mail and thanks for reading.

top of page.

.......................................................................................................................................................................................................... thewashingmachinepost

top of page.

.......................................................................................................................................................................................................... ..........................................................................................................................................................................................................

book reviews

top of page.

..........................................................................................................................................................................................................