the best of
nothing if not topical, this week's comic has britain's top fifty cyclists
of all time. much as i hate these kind of things, because i figure it's only done to provoke a flurry of letters and e-mails and you often have to wonder about the criteria used to judge many such lists. anyway, rather predictably, chris boardman has achieved the number one spot, tommy simpson at number two and robert millar, the washing machine post's own hero at number three. naturally enough the post thinks that the standings should have been the other way round but then that's just what the comic hopes i'll say (or someone else with little better to do).
many moons ago, when there was no such thing as the world wide web, there used to be a terrific little fanzine called 'well phil' which single
handedly pointed its barbed wit against robert millar as well as hailing
him. when they ran a popularity poll in one particular issue, millar was
slated as 'the scots git with the ponytail' but in a summer quiz readers
were asked to rearrange the following words into a well known phrase 'robert is god millar' and, if you care to read one of the pieces on the post's robert millar pages, you will see that it is entitled 'a funny guy'. those of you who read robert's rather infrequent (of late) bike tests in
procycling magazine will be well aware that the man has an excellent if
particularly dry sense of humour. the number one cyclists once asked the number three cyclist for advice on getting up hills and was told to 'find some hills and ride up them quickly' or word to that effect. so while robert had a particularly successful cycling career, winning the king of the mountains jersey in the tour in 1984 and coming fourth overall (still the highest ever placed britain in the tour de france) he has continued his career in cycling as somewhat of an oracle on bikes and a genuinely humorous chap.
boardman, who comes in at number one in the listings, has had somewhat of a higher profile as a cyclist though i would argue that his career has been more successful than that of millar (robert, that is). i now realise that, having thought of him as an arrogant englishman during the length of his career, this can be put down more to the slantings and proclamations of the media rather than laid at the door of boardman himself. having watched and listened to him on eurosport during one or two races this year, he has come across as a very genuine guy, good sense of deprecating humour and very knowledgeable about the sport on which he had been asked to commentate. not a trace of arrogance. and the arguments will continue perennially as to whether it was himself or the bike that won the 4000 metre pursuit medal in the olympics. his career on the track, both with hour records and pursuit medals has been almost as prominent as his actual and expected winning of the prologue time trials in the tour (an expectation i'm hoping doesn't sum up the career of david millar), so if i were e-mailing the editor of the comic, i would be inclined to support the idea of a first equal positioning though i'm sure someone would then e-mail saying that us young whippersnappers know nothing of real cyclists and that it were much harder in tommy simpson's day. (see what i meant about why they run these things in the first place?)
a washing machine post dedicated to the whys and wherefores of britain's top cyclists would not be worth reading (?) if mention were not made of the post's inadvertant progenitor. graeme obree was placed at 14th, a position i would be loathe to disagree with, however much admiration i have for the man. graeme's great strength was/is his innovation. the man haad been cycling in scottish time trials in the folded arm position for quite some number of years before the uci decided that he/anybody had an unfortunate advantage in this position, so he arrived with the superman position which was almost immediately copied by all and sundry (including chris boardman who used it to good effect in taking the last of the unrestricted 'hour records'). admittedly boardman gave his all by taking the 'real' hour record on a normal bike and normal handlebars. so, despite proclamations above, i have no major disagreement with the 'honours list' and will resist the temptation to provide a washing machine
post equivalent. we can all have our top cyclists of all times and care not one whit who agrees or disagrees so i'll not tell you mine (though the above may have given a few clues.
the next ileach and thus washing machine post will not make it to these pixels until january 12 2002 by which time i shall have partaken of the annual washing machine post new year's day bike ride along with the assembled hordes around the narrow and ever worsening road surfaces of this hallowed isle. if you're going out on a new year's ride of your own, have a good time because i can assure you that the colnago and i will be overjoyed at the prospect.
Remember, you can still read the review of 'the dancing chain' the utterly excellent book on the history of the derailleur bicycle by clicking here
any of the books reviewed on the washing machine post can probably be purchased from amazon.co.uk or amazon.com
as always, if you have any comments on this nonsense, please feel free to e-mail and thanks for reading.
this column almost never appears in the dead tree version of the ileach but appears, regular as clockwork, on this website every two weeks. (ok so i lied) sometimes there are bits added in between times, but it all adds to the excitement.
on a completely unrelated topic, ie nothing to do with bicycles, every aspect of the washing machine post was created on apple macintosh ibook and imac computers, using adobe golive 5 and adobe photoshop 6.0.1. needless to say it is also best viewed on an apple macintosh computer.