so christmas has arrived again after another year, and as i may have mentioned before, christmas is a particularly silly time to buy a new bike, well at least it is for kids. short days, long nights, less than clement weather and a good chance that they'll have outgrown it by the time easter comes round and it seems like a good idea to go out on it. unless you live in the southern hemisphere. i don't.
so, in the true spirit of the festive season, i have elected to compile a top ten list of cycling stuff for christmas - or indeed, perhaps the top ten cycling goodies of the year before we head into another one. now i am being particularly careful to point out that these are not in any particular order, that way i don't get e-mails from disgruntled cyclists wishing to know why i put one item before another.
this way you have an endless cycling game for all the family. check through the list that is printed below and put it in the order that you think best. even granny will have hours of endless fun. so be aware that the numbers adjacent to each of the following are only there to remind me how many i've nominated and do not denote any preference. now d'you think i've laboured the point enough?
10: campagnolo hyperon wheels - i used to lust after a pair of what have now become known as 'lightweight' wheels (dreadful typeface on the carbon rims). carbon rims, carbon hubs, kevlar spokes and no weight. but campagnolo came along with hyperons. carbon rims, carbon hubs, metal spokes and a decent typeface on the rim. oh, and not much weight.
i've seen then advertised at £995 per pair which is a bit cheaper than the lightweights. still too much for my bank balance, but my main excuse is that i'm not too keen on using tubs (clinchers for me).
9: which leads me neatly on to the next item, michelin pro clinchers, formerly known as axial pros. i have ridden on these tyres ever since bobby julich mentioned on eurosport that in appallingly wet conditions in the tour a few years back, he was ok because he had axial pros on the rims. so i bought a pair (including a pair of limited edition bastille day french flag coloured ones) and, believe it or not, i have never had a puncture.
8: assos roubaix jacket - i've actually got one of these, purchased in a moment of weakness when i thought i had more money than sense. but i turned out to have enough of both. i have generally purchased lusso clothing because it's very good quality, but wondered why it cost two to three times more to buy assos. well now i know.
much like crap cymbals and really good cymbals, the really good ones are not worth three times as much, but if that's what it costs for that level of quality, then it's worth it. the roubaix jacket is of unbelievably high quality, and i would figure that all their stuff is of similar build. i'm now enviously looking at a roubaix gilet to keep me a wee bit warmer on windy days. the jacket is warm but only the shoulder tops have airblock fabric so a really cold wind finds its way through. so an airblock gilet should be just the thing.
7: polar heart rate monitor - i've dealt with this in depth only a few posts ago, so i don't plan to run through it all again but, there's more. my sigma 1400 computer has been good to me for several months until i inadvertantly turned the steering too far while cleaning the colnago a couple of weeks ago. with no computer, i fitted the wheel sensor from the polar s510 and typed in the appropriate settings to the wristwatch thingy. the speed sensor is wireless and even flashes as the magnet goes past to let you know that the gap between the two is just right.
so now when i'm out pretending to be fit, the watch thingy is strapped to a handlebar mount and i can see the time, my speed and heart rate all at one time. and it stores all the settings, so when i get home, i can see my average speed, average heart rate, maximum speed, maximum heart rate, total distance, total time, total calories and my bank balance as of novemebr 2002 (actually i made up that last bit)
6: procycling magazine - this magazine appeared, i don't know how many years back and i, and several others besides, wondered if there was enough space on the bookshelves for two monthly road cycling magazines, considering there was already the comic without which no true cycliong fan should be without. it went through a rough patch as it entered its second year, not really because of the magazine but because the publishers cabal suffered a hiccup, so one issue disappeared into the ether.
nowadays, however, public opinion is that it is a better magazine than cycle sport, which has been around a lot longer. unfortunately, they never answer any e-mails sent in their direction. i've e-mailed three times in the last couple of months to enquire on various subjects relevant to the magazine and cycling in general and had nary a repy. you wonder why they bother with e-mail at all. oh and they send out regular e-mail news updates. what more could a fan ask for?
5: giro pneumo helmet - let's face it, if it's good enough for lance, it's good enough for anyone. a bit like an insurance policy really. you pay it and hope you never need to use it - well not for head protecting anyway. a very light, very cool (in both senses of the word) and stylish helmet, now available in new colour schemes, including rabobank and cofidis.
4: pegoretti - yes i know i never shut up about colnago and will soon have a new one to go pedalling about on, but seen in a photo from the milan show, dario pegoretti had painted one of the display bikes in tribute to jaco pastorius, his hero, and certainly one of mine. bikes tend to be rather insular in that if there are painty bits to be done, they are usually referring to other cycling stuff. for pegoretti to paint it in reverence to jaco shows real soul - even though i'm still buying a colnago.
3: campagnolo record carbon levers - i was interested to read in the marcel wust road test of a lotto addecco litespeed bike, that the shimano levers were still the same as they had been on his first pro bike of nine years ago. wust figured it was time that shimano updated the things. bit like mobile phones. still work fine but not trendy so should be replaced. well campagnolo have certainly not rested on their laurels. while shimano have happily continued with alloy, campag have invested heavily in carbon fibre, and while they're not alone in this, they do have a habit of doing this stuff with style. i've seen one or two bikes with chorus throughout apart from record levers; chorus is a wee bit heavier but works just as well, but the carbon record levers add that je ne sais quoi.
2: unfortunately, i have no idea what it's called, but you could see it on the brake cables of the once tour bikes. it consists of a round steel ball followed by a long steel tube and another steel ball all the way along the brake cable (or gear cables for that matter) and it stops the cable outer compressing when the brake lever is pulled or gears changed. i've never tried this and it probably costs a lot more than a simple clarks brake cable but it looks as cool as ice. bet it rattles though.
1: previous winner of my top ten, last time i did this, was rather unsurprisingly, the colnago c40. and while i would be happy to award same again, colnago went one better this year and produced the cf3 - the second colnago ferrari. and this time it wasn't red and black, it was yellow anad black, with a campagnolo record groupset and very nice wheels. i did try to browbeat madison (colnago importers) into sending one of these bikes to thewashingmachinepost for a complete road test, but i'm not sure that they took me very seriously, or figured that it wasn't worth the column inches. still, if you don't ask, you don't get.
so there it is, the top ten (in no particular order) for 2002. don't forget thewashingmachinepost new year's day bike ride. starts from the bonds in moss road, bowmore at 1pm. if you're on the island on that particular day with appropriate bicycle, i'll see you there.
i have been asked to add the following link to the post by wheelygoodcause. they're a cycling club dedicated to arranging epic rides for charity and do not charge charities for the pleasure. They ride because they want to, and the next ride takes them from st malo to biarittz and then across the raid pyrenees. so i have. and here it is.
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 powerbook g4, ibook and imac computers, using adobe golive 5 and adobe photoshop 7. needless to say it is also best viewed on an apple macintosh computer.