why, oh why?
after mentioning in the last post (didn't that used to be something that was heard in john wayne movies?) that i had, at last, acquired a colnago c40hp, i had an e-mail from someone asking what i intended to use it for, since i obviously can't race with it on the island.
now, initially, that might seem like a rather cheeky question. if i'd bought a ferrari i wouldn't expect my next door neighbour to ask why. (actaully my next door neighbour would be more inclined to ask how? as indeed would my mrs). however, if we're willing to accept the fact that the colnago in question is, without doubt, a race bike, since both the rabobank and landbouwkrediet teams equip their riders with them, and by my own admission i have no intention or option to race, then the question gains a certain relevance.
of course i could tell him to mind his own business. if i want a colnago c40 and have the wherewithal to purchase one, then that's entirely up to me. or i could use the answer most favoured by sheena in ninetyfive proof - 'because i can' but it doesn't avoid the fact that the guy has a point.
my induction into the world of cycling was out of economic necessity. my workplace was a mere two miles from my abode and on cold mornings the car used the choke almost all the way to work and again on the way home. the practical answer was to buy a bike and use that as transport. this led to my first 'ten speed racer' (interestingly, the lates acquisition is also a ten speed racer, 'cept the ten speeds are at the back. with the the two front rings it's now a twenty speed racer. is that progress or inflation?). when i moved further away from the same place of work, cycling was a habit and i just cycled more miles.
when i first moved to islay i didn't own a car for around the first eight years of living here and all transport was by bike only i had converted to the first muddy fox courier, fitted a more upright stem, road tyres and panniers and eighteen gears.
now here's where the area becomes a bit muddier (if you'll pardon the pun). since it is far more common for roadies to buy a frame and groupset and either build it up themselves than it is to do likewise with a mountain bike, i did the latter. at this time i was not only repairing bikes, but selling them too, so it seemed an excellent advertisement for my 'skills' to build a pair of wheels, buy in a reynolds 531 frame (from the original orbit company) and a campag chorus groupset and join the whole lot together. since the frame was fire engine red, i figured it would be hard to miss on the roads of islay, and hordes of folks would ask me to build one for them too. unsurprisingly i'm still waiting for that day to arrive.
meanwhile i had gone from someone ploughing the estates on a muddy fox garnering a very modest average speed, to someone who was finding that there was a degree of excitement in cycling that i had not previously experienced. mountain bikes at the very top end may well exhibit a degree of liveliness in the frame, but even modestly priced road bikes appeared to offer something that the plodding mountain bike couldn't.
lycra followed along with the inevitable embarrassment of wearing it to where i am now - owning two colnagos, a reynolds 653 frame, reading assos catalogues and having spent the entire day watching the first mountain stage of this year's tour de france.
but if you break out of the procycling, cycle sport and comic world of cycling, you will find many more people who use their bicycles as day to day transport, who have little or no interest in cycle sport, and those who are into cycle touring, people who make up the bulk of those i meet during the summer months on islay.
in mitigation, i don't live far enough away from my office to need any kind of transport other than shanks's pony (walking) and i don't have the time or opportunity to go cycle touring, though i have done a limited amount of this in my early days on islay. but i am a cycling fanatic. and i am also a cycling anorak - i read all the tech notes on cyclingnews.com and velo news for the very latest technical trivia being developed by the top manufacturers (for instance, did you know that cannondale's latest offering uses carbon tubes and alloy lugs? do you really care?).
but consider this. not too many years ago, all bikes were steel including touring and transport machines. now a degree of them are the ubiquitous aluminium, only a few years after all the top race bikes used the same material. and now the peloton has begun converting to carbon. mark my words.
so, if you were a fan of formula one car racing and the opportunity came your way to purchase a mclaren just for pootling around the back roads, you'd probably give it more than a moment's consideration. i've had the ambition and the fanatacism to get hold of the equivalent of a formula one bicycle (the carbon tubes are even made by ferrari), so even if i only hammer up and down the road between here and port wemyss (actually our sunday rides generally cover about 100km) where's the harm?
my maximum heart rate is 193 - about 20 beats higher than it should be for someone of my age, and my resting heart rate is about 42. so my cycling is keeping me very fit, and i'd like to pedal the living daylights out of my colnago while i'm fit enough to enjoy it.
so if you are over on islay and are passed by, or pass a cyclist with an ear to ear grin on a shiny blue bicycle, don't stop and ask me what i bought it for. i'm far too busy enjoying it to tell you.
on a slightly different note, my regular reader will have noted the addition of a 'colnago c40' rollover to the left. this contains a reprint of a recent article featured in cycle sport magazine, which they were very kind to let me present here (because i'm a colnago geek) i have also found an excellent review of the colnago c40hp here
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.