for the past few years thewashingmachinepost has run a regular century ride around the roads, potholed as they are, of islay. but since everything in europe (well, italy) seems to be called a gran fondo, last year thewashingmachinepost century ride became the gran fondo bruichladdich. while this was a thinly disguised attempt to curry favour with a potential sponsor, and did indeed lead to ella at bruichladdich distillery kindly handing me a bag full of bruichladdich miniatures for participants last year, the real reason for the nomenclature was its geographical location.
as i'm sure i have bored you with before, i live in bowmore, and the directeur sportif lives in port wemyss (home of vc port wemyss, islay's largest cycling club). in order to make sure that we each have the same mileage to pedal each week, he cycles up, and i cycle down (well, round and down) and we generally meet up at bruichladdich, making it the ideal place to start a gran fondo.
participation in the gran fondo has never quite reached epidemic proportions, and it frequently keeps me awake at night wondering why. there are numerous sporting activities that take place on islay, all of which seem to find any number of adherents, while the superior act of cycling seems to have remained the minority of minority activities. i used to think it was a cost thing, but there are one or two other sports (is golf really a sport?) that can easily cost as much between super-duper clubs and membership fees, so i don't think that's it.
the gran fondo has pretty much always been scheduled to take place the day after the islay half marathon (generally the first sunday in august) which is always on the first saturday of august. that was foiled this year by the first sunday in august being at the opposite end of the week from the first saturday. however, the half-marathon, admittedly in its eighteenth year, had an entry of over 100, while the gran fondo had the usual three - two of us who live here, and one who visits at the same time year in, year out.
anyway, i'm sure those of us who are particularly into cycling but in one of scotland's more remote areas are well used to this sccenario, and i don't intend to dwell on it at the moment. this is really to do with the training, or lack of it, required to successfully undertake a cycle of 100 miles.
those of you who have visited, and perchance, even cycled on islay, will know that it's not wildly hilly. granted, it's not just as flat as it appears but you certainly don't need a triple chainset to get about on the roads (a half-track would be handy, though). so one hundred miles, or even 162.5 km isn't a major chore, particularly if like us, you weren't trying to outdo the world record in the process. leaving from a closed for sunday bruichladdich distillery was pleasant enough, but the half-way poiint is at ardbeg distillery, giving us an excellent excuse to partake of clootie dumpling (actually, that's a lie. usually i have a coffee and a clootie on a normal sunday run, but for the purposes of being athletic and professional (moi?) i consumed only sis bars and carbo gel).
but the weather this year has not been as kind as in previous years. granted, the ds and i have managed several miles every sunday without too many fails and possibly even the occasional foray in between, but mileage has only been of the order of around forty/forty five or so. hardly the ideal preparation for one hundred.
so while achieving the necessary century was never going to become a failed mission, the lack of even approaching this distance in 'training' had its downside. the biggest surprise was the rapidly deteriorating state of the island's roads. by the time home had been reached, we felt as if we'd been in a tumble dryer for several hours. despite the legendary damping qualities of carbon fibre, i was pummelled. but the main part of training that was sadly amiss was the sheer need to get used to sitting on a bicycle for hour after hour. and this does seem to be something that is rarely mentioned in training manuals - or at least, any of the ones i've read. maybe it's just assumed that if you're reading a training manual in the first place, you are likely to be someone who covers 50 miles before breakfast, prior to the 120 mile ride to work and such minor niggles as numb bum, fingers and cricked neck don't apply. but as far as i am aware, the only way to get used to cycling a long distance, is to cycle a long distance. and a bit more regularly than has been the case this year (sadly).
as the years wend their merry way past me day, by day, i'm not getting any younger, and it becomes harder and harder to keep the same stamina and speed (though no-one seems to have told malcolm elliot this) year in and year out. i'm sure my body would agree wholeheartedly with this, but i really think that the next time chris carmichael puts pen to paper to outline the training schedule that put lance into yellow for a sixth time, he should point out that in order to benefit from the training outlined, we need to spend hour upon hour on the faithful steed. because then i can show the relevant paragraph to the mrs and maybe get more playtime before next year's gran fondo. and if you feel like swelling the numbers a bit, feel free to e-mail and then turn up. (and i hope that the two cyclists who turned up to wave us off, will consider pedalling at least part of the way next year)
this website got its name because scotland's graeme obree built his championship winning 'old faithful' using bits from a defunct washing machine.
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) there are also links to cycling weekly reviews of the colnago c50 and colnago dream b-stay. 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. here's the link.
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, and imac computers, using adobe golive cs and adobe photoshop cs. needless to say it is also best viewed on an apple macintosh computer.