the post

previous book reviews

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he's back! washingmachinepost hero and all round good guy, graeme obree is quoted in the current issue of cycling weekly as "i'm going to carry on regardless - i'm back for good"

graeme turns 40 on 11 september this year and has even been considering the veterans' world hour record (51.6km - francesco moser). graeme crashed out of the national ten mile time trial championship on dry tyres after being deluged by a heavy shower. his bike lost traction and he fell off.

nice to see that he sports the text 'uci legal' on the front of his helmet, though he's now on a standard frame with a huge chainring, fixed gear and no handlebars, only home-made carbon tt bars and a bmx front brake

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fundamentals. dvd 4130.com 16.95

fundamentals dvd

i remember writing many months ago that i would try and encompass more mountain bike bits in the post, and to that degree i have probably failed miserably, if only because i'm not a major fan of mountain bikes, nor do i partake of much (if any) mountain biking myself.

i figure this is probably an age thing, since the reason i drifted away from mountain bikes was a) the struggle to cycle anywhere meaningful on wide, knobbly tyres before any serious falling off could take place and b) with the weather on islay i constantly came home with most of the fields still attached. the compensation by way of a good blast around the squidgy bits seemed to lessen as the years progressed, and i now prefer to fool myself into thinking that i look much cooler decked out in ardbeg jersey aboard a carbon fibre colnago. (a guy can dream can't he?).

anyway, something that annoys as much as fascinates is the technical complexity now displayed by the average freeride or downhill bike. suspension travel has increased dramatically since i fitted a set of rock shox quadras to the muddy fox and has migrated to the back of the bike too, meaning that most of them look like farm gates (and there's plenty of those to compare with round here) with wheels. i'm not entirely convinced of the necessity for so much suspension on a bike, particularly when paris roubaix can be won (several times) on a bog standard colnago c40 with straight forks, though i can see the point on downhill bikes since the ability to keep seated and pedaling while hurtling down a cliff face seems a not unreasonable request.

and then there's the current predilection for hydraulic disc brakes. again, this seems a not unreasonable fixture on a true downhill bike that weighs about as much as a volvo and probably reaches similar speeds, but a bit of a dubious addition for playing about in the woods. granted discs take the problem of rim brakes and mud out of the equation, but it doesn;t seem that long ago that shimano were warning users of the severe braking power available from their v brakes. seriously, does the average mountain biker really need hydraulic discs?

anyway, the fascinating part if, like me, you either see yourself as a bit of bike mechanic or have become one out of necessity - it's a sad fact that any cyclist experiencing mechanical problems on islay has only me to turn to. i say this not because i feel incompetent in any way, but with the increasing sophistication of the modern mountain bike, and the diversity of spares required to keep said machines running, there is a very finite limit to the spares and technical support i can give on the basis that it's avery short season and there are currently no bikes even approaching this type of spec indigenous to the island.

shimano hydraulic disks use a proprietary shimano mineral oil, while avid and hope use a more standard hydraulic fluid. and i have quantities of neither. and based on the fact that a touring cyclist this very day purchased two pairs of v brake shoes, having sadly neglected to check the state of the originals before leaving home. these i stock, pads for discs i don't because every manufacturer has differing requirements and a (very) small operation such as mine - and doubtless this situation is repeated throughout the highlands and islands - can't possibly afford to stock the seemingly infinite varieties required by the latest mountain bikes.

however, since the idea of purchasing around one and half thousand pounds worth of full suspension mountain bike in order to learn how to service all the moving parts is a less than enthralling prospect, the idea of purchasing this dvd for less than twenty pounds is a much more appealing idea - so i did.

the dvd is, in fact, split into two sections, both of which loosely come under the heading of 'fundamentals'. the first part teaches novice riders how to wallop their expensive machinery round berms, over jumps, how to bunny hop, how to 'pull a wheelie' as my son says, etc. etc. the part that we are discussing here, however, is the second bit which deals with the servicing of the monstrosities i have just finished describing. clive gosling of bikelab walks us through everything from facing the bottom bracket shell and head tube of an orange five suspension frame. admittedly the above is only likely to be able to be carried out by a bona fide cycle shop since the tools alone cost about as much as the frame being worked on. still, interesting to see what can be done if you know what to do and have the tools to carry out the work. the film carries on by demonstrating how to fit, service and adjust a set of shimano hydraulic disk brakes as well as headset, bottom bracket and suchlike. very well demonstrated, very clear and very methodical.

after the bike has been completed, the dvd menu takes us on to tftuned operated by tim flooks who runs the gamut of adjustments and set up for front and rear suspension on a similar orange bike to the one worked on in the previous chapter. i don't mind admitting that i got a bit lost in this bit. tim flooks obviously knows what he's talking about but it doesn't come over with the same clarity of the previous section. this may well be because i am not overly familiar with the various nomenclature used in the description of suspension, such as rebound damping, air springs, oil damping etc. and since i don;t own or ride a bike that incorporates any of this technology, it's not something that affects me directly - though it just might if a broken one turns up on my doorstep.

when the directeur sportif and i dropped into the clubhouse/coffee stop (croft kitchen, port charlotte) last week. sitting outside against the wall were three laden mountain bikes, two of which sported hydraulic discs. so the invasion has started and i'm in the position of needing to learn as much and as quickly as possible so that i can continue the facade i present of knowing what i'm talking about.

it seems rather luddite to prefer the days when bikes were mechanically simpler, but i think that's why quite a lot of us became involved in the first place (when was the last time your bike failed to start first time on a frosty morning?) apart form the sheer joy of cycling for miles and miles. many of these new mountain bikes are somewhat on the heavy side as to remove much of the pleasure of cycling in the first place. an article in the current issue of dirt magazine referred to a superlight downhill bike, which apparently means something between 35 and 40 pounds - twice the weight of the colnago.

if you own one of these 'farm gates' or have desired on doing so, this would be an ideal way to understand the methods necessary to keep it running safely, even if you do wheel it down to the local bike shop to have it fixed when it breaks. but just bear in mind that once you've got one and fancy touring on it that there may be limited places up here in the sticks that can get it going again if it breaks.

buy the dvd.

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by the way, i've already had promises of photos for the velo club d'ardbeg web page, so just a reminder: if you've bought an ardbeg cycle jersey, get a photo of yourself wearing it along with your favourite bike, and we'll put them up on a vcd'a page on the post, before we start hassling the good folks at ardbeg to incorporate similar onto their own website. and remember, the official tea stop and club hut is at the old kiln cafe at ardbeg distillery. wear your jersey anytime you visit. if you missed the ardbeg cycle jerseys, click here for a look see.

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this website got its name because scotland's graeme obree built his championship winning 'old faithful' using bits from a defunct washing machine

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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.

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previous book reviews

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