yes, you're absolutely right, this ought to be posted over at colnago.cc to avoid those of you with trek, specialized, pinarello and cervelo bicycles having to read it. but then you can't ride one of those forever, because there comes a time in every young man or woman's life when it's time to move on and upwards, graduating to one of colnago's finest. in fact, the bulk of thewashingmachinepost interview with soren krebs of colnago-america is sitting on one of the pages at colnago.cc, but the introduction is here in the black and yellow pixels.
colnago have traditionally adhered to the recognised methods of distribution in north america: selling their frames and bicycles into the retail channel (see how easily i can slip into business speak?) via a national distributor. that all ended earlier this year, when colnago decided to take matters into their own hands and become their own north american distributor. the reasons behind this are many and varied, but the one constant throughout the previous two distributors and now the man at the top in the usa, is a gentleman called soren krebs.
mr krebs has boundless enthusiasm for colnago bikes and frames: it's not just a job to keep rice krispies on the table, and he's already making a difference, with a great deal of support from cambiago. two colnago enthusiasts such as mr krebs and myself could wear out the phone line between islay and chicago, so we combined it with e-mail...
posted on tuesday april 28 2009..........................................................................................................................................................................................................
bottom brackets may have changed in size and appearance over the last few years, with perhaps only dyed in the sportwool luddites like myself still pedalling carbon with square taper between its knees. but what hasn't changed is where the bottom bracket is. of course, this location is very unlikely to alter, no matter what trendy options marketing and engineering present us with over the coming years. and while the latter may seem like a somewhat vacuous statement, it's where the bb is that usually leads to those moments of cold sweat when or if, it comes time to remove the component from the frame.
to identify with the placement of this essential part of your bicycle, think of the crud, water, mud, agricultural product and road salt that this region of the bicycle experiences over the course of just a single winter. i have a vested interest in the cause and effect that visits down there because (grab yourself a kleenex) my steel colnago superissimo still sits forlornly in thewashingmachinepost bikeshed with a campag cartridge bottom bracket immovably stuck in the bb shell. the frame repairer that i contacted (and subsequently did nothing about) told me that the simple way was to melt the alloy bottom bracket out of the steel frame (you did take physics didn't you?) prior to repainting the frame.
so far so bad, but what would worry me is the number of carbon frames in the scottish (or british) climate which presumably cannot have a blowtorch applied to their nether regions to accomplish same. i applaud colnago for fitting a titanium sleeve in their carbon bottom bracket shells because this is a metal that does not corrode - or at least not in the oh my gosh, it's stuck sort of way. as with the latest mavic titanium pedals attached to my campag cranks, it is necessary to coat the threads of any metal part interfacing with titanium with a special metallic grease to provide protection against the two parts binding. as i understand it, titanium is a brittle metal and as an opposing metal is threaded into place, minute fragments of titanium break off, making it possible that these little bits could jam between the threads and prevent release of the removable component.
an anti-seize compound such as copperslip, or some variant thereof provides the necessary lubrication to prevent this happening. it's worked for me so far. however, once bitten, twice shy, and at ever so slightly irregular intervals, i remove both cranks and check that i can still unscrew both cups of the campagnolo record bottom bracket; not because i need to, but just to make sure i can sleep at nights. since with one notable exception, all the new trendy bottom brackets rely on threaded cups - even if the bearings are now outboard - the possibility of unfavourable weather conditions still offer the opportunity for those cups to become cemented in place. granted the tools used to fit these cups provide substantially more leverage than the almost miniscule splined removers previously favoured by the big two, but nonetheless, sod's law still applies.
so if you have experienced a particularly cold wet and windy winter, this may be just the right time to take the cranks off that magnificent carbon sculpture in the garage/shed/bedroom, and make sure that the bottom bracket or bearing cups are still willing to revolve in either a clockwise (italian) or anticlockwise direction.
and sorry if i've just ruined your morning/afternoon/evening (delete as applicable).
posted on monday april 27 2009
a friend of mine in new york city, is a particularly successful and well thought of drummer, a guy who has such a common sense approach to every aspect of drumming, that he somewhat confounds the accepted norm. many drummers set their kits up in the manner seen in the catalogues, but these are designed to show off the drums and hardware to best advantage, not as a guide to playing position. billy has very specific ideas on drum and cymbal placement to make the drums your ally, so in order to better demonstrate this simple philosophy, he self-financed and released a dvd entitled big time to rather overwhelming success (so much so that his sponsors, drum workshop drums, paid for the follow-up).
part of his philosophy concerns art being in the details; even if the audience or microphone doesn't pick up on what you're doing, do it anyway if it means that your overall performance is of a higher standard than it otherwise would be - place drums and cymbals to make life easier irrespective of how it may look to the civilians in your audience. it's the sort of stuff that seems screamingly obvious once it's been pointed out, leaving you wondering how you ever got as far without it.
cycling is exactly the same.
i'm pretty sure that members of pelotons all over the world have conversations or even heated discussions during the sunday ride, vainly attempting to justify why some item of clothing or carbon fibre widget has been seen as a necessary addition to the panoply of stuff we either wear or ride; and not always convincingly i suspect. but if it makes you feel better, and you figure the quality of your cycling experience is improved by acquisition of same, then why the heck not? granted, you may have to juggle with the claims of the marketeer, the dictates of fashion, and the amount of money in the bank before spending like a bull in a cycle shop, but all being equal - indeed why not?
an item of cycling apparel that probably ranks up there with placing the second bass drum pedal outboard of the hi-hat, is the merino sock: they don't look substantially different to the average cycle sock, and fulfil a similar function to the bog-standard cotton variety, but ooooh the comfort and joy. such are the emotions bequeathed by the new luxury merino socks released by solo race bred cycle wear of new zealand. the colour band at the top of each is reminiscent of valverde's pinarello paintwork, while the off-white natural colouring of merino wool is so much more subtle than persil white. the highly identifiable solo logo is in evidence on each ankle. in order to improve longevity and fit, the socks also encompass a teensy amount of nylon/lycra, but even a sheep wouldn't notice.
doubtless i have droned on before about the best compliment paid to a pair of socks is their anonymity as the kilometres fly by, and if you believe this to be true, then you won't remember you're wearing a pair of these luxury socks, until it comes time to remove your cycle shoes on reaching home. i have not had these socks long enough to test their ability to shrug off any odours; something that feet have an unfailing propensity to generate, but with plenty of favourable evidence through the wearing of other merino garments, i can't say i'm worried that feets will fail me now.sadly, in my opinion, we'll often spend indescribable amounts on sportwool jerseys, carbon frames and leather saddles, but just nab one of those six for 50 pence sock bundles. i can't honestly say that these socks will improve your cycling ability, but they will have a positive effect on your cycling. one pair is nowhere near enough.art lies in the details.
solo luxury merino wool socks are on offer at a very pleasant £13.50 ($20)solocc.com
posted on sunday april 26 2009..........................................................................................................................................................................................................
willy shutt was born in hulsberg, netherlands in 1911, only son of a blacksmith, and graduated through life to become somewhat of a successful cyclist, earning a crust in local races and across the borders in germany and belgium. he took part in the paris-roubaix race in 1936 at the age of twenty-five, then rode in the tour de france the following year, though there is no record of his performance and he seems not to have appeared in the final results in the parc des prince, paris. whatever took place during or after that tour, willy moved to the unlikely location of ilkley in west yorkshire, where he employed several of the local seamstresses in the construction of cycling apparel (the jerseys for vin denson's pelforth team were supplied by shutt). not all shutt's clothing ventures were entirely successful; one of the heavier weight jackets produced for the colder months was deemed to be a positive liability in terms of weight, despite the slogan shutt for the winter. some shops still display this sign in their window.
shutt cycle clothing prospered for many years after the second world war, but faded towards the end of the seventies when willy shutt's health started failing as he entered his twilight years. this loss of direction led to the company's demise - still run pretty much as it had been in the early 1940s - after failing to adapt to the modern, man-made fabrics that have now all but taken over as the fabric du jour. willy died of old age in 1992, by which time the company had all but disappeared from the horizon. (the photograph above is the only surviving picture of willy shutt during the 1937 tour de france. he is the one left of centre of the picture wearing a shutt monikered jersey)
along comes 2009, and simon warren and partner alex raistrick felt it was time to resurrect the all but forgotten shutt brand, using the modern equivalent of the very materials willy had been too short sighted to let go of. and while the appropriation of local seamstresses is no longer a practical consideration, the new range of shutt cycle clothing is made entirely in britain using a fabric known as drywool. similar to its counterpart sportwool, this consists of a layer of merino wool bonded to an outer layer of polyester, manufactured by clovertec fabrics based in lancashire, england allowing a comfortable, breathable fabric more than suitable for use in a cycle jersey which is, in fact, made in cleckheaton.
shutt velo rapide sent a long-sleeve, shutt no. 8 (all of shutt's jerseys are identified by a number) olive green and black jersey for a holiday on islay, just the very place for an end of the classics road test. despite claims that the jerseys are a loose fit, the medium sent was actually a reasonably close fit, very much in its favour, with long sleeves that more than adequately fitted that description - in fact on my longer than average arms, the cuffs began to encroach on the back of my hands: ruddy brilliant. the cuffs are a very close fit, as are the arms, the fabric of which seems of a slightly different knit than the body.
i find the colourway slightly puzzling, with the collar, cuffs, back and side panels in damn near an ardbeg green, while the front and sleeves are black. i'd have liked to have seen the entire jersey in the ardbeg green with contrasting black collar and cuffs (the no.8 jersey can also be had in light blue and black). browsing through the other designs on the shutt website, some of the other colourways seem similarly ill at ease with themselves, but this is purely subjective, and has no bearing on the jerseys performance: the colours themselves are plenty fine, just the combinations that seem a trifle odd. however, odd is probably good.
the quarter length zip stops just short of the top of the short collar, thereby avoiding that cut myself shaving look. the fit of the jersey is very good indeed as is the quality. however, a small degree of willy shutt's myopia still prevails, as the jersey bears no fourth, zipped pocket at the rear, something i don't think it's too much to expect on a modern cycle jersey. and inexplicably, the narrower centre pocket bears a velcro closure tab at the top. i found it quite awkward to gain access to this pocket when on the bike, though that could be total ineptitude on my part. that said, the pockets do manage to consume a substantial amount of stuff, something the modern cyclist seems to carry masses of these days (or is that just me?)
there's a very neat multi coloured strip embroidered along the top edge of the pockets, and a reflective tab below the centre, while the dropped tail is held in place by a ribbed rubbery soft-grip strip along the rear hem, a feature that works very well even when rummaging amongst the stuff in the pockets while riding. willy shutt would have been proud.
shutt jerseys also offer the option of bespoke jerseys which they are happy to design in conjunction with your own ideas and colours (subject to availability). plans are afoot to offer shorts too and shutt velo rapide will be sponsors of this year's white rose challenge sportive in the yorkshire dales.
the shutt no. 8 long-sleeve jersey retails at a wallet pleasing £70 ($102), while their short sleeve jerseys range from £60 ($88) and £65 ($95).
posted on saturday april 25 2009.........................................................................................................................................................................................................
hopefully i have managed, through the occasional strategically placed article, to get at least some of you interested in the exploits of the rapha continental. this ostensibly has little or nothing to do with whether you own, or have any interest in owning any of rapha's extensive wardrobe, this is all about that overused word epic, but in this case fully justifiable in my opinion.
while the notion may have come back to bite him, the originator of what turned out to be the rapha continental, daniel wakefield pasley, is about to leave his family for what seems like an awfully long time, in order to follow, photograph and write about the not inconsiderable number of continental rides being undertaken this year. having covered most of the epic rides across the northwest, and to a lesser extent, the northeast, rapha put out a call late last year for anyone across the united states who felt they had a ride worthy of continental exploration, to write in and tell them so.
during the early months of 2009, pinned on the rapha office wall in portland, oregon, was a huge map of the united states with pins in it, allowing slate, carey and daniel the luxury of finding out just how big a country america really is. but business is business, and after a lengthy process of elimination, they narrowed down the hundreds of suggestions to just 25, covering the states coloured pink in the map above. the successful submissions have led to identification of 25 ride hosts who will be provided with a bundle of rapha's finest clothing for those days when they find themselves midst some of the finest and toughest of america's non-professional riders, riding the very routes they submitted to headquarters.
the first ride takes place on may 1st just outside of big tex's home town of austin, at camp verde, texas, and the continental's world tour of america finishes on july 29th with a 150 mile epic, known as 'big loop' in boise, idaho. one heck of a whole lot of writing, snapping and riding.
daniel has expressed a desire to deliver on the host, the host's life where it makes sense and where photogenic, and the sense of the place in which they are riding, as much as the ride itself. since the photography and writing associated with the rapha continental has been a joy up to the present, i for one look forward to keeping in touch with daniel and his travels over the next three months through regular postings on the continental website. the only fly in the oitment is that part of the reason for my forthcoming trip to portland had been to meet up with mr pasley, and now it seems unilkely that that will happen.
still, they have phones in america too, don't they?
to read more about the continental and the recent interviews with the framebuilders associated with the project, pop over to rapha continental
posted on friday april 24 2009.........................................................................................................................................................................................................
many years ago, when thewashingmachinepost didn't know what a pixel was, but was a regular column in islay's local newspaper, the selfsame publication carried a monthly article entitled criomagan which is gaelic for bits and pieces. unsurprisingly, this article was written entirely in gaelic. in the early nineties, the newspaper carried out a readership survey to garner information on just exactly which parts of the paper were being most read and best received. as is the case with many of these things, the response was a mite underwhelming, but answers were acquired and one or two of the results were slightly surprising.
from my point of view, the most surprising result was that more people claimed to read thewashingmachinepost than read the gaelic articles. in mitigation, i should point out here that, on islay, gaelic is far more of a verbal language than a written one, and while many on the island have gaelic not all of them can read it.
swish forward quite a number of years, and i find myself being asked for some assistance by a journalist carrying out research for an article about gaelic on the islands of scotland. my understanding was that i would point this gentleman in the direction of people on islay who may well be able to assist him with his project, but not being a gaelic speaker, i was not a part of this research. being a cordial sort of fellow, i chatted to him for about an hour, and the results of the above mentioned survey came up in conversation, but no more import was attached to this aspect than any other.
you can perhaps imagine my surprise a month or two later when i was to read in the translation of criomagan that 'the editor of islay's newspaper', which in this case, was deemed to be me, despite the fact that i only undertake graphics and layout work on their behalf, 'says that cycling is more important than gaelic'. well, actually, no i didn't. but it was a salutory lesson in how easily one can be misquoted.
and it seems as if a blatant misrepresentation of a quote in procycling magazine has been used to bolster, if not the ego of mark cavendish, then certainly sales of his new book. as yet, i do not have a review copy of this publication, but i do hope to acquire one in the fullness of time. however just yesterday, a correspondent of the post sent me the above cover shot of mark's new book, and figured that the quote displayed top left was surely a quote too far. mr cavendish may well have won a few stages of the tour de france, but to our knowledge had not come home with one of the coloured jerseys and finished higher than fourth, as achieved by the post's favourite scots grimpeur.
however, i have a sneaking suspicion that only a portion of the original quote from procycling has been employed in this marketing exercise, (none of which can be laid at the door of mark cavendish, by the way) as i seem to remember it, procycling asked 'could mark cavendish become britain's best ever tour de france cyclist?' which puts an entirely different perspective on things. i have e-mailed peter cossins, editor of procycling, but he was unable to confirm my suspicions - and sadly i no longer have the relevant issue in my possession.
the quote may well reach fulfilment in time, but for now...
posted on thursday april 23 2009.........................................................................................................................................................................................................
i was going to start this article by positing that the very best of artists continue to progress, to push the envelope and discover how far they and their adoring public are willing to go in the quest of artistic endeavour, but in retrospect, this is probably not the blanket statement i thought it should be. there is an artist living and working in tayvallich, near lochgilphead by the name of john lowrie morrison, but painting under the moniker/trademark jolomo who paints the western isles with particularly fauvist tendencies: if you know any of the catterline paintings by joan eardley (without the originality), then boost the colours to unheard of levels, and you have jolomo.
works by this artist are particularly sought after (not by me, i hasten to add), but he has found a formula that apparently works, and stuck to it like a limpet. i can see no appreciable progress in subject matter or technique over the several years i have been aware of his work. while i find this rather sad, he obviously doesn't, doubtless because it provides a steady income without any risk, something that any real artist would embrace, even if not always willingly. this is not intended as any criticism, since we have all to earn a crust as best we can, it's just that, perhaps unreasonably, we all expect more of the artist.
the same cannot be said of the excellent brooklyn artist, taliah lempert: while she has always painted bicycles, the way her subject matter has developed over even the last two years is particularly enervating to say the least. taliah's latest venture has involved breaking out of 2d work and entering the realm of craft, but a craft that benefits the cycling population and still incorporates the wonderfully creative side of ms lempert's talent.
this past winter, taliah got into making cycling caps, making small amounts of each design and returning to the craft of sewing, something she last undertook in 1992. in this case, having got the idea to make the casquettes, she bought a few sewing machines, brushed up her skills and worked out a pattern. the designs are taken from inspirational ideas, like the old panam building in new york, and screenprinted on to the fabric before sewing begins. and in a fashion that seems to fit perfectly with taliah's work ethic, they debuted at the local flea market just the other weekend and proved very popular.
there are currently very limited numbers of these wonderful caps available, though taliah intends to continue making them, and will soon work on a sales page for her website. meanwhile, if you find that you just have to have one of these (and let's face it, who wouldn't?) taliah can be contacted by e-mail. the caps currently sell for $30 (around £21) apiece with $5 postage in the usa and $10 overseas.
the other exciting news for those of us who admire ms lempert's artistic skills, she's planning to release a book around october to celebrate ten years of being online.
can't wait for that.
posted on wednesday april 22 2009..........................................................................................................................................................................................................