bobby julich

it's time to sit down, in a quietened room after dinner/tea is over, the dishes washed (or stuffed in the dishwasher) and partake in a moment of reflection. in this particular case, we're reflecting on what it is that makes us do it - ride a bicycle that is. based entirely on my regular band of correspondents, i would imagine that if you're a london based accountant or lawyer who regularly commutes to work on a brompton or similar as the sum total of your cycling pleasure, then you probably don't read thewashingmachinepost. on the considerable chance that the market research that i haven't done has totally skewed my perception, and you are indeed a brompton owning executive for whom the tour de france is something that gets in the way of your annual week in brittany, then i apologise, and welcome you to the fold. but for the rest of you, with a wardrobe full of lycra and sportwool and more than just a brace of skinny-tyred road weaponry in the shed or garage, you are the objects of my attention.

so why do you ride your bikes? is it as a means of offsetting that middle aged spread, a far better way to conduct business than the golf course, or just because you have an inexplicable attraction to carbon fibre? and do you need an incentive to go riding?

taking myself as an example, incentives mean not one whit - assuming the situation suits, i require very little persuasion to place bum on saddle, shoes in mavics and go and attack that headwind. but if i, not unnaturally, assume that the rest of you are either sitting nodding your heads in unison (or have already left the building), would the appearance of an incentive take you that one stage further?

in a break with tradition, there is actually a point to this which i discuss, having received today the newsletter issued by the univest grand prix, a race and sportive that takes place in just over a week (saturday 12th september, souderton, pennsylvania). unless you're a professional rider, it's the sportive that is likely to interest the rest of us. (i apologise to any professional riders who were happily settling into this festival of contemplation, but shouldn't you really be out training just now?)

sportives are regarded as a test of endurance, fitness, stamina and whether your bike's better than that of the guy/girl next to you. but there are sportives aplenty all over the civilised world, ranging from the ride of the falling rain, where the only incentive is the likelihood of getting soaked and blown off the edge of the world, to the ride preceding the univest grand prix where there are the following carrots on sticks. the (still) wonderfully monikered chain-l no.5 will be leveraging their considerable knowledge of lubrication and providing free tlc for your chain prior to the off. lubrication of a different kind can be had via free samples of sportique century riding cream (the very brand that i have used for the past two years), plus the possibility of winning bottles of the latter two items in the race raffle (islay can readily identify with raffles - we have one at any meeting of more than three people).

one part of what has become a trend in many a cycle race or sporting event is the placing of a bicycle or product as 'the official...', a feature that i must confess to finding hard to comprehend, since surely making one marque of cycle as the official version surely has no impact on the velocipedes employed by participants of the ride? however, i do believe the phrase may well be an addition to the marketeer's lexicon. such notwithstanding, specialized have stepped up to the plate and decreed that their s-works helmet becomes the official helmet of the univest grand prix. soothing my incomprehension is the fact that the generosity of specialized means that several sportive riders will swap raffle tickets for prize helmets. that's official.

the selfsame raffle also promises to oufit a couple of lucky blighters with a storck c1.1 frame, or revolution wheelworks hoops. but while either might provide the very bragging rights for which you have been waiting, what of those who don't win? where's the incentive for everyone else? well, while hundreds got to ride with lance in paisley, and around a thousand wallowed in mellow johnny's wake in dublin, participants in the univest sportive will have the opportunity to ride with one of the most respected riders in the peloton of recent years: bobby julich. all you've got to do is keep your eyes well peeled, pedal like a lunatic and contrive to accidentally bump into the man at one of the landis (no, not phloyd - landis supermarkets) feed zones, or maybe even at the apres ride meal. bobby has been winner of the eneco tour, an olympic medal, and twice winner of the criterium international, and is univest's featured rider for the day.

could be all the incentive you need.

pre-registration for the sportive has been extended until this sunday (6th): other talented incentives taking part include brian walton, ryan oelkers, whit yost, and tom armstrong midst others.

univest grand prix


posted on thursday 3 september 2009

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schlamm wetzikon jacket

wetzikon jacket

not entirely unexpectedly, i rode up the glen road today, leading from the high road to ballygrant; i know none of this means anything to most of you, but it puts the article on a far more sound geographical footing, and is, i believe, called setting the scene. of course, in amateur fingers such as mine, the fact that a scene is entirely ancillary to the gist of my discourse will have to be accepted, at least until i learn the proper use of same. however, the glen road is germain to my main motive here, because the bulk of the land on either side of said road belongs to dunlossit estate, the owner of which has a predilection for farming pigs. hundreds of the little blighters, some of which once tried to eat the back wheel of a brompton i had on test, live behind high fences (curious - i had no idea pigs could jump) in what to the passing cyclist seems like mud and squalor. it has always seemed a shame that most of these little squealers to which i believe they may safely be referred, are pink, since this renders them as dirty little individuals after spending day upon day scrounging for roots and the like in the mud.

the latter substance they seem to thrive in, a thriving that is likely now to spread to many members of pelotons all across the world as cyclocross season approaches. mountain bikers will scoff at such temporal proclivities, immersed as they are year round: a sort of occupational hazard it would seem, but it is surely worth remarking that the new boys on the cyclocross stage at schlamm should choose to colour their first training jacket white and red. surely they must have seen the effect it has on those pinky little pigs?

wetzikon jacket

new boys on the scene is really rather unfair in the circumstances, since partners dan elmore and simon burney can hardly be tarnished with such an epithet after years and years of glorious mud, leaping tall buildings in a single bound, playing in the sand and overuse of the washingmachine weekend after weekend. but in the competitive land of cycle clothing they are newbies, and as such have obviously been paying attention to their own requirements and those of their prospective, muddy customers. additionally, they have researched their market and competitors well. specific competitors in the cyclocross market are, as far as i know, somewhat on the rare side, but since the atmosphere in cross is a tad more relaxed than most other forms of cycle competition, i doubt there is any compulsion to wear clothing pertaining to any discipline for racing or training - certainly in the lower levels.

but why on earth would you make a jacket destined for mud in white? i asked dan elmore and he gave me to understand that it has something to do with the world champion's kit and also the uci series leader's outfit. but then i've often wondered why those are white too. still, i don't think they're wide of the mark, since my friend davey graham, cyclocross fiend in mull, has professed a desire to race in totally white kit for this coming season. it must be a cyclocross thing.

that said, the wetzikon jacket is fashioned from good old fleece lined polyester, and scrubs up remarkably well on exit from thewashingmachinepost washingmachine.

pockets, often the bane of many a jersey and jacket are positively overflowing on this garment: there's a zipped, waterproof left breast front pocket with a vertical tagged zip. there's another of the same on the outside of the rightmost rear pocket, very much a favoured position on any jersey, jacket, whatever that i wear for riding. uci legislation surely must be pending, whether eddy merckx had one or not. the three regular rear pockets are verging on the cavernous; you could probably get a folded up brompton in any one of the three. the front bears a full length zip with a windproof guard to sit behind the zip when closed. this was the only bit that gave trivial problems, since its lightweight often allows it to snag in the zip, particularly closing up during pedalling. a modicum of care will help of course, but slightly stiffer material would obviate the problem entirely.

wetzikon jacket

training for cyclocross appears to have a slightly different interpretation than those of us used to metalled roads, as in this is a jacket that can be worn while pedalling aimlessly around the periphery of a cross circuit prior to the get go, as well as standing about the pits while your mechanic figures out why there's no longer a derailleur where a derailleur used to be. to facilitate these extra curricular activities, the jacket has a luxuriously high, fleece lined collar: you will not want to take this jacket off. but since events dictate that you will almost definitely have to, there are two lengthy tagged zips at the end of each sleeve covering a red gusset allowing the wetzikon to be taken off without removing gloves. i did occasionally experience the same problem with the gusset catching in the zip as happened with the main jacket zip, but again, modest care gets over this with ease.

schlamm wetzikon jacket

i tested the medium size which is a loose(ish) fit, but this is august and i wore only a merino baselayer underneath - it's a very warm, windproof jacket. however, the relative roominess would easily accommodate a jersey, and likely will as the mercury drops. ironically, my very first outing suffered from a thunderstorm before i could make it to debbie's: the jacket is one heck of a lot more waterproof than schlamm had indicated. of which i am very glad.

the pattern along the arms is a clever repeat pattern of the schlamm logo, there is a large schlamm across the back, another vertically placed on a rear pocket, and a very neat and tidy patch applied to the collar. no-one will have any doubts as to who made your training jacket.

i'll re-visit this jacket nearer the cold months, because as yet the ambient temperature on islay is a smidgeon too high for comfort, but in my mind this augurs very well for its intended purpose and for the months during which the majority of use is likely. and for a jacket of this versatility and quality, £125 seems an appropriate price, given that even now, it has proved better than its makers advise. such modesty is becoming, but i have no such modesty, and thus have no qualms about pointing this out. if the rest of the schlamm range is as fine as this, and i see no reason why it shouldn't be, cyclocross riders are about to enter a new world of sartorial quality aimed specifically in their direction.

but could i suggest a darker colour?



posted on wednesday 2 september 2009

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crud roadracer mudguards - not for tourists


the atacama desert on the pacific coast of chile is reckoned to be the driest place on earth. the average rainfall is around 25 millimetres per year, and some parts of the desert, we are reliably informed, have not experienced a single drop of rain in over 400 years. and it's not exactly a small parcel of land we're talking about: it stretches about 1000km from peru's southern border into northern chile. there's no grass, cactii, lizards or even a midge. it is so dry in this part of the world, that even steel doesn't rust. pete tomkins is very unlikely to sell many pairs of roadracers in this locale.

you'll be hard pressed to find a dyed-in-the-wool roadie who puts mudguards on his pride and joy; we all know it would be a more than practical thing to do, particularly if you live in the united kingdom or somewhere around portland and seattle, because a lot of precipitation has an affinity with gravity in those areas. but the old adage, 'pride bears no pain' has to be perpetually chanted when sitting in the middle or the back of the sunday peloton now that autumn is officially here (would i lie to you?). because the bicycles in front of you will be perpetuating a constant stream of water on those tinted rudy projects while your rear tyre is creating a brown racing stripe on the back of that white training top. but we put up with this because skinny tyres just look completely naff and thoroughly unprofessional when in such lycra'd company. imagine your embarrassment as cavendish speeds past on his unadorned scott.


the other reason we put up with this state of affairs, is a complete lack of mudguard eyes on modern carbon fibre; if you'd managed to swallow your pride, be willing to succumb to endless taunts from the peloton, all for a few hours of pragmatic pedalling, how the heck are you going to cram a pair of guards under those dual pivots? and how do you affix them to that carbon b-stay? ugly doesn't begin to describe it.

but this is the 21st century, and we can do anything we like™ or at least there are those amongst us that can. pete tomkins has been obsessed with crud (in the nicest possible way) for quite a number of years. this is the man who developed the crudcatcher, affixed to the downtube of every self respecting offroader during the early nineties, produced in colours to match the ever changing anodised components of the era.

but now the man's fertile brow has turned its considerations to the world of bendy bars and skinny tyres, happily from our very own perspective, and invented roadracers: roadie mudguards that you barely notice even when your'e looking for them. true: one piece of promotional material i have seen for these guards has them affixed to a trek madone, except i thought it was a before and after, and they'd missed the after. they are that subtle.

fitting is a finicky operation if only becasue there are small parts involved, and hardly any of us read the manual (actually, the obverse of the header card) unless all else fails. each guard is fashioned from glossy, thin, black recyclable plastic and arrives in three parts; the front and rear sections are fixed in place using a tiny screw and thumbwheel. there are two stays which stretch from the rear and also screw onto two small brackets that are double-bungied onto front forks and rear seatstays. these bungies are a lot stretchier and stronger than you'd think, meaning that even chunky carbon is accommodated with ease and a strong thumb and forefinger. the assembled guard is held in place by a re-usable zip-tie fastened through a slot on top of each guard and round the centre bolt of the brake calipers. an excellent example of lateral thinking.


this clever invention is made aesthetically and practically possible on skinny tyres by reducing the plethora of stays that normally plague mudguards of other hues. the stay flanges moulded onto the main section of each guard are fitted on the inside with small brushes that touch on the wheel rims. it is these that keep the raceguards centred over the wheels without the need for a numerical increase in stays. crud claim that the drag factor is negligible and that in testing they have yet to wear out a pair of brushes.

to test my review pair, i have risked incurring the wrath of cambiago, and fitted them to a 2010 colnago ace that arrived at the same time as the roadracers. sacrilege it may be, but i am nothing if not fearless in the face of ernesto. it took around 45 minutes to fit both guards, and while it's a bit of a footer, it should be well within the abilities of anyone who can pump up a tyre. just be careful not to drop any of those tiny screws, because they're a bugger to find next to the coal bunker.

visually, the roadracers have so little impact on the appearance of the bike, that any possibility of dented pride in the face of practicality rapidly disappears. much like many a real mudguard, these also resist sitting just the way you'd like them to, particularly in this case, the section forward of the rear brake heading towards the seat tube, and the frontispiece that you can see ahead of the for'ard caliper. of course these are so narrow, that any degree of off centredness is mere millimetres and something that is minimised once travel is underway.

on the bike, gear selected, pedalling commenced, the rubbing noises at low speed do not augur well, and i stopped a couple of times in a few hundred metres to try and adjust from where i thought the source of the friction emanated. of course, none of this really matters, because much of the sound comes from the brushes sitting lightly on alloy rims, sound that merges into road noise as speed increases. five minutes after get go, i had forgotten there were mudguards on the bike, as had the back of my jacket, socks and shoes. like a kid with a new pair of pink wellies, i was heading through every puddle i could find; and in the aftermath of several heavy showers, this wasn't an onerous task.


these are truly brilliant - they work just as well as, if not better than advertised, they make no creaking and rattling noises, have no discernible effect on forward motion and riding over rattly roads bothers them not one whit. according to mr tomkins, the stays are glass reinforced plastic, meaning that should one loosen and flay into the spokes, it will break up without damaging the wheel. hopefully i won't be finding out about that bit. mr hastings wanted a pair the moment he saw them, and in the light of the impending weather forecast, they will be remaining on the colnago for the duration of its test period.

£27.99 is very little to pay for maintaining that sartorial elegance in the face of surface water. as far as i can ascertain, crud roadracers are not yet available, but they should be soon, either from the ubiquitous all good bikeshops or wiggle and chain reaction cycles. the latter two will apparently be happy to supply the north american market

portland and seattle, this means you.



posted on tuesday 1 september 2009

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forewarned is forearmed


in a remarkable coincidence, my fellow scotsman, james lamont, was one of the participants in the spokesmen podcast where he was able to talk almost as much as i do (maybe it's a scottish thing), only far more convincingly about his specialist subject: hi-tech clothing. as i have mentioned to him on more than one occasion, he really knows far too much about this, from solar absorption to perspiration quotients, from fabric weights to clothing fit. if you think you have an educated notion as to which jersey or shorts are the most appropriate for every condition you may be likely to encounter, i guarantee you, james will be able to tell you just why you are correct, or point out in great detail why you're well off the mark.

however, not having listened to the spokesmen podcast before (does that make me a bad person?) i was intrigued by the end slot which invited the participants to pass on any top tips to listening and eager cyclists. one of james's tips was not to follow the lead of riders such as phloyd landis, and cool yourself by emptying bottles of water over your head; instead, he suggested pouring the same water over your forearms to provide more effective cooling. now i've not heard this said before, but on saturday morning, as i wended my happy way to port charlotte for the frequent port mor wheelers meet, on realising the ambient temperature to be somewhat higher than i had estimated prior to departure, i was able to experience this advice a day before i heard it.

there's a bit of a dichotomy over just what to wear when attending the wheelers, because i want to carry as little extraneous material as possible in case i fancy going for a ride afterwards. however, port mor centre faces south down loch indaal and has no shelter from the elements whatsoever. thus, if one is to stand in a car park for two hours either berating kids for running over your feet, or shouting words of encouragement, it's a good idea to keep warm and cosy. the prevailing wind contends to hit the spot, and with demoralising precision. to this end, i was wearing an item of review clothing designed expressly for the purpose of keeping chills at bay, a piece of apparel that was, effectively, a level too warm for the day it turned out to be. so i tried to pull the sleeves up a smidgeon, whereupon the cooling effect was quite remarkable.

so james, not that i doubted him for a moment, is right on the money, and thus gives rise to why armwarmers are, perchance, a more pragmatic solution in spring and autumn/fall, than wearing long-sleeve jerseys (flying in the face of this advice, i have a great affinity with long-sleeves, though for the life of me, i have no idea why). i have never successfully rolled up an armwarmer from wrist towards bulging bicep, but then they're not designed in that direction anyway. in a similar manner to donning that tissue paper of a gilet on chilly mornings, armwarmers can be rolled on at early departure hour, then rolled down as warming rider and outside temperature combine to demand cooling.

however, careful observation of even the professional peloton have alerted me to the blatant fact that armwarmers are just not being worn properly, not quite so much from the point of their primary purpose in life, but very much from the point of downright scruffiness. mistake me not, i am well aware that this is a blatant case of the pot calling the kettle black - any degree of visual respectability and sartorial elegance is as far removed from my personal space as alberto is from lance. however, no matter the bird's nest expanding from under the catlike, i cannot abide seeing a gap between armwarmers and jersey cuff, imbalanced wearing of a pair, or the stripes/logo not even close to symmetrical. any of these are just plain wrong.

mirrors, people.

so with the mercury unlikely to remain as high on the thermometer as has been the case (in the uk at least), now is the ideal time to start rummaging through that unruly pile of cycling detritus at the side of the bed to check that a matching pair of armwarmers can be made readily available. armwarmers (and, to be inclusive, kneewarmers too) exhibit the same proclivity ascribed to socks: they rarely remain in matching pairs. it would be a cardinal sin to go out riding with one rapha and one solo armwarmer, simply because of the disorganised chaos that is your cycling wardrobe. take james's advice without letting on i told you so: nonchalance and comfort are such a potent combination.

it's autumn tomorrow.


posted on monday 31 august 2009

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over the hills and far away

cent cols challenge jersey

in a couple of weeks' time, graeme raeburn, brompton maestro at rapha, will not switch on his mac and concern himself with where to place that seam, which colourways kuler can aid this week, and how far the wednesday morning bike ride should travel that particular week. because graeme, along with dan arthur from roadcyclinguk, ira ryan from portland, and one lucky competition winner, will form rapha's four man team joining with nine other groups of four to ride the inaugural cent cols challenge, a feat of derring do concocted by mountaineer in cycle clothing, phil deeker. it's a worrying situation, because phil's such a regular chap both in appearance and conversation, that he would never strike you as the sort of guy that would put forty others through hell and high altitudes and present it as a fun thing to do.

what is even weirder is that, not only have forty mentally displaced cyclists opted to take part without so much as a blackburn airstick pointed at their helmets, but the waiting list could have formed the peloton for a second event over the same terrain. an invitation to such purgatory would be insane enough, but these people have expended £1,250 ($2,050) of their very own money to risk crank and bottom bracket cycling over 100 french mountains in ten days from 14th september.

participation in such an event, apart from calling for lengthy counselling, also calls for a special, commemorative yet practical souvenir. this has been produced by rapha, ironically designed by the aforementioned mr raeburn, based on their popular lightweight sportwool jersey with an embroidered ccc logo and thoughtfully in white to reflect the midday sun.

aside from harbouring sadistic tendencies, mr deeker is not what one would call a slacker, for while the potential peloton sit quaking at what probably seemed like a good idea at the time, he has been out beating the pyrenees into submission, gathering intelligence for the edification of the ten teams and modelling the jersey under the very conditions that will soon be applied with a vengeance.

cent cols challenge jersey

while i would expect that rapha's blog will have first dibs on the stories that will result from what is likely to be an incredible, yet exhausting adventure, i have high hopes of persuading phil (and possibly graeme) to scribble a word or two along with photos for the black and yellow pixels around the beginning of october (all being well). as mentioned in a previous run-up to the challenge, there are two 50 col events in the alps and pyrenees, along with 100 col ventures in the same locations for 2010, and places are now available for booking. these events will be strictly limited to thirty participants on each. first come first served.

are you daft enough?

cent cols challenge


posted on sunday 30 august 2009

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it's a breeze


the chap next door to me has an anemometer fixed to the top of his shed. it's not a bikeshed in the accepted sense of the word; it does occasionally hold an ageing mountain bike, but mostly it's full of ladders and bits of wood and nails and more craftsman's tools than b&q. however, it's the anemometer that is of specific interest, particularly as it can be viewed from the kitchen window as breakfast is prepared prior to the sunday ride. tomorrow is august 31 and by tuesday it will be autumn (or fall, if you're reading from that part of the world), so even though we've had wind and rain for the last couple of weeks, both are now going to get colder, wetter and stronger which, in a change from the normal reaction, is something i find myself looking forward to.

the anemometer is strategically placed so that it catches the wind from pretty much all directions: the back gardens of our respective houses are usually rather sheltered, and it wouldn't have been the first time i have extricated the colnago from its cosy bikeshed, while wearing but short sleeves and shorts, to find that wind and temperature at the front of the house are of a different order altogether. now i'll be the first to admit that anemometers have no bearing on temperature, but gilets and stowaways can take care of that, as can a few kilometres of hardened pedalling: it's the wind that requires to be centre stage.

wind direction is of academic interest, because due to the topography of this island it's going to be in your face in pretty much every direction anyway. what is of specific concern is the relative strength. on 29th august 1930, the inhabitants of st kilda were removed en masse from the island, after petitioning the scottish office to relieve them of what had become the burden of living on britain's most far flung outpost. in an article in saturday's guardian weekend magazine, a visitor is quoted as having reported that 'the sea beat so hard on the shore in a storm, that it left the villagers deaf for a week.' fortunately, we've not reached that situation as of yet, though the atlantic roar at saligo can be a tad on the loud side, meaning sheep grazing on the grass growing in the middle of the road almost never hear the peloton creeping up on them. disappointingly, this also affects the helmet ears when it comes to cars and tractors approaching from behind, but this is generally resolved by designating someone to ride shotgun: someone with a loud voice.

but after summer sun, warm mistrales and half a bottle of sun cream spread over a few months, there is a strange satisfaction to be gained from ploughing into a head-wind, particularly one composed of salt sea air and dropping temperatures. the very conditions for which armwarmers were invented. it's the ideal time of year for testing new products; preferably products that were designed for the conditions, because it feels more like work than sauntering through summer sun and breathing breeze wearing a new lightweight jersey with the zip half-way down. this way i can suffer for my art, and hopefully someone else's at the same time.

surely, however, in the same way that every mountain climb is rewarded with a consequent downhill, an eye-watering headwind will be balanced with wind-assist in the opposing direction? physics would dictate that this should be the case, but wind trajectories seem not to obey such laws with any consistency, adding not only to the thrill of the chase, but an unexpected amount of character building in the process. thus the homeward trip, apres cappuccino, is often as hard as the trip to debbie's in the first place, but surprisingly satisfactory in both directions. chip back a few years, and i will admit to wearing out the good will of the mighty dave t, complaining incessantly about the perennial wind that blighted every ride, weekend or otherwise. but those very winter months achieved a form of enlightenment, and rather than suffer such as the ignominy of slogging into a mattress, i have embraced this rough form of aerodynamic testing to the point where i could conceivably picture myself as a stalwart during the belgian classics. granted, there's not a sane person in the world that would concur with this outlandish suggestion, but i have my little artificial world, and you have yours.

so as the summer months draw to an unheralded close, the kids go back to school and we all prepare to batten down the hatches, take another leaf from the oft borrowed philosophy of spinal tap, and 'break like the wind'.

a smattering of rain can but perform as the icing on the cake.

the belgian national champion's jersey makes a fitting accompaniment by way of suitable apparel, and always remember to wear a casquette under the helmet.


posted on sunday 30 august 2009

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you've seen it in the movies

where are you go?

it will surprise very few of you that there is no cinema on islay. most of the small rural and island communities across the west highlands of scotland are excluded from cornettos at the interval and tubs of popcorn emptied all over the floor, because the populations of these small townships and regions are insufficient to sustain bricks and mortar cinemas. not that we are completely bereft of access to the (almost) latest blockbusters - this is the 21st century when even estranged communities are included in the grand scheme of things. for quite a number of years these areas have been fairly well served by the screen machine, a large blue truck that opens out sideways into a fully equipped, if often draughty, cinema which, despite its oft trumpeted mobility, arrives on islay and stays in the one place for a few days before heading off on the ferry. this means that, on an island where there is no public transport after 6pm, some folks face an 80km round trip to see something that was probably on sky movies the previous weekend.

as it has to cater to the majority, this mobile cinema only ever shows movies that could be considered blockbusters or at least contemporary considerations for the real world. i've never known it to show any of the classics, though it did co-operate with the three - day islay film festival last year, which included mostly movies made about island life, or such as the maggie, a comedy movie about one of the puffers that used to ply their trade up and down the west coast. this was quite successful, in its own way, but there will always be a high percentage of rural and island populations that love to watch movies about rural or island populations. in much the same way, it should be said, that cyclists adore watching movies about cycling; something that looks particularly odd when written in black and yellow like this.

but watching movies and short films about bicycles and cycling is something with which most of us would be hard pressed to deny an affinity, a fact that brent barbur has pretty much staked his future on. brent is the originator of the now nine year-old bicycle film festival which he started after being hit by a bus in 2001 (yes that does seem odd to me too). there are thirty-nine individual film festival locations all across the world, and though most are centred in north america, it's london's turn just shortly. while much of the bicycle trade are filling hotel rooms in las vegas at interbike, films such as where are you go, i love my bicycle, the story of fbm bikes and the third wheel will be showing at london's barbican centre.


it's hard to know whether the films are a distraction from the cycling activities or vice versa, but there will also be bmx, rollapaluza and hard-court bike polo to help empty your pockets of stray popcorn and cornetto wrappers. the full listings can be accessed on the bicyclefilmfestival website.

it has long been a rumination amongst the peloton of velo club d'ardbeg that the big blue truck could be used for purposes other than harry potter and james bond; perhaps it's time to lobby for our very own highlands and island bicycle film festival. first on the bill:the high life. don't laugh, we might just make it happen.

london bicycle film festival - 23rd - 27th september. the barbican centre.



posted on saturday 29 august 2009

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the nights are fair drawing in, are they not

rapha sale

traditionally, in january of each year, great hordes descend upon the moscone centre in san francisco, to witness the second, third, or fourth coming that is macworld usa. apple computer has long used this major exhibition of all things mac to announce new products, and the assembled sit in cheerful awe, awaiting steve jobs to turn round from the screen at the back of the stage and utter those immortal words: "oh, and one more thing...". this is the moment when, for many a year, apple have revealed a product that nobody even knew they were working on, such is the level of secrecy maintained on unannounced stuff. sadly, 2009 seems to have heralded the last of this tradition, as apple are apparently no longer interested in attending january's macworld.

such fervour and devotedness is, as far as i can fathom, unparalleled in any other area of modern marketing, though as of at least the last two years, british clothing company, rapha, have started to make inroads on a smaller scale. earlier this year, when the spring/summer range was announced, the company's web server came almost to a standstill due to the desperation displayed by many thousands eager to find out just what had been released, and how much of it they could afford at one go. and in a similar mode to apple, rapha often announce items that may incur a wait of several weeks before they are actually available, creating even more pent-up demand. the recent sale of many end of line products at their co-sponsor's shop in grays inn road, led to lengthy queues outside condor cycles, something that you can't really imagine happening for any other brand of cycle clothing (see pic above).

and so to today, when rapha have released teaser pics of some of the 2009 autumn/winter range on the recently appended blog at initial items go on sale as of september 1st, but this quick look should allow you the weekend to persuade your better half just how much you've saved by not having that second pint on a friday evening or, if you are both pedalists, you can argue over how you're going to split the acqusition strategy. over the coming months, michael at velodramatic and i will be testing and reviewing a number of the products you can now see at if our cunning plan works the way it's intended to, we could well pull off the first mexican wave in the interweb's history.


posted on friday 28 august 2009

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