two wheels on my wagon competition

two wheels on my wagon

the mop bucket outside the back of washingmachinepost cottage has not seen a lot of action of late. this is by no means a reflection on my cleaning regime, for that has not, at least in effect, slacked off for one minute, but i have been riding a colnago test bike for the past wee while, and the dry weather has not required imposition of any specific scrubbing of a velocipedinal nature. and now that the cielo has acquired those full wood fenders, the black sparkly tubing has had less in the way of islay mud sticking to it. therefore the bucket of which i speak has been available for alternative uses.

uses such as filling with names for the recent two wheels on my wagon competition.

you will hopefully remember that i asked for the subject of author paul howard's previous volume for mainstream publishing as your answer, and i'm happy to say that every entrant (and there were many) provided the correct answer, if not always the correct spelling. the answer was, of course, jacques anquetil, in the book sex, lies and handlebar tape.

the first names out the mop bucket were kevin richardson of derby, england, and herbie leinster of bangor, ireland. your prizes should be on their way this week. thank you to all who entered, and thanks to mainstream for providing the prizes. for those who were unlucky, you should go ahead and order a copy anyway, since it's an adventure movie par excellence.


posted sunday 21 march 2010

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rapha v-neck merino baselayer

rapha vneck merino baselayer

i spent more years than i care to remember working for a firm who supplied the plastic meals that you and i consume when seated on a long-haul aircraft. the airport at which this facility was sited was constrained by the political vagaries of which scottish airport should service transatlantic destinations and which would cover those within the uk and mainland europe. this led to an enhanced degree of seasonality. during the summer months, the number and type of aircraft departing daily meant six or seven day weeks, and often twelve hour days. remember: aircraft don't always depart on time, and passenger loads can increase substantially at the last minute due to the stand-by system. all down the line, someone has to cope and cater for all this.

and then, suddenly, it would all stop.

the summer season would end as abruptly as it started, and the workload would evaporate almost overnight. those were the two hardest times of the year to cope with; if you're really busy every day, it doesn't take too long to get into a groove and cope. conversely, when there's only a couple of flights departing each day with passenger numbers hitting just under or on half-load, chilling and expanding the workload to fill the time available became second nature. the difficult bits were going from a sparse day's work, to not having the time to come up for breath and exactly the opposite at season's end. not fun.

however, that's a phase that is applicable to several scenarios, not least that of preparing for the sunday morning ride. this has been, by common definition, one of the coldest winters on record, when the cycling wardrobe has been adjudged as one containing only the pertinent warm and waterproof items for selection. it pretty much goes without saying that short sleeves have been persona non grata since last september, armwarmers or no armwarmers, shorts can be classified under the heading scary, and even bib-threequarters had to be carefully considered against that of hypothermia. winters like the one we've just experienced do have their advantages; well-wrapped often means that pedalling harder than normal simply raises the internal temperature to just about comfortable. good training without needing a thermostat.

rapha vneck merino baselayer

but like summer seasons at the airport, it all has to come to an end at sometime, at which point the cycling wardrobe has to be revised towards the less duvet-like. i have a penchant for long-sleeve jerseys and baselayers: it's something to do with that of a security blanket i would imagine, and the change in the season hasn't yet necessitated a shortening of the jersey sleeves, but it has, on occasion, required that very alteration to the baselayer. so if the sleeves no longer need to be lengthy, perhaps the neck no longer needs to be round. as campagnolo replied to the queries as to why eleven sprockets, why not?

rapha, as part of their spring/summer range, have introduced a v-neck merino baselayer, ostensibly to fit in with their not always on the bicycle range. this includes the just arrived long sleeve shirt, adding to the recently reviewed merino polo shirt. the layering system long in use by those involved in outdoor activities, seems now to be transitioning (i hate that word, but have strangely always wanted to use it in a sentence) to everyday wear, even that with sufficient technical flair to be employed on the bicycle too. the v-neck is as welcome in warmer seasons as the merino neck warmer was in mid-january. loosen that jersey zip for a brief period of time and the influx of cooling air can ready any rider for the latter kilometres in towards san remo. yet when the jersey zip is in the 'up' position, the lack of a round collar on the baselayer seems not to have any serious detrimental effect.

this is likely a side-effect of its as-designed nature. if the v-neck is worn as prescribed, it will be under the polo or long-sleeve shirt in more formal scenarios than that of a sprinting peloton. this likely has a pile to do with sartorial elegance when worn with the forthcoming tweed jacket, or perhaps under a john herety tank-top. the quality of rapha's merino baselayers has, so far as i'm aware, never been called into question; i've worn them for many a long year and you won't hear any complaints from me. this version seems just a shade thinner than their regular crew-neck baselayers, and definitely a lot thinner than their merino crew-neck (which is winter specific anyway), but i'm afraid i was unable to detect any reduction in warmth throughout my various modes d'emploi.

so, only a few days before dwars door vlaanderen, and a week prior to the clocks springing forward in the uk, if you're finding the transition one that has sneaked up unannounced, maybe the solution is a v-neck, on or off the bicycle, whichever type of bicycle that happens to be.

rapha's v-neck merino baselayer sells for £55, is only available in cream and in sizes from xs to xxl.


posted sunday 21 march 2010

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phil wood

phil woods hubs

a friend of mine, who no longer resides on islay, started up the still continuing cycle hire business that exists just round the corner from washingmachinepost cottage. at that time, my principal mode of employ, apart from the high falutin' notion that my artistic endeavours would earn me a penny or two without having to cut off an ear, was that of cycle mechanic. it had been somewhat of a surprise to discover that cycle repair was one of the missing links on islay, so i'd figured out how to do most of it myself. as had become customary until recently, those in the business of hiring seemed consciously oblivious to the mechanical nature of their business, and became reliant on a third party (me) to make sure that all the moving parts continued to do so, and that the bits that stopped the moving also did their job.

if you read enough of the tourist hyperbole about this rock in the atlantic, you must surely have come across the information that islay has more than its fair share of sandy beaches, most of which are relatively unoccupied by wandering pedestrians. well, mostly. in what came as a bit of surprise to me, and something which still remains somewhat of a mystery, hirers of aforesaid bicycles seemed to find it a necessary part of their hire period to ride them across as much of these sandy beaches as they could manage in a given period of time. i daresay it could be perceived as the ideal holiday thing to do, given the frequency with which it happened, but it did nothing for my spare time come the end of the season.

in an ideal world, the holiday season and appropriate weather would last at least a tad longeer than is the case, thus filling the coffers of the hire business to overflowing. this would provide for a new collection of bicycles each year, and maintenance would be only routine. of course, back in the real world, nobody comes to islay with ambre solaire and the intention of going home darker skinned than when they arrived. rust is unlikely to be an acceptable substitute.

phil woods slogan

thus, at the end of each season, a certain number of hours required to be set aside to strip down ten pairs of hubs, scrub out enough sand to start a beach of my own, and replace bearings and grease. do that more than a few times and, apart from a growing hatred of beaches, you begin to see the great advantage in hubs with sealed bearings. we've all been brought up with the mystique of campagnolo's special bearings, how smoothly they could roll with a high viscosity lubricant, and the fact that, on earlier variants, it was possible to replace the bearing surfaces inside the hubshell. in fact, if i could remember where i put them, i have an original, unopened pair of those very replacements to prove the veracity of my statement.

the ideal, however, as we have all come to realise, are hubs with sealed bearings, because in such animals, the bearings are separate from the hubshell, and if sand were able to enter their inner sanctum(s) and cause frictional mayhem, it would be an easy operation simply to replace the offending bearing cartridge and continue running smoothly on the same hubs/wheels. in an admission that leaves me wide open to being less the expert that we all know i'm not, i was unaware that the first production sealed bearing hubs were those invented by phil wood in 1971. this was apparently as a result of trying to track down some bearings to repair a bicycle hub for his grand-daughter, and wondering why nobody made sealed bearing hubs. he was told he ought to think about making his own. the rest, as they say, is history.

phil woods hub

phil wood sold the business to investors with his best interests at heart in 1991, and the company continues to this day with the motto 'build it strong. keep it simple. make it work'. if only one or two others in the bicycle world adhered to that philosophy. around a year or so ago, i had the grand pleasure of testing/reviewing an independent fabrication club racer, fitted with a pair of wheels built on phil wood hubs. these were black with the single script 'phil' engraved on the hub shell, and in a second shameful confession for today, i wondered at point of delivery why the bike had been supplied with such cheap hubs. at that point i not only hadn't read the word as phil, nor realised its significance. they were lovely, and way too good for their temporary rider.

sadly, the man originally responsible for something we likely all take for granted these days, passed away at his daughter's ranch in baxter, iowa on march 14 at the age of 84. there are many in this world to whom we owe a great deal: phil woods is one of those individuals.

rest in peace phil wood.


posted saturday 20 march 2010

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you don't know what you've got till it's gone

ciocc san cristobel

the nice lady at bowmore post office keeps a number of bicycles for hire, and it is now an accepted fact that those who hire bicycles when on holiday, are not necessarily regular cyclists. this manifests itself in the manner of the number of adjustments required to make the bicycle comfortable, rather than aerodynamic. saddles are often placed lower than is advisable, while there is a constant need to have the handlebars higher than possible. the latter adjustment is often the biggest bugbear, for while seatposts can be moved up or down within the limits of the maximum height mark, the handlebars are fixed in their distance from the ground. and the reason this is so, is because of the wonderful aheadstem.

if i were anorak enough about such things i would conduct the necessary research into just when dia compe invented the aheadset and in one fell swoop, dictated the end of the quill stem's ubiquity, and the ability for consecutive riders to adapt any given bike to their own conformity. a distinctly backward step in my, and others' opinions. the aheadstem/aheadset combination arrived via the world of knobbly tyres, and was sold on the premise that it was lighter, easier to maintain headset adjustment, and no longer required the steerer to be threaded, thus opening the way for those all-carbon forks. in that latter sense, the original premise of weight-weeniness could be seen to be true, but now meant that the steerer had to be cut to size at some point or other.

you will have seen many a bike bearing spacers both above and below the clamped stem which may just be the owner's insurance policy in no longer being able to attain the tuck position when age and subsequent inflexibility dictates otherwise. simply move the spacers all below the stem, and the height is instantly increased with no untoward steerer issues. however, with the increasing number of complete bicycles being supplied from the far east, at some point, someone has to make the decision as to what length of steerer will be provided. and at this stage we are neatly returned to the problem incurred by bowmore post office.

hark back to the days of the quill stem, and it was always possible to obtain a specimen with the desired height, either for the moment or the future moment, and made it a lot easier for various riders to easily adjust to their personal requirements. it is also somewhat of a myth that the ahead system provided lighter weight, at least in the earlier days; nowadays that may have come true with the developments in carbon fibre, but who's to say the same fate would not have befallen the quill, had it remained in use? but all is not compeletely lost.

cinelli xa stem

i have long made the observation that italian bicycle and component companies, once the epitome of racing style and greatly in favour with those of the faith, seemed blissfully unaware of the je ne sais quoi of which they were perceived guardians, and have thus squandered it over the last couple of decades in a seeming headlong quest to keep up with the joneses of the carbon world. only a few weeks back, it was my pleasure to introduce the fsa gimondi chainset, a sculped nod to the halcyon days of yore, and now, belatedly, i admit, i find that ciocc have produced a couple of lugged steel frames, at least one of which features a threaded steerer capable of employing an aluminium alloy quill stem. retro isn't anything new, but the ciocc san cristobal at least takes it a stage further by supplying down tube lever braze ons, should you wish to go the whole hog and dispense with ergopower, double-tap or sti (i should point out that while bereft of a threaded steerer, the cielo currently in thewashingmachinepost bikeshed is also blessed with these lever braze-ons.)

sad that others have not done likewise: the colnago master x-light, despite featuring period graphics, can only be used with the ahead system and features cable stops on the down tube that dictate the current style of brake lever changing. i will readily admit that i find gear changing from the bars to be the greatest thing since sliced bread, but it's nice to have the option. unfortunately, a quick flick through cinelli's website did not reveal a revisited xa quill stem, so there are obviously still parts of italy that have yet to catch up with yesterday.

i did like the ciocc slogan though: 'old's cool.'



posted friday 19 march 2010

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beta testing

hidden bicycle

due to the limitations and dictates of the non-disclosure agreement, i couldn't possibly tell you which pieces of software i am currently beta-testing. in fact, there's an outside possibility that i might be throwing you a curve ball, but since i'm not allowed to say, and you're not allowed to ask (well, you are, but i'm still not allowed to tell), you'll likely never know. and let's be honest, you could care less anyway. the principal of beta testing isn't a new one; it's perhaps the ideal way of finding out whether the product that you hope to bring to market will work under a wide variety of conditions. so you give early versions to people who should hopefully have not only a vested interest in ensuring it works as designed, but have the necessary abilities and skills to test in ways that you perhaps hadn't considered. now how does that work with bicycles?

the downside to such a query is that, if bicycle beta testing is conducted in similar manner to that of software, the nda will prevent those involved from admitting as such, and therefore providing folks such as me with material to fill more pixels. however, the obvious method is that of sponsored racing teams; perhaps the highest profile in this respect is giro helmets, who always seem to encase their sponsored riders' heads in a new helmet each tour de france, then casually let it be known that the proletariat (us) will be unable to acquire the same until at least the following year's tour. in an example closer to my heart, in his penultimate year of competition, erik zabel was responsible for beta testing what became the colnago eps, even giving rise to a colour scheme named after him. there may be more of them out there, perhaps we should all keep our eyes peeled for sky riders on pinarellos that look like bromptons. but are racing cyclists really the ideal candidates to test new, unannounced bicyles?

let's face it, formula one cyclists are a breed apart: they spend all winter out in all weathers training up to their eyeballs, they eat food that most of us wouldn't thank you for, and drink recovery stuff the output from which is probably inflammable. then they ride the sort of distances in one day that most of us would struggle to cover in a week (or sometimes a month). it is, indeed, hard to think of a more gruelling way to check the veracity of modern carbon fibre. but let's not forget, if that left pedal develops a slight click there's a few guys not that far behind in a car, who can grab you a new one off the roof. and at day's end, while the beta testers are replenishing ther carbohydrate and protein stores, some of those guys that were sitting in the car will be scrubbing every square centimetre of that high modulus black matting, replacing anything that isn't shiny and putting new bar tape to cosset those mitted handies.

hardly a daily happenstance in the real world.

in the real world, the carbon spends most of its week sitting in a garage or bikeshed, only let out at weekends; being leaned against the window of the cafe stop and possible bearing the weight of a decidedly non weight-weenie d-lock. the bar tape will be the same afteer six months, the cables will have rubbed little patches off the clearcoat on each side of the head tube, and the sculpted carbon tubes will have regularly unseated the frame fit pump. oh, and there's not quite enough space to fit a seat pack properly or 25c tyres. in fact, not to put too fine a point on it, the day to day life of carbon fibre in suburbia is a world away from the glamorous world of larry and bertie. it is not too much of a stretch of credibility to realise that, while the professionals can give a beta-test frame a much harder time than you or i, there is so little comparison, that it doesn't seem too churlish to question if this is the most effective method of checking that a bicycle frame is suitable for those most likely to purchase.

there is a good deal of pride to be garnered by association; i think it likely that the amount of money pinarello is paying sky to put riders on saddles has begun to be recouped by the acquisitive nature of bradley fans in the uk. but most of the customers who enter their nearest independent bike dealer and place their flexible friend on the counter, are several worlds away from those charged with product development. would it not be a good idea, alongside the formula 1 development team, to paint a pile of prototype frames in ways that would render them incognito to inquisitive cycling weekly readers, and give them out to nda regulated riders and find out how well the items fare in a more mundane existence?

the only concerning bit about such rumination, is the sight of an orderly queue unconsciously forming in front of me even as i finish typing.


posted thursday 18 march 2010

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a school friend of mine who by chance owns a car sales and maintenance business (i'm sure i've mentioned him before) was the one who explained to me why you would steam clean a car engine in the first place. fortunately i have long since divested myself of four wheels and an infernal combustion engine, but when my past had less ecological leanings, opening the bonnet/hood of the car in order to check the oil, check the battery, check the water and check the screenwash, it was hard not to notice that the agglomeration of inexplicable wires, pipes and oddly chaped chunks of metal and plastic was not the edifice from which to eat lunch (or breakfast, come to that). but that was more or less to be expected: there was no floor to the engine compartment, so all that yuk that covers the roads in wintertime, eager to find a new, warm and more interesting home, now had somewhere to go. presumably the componentry within was pretty much expecting this and was built to withstand most of what it had to put up with, in which case, why bother to spend time and money having it steam cleaned for the process to start all over again? you'd hardly say it was a common occurence.

motor car engines are built to reasonably fine tolerances; you could tell this if you'd ever taken a gander at a set of feeler gauges. makes the gap between the rear tyre and seat tube on a cervelo look like the grand canyon. but engines are made of bits stuck together, with bits of glorified, heat-resistant cardboard sandwiched in between. gaskets. unilke the european space station, gaskets are not built to last indefinitely, and even if they maintain a degree of integrity, there does seem an inherent proclivity to leak gooey substances all over that nice clean engine block or cylinder head. you're likely beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel here; if the engine is kept clean, there's a better than evens chance that a mechanic will be able to spot the early signs of any leaks before one of the lights on the dashboard starts to flash aggressively as you drive down that french motorway taking the family on a two week holiday.

the principal is transferable.

particularly at this time of year, when the yuk that has not found a pleasant resting place on passing motor cars, there's a pretty good likelihood it'll end up on the nether regions of a passing bicycle, and that will probably be yours or mine. i can see the hands starting to go up at the back of the room, eager to point out that, so far as you are aware, bicycles do not have gaskets, and nor do they have oil coursing through their veins, simply looking for a likely orifice through which to make good its escape. that is surely true, but there are equations applicable to veocipedes that are unseen and unheard of on those darned motor cars. cleaning the bicycle on a regular basis can have untold mechanical benefits; a thorough clean from head to toe will make apparent any frayed cables, loose nuts and bolts, nicks and cuts in the tyres, loose cassette lockrings and a myriad other unsuspecting dangers that will only otherwise come to light at the furthest point from home it is possible to imagine, on a windy, wet, and dark night.

it's a variation on sod's law.

lifting the bicycle onto a workstand in the back garden, removing front and rear wheels and proceeding to scrub the little blighter until you can see your face in the crank bolts, should be mandatory after each and every ride. apart from when it's your turn to wash the lunch dishes. and if you're conscientiously fastidious, you might just pick up on one or more of the horrors listed above. entirely practical at every turn; would i fill all these unused pixels with such advice if this were only for reasons of style and outward purity? and assuming we take all this to be of value and substance, why on earth is richard sachs coming over all sartorial in front of a dirty bike?

richard sachs at nahbs 2010


posted wednesday 17 march 2010

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so how does that work then?

lightweight derailleur

in the early days of thewashingmachinepost i tried very hard to refrain from elucidating my technical prowess lest it be seen for the vacuum that it more than likely is. but as the years have floated past and i have the good fortune to meet many more cyclists, i discover that many are bereft of even the limited mechanical knowledge and ability that i find myself having acquired in the course of my years of absorption. one could almost attribute the obsession with fixed gear bicycles with a head in the sand approach to modernity, unable or unwilling to come to terms with the finer intracacies of those mechanisms employed in providing more than one gear. in fact, aficionados of campagnolo and spinal tap have the number eleven to deal with. so just what is it that a derailleur does?

this is/was a question that i had been asking myself since secondary school. andrew berndt was the guy's name, or bugsy as everyone knew him, though i think perhaps the teachers referred to him as andrew. he owned a ten-speed racer, probably the only one in the school at that time, a fact that he seemed decidedly non-plussed about, though there could have been a degree of bravado involved in this persona. i really can't see how someone with a shiny red and green ten speed could possibly not hold some elevated degree of esteem, particularly when some pest kept asking inane questions about it each and every day. of course, now i wanted one, but the only answer i ever received from mr benzie at the bike shop was that the chain would keep falling off, and that such a machine was not even remotely in the province of a mere first year pupil.

ultegra derailleur

that's where the intrigue started: notwithstanding the fact that none of us understood how the heck a sturmey archer worked (and anyway, enclosed inside a metal shell, there wasn't the same need for explanation), there was a desperate need to figure out how a chain moving in a forward direction could possibly shift laterally across spiky circles. assuming a lack of concern over oily fingers, just try pushing the chain sideways when it's wound round a sprocket; it doesn't move very easily. in those days of mechanical simplicity, the rider was the link in the chain (pun intended) on which the burden of responsibility solely rested. riding the bicycle often enough in several modes of employ (uphill, downhill, headwind, tailwind; you know the drill) taught the required amount of lever that needed to be pushed or pulled. but that derailleur still needed to shift the chain.

when those fishing chappies in osaka merged their reeling abilities with gear changing, the onus was devolved from the rider: one click, one change. and that's where it became simpler and more complex at the same time. you see, pre-index, the bit that was missing was a cable adjuster threaded into the back of the mech; all that was necessary was the cable pulled finger tight. indexing brought in that adjuster, because now each click pulled or released just enough cable to move the mech the precise amount relating to the distance between one sprocket and the next. when the cable stretched, as all cables do (even the pre-stretched ones), each click took up an amount of cable slack before moving the gear mech, meaning the ever decreasing sprocket gap would not be satisfactorily breached.

rival derailleur

using the adjuster to take up the slack resulted in restoration of pristine shifting, always assuming the upper pulley wheel had been aligned correctly in the first place. how difficult can it get? well, actually quite difficult it would seem. in the days when i sold bicycles, most came with small user manuals that explained how all of the above was to be accomplished, and i felt duty bound to provide these to the purchasers. that was until many of the machines were brought back after a week or so, the owners having attempted to adjust for cable slack by reading the manual, and messing the whole system quite comprehensively. if for no other reason, this is why bike shops are a necessary part of the fabric of life, likely to become more so if petrol increases in price by very much more.

so over the last forty years or so, i have come to understand the ins and outs of bicycle gears, which bits to pull, which bits to push and which bits to clamp tightly with a 5mm allen key. but i still haven't quite come to terms with just how that chain moves the way that it does. surely that's not quite physics?


posted tuesday 16 march 2010

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bikefood stuff

bikefood bar and coffee

last year, much in love with saturdays because they signal the end of probably a long week, i figured that the ideal way to celebrate this temporary freedom was the way that we all celebrate: bike ride. the overhang from days sat in front of a tft screen engender feelings of drowsiness even after a reasonable night's sleep, and the day's watchword was the lethargy you just don't need after kitting up and heading off. to encompass this within the hastily fabricated training plan, the idea was to pedal off south into the sunrise, and double back on the kilometres to head west for a soya cappuccino and whatever sticky buns were made available as accompaniment. not very far, as the crow flies, so little need to stock up with a larder of carbo bars and water bottles topped up with similar, but in liquid form. no point in adding unnecessarily to the cargo bay.

but cycling gives those sleeping endorphins the very kick up the backside they so richly deserve, and by the time i'd reached the turning point, i was rather enjoying the bike ride, so kept on to the next interchange on the motorway. now this would not have added greatly to the kilometreage, so at that point, no real need to regret those vittles; except the happy bits were getting carried away with themselves, and a trip up the mountain didn't seem such a bad idea. sun, headwind and carbon fibre: what more could a weekend warrior desire? at this point, the rather obvious fact that the further out i went, the further there was to come back, was being unceremoniously ignored, and by the time i reached the cappuccino shop, while thirst was not of major concern, the lack of a few extra carbohydrates was beginning to give cause for concern; the cappuccino shop is still 15km from home.

beverage ordered, the sight of double choc-chip muffins was more than a honed athlete with depleted energy could ignore, and it was not long before my table consisted of dregs of foam and muffin crumbs that bore witness to a feeding frenzy. this may seem largely unconcerning to most of you but needs to be qualified by my pointing out that even on a good day, choc-chip anything would be considered anathema. i am not a chocolate fan. suitably fed and watered, i regretted the muffin purchase for every one of those 15 kilometres on the wend homeward. a lesson, if lesson were needed, to do the boy scout thing and be prepared, even if a short bike ride is all that is on the agenda.

bikefood bar and carbo drink

there are probably as many carbo bars and powders on the market as there are shiny carbon frames, so while choosing an effective partner is unlikely to require resort to nutritional science (that's their job), finding something that you like can be a bit iof trial and error. it's the same with drumsticks, i'm sure you are consoled to hear. bars can be sticky and sweet: not a criticism itself, but one that comes home to roost if you have to guzzle more than a few over the course of a day or two, so i find myself drawn to bars that don't require the jaw muscles of a great white, and flavours that have a twist of the natural about them, which rather neatly brings me to bikefood's date and brazil nut bars with added guarana. no, i had no flipping idea what guarana was either, but it turns out to be a member of the maple family, growing in the amazon basin, and rather common in brazil. the fruit of the plant is a noted energy booster. box ticked.

this would have been a far more effective source of fuel during my over-active and undernourished saturday jaunt than a (double) choc chip muffin. some stuff just has the word appealing written all over it (metaphorically, not figuratively) and i rather favour the bikefood munchy bars currently occupying one of those three back pockets.

and as to liquid refreshment with the ability to maintain those colossal speeds regularly achieved down uiskentuie strand (preferably with a headwind of choice), water has the dehydration factor covered, but isn't overwhelmingly flavourable and enticing. i have previously used bikefood orange energy drink mix, which is pleasant enough, but as someone who drinks little else but fresh orange juice, i rather prefer an alternative flavouring in my water bottle. this has been addressed within the bikefood family by the introduction of berry flavour: luvverly, though something just a little less sweet would suit my taste buds. condition this by noting that grapefruit juice and lemon juice find favour here. a 500g tub ought to provide around ten complete servings as the label would have it, depending of course, on your individual taste. but as alluded to above, it's their job to be the nutritional scientists and figure out what the athlete within requires to be brought to the surface, so in most cases i'm inclined to follow the label.

the measured amount provides a flavour just shy of the strength i'd enjoy while standing in the kitchen, but then entering the last hairpin on alpe d'huez, i have to confess it's likely on the right-side of just right. you should always do what your mother tells you.

works for me.

bikefood munchy bars are available from the bikefood website in a variety of quantities from £1.45 per bar. the energy drink powder retails at £10 for a 500g tub, or £25 for 1.5kg: berry or orange.



posted monday 15 march 2010

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