cycling: the new football

cyclesport september 2010

when i were a lad, and not the least bit interested in football (soccer for those reading outside the uk), my father and brother used to watch grandstand at lunchtime on a saturday, which gave an overview of the afternoon's matches. this was in pre-satellite days when football was only played on saturday afternoons. the programme would include various worthies pontificating on the likely outcomes of the forthcoming games. father and brother would then traipse off to whichever football match was closest.

come saturday tea-time, both would return, sit down in front of the selfsame television and watch the very same worthies explain how the matches turned out pretty much as they said, except the other team won. it was, and still is, seemingly a necessity to dissect every last one of those ninety minutes, in much the same way that the metaphysical poets are analysed in english literature.

eurosport's coverage of the tour de france was, to put not too fine a point on it, quite exemplary this year. where would we all be if we'd to rely purely on the daily press to get our fix of yellow jersey? what used to be known as the broadsheets did a more than reasonable job of filing reports of each day's stage, along with a brief recce of the results and overall placings, but there is little to compare with actually watching events as they unfold. a description of how andy schleck unshipped his chain (and let's be honest, we've all been there, though perhaps not on a ruddy great mountain in france with a yellow jersey at stake) is not quite the same as having watched it happen before your very eyes. moving pictures and sensible commentary are great.

and it would be quite lovely if it stayed that way.

procycling september 2010

but of course, it can't stay that way; it's human nature to tinker with things, even if they were perfectly alright in the first place. not only has football invaded many too many corners of everybody's lives (try watching regular tv when the world cup was on), but it's started to influence other sports, one of which seems to be cycling. i agree, i have perhaps underlined eurosport's pre and post stage studio discussions at the tour as being surplus to requirements perhaps once too often, but now the virus has spread to that haven of friday bath nights, the monthlies.

both the july and august issues of cycle sport and procycling concerned themselves almost exclusively with the tour. i was beginning to think my glasses had contracted a yellow tint; pontification was indeed the name of the game, mostly based on the predictable, but getting very close to the line of insulting our intelligence. now that the tour has passed, we know who won, we know who lost, we know that we should check the adjustment of that front gear mech, and we know that the guys and girls at specialized and sram are rubbing their hands with glee. because we watched the tour on eurosport or versus or espn or whichever satellite channel works for you. and if you didn't manage that, there are endless websites with video clips of the salient moments accompanied by on the spot commentary. if you're a cycling fan, and you missed this year's tour then you've got a lot of answering to do.

but then comes august, and the september issues arrive on the doormat (never figured out why magazines are always one month ahead of the month in which they are read). it's no wonder that the vuelta has become the poor relation in the triumvirate; it's been obliterated by the tour spanning three months. the current issues of both procycling and cycle sport magazine have stage by stage reviews of the 2010 tour telling us all sorts of irrelevant stuff that we don't really need to know because the tour is over. there's no way i'm going to read to stage 21 and discover that andy won.

i can understand the need for a tour preview edition, allowing us the luxury of knowing which day to take a sicky from work to watch seven hours of the tourmalet, and just maybe, who is riding in each team. but once the tour is over, can we just let it be? there's still the vuelta and the worlds to come, to say nothing of paris-tours and the ride of the falling leaves. let the football crowd dwell in their replays, tactics and match strategies while we just enjoy the racing, whichever media you choose for those moments.


posted thursday 12 august 2010

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the (moving) digital image

a throw of the dice

stories abound in all walks of life, some trivial and barely worth mentioning, some at the other end of the scale and worth documenting and showing to the great and the good. sadly something like facebook has taken that contrast away, since it seems that almost everything is worth documenting these days, even if you were too inebriated to realise you'd done so. i've heard it said that every cycle race is a microscosm of human activity; there are friendships, conversations, rivalries; there is noise, colour, frantic activity, and every now and again, when gruppo compatto, there is relative inactivity. with a stage race this is played out over an extended period of time. a classic is the concentrated version: just add water.

and just as in the day to day, personalities arise. there are two levels to this bicycle racing, the one we watch from the outside, and the real race that is observed from within the peloton, where those personalities may not be the ones we think we're aware of. lance armstrong started the 2010 tour de france as a personality known to many, and he ended the race still showered with celebrity. however others hit the limelight across those three weeks, some ending the race with unaccustomed smiles on their faces, and many more with egg. come the end of the season, we'll all be able to purchase edited highlights on dvd and compare it with our own recollection of reality.


there are, amongst the cognoscenti, those with perhaps more insight than the rest of us, or perhaps simply better connected, who regularly take it upon themselves to investigate this sport of ours in greater detail, from a specific point of view, or from an aspect all but hidden from from our gaze. i have, on previous posts, seen fit to highlight the resurgence of photography that leaves mere reportage behind in the darkroom or on one of those sd cards. this has re-shaped our appreciation in many ways, and has probably done a considerable amount to continue healthy sales of black and white film, or the photoshop technique to achieve same.

but media, almost by its very definition, stands still for no peloton, and the invasion of alternatives to the still photograph arrives from all directions, though with limitations. what the photography of ben ingham, camille macmillan, tim kolln et al is to reportage, has yet to be matched in the contemporary world of moving cycle pictures. in this i am not discounting such classics as stars and water carriers, a sunday in hell, pour un maillot jaune and the like, but these are hardly web, ipod or download savvy. we're modern men and women; we want, nay demand, that the sport recognise its past, celebrate its celebrities, but preferably right between the eyes. if we're going to be told what we thought we already knew, tell it not in the way you think we'd want to see it. a predictable movie is like the last day of le tour: tell it all from the first day, or the end of the neutralised zone.

two broad arrows

it has, of course, already happened, except we were al looking the other way. ben ingham has trained his digital film camera on the workplace of dario pegoretti, reviewed previously on the post. the beginning of the avant garde. but it doesn't stop there. this friday will be a worry if you can't get to the computer, there's a power cut, or the folks at british telecom forget to enable broadband on your phone line. for nick livesey, author/photographer of mountain/machine a book about the fireflies, has completed a rapha commissioned film entitled a throw of the dice, about the lion of flanders, johan museeuw. a particularly idiosyncratic movie that will be, according to rapha, screened only on friday 13th august on rapha's website.

friday 20th august brings a film by adrian moat; the idea was to make a short film that reflected the spirit and drive of sean kelly. i wanted to capture a sense of possibility by using him as an example of a man that knows how to suffer, and to identify his spirit with the potential of youth. two broad arrows is about confidence, discovery and learning how to try.

rapha presents

the friday following (27th august) presents ben ingham's d'adacciaio again for only the one day, though i'm happy to say that this particular movie i have on dvd. the other two provide me with as much anticipation as they do you; i have yet to see other than the trailers currently on rapha's website. i can't pretend to understand the rationale behind showing them for one day only, considering the expense that undoubtedly went into their making, so i'd surmise that we may be allowed to purchase in the fullness of time, as is the case with d'adacciaio.

the subject matter of all three has been raided from the story labels inside rapha's club jerseys, and the films are made in collaboration with ridley scott associates. still, on the off chance that the three will be stuffed away in a cupboard as some sort of time-capsule content, i'm not for missing this, and i'd respectfully suggest that neither do you.

mind you, popcorn and a cornetto in the office might turn the occasional head.



posted wednesday 11 august 2010

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carbonsports lightweight clincher wheels

lightweight clincher front

january: the start of the season. here's a team talk you probably wouldn't have heard inside the milram team bus.

"now listen chaps, that nice mr bergmann at carbonsports has very kindly given us several sets of lovely carbon wheels to race on. i want you to show your appreciation for such generosity and look after these very expensive wheels with the utmost care. please avoid potholes wherever possible; those riding paris roubaix and flanders should make sure they keep off the cobbles at all costs, and in the big tours, keep away from the sprints. some of those guys are not only dangerous, but they have spinning pedals that could scratch a wheel if you're not paying attention."

up till recently, carbonsports' wheels have only ever arrived with tubs glued to their rims, but unless that mavic or team car has nothing else to do at weekends, there's a lot of faff involved in prevention, and even more in the cure for a puncture, should such befall. it's way easier to have an inner tube in a back pocket or under-saddle gucci bag; perhaps even a few, if bad luck is your shadow. many others have already dipped their feet in the water with carbon clincher wheels, but it's always interesting to see what the german carbon maestros have made of the principal.

in common with many of their other wheels, the hubs are by dt swiss, and carbonised by carbonsports; in this case they are dt swiss 190. the rim depth is 47.5mm and the carbon spokes, moulded to rim and hub number either 16 or 20 up front (16 on the test pair) and a standardised 20 at the rear. carbonsports have a not unsurprising technical partnership with continental tyres, given their shared nationality. aside from the fact that my test pair arrived with continental 24mm tyres already in place, conti have customised each tyre by imprinting the lightweight name on the sidewall. the rear tyre was branded force, and the front attack, each featuring a slightly different tread pattern.

lightweight clincher

despite such deep rims, and the expectation that i'd be inflating the tyres using valve extenders, the clinchers happily accepted long-valve prestas showing enough stem to allow satisfactory inflation. the technical considerations of building a strong enough sidewall to keep the tyre bead in place have been well documented, and may well have been the reason for a bit of a gap between announcement and availability of these wheels.

the rim flange bears a substantially sized decal, reminiscent of those seen under fighter plane canopies. this points out to the actual or prospective owner (or hapless reviewers) just what is acceptable by way of tyre pressure (maximum 8 bar; 116psi), tyre widths, brake shoes, not to use tubs or latex inners, and a very nice little graphic that rather implies that i ought to read the manual. despite this normally being the last line of attack, i did peruse perhaps a shade more than usual, since i was a bit concerned about what to do if i had a puncture and had to remove the tyre. reading the manual is easily the scariest part of the experience; every page, almost without exception, has warning notices printed top, bottom and middle. not the comforting welcome one had hoped for, after spending so much money. i'm not saying this is unjustified, just scary.

the answer to my question was not as complex as i'd expected. rather obviously, it's not a great idea to try tyre removal via metal tyre levers; nylon or plastic is the preferred option. sigh of relief.

each wheel is computer coded, a necessary feature should servicing or repair become necessary, and the test pair had little numbered tags taped to each. i was going to leave those in place should an excuse be necessary as to why i was going so slow on such fabulous looking wheels, however, they irritated the heck out of me, so i removed them before continuing testing. both wheels also feature embedded magnets should the bicycle have a computer strapped to the bars. those carbon spokes would not take kindly to having magnets affixed. on the original lightweight standards, you needed to be sherlock homes to find the magnetic spot, but there is now a little picture of a magnet to guide setup.

lightweight clincher

carbonsports thoughtfully supplied a set of swiss-stop carbon specific brake shoes, though, already in possession of a set i made earlier (well, i actually bought them, but i thought that bit was funnier), i fitted those. the wheels can be had with either a campagnolo specific freehub, or one that will accommodate shimano/sram. in this case the bicycle to which the lightweights were fitted (a colnago c59), was riding on campagnolo eleven; the cassette fitted without incident.

if you're going to spend the wrong side of £3,000 on a pair of wheels, it would be nice to not have to consider whether the conditions under which they'll be ridden might not be ideal. these are out and out race wheels, but i know of several owners who do not, nor have any notion of racing; they bought the wheels because of their reputation and for the apparent joy of riding. real world is that i live in an agricultural environment, and the sunday ride and/or training rides incorporate out of necessity, several roads with seriously dilapidated surfaces and cattle grids. i would not like to be the one who has to bail out because of my wheels. thus, these were subjected to absolute crap (literally, in one or two occasions), and i treated them no differently than i would my chris king cyclocross wheels.

they're very fast, and that's taking into account the host colnago. headwinds are ignored with ease, gusting crosswinds were a lot less hassle than i'd expected, and braking was exemplary, even in the seriously wet. there were one or two comments from onlookers to the effect of was i not scared they'd break, especially being ridden at speed over potholes and cattle grids? but wheels that cost this much, in my opinion, shouldn't break, and could see no reason to give them any special treatment. throughout the test, running with very close brake pads, they never budged an inch. my method detailed elsewhere for checking lateral rigidity, involves placing the pads as close as practical to the rim, then climbing with gusto. only once did i experience a bit of rub, an element which subsequently turned out to be due to the skewer being insufficiently tightened.

lightweight clincher

i spent many an hour trying to figure out what it is about these wheels that makes them so attractive to even the recreational rider, and it pretty much comes down to the comfort. while there are more deep flange wheels on the market than you could shake a frame-fit pump at, most of the ones i've ridden, introduce a measurable degree of discomfort (compared to a pair of conventionally spoked wheels) as a by-product for increased speed. i am loathe to try riding my bike while wearing a blindfold, but i'm fairly certain that i'd be hard pushed to distinguish between lightweight and conventional. if indeed true, why on earth would i endorse payment of such an astronomical sum, when you could spend considerably less on a stainless spoked wheel?

two reasons: weight and speed. the pair as tested, minus tyres and cassette are a nominal 1135g, almost half the weight of a conventional pair. and remember, this is rotating weight, where ideally we'd like as little as possible. speed may well be a corollary of the latter, but that deep rim cuts through the air with ease. i'm not a particularly fast cyclist, but i'm certainly faster wearing a pair of lightweights. if the price bothers you, then you probably can't afford them. they cost that much for a reason, and while they may not be three times as good as a pair costing £1,000, they are noticeably better, and it's up to you and your bank manager/mortgage advisor/better half as to whether you're willing/able/allowed to pay the difference.


lightweight wheels are sold in the uk exclusively through wiggle. the pair as tested, excluding tyres, retail at £3135.

lightweight | wiggle


posted tuesday 10 august 2010

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can we cycle too much?

bran flakes

the life of a professional cyclist is all but idyllic. arise each morning, check the daily e-mail from the team coach, stuff as much pasta/bran flakes in your face as time will allow, and pop out on the bike for the rest of the day, while her indoors hoovers, dusts, bakes, washes, shops, tidies and looks after the kids. on return, pop the team edition training bike into the garage, stuff more pasta into your face, then go and lie down for an hour or two, before another bowl of bran flakes at bedtime. how simple does it get? and according to common lore, this must be the finest job in existence because apparently nobody would put in all those miles on that wilkinson sword of a saddle if they weren't in love with cycling.

while there may be a grain of truth in the above (have you ever seen those saddles?), were it all that simple, we'd all be doing it, and the high road between here and port ellen would be awash with team jerseys and empty variety packs of bran flakes. the majority of us, without the benefit/curse of a pro contract, ride because we love to do so, and basically because we don't have to; while you and i may be climbing the walls on a wet and windy sunday morn, if it's wet, windy, ruddy freezing, and there's an outside chance we might be coming down with something, it's just as easy to turn over and go back to sleep. cycling is a hobby for us (albeit a serious, and expensive one), so if top speed isn't any higher at season's end, who really cares? and do hobbyists actually have a season anyway?

commencing with the saturday prior to the ride of the falling rain, and maintained up until yesterday's sunday ride, i have had the great good fortune to have gone riding every day, partly out of necessity, because there was a bicycle, mudguards, helmet and some wheels to test, and they tend not to do so on their own, partly because some from the falling rain stayed on a for a few days and i felt i should be mine host, but mostly because i could. it was great, and the longer the sequence continued, the more eager was i not to break the chain (that was meant metaphorically, but the literal instance is just as valid). no doubt there is some biological evidence concerning endorphins and why this addiction to cycling (or any form of repetitive exercise) becomes such an obsessive part of our lives, but are there any anti-endorphins circulating on the periphery that will intervene unannounced, clamping down on the cycling addiction and steering us more towards the golf course? because if that's what is likely to happen, then i really need to know if it's possible to cycle too much.

golf clubs

i don't want to play golf.

taking my opening gambit regarding the professional end of the market, considering that they spend waaaay more time on their bicycles than any of us, very few have been reduced to eighteen holes on a sunday. so what on earth am i worried about? well, those followed by a team car for three weeks in july, have an ability on the bicycle that is several elevator floors above the one we're living on, therefore it is not outwith the bounds of reason that their threshold for too much cycling is a similar order of magnitude above ours.

thus could all those involved in research concerning endorphins and the like, perhaps turn their heads to one side and see if there's a sell-by date stamped on the side? i had rather hoped to continue cycling my bike well into my upper hundreds, eventually keeling over in a ditch somewhere near saligo bay; my final resting place. but until that day dawns (or sets, depending on your point of view), i would like to be able to spend afternoon after morning, clad in sportwool and a colnago casquette - shorts too, just to retain some sense of decorum - across hill and dale whenever and for however long i enjoy, safe in the knowledge that i can't possibly cycle too much.

because i'm not sure which one is the putter.


posted monday 9 august 2010

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lance competition winners

i admit, i said the winners would be picked at random last wednesday, and true to my word, that's exactly what happened. in my defence, i didn't actually say when i'd let you know on the post, so i am invoking the rule of parlee (not the bicycles), to excuse myself for having left this so long.

a fine entry for a fine book, with two copies to give away, courtesy of da capo press. the two winners were mike owen of carmarthenshire in wales, and michael mills of maidenhead in berkshire. your prizes will be on their way to you soon.


posted sunday 8 august 2010

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lazer helium helmet

lazer helium

it's the modern equivalent of the old campagnolo v shimano debate (no matter how often i add sram into that statement, it never seems to quite fit); to wear a helmet or not to wear a helmet? i do wear a helmet, but i have no desire to see it made compulsory for all cyclists. i tend to think of it in the same way as i pondered my car insurance when i was unlucky enough to own one; you pay the money each year, but hope you'll never have need to claim. thus wearing a helmet, and in this case, reviewing a helmet, will hopefully only include the physical fit and appearance, rather than any serious accident which might give cause to assess its head saving attributes. being hit by a volvo, mundell's truck or the service bus could conceivably leave the helmet unscathed, but demolish everything south of my ponytail. in such instances, and i have no real desire for any of them to come to pass, a cycle helmet is just a ventilated dod of polystyrene strapped round the chin.

so why wear one in the first place? well, were it not for erratic sheep and cows, vast quantities of loose gravel, more potholes per square centimetre than any other region on earth, and an influx of summer drivers with no recognition of passing places, i'd be happy to ride wearing only a casquette du jour and a whiff of paul smith pour homme (of course jersey and shorts are sort of taken for granted in that last description). you can genuinely point the finger and accuse me of being overly cautious. as was mentioned during this morning's ride by an accomplice more used to trammelling mainland roads, traffic is particularly minimal over here, even considering it's the height of the summer. of course the minute that observation was made, we came across a stream of cars, but no nevermind, the pointed finger does not lie, and i am probably over-cautious.

however, as pointed out above, i have no desire for helmet wearing to become compulsory, and thus dod of polystyrene or casquette and paul smith pour homme should be entirely at the discretion of the rider. rather obviously, that excludes professionals who have no option as to whether they fry on the ventoux or not, but then they've to wear what they're given and thus extraneous to this discussion.

lazer helium

it may well be one of those old wives' tales, always assuming old wives find themselves concerned with cycling lore, but i had heard it said that helmets ought to be replaced every couple of years due to utlra violet degradation of the polystyrene. that could conceivably be one of those little white lies spread by helmet manufacturers, otherwise we'd buy one and be done with it, but on the premise that it may just be true, replacement has become just one of those things that has to be taken care of. a bit like new tyres every so often and a new chain at least every six months.

in view of the helmet equivalent of threadbare afflicting my previous head case (no funny remarks please), it seemed only right and proper that i consider its replacement at this point in time. there's been a lot of utlra violet around lately.

in much the same way as looking at fields and fields of carbon fibre at the cycle show, there is not a whole lot of variation in the world of cycle helmets, other than perhaps the price. convinced by my years of reviewing masses of different stuff that you get what you pay for in this life, i perhaps naively look at the top of the range, most expensive helmet in each range. this notwithstanding the well-known fact that when a new one joins the range, the previous one drops a few pounds/dollars in the catalogue. that could suggest profit margin rather than research and dvelopment, though one is not necessarily exclusive of the other.

that, however, is my own viewpoint; your mileage may vary. in this case, consideration is directed at the lazer helium helmet, polystyrene which adorns the heads of the katusha team, though i will mention that i am not necessarily swayed by such as the 'lancewearsit school of thought. the helium sports a substantial number of cooling vents; perhaps the helmet equivalent of a gownless evening strap. one does indeed wonder why it is that the more it costs, the less you get in return. however, the fitting system employed on the lazer helium is worth the price of admission alone. fitted inside the vented polystyrene casing is the rollsys retention system: sort of a plastic endless strip connected to a thumbwheel sited on the top of the helmet at the back. thus, placing the helmet over an appropriate cycle cap, it's a simple task of rolling the wheel to tighten, or even adjust when riding. i can't be the only one whose brain gets bigger when riding my bike, can i?

lazer helium

assuming we can accept that the helium fits particularly well, how protective is it likely to be? were it to contain more gaps, it might struggle to fit the definition of a helmet (19 vents in total), but surrounding those vents is lots of chunky, two-tone, double-density polystyrene between the outer shell and your/my head; the inner front section even sports the same outer plastic protection that should see the double-density stuff survive some of the industrial strength scuffing that helmets receive under the chairs on debbie's patio. highly visible between the outer blades (i can't think of anything else to call them) are panels of carbon fibre. whether these are structural or cosmetic, i really have no idea, and i'd be more than happy to keep it that way. the straps are about half the thickness of anything i've come across before, and a whole lot softer on those hardened cheeks and neck. apparently these are colour co-ordinated to match the helmet colour, but since the review sample is white...

the padding is subtle, as in good, and i never noticed. comfort on hot days is acceptable, though i can't help noticing that my head seems a tad hotter than was the case with its predecessor. however, based on the fact that winter is a lot longer than summer over here, i'm happy to look upon this as a good thing, and the marked 295g seems easily the right side of negligible.

all in all, the lazer helium is a stylish addition to both my cycling wardrobe and head protection, and one that i fervently hope will remain pristine until the ultra violet has had its wicked way, and i begin to consider other options in a couple of years' time. lazer heliums (helia?), can be adorned in a variety of colours, including the aforementioned robbie mcewen version, though i haven't noticed any propensity to wheelie across the finish line while wearing. my last four helmets have all been white, and i could see no reason to break with tradition; call me boring if you like. sizing is remarkably simple, with three options: xxs-s/m-l/xl-xxl. i went for the middle of those, and the roof mounted thumbwheel is employed to fine-tune.

with so many helmets on the market, and always the option not to bother at all, the subject could occupy thousands of pixels by way of discussion. oh wait, it already has.

retail price is a bit scary at £180, give or take a penny, but that seems a small price to pay for retaining all those brains in one place. | lazer helmets


posted sunday 8 august 2010

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capping off a fine couple of weeks

colnago csf inox cap

when there's a review bike snuggled up in thewashingmachinepost bikeshed, a whole different construct to the daily propaganda, as mrs washingmachinepost would have it, makes itself known. we're all friends together here, and all well aware of how convinced we can be regarding our own reasons for getting out on the bike. it's only in recent years that any realisation has dawned on this side of the sitting room, that i might be the only one who is taken in by those reasons. some have been downright creative; if there were a multi-national advertising agency with its headquarters in bowmore, i would have made it senior partner by now. other excuses (did i say that out loud?) have been remarkably pedestrian, but on the basis that i was going out no matter what, it was harder to care whether they were convincing or not. likely the best compromise, if you see what i mean, is to go out in horizontal rain; the prospect of hubby churning a miniscule gear down the glen road, with visibility all but obscured through screwed-up eyes to accommodate stinging precipitation, leaning at an angle that would have failed trigonometry 'o'-level, is one that almost elicits compassion. the downside is that it's not quite the finest opportunity to ride a bike anyway.

but the arrival of a review machine colours the daily conversation, and the avoidance of chores such as washing dishes and hoovering the carpet. the more expensive the bicycle, the better. for somewhere in the grand world of the bicycle industry, someone has had the perspicacity, temerity or downright blind faith to send a machine in my direction, in the fervent hope that it will receive the type of thorough review i am fond of writing. reviews the length of the one published yesterday regarding colnago's latest race bike, do not, more's the pity, write themselves. several thousand pounds worth of bicycle receive the same care and attention as that applied to several thousand pounds worth of bicycle, because believe me, there is nothing worse than publishing the last full stop, and someone e-mails to ask about a feature i hadn't even considered.

so i spend hour upon hour riding in as many variations of road surface, wind direction and weather conditions as will fit into the test period, making mental notes, physical notes, and often suffering constant re-education as to the endless characteristics displayed by the modern bicycle. the construct comes into play, not so much in the acceptance of the now entirely justifiable reasons as to exactly why i have to go out riding so often and for so long, but that my perceived need gives a certain self-confidence to their more frequent announcement. were that all that was involved, i would be reticent to discuss this publicly, but much like attending an interview, there is a dress-code that should be observed; the easy part here is that while i'm the one that has to do the observing, i'm also the one that dictates its composition.

i was sat at debbie's early on thursday afternoon, with my customary soya cappuccino and a vegetable sandwich (that's what i said) garnished with a smattering of grated cheese. at an adjacent table sat a young couple and their evidently very young child. i can reinforce this last observation with the fact that she was placed in a high chair that debs had just spent several minutes polishing within inches of its life. in the car park/passing place across the road was their black bmw x5 (why are they always black?). sitting to my left was the red and white colnago c59, easily the most expensive and striking piece of cycling equipment ever to grace this island. while one would not expect junior in the high chair to give a fig as to what italians can do with carbon fibre, the occasional sharp intake of breath on behalf of either half of the couple would have restored my faith in the young, upwardly mobile. yet both followed the passage of a bmw m4 sports coupe with their heads as it passed the cafe, querying audibly to each other 'was that a bmw m4 sports coupe?

the self-imposition of a dress code that suitably accompanies carbon exotica is, i confess, in anticipation of members of the public taking fascinated notice of such fast fabulousness (the bike, not its rider). one would not wish to be seen in an agglomeration of styles or marques of apparel wholly inappropriate to the machine on test. the gracing of thewashingmachinepost bike shed with velocipedinal grandiosity should never be taken for granted, and i feel it only right and proper that i represent not only the post, but both manufacturer and distributor, while out pretending i have the faintest idea what 70 tonne carbon actually does.

this extends to the casquette all but concealed beneath my helmet.

in this case, appropriateness was provided by those fine upstanding fellows at prendas who, amongst a modest selection of caps that will be identified in the fullness of time, sent a colnago csf inox cap. if you've kept up to date with the colnago c59's brief history, you will be aware that the first team issue was to sacha modolo in time for stage one of the 2010 giro d'italia. modolo is the designated sprinter for colnago csf inox, thus wearing the cap as i plied my trade with an ear to ear grin and a degree of speed not seen for many a long year, paid respect in a multitude of facets. perhaps my attention to detail will not only curry favour with mrs washingmachinepost, as she realises just how much preparation goes into the whole enchilada, but the couple with the bmw will have a eureka moment when flicking through the channels next may and landing on eurosport's giro coverage for a few moments longer than intended.

and elvis will be seen at the islay show next week, queuing to join the argyll and sutherland highlanders.

prendas ciclismo


posted saturday 7 august 2010

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colnago c59 italia

colnago c59

sometimes, luck lands on my doorstep inside a chain reaction bike bag, something that happened to thewashingmachinepost around two weeks ago. on the eve of the first stage of this year's giro d'italia, i was sent a photograph of the brand new and hitherto unknown, colnago c59, sitting on a workstand and being prepared for the colnago csf inox sprinter, sacha modolo. by the time this year's tour de france had been reached, bbox buoygues telecom had been outfitted with rather fetching versions of the same bikes, sporting fluorescent yellow flashes on forks and stays, while french champion, thomas voeckler, had one painted in his national colours.

voeckler gave the c59 its first stage win, while anthony charteau garnered an even more bling paint job consisting of white with red dots, having won the king of the mountains jersey also on a c59. the trouble with results like that after three weeks of racing means that great expectations are then loaded on the bike when it arrives up here for a road test in less demanding circumstances. professional riders have to ride pretty much whatever they're given, and it is expected that they'll try to win no matter what. the c59, however, will soon be on sale to the rest of us, and if we are parting with substantial quantities of cash for the pleasure of riding same, we have altogether different expectations, though perhaps not dis-similar aspirations.

i figure myself to be a pretty average rider, so a top of the range colnago is unlikely to receive a really hard time at my behest, but the roads and winds around here are close to the opposite extreme than those featured in france during july, and maybe just a bit closer to the conditions the bike will face when you all rush out and buy one for your own riding pleasure.

generally speaking, the bike is not available until we ease into september, but one or two slipped through the net before italy closed for august, so if you're quick, both sigma sport and cyclefit might just be able to kit you out if you can't wait. is this the future of colnago we all hope that it is?

read the review here.

flickr set


posted friday 6 august 2010

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