cyclists are normal people too you know. i don't doubt that a statement such as the foregoing will have raised a few eyebrows; how many cyclists do you know that fit the description 'normal'? but i meant that statement in the holistic sense, in that cyclists are regular members of the human race, even when cloaked by their secret identity; that of a civilian. so it's not too unseemly that those of us sitting at the workdesk, wearing a scarcely concealed pair of richard sachs socks. or casually donning shirt and tie (as if) over a merino baselayer. who, but another of the secret squirrel department would recognise such subtle tell-tale signs? think of it as an extension of those oval tan lines on the back of each hand.
but it would be nice to extend this civilianality and perhaps just blur the lines between that inner eddy merckx and the dutiful chap or chapess who nips out to buy the guardian at lunch-time (you'll have to allow for a bit of parochiality here; our newspapers arrive off the morning ferry, so there's no collecting it on the way to the office, and absolutely no chance of having it delivered). i'm thinking of something a bit more subtle and sartorially independent than wearing a river city bicycles emblazoned wool jersey. stylish, but perilously close to those who wear football jerseys with an unpronounceable name across the back. and wasn't it patrick mcgoohan who proclaimed that he wasn't a number?
which brings a bit of a dilemma in its own right; having purchased an item of cycle clothing that doesn't have three rear pockets, and is all but devoid of brand logos, do you wait until the first bike ride comes along, or do you inhabit it immediately, no matter the daily chores that await? i am of the latter mentality; much of the modern apparel designed for both casual and battle situations is not too hard on the eye. i have successfully tested this theory both in the office and the occasional recreational situation, neither of which had call for a bicycle. and secondly, isn't this the sort of situation that knitted fabrics such as merino revel in?
i had the good fortune to be invited last year to join the test team for one of the world's well-respected merino wool progenitors. a part of this required that i wear one of their baselayers for as long as was socially acceptable, given its proclivity for ignoring smells that man-made fabrics seem to grasp like velcro. i believe the record for wearing the same merino baselayer without removal was around thirty days, and despite a rather testing workout, the hapless guinea pig was still warmly welcomed into polite society. thus i felt no shame in at least attempting the same procedure, even if i chose to change somewhat earlier than those thirty days; more for sartorial reasons than aromatic.
i applaud those who are relieving the secret cyclist of the ritual application of chamois cream and embrocation, when such would likely be regarded as overkill. sitting down to breakfast of porage decorated with peach slices before lugging a laptop bag (which seems to get heavier by the day) to my imac to spend the remainder of the day acting as if nothing were amiss. after a week of this, despite those small tell-tale pointers such as one small, buttoned rear pocket, and a less than conventional closure system about the neck, none in the office seemed to have twigged. however, in their favour, so used are they to my cycling persona, perhaps they were just too disinterested to mention.
at the weekend, however, the civilian pretence is discarded, for the day of the pelotonese is sacrosanct; both saturday and sunday. and here is the opportunity to test just how seamless the transition might be. granted, that chamois cream and embrocation come out from behind the bathroom mirror, but only after the weekly shop has been completed, still hanging onto the weekday style. and now, instead of fetching from the long-sleeve jersey drawer that del-tongo colnago, fleece-lined team spirit...
cleated shoes, cielo, softshell jacket and winter hat proclaim cyclist to the world and rightly so, for this is the weekend when, in all honesty, nothing else really matters. but the merino jersey that has provided sterling service from monday to friday now has to prove itself all over again, for assuming nothing untoward in the local weather system, it is going to have to relax in informality for pizza and ignoring the x-factor until cycling hardship rears its ugly head (artistic licence) for the sunday ride. the lovely part about the latter extravaganza is one's extreme sartorial appropriateness for coffee and one of those dinky little biscuits that sit on the saucer. carrot cake prior to returning for lunch is not recommended. and while i really have little against wearing a jersey more comcomitant with the morning's activity while seated in debbie's, nor have i any points against increasing my style factor. particularly after having outsprinted the mighty dave t at point of village entry.
it would not have done to avoid checking the garment's performance quotient.
and so ended my first week of inhabiting one of rapha''s new breton sweaters. why is it called such? i had conjured pictures of le petit breton (lucien georges mazan) churning them out at the end of each racing season, or perhaps its existence as a tribute to the cycling inhabitants of brittany. but no; according to rapha's ceo, simon mottram 'well, both are nice. but actually, the term refers to the button up shoulder. this is traditionally called 'breton' (presumably the style originated in brittany). the style was used in cycle jerseys 90-100 years ago too.'
that button up left shoulder can either improve its formality or create a devil may care look, by leaving it unbuttoned. this can be augmented by the wearing of a rapha merino winter collar underneath. if only i could say more than bernard hinault and citroen in french. the factor that may give the game away in stealth mode is the fit, definitively on the tailored side, allowing for no untoward flapping when flying solo, or ungainly bunching when cossetted under that softshell. visibility in solo mode is caretaken by an unbuttonable fluorescent and rapha monikered flap on that single rear pocket. it's cosy and warm despite a particularly fine knit, yet less than restricting in respect of its breathability.
this is a delight. i've always wanted a favourite jersey with versatility in its back pocket.
rapha's breton sweater costs £130 ($225) in either blue or grey; x-small to xxl
posted thursday 28 october 2010..........................................................................................................................................................................................................
heck knows how many years ago, i used to have a commute, a distance undertaken on a bicycle on a regular basis. those were the halcyon days of yore, when my abode wasn't but five minutes up the road from a cosy office. those were the days when men were men, and i was ill-equipped for the wind and rain usually blasting in my face as i pedalled less than serenely down the latter part of the a77. in the dark mostly, because work started early and scotland has always been wall to wall winter, except when it's not.
however, on one of those dark mornings, as i made my way gingerly from quiet country road onto the busy even at that time, dual carriageway, some distance ahead was a red flashing light. if i may put this in context, my employment situation of the time revolved around prestwick airport, and places with runways have a tendency to be speckled all about with flashing lights of one hue or another. the flashing light in question, however, was not immediately connected with the airport runway the end of which i was about to cycle past, but moving in a similar direction to my own.
bicycle lighting of the era amounted to little more than large plastic boxes and a round reflector unit on the front containing a small bulb. the size was dictated by two separate conditions: firstly, bulb technology wasn't what it has become, and perhaps more tellingly, batteries were sizeable artifacts that weighed as much as some of today's carbon bikes and needed their own space, which was often quite considerable. the disappointing part, as many of you will know to your cost, was that these batteries rarely lasted long enough for a return journey, so it was often necessary to carry a spare set should the work day last longer than intended. on one or two occasions the batteries didn't last even long enough to get to work in the first place.
the red flashing light, as you will all have realised, was not one of these ever-ready forms of illumination. it says little for my prowess on the bike that i never caught up with that flashing light, so for many a long day, i had no idea to what it had been attached, and the thought that it may have been on a bicycle didn't occur.
move forward to the current century, when safety is uppermost in the minds of most cyclists, particularly those who have an early morning or late evening commute, and the physical equivalent of blackpool's illuminations are now available to have that bicycle seen by not only other cyclists, but buses, cars, taxis and trucks. unless your commute traverses similar to the wide-open spaces that surround the villages on islay, or any other substantially unlit roadway, it's possible that a retina-ripper, as i have seen advertised, will not need to grace your handlebar, nor empty your wallet of the substantial amounts that those command. more often than not, the simple act of being seen is enough to decorate the seatpost and handlebar, but there's still the not inconsiderable consideration of size; don't kid yourselves, it matters.
the more regular offerings of front and rear led lights are still often constrained by the need to function from at least a couple of batteries; and while those batteries do seem to last for longer than common sense would dictate, if the batteries were even smaller, wouldn't that just be compact and bijou? and perhaps allow for easy recharging. the problem with the latter option is the perceived need for a charger at each end of the equation; usually one at home and one at work, to save carrying a bulky, black plastic brick around in that brooks leather saddlebag. unless there's an easier way?
well, not that i would have believed it had i not actually fitted a pair to the cielo, just such an animal(s) actually exists in the tiny shapes of moonlights. these consist of a vertical rear with a cluster of four leds at the top, and a horizontal front light that looks like a scale model of a real one. both fix to either seatpost or handlebar by means of integrated notched rubber straps, and switch on via an incredibly small and very gloved finger unfriendly rubber switch. but the really clever bit is in the cable that comes with each unit; this plugs into a shielded socket on each light, while the other end plugs into the usb port on a computer. thus, when sitting in one of those glass fronted offices in docklands, viewing far more computer screens than is appropriate for any human being, you can be safe in the knowledge that your lights will have a full charge ready for the homeward journey in the dark. i can attest to the brightness of their beam having comprehensivley dazzled myself by switching the rear light on while trying to figure out how to switch the rear light on.
you will not be missed.
the rubber covered switches are the only minor downfall, being very difficult to depress if wearing gloves of any description. and there is precious little chance of switching the rear on while cycling, such is the miniatureness of it. but those are minor foibles hardly worth quibbling over; with the ease and convenience of recharging, it makes perfect sense to switch the darned things on the minute you leave the house or office.
a very nice bit of lateral thinking and keeping up with the technology of the day. now if they could just incorporate a few gigabytes of memory, we could save our homework at the same time.
moonlights should be available from fine examples of modern bikeshops and cost approximately £24 each including the cable.
posted wednesday 27 october 2010..........................................................................................................................................................................................................
the population of the united kingdom hovers around the 61.5 million mark, with a lot more living south of the border than up north. the cyclists' touring club claims 60,000 members, and british cycling around 33,000, and while some may belong to both organisations, i wouldn't think the crossover is particularly significant. so out of those 93,000 cyclists who have had the foresight to join one or t'other of their national cycling organisations, how many race their bicycles at weekends? relative to the number of people who live in the british isles, i wouldn't think it's a whole heck of a lot. and those who spend the winter months getting muddy on drop bars while participating in cyclocross races is likely to be even fewer still.
ibis bicycles, based in california were founded by the mildly eccentric (aren't we all?), but all round good guy, scot nicol, and produce one cyclocross frame called the hakkalugi. cyclocross is big business in the usa; the recent cross crusade race at alpenrose in portland attracted 1500 adult competitors and 250 kids. extrapolate that across the 52 states, and there's likely enough room for one or two justifiable sales. you would not, however, be asking an unfair question if you enquired about the logic of offering a £3000 carbon cyclocross bike in the uk.
but does such a machine have to find itself restricted to mud at the weekends? with the opportunity to nip off-road now and again, or even in areas where the line between road and off-road is a fine one, perhaps a more robust form of road bike may be just the thing most of us could do with. of course, cyclocross means cantilever brakes and wider, less smooth tyres, so does that mean labouring along off the back of the peloton, and arriving for a cold cappuccino just as the rest are leaving for home?
edinburgh's 2pure, importers of ibis frames to the uk, were extremely kind in sending a hakkalugi to the other side of scotland for a holiday amongst islay's roads, former roads, grasslands and dunes, to aid the quest for versatility. but first, it had to be built...
posted tuesday 26 october 2010..........................................................................................................................................................................................................
as i sit and type this, there is a neat little british telecom digital phone sitting on the table at my side. it's one of those nifty devices that allows me to roam all through the house while explaining in great detail to the unsolicited gentleman on the other end who is intent on providing me with a free mobile phone in return for my soul and bank details. clever stuff, and always available when i'm at home.
when i nip five minutes down the road to the office, there is a choice of two telephones which i spend all too many minutes answering instead of what someone is paying me to do.
it's good to talk.
a few years back, coincidentally at the same time as i was about to ride the london-paris ride, nokia very kindly offered to lend me one of their latest mobile phones (of the era) with gps and tracking software that would let me see where i was going (as opposed to wearing my rudy projects), and even record where i had been in france, should i ever happen to pass that way again. sadly, as you may read in my review of the time, the battery life was a good way shorter than the ride i was undertaking, so at around two hours short of my bed for the evening, the phone would shut down. add to that the fact that it was not considered waterproof, and one had to seriously wonder about whether it was fit for this particular purpose.
mobile phones have come a long way since then.
on my return from paris, sitting in euston station, i discovered that nokia had kindly put far too much credit in the phone, so i did an et and phoned home. that bit worked fine until both mrs washingmachinepost and my daughter decided to text to the said nokia phone. you will be completely unsurprised to learn that i couldn't figure this texting (that really shouldn't be a word) thing out at all; i couldn't find which button inserted a blank space between words, somyfirstreplywasallbutunintelligible.
i still do not own a mobile phone, probably one of only two people in the western world who can say that. because when i'm at home or in the office, i am mere steps away from communication, and when i'm out on my bicycle, i don't want anyone to phone me. that's one of the joys of cycling: escapism. sensible reasoning as far as i'm concerned, though i do realise i am in the minority.
but then someone had to ask the question 'where the hell is fausto?
happily it has not happened a second time, but many moons ago, i set off for the regular velo club sunday ride. we now meet at debbie's, but this was in the pre-debbie era, so the general form was to keep cycling along the main bridgend to portnahaven road until at least two of us met each other. unless of course one of us had arrived early and gone into the house of one of us who was running late. when that happens, one of us cycled past the house on the original trajectory, oblivious of the break in tradition being carried out in a house now not as near as it was at time of passing. the one of us writing this piece spent the remainder of the morning, cycling up and down the same stretch of road, vainly searching for the other two.
yet again, where the hell was fausto?
combining the ubiquity of apple's iphone, and the undoubted fact that i am not the only one who has missed the start of a bike ride (just ask graeme at rapha), the enterprising folks at perren street have provided, completely free of charge, their rendezvous app. as rather forcefully implied at the outset of this article, i have no phone of any description let alone an iphone with which to check the joys to be had of organising a bike ride or group of riders and subsequently making sure everyone knows what's what and what's where.
but i do own an ipod touch and, believe it or not, the app will work on one of those just ginger peachy thank you very much. well, that's not strictly true, because the ipod has no gps whatsoever, and unless they've installed a bt openzone hotspot at debbie's, all falls to nothing the minute i set out on the bike. however, for the purposes of appraising the onward march of technology, the app installed on an ipod will happily use wi-fi for the bulk of the operations. i have been footering, and i rather approve of what i see.
first use requires input of an existing rapha account, or the creation of one. it is then but a simple process to create a ride and post it to the app, meaning that should anyone happen to search for rides on islay, the sunday ride should appear in their list. at present, this is invite only, but purely because i'm still playing. finding a ride you're interested in joining, either request an invite, or simply add it to the list of your intended rides. this should alert the organiser of your intentions and when the ride goes live it will be possible to track where you are and accept messages advising any delay in arrival. as a bit useless at this social interactivity by wire, i had to send an apology to martin stacey for joining his ride near glasgow to test the app, but then found myself unable to delete it from the list. perhaps this is something that could be implemented in the next version, or someone at rapha could tell me where i'm going wrong.
using the paisley pattern from the silk scarf as a background and the appropriate shade of pink for highlighting and some of the text, this app displays all the style you'd expect from rapha, and it's not that hard to figure out. this is a smart idea and not just an iphone app for the sake of having one. perhaps at next year's hell of the north ride i'll be able to inform someone just which part of london i have come across in my circuitous meanderings; a part that is nowhere near highgate at 9am.
or i could just arrange to meet fausto.
the rapha iphone app is a free download from apple's app store and works on the iphone, ipod touch and ipad
posted monday 25 october 2010..........................................................................................................................................................................................................
if you've ever watched track racing, particularly at national and international level, you may be familiar with the warm down, where riders having just crossed the finish line at speeds you and i can only dream of, particularly me, who has failed miserably to ride anything confidently with a fixed gear, climb aboard something with gears (see, i told you freewheeling would catch on) and meander slowly around the centre of the track. i believe the principle is sound enough, where the muscles are not left to fend for themselves, wondering what on earth they're going to do with all that lactic acid, and why they seem to have lost gainful employment. keeping them in some sort of productive endeavour will let them adjust to their temporary relaxation, before they get hammered again in the repechage.
now, i know you won't believe me, but a similar principle can be implemented with regards to cleaning the bicycle after a happy ride, particularly those inhabiting a sunday morning, perhaps easing into sunday afternoon. yes, cleaning up about the house definitely comes under the heading of chores i'd rather avoid, but this is the shiny bike from the bikeshed, the one that gives so much gratification on cold, frosty and sunny days like today. don't they deserve some fettling and tender loving care? i would think that they do. additionally, it can be said, personally being separated from the largely efficacious act of pedalling is a hard state to encompass; the ideal time to clean the bike.
there is still a lot to be said for a bucket of soap and water; that'll shift much of the muck, but it's not so hot on the greasy bits, particularly the chain, chainrings and those jockey wheels. the latter are most important, because there is little better than that lovely purring sound of a clean chain threading through two little cogged wheels running on ceramic bearings. soap and water, however, is not the ideal way to implement bike protection after the washing process is ended. but the modern way is the three-step skoosh, purveyed by many, but now brought together as an end-to-end package from the chaps at purple harry.
you may remember those scutteringly brilliant abrasive pipe cleaners that can remove untold amounts of gunk from between sprockets and chainrings. what was missing from that picture was some sort of degreaser to aid those pipe cleaners in their search for industry. well, fear not, for the ommission has been remedied, and then some. there's now a spray to loosen encrusted dirt and muck, a spray to degrease those oily and greasy components; you all know of which i speak. and finally, there's a pink (not purple), creamy liquid that can be squirted directly onto the frame tubes (all products are carbon safe) or onto the piece de resistance, the lobster cleaning mitt.
this latter item is not, despite my phrasing, designed for cleaning lobsters, but a mitt with a thumb and two fingers that could be used by trekkies for that live long and prosper salute when cleaning one of the enterprise's shuttle craft. the mitt's constitution is ideally suited to its designated task, though the jury is out on the two finger bit (the idea is to sandwich an appropriate tube twixt fingers, thus polishing two surfaces at one time.)
having tried manfully to cover the ibis hakkalugi in as much gloop as it was possible to find in bridgend woods (sadly, not as much i'd hoped), my post ride rest and recuperation consisted of popping the bike on the workstand, removing both wheels and setting about giving the accumulated forest as hard a time as possible. how much fun can one man handle?
having sprayed everything in sight with the cleaner and degreaser, i filled a bucket with a small amount of warm water, and scrubbed like there was no tomorrow. step one completed, the whole ibis, apart from the brake pads,was sprayed with purple harry's maintenance spray which protects and lubricates all the bits and bobs that make a bike, a bike. the cunning part here is this spray's propensity for removing moisture in its quest to keep the wheels turning. the last step in the process is to don said lobster mitt (light blue rather than the purple you would expect) and squeeze some pink polish and make that frame so shiny you could brush your hair in it; you may be surprised to hear just how close to the truth that statement is.
all this can be accomplished for a smidgeon less than £30 (not including £12.99 for a multi-pack of bike floss pipe cleaners), the ideal way, im sure you'll agree, to participate in that post-ride warm down while almost incidentally providing you with an embarrassingly clean machine for the next sunday, monday, tuesday, wednesday, thursday, friday or saturday ride.
now wasn't that fun?
purple harry's cleaning range is available individually: a 750ml trigger spray of bike cleaner/degreaser costs £5.99; a similar amount of bike maintenance spray costs £7.99; a bottle of polish and frame protector is also £7.99, and the lobster wash and polishing mitt retails at £5.99. all are available by mail order and plus postage where applicable
posted sunday 24 october 2010..........................................................................................................................................................................................................
scottish born lonnie donegan, the skiffle artist who died in 2002, similarly to jonah lewy's you'll always find me in the kitchen at parties, is at least partially famous for having had a hit record (his only one across the atlantic) in 1961 with does your chewing gum lose it's flavour (on the bedpost overnight)? this was a modernised version of a song released in 1924 by the happiness boys entitled does spearmint lose its flavor on the bedpost overnight?, changed to chewing gum because spearmint was a registered trademark in the uk.
now there's a mine of grammatical observations to be made from the above paragraph, all of which has been quoted verbatim from various sources. firstly, the pedants amongst you will have noticed that, in the lonnie donegan song title, the word it's owns an apostrophe that is grammatically incorrect; in this instance it indicates an abbreviation of the phrase it is which would render the song title even more bizarre than already achieved. this is a thematic error to which i will return later. secondly, if we look at the title of the happiness boys recording, the spelling of the word flavor lets us know that the happiness boys were of american origin. in fact they were billy jones and ernest hare who featured on an american radio programme in the 1920s of the same name, singing novelty songs, which bore titles equally as strange as the one under consideration. titles such as that's a lot of bunk and operatic syncopation. their name came from the programme's sponsors, the makers of happiness candy, yet another indication of americana.
however, given that chewing gum is, in certain polite circles, regarded as somewhat anti-social in intent, the thankfully lost art of removing gum before bedtime and sticking it on the bedpost (not recommended on futons) is likely only practised by the very few. and probably not admitted to without serious interrogation. perhaps more pertinent, and currently under observation in washingmachinepost cottage, is whether digestive biscuits improve as progress is made through the packet. despite at least the top two biscuits appearing as digestive jigsaws, it is my contention that the introductory digestives tend to be particularly crunchy, with an almost trademark snap. with mcvities' current predilection for offering 50% more free, if we assume a standard rate of consumption, by the time the latter half of the packet is being chomped, the biscuits have become delightfully crumbly.
granted, mrs washingmachinepost is less than impressed by the scattering of crumbs at my feet on such occasions, but you can't make an omelette without breaking eggs.
the joy of munching one's way through packets of anything is greatly enhanced by an attractive and inviting flavour (or flavor, if you're reading in america), and that is no less true of those products designed to boost our energy, salt, and mineral replacement as we pedal ourselves into oblivion, keen to emulate the sort of distance one would be required to undertake were selection for the 2011 edition of milan-sanremo guaranteed. and at a speed that might ensure at least a wheel close to that finishing flurry. such is the hope and intent of high five's zero tabs and the curiously named energy source 4:1.
the zero tabs are so called due to their paltry calorie count; according to studies of far greater scientific veracity than anything the post could possibly muster, test subjects burned 41% more fat during exercise than a comparable product. similarly to yourselves, i must take this on trust, because there's no way any of us can verify such a claim, but with reference to the constraints against false advertising, i can't see how this could not be the truth. however, realistically, the only way these large tablets are going to have any effect on our cycling or fat burning, is if they taste good.
when taking part in the london-paris ride a good few years ago now, i prepared myself well by portion controlling my carbo powder of choice at the time. this resulted in six or seven little packets of white powder sitting at the bottom of of my kit bag. aside from the likelihood of those poly bags having a hole or two poked in them by day three, explanations as to their contents at customs were ever so slightly nerve-wracking. this sort of problem is now extant, due to the twenty high five electrolyte tablets with magnesium that inhabit each tube of zero. rather than having to spoon out and spill some powder into a water bottle, one or two tablets can be plopped into whatever amount of water your taste buds desire. once dissolved, the tablets provide a more than refreshing drink that caters for salt and mineral replacement without storing perhaps unnecessary carbohydrates.
however, if it's carbohydrates that you require, particularly during hard exercise, high five have the very solution (pun intended). this is completely contrary to the zero portion control, a sizeable tub of high five energy source 4:1 arriving with a convenient little scoop to empty the required amount into a half-filled water bottle. once added and shaken (with the lid on, preferably), the bottle can be topped up to the desired level. yet again, no matter the claims made for this product or the perceived benefits, if it doesn't taste good, it's a pointless exercise (yet another intended pun). the 4:1 bit refers to the composition of the powder; at one time carbohydrates were all that were thought necessary to keep the energy levels of honed athletes such as ourselves topped up to the brim. but as is often the case with continuing research on our behalf, alternative and improved solutions come to light; protein is now the thing, and boffins in white coats have determined that providing four spoonfuls of carbohydrate to one of protein (in this case whey protein) will turn mont ventoux into a mere hump-back bridge (well, not really, but hope springs eternal).
the flavour, in my case, was citrus (summer fruit is also available), a very palatable flavour, though the whey protein adds a slight milky after taste. this is not in any way objectionable, though it might be to those with little affection for milk. my supply of this product was by way of a sizeable 1.6kg tub, but i am compelled to ask why the powder fills only just over half the container? the weight was pretty spot on, but i fail to understand why anyone would want to make the tub so much bigger than its contents.
we must be thankful, however, that high five have a far greater degree of excellence in their mixing of beneficial potions than they have a grasp of grammatical correctness. i did say that the apostrophe would rear its ugly head once more before the end was nigh. if you take a quick click across to the high five website, you will at some point, be greeted with super carb's, to which one must respond super carb's what?. since common sense would dictate that carb's is a contraction of the plural carbohydrates, then that apostrophe is not only surplus to requirements, but grammatically incorrect. helpfully, i have informed them of this.
don't you just love pedantry?
high five zero electrolyte tablets are sold in tubes at £6.99 each and available in neutral, citrus, berry and cherry-orange flavour. the 4:1 energy source 1.6kg tubs sell for £27.99 in either citrus or summer fruit flavours. they should be available from any bike shop worth its electrolytes (or carb's).
posted saturday 23 october 2010..........................................................................................................................................................................................................
today was a 'work in the office day' principally because there was indeed work to be done, and dirty job or not (it isn't really) somebody had to do it. but conditions are lax around the hebridean media revolution, and i do get let out to buy lunch; well, that and my daily newspaper. it was raining, and truth be told, that came as a bit of a surprise. you see, modern imacs are built with incredibly shiny, reflective glass and siting them anywhere near an outward facing window brings less desktop and dock, far more spooky reflection. thus, to minimise any faint degree of narcissism, we keep the blinds shut. the more observant among you will have realised that this tends to obscure the outside world and all that that entails. as i walked into work this morning, though clouds were thickening above, precipitation was thankfully absent.
by lunchtime, that had changed.
now we are concerning ourselves here with life on an inner hebridean island in october, on the very same day that the royal navy managed to run its most advanced submarine aground on the most northerly of the inner hebrides (snigger). rain, as in portland, is not that much of a surprise. and eliciting a variation on the good day for the ducks commonality, at least two folks i met on my lunchtime escapade informed me, with a knowing grin, that it was a great day for cycling. with presses rolling, time available to purchase and devour lunch is often at a premium, therefore i ignored the desire to take issue with such a statement, particularly from noted non-cyclists, and cheerfully agreed.
but, in point of fact, there is little wrong with a wet day for cycling; my editor had not long cycled around 21km in the rain to get to work, and was likely to have to endure the same on the return journey. is it of concern that i found myself jealous of his opportunity? sadly, i do not live far enough away from my desk to necessitate the use of a bicycle, and the thought of simply adding a few artificial kilometres before work does not excite me greatly. i'd probably not come home. but riding in the rain is far from the problem observed from the safety of a supermarket trolley.
i have long contended that cycling is likely one of the best supplied activities when it comes to choice of clothing, and that's not something that stops short in the waterproof and water resistance department. i have never asked at any of the myriad of companies with our sartorial elegance at heart, whether they offer waterproofs to aid the art of cycling, or whether they are proffered simply as a means of keeping the worst of the weather at bay when cycling has no option but to proceed. but take a look at the catalogues and websites; many of the photographs advertising said wet weather products portray smiling cyclists pushing hard under thunderous skies with that tell-tale tail of spray sparkling off the back wheel. taken at (wet) face value, that would seem like an endorsement of the joyous qualities to be experienced by cycling in the rain.
after a long, and relatively hard week in front of my imac, and wrestling with the vagaries of postscript on a xerox printer, there could be little better reward than to treat oneself to a relaxing bike ride. i am well aware that those of a non-cycling persuasion (should they happen to have dropped by) may be quizzical at my use of the word relaxing in the same sentence as the words bike ride, but the cognoscenti will understand. however, life does not necessarily end at the culmination of the working week, and on this particular occasion, a bike ride was pretty much out of the question. more's the pity.
however, the weekend beckons, and in this case, it's beckoning darned hard, so i can assure you that, no matter the amount of inner hebridean precipitation that is falling upon the inner hebrides tomorrow, i will be out there making the most of my warm and wintry waterproof clothing, and there will be a smile upon the visage. for cycling is cycling; something to be enjoyed whatever the conditions. perhaps i'll be lucky enough to have a substantial headwind at some point, and will have built so much character in one day, that small children will look upon me as a stalwart of the community, and someone that must be heeded when i tell them to pick up their litter and put it in the bin.
just bear all the foregoing in mind if you're riding the braveheart ride in kilmarnock on saturday and it's raining. tartan demands it.
posted friday 22 october 2010..........................................................................................................................................................................................................