i had rice krispies for breakfast this morning; not a momentous event in itself, but the more usual start to the day is a plate of scott's porage oats with some peach slices on the top. but today i had rice krispies.
you may well ask why.
islay, and its neighbour jura, are both islands within the jurisdiction of argyll and bute council; not physically connected to the scottish mainland. that's sort of why they're called islands. there's no mains gas over here, but there is mains electricity which, under normal circumstances, is supplied by an undersea cable between mainland argyll and the northern end of jura. however, several months back, for reasons i fail to comprehend, this cable broke, or at least it stopped transporting electricity to the isles. replacing this cable seems to be of mammoth proportions, requiring cable laying ships which do not constitute a substantial part of britain's merchant fleet. costs are all but prohibitive, and the boats are employed quite well in advance.
you would think, therefore, that poor us, have been surviving on nasa rations and camping gaz for the last period. carols by candlelight could be considered more of a necessity than an option. however, many years ago, long before i moved here, someone had the future perspective to construct a generating station just outside bowmore village, employing the sort of turbines you'd find in one of her majesty's submarines. though these machines are sturdy, reliable and seemingly quite efficient at providing enough little electrons to keep us all in coffee, lunch and ipads, they are quite thirsty. two tankers of diesel every day to be precise, something that must be cutting into scottish and southern's bank account at an alarming rate. doubtless they'll be just as happy as us when the cable is fixed.
however, despite the apparent reliability of this solution, and the existence of an extra four truck-sized portable generators alongside the main building, we have experienced the occasional power cut, and one of those imposed itself upon our society at about 9am this morning. with the rapha festive 500 still to take care of, even on a dreich, wet and windy boxing day monday, sustenance is always a good idea prior to departure; porage needs heat, heat needs electricity, hence the rice krispies. of course, sod's law does not depend on any form of electricity, thus the minute the krispies were consumed and the plate washed, the power came back on.
as impressed above, this is not the first occasion on which this has happened recently, and it doesn't take too long for those of luddite persuasions to ruminate on the evils of placing an entire hatchery of eggs in the one basket. no electricity, no heat, no light, no tv and most certainly no operational broadband router. and with our own conversion to one of those digital roaming phones, and the fact that the mobile phone mast on the cruach road seems also to require a local power supply, communication is pretty much at a standstill.
yet over the christmas weekend, i learn that shimano will trickle down their fly-by-wire technology from dura-ace to ultegra for 2012, and the spanish movistar pro tour team (formerly caisse d'epargne) will wear campagnolo's uprated eleven-speed electronica on their pinarellos for the 2011 season. campagnolo stopped the development of the latter at ten speeds, while they pushed the conventional up to eleven. at least, that's the spin placed on the situation by vicenza; however, it cannot have hurt for campagnolo to have watched and waited while shimano tested the commercial market for switched gearing.
today's 65km were a bit of a struggle, mostly because i have completely eschewed the habit of covering at least 60km each day for several days in succession up till perren street goaded me with the 500. recovery is everything, but i'm not entirely sure it should be in the shape of mrs washingmachinepost's christmas cake and mince pies, coupled with a generous helping of tiramisu just before bedtime. still, such nutritional research has to be done by someone; how else is athleticism at the cutting edge to proceed? but a preponderance of persistent precipitation coupled with the more usual islay headwind tendencies, mitigated against an easy ride towards cappuccino and a cheese and pickle sandwich. what i can tell you, without fear of contradiction is that one of those rapha + paul smith rainjackets is every bit as waterproof as they said it was.
but despite my pathetic attempts at power and masterful control when faced with a few hours of pain and suffering, never once did it occur to me that fly-by-wire might ease the struggle. i can hear your "yes, but..." interjections even from here. agreed, even the lowliest domestique about to become a movistar will provide vicenza's electrics with a lot more frequent hassle than i could ever manage, even when at my most cack-handed. but let's not forget, professional riders are handed such technology on a plate, and were it not for the likelihood that we, the great unwashed, will ply our flexible friends at the home of the world's online cycle retailers, there really would be little likelihood of a research and development department continuing past new year's day.
it's progress jim, but with designs on our bank accounts.
i have ridden shimano's di2 and marvelled at the joy that is repeated front shifting, and i also know where colnago put the battery on their limited edition white c59 with switches. but i still think it a solution looking for a problem. i could perhaps be persuaded that shimano's development may eventually be aimed at the recreational market, where the japanese giant has considerable presence, but surely such r & d could continue at the dura-ace end of the world? would the pros be likely to spec ultegra anyway? campagnolo, however, have pretty darned near no presence or apparent interest in the social mobility end of cycling whatsoever; the revival of campag's spinal tap switches seems like nothing more than keeping up with the joneses. and i have already been shown a recruitment ad from sram, eager to add an electronics engineer (or two) to the payroll.
i think you should know that i am not entirely averse to such movement in gearing circles, though i do not conceive myself likely to join the party anytime soon. due to contemporary personal circumstances however, i'd like to think they have contingency plans in case of power cuts.
posted monday 27th december 2010..........................................................................................................................................................................................................
sticking rigidly to my forecast policy of refusing to bore you with updates on how my daily rapha festive 500 distances are progressing, i shall not touch upon any numbers that would indicate success or regression. however, factors pertaining to achieving success in this department have come to light that, while not officially considered a part of the process, undoubtedly affect the manner in which a smile upon the face, come thursday 30th, will appear. i am not alone in my travails in this respect; there are no doubt others who will have required a fortitude and tenacity that pales my efforts into insignificance. it has often been said that, while other continents experience climate, we in the uk have weather, a fact probably not lost on the upper management of british airports authority, or many a prospective passenger hoping to experience a festive season consisting of climate rather than weather.
up till now, snow and ice have been the principal obstructs to forward progress, on one or two occasions contributing to unexpected periods of horizontal repose in the snow rather than emulations of a mark cavendish sprint. happily i am well disposed towards bouts of humour, and these mid-ride excursions have provoked considerably more hilarity than injury, though my left shoulder was a mite stiff on christmas eve. in the light of the specific time of year, this white covering of variable depth has been distinctly picturesque, a factor that i have kept front and foremost when traction has been minimal, and a numbness of hands and feet less than comfortable. but the anti-climax has now passed (yet strangely, mrs washingmachinepost's finely-crafted christmas cake remains steadfastly ensconced in its airtight container; surely an administrative error?), and concentration has shifted to the possibilities of a new year at the end of the week.
the thaw arrived yesterday; much of the snow has melted, the main roads are by and large clear, though the car park at the foot of our terrace resembles little more than a skating rink. the act of attempting to walk or ride across it bears out this theory; for the first time in my short cyclocross career, the necessity of being able to shoulder the bike in an accepted fashion has been a practical requirement. if only photos were available. just how much impedance had been in place for days one and two, only truly became noticeable during the christmas day ride. in fact, with a smidgeon of forebearance from mrs washingmachinepost and a bright sunny day, i pedalled further and faster than i had originally intended; if only i'd remembered the water bottle.
as is often the case in the hebrides, weather takes on a positively underhand characteristic, something it achieved under cover of dark last night. mr hastings reliably informs me that, technically, boxing day cannot ritually take place on a sunday, thus today's boxing day ride (consisting of almost the bare minimum of velo club pelotonese allowable under uci regulations) was seemingly a day early. changed substantially from yesetrday's blue skies, overcastness had overcast today's sky, and the wind had lifted, continuing to do so exponentially as the joy of slogging into it lost its lustre slightly heading towards lunchtime. as i write, rain is battering off the windows, blown there by the very same wind previously under discussion, and it is here that the main point of my hypothesis raises its ugly head.
superficially, rapha's festive 500 has, as its ultimate goal, the ablity to cover those 500 kilometres, something many of us are currently intent on doing. however, those kilometres are not the same for everyone. though today's distance is completed, the wind-speed between now and day's end is expected to be around 54kph; compare that with the 11kph due in the london area, and you can perhaps see my point. looking at the the days between now and the end of the 500 this coming thursday, the highest expected in the country's capital is still only marginally higher than that 11kph mentioned above. islay is expected to receive more than twice that. basing expectations on the character building nature of slogging into an atlantic headwind, and equating that to an indiscriminate qualititave scale, surely it can be seen without undue discussion, that 500 kilometres around the principality might just outweigh a similar distance around richmond park (tedious though that may be)?
however, not one to cry foul mid-sprint, i will continue with this year's machinations uncomplainingly, but might i tender, with temerity, the suggestion that for 2011 we employ a comparison chart that, for the sake of example, we relate 500 central london kilometres to 500 hebridean island kilometres? sort of like the london weighting allowance applied to salaries, but in reverse, and applied to weather instead.
simplicity itself, n'est pas?
posted sunday 26th december 2010..........................................................................................................................................................................................................
no matter your cycling preferences, whether those of racing about on slivers of high modulus carbon fibre, sitting upright on steel with bum perched upon the best that john boultbee brooks has to offer, or something in between the two, there can be little doubt that cycling has a lengthy and illustrious heritage and is bound by more tradition than the uci would like to acknowledge. at this time of year, tradition plays a substantial part on the compliments of the season; last sunday, despite several inches of snow and a depleted peloton, velo club d'ardbeg still made a valiant attempt at continuing the tradition of holding a mince pie ride before christmas. and we likely weren't the only ones. christmas itself is a major tradition celebrated by a substantial portion of the human race; the placing of decorations about the home, christmas trees, candle-light services, and only this morning, on radio four's today programme, the pope gave the thought for the day. and despite the increasing irrelevance of our royal family to the wellbeing of the nation, many still settle down either after or before christmas dinner to watch or listen to the queen's speech.
because it's traditional.
the longer things remain the same, the more likely they are to change, and the more history cycling accumulates, the more traditions it is likely to garner. a rather pertinent example is that of graeme raeburn, one of rapha's senior designers. last year, perhaps after one double espresso too many, graeme took it upon himself to ride 1000km between christmas and new year. this selfless example of madness can now be seen as the precursor to this year's festive 500 which so many of us are cheerfully (for the moment) undertaking if for no reason other than to undermine the effects of too much christmas pudding and mince pies, and perhaps to avoid having to watch the queen's christmas message.
it seems highly unlikely that this will exist in isolation; for even if perren street decides in twelve months' time, that it was a good idea that has had its day, the seed has now been planted in perpetuity, and come december 23rd 2011, many of us will venerate this new tradition, prize or no prize.
there is, however, a tradition that has existed for a tad longer than the festive 500, and every year it simply requires my double-checking to ensure that the progenitors have not thought better of their largesse towards those of us on two wheels, and consigned it to the pixel farm in the cloud. happily, for 2010 at least, it's still there; whether or not its owners are aware of this, it matters not, because to ensure that readers old and new alike can enjoy something i regard as as much of a fixture in the cycling firmament as paris-roubaix and the length of larry's black socks. a link to the compliments of the season is just below the end of this text, but before you click, in case i don't get the chance to post tomorrow, or you don't have the opportunity to read, may i just wish everyone a very merry christmas.
posted friday 24th december 2010..........................................................................................................................................................................................................
i had my acceptance speech all ready.
i would have thanked mrs washingmachinepost for accepting enforced absences over the festive period, for my constant falling asleep in front of the television, and of course, i'd have thanked rapha for not only germinating the masterplan in the first place, but for having constructed a set of clothing that would ward off the very worst that the current crop of weather could throw in my direction. the festive 500 is such a startlingly clever idea, that i wish i'd thought of it first. of course, had that been the case, bereft of the design skills of mr coyle and without the influence wielded by perren street, most of you would have smiled politely and carried onto the next cycling blog. or possibly checked your twitter account meantime. ironically, the rapha festive 500 may be one of the first competitions where it seems necessary to already possess the prize in order to win it.
it snowed here last friday, far more heavily than is the norm on this, the extreme edge of scottish humanity. and thanks to a succession of temperatures that have yet to see positive numbers, pretty much all of that snow is still lying about here and there. true, we do have a roads department, satisfyingly equipped with large yellow trucks, bearing snow ploughs on the front, tipper sections that may or may not contain sufficient quantities of sand to re-populate the gobi desert, and one of those clever little spinning devices at the back to ensure each passing cyclist receives a healthy dose of the stuff all over those rapha oversocks. quite what they have been doing with this constantly replenished source of de-icing is a mystery to many of us.
our office printing lady stays on a farm overlooking the atlantic swell, a view she has been able to look longingly at for several days now because she is still snowed in. though the gritters did put in an appearance on tuesday eve, the temperature was so low, that the grit had pretty much no effect whatsoever. and those atlantic roads are not the only ones that have remained in this state.
the notion and route seemed oh so simple; if you break the festive 500 into eight equal portions, we're looking at around 63km per day, with a few more tagged on at the end for good measure and to round the figure up to a neat half thousand. we are graced with plenty of small backroads leading to the principality's many isolated farms, some of which i made use of during my london-paris training of several years ago. home to home was a comfortable 50km give or take a few metres; divert south-west for a cappuccino and a cheese and pickle sandwich before retracing some steps to home, and the 70km advertised above can be comfortaby encompassed. thus all was (so i thought) sorted beyond redemption, and by next thursday evening, mr mottram would be on the phone enquiring as to what size of deep winter tights i would prefer that they send.
so, bright and early(ish), i extricated the ibis 'cross bike from the snow encrusted bikeshed, checked the rear tyre pressure, which had seem a tad soft over the past few days, and headed out towards port ellen. narrowly avoiding islay's second largest village, i'd turn back along the high-road before flicking right up the narrow glen road to ballygrant. and that's where the snow hit the fan. the glen road can be thought of in sections; the first comprising 5km to the junction at cluanach, then a further 9km up the hill at storakaig to ballygrant. however, as have hopefully managed to illustrate in one or two of the accompanying photographs, tarmac was not to be seen along this initial 5km; even the cattle grids were all but conspicuous by their obfuscation. the roads along this way are used by the keepers of dunlossit estate for access to the farmlands, and this stretch had been well trammelled by chunky tyres and quad bikes, compressing the snow into not easily traversed ruts of the white stuff. you will not, perhaps, be surprised that i fell off once midway along.
the temperature varied between -5 and -8 degrees, evidenced by the contents of my water bottle having frozen en-route. this leads me to my next patent application: the carbo slush puppy.
while i do consider myself a tough and hardy scotsman without emulating the no-gloves approach of brian smith, mentally singing paul simon's slip sliding away, i had to slow down to concentrate on remaining as upright as possible and lost all feeling in both hands and feet. this frozen terrain may be a mere walk in the park for the likes of sven nys, but he gets paid to take risks like this; i have need of all four limbs for a couple of gigs at new year, plus work to return to in january. to the best of my knowledge, rapha have made no special arrangements to award first prize posthumously.
a quick look up the next, longer section towards ballygrant was enough to send me in the opposite direction towards an eventual hot coffee and piece of carrot cake. a further five kilometres snow and suffering.
i do not expect that i am the only partaker of the festive 500 to have come across snowbound obstruction to my progress, as both news and weather reports have much in common by reporting and forecasting a cold, white doom and gloom for much of southern britain, regions where many rapha acolytes will have been left glaring through frosty windows. in such cases, first prize notwithstanding, i would urge propriety and caution. better not to read about the winner from the safety of a hospital bed.
i have, necessity being the mother of desperation, re-invented my route without imposing an unacceptable degree of pointless repetition. while the unarguable point of this festive perambulating is to cover a total of 500km, i'd prefer some interest in my scenery, rather than simply churning back and forth along the same gritted piece of tarmac several times over the next seven days. christmas day is going to be difficult, not because of the snow, but i fear mrs washingmachinepost may not look too kindly on being left to fly solo when cooking christmas dinner, and that's a wrath i'd prefer not to incur. therefore, there may be the necessity of a number of extra curricular velocipedinal meanderings in the days following.
fear not, for though i have every intention of putting in the effort required to beat you all into submission, feature on the new year's honours list and be invited to lunch with simon cowal, i will restrain myself from the overweening desire to relate a blow by blow account of how i went and done it. the next you'll hear will likely be splashed all over rapha's website, and i'll be sure to gloat and glow on the post next thursday eve.
posted thursday 23rd december 2010..........................................................................................................................................................................................................
this is the great outdoors. at least much of it is if you step over the threshold and admire the acres and acres of sky. it's the biggest difference i notice if i head into the country's greater conurbations; there it's only possible to see about a postage stamp's worth of grey or blue, while areas of green and trees are either arranged in an orderly fashion along street edges, or gathered into compact corrals randomly dotted about the big cities. no doubt new yorkers have convinced themselves that central park is living on the edge (perhaps that's the case on a saturday night). though the great outdoors here on the edge of the atlantic offers a wealth of scrubbly bits on which to hammer aimlessly on a mountain bike, i have eschewed this option in favour of skinny tyres, bendy bars and the freedom of the open road. not that the open roads bear much of a resemblance to the common definition of tarmac, but it's the best we've got, and complaining rather undermines a love of the spring classics. i'd hate to think of myself as hypocritical.
gorse bushes, roadside ditches, acres of sky, fearsome winds, sheep and cows in the middle of those so-called roads; truly what bbc's countryfile portrays as the rugged alternative to buses, taxis, traffic lights, the tube and pointless cycle lanes, and an alternative i am happy to embrace as long as there's a debbies at the end of it when i tire of being bear grills on two wheels. sanitised widlerness just the way i like it.
mr hastings, on the other hand, has ruggedness coursing through his veins; leave him on his own on one of the islets dotting the coast of islay with only a biro, a book token and a copy of the radio times, and he'll organise a three course feast for 37, wallpaper a cave and domesticate the nearest herd of wild goats before breakfast. i, on the other hand, would struggle to find change for the phone box at carnduncan and i get homesick on the ferry. being aware of all this, i felt quite justified on making several re-reads of an e-mail offering to send me an mkettle for test and review on the post. wrongly addressed perhaps?
however, i am nothing if not intrepid, ever ready to suffer from my art and readership, and could see no real reason to say no, since a modicum of outdoor cred never did a wimp any real harm (did it?).
the mkettle is an ingenious device for, rather obviously, boiling water in the wild without need for electricity or a little canister of camping gaz (for which i am eternally grateful; gas gives me the heebie jeebies) it consists of two parts: the kettle and what i prefer to refer to as the furnace. the kettle has a cone shaped funnel occupying the centre of an neoprene sleeved, aluminium canister the outer skin of which is prime real estate to contain water. the furnace, when inverted, fits neatly inside the bottom of the canister for compact packing inside a waterproof bag, itself featuring two d-rings to allow for strapping to panniers, rucksacks or even handlebars.
remove the furnace from its place of repose, flip it over, and the cylindrical kettle sits comfortably atop. the furnace has a substantial hole in the side, to ostensibly cram combustibles necessary for the boiling of water. ever confident of my ability to survive in the wild, bereft of anything resembling a soya cappuccino, i set out a few weeks ago with my filled mkettle stuffed in a rapha backpack, eager to find a corner of this great land in which i could partake of a cuppa away from prying and sniggering eyes. though all of the uk, including that of the hebrides, is currently covered in white, at the time which i describe, everything was merely damp. this i offer as legitimate excuse as to why, after forty-five minutes, i was possessed of a considerable pile of charred ferns and sticks, but barely lukewarm water.
the principle was sound enough, the spirit more than willing, but it seems incompetence flows freely through these veins. i headed south for a proper coffee.
the aforementioned mr hastings has, however, a kind bone in his body that kicks in every now and again, so, inches of snow covering notwithstanding, he offered to show just how it should be done. while the gathering of winter fuel is likely best left to the spring and summer months, inhabiting the world of 'here's some i made earlier' has much to commend it. we set the furnace on the ruined wall of a derelict building on the frozen shores of loch indaal, and jez filled it with a few scraps of dry paper and bits of thistledown taken from a brown cloth bag that had been secreted about his rucksack. using the modern equivalent of rubbing two boy scouts together, he set the amalgam alight, popped the mkettle on the top and started dropping bits of dry wooden stick in through the top of the chimney. although the hole in the side of the furnace exists for similar use, jez figures it to be a far less successful method of regularly adding fuel.
i confess that on discovering the method of water heating, i feared greatly for the neoprene sleeve around the mkettle, convinced that i would be confronted with melting gloop long before 100 degrees c was reached. thankfully, i was wrong; the neoprene sleeve exists to prevent scalding when the kettle is lifted from the flames. this time round, with experienced supervision and know-how, the water boiled in little over five minutes, at which point we filled two mugs of instant drinking chocolate and toasted any car that passed on its way to bruichladdich. in present circumstances, the flames were extinguished by covering with substantial quantities of snow, but normally, excess water from the kettle ought to take care of such duty. it's a good idea to remember that kettle and furnace will remain hot for a while or so, when thinking about packing away.
the mkettle has a rubbery plasticky bung that, for projectile reasons, should not remain in place when boiling the water. it's also not water-tight if you don't push the bung in far enough (oops); a quick look inside my rapha musette and you'd understand why. perhaps safer to fill a regular water bottle and carry that separately, filling the mkettle prior to heating. all these tips and tricks i can alert you to, now that i have joined the ranks of the outdoor management consultants, skilled in the art of survival.
the mkettle is a triumph of industrial and aesthetic design, culminating in a marvellously practical and efficient means of boiling water while on tour, or merely playing on knobbly tyres in the great outdoors (cyclocross of course). it may perhaps encourage re-invention of the art of the drum-up that used to be a part of every weekend peloton ride prior to the onset of the mavic car. if you're about to head off on a round the world cycle, or just have less than confidence that the paris-roubaix challenge can be completed in under a fortnight, this is the very item you need in that backpack (or in the mavic car). that and some instant drinking chocolate.
the mkettle can be purchased and despatched to all four corners of the world from the safety of mkettle.com for only £47.
posted wednesday 22nd december 2010..........................................................................................................................................................................................................
yesterday we were talking about photographers, or at least i was, while you were listening attentively. and it seems a sizeably tautological statement to point out that photographers need cameras, the market for which seems to have been gradually becoming more and more macho, for want of a better word. i'm sure i'm not the only one to have noticed this; those chunky lenses, notched adjusters, wall to wall matt black and styling that is anything but passive. i'm not suggesting that brightly coloured little compact digitals will outpace the canon, nikon and olympus dslr models on sale, no matter the number of megapixels on offer, but it is an incontrovertible truism that a fair number of those in possession of matt black and chunky leave the setting on auto and have purchased only for the perception that they may have a clue as to what it's all about. you can deny this all you want, but the pixels do not lie.
the same argument could of course, be levelled at those with top of the range carbon married to the sprinting or climbing abilities of a chelsea pensioner. marketing dictates that the big sell should be aimed at those with all but unlimited disposable income; nothing intrinsically wrong with that, particularly if ownership of technology currently better than the ability to use it, leads to aspirations of excellence. sadly that isn't always the case. but there is another aspect of cycling that almost mirrors that of the digital single reflex camera, though probably not quite fulfilling the sales engendered by the former.
i am aware of at least one person who owns a workshop quality park tool stand, yet would struggle big time to identify which is the rear derailleur cable, let alone replace it. i believe the applicable term is all show and no go. this may be a further example of disposable income gone mad, for fine workstand though it is, at best it seems vastly underused in this particular case, employed only to sit the cycle on when residing in the garage; it is notably not accompanied by any number of appropriate workshop tools.
my early years of association with bicycles was predominantly coloured by the need to repair the blighters, a situation that blatantly advertised the need to own a workstand, if only to save my back and knees from scraping around on a concrete floor. a good stand for professional use can quickly clamp any type of frame securely, offering sufficient adjustment to obviate any need for contortion when adjusting a finicky rear derailleur. given the weight of present day kids' full-suspension efforts, stability is paramount. however, both the cost and flexibility of the more expensive versions are directly aimed at the more professional amateur or, indeed, a professional mechanic. you can often judge in advance the quality of shop repair by the quality of the stand sitting (standing?) in the middle of the workshop floor; that and the neatness and population of the tool board on the wall behind.
but, much like the telephoto lens and independent flash unit, a workshop stand is not a necessity for everyone who owns a bicycle, particularly those who drop an errant machine off at their local independent bikeshop to have the tyres pumped up. but it is not entirely out of the question that some sort of bike stand allowing the occasional allen bolt adjustment, wheel removal or simply engendering a decent foamy scrub, could be seen as desirable if not an actual necessity, and preferably something that does not exceed the cost of a decent pair of tyres.
last week i was sent a weblink to a video of a university ipad band, the members of which, fairly entertainingly, were playing a series of christmas tunes on virtual touchscreen instruments plugged through a backline of amplifiers. i cannot pretend that the sound was redolent of, say, the london philharmonic, but that would be likely to miss the point. here was the perfect example of one company (apple) 'inventing' a hitherto unseen technology, and others in related fields taking advantage of the opportunity provided.
enter the andystand.
i have been less than sparing in my ire directed towards what i consider the over- development of the bottom bracket. what on earth was ever wrong with the square taper that a decent method of crank removal wouldn't have fixed? but rather than emulate victor meldrew in a pointless diatribe against something that was never going to be uninvented, andy richards looked at the wholesale change as an opportunity rather than pining for bottom bracket nostalgia. it is a feature of the majority of contemporary bb offerings, that what used to be known as the spindle, but now likely more correctly named the axle, is hollow. you can see inside it. and it is empty space that is doing nothing whatsoever other than providing torsional rigidity. mr richards has occupied that space.
the andystand, available in silver or bright orange, has a triangulated and stable base, leading tubularly to a transverse arm at the top. a pathetic description, but one which makes far more sense if you've sneaked a look at the photos. an orange version of the stand, in a very clever triangular box, had been despatched before i took time to closely look at the andystand website. if you undertake to do likewise, you cannot fail to notice that the velocipedes being upheld by a variety of andystands, are all of the knobbly tyre variety. thewashingmachinepost bikeshed contains nothing but skinny tyres, apart, of course, from the ibis hakkalugi, and even it is shod with less than truly chunky.
what if it didn't fit?
as you can see, it fits just fine; the cielo has sram red, the ibis and colnago master both own chainsets from fsa, and the andystand fits all just dinky doo thank you very much. it is, it humbles me to say, verging on genius. andy has listed a series of compatible chainsets on the website, all of which are of mtb flavour. i'm not too sure if it works with campagnolo's ultra-torque sets because i don't own one, and the closed design of shimano's road chainsets rather precludes their inclusion, but i'm pretty sure that all types of fsa and sram should prove ideal, along with campag's new ten speed power-torque sets added to centaur and below for 2011.
the the width of the base provides total stability, while the arm that slides into the hollow part of the bottom bracket is sturdy enough to support pretty much anything resembling a bicycle. given that the bb axle is the central pivot point of the cycle, one wheel rests on the ground while the other sits in mid-air. thus it is but a simple procedure to remove one or t'other for maintenance, tilting the bicycle back or forward depending on need.
tip the bike forward onto the front wheel and tis yet another piece of cake to spin the pedals and adjust the front or rear gears as necessary. in fact with the minimum of contortion, it was easy to clean those sprockets with a purple harry pipe cleaner. what more could a bike rider want? even if your mechanical knowledge extends no further than the ability to purchase a can of three-in-one oil, you need one of these in the armoury to facilitate a decent level of cleaning, tyre changing or puncture repair. leaning against walls is so yesterdays news. although the andystand doesn't fold for storage, it really isn't big enough to provide a storage problem; if you hang onto the box in which it arrives, you could pop it back just to keep it safe and out of trippings way.
however, you just know the skinny wheelers will need it in carbon.
the andystand is available in silver or orange at a cost of only £39.99. though it's too late to have one sent out for christmas, this is the way to start the new year.
posted tuesday 21st december 2010..........................................................................................................................................................................................................