look what i found

gritting truck

i refuse to believe that this corner of the atlantic is the only one receiving crappy weather. yes, there have been moments when the skies have cleared, and on the run in to port ellen yesterday, the smoke from the furnace chimney at port ellen maltings was heading untroubled and vertically to the clouds. for an isle i have descriptively categorised as the heart of the western wind, all was foggy and stillness on a february sunday morning. however, days such as these are only surreptitiously introduced to provide a level of contrast against the perennial gusting we experience on pretty much every other day of the year. it is, of course, a feature not a bug.

despite historical platitudes towards the slogan think global, act local it seems argyll and bute council have either forgotten the principle, or never fully understood it in the first place. the responsibility for calling out the gritting trucks in case of slippy slidey lies not with the roads manager on islay, but with some counterpart in lochgilphead, some considerable distance and a whole climate away from islay's shores. thus, often are the occasions when those yellow iveco trucks trammell islay's main roads intent on giving a totally unnecessary coating of sand to totally dry road surfaces.

tractor and trailer

though the world of agriculture is substantially mechanised these days, apparently by way of tractors costing the gross domestic output of a small african nation, and not that much smaller, there are still periodic occasions when it becomes necessary to drive these enormous vehicles (almost always towing a trailer an order of magnitude larger than the tractor itself) in and out of anonymous fields, leaving trails of mud and muck all over the highways (as we like to call them). it is my understanding that farmers are responsible for removing such detritus from the roads due to the likelihood of it offering much in the way of skiting for unwitting motorists, but if that's the case, it doesn't happen too often.

in the fashion of a decent recipe, season the two constituents listed above with lashings of precipitation and the resulting gloop has the adbesive properties and often the consistency of araldite, frequently coagulating around derailleurs, bottom brackets and ten or eleven speed cassettes. i would not for one minute find it in my constitution to berate anyone returning from a lengthy ride through this recipe while being heavily rained upon and blown from one side of the road to the other, for swiftly hustling the bicycle into the bikeshed and heading for a welcome hot shower.

muddy tracks

the problem with this process is one of additive insult. bearing in mind we are still at the beginning of february, with endless weeks of this repetitive process ahead, though a degree of gloop will hopefully be removed by that rain and wind, in my experience, more is added than removed until that bicycle in the bikeshed resembles ballerini's colnago c40 housed in ernesto's basement museum. though i cannot excuse myself from the above onerous practices, every now and again, guilt, pragmatism and a necessity to protect a less than healthy bank balance brings out the pro workstand and a plastic bucket of purple cycle cleaning products in an effort to restore the machine to its former pristine glory. it's also the ideal opportunity to have a snoop around the velocipedinal nether regions for anything that seems ever so slightly out of place.

this tradition (for 'tis surely so) has already saved me once this winter, having discovered a cracked chain link while cultivating shiny links, and i'm pleased to say that a repetition of the convention has yet again prevented untold sorrow and not a little amount of perceived shame.

a couple of years ago, having procrastinated for an unhealthy amount of time over what trinketry to hang upon my molteni painted colnago master, i gathered all the necessary and proceeded to create a whole that was greater than the sum of its parts. alone in cambiago's firmament, the steel master retains the one-time obligatory italian threaded bottom bracket. had it been not so, the bearing cups would have been from nw nela in portland, but king precision components attest not to the italian threading, thus i was making do with fsa's slk light bottom bracket that arrived with the carbon chainset. as i have dealt with at length in previous narratives, the italians seem happy to have completely ignored the laws of physics and seen fit to feature right-hand, clockwise threading in both cups.

mud encrusted cassette

this has given cause for distraught ruminations in the past.

certainly the current crop of brackets employing two bearing cups have removed the physical ability demonstrated by the old style cartridge b/bs to unscrew themselves from left to right, jamming the cranks in the process. but the principal that has been misunderstood still allows for the drive-side cup to unscrew itself from the frame. the first instance that history may be repeating itself, was a reluctance of the front mech to push the chain onto the teeth of the outer ring. with a complete absence of cable slack in the down position, contra-rotation was less a threat and more an ultimatum.

so had i not taken the less frequent than truly admirable step of checking the colnago's bits, sod's law would likely have dictated that all would have come to grief at the furthest possible point from home. it would have been raining and blowing a gale at the time.

if mechanical niceties are well within your technical grasp, finish reading this and nip out to the shed. if you're still on google trying to find out where the bottom bracket is, perhaps it's time to visit the local bike shop before the owner envisions lashings of currency as the cycle grates, clatters and bangs through the front door.

i only have your best interests at heart.

bike tuning parts

posted monday 13 february 2012


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the loneliness of the short distance fun run marshal

port ellen maltings

when mrs washingmachinepost and i removed ourselves from scotland to islay, the charitable nature of the local populace was blatantly self-evident in the activities of new year's day. while the day prior to the ride of the falling rain features the islay half-marathon run, a well subscribed annual event, at the turn of the year, fundraising was the name of the hangover. leaving from bowmore distillery and returning to same, teams of four undertook to run the half-marathon route as a sponsored relay race, with soup and sandwiches as the reward for the stout of heart.

lover's loop fun run

i would be the first to lay claim to cycling being an ideal way to not only become fit(ter) but a similarly keen method of retaining or improving upon that fitness. sadly, in cases such as this, the apparition of seasoned fitness occasionally works against rational thought. as a confirmed cyclist (one bicycle, no car), the observation of such led to the notion that i would make for an ideal quarter of such a relay team, running in aid of the proposed islay swimming pool (now celebrating its twentieth year and housed in a warehouse formerly in the ownership of bowmore distillery).

though there are more than plenty of triathlon competitors who would think little of completing a lengthy and speedy bicycle ride before transitioning to a pair of trainers and running for all they're worth, i am not amongst their number. in fact, one of the reasons i excluded myself from the le mans 24 hours motor race (apart from the fact that i hate driving) was a total inability to run from one side of a race track to the other.

lover's loop fun run

in 1992, the then swimming pool manager and myself inaugurated the islay try-athlon with relatively easy distances for each discipline in order to receive a reasonable local entry. this event was conceived as a team event, each member undertaking one of the three traditional regimens. in year two, i thought it an excellent idea to put myself forward as a candidate for the entire event: swimming, cycling and running. my swimming abilities resemble that of a mobile jacuzzi and are undoubtedly beyond saving, but i figured that ownership of a decent pair of trainers would aid a running style that would at least keep me a few places from last after a scintillating bike ride.

disappointingly, even an expensive pair of professional style running shoes could not prevent agonising pains in my right leg, no matter the amount of pre-run stretching undertaken in the comfort of my own sitting room floor. on the basis that i have never hurt myself by cycling my bicycle as fast as i can (probably not trying hard enough), i dispensed with further thoughts of running and have never entertained them since. but to return briefly to the new year charity run, once was enough; in my opinion, running and cycling are best left to their own devices and certainly not mixed.

lover's loop fun run

however, having now garnered a degree of respect for those willing to undergo the purgatory that running undoubtedly is, i am not averse to embracing adversity in the service of those obviously not in full possession of their cognitive faculties. therefore, when lord carlos and i were asked if we'd be willing to provide mobile marshalling in the service of a lover's loop valentine 10km fun run today, we leapt to our saddles with alacrity and agreed so to do. aside from the run today, it also doubled as a dress rehearsal for a bigger (but not longer) run towards the end of march.

lover's loop fun run

the thinking behind today's exercise rested upon the practicality of mobility above and beyond the call of the stationary marshalls handing up bottled water and relieving runners of excessive clothing on the return loop. in point of fact, the notion was well met; the organisers were most gracious in their praise of our turnout, and more than one runner expressed their thanks too. ten kilometres is less than onerous from the saddle, though it looked less than enjoyable for the running particpants, but i would say that, wouldn't i?

far from thinking it a waste of an hour or two (you don't have to ride very fast when shepherding fun-runners), lord carlos and i were more than happy to have placed around 80km in the bank on return to our respective homes by late afternoon. the only disappointing factor was missing out on one of consuela's soya cappuccinos, but it's not only runners who have to make sacrifices.

i can, however, recommend the espresso and lemon cake at the islay hotel.

posted sunday 12 february 2012


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in praise of, part three


there was never any attempt on my part, to let myself loose in praise of anything, for it seems perhaps a tad subjective and thus not applicable to all. just once, maybe, i should keep my opinions to myself and stick rigidly to the facts? if i'd worked harder at school, i could conceivably have been a lawyer; i'll ask michael hutchinson. to be perfectly honest, i cannot for the life of me remember what parts one or two were in praise of, but i do remember that there were two of them, and this is number three.

this particular episode is in praise of italia. you will note that i have made the distinction between that and italy as a country, for the latter seems embroiled in yet another political farce, something it has tripped over more than once in the last forty or fifty years. and additionally, i believe its economy is approaching that of greece, though i may have overstated that last bit. as one all but oblivious to the machinations of the world's economy and thoroughly confused by politics in general, let alone those of italy, i would not wish to entitle my ramblings as being in praise of italy, lest i paint a picture not worthy of the facts. that's a story i'd rather leave to herbie sykes.


my concern is italia, specifically relating to the velocipedinal delights that still manage to emanate from the boot of europe, few of which seem at all troubled by their social and economic environment. it didn't start out this way, but a bit like a rolling snowball, the notion started small and ran away with itself.

thursday february 9th was ernesto colnago's eightieth birthday, in celebration of which the gold-painted colnago ottento was released to the world, a variation on the c59 italia (there's that word again), and after previous special edition colnagos arrived with shimano di2, it was a pleasant and patriotic change to see campagnolo's 11 speed electronic super-record groupset shining in all the right places. sitting patiently in the twmp bike shed, guarding its chrome from the winter and glowing in all its molteni orange glory, my colnago master came across as the ideal vehicle to celebrate ernesto's eightieth. sentimental i'll agree but any excuse that encourages me to ride the colnago is dinky-doo with me.

the bicycle features italia from front to back, with the possible exception of the current set of wheels (mavic r-sys slr), but even those are shod with vittoria open pave, green and black tyres. to return to my implied subjectivity which i'd prefer to think of as agreeable objectivity, italia has that certain something that not only i find particularly appealing. but the biggest difference must be apportioned to the products from vicenza.


with a plethora of wheels that feature shimano style freehubs, and the absence of a compatible cassette, i have not moved over to eleven speed, therefore i have remained faithful to campagnolo centaur. in any case, for me it would likely ensure the existence of two shiny sprockets rather than one. however, my other two bicycles are fitted with sram, and over the past couple of months, they have been front and centre, principally because they feature no chrome, so i have become used to the double-tap to change gear. riding with campagnolo levers is reminder enough that ergopower could well still be the cream of the crop. it's hard to argue against one lever for each function.

celebration of vicenza's design should also be augmented by their steadfast refusal to move production wholesale to the far east (though they do own a plant in the region). italian labour may be more expensive, but the advantages of developing and manufacturing in-house seemingly cannot be overstated. yes, they have outside fabrication in eastern europe, but parts are made there only after they've been fully audited in italy. despite my using an fsa compact chainset most definitely not made in the home country, and a compatible cassette on the mavic freehub, shifting is as precise as it pretty much ought to be, and the ergopower levers are still my preferred grip when giving myself a hard time on the colnago.


the latter, even after two years of use, is still a joy and a surprise to ride. though i still maintain i have little use for training, this bike, in similar manner to both the epq and the c59, never stops pushing, and as i sit and write, i haven't been this knackered for many a long day. as the years advance, the master is simply too fast for me and i'm having to ride like the wind just to keep up.

so while it may be trendier to deck that frame with the red tower or fawn over both versions of di2, while teutonic tyres own a well-deserved reputation for strength and reliability, i'm happy to raise my head (slightly) above the parapet and come down very much on the side of italia.

not that i can speak a word of the language, mind.

posted saturday 11 february 2012


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the pelotonesians were born/formed around the mid-nineties; a somewhat raggle-taggle bunch with a common interest in cycling, though rarely from the same point of view, eschewing the rational reaction we held sunday afternoon rides rather than sullying the apres midi. islay, in those deep dark days, offered little in the way of periodic sustenance, at least not on sundays, so our induction into the ways of the cafe stop had not yet occurred. rides were of a relaxing nature, though i do recall most of us thought we were travelling at a greater rate of knots than was likely the case. however, conviviality and not a conservative portion of humour often accompanied the pelotonese on those halcyon days of yore, and though i can remember the names of few, they were indeed at least one of the times of our lives.

but as many a long-term resident of the scottish isles will relate, all too often even loose associations of folk begin their demise after only a modest period of time has passed. not everyone yearns for the simple life, and many move to pastures new as part of a career path. 'tis anything but unusual. therefore it was not long before i was the sole surviving peletonesian, reliant on my own administrations to fend of wind, hail and rain. no longer was there a peloton in which to hide, nor an agglomeration of riders to help fight the good fight. it doesn't take too long before the level of motivation sinks into the peat, all the while masquerading as situation normal.

the merest hint of inclement weather come a sunday morn, and the coleman's mustard book of excuses would be rifled through for an appropriate reason to either remain in bed or at the very least longingly gaze out the window at the all too common incoming precipitation. the very fact that there was no other with whom to make a pact that would ensure a timely departure after breakfast, ate substantially into those training hours. this is doubtless why cyclists form themselves into clubs and associations; surely an insurance against reticence?

and in the process of administering such clubs and associations it becomes necessary to hold at least one annual club dinner or similar celebration of even latent velocipedinal tendencies, inviting one of the great and good to regale attentive members with deeds of derring do, midst perhaps too much alcohol fuelled hilarity. for left to the individual, and this can be seen in all walks of life, our motivational gene more often than not, lies dormant.

moving one stage up from the neighbours who bought two mountain bikes for only £49.99 in the hope of realising unheralded fitness, how many amongst the peletonese have been seduced by printed volumes promising a vo2 max and power threshold that would create murmurs of envy from even sir chris? and how many of those are sitting dust-ridden on the bookshelf, the bookmark left in situ less than half-way through? i can see from the embarrassed faces before me that i have hit the proverbial nerve. a similar affliction pertains to those undertaking diets; slimming clubs have more collateral clout than does the individual, though seemingly few are willing to admit thus.

it is therefore not only a cycling necessity, but a common human trait, to feel the need for some motivational support or admonishment. but who to look towards for the solution?

anthony mccrossan's cyclevox has positioned itself as one of the more indispensible factors in modern day british cycle sport, from supply of professional commentary, to active promotion and event filming. in fact, it was cyclevox' matt ward who was instrumental in engaging the after-dinner speaking services of graeme obree at 2010's ardbeg gourmet ride. however, dispense with the bike riding and calorific intake that such events engender, and many would likely benefit from the words of wisdom proffered by those who have been there, done that and bought the t-shirt, so to speak.

that is the very reasoning behind the recently launched 'spoke'n'word', whose first in a series of events will feature olympic cycling medallist, bryan steel, accompanied by cancer survivor, james golding. taking place on wednesday 29th february at the frontline club in london 'preparing the road ahead' will, as anthony mccrossan was keen to point out 'offer cyclists the chance to meet with some of the uk's best cyclists and have the chance to learn from the horse's mouth, how to do it properly and get the most of their time on the bike."

mind you, london isn't exactly on the doorstep of all britain's cyclists, especially those of us constrained north of the border, so i asked spoke'n'word's craig brophy if there was any chance of events a tad further up the british isles. "We're looking at a few venues around the country, including up north. The idea is to deliver the series to as many people as possible." i will continue to badger them on your behalf with little concern for my own personal safety.

all in the name of personal motivation, you understand.


posted friday 10 february 2012


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the collarbone

the collarbone

the music world and subsequently that of the movie industry has had the tablecloth removed from under their collective dishes by the advent of apple's itunes, then several more nails driven into their perennial business model with the release of both the ipod and ipad. both the latter have provided new ways to consume both audible and visual media while on the move. how many cycling jerseys and jackets arrive replete with strategic holes in the pockets and internal tabs to allow the threading of fine white wires all the way to our ears? perhaps unsurprisingly, the act of cycling while watching video or movies does not come under the heading of useful things to do on a bicycle, but no doubt someone will find a way soon enough. (don't try this at home)

before anyone shouts foul, i'm aware that apple were not the first to the party in this respect, but it would be a bold person to argue that their ieverythings haven't made considerable impression and difference to pretty much everyone's world in one way or another.

the collarbone

according to common consent at the time, the advent of television would inevitably kill off radio, yet here we are, some sixty odd years after the first affordable televisions came to market and it's still possible to listen to a wide range of radio broadcasts. digital television has even assisted in this, by providing a black screen on the telly while clear signals are audibly appreciated from the comfort of our own homes. it's certainly true that the cassette undermined the sales of vinyl, the compact disc totally ruined cassettes (thank goodness) and downloads have saved considerable house room by removing the requirement to store those highly breakable cd cases.

by bringing the ipad to market, apple have opened up all sorts of opportunities through the medium of apps, variable sized items of software first made available for apple's iphone, making voice calls almost of secondary importance as a marketing feature. i have already broached the world of ipad apps through my recent review of cyclepedia, the app of the book, providing a more immersive experience while reading than could be achieved in the hardback edition, and in a different way, ned boulting's e-book reviewed yesterday. developments such as the latter have already led many an analyst to prophesy the demise of the printed word, particularly in this age of austerity and recycling. it is of far greener credential to read the daily newspaper in pixelated format than to continue felling great swathes of timber to provide the paper on which their words are printed.

the collarbone

there are, at present, likely too many of us obsessed with the tactile and olfactory promises of ink on paper. how often have you read folks infatuation with the feel and smell of rouleur magazine upon opening that grey plastic wrapper? however, nothing is set in stone, and currently the ipad and its ilk have presented generations both old and new with a different set of technologies to exploit in ways with which paper and ink cannot hope to compete. as i head towards the subject of my narrative, might we, for a moment, consider the output of sports photographers? a digital camera in the hands of an expert photographer allows for a seeming endless number of shutter clicks, far more than was ever offered by that of film.

the interweb has provided such practitioners with an easily constructed window to the world; it remains only to tell the world where that window is situated. for the name of the game for the professional (i am assuming artistic integrity from the outset) is that of sales; the more the better. yet it can be a convoluted process for the customer to order a desired print of any image that takes their fancy, and i cannot be the only one who wished there were an easier way.

the collarbone

there is.

judging by the sales figures for apple's ipad, there can be few modern households without one lying on the coffee table, particularly in the light of the considerable range of media available for iconsumption. the latest app that well behoves the cycling obsessive to visit the app store emanates from the auspices of messrs scheybeler and mcmillan, the former one of the founding fathers of rapha and the latter at one time the editor at large for rouleur magazine and a damn fine photographer. they, as of only a day or so ago, have released the collarbone, an ipad only app (iphone/ipod touch versions will be along soon) that not only shows camille mcmillan's photography in a rather fine (ipad sized) light , but augments each image with a buy print button that e-mails the folks at the collarbone to alert them to your interest.

tapping each image produces a red overlay containing the buy print button, the image title and a short commentary by camille. also displayed are a home button returning to the start and an index icon to take the user directly to their stored collection of images. tapping to remove the overlay allows flicking through the series of images with the swipe of a finger. the collarbone simples. the app itself is a free download from apple's app store, arriving with a phalanx of images from the 2011 tour of britain and a more random selection of images by mr mcmillan. however, in the words of jiminy cricket "there's more". for a mere £1.99 a whole series of 23 photos can be purchased and downloaded to the app's memory ready for perusal and possible purchase in print form. no doubt there will be more series to come in the future.

it's a remarkably clever and simple notion, bringing the best of cycling photography into the average and not so average home. the free download means the collarbone arrives with no untoward baggage; if you do not wish to purchase anything, you don't have to, but if one of camille's images would look exceptionally good on a wall somewhere near you, 'tis but a simple matter to acquire. the only requirement for the present is ownership or access to an ipad.


the collarbone on the apple app store

posted thursday 9 february 2012


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how cav won the green jersey by ned boulting. yellow jersey press e-book 54pp illus. £2.74 (kindle edition)

how cav won green

i believe it may have been mainstream press in edinburgh (i'm too settled and too far from the bookcase to check) who regularly published tour de france: the history, the legend, the riders by graeme fife. that particular book is currently in its 13th edition, and mainstream used to kindly sent me review copies each year. graeme fife is certainly one of the cycling world's finer writers, and this book is no exception to his literary skills, but it did present me with a problem in terms of attempting to present a half-decent review. the first edition i received was not too much of a stretch, since i had not previously read the substantial volume in its entirety.

however, the subsequently received review copies, i soon realised, were simply the previous year's book with an added chapter covering the most recent edition of the race. there was no diminution in the abilities of mr fife in the execution of his duties, but i did wonder as to who the book was intended to reach. mr fife's words, on the history, the legend and the riders are certainly worth reading, but i do wonder if anyone continues to purchase each successive volume to simply read about the tour they have doubtless watched on itv4 or eurosport. i can't see the publisher's accounts department being unduly worried, but it may be the perfect example of the law of diminishing returns in action.

so what then are we to make of the author of the relatively recently published 'how i won the yellow jumper' bursting out of his front door, holding the next chapter(s) in his repetitively strained fingers? the very chapter(s) that were not included as a part of the yellow jumper first edition. well firstly, these chapters cannot be realistically grasped in fingers of any hand, at least not in the manner that any mental picture of ned boulting could reasonably assimilate. for 'how cav won the green jersey' exists only in electronic format and is being sold as a bolt-on for the mere pittance of £2.74.

this, i think you will agree, is a practical solution for those already in possession of the now iconic yellow jumper; there is no reason to trouble that kindle device or ipad with pixels you're never going to read.

i cannot tell a lie; while the sending of review copies in e-book format is easily one of the most practical formats to help minimise the clutter in washingmachinepost cottage, the experience is not particularly akin to paper and ink. however, i am attempting to keep myself aware of modern technological trends, and there can be little doubt that it's the modern way, if a little rough around the edges.

in the finest tradition of self-deprecation, ned boulting more or less carries on where the yellow jumper left off. though the title bears some resemblance to the contents of the e-book's narrative, it would be a foolish reader who expected a simple blow by blow account of the tour stages that placed mark cavendish in his first green jersey. if i may quote from the opening page "This is the story of the lesser-known heroes; the Johnny Hoogerlands, the Thomas Voecklers, the hitchhikers, the maniac press drivers, Norbert Dentressangle and the greatest ever Tour de France (probably)"

norbert dessentrangle

in case you failed to find norbert dentressangle amongst the riders of even the less high-profile teams, let me disaffect you from your incomprehension; dentressangle is 'a major european transport, logistics, and freight forwarding company, founded in London in 1979', and were it not for mr boulting, i, along with many others i presume, would still be none the wiser, and it is testament to the e-book format that it was a simple operation to search and find the exact location where this was stated. the search format will also allow you to find the chapters containing reference to mark cavendish, thomas voeckler and simon carnochan. the latter character you will also fail to find in the team lists, for he is/was a teenager intent on hitch-hiking round the entire route of the 2011 tour, placing himself at the mercy of the french motoring public and, indeed, the generosity of the itv4 production crew.

in a moment of reality overcoming ambition, eighteen year-old carnochan even became chris boardman for a day.

in a longer than ideal momentary reprise of the yellow jumper incident that provided such an opportune title, sammy sanchez' stage victory at luz-ardiden apparently gave the itv4 production team what can only be described as dead-time. this entirely because sanchez' victory came well ahead of even the most optimistic race manual schedule. the resulting filler' concerned our hapless author interviewing sanchez in french, then listening to sammy replying in spanish, not a comrehensible language to our hero. "there was nothing for it but brute honesty. there was no wool to pull over eyes, and probably no eyes left watching anyway."

if you have not immeasurably improved your sense of well-being having purchased yellow jumper, now is the time to embrace technology and acquire the kindle or e-book edition, accompanying it with the sequel how cav won the green jersey. ned boulting has an admirably easy-going style of writing, a healthy sense of where he stands in the cycling firmament underlined by an acute sense of humour. with so much seriousness apparent in the last few days concerning formula one cycle racing, this is indubitably the ideal antidote.

how cav won the green jersey by ned boulting is published in e-book format by vintage digital (yellow jersey press) on march 1 2012 priced £2.74 (kindle edition)

posted wednesday 8 february 2012


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richard sachs. bicycle maker. nick czerula. softback 110pp illus. $59.95

richard sachs bicycle maker

i cannot claim to have a particularly fascinating mode of employ. however, it serves my purposes well and it keeps the colnagos, ibis and the cielo in the manner they would wish to become accustomed. there's even enough left over to put food on the table and pay the mortgage every month. however, i believe i would broker no disagreement were i to point out that sitting in front of a computer with fingers feverishly darting between wacom, keyboard and trackpad is not the stuff of which legends are made. even if i were to incorporate my other job, which you're reading at this very moment, the scene remains the same; keyboards, pixels and trackpads fill the void.

richard sachs bicycle maker

such a bald admission inevitably means i will probably never be the subject of a major bio-pic, where my character would be played by robert millar and mrs twmp by the girl from the big bang theory, for who would remain awake until the closing credits? similarly i cannot expect to see in my peripheral vision, a professional lensman documenting my every move, attempting to associate it with the few thoughts that enter my head in large format pages. waterstone's or barnes and noble may be feeling the economic pinch, but they need not expect that such a mythical publication to be the saviour of their share prices.

films and books such as those suggested above require intrigue, simplicity of operation, sullenness in the face of pleasantries and an almost impenetrable degree of character unleavened by dialogue or an assembly of light and shade. i can see you are already several steps ahead of me here, for photographer nick czerula has already fulfilled such a promise by documenting that which is richard sachs.

richard sachs bicycle maker

for most of us, the assembling of various steel tubes and lugs into an agglomeration that might be referred to as a bicycle is something we will never see brought to life by our own fair hands. aside from the jigs, spanners and gas bottles required to provide velocipedinal completion, the rules are too vague and three-dimensional to be brought under the heading of most folks' experience and sense of adventure. this belies the pervading sense of calm in each of the 122 black and white photos that comprise richard sachs. bicycle maker, depicting richard at work and occasionally at play.

this will not be mistaken for that of an instruction manual; yes, nick czerula has likely documented every salient point of bicycle construction, along with the jiggery pokery that exists by way of the framebuilder's accoutrements, and for all i know, they may even be presented in the correct sequence. but, like me, you will likely not be examining the process but the intensity of each image, even if that image is only of a complete campagnolo toolkit.

richard sachs bicycle maker

i was once dispatched to ardbeg distillery to photograph manager mickey heads on his first day at work. my instructions were to provide only hero shots, a description that translated as mickey having to pretend he wasn't having his photograph taken; an onerous undetaking for us both. yet richard sachs, a man not renowned for inviting an audience into his space in warwick, massachusetts and offering them glasses of san pellegrino, seems not to notice his documentor, even when casually posing for the camera. a symbiotic relationship could best describe the results; sachs encapsulates relaxed concentration - an attribute i have noted seems to possesss experts in a variety of disparate fields - all but oblivious to the click of the shutter. nick czerula is the other 50% of each image, capturing images that have a perceptible depth substantially greater than the coated surface of each page.

richard sachs bicycle maker

richard is a keen photographic recorder of his own world, attested to by a count of 13,385 images currently populating his flickr photostream. not unnaturally few of these feature the man himself, but mostly the paraphernalia that makes him who he is and the exquisite results of endless filing sessions. nick czerula has captured it all and more; there is truly so much to see and to be seen, that the silhouette simplicity of the cover belies the complexity of the contents. as companion to the workshop images, richard and bicycles are also depicted at play on the east coast 'cross circuit, subtley validating the build process. a richard sachs bicycle is so much more than a few tubes, lugs and red paint.

a unique example of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts.

i have said on a number of occasions that richard sachs is the best friend i've never met, a situation i intend to remedy at this year's north american handbuilt show in sacramento. this book now means that the only aspect missing is a physical shaking of hands and the exchange of a few (hopefully) well chosen words.

if you didn't want a sachs frame before viewing this book, you will when you've finished.


richard sachs bicycle maker is available direct from photographer nick czerula for $59.95.

posted tuesday 7 february 2012


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