the question of cyclists' visibility is a subject that never seems to go away. the conflict, other than that between motorised traffic and the more perambulatory cyclist, is plainly one of sartorial elegance; whether or not to pedal in subdued hues, or do one's best to emulate a moving christmas tree. there are colours other than fluorescent yellow that can surely be viewed as an acceptable substitute, while maintaining a certain degree of sobriety in one's apparel. though there is intrinsically nothing wrong with the practice, i tend to conceal an inner shudder when a group of cyclists joins the passenger manifest on the islay ferry. a phalanx of bright yellow jackets, intensely coloured jerseys with implausibly pointless panelling and waterproof cycling tights does not constitute a particularly attractive look from my point of view, particularly when there are many less ostentatious alternatives available.
i cannot claim immunity on my own behalf. i have spent the past four days circulating amongst the cattle and sheep of the southern hebrides riding a lime green carbon bicycle, a chartreuse yellow waterproof and a banana yellow helmet. these have been augmented by a pdw aether demon rear light affixed to the rightmost seatstay, dancing and breathing to alert others to my existence. if that does not emulate a mobile christmas tree, i know not what does. however, for saturday's 80km, i swapped yellow for sky blue; still observable but intentionally a little less 'in your face'. on grey days such as these, clad as they are in inclement weather, i have cast aside all sartorial preference in favour of being seen.
so, while i do have at least a couple of red jackets and a similar number of black alternatives, these have been left in the wardrobe in favour of even brighter colours. seated in debbie's supping my customary froth and munching a couple of slices of mrs washingmachinepost's excellent christmas cake, i'd be lying if i said the other occupants were unaware of my mode of transport, particularly in the light of that lime green ibis leaning against the outer wall for all to see. but were this a more equitable time of year, with a brighter outlook and less wind and rain, i'd be inclined to wear something less distinguishable.
there's always the holy grail of being as innocuous as either a motorist or pedestrian when stopping for sustenance.
but the defining point in all the foregoing is that, as a cyclist, even on a little island with not much traffic, i pay attention to my place in the transportational order. much as many other cyclists do in similar sets of circumstances. my question is why it's a factor that applies to us, but seemingly not to the rest of humanity?
though there are precious few motorcyclists hereabouts, you need only stop for the regulation fifteen minutes at inveraray on the bus from glasgow to view the leather clad motorcyclists standing insouciantly on the promenade. they're mostly pretending that the hundred or so cubic centimetres difference between their own machine and that of their conversants are of no never mind. but, aside from one or two darts of colour on those leathers, the predominant colour is black. if one of those bikes is a harley davidson, there will be no colour other than black.
yet, so far as i know, motorcyclists do not receive the same pillorying more often aimed at the cyclist for wearing less than starling colours. and at this time of year, when the days are principally imbued with subtle shades of grey (about fifty, i shouldn't wonder), why are motorists let off the hook?
on two notable occasions these past few days, as i hurtled (it's all relative) along the high road leading from port ellen to bridgend, i have come upon dowdily coloured cars heading in the opposite direction, vehicles that i only noticed when they were in closer proximity than i'd have liked. many motorists have their headlights or sidelights permanently illuminated, making the colour of their vehicles all but irrelevant; unfortunately that is not always the case. so why then can so many column inches and vitriol be expended against the hapless cyclist, when car manufacturers see fit to offer cars in metallic silver, gunmetal and even light grey, colours that all but fade into the surrounds in days of low visibility?
perhaps when legislation is being considered regarding the invisibility of cyclists positioning themselves on the left side of an articulated hgv, or whether or not helmets for cyclists ought to be made compulsory, a thought could be spared in the direction of the car manufacturers. paint those cars in relatively bright colours; ban the greys, blacks and silver, and make it compuslory for at least the sidelights to illuminate the moment the engine starts. this does not absolve the cyclist from opting for visible apparel, or affixing at least a rear flashing light, but it might make us appear less the scapegoat when it comes to winter safety.
always taking into account the studied research that claims a brightly coloured cyclist is no more visible to the average motorist than one dressed in muted colour or variations on black.
monday 30 december 2013..........................................................................................................................................................................................................
there is much conjecture and international discussion as to who is responsible for inventing the bicycle. while it's more than possible no single person or country can take all the credit, my parochial observations are very definitely in favour of the dumfries blacksmith, kirkpatrick macmillan. born in 1812 in keir, near the town of dumfries in southwest scotland, he's the chap that is most often credited with the invention of our current pride and joy, though it's debatable if he'd ever heard of taiwan, and most certainly not of the yet to be invented carbon fibre.
it is somewhat of a truism that as soon as anything with wheels springs to light, someone will probably race it; that's very much a part of human nature. macmillan, however, had more sedate purposes in mind. in 1839 he allegedly completed building a wooden bicycle including iron-rimmed wooden wheels, the front version of which was steerable, while the larger rear had rods connected to pedals for the purposes of forward propulsion.
history also records that macmillan may well have been the very first cyclist to have been involved in a cycle accident. according to a report of the time "a gentleman from dumfries-shire... bestride a velocipede... 'of ingenious design" knocked over a pedestrian in the gorbals and was subsequently fined five shillings. it seems they even blamed cyclists in the 19th century. however, doubt has been cast on this story due to the fact that the newspaper uncharacteristically referred to a blacksmith as a 'gentleman.'
currently the road distance between dumfries and glasgow is recorded at just over 76 miles, driveable in a tad under an hour and a half. i'm pretty sure a scotsman astride a wooden rimmed bicycle would have taken a bit longer to get from south to north, taking into account the fact that 19th century roads were unlikely to have been either as direct or as well surfaced, and i figure we'd be looking at a two or three day trip. and that last word places both macmillan's invention and purpose into perspective.
while mostly we speed around our respective principalities on narrow rubber-tired carbon or metal velocipedes, defensively maintaining that we are attracted by the colour/shape/shinyness or lightness of being, while all the while mentally equating ourselves with cav, sir wiggins or any other of the professional peloton, kirkpatrick was simply getting there.
i received an e-mail today from a couple formerly of edinburgh who have, by their own admission, been 'cherry picking the best places in the world to cycle.' unless they've a plane, train or ferry to catch at journey's end, speed is an entirely relative and not altogether important term, nor has it been across the 41,000 kilometres they've already pedalled.
in my opening gambit just the other day, intent on riding to debbie's for a seasonal mug of froth, i took the only road through bridgend. a couple of metres past islay estates' office and the road to mulindry, there is a most inviting tunnel of trees forming one of the remaining parts of bridgend woods. on an island regularly blasted by atlantic squalls, it's one of the few agglomerations of trees on the island. several years ago, the estate culled one or two of them behind the stone wall and close to the left side of the road to make room for a foot/cycle path leading to the hotel, bridgend stores and the bowling green.
though not a particularly heavily trafficked path, as i sped past clad in the finest of cycling apparel, gloved hands on the hoods and feet clipped into a pair of crank brothers' eggbeaters, i noticed a rider on a sit-up-and-beg heading along this path in the opposite direction with a carrier bag over one handlebar and a newspaper grasped firmly in one hand. granted, this is hardly the finest example of safe cargo carrying i've seen, but given the speed of travel (minimal), their apparent obliviousness to a potential accident seemed most equitable.
i would be stretching credibility just a smidgeon to contend that a 30km round trip for a toastie and a cup of cappuccino could be filed under the heading of essential. nipping to the shops to grab a loaf, milk and one or two other necessities, along with a copy of the daily newspaper, strikes me as one of the very reasons the bicycle has remain mostly unchanged over the centuries, yet never fallen out of favour. the desperately sad film the bicycle thieves is ample demonstration of one period in recent history where life was pretty much dependent on owning a bicycle.
if all comes to pass that is prophesied for the world, it's just possible that the same situation may come to pass once more. just remember that the bicycle has uses other than paris-roubaix.
sunday 29 december 2013..........................................................................................................................................................................................................
thewashingmachinepost depends, to a certain degree, on popularity. not of me personally, you understand, but of the topics chosen to fill its black and yellow pixels. for who in their right mind would click on each day to read a monologue that is very much at odds with general velocipedinal thinking? granted, there is little point in playing to the gallery, even assuming for one minute that i knew what the gallery was interested in. thankfully, from my point of view, i am so distanced geographically from the hubs of concerted thought, that i am slightly unconcerned as to what those topics might be, but think there's little point in courting unpopularity for the sake of it.
unless, of course, you're russell brand.
however, at the risk of contradicting everything i've just said, i doubt the following will curry a great deal of favour in enthusiastic circles. it has long been my contention that the three principal grand tours, namely the giro d'italia, vuelta espana and the tour de france, ought to remain annually within their geographical borders. granted, i did cycle some considerable distance in 1998 to dublin town to watch the first two stages of that year's tour de farce, but that was in the days before i realised i had an opinion. if it's named the tour de france, then i figure aso are courting a visit from trading standards each time the race commences in a country other than france. you wouldn't run paris-roubaix in shetland, or milan-sanremo in hawaii.
in the world of cycling, currently existing as an alias for the real world, you'd have to have been looking in the wrong direction for some considerable time to be unaware that the 2014 edition of le tour commences its race to paris from yorkshire come july. to quote sir rodney walker, appointed as chairman of the committee organised to oversee yorkshire's grand depart (i think you can perhaps see where this is heading), "The first six months of next year will be all about the Tour de France". at the risk of falling out of favour with a knight of the realm, i sincerely hope not.
for starters, only the british could create an organising committee in the first place, but having done so, it is indicative that the chairman necessarily has the word sir in front of his name. it transpires that the gent in question was at one time chairman of wakefield trinity rugby football club, the rugby football league, the gb sports council, sport england and even the world snooker association. since 2002 he has been chairman of goals soccer centre plc, a trustee of the london marathon, wenbley stadium trust and numerous other non-cycling bodies. he is also the controlling shareholder of myerscough holdings ltd. this group is involved in property development, management investment and architecture.
it's not only hard to see where cycling fits into this, but how the gent has the opportunity to devote an appropriate amount of time to yorkshire's tour start.
that, however, is by the by, for there are many individuals given charge of committees for which their qualifications seem strangely at odds with the stated purpose. surely there is someone within the world of cycling who could have sat in the hot seat? but the worry for me is the powerful odour of overkill attached to the start of 2014's beginnings in yorkshire. for starters, if we accept that starting in yorkshire is a really good idea (and it quite possibly is), why was it necessary to impose one stage in london, surely stealing a third of that yorkshire magic? london has already played host to the 2012 olympics and has previously held tour stages over its gold paved roads. it seems big brother doesn't like to see any of his siblings garner an unfair share of the limelight.
do not misunderstand the point of my diatribe; i have nothing against yorkshire in any way, shape or form. it's the hi-jacking of the event by external parties that i find somewhat distasteful. uk sport, local authorities and transport for london have already invested around £27 million, at least ten million of which has been contributed by central government. all for three stages of a big cycle race. there must be a whole host of race organisers in the uk dreaming of just what they might achieve with a cheque for £9 million for one stage of a race. i'd be very keen to learn what the annual budget is for the tour of britain each year, but i'd also be willing to bet that it's nowhere near what is being spent on a french race.
the argument for such lush expenditure is the perceived benefit to local businesses, tourism and inward investment, all the same reasons proffered for spending ludicrous amounts of money to host the olympic games. this despite knowledge that the majority of national hosts are still paying off the debt. sir walker continued by saying that it's a wonderful opportunity for businesses in the north and in cambridge, essex and london. if you'll forgive my suspicious naivety, i find it hard to believe that the latter three appear to be the locations struggling in these financially straightened times.
however, very much in the favour of the event, other than its location, is the revelation that cycling has overtaken football as the third most popular participation sport in britain, with more than two million adults now riding regularly. unfortunately, such a statistic does rather call into question the government's definition of the word sport. i'm currently on target to complete the necessary 500km for the festive 500, but in no coherent universe could my efforts be misconstrued as sport of any flavour. though it is most gratifying to see the powers that be beginning to see the beneficial value of cycling to the population, even if their motives are unlikely to equate with our own, the words bandwagon and jumping spring easily to mind.
just consider how many british cycle events have been lost recently as a result of a lack of police co-operation or increased cost, something the government has seen fit to ignore completely.
for those enthused about the yorkshire grand depart next july, i doubt my grumblings will be seen as any serious detraction, but i still figure, despite the uci's intention to globalise the sport, that national tours ought to remain firmly ensconced in their home country. however, lest you think ill of my protestations, it may be worth bearing one important fact in mind...
...i hate a fuss.
saturday 28 december 2013
all photos copyright welcome to yorkshire...........................................................................................................................................................................................................
i'd prefer not to name names, but several years ago i courted an extended disussion with a representative of a well-known cycle clothing manufacturer following my published review of their latest neoprene overshoes. while said garment was particularly impressive, in the process of taking a few photos to accompany my words, stepping off the bicycle into marshy ground had let water in through the cleat holes in the underside of the overshoes. not unnaturally, this made my feet a tad wet and had prompted me to take exception to their contention that these items were 100% waterproof.
the basic tenet of my discussion was that, while being worn clipped into the pedals and indulging in the velocipedinal activities more regularly practiced by the average bike rider, they were an excellent example of waterpoofing and toastiness. however, due to the two large(ish) and necessitous holes on the soles, they could surely not substantiate the claim of being totally waterproof? my interlocutor strenuously denied my contention, seeing fit to quote a series of numbers that attested to the imperviousness of their particular brand of neoprene, allied to some admittedly admirably heavy-duty stitching at the seams.
i had no wish to contradict his numbers, for i had no evidence that they were in any way at fault. in fact, i was particularly reassured by their existence, but surely, i asked, he could not maintain the stance of total waterproofing if i was able to step in a puddle and get my feet wet? though some years ago now, i believe we eventually agreed to disagree.
so what precisely is it that we require from such shoe and foot coverings, particularly at this time of year?
the latest offering from perren street, augmenting their well-respected original winter overshoes have, in my opinion, the advantage of reaching higher up the leg than their predecessors and several of their peers. on a bicycle with no front mudguard, a constant stream of surface water almost harmlessly splashes off the water-resistant fabric, water that previously would have landed upon the leg of my tights and eventually dripped into my footwear. but note that i have made mention not of waterproofing, but of water-resistance; my understanding is that unless devoid of closures and fully taped seams. the former is persona non grata.
in truth, i expected my feet to get wet, and if you're being realistic, you would scarcely think otherwise. though it is possible to position the cuffs of your gloves inside the cuffs of a waterproof jacket, it is a far harder ask to do likewise with tights outside the overshoe. i am aware that one or two clothing manufacturers have done so, but in my experience, not always very successfully. and there is still the not insurmountable factor of those two ruddy great holes on the bottom.
in modest and even frequent showers, both sets of tootsies remained suitably dry and despite a howling wind, admirably warm. however, in a galeforce sub-zero windchill, accompanied by persistent hail and rain, my choice of footwear let me down. for starters, i hadn't realised just how cold it was and neglected to wear thermal socks, compounded by the notable fact that my shoes comprised an almost gauze like fabric across the toes, making them pervious to not only any ingress of water, but hardly the most insulated in the footlocker.
add in the almost unavoidable draining of water from lycra tights into my shoes, and it's no wonder my toes became a tad cold.
however, it would be particularly insidious to pretend that such iniquities are peculiar to rapha's deep winter overshoes. despite very little let-up in both wind and rain (i was blown off my bike as we skirted the atlantic coast), on my return to the croft, the insides of the overshoes were a lot drier than expected. and having worn them atop a pair of cyclocross shoes featuring two steel pins at the toe, i now realise that these, along with the chunky sole, had not allowed the toe section of the overshoes to sit flat as indeed they would have done on a normal pair of road shoes. thus, all that splashy surface water had found a new home to go to.
the construction, as you would perhaps expect from imperial works, is very impressive, forming a close fit over a variety of shoes, both road and offroad, though the latter seem to give them a hard time at the toes as previously mentioned. since rapha's raison d'etre encompasses purely road riding with the occasional foray into cyclocross (during which, i am assured, i would be laughed at if i wore overshoes), i feel i may have given them a harder ride than they were designed to cope with. under the circumstances and my footwear ineptitude, i think they fared rather well. all seams are taped, as is the rear zip, and the fabric does an excellent job of repelling water and icy wind while offering a decent amount of breathability on warmer rides.
for those of us who will insist on walking from the bike to the coffee shop, the soles are fabricated with a favourable percentage of polyurethane and kevlar to let them continue service well into the future.
i rather hope that rapha's online shop will be soon restocking, for at the time of writing, of the four sizes available, only small is still available. £60 may seem a lot of money for a pair of overshoes, but though now looking a bit tatty, my original pair of rapha overshoes, acquired some four years ago, and of less substantial manufacture are still more than serviceable and capable of repelling much of what the atlantic decides to throw at them.
of course, it woud be a tad naive to base judgment on only a couple of unruly outings. each day of festive 500 hardship has been carried out with alternative footwear (dromarti 'sportivo' leather shoes) which have offered less of an obstacle to close fitting around the toes, though still possessed of a less than smooth sole. if anything, doing so has only underlined the veracity of the overshoes. there is currently much surface water on the island's roads, and the lack of a flat surface round which that front cutout might lie still allows a modest amount of water ingress, though insufficient to give cause for concern. gale force winds and heavy rain and hail did manage to permeate, but no more or less than any other overshoe i've reviewed recently. however, i'm still very much in favour of that higher ankle section and my feet have remained impervious to serious chilling in sub-zero windchill.
friday 27 december 2013..........................................................................................................................................................................................................
when i returned from my wednesday morning excursion, i got into trouble, possibly because by that time, it was afternoon. it would be hard to deny that i hadn't seen it coming. as related yesterday, a rough, back of the handlebar calculation had shown that three days' riding at the daily average required to complete the festive 500 over the eight allowable days would total just the wrong side of 180 kilometres. having missed out on tuesday altogether, even my rudimentary mental arithmetic equated this to two days of 90km. thus, if i managed eighty on christmas day, 100 on boxing day would pretty much put me back in contention.
excluding the fact that yesterday i pretty much ran out of steam over the last few kilometres, dropping an already laughable average speed even further, the thought of a boxing day hundred was always going to be something of an uphill struggle. so when i shambled in just after 1pm, mrs washing machinepost did not have on her happy face.
with the christmas eve storm-force winds having emanated from the west, and many a draught still hurrying toward me from the same direction, i opted to leave the atlantic coast out of the equation completely and head north to port askaig. in retrospect, that was probably the start of my undoing, for the 14% climb back to civilisation was a bit of a shock to the system. my cunning christmas day plan was to visit both ferry ports, particularly in the light of there being no boats in or out on the 25th, a ride that stretched from the middle to the north, to the south and back to the middle again.
disappointingly, as if you didn't already know, christmas has changed a bit since i were a lad. granted, the ride was interspersed by one or two heavy hailshowers, and the wind, though diminished, was still notably blustery. yet nowhere, from north to south and everywhere in between, was a single kid to be seen riding a nice new shiny peppa pig bicycle left under the tree by santa claus only the previous eve. in fact, observant though i like to think i am, i saw not one childlike move anywhere in sight.
in my days of youthful youth, traffic lights and police intervention were almost required on christmas morning, such was the bicycle traffic infesting the neighbourhood. in those halcyon days, the cost of a bicycle was a substantial outlay for our parents and christmas was often the only justification for doing so. though i am undoubtedly biased, i still figure one of the best prezzies you could wrap for any age of child is a bicycle. but then i've no idea how to turn an x-box on, nor any comprehension of why anyone would want to 'play' a so-called game entitled assassins' creed (the apostrophe is mine).
though the industry has been regularly chattering about the wholesale change in attitude towards the humble bicycle, pretty much every day since bradley's tour victory in 2012, it seems that the children of islay have been neglecting their copies of bike biz, otherwise santa's inbox ought to have been stuffed with new bike requests. of course, come the revolution, playstations, x-boxes and all other dedicated games consoles will be cast asunder, but until that day dawns, it seems any recruitment drive on behalf of the velo club may be something of a pointless exercise.
thursday 26 december 2013..........................................................................................................................................................................................................
perhaps it's the existence of the song, 'auld lang syne' that most identifies scotland with the advent of each new year. i'm none too sure if the art of 'first footing' is also a predominantly scottish tradition, that where an increasingly inebriated rabble wanders from house to house after the midnight bells, within the immediate neighbourhood, armed only with traditionally a bottle of malt and a lump of coal (reputedly to be handed over should that person be first footfall over the threshold - don't ask).
for more years than i can recall, most of my new years have been greeted from behind a drum set, a location that suited me admirably, for otherwise new year is a time i'd be happy to bypass if i could. which, in the midst of the festive season leaves only that of christmas day to feel particularly festive about. except, generally i don't really. i do enjoy the art of giving presents, though currently i'm less than overwhelmed by the idea of receiving any because truthfully, i don't need a whole heck of a lot. and the spare bedroom is fast running out of storage space.
if i need underline my point more graphically, my daughter sent me a card with a bah humbug badge, one which i'm wearing in ironic fashion on a christmas sweater bought for me by mrs washingmachinepost.
all this is why rapha's annual festive 500 challenge has been my yearly saviour from the vices of watching re-runs of only fools and horses and some truly apalling american made-for-tv christmas movies which seem eternally destined to fill british morning tv during christmas week. not for me the spending of vacuous hours in my bed just after santa's been, debating whether to arise and scoff a plate of my regular porage (the old-fashioned oats, naturally) or offer myself a festive treat and have muesli instead. for having usually completed the first day of the 500 on christmas eve, perhaps banking a few extra kilometres in advance of at least one day of weather borne doom, i'd now have the bit between my teeth and ready to commence christmas day pedalling.
but after three years of successfully completing and often exceeding the total recommended kilometreage, it looks as if this year is the one when i will have no claim on an embroidered patch from perren street. i do not even possess a turbo trainer of torture that would allow even the home-based equivalent. my fourth year of participation was yesterday stalled by a most unwelcome imposition of abnormally low atmospheric pressure over the inner and outer hebrides, leading to occasional gusts of wind in excess of 75mph. after being rather dramatically blown sideways and off the road during the sunday morning ride, i was in no great hurry to repeat the exercise.
christmas day, however, rather surprisingly confounded the forecast, with winds down to a much more manageable 36 - 37mph, gusting to the mid forties. this meant that, though i did get blown hither and thither just a bit, it was possible to achieve just short of 80km. it's about the only day of the year that both ferry ports can be viewed devoid of ferries and associated action. if i can manage about 100km tomorrow, i'll be back on track before friday's forecast blows that to smithereens once more.
while those in the office would cheer loudly if they never heard another anecdote about cycling ever again, there was always a certain irrelevant pride about returning to work after the holiday period and announcing in a studied, yet casual manner the total distance covered, it's an experience that shows every promise of being an uphill struggle this year. no doubt many will cheerfully point out velominati's rule number five; surely a diminution of those eight days means simply i will need to gird my lycra clad loins and prepare to bust a gut in the pursuit of hero-worship? and in more regular circumstances, i'd be inclined to agree. however, even bearing in mind the implication of rule number nine, a forecast of identical winds on friday and part of saturday seems destined to remove all hope of my fighting a rearguard action.
but i have studied the calculator, searching all the variations that might bring me closer to the embroidered patch come december 30th. i have no wish to be branded a pessimist or a quitter, but it is seeming increasingly likely that i will have to bow to reality and acquaint myself with a more regular diet of dreadful christmas movies and trotter's independent traders.
wednesday 25 december 2013..........................................................................................................................................................................................................
i hold what i like to think is a healthy suspicion of creams and lotions often said to cossett various parts of the honed athlete's body. apart from having failed my higher chemistry and therefore wholly unable to make any verifiable checks on profferred unguents, many seem better applied to those who work hard enough on the bike where such products might conceivably make notable difference. despite currently onerous headwinds, rain and hail, the majority of my rides are purely for enjoyment, with the most hardship encountered on those few hundred metres before the 30mph signs at the entry to bruichladdich village.
therefore, to be presented with ointments that promise to ease those aching muscles, i more often than not wonder whether it's the very act of massaging those thighs of steel that ousts the pain of modest effort, no matter that my hands are coated in muscle balm.
i'll probably never know.
however, there is little doubt that any form of limb massage is immeasurably enhanced by the existence of some form of medium between skin to skin contact. that being so, i figure the best i can do by way of recommendation is to gauge how each performs. in the case of sporting balms, however, the overall picture is made easier when taking into consideration the entire range of their products. this comprises a hand recovery balm, muscle recovery, foot recovery and saddle burn recovery.
the arrival of these four at washingmachinepost croft coincided with a period sadly not imbued with much in the way of cycling, making it, at the time, all but impossible to try either the muscle or saddle burn recovery balms. however, there was serendipity on receipt of the hand and foot recovery products; with the onset of compulsory winter glove wear, i almost inevitably start to experience dryness across various points of both hands. similarly, thermal socks and neoprene overshoes do little to aid a pair of aching feet; the very parts these recovery balms are designed to reach.
a regular period of use for both hands and feet has shown a measurable improvement in both, particularly on my hands which have had the additional stress of attempting to recall long forgotten conga techniques. i well know that few velocipedinists are likely to sit tapping heel, finger, slap, finger while watching season's highlights this festive period, but that doesn't necessarily obviate the benefits of this particular balm.
as to the other two, i cannot deny that a weekend of battering sniping crosswinds and mattress-like headwinds did not unduly stress the small amount of muscle mass i currently possess. it's always most gratifying to return to the safe haven of the croft after being blown from pillar to post at speeds that make the garmin look as if the battery has failed. and now every bit as gratifying to have a couple of sporting balms to lessen my possibly imagined agony (i exaggerate, of course).
the saddle burn recovery balm does appear to have soothing properties, despite my latest saddle (a brooks cambium) being one of the finest i've experienced from day one. applying even a modest amount from the red labelled tin was a tad more practical than my scepticism had foretold. the jury is still out on the muscle recovery balm; i cannot deny that massaging thigh, calf and forearm muscles produced an amicable degree of relief, but as previously mentioned, i have no way of discriminating between the massage itself and the use of balm from the purple labelled tin.
overall, and particularly in the case of both the foot and hand products, sporting balms seem pleasantly efficacious. my hands and feet are happy to point that out. i intend to spend a smidgeon more time applying the other two to better acquaint myself with any hidden properties they might own. perhaps the only salient point i might make, and one that applies to all four, is their rather high viscosity. all are beautifully smooth on first opening, but often very hard to dig that forefinger below the surface to nab an appreciable amount for each specific purpose.
however, as i pointed out in my opening gambit, i'm no chemist, so perhaps the constitution of each demands that they be so. if you're a regular cyclist who experiences niggly pains or callouses at the contact points, these might be the very balms for which you have been searching.
tuesday 24 december 2013..........................................................................................................................................................................................................