cutting the edge

shimano disc break advert

several years ago, the union cycliste international embarked upon a programme of trying to position their world tour as cycling's equivalent of formula one motor racing. in retrospect, perhaps not their finest hour, but one can't help thinking that they were hoist by their own petard. i am definitely not the guy to approach of you're looking for any tacit support in favour of the hard-pressed motorist, beset with parking charges, ever increasing fuel prices while being lambasted by more car insurance companies than there are cobbles in paris-roubaix. though it smacks of arrogance and an incurably cavalier attitude, to be quite honest, i do not particularly care.

however, as a teenager, i probably formed a part of top gear's target audience, and was certainly one who would arise early to watch a groand prix from some circuit several hours ahead of greenwich mean time. formula one was, and probably still is, the cutting edge of motoring technology, the very (expensive) platform on which serious research and development work takes place. it has always struck me that rallying might be a tad closer to the needs of everyday motoring, but it's undoubtedly formula one that receives the bulk of the sponsorship dollars.

though the regulations appear to change on a whim, particularly if one team shows signs of having interpreted them in a manner not foreseen by the regulatory body, there are several features incorporated in many a production motor car that first saw light on a top level race car. traction control, aerofoils, sem-automatic gearboxes, improved tyre treads, rubber compounds and engine management systems; the list isn't endless, but it's long. though no doubt some of the subsequent restrictions have proved unpopular with teams and fans alike, within reason, there seems to be little retardation on development technologies.

to place this in some form of perspective, i doubt there's a motorist in the land who has had access to cutting edge technologies before alonso, raikkonen and those other helmets, the names of which i know not.

however, proudly displayed in several of this month's cycling press, is a shimano advertisement (see above) that shows riders from sky, bmc, (argos) giant shimano and orica-greenedge, gazing longingly at the components which make up shimano's road-going hydraulic disc brake setup. the caption says it all have what the pros can't have. it's the sort of advert that i doubt will ever be seen in top gear or autocar magazines.

world tour cycle racing and its participants ought surely to be those the rest of us look up to? not so much in the manner of hero worship, but as the individuals progressing the forefront of technological development. cycling is frequently promoted as a sport of equality, in that anyone with an appropriately constituted bank balance can own an identical bicycle to that raced by their heroes. however, the uci's restrictional technical policies are already guilty of undermining any perceived or actual advantage available to the professionals over that of joe soap.

in the current issue of procycling magazine, marcel wust is astride a cervelo rca. underlining the iniquity attested to above, one caption reads 'the lighweight components help ensure that there is one test the rca is sure to fail - the uci's 6.8kg weight limit'. if it is possible for cervelo to safely produce just such a bicycle, then the uci regulation is clearly out of date. but then we knew that already. and though i have made it perfectly clear on which side of the calipers vs disc argument i have laid my hat, it seems particularly inappropriate that disc use in the professional peloton is being prevented by the very body that tried to emulate formula one in the first place.

before you start e-mailing, i am quite well aware of the difficulties that wholesale hydraulic disc use in the peloton would cause the mechanics, mavic neutral support and many other interested parties. however, discs have been around in mountain biking for many years and uci legal in cyclocross for at least two years. surely the uci are not telling us that, in all that time, they have been unable to sort out any possible bumps in the fireside rug?

if professional cycling is to retain its hard-won prominence in the velocipedinal universe, there ought to be provision made for at least one member of each team to trial new technologies under real race conditions. what possible hassle could it cause, to allow one rider in each world tour team to race a bicycle with hydraulic disc brakes during the giro and/or le tour, in much the same way as was done with electronic shifting systems?

mind you, perhaps progress is in sight. at the end of last week, the uci under new president brian cookson issued a statement saying that there would be a 'new favour of innovation and technology.' i still have no great desire to have hydraulic disc brakes on my colnago or cielo or ibis, but last time i looked, i wasn't down to ride any of this year's grand tours.

monday 3 february 2014

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ancient history

barnacle geese

i fear i may have grasped the concept incorrectly, but i've been applying the six degrees of separation to islay, greenland and mexico. it's something that occurred during yesterday's curtailed ride; rules five and nine notwithstanding, i'm getting a bit tee'd off with riding in teeming rain and galeforce winds. so rather than perform a complete circumambulation of the loch, i opted to cut off at rock mountain and head back via aoradh and gruinart. as i descended the steepish part of the road past rock mountain cottage at a gravity assisted speed, the barnacle geese in the field to my right lifted off in a mexican wave, adding the final piece to my six degrees.

robert marchand

these geese, in their thousands, fly south from greenland to islay for the winter, alighting on every square inch of grass they can find before setting about decimating it all in the name of hunger. they're timid beasts despite their substantial size and wingspan, so a speeding lime green bicycle will pretty much always scare them off. in this case, they lifted off one row after another; an ornithological mexican wave.

but as i descended speedily, i had cause to notice the empty garmin bracket on the handlebar, not because i'd forgotten to fit the gps unit, nor because it had fallen off, but because numbers are not my friend. they come under the category of an occasional necessary evil. however, a couple of numbers that will now stick in the memory for quite some time to come are 16.7 and 102. those are respectively miles and years, both pertaining to frenchman, robert marchand who, on friday of last week exceeded his own record of 15.2 miles in one hour, by an additional 1.5 miles.

robert marchand

i have my garmin set to display kilometres rather than miles for two reasons. firstly, relating the weekend's cycling distance in the office come monday morning sounds far more impressive in kilometres than it ever has in miles. and secondly, it offers me a comparison of my own puny efforts with those of the professionals during those three weeks in july (and every other week, come to that). meaning that mr marchand, at the age of 102 (marginally less than double my age) covered a few tyres widths less than 27 kilometres in one hour round france's new national velodrome.

robert marchand

i know well that my casually mentioning the weekend's distance to my office colleagues is of no real nevermind to any of them. that may not always have been the case; actually no, who am i kidding; they've never cared one whit how far i've ridden. but my less than subtle mentions originated in the vain hope that, impressed by my fortitude despite advancing years, they may be persuaded to follow my lead. 'flogging a dead horse' may be an apt analogy.

but now i have not only the ideal opening statement for monday morning (27k at 102 is very much worth remarking upon), but inspiration that equates with my oft quoted "i'll still be riding my bike at 120". i'm not sure i ever really believed that bit, but robert marchand has bolstered my faith in the vitality that cycling confers upon its adherents, and i'm now intent not on visiting france's national velodrome, but sustaining the ability to ride at least that far when i reach that age.

mr marchand, i salute you and your achievement, and should you happen to be reading this, rule number five no longer personally applies to you.

sunday 2 february 2014

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rapha/raeburn l/s henley and quilted jacket

rapha raeburn

if i may, for a moment, refer my readership to yesterday's opening gambit in the rural city riding narrative, though all was appropriately set by way of risk-assessed route (a little hebridean humour there) and velocipede, there remained the not inconsiderable concern over just what to wear for the journey ahead. the option of dressing similarly to mrs washingmachinepost's grandfather in the 1930s did hold a certain affection, but since i am keener to involve the steel roadster in the here and now, rather than present it as a throwback to days of yore, contemporary attire seemed more fitting.

rapha raeburn

i am well aware of the deliberate contradiction of depicting this as rural city riding, so i'd rather hoped to avail myself of some of the finest apparel designed with such cycling in mind. there are manifest differences between urban and inner city spaces and those of the inner hebrides, but essentially, as far as i'm concerned, the motivation is similar. seventeen miles is seventeen miles, whether it is populated by wall to wall tall buildings, or roadside ditches, trees and bushes and cattle and sheep.

that is my city.

rapha very kindly offered the latest offspring from their collaboration with the raeburn brothers, graeme and christopher, by way of a red merino long-sleeve henley and a stunningly fabulous quilted jacket. the henley is derived from the garment reputedly in favour at the sailing agglomerations that occupied sandshoe clad folks at the regatta. as is each and every garment forming a part of the rapha/raeburn range, the henley is made in england, perfectly formed from 100% merino wool. rather perfectly, there is little by way of indication this garment has any affiliation with cycling, other than a generous length of sleeve and a strategically placed rear pocket at bottom right.

rapha raeburn

a round collar closed via three buttons is the very factor that holds the greatest attraction for me. there's a studied level of casual embodied throughout the henley, something that exemplifies the couture skill of christopher raeburn and the cycling nous owned by brother graeme. plain and simple wins everytime. though i saved the jacket for this very expedition, i cannot deny that i have been comfortably wearing the henley since the end of last year; it really is that good.

with weather that required just a smidgeon more than jacket and henley, i augmented my uniform with a rapha merino gilet. (how did we ever survive before merino?) though sitting bolt upright on the taurus was hardly the most onerous of riding positions, the long sleeves of the henley could have been made to measure, while the fine red merino offered the luxury of keeping warm without overheating. this really has to be one of the coolest city riding garments it is possible to acquire.

rapha raeburn

it would be a foolish islander who rode anywhere on islay at this time of year without an appropriate outer layer. having lived in a bright orange example of rapha's transfer jacket for several months, a jacket that combines incredible insulation with almost impossibly light weight, all bode well for the raeburn brothers' take on the same garment. though the outer fabric and fit are based on the regular transfer jacket, you'd be hard-pushed to make the sibling connection. without a word of exaggeration, i doubt graeme or christopher could have provided a better fit if they'd nipped up here for the weekend and had it made to measure. even mrs washingmachinepost was impressed, and that's something that rarely, if ever, happens.

designed expressly for urban cyclists, if nothing else it reinforced my contention that, apart from the wind and occasional bout of horizontal rain, there is little to differentiate between sense of purpose. aside from the exceptional style factor, the principal reason for clothing oneself in the quilted jacket would have to be the insulation factor. the inner and outer layers enclose primaloft eco synthetic insulation, apparently made from receyled plastic bottles. cosy, warm and environmentally sound into the bargain. the merino ribbed collar hides a close-cut hood, while the cuffs and shoulder blades are also home to more merino. apart from two zipped hand-pockets, the jacket features a slanted front chest pocket interrupting the zig-zag military style quilting pattern that decorates both front and back.

rapha raeburn

unlike the regular transfer jacket, the rear pocket is accessed via a side zip, a pocket which, like both the transfer jacket and gilet, doubles as a stowaway pouch into which the raeburn also secretes itself. if any criticism need be levelled at the jacket, it's perhaps through this pocket. throughout the ride, i kept a digital camera within the pocket, and on every occasion, when removing said camera, the lining of the pocket followed along. hardly serious, but a trifle irritating in the wilderness.

any cycling garment worth its salt features side panels to offer a more anatomic fit on the bike; the rapha raeburn quilted jacket is no exception. in this case, these side panels are fashioned from the very same sportwool that rapha employ on their winter jersey. cosy would be an understatement.

the jacket's constitution allows a good range of movement on and off the bike, while the outer fabric turned out to be more water-resistant than i had expected. it won't survive a serious downpour, but it was quite happy simmering in persistent drizzle. if ever there was a set of co-ordinates that are set to test the windproofing of any garment from whichever manufacturer, i'm living there; it seems almost uneccesarily childish to attest to the sturdiness of that windproofing.

rapha raeburn

i perhaps let the side down by not wearing a flat tweed cap, opting instead for a team sky winter cap, but the sartorial flexibility of the dark olive quilted jacket rather revelled in an otherwise perceptibly eccentric pairing. £400 is not an inconsiderable amount to lay out for a jacket of any style, let alone one to wear on and off the bicycle, and it's hard to convey in a few words the sense of quality and luxury afforded the wearer, but that's the reality of the situation. designed by two of britain's finest clothing designers, made in england from top quality fabrics and cheaper than a campagnolo super record eps rear derailleur, it surely has to be one of the best examples of cycling attire on the market.

check the piggy bank, have words with the bank manager or tell fibs to your other half, but find a way to add one to your cycling wardrobe, preferably paired with a henley.

both match most admirably with a taurus corinto.

the rapha/raeburn long-sleeve henley currently retails for £90 in both charcoal and bright red and sized from xs to xxl. the quilted jacket costs £400 in dark olive only and sized from xs to xxl

rapha cycle clothing

saturday 1 february 2014

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overture and beginners

islay map

it's not often that i'm given to prevarication prior to a bike review, but in this instance, i believe a short (who am i kidding?) history and geography lesson may well be in order to set the scene.

i'm guessing that everyone has at least a faint notion of just where islay is situated in relation to the larger part of scotland. not being one much given to gps co-ordinates, allow me to generalise somewhat by pointing out that if you can find glasgow and head west on the same latitude, there we are. the island is almost split in two parts by two sea lochs; loch indaal from the south and loch gruinart from the north. there's a thin strip in the middle featuring raised beaches that keeps east and west conjoined as a single island. on the easterly section, there is a large peninsula featuring dramatic sea cliffs facing the atlantic known by its inexplicably short name: the oa.

between the oa and the rest of the island are two roads leading pretty much in the same direction and more or less to the same destinations. the more contemporary edition, the a846 is eight miles of dead straight roadway, allegedly built along the route of a proposed railway line, one that was cancelled in the light of the beeching cuts of the early 1960s, once the longest stretch of geometrically straight roadway in the highlands (excluding motorways). locally, this is known as the low road.

taurus corinto

the older route (perhaps predictably known as the high road), is a single-track road officially designated the b8016 and essentially bypasses the island's principal village of bowmore and aims directly for bridgend. from there onward travel to port askaig in the north, or bruichladdich, port charlotte and portnahaven in the west is easily undertaken. mrs washingmachinepost's grandfather travelled along this road in the 1930s, from his home on the oa to reach his place of work at gruinart dairy, on the shores of that sea loch heading in from the north. this is a distance of around seventeen miles which could be managed by motor car in around 35 to 40 minutes, taking into account the state of the roads and that only around four miles are other than single-track.

however, in the 1930s, only the wealthy owned motor vehicles, few of whom lived on islay. public transport simply didn't exist, so the only options open to mrs washingmachinepost's grandfather were horse or bicycle. economics and location apparently mitigated against the former, so his daily trip was undertaken on a heavy steel roadster with never more than a single gear. the trip to work occupied not only six days of his week in both directions, but had need of getting him there for around 6:30am. all those who currently complain about their daily commute would do well do bear this particular trip in mind.

however, unlike modern times, there was not only little option, but nothing with which to compare it; simply a case of getting on with it.

i've ridden pretty much every single road on the island several hundred times, but more often than not on lightweight carbon fibre with more gears than grandfather donald would have known what to do with. but i've always harboured a desire to retrace his wheeltracks on a similar type of bicycle, just to see what it was like. to this end, malcolm glass of glasgow's pronto gara lent me a taurus corinto, an italian cycle made of lugged steel, with rod-operated stirrup brakes, mudguards, swept back handlebars and a rear rack augmented by a small newspaper rack on the bars. seating is by brooks of england, in the shape of a sprung b66. aside from the sturmey archer three-speed hub gear, there are front and rear lights powered by a tyre-driven dynamo.

in truth, it is the most stately bicycle i have ever ridden; a real pleasure. the review, which will follow in a day or so, and other than a couple of exploratory rides, was carried out by my riding the basis of that daily commute from the oa to gruinart dairy (now derelict). not the usual ride on a bicycle designed for urban use, and a whole lot different than my usual reviews.

cycling and personal transport as it once was. soon...

pronto gara

friday 31 january 2014

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wired right

tesco pedal assist bicycle

when you are in possession of enough energy to give hinkley b a fortnight's holiday, thighs of polished steel and a cardio vascular system that would equal the largest of offshore windfarms, there is obviously little requirement for any kind of pedal assist. when you count a galeforce headwind as one of your best friends and have to have your mum/wife/partner physically drag you in off the bike at day's end you are obviously less than concerned with a helping hand, sticky bottle or timely push from the tifosi. we're all friends here and likely possessed of the same level of untamed character, or at least we think we are (which is much the same thing), so any attempt to lessen our velocipedinal effort will gain short shrift in these here pixels.

but that's us; what of the less well equipped?

though i'd prefer to think that the increase in cycling activity in the uk would grow through the network of independent bicycle shops, in reality that's not always going to be the case. thousands of small grocers, butchers and corner shops have sadly gone the way of the dodo due to the rapid rise of the supermarkets. their increasing numbers have not only removed many an individual shop from the high street, but often decimated the high street altogether by the siting of substantial, out-of-town superstores offering large swathes of car parking and concomitantly low fuel prices for those willing to turn their backs on town centres and drive to collect the weekly shop.

tesco pedal assist bicycle

it would be slightly naive to expect the bicycle industry to remain immune from the laying waste exercised by the larger of the supermarket brands.

of course, up until now, to a certain extent the joke has been on them rather than us. poorly built bicycles that need repair or return when new and display models assembled by whoever happened to return from teabreak first, identifiable by the front forks turned the wrong way round. sadly, several departments failed to understand what the problem was even when it was pointed out that the brakes were facing the downtube. but in truth, those willing to purchase low-cost cycles from such sources were unlikely to give them too much of a hard time anyway. which is perhaps why tesco have decided to enter the electric bicycle market.

bicycles which are able to rely on electric power alone are perhaps better aimed, in my opinion, at those who would more regularly purchase a moped or scooter but have been hit with attacks of eco-friendliness. however, pedal assist electric bikes seem far more the sort of vehicle that ought to be offered to the less than active. on the basis of my very brief scoot round parnie street in glasgow, aboard one of pronto gara's electric assist bicycles, it seems one of the more pragmatic entry ports into the world of cycling. basically, if there's no input from the rider, that electric motor remains dormant.

tesco pedal assist bicycle

the hope, and at the moment, that's precisely what it remains, is that the physical abilities of the rider become better as time passes, leading them to dispense with battery power and buy a proper bike, whatever that means to the person in question. though i'm not entirely convinced that will turn out to be the case, it still equates with the one less car slogans beloved of lamp posts throughout the land. and the fact that tesco is now offering a range of six electric assist bicycles ranging in price from £380 all the way up to £500, hopefully means that folks who wouldn't set foot inside a bike shop if they were paid, might just begin to consider the possibilities as they fill their trolleys and baskets with fish fingers and strawberry yoghurt.

however, i do have one or two reservations, not least of which is the lack of wheel size options other than 20". i realise that most, if not all six of these models is aimed at the commuter or (in tesco's case) shopper. but from personal experience, 20" wheels often struggle just a tad in the big yonder, should their owners' enthusiasm lead them further afield. even a 26" wouldn't have gone amiss.

tesco pedal assist bicycle

but the other bit, which could be viewed as a double-edged sword, is the distance over which that pedal assist is available on a single charge. the most expensive model offers a maximum of 25 miles pedal assist, compared to the lowest cost's 15 miles. this either restricts the exploratory desires of the owners, or means additional effort on their behalf if they cycle too far and run out of juice.

i'm still not sure of this electric field (if you'll pardon the pun), though with the emergence of tesco as a potentially large part of a growing market, it may experience something of a spurt in sales. however, i'm quite sure that my apparent disdain is due more to velocipedinal snobbery than any perceived flaw in the cunning electric plan. and as an added incentive, a £500 electric bicycle arrives along with 500 clubcard points.

mind you, not everyone has a tesco close by, or indeed is ideally located to receive home delivery. the inner hebrides is safe for the time being.

tesco electric bikes

thursday 30 january 2014

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game on - riderstate


in the dark ages, purchasing a magazine covering the latest apple mac exploits, releases, software and other geekish paraphernalia related to issuances from one, infinite loop, often entailed the ubiquitous cover mount cd a compact disc with a badly designed label, stuffed inside a clear plastic envelope. it was backed up on the magazine cover with the words if your cd is missing, please ask your newsagent. it's possible that may be a phrase that has entered the annals of folklore, though i wonder if anyone has ever actually asked their newsagent?


in pre-internet days (remember those?) this was often the only way to garner system software updates, buried midst a plethora of neatly categorised folders. these mostly offered productive software (frequently anything but), graphics software, more usually consisting of methods and icons to replace the standard offerings from apple. and then there was the folder of games software, usually filled to overflowing and containing everything from the simplistic to the seriously complex. i had a hankering after a flight simulator, though nowadays i couldn't really tell you why. unfortunately, all the versions i tried were either not at all what i thought a flight simulator ought to look like, or featured such a lengthy list of operating instructions, that by the time i was beginning to comprehend, the notion for flying a virtual plane had worn off.


much like the archetypal male, i will only read the instructions if brute force and ignorance fails after several attempts. last week i received two portable hard-disks for the purposes of system backups, and left the brief instructions inside the boxes. it's a contemporary arrogance that no matter the technical complexity of any given device, an innate personal knowledge renders all external instruction as surplus to requirements. and if i can't figure it out, then there's obviously something wrong with it, and it needs to go back to the manufacturer.


that attitude, if examined closely enough, likely stems from those covermount cds no matter the enticement of the included game software. if i couldn't figure out in a matter of seconds just what was required, then i simply wasn't interested. as computers have become more powerful, games software has seemingly kept pace, forcing ever increasing instructional complexity upon the hapless user. in mitigation, however, i really should point out that, apart from scrabble and trivial pursuits, even as a child, i had little or no interest in games of any sort. i can barely manage a game of snap, never mind any other card game (including happy families). in short, computer games are complete anathema as far as i'm concerned.


however, similarly to my remaining mobile-phone less, i realise that i'm very much in the minority. i may be midst few others who cannot understand why entire shops are given over to selling computer games, nor indeed, where they get the money to advertise them on tv. it is, i concede, a visible symptom of being a total luddite in this respect. but mrs washingmachinepost spends many a cheerful hour playing utterly pointless games on her ipad, as indeed do the rest of my family, including my son-in-law. surely they could find something better to do?

so why do i want to regale you with words about an ios/android game that not only seriously challenges my ability to comprehend its purpose in life, but wade through the instruction set without having to stifle a yawn? well, mostly because my arrogance does not stretch as far as denying the majority the opportunitiy to exercise their thumbs over the touch screen on a smartphone.


riderstate is a game that invites cyclists to virtually take over the streets in their neighbourhood, banishing pesky motorists to places where pesky motorists ought to be banished. the game is not yet commercially available, for it has only ten days left of an indiegogo fundraising campaign to raise the $24,000 required to bring it to market. i'm afraid that the accompanying video and game explanation have failed miserably to engage my attention or lack of ability to comprehend the point, but that is quite likely a very good thing. for so aware am i of my shortcomings in this area, that my lack of enthusiasm undoubtedly constitutes the ideal advertisement for exactly why you ought to offer your hard-earned dollars or pounds to have riderstate succeed in its ambitions.

i may test state of the art design and graphics software and have the ability to build a 32 spoke wheel in a snowflake pattern, but games are just not my forte. if they are yours, and i confidently expect that they are, combining thumb exercise with world domination almost demands that you sign up immediately.

riderstate on indiegogo

wednesday 29 january 2014

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joining the dots

coffee beans

the part that i don't readily understand is whose idea it was in the first place? in the middle of the 15th century coffee-drinking was apparently already rife in the sufi shrines in the yemen, so it would not be unnatural to infer that the notion of taking the green beans from an evergreen shrub, roasting them till they turned brown and then somehow or other, converting those into a palatable hot beverage with the addition of very hot water had preceded this acceptable practice. when i had a dog that i used to take for a walk each morning up the single-track road that leads to open farmland, i can't say i ever thought of picking berries or the like and attempting to create a popular drink from which i might make my fortune.

perhaps that says more about me than it does about the undergrowth along each side of a remote country road.


since those days in the 1400s, coffee has become not only one of the most valuable traded commodities in the western world, it has morphed into more variations on an original concept than anything emanating from the peppa pig franchise. not so very long ago, i printed an a4 poster to affix to the door of the fridge at debbie's cafe that illustrates 23 variations of coffee, should any of the more obscure examples be asked for by visiting cyclists. and that, if i may be so bold, is one of the other aspects of coffee that i am at pains to comprehend.

what's the connection between cycling and coffee?

there are many articles available worldwide attesting to the perceived performance benefits of coffee's principal ingredient (caffeine) on even the least competitively oriented cyclist. at one time, caffeine was on the list of banned substances for professional athletes, but fortunately that directive was rescinded; otherwise those natural pre-stage photos of our heroes enjoying a double espresso before the day's exertions would be conspicuously absent. however, those images notwithstanding, from where does the connection originate?

faema coffee machine

it appears that our modern word coffee derives from the italian caffe, itself a descendent of the turkish word kahve. in which case, what makes the italian phraseology the father of modern day common usage? leaving aside the possibly apocryphal legend of coffee's discovery via the effect it may or may not have had on an ethiopian goatherder's animals, it is a matter of record that the coffee bean first set foot in europe via italy. as is often the case, these things are rarely accidental; in this case its arrival was at the behest of the thriving trade between north africa and the port of venice.

at the time still considered a muslim beverage, its acceptance in european hostelries was predicated by pope clement viii declaring in 1600 that coffee was undoubtedly a christian drink. the rest, as they say, is unequivocally a matter of recorded history. and its early arrival in italy may just be the tenuous link with cycling.


though perhaps less evident nowadays, at one time the accepted thinking amongst the pelotonese was that italian style, whether applied to lugged steel frames, jewel-like componentry or associations with ferrari and armani, was more than worthy of our respect. whatever the italians indulged in was deemed to be superior to any happenstances originating in the uk or even north america. witness the italian worship attached to dave's character in the film breaking away. therefore, if we brits or yanks were keen to adopt an italian stance in our velocipedinal habits, it's hardly stretching credibility too far to have it encompass impossibly small cups of frighteningly strong coffee with a dod of brown foam on the top.

of course, historical and geographical sociologists no doubt have more complex reasons for the admittedly unlikely connection between coffee drinking and bike riding, and though i have no wish to pour scorn upon academia, we all know the alternatives to be utter tosh and nonsense.

moka pot

but having accepted this as part of our birthright to the extent of holding a wide variety of suitably decorated espresso cups in the kitchen cabinet, it is something of scary concern to discover quite how many variations there are on the simple cup of coffee. that such matters be equitably resolved, we must initially place our trust in the gainsayers and purveyors of not only the roasted beans, but the finely and appropriately ground results. i would be fooling both you and me were i to insinuate that my own source of excellence is the sole and perfect example. however, since first bringing them to you attention via a still valid offer code, pact coffee have continued with their own research and development in coffee varieties very much for our benefit.

placing heart over head and taste criteria for a brief moment in time, it is very hard not to find even modest excitement on receiving a slim brown and resealable packet of aromatic delight, labelled familia montano. this particular coffee originates from bolivia, around 1460 metres above sea-level, from a coffee plantation on which cervano montano rocha has been growing coffee beans since 1977.

according to the folks at pact, this particular blend is suitable for pretty much every form of coffee making you care to mention. mine is the well-founded moka pot, though i cannot deny having rather over-filled the perforated container and offered myself a particularly strong cup of coffee. experimentation (the best bit, as far as i'm concerned) is now underway to find the optimum amount of finely ground brown powder required to accompany a choice slice of mrs washingmachinepost's christmas cake.

not sure that the italians have discovered that yet.

pact coffee have offered to let you try any one of their coffee blends that suits your needs for a measly pound coin. click through to the web address at the foot of this article and enter the code WASHINGMACHINE to claim a bag of pact coffee for £1 including free postage and packing, saving £5.95 on the usual price. assuming you get your order in before 1pm, they'll send the order out that very day.

pact coffee

tuesday 28 january 2014

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