the cycle art of mark howard jones

mark howard jones

van gogh, rather than touring holland telling all and sundry about the vase of sunflowers that had undoubtedly floated his boat, dragged the oils and brushes from the cupboard and painted a picture of them. for which we must be truly thankful. since vincent is no longer amongst us, those of us who would have missed his hypothetical lecture tour can still share the man's idiosyncratic vision.

all sorts of subject matter instils a sense of celebration and inspiration amongst the observant; many of us choose simply to enjoy those moments in our own way, perhaps making mention of it on the way to the recycle bin on a thursday afternoon, or more likely, keeping it pretty much to ourselves. however, for reasons that remain mostly inexplicable, there are those amongst us who choose to share these insights with others, pretty much whether they want us to or not. though i spent my formative years at art college, the desire to capture everything i see in charcoal, pencil or watercolours has deserted me in the intervening years. this has seemingly been supplanted by a need to regale the world with my thoughts on cycling.

mark howard jones

which you are being foolish enough to read at this very minute.

visitors to last weekend's bespoked held at lee valley velodrome would hopefully have seen the rather unique paintings of mark jones, all of which concern cycling and bicycles in some way or another. with their strong, often bright colours, they made for a very impressive display on the wall of the velodrome. technically, an artist ought to be able to make a reasonable stab at depicting a whole variety of subjects, so why did mark settle on bicycles?

"I spend a lot of time on a bike (80 - 100 miles per week) thinking, whilst commuting to work or on Saturday morning blasts in the leafy lanes of Hampshire. I renovate a lot of road bikes in my spare time when not painting (200+ built and sold over the last five years).
"My first full time job was in a bike shop in Covent Garden. I see the bike, like many people, as a symbol; of transport, efficiency, freedom, and even euphoria! Most of the bikes I do 'portraits' of, reflect the personality in some way of their owners."

mark howard jones

this comprehensive body of work is not, however, the result of a lifelong quest to paint the bicycle in several natural and unnatural habitats. according to mark, he's only been concerned with the velocipede in paint for the past four years, a fact that makes those on display all the more impressive.

within the exhibit at bespoked, the collage of work featured two distinct styles and sizes of bicycle painting. the larger works placed varying cycles in an almost heraldic setting, while the smaller still life works had a more relaxed approach, where the bicycle was often secondary in importance. these latter images are possesed of more subdued colours and tones than their larger counterparts. was that a deliberate observation on his part?

"I visited the Riksmuseum in Amsterdam last year and wanted to make paintings about coffee and cycling. The 17th Century Dutch Still life and Vanitas paintings with their subdued and sombre tones caught my imagination. I wanted to make the still life paintings more intimate than the emblematic bicycle paintings."

mark howard jones

paintings of cycling action are often the least successful of the realm of bicycle art, mostly because, more often than not, they have to be 'transcribed' from photos. in my opinion, this is not a particularly valid solution. with photographers such as sky's scott mitchell and trek's emily maye, i truly cannot see what so-called action paintings bring to the party. mark jones has avoided this trap entirely, his work exhibiting elements of both graphic design and more traditional oil painting. is this a conscious decision or something dictated by the subject?

"Yes, it's a conscious decision and is dictated by the subject. I studied Fine Art at University, BA and MA Degree and also trained as a signwriter, so I use many of the traditional techniques associated with signwriting when producing my paintings, including using a Mahl stick!"

mark howard jones

as i made plain in my opening paragraph, an artist's subject matter is often as a result of inspiration, along with a unique vision that might transcend pure realism. the latter aspect may well have been de rigeur in the days of the pre-raphaelites, but in these modern times with an iphone in every pocket, endlessly uploading to flickr and instagram, i prefer my art to give some indication as to the vision of the man or woman at the end of the paintbrush. standing back to take in the body of work on display at the velodrome, i'm sure i detected at least a hint of surrealism. would this be a fair judgment?

"Yes, I think so. In my bicycle paintings, objects float, implying weightlessness and I will often light them theatrically. One or two paintings incorporate anamorphic distortions (BSA parabike); I used a shadow projection to plot the bike shape and then rendered it to look three dimensional. I have borrowed ideas from lots of art and historical sources and certainly I am interested in the Surrealist mix of dream and reality, painting with photographic precision, everyday objects. But I haven't got to the stage of mixing incongruous objects together just yet."

mark howard jones

keeping body and soul together while attempting to carve out a career as a professional artist is not as simple as some of us would like it to be. believe me, i know. so when time comes to put a series of works on a wall, constituting an exhibition, there are necessary costs incurred: canvas, framing, transport, catalogues and a share of the private view expenses. when the canvases start to become larger, frames correspondingly cost more; if only there were some way to avoid that.

in my case, i cheated by continuing each oil painting round the edges. if the purchaser (who am i kidding?) decided subsequently to frame the painting, it would, i convinced myself, improve the integrity of the work. in retrospect, that may have been a cheap shot, but i noted that mr jones performed the same practice on his own works. what encouraged him to continue painting round the edges?

"I am interested in the painting as an object and how it projects from the wall. I don't want it to appear precious by having a frame to hide the sides and give it gravitas."

mark howard jones

last sunday morning's bike ride ended, as it always does, with a cup of coffee in debbie's cafe, bruichladdich. this could, perhaps reasonably be considered something of an addiction or maybe simply those of us in the peloton fulfilling our inevitable typecasting. there has to be some reason why the rapha cycle clubs are centred around coffee. in the light of the coffee cups seen in mark jones' still life paintings, would he describe himself as a coffee addict?

"Yes, I enjoy drinking coffee and seeking out that elusive perfect cup, but I am not in the league of connoisseur."

brooklyn's taliah lempert has made a busy career out of painting 'portraits' of bicycles owned by friends, clients or friends of clients. few, if any of her considered work concerns her own bicycles. does mark own any of the cycles that appear in his paintings?

mark howard jones

"Yes, the BSA parabike, Harry Quinn, Condor Barracchi. I did own a Bob Jackson, Hetchins, Rotrax, Major Nichols. So I have owned many of them at one time or another, or I know the people that have. If there is a particular marque I want to paint, I will buy the bike or ask the owner if i might borrow it so that I can work from primary sources. All the paintings have associations linked with people, stories, personal events, places, journeys and experiences.
"You can read about them on my website.
"I still have a number of bikes I want to paint, including a Tomassini Tecno with retinata paint finish, Colnago Art Decor, Pete Matthews and Ron Cooper. And I have a number of commissions including a 100 year old Bantam, a Hetchins and a Mercian."

as i have attested above, making a living as an artist is a less than simple task. for starters, there's no guaranteed stream of income, no matter how often you exhibit, but in order to get as far as the next display, it's necessary to eat. and canvas doesn't grow on trees. is this the day job?

"No, I am Head of Art at Peter Symonds 6th form college, Winchester, so I try to practice what I preach and my paintings reflect my two of my passions; art and cycling."

though mark jones' paintings are particularly reasonably priced, for those of us possessed of a less than generous bank manager or spouse, many of them are available as prints, making them the ideal gift for the cyclist in your life, even if that's you.

mark howard jones artwork

monday 21 april 2014

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accessorise with prendas

prendas ciclismo armwarmers

they hunt in packs of two this year, lulling the hapless cyclist into a false sense of security by leaving an appreciable gap, then appearing as if from nowhere just when my back is turned. it's easter weekend, and of course, i'm referring to visitng motorists.

the west coast of islay is peppered with singletrack roads, spotted with passing places to allow road life to continue as if nothing were amiss. for those who inhabit motorways and dual carriageways from one end of the year to the next, i would point out that passing places are short portions of tarmac infiltrating the roadside verges at strategic points along the way. years ago these would have been signified by stout wooden poles painted with alternate black and white hoops, but most of those were long ago replaced with hollow plastic versions of the same thing. modernity and islay weather has not been kind to the latter, and few of them remain upright these days.

prendas ciclismo armwarmers

the first few passing places on jura are labelled passing place and similar signs have even appeared along a short stretch of the high road, but by and large the island's passing places are the preserve of the ever watchful cyclist, safe in the knowledge that motorists will generally pay them no heed at all, even if they actually know what and where they are.

however, in the throes of a hebridean headwind, it's hard to hear anything following along any road, but i have tried as far as possible to be courteous and dip into even sturdily overgrown passing places to allow any following car to get by. 'cept on at least three or four occasions over this weekend, having let by what i thought was a single stalker, suddenly it has become necessary to dive back into what's left of the tarmac, to avoid being scrunched by a second vehicle.

prendas ciclismo overshoes

the thrill of the chase.

my kilometreage was suitable extended across friday, saturday and sunday by the unusual appearance of bright and shiny days, offering untold hours of sun. shorts and short sleeve jerseys have been front and foremost in the cycling wardrobe, but a remarkably cooling east wind has exaggerated those 93 million miles between the road round loch gorm and the sun, a chill made all the more real by having to continually stop and let cars past. for though we are reputedly equal users of the road, it's a rare occasion when a car will be first to use a passing place rather than roll up to my front wheel then attempt to get by with two wheels on the verge. you have to admire the stupidity of some people.

prendas ciclismo coolmax socks

it therefore became necessary to accessorise with armwarmers, warm socks and on two occasions, windproof overshoes. gathering an appreciable head of steam into a gusting headwind can be undone in minutes due to stopping and starting. so popped on a pair of prendas ciclismo woollen armwarmers, matching yanto's lecol pro jersey (reviewed yesterday) decidedly well. rather graphically signified with fluorescent yellow cuffs and lettering, aside from appreciable warmth, the bright lettering comes in handy when signalling to the great unwashed that my magnanimity is about to turn into a nearby passing place.

prendas ciclismo overshoes

and though shoe providers such as italy's dmt make marvellously light and vented road shoes, that venting can often let in more of that easterly than is considered appreciable. that fact alone easily justifies the wearing of a matching pair of prendas branded socks, coolmax to the heel, but ultimately, soft and warm too. when the draught seems like it might prove a tad too much, covering shoes, socks and feet with aqua light fleece-lined windproof overshoes. these won't keep out the often torrential rain we've experienced lately, but they do fend off any galeforce wind as well as any road spray from wet tarmac.

i'm not pretending that islay's roads are anywhere near as busy as those in the city or britain's more populated areas, but from now till end of august, it's not going to get any better. if you're thinking of invading my space anytime during that period, don't tell me you don't recognise a passing place when you see one. it's an argyll and bute by-law that indigenous cyclists are notified as to visitors' accommodation arrangements, so i know where to find you.

i might be fibbing, but are you wiling to take the risk?

prendas ciclismo

sunday 20 april 2014

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lecol pro s/s jersey and bibshorts

lecol pro

our averagemarket sells two different brands of peanut butter, currently their own and sun pat, both of which contain sugar, a particularly odd ingredient in my humble opinion. i've not had a close look at the label on the sun pat jar, but the co-op's own brand fills out the jar with brown sugar. i'm sure there's a perfectly rational explanation for its inclusion, but i've yet to hear one.

prior to imposing their own brand, they stocked one of those organic brands (whole earth if memory serves correctly) which only had peanuts, palm oil and sea-salt in the jar but definitely no sugar. it tasted great, and i was in the habit of spreading some thickly on my morning toast, usually managing to overshoot onto the imac's trackpad in the process.

not too clever, i'll admit.

but those days of organic peanut butter dining are seemingly past; though branches of the very same averagemarket on the mainland still make room on the shelves for all three, my morning toast is now deprived. or so i thought, for while aimlessly traipsing through the backshop at debbie's on friday afternoon, i found two rows of organic peanut butter; one crunchy for real men, and smooth for the proletariat. it's probably sad that this led to such unbridled joy on my part, but in the heat of the moment, i popped a jar of crunchy in one of the back pockets of my fluoro lecol pro jersey.

lecol pro

fear not; i did tell aileen and paid at the counter, but it is truly a good sign that any professional rider clad in lecol's latest garb, can confidently drop back to the team car for a jar of organic peanut butter. a true race essential, along with armwarmers, rainjacket and a couple of gels. i have to admit, i've never tried the peanut butter trick with any other cycle jersey, but it's testament to the strength, flexibility and fit of the lecol pro that it swallowed the heavy jar not only with ease, but without serious wobble or discomfort on the hilly ride home.

the centremost of the three rear pockets is a smidgeon smaller than its left and right brethren (the jar wouldn't fit), but still capable of swallowing a rainjacket (unnecessary on friday due to a sudden bout of wall to wall sunshine). there's also a very pro zipped pocket. however, i confess to having had the greatest of sympathy for what is intended as summer weight cycling apparel; the review period's first couple of weeks were filled with rain and winds, yet both fared better than well.

lecol pro

italian made, the pro jersey has an impressive degree of stretch, not just in the pockets. the fluoro yellow is confined to the lower portions of the sleeves and the embroidered lettering front and left, along with the lecol logo on the back below the collar. those sleeve cuffs are perforated but possessed of a remarkably tenacious gloop on their inners; once in place, these are simply not going to move. though many are nowadays offering up hems on their bibshorts the thickness of toilet paper, lecol have provided thicker, elasticated and marqued grippers that are not only very comfortable but darned good at their job.

the red coloured pad that cossetts one's posterior initially seemed just a bit too thick, but as curtis stigers noted on his last album things have changed. in fact, i had good cause to praise that pad when reviewing a carbon railed saddle. if i'd been as clever as i'd like you to think i am, i'd have checked the saddle height when fitting, but i didn't. thus that first ride to debbie's should have been fraught with discomfort, a centre gap notwithstanding; but commendably, it wasn't. i cannot, however, deny that comfort was immeasurably improved when the saddle was returned to the height it should have been in the first place.

lecol pro

in true professional road style, the bibs fit best when in the saddle; oddly they ought not to fit impeccably when stood in the changing room. they're constructed of a white mesh that provides easily enough stretch to fit differing heights (small size reviewed), while the front panel is low enough to accommodate comfortable comfort breaks. even when worn in anger, you'd barely know you had them on such is the flexibility of fabric and comfort of pad.

though tentatively offered as more lightweight than their cold weather counterparts, the hebrides are less than courteous and considerate. though i still have need of armwarmers and long-fingered gloves even in the sunshine, the jersey is actually quite cosy, and works remarkably well under a waterproof. and once again, i wore leg warmers with the shorts up until the end of this week, but i'll be happy to do so once more when winter returns in august. rather obviously, the jersey and shorts are available separately, but in the interests of sartorial velocipedinal elegance, it would make more sense to buy and wear both at once.

lecol pro

yanto barker's lecol clothing is something of a secret weapon, occupying a lower public profile than many of its competitors. this may be deliberate, but in truth, it's the only facet of lecol clothing that compares disfavourably with the competition. the pro suffix is no marketing hype; this is serious cycle clothing aimed squarely at the serious cyclist. minimal in design, yet superbly designed and made, its a brand than can be confidently uttered in the same breath as many others, offering superiority on more than one or two instances.

dare to be different. yanto knows what makes for professional quality cycling kit.

the lecol pro s/s jersey is available with red, blue or fluoro yellow detailing in sizes small up to xxl at a cost of £119.99. the bibshorts can be had in the same sizes and colour detailing for £149.99.

saturday 19 april 2014

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words of wisdom


i stopped cycling when i went to art school. it gives me little pleasure to print that statement, but it is, unfortunately true. i could pay testament to some hypothetical trials and tribulations preventing me from travelling from digs to college, but i'd be fibbing. in truth, rather than taking the bus or walking, cycling would have been every bit as effective a means of transport, even if i had need of carrying painterly stuff. thus, come time to consider appropriate subject matter for any of the three disciplines experienced in year one, cycling or the bicycle was never one of them.


and though those years of visual experimentation should have been amongst the finest and least restrictive of my artistic career, in the words of joni mitchell, 'you don't know what you've got till its gone.' the aspect of college life i now find i missed out on big style, entirely the fault of yours truly, was that i should have enjoyed in the print room. letterpress, stone litho, etching, engraving; all were experienced yet cast aside for the purported joys of graphic design.

one or two will point out that print can be an integral part of the design process, a servant of creation so to speak, but i now wish i'd spent more time on the physical techniques of printing as opposed to offering up subject matter for its ink.


the studying of typography was partially slaked by many a footery hour in the letterpress room, for lines of type must be selected from their cases, inserted into the galley back to front, linespaced, then checked on the eventual proof. that's the very point at which i'd realise the errors made, often necessitating time consuming corrections. but those large woodblock letters had a fascination all of their own, and the prints they produced had a character entirely missing in this age of the colour laser and digital heidelberg.


chris sleath of edinburgh's dynamoworks, who has featured on these pages at least once before, has managed to avoid most of the pitfalls into which i fell. not only does he make superb use of cycling for his subject matter, but utilises the very print processes mentioned above, augmented with screenprinting to add a touch of colour here and there. his substantially sized posters proclaiming the worthy velocipedinal epithet decorate the tiled walls of edinburgh's ronde bike, underlining their presence by having become as much a part of the premises as the coffee and almond croissants. it would surely be criminally negligent to have them removed, even if in return for financial compensation?


of course, not all of us have the large wall space of a cycle shop or an edinburgh townhouse, and for that very reason, chris makes his cycling epithets available in more compact and bijou versions not only on t-shirts but on greetings cards. the very item that would delight a fellow cyclist at easter, now that i come to mention it.

those of you who attended last weekend's bespoked would have had the opportunity to see chris's work at first hand, and possibly chat to him at length. i'm hoping as many as possible took that chance, but failing that, there's an excellent video on the dynamworks website providing an insight into sleath's archaic yet contemporary workflow.

there are so many words of wisdom associated with cycling that it's unlikely chris will run out of inspiration anytime soon, whether writ large or sent on a card through the post. there can be few items of cycling paraphernalia that can be appreciated as much for the message as for the method of production; the very antithesis of the digital age and oh so much the better for it. and searching amongst the collection of dynamoworks cards and posters i found one that could easily have been written by, or about the mighty dave t:

"age and treachery will overcome youth and skill"

you can't tell me you don't know someone to whom that applies?


thursday 17 april 2014

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inspired cycle engineering

the two occasions on which i rode from london to paris, the slow peloton in which i travelled (slowly) featured a gent riding a recumbent. though he was an enthusiastic advertisement for this particularly idiosyncratic form of perambulation, at least at the beginning of the day, his exhausted form at the finish line attested to a somewhat hard day in the hammock. this is not to indicate that those of us on more recognisably velocipedinal transport appeared as fresh as daisies; quite the opposite in fact. but this poor fellow, despite leaving most of us for dead on the descents, had a whole sea of tribulations getting to the top in the first place.

inspired cycle engineering

you can't stand on the pedals on a recumbent when gravity proves a tad harder than you'd bargained for.

however, in a move that seems as if it may be intrinsic to those beloved of this particular type of vehicle, rather than blame the recumbent, he figured it was down to the aluminium construction. so the following year the same fellow arrived with a carbon fibre version of the same thing, outwardly convinced that this would solve the previous year's exasperation.

inspired cycle engineering

it didn't.

however, recumbents seem to instil a certain fervour in their owners that, while often equalled by the more regular two wheeled obsession, is comprised a modified form of fanaticism. despite, or maybe because of having had the opportunity to ride one or two recumbents, both two and three-wheeled, i have never fully understood the fascination. though many hours and thousands of dollars have ben spent perfecting the aerodynamic profile of the regular bicycle, the fact that the considerably lowered frontal area of the majority of recumbent cycles can achieve a high degree of wind-cheating, seems of little concern to the fast brigade.

inspired cycle engineering

in point of fact, even if that were not the case, the fact that such vehicles are banned from professional road race competition by the governing body makes this fact somewhat academic. most intriguing that the disc brake lobby seems to be having greater success in having those accepted, than any noise made by the recumbent fraternity. thus, rightly or wrongly, they remain a niche product.

but rather impressively, the company formed in 1998 by chris parker and neil selwood, ice trikes, occupied a stand at the recent edition of bespoked in the former olympic velodrome at lee valley. perhaps sticking out like a sore thumb would be reason enough for their presence; they were certainly alone in proselytising the art of the low-down, but the distinctly chunky trike positioned on the stand was easily sufficient in its own right to stop most folks in their tracks.

inspired cycle engineering

commissioned by welsh adventurer maria leijerstam, this particular ice cycle, with its impossibly enormous tyres and wheels took her to the south pole in december 2013, the first person to have reached this most southerly point by cycle and in the shortest time. considering how hard it is to persuade the local couch potatoes to even walk in the rain and wind, let alone ride any form of bicycle, her undertaking deserves the greatest of respect. even if i don't quite understand the point.

inspired cycle engineering

however, what i do comprehend is the tailored engineering that went into constructing the white ice tricycle in the first place. based in falmouth, cornwall, ice trike's existence gives little credence to the industry being often seen as one step up from the rag and bone trade. though the company may have started out with a mere two individuals, ice now employs over twenty full-time staff whose expertise has successfully reached the south pole. leijerstam's snow trike was built using aircraft grade steel for the frame, and though based on the standard inspired cycle engineering production model, it featured gearing that allowed maria to pedal up the side of the leverett glacier and 4.5 inch wide snow tyres that gave her the traction to do so.

inspired cycle engineering

paying testament to her rugged, handbuilt transport, maria leijerstam said "The trike is amazing. It's completely stable, even in extreme winds and I could take on long steep hills that I'd never have been able to climb on a bike."

ice currently offer three regular models of recumbent: the adventure priced from £2170, the sprint from £9 more, and the speedy looking vtx which is reassuringly more expensive at £3127. such machines are never going to be lighter than a carbon road bike (the vtx still turns out at over 13kg), even if they can apparently travel at consistently higher speeds. recumbents are definitely not for everyone, though much of the prejudice against them stems from our roadie/mtb socialisation. but there's definitely a place in the firmament for such innovative british engineering.

just ask a penguin.

ice trikes | white ice cycle

wednesday 16 april 2014

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lanterne rouge - the last man in the tour de france. max leonard. yellow jersey press hardback 264pp illus. £16.99

lanterne rouge - max leonard

don't deny it, you're fed up hearing this story for the umpteenth time, even though, in the present context, it is highly pertinent. when we met in the departure lounge at heathrow airport, i told rapha's simon mottram over a fine espresso, that i was bereft of a competitive nature. even if i came in last, i continued, provided it was fun, i really didn't care. aside from the fact that this is entirely true, it seemed the ideal opportunity to get in there first and excuse any propensity i might subsequently display to be left flailing about on my own, well off the back of the peloton.

as it turned out, during that particular trip to provence, my prediction proved consistently true. while my partners in crime were already at the cafe stop enjoying some froth, i was keeping at least one rapha guide more or less permanently and exhaustively employed.

as it turned out, the ability to arrive last on each and every occasion still with a large grin on my visage, had a fringe benefit in my being presented with a highly coveted (so they told me) red rapha lanterne rouge cycle cap. due to the nature of the esteem in which cyclists hold themselves, i doubt very much whether prior knowledge of this presentation would have created much in the way of competition. unbeknownst to yours truly i was pretty much a shoe-in for the prize before we'd even left blighty.

if i may quote from the back cover of max leonard's surprisingly excellent book lanterne rouge, the title refers both to 'The red lantern that hangs on the rear of a train', but more pertinently to our interests 'The competitor who finishes last in the tour de France'. naturally enough, the first pretty much informed the second.

leonard's approach to the subject is great. i confess i had expected a blow by blow account of each and every lanterne rouge across all 100 tours de france (hence my assertion above to its surprising excellence); but the author is far too perspicacious and intelligent to have settled for the obvious. it makes a great deal of sense to begin at the beginning, with the man arriving last in the 1903 tour de france, an event won by maurice garin. as becomes customary at the end of each chapter, leonard details the average speed of the winner and that of the lanterne rouge. in the case of messrs garin and possibly arsene millochau, the speed difference amounted to more than 10kph. by the time the last chapter ends at the 2005 race, that speed difference was down to less than 1kph.

the general consensus of both max leonard and many wearers of the hypothetical red jersey, is that we all remember the tour winner, yet few recall who came second. and in the nature of the sport, many will also remember who came last (svein tuft in 2013, now that you ask). however, the tour is one of only several stage races and one day events across the course of a season and it would be iniquitous to classify the so-called lanterne rouge as a loser. lanterne rouge deals with its subject in ever changing ways, the author having interviewed individual riders as well as detailing other aspects of their careers, often proving that their careers were frequently more than successful; jimmy casper, jacky durand, philippe gaumont and edwig van hooydonck to name but a few.

sadly, the competition that really never existed has begun the brief journey into obscurity. no longer is it a competition that was once worth winning if only for the potential commercial benefits such as post tour criterium invites. leonard's authorial style offers a book that leans heavily towards compulsive reading; though i read this in conjunction with other review titles, i often had to check myself from an over apportion of reading time at the expense of others.

his nurtured overview of the lanterne rouge also tends to hold a surreptitious view of what history records as the truth: "An incident the previous year involving a daring breakaway, some wine and a tree has passed into Tour myth. But myths are just that. They are stories we tell ourselves about heroes living in a time more authentic and burnished than our own, stories that may or may not be true."

unlike many a book concerned with cycling history, this is not an historical book, at least not in the tried and trusted academic manner. many things are screechingly obvious, but often only after someone has had the acuity to point them out. there have been many volumes published on the winners and principal protagonists of the tour de france over its past 100 editions, and now with the appearance of max leonard's lanterne rouge it seems glaringly obvious that those who form the posse of last men home have been criminally overlooked.

this book more than redresses the balance and with considerable literary style and panache.

max leonard's 'lanterne rouge' is published by yellow jersey press on 17 april.

through the generosity of yellow jersey press, i have one copy of 'lanterne rouge' to give away to the winner of the following competition. just let me know who was last man home in the 2013 edition of the tour de france. answers, along with a full postal address, should be e-mailed to last correct answer drawn from the red cap will win. closing date is easter monday, 21 april.

tuesday 15 april 2014

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