i own three twenty-inch ride cymbals, all of different weights. i have two crash cymbals at sixteen and eighteen inches, three pairs of hi-hat cymbals (10", 13" and 14") a couple of splash cymbals and a small chinese cymbal that i never play, but one i bought in new york and i like to hang onto for sentimental reasons. i don't play drums as often as i used to, but at last year's islay jazz festival, i used only one of the ride cymbals and dispensed with the hi-hat altogether in favour of two sets of ankle bells. it's been a very long time since i set up every cymbal i own, and not just because there are few venues on islay with sufficient stage space, or the fact that i don't own enough cymbal stands.
it is something of a forlorn conceit that i have so many choices of metal at my disposal. it's tempting to excuse such excess on the grounds of each being appropriate for varying musical situations, but that would only make sense if i'd returned to being a session drummer. it's very much a case of it being better to have and not need, etc, etc. playing them all at once would verge dangerously close to ostentation.
on a comparable yet far more minimalistic scale, with the exception of the taurus corinto, all of my bicycles have two sets of bottle cage bolts, but each carries only one cage. i'm also sure we are all acquainted with riders who feel the need to plonk a full 750ml bottle in each, even for the sunday morning ride.
perhaps they are possessed of a less tolerant constitution than i, but i think it unlikely. sundays last usually no more than 80km max, a distance most could surely manage on 500ml of water or carbo drink? it's hard not to equate the carrying of more than on bottle with that of yours truly positioning every cymbal i own round my loud and toneful maple. discretion is undoubtedly he better part of valour.
i'm crap at drinking on the bicycle. riding 200km in one day, valiantly reviewing a jersey designed expressly for such distances and much further (it seemed like a really good idea at the time), i was eventually forced into making a dash for the local average market to grab myself a couple of bottles of spring water. two bottles on the bike would have been a very good idea that day, presumably the very reason why cycle frames have a double set of bosses in the first place. but generally speaking, there is an alarming tendency to return home with every bit as much water in my bottle as i left with.
oddly, the latter deficiency seems not to overly concern my tenacity on the bicycle, less than onerous though it may be.
adding some form of flavouring to that sole bottle (like adding sizzles to a ride cymbal) does provide an incentive to slurp more often, but i still find it slips my memory more often than really it should. however, i can't help feeling that my filling up with tasty stuff before the off tends to lean heavily on the superficial. if i truly wish to see some improvement in my performance (less sniggering at the back please), then a more concerted programme of hydration would seem to be more in order.
osmo hydration products are the brainchild of nutritional scientist, dr stacy sims, but more importantly from our velocipedinal perspective, her productive offspring are currently used by the tinkoff-saxo team, home to former tour winner, bertie the accountant. perhaps uniquely amongst the purveyors of hydration products, osmo contend that men are from mars and women are from venus, making the hydration demands of each somewhat different. as a resident of mars myself, i'm unable to testify as to the difference between the two.
the osmo range consists of three distinct products contained in tubs of ever-increasing size. the first port of call is named preload hydration with the condition that it ought only to be taken in extreme heat, intense efforts or ultra-endurance. since the first of these three is as likely on islay as a saxo tinkoff training camp in bowmore, it's left to the subjectivity of numbers two and three to justify preloading my hydration. directions for consumption of the pineapple and lemon powder, complete with a measured scoop, dictate a helping the night before as well as thirty minutes before a bout of intense effort.
the latter is not something i would usually entertain, but 16km into a galeforce headwind is as close as i'm likely to get. however, the bottle on the bike (or bottles, if you'd prefer) is recommended to contain two scoops of orange flavoured osmo active hydration, a powder inhabiting container number two. short of a team of physicians and dietitians waiting at the end of my ride, any benefits i feel may have accrued are entirely at the mercy of my perception. it's easy to convince yourself that the benefits are manifold, but to be honest, the main aspect we're all likely to examine is does it taste nice?
it makes little difference to the exertive amateur as to the promised benefits if the drink aboard the bike makes you gag. happily, not only do both the mentioned osmo products taste particularly good, but subtly so. there are many alternatives on the market that seem to impress their flavours upon the palate with rather more emphasis than seems completely justifiable. osmo have obviated this by providing their hydrational benefits without resorting to flavour overkill. in fact, both offer a mildly milky sensation upon the tongue while apparently increasing both power output and endurance. i'd be lying if i hand on heart attested to the former, but i'd be willing to confirm the latter.
many of the great and good are keen to point out that the most important part of any bike ride is that of recovery. for those in the velo club that has more often been considered as the supping of froth accompanied by a slice of carrot cake. however, neither are ever likely to improve cycling performance. thus, occupying space in the largest of the three osmo tubs is the acute recovery, a vanilla powder recommended to be mixed with either water or almond milk. in the absence of the latter, i used soya milk, mixing up to a rather pleasant form of milkshake. never has positive flavour sensation been so pertinent; many another recovery drink does not encourage a repeat performance.
the active preload powder would, i'd suggest, suit only the very keen or residents of very warm countries. however, the active hydration and recovery would appear to make perceivable differences when used systematically and regularly as part of a wattage controlled fitness regime. the fact that they taste rather good is a gratefully received bonus.
osmo preload hydration retails at around £20 for a 260g tub. active hydration costs around £16 for 400g and the acute recovery approximately £28.50. osmo products are distrbuted in the uk by 2pure
monday 19 may 2014..........................................................................................................................................................................................................
i never would have thought it. though i have often wondered how rapha ever manage to sell any winter or deep winter clothing on their own doorstep, the very idea of wearing a lightweight jersey this far northwest scarcely seemed credible.
a visit to london these days is not a frequent occurence; it's ever so far away, and that distance seems to lengthen the older i get. i realise the latter is highly unlikely, but clambering off the sleepy bus at 7:15 in the morning is not something that bears frequent repetition, even though the journey has been travelled comfortably fast asleep. i'd agree that my finding the great metropolis uncomfortably warm - even in december - is more than likely the result of years of north atlantic acclimatisation, but surely no-one ever has need of fleece-lined bib tights and deep winter overshoes this far south?
why, even yesterday, as i spent 70 kilometres in wind and pouring rain, london was experiencing sunshine and warmth. it is indeed, a travesty.
sportwool has long been my friend, for not only does it retain its form factor longer than almost every polyester jersey i've ever owned, but owns similar properties to the force-fields seen on star trek and star wars. a long-sleeve sportwool jersey is much more my friend than it is anyone else's, especially if they live in the far south. or in one of those far off warm climates. and while we're discussing the latter, it is every bit a truism that the notion of a sportwool-less, lightweight cycle jersey (albeit with short sleeves) is a particularly apt choice for uncomfortable ambient temperatures. uncomfortable for me, that is.
like it or not, i always found marco pantani to be an inspirational rider. yes, many of his exploits were fueled by substances that should not have been in his bathroom cabinet, but i (and more than a few others) were blissfully unaware of that at the time. our naivete allowed us to apprehend the diminutive italian's climbing prowess in a favourable light, aided greatly by the fact that his dancing on the pedals was a style i attempted in vain to emulate. this hero worship, however, stopped short of ordering a mercatone uno jersey and replica bandana, though my finger hovered over the add to basket button more than once without ever committing.
rapha, la gazetta della sport notwithstanding, are arguably responsible for popularising the colour pink within a yellow obsessed pelotonese. the first ever rapha jersey purchased by yours truly bore the word mortirolo in flock lettering across the front of pink sportwool. i still have it and wear it; the lettering is still immaculate and the jersey looks as if it came out the packet just yesterday. and now there's another shade of pink to join it in the jersey drawer, albeit of a more modern composition.
i confess i'd overlooked the fact that the pantani jersey was of lightweight constitution, perhaps fortunately because that would have led to apprehension and consternation while awaiting its delivery. though we're well into the month of may, warm sunny days are very few and far between; most of them tend to fall on workdays when i'm stuck in an office all day, though i'm sure that on such occasions, i can hear the colnago calling me all the way down main street. granted, it involves little hardship to conceal all that pink beneath a rainjacket or pro team jacket, but that is hardly the appropriate manner in which to honour marco.
but if you promise not to tell anyone, the pantani jersey does indeed do itself proud as a mid-layer on a less than sultry day. those domiciled in the london area can safely ignore that last recommendation. it'll be a few months before the atlantic warmth reaches the level of affording riding pleasure devoid of armwarmers. however, last friday offered a few kilometres without need of a pro team jacket, though the warming of a pair of red-striped armwarmers was still a necessary addition. for reasons i know not, full-length zips rarely seem to sit flat when new, but when safely ensconced in its zip garage, the medium-sized pantani jersey was an immaculate fit. and it turns out that a rapha lightweight jersey bears a far more favourable constitution than i had led myself to believe.
in similar manner to rapha's pro team jerseys, the fit is designed specifically for the bike, rather than in the queue for soya froth. i have always held it to be the finest compliment one can pay a jersey of any fabrication, that it is all but unnoticeable during a bike ride. that is fabulously true of this shade of pink. the fabric, polyester according to the label, had me convinced otherwise. the tactile, waffled surface makes it seem thicker than is actually the case; according to rapha, it's comfortable against the skin, but that's a factor i am unlikely ever to discover. baselayers 'r' us. the side panels are formed of mesh panels, and all takes mere minutes to dry after washing.
the graphics are both appropriate and tastefully applied, with subtle graffiti augmenting a lighter pink.
the pantani jersey does not, however, arrive alone. many pantani images feature the chap with bald head clothed in a mercatone uno bandana, and while my ever-lengthening hair bears no resemblance whatsoever, rapha have thoughfully added a pink cotton bandana, decorated with fans' graffiti. having never worn a bandana prior to now, i'd to find a how-to youtube video. it's a look i'm sure i could just about get away with; certainly more so than wearing it a la john wayne.
all in all, it's a fabulous jersey, a great tribute to a troubled and fragile cyclist, whatever your personal views might be. if it bothers you that the clothing suppliers to team sky should see fit to honour an acknowledged drugs cheat, you may wish to read rapha ceo simon mottram's justifications for its existence.
aside from being a particularly excellent cycle jersey with stregthened and scalloped rear pockets, a percentage of your £130 will go to the pantani foundation, a charity established by marco's mother to help disadvantaged children.
however, my climbing abilities while wearing the jersey bear scant approximation to a slow-motion replay of marco riding alpe d'huez. i may have to have words with rapha about that.
rapha's marco pantani commemorative jersey with bandana retails at £130 and is available in sizes extra small to xxl.
sunday 18 may 2014..........................................................................................................................................................................................................
desktop publishing is the best comparison i can think of, not because it has any relevance to cycling, but it's the only other subject in which i consider myself reasonably well-versed. the software available for the purpose has become ever more sophisticated, often allowing the designer to express ideas previously unattainable, but more often than not, the tweaks and improvements simply make life oh so much easier when trying to accomplish the relatively mundane. but yet no matter how futuristic it might become, its roots are still in the good old days of hot metal, good old days, i might add, of which i was never a part.
scanning an experienced eye over a heading, it might conceivably be considered a visual improvement to increase or decrease the leading, (as in the metal), or perhaps tighten the tracking to better fit the space. perhaps, on closer inspection, the kerning between certain letters might be adjudged less than optimal. now the majority of you will have little or no idea as to which i refer, and in truth, there's no real reason why you should. many an activity, genre or subject has a language all of its own, mostly known only to practitioners of the art and totally misunderstood by those approaching from the sidelines.
unfortunately, though the obvious method of induction would be for the former to instruct the latter, a mischievous arrogance often promulgated to protect a comfortable level of seniority amongst the cognoscenti prevents this happening with ease. basically speaking, "i ain't telling you what i know, because maybe you'll steal my job." so how else is the newbie to progress from ignorance to a place of knowledge?
nowadays there's always youtube, facebook or twitter, though as i know from personal experience, the latter is oft inhabited by those beloved of the smart-ass one-liner. velominati's the rules might help just a tad, but in all honesty (spoiler alert) some of them are posited with tongue firmly planted in cheek. what's needed is a book written by someone who not only has the knowledge, but understands life from the point of the ignorant. the ignorant cyclist that is.
peter drinkell is undoubtedly that fellow.
his latest published offering is stealthily entitled the road cyclist's companion, giving the impression that inside its black, hardback cover, is a wealth of information of use to the average and not so average road cyclist. the title ensures that, were a copy to be found in the pocket of peter sagan's jersey pocket, nobody in the cannondale team car would go so far as to raise an eyebrow. but that is the genius of mr drinkell and his publishers at cicada.
"Cycling can be a minefield to the uninitiated. There are literally thousands of unwritten rules - from the length of your socks to the 'luft' of your cap..."
this education into the intricacies and arcane nooks and crannies of the roadie's pelotonic world is thoughtfully divided into thematic sections, all the better to provide the earnest with a logical means of their future education. kit, bike fit, group riding, technique and training. the very basis of a professional apprenticeship, should your tenacity take you that far.
some of the summaries following on from drinkell's opening paragraphs could be thought of as mildly derivative, echoing one or two of the rules as described by velominati. if nothing else, it shows how deeply the latter have impressed themselves upon the velocipedinal psyche. but in general, the man has the roadie scene well sussed and deftly caricatured while maintaining an impressively straight face. peter drinkell displays a subtly authoritative tone throughout, leaning more towards suggestion than diktat, even though the outcome is likely the same.
even the illustrations are knowledgeable.
of course, i would never dare suggest that those of us gathered here could possibly find anything of value in the road cyclist's companion. so well-versed are we in road cycling lore and practice that we could sit an exam on the subject at he drop of a poc octal. couldn't we? so, on purchasing a copy for a less well-educated colleague, there would surely be no earthly need for any of us to peruse its pages, even if only to check that mr drinkell spelt cocky and erratic correctly?
which he did, by the way.
saturday 17 may 2014..........................................................................................................................................................................................................
thewashingmachinepost came into being just over seventeen years ago, long before peter merholz contracted jorn barger's 'weblog' into the shorter and more common 'blog'. when i began these at one time infrequent scribblings, i was in the habit of referring to it as a website; if anyone in the early years mentioned the word blog, i was apt to take it as something of an insult. however, in much the same way as the folks at the islay festival get unnecessarily uppity when folks make mention of the islay whisky festival, i figure it makes no difference what it's called because it doesn't change what i do.
the tables have turned slightly in the latter years. though i have no thoughts of being a cycling revolutionary, the notion that i might have involuntarily become a part of the cycling establishment seems not only eminently possible, but one that seems to have been accepted by what i would regard as the establishment. though i'd have to go back a few years and re-read my daily output with a more critical eye, i don't believe my modus operandi has changed all that much, so once again, if that's the way thewashingmachinepost is perceived, who am i to argue?
this unsought establishmentarianism has appeared as if from behind the sofa. somebody somewhere pointed the finger, and hey presto, there it was. how do i know this? because when i request media accreditation, nobody sniggers at my use of the word media. i have even, on occasion, been referred to as a journalist which only goes to show that you can fool some of the people all of the time. this new found fame and fortune has resulted in rather more press releases than was the case during my inauspicious beginnings all those years ago, and recently, the majority of those have concerned this coming july in yorkshire.
my reasoning, suspect though it may be, is that if i am being bombarded in this sense, then the none press-release receiving general public are surely on the other end of all that is due to come their way over the weekend of 5 & 6 july. especially if you happen to be domiciled in yorkshire. and should they be suitably impressed by all that, then there's going to be one heck of a lot of folks standing about somewhere watching the biggest free show on earth.
and that might just be where you come in.
as in 2013, aso will setup so-called fan parks, the 'official fan entertainment zones for the Tour de France' while it visits uk shores. operated by velo-go-go, presenters of the parks, nuffield health are offering cycling fans the opportunity to become fan parks ambassadors, for which there are some natty rewards, including a vip experience at the park of their choice, a pair of oakleys, a fitness mot at a nuffield gym of choice and the opportunity to address the fan park audiences through a blog on the fan parks website.
the process of applying to be one of seven ambassadors seems pretty straightforward, providing you can navigate your way round a facebook page. which pretty much lets me out the equation. fill in the application form and wait for the organisers to inform you if you've been chosen. if this seems like it's right up your champs elysees, click through to the fan parks facebook page and take it from there.
and if you make it big, don't forget to wave to the camera, so that i'll know you made it.
friday 16 may 2014..........................................................................................................................................................................................................
it's a factor that obeys the laws of diminishing returns. bicycle shaped objects cost less than a day's pay for many, and in keeping with the description, bear an uncanny resemblance to a bicycle. but if you've ever found yourself needing to heft one of these items onto a bicycle workstand, it pays to have a chiropractor standing by. quite how any youngsters or adults conspires to enjoy their cycling aboard such incredibly weighty steel or aluminium is beyond my ken, and that of many others.
take steps to lessen that weight and it'll affect both definitions of the word pound. replace an alloy chainring with one made of carbon and there's no doubt grams will be saved, but you'll probably pay double for the privilege. the same goes for pretty much every component on the modern bicycle; lighter very definitely entails expense above and beyond common decency. and, slightly ironically, bicycle lighting obeys similar economic laws. a substantial increase in the number of lumens available up front, will necessarily entail a concomitant increase in the size and power of the battery. anything less will supply only those lumens for a very brief moment in time.
the continued use of light emitting diodes in place of the halogen bulbs of old allows many more sources of light within the same form factor. payback time for those car drivers who fail to dip their headlights for cyclists while retaining an impressive lightness of being, clamped to the handlebars.
not so very long ago, i was fortunate enough to review a pair of wheels around the circumference of which were pinned white lights on front and red at the rear. when time came to photograph these to accompany my review, the smartest idea to me appeared to spin them quickly and click the shutter on burst mode. the results were most intriguing and, dare i say so, delightfully artistic in a random sort of manner. during my time at art college, many moons ago, i read an article on what was then termed luminetics; the process of moving lights forward and back in front of a camera lens (though in a tad more sophisticated manner than i have just described).
it's a lighting effect that has seen itself portrayed in everything from car rear lights in long exposure photos of motorways to kids attempting to write words in the darkness with torches. and it's also an effect that has been brought to the world of the velocipede just in time for the much vaunted yorkshire start of the tour de france.
formed in 1992, nva is a scottish arts charity funded by creative scotland (formerly the scottish arts council). its principal raison d'etre is the production of exhibits such as lighting animations on the mountains of skye and permanent spaces like glasgow's hidden gardens and various urban festivals.
however, as night falls this friday and saturday, 15 and 16 may, a leeds audience will watch a ghost peloton of 30 synchronised cyclists in led light suits perform choreographed movements fusing 'endurance sport, dance and public art.' for this ghost peloton, nva have teamed up with leeds-based phoenix dance company and judging from the previews i watched this past week, it could prove to be every bit as memorable as july's tour start itself.
isn't the bicycle marvellous?
thursday 15 may 2014..........................................................................................................................................................................................................
it's many a long year since i undertook any form of cycle touring, and even then most bona-fide tourists would hardly have recognised my adventurousness as what most would call touring. the bicycle was an original muddy fox courier with a pair of handbuilt wheels and a very long, steel quill stem to allow the randonneur bars to be set at an appropriate height. i popped a blackburn rack on the back, a blackburn low-rider on the front and festooned the hapless courier with panniers and a bar bag. this would have been all the more impressive if i had ridden anywhere impressive.
but i'm way too timid to cycle anywhere meaningful; too much of a mummy's boy to stray far from the apron strings. the extent of my travels stretched only from islay to the ayrshire coast via arran and ardrossan with several tonnes of entirely unnecessary stuff, little of which made it out of the panniers at any point of the journey. but it did look very impressive.
if truth be told, the longest journey undertaken by bicycle was in 1998, when i took the ferry to scotland, rode to campbeltown and joined a friend on a tour from ballycastle on ireland's antrim coast all the way to dublin for the tour de france start. plus, of course, the return trip. by this time i had learned some lessons by having ditched the front panniers. i did, however, carry half a bike workshop on the back for which my friend was extremely grateful, as he was the only one who suffered from more than one mechanical misfortune. his riding tubular tyres wasn't the most pragmatic of choices either.
my learning curve for all these brief adventures into the great known was a sharp one, coloured by too much reading of round the world trips and a narcissistic tendency to need to appear competent when stopping off at the occasional bakery for some much needed sticky buns. i enjoyed my brief sorties into what remains of western civilisation, but you'd have laughed at the sight. i've not placed a rack on any of my bicycles since, though i'm still a sucker for a good cycle-touring book. i think i might well be classed as a couch tourist.
however, though it may form a small part of a niche market, cycle touring is still an important part of the fabric of our universe. it's a means of travelling almost every part of the world that not only makes perfect sense but is a particularly practical way to see our home planet with time to stop and stare. but i'd be willing to bet the bikeshed door that if were to do it all again, i'd get it every bit as wrong as first time round. well, let me qualify that; were it not for tom allen's superb guide to the sometimes obscure touring universe, i'm pretty sure i'd have as little idea of what to do as was the case some twenty years ago.
i recall being impressed by a dawes galaxy, principally on the basis that it sported an rather cool tan coloured brooks saddle. so if my eureka moment suddenly brought me to the brink of the touring abyss, ought i to be looking at the dawes' website? or maybe thorn? or maybe i should ask ira ryan to build me a custom tourer? then there's the more than trivial thought of how many panniers, what brand, which make of rack? jeez, this is beginning to get complicated and i've not even figured out where i'm going yet.
tom allen (of janapar fame), on the other hand, is a touring cyclist of great experience, having cycled to places i've scarcely even heard of. he is impressively unimpressed by the so-called standard model, willing to look at cheap-as-chips if he thinks it will fulfil a necessary designated role. his criteria errs far more towards substance over style.
"Will this tent, on an average night, allow me a chance of getting a half-decent night's sleep?
If you ever feel like you're getting bogged down with tent-choice- related conundrums, come back to this question, because it's the only one you'll be asking with any regularity when you're actually out on a tour."
perhaps because he owns such a wealth of practical experience and enjoys the independence of the self-publisher, allen owes no allegiance to any of the myriad of touring kit suppliers. he is, in essence, more than happy to call a spade an excavating implement, and he does so with literary panache. "At the upper end of the rack market there stand a few brands of considerable repute. With the rather boring purpose of a rack at this level simply being not to break with heavy luggage bouncing around on it for tens of thousands of miles, recommendations are based almost exclusively on performance in the durability department, and the brands here are concerned with that quality. As always, I'll do my best to make the topic of bent metal tubes an interesting one."
making excellent use of adobe's portable document format (pdf) allen has offered brief dissertations on purchaseable items he figures will not only do the job, but save you the time struggling to do your own research. each features a clickable link to the product or manufacturer's website. choosing that which might fit within your extensive or limited budget suddenly became a whole lot simpler.
there are a considerable number of books on the market that describe specific touring routes; there are those describing deeds of derring do and there are others that offer advice on where you might conceivably wish to travel. bearing all that in mind, tom allen has made no attempt to occupy any of these specific spaces. the veteran's guide to gearing up for your ride concerns itself solely, impressively and humorously with what kind of bike, clothing and pretty much every form of associated paraphernalia you could think of. the major thrust of his narrative is this: rather than fret about the suitability and cost of everything you think you'll need, just get on your bike and go ride somewhere far, far away.
doubtless there is still a whole club of purportedly wannabe cycle-tourists like me, for whom the gathering of unnecessary kit and woeful over-thinking of each and every aspect assumes a greater importance than the pedalling bit. we are probably beyond saving. for everyone else, this is as compulsory as the bicycle.
wednesday 14 may 2014..........................................................................................................................................................................................................
tv and cinema trailers for forthcoming movies give a rather skewed view of the advertised films. this is hardly surprising given that their primary purpose in life is to goad the innocent bystander into parting with their hard-earned cash either at the cinema or for the subsequent dvd. or maybe even a more expensive blu-ray. i have no idea whose job it is to decide which clips from a feature film will be incorporated into these trailers, but only after watching the film is it discovered that those were probably the best bits; and we fell for it hook, line and sinker.
it happened to me recently with the biblical epic noah, though i confess i only went to see it because i'd a few hours to fill, and it was the only movie that fitted the available time slot. it was worse than dire; i have never before felt the desire to walk out the cinema prior to the end, but had i had something else to do and somewhere to do it, i'd have gratefully left my seat. about the only bit that held any resemblance to the bible story was the name noah itself. yet, had it even been halfway decent, it's still a story about which we already know the ending.
in that respect, it bears comparison with many other recent so-called blockbusters. those of us compelled to read both the hobbit and lord of the rings for our english sixth year studies are already perfectly aware as to how the stories end. the same similarly applies to those who managed to wade through each and every word that j k rowling applied to harry potter's exploits. dumbledore's death in the penultimate episode would hardly have come as a surprise from the blue for the avid potter fan.
and likewise this latest movie release from james erskine pantani: the accidental death of a cyclist. unless you're a complete newbie to the sport of cycle racing, marco pantani's death in an hotel in rimini on st valentine's day in 2004 is old, if not forgotten news. there's even a better than average chance that you know, if not why that happened, the chain of events that led to it happening. yet as both a salutory lesson and a necessarily documented story without a happy ending, it's a film that is every bit as necessary as senna or rush.
the definitive word on the pantani saga is almost undoubtedly matt rendell's the death of marco pantani a book upon which this film is based. aside from interviews with matt himself, the producer features former team-mate marco velo, a seriously overweight looking evgeni berzin, greg lemond, sir bradley, as well as mum dad and brother pantani. though nowhere near as extensively documented as the book, the film treats us to a portrait of marco's early days, his ascent from amateur to professional with david boifava at carrera and the subsequent surprise beating of miguel indurain in the 1994 giro d'italia. ironically as it turned out, when the transition was due to be made from the amateur ranks, rather than follow the expected path, marco allegedly told his mother that he intended to give up cycling because it was "like the mafia".
the film incorporates television footage of his victories in both the '98 giro and tour de france, placing him amongst the few greats who had won both events in the same year. but 1998 was also the year of the festina scandal in which pantani became the riders' spokesman against the inquities being visited by the gendarmerie upon those suspected of drug abuse. up until his ousting from the 1999 giro at madonna de campiglio on the grounds of a suspect haematocrit reading, marco was the darling of italy, esteemed amongst his peers and hailed by many who followed the competitive cycling world. after madonna de campiglio, he became the sport's pariah.
his rapid descent from hero, including the gifted ventoux stage from armstrong occupies scarcely the last half hour of this ninety minute film, a section filled with speeding road footage, spinning test tubes of blood and other slightly vague imagery. however, where words can afford to dwell, moving pictures allow less leeway and it is an unfortunate fact that there must precious little in the way of documented imagery of marco's last days.
pantani: the accidental death of a cyclist may not maintain a wholly neutral stance as to il pirata's misdemeanours both on and off the bike, but it does succeed in portraying marco pantani as a frail human being who was no more in charge of his destiny than either you or i. to watch him ascend like a mountain goat during that '99 giro after unshipping his chain at the foot of a climb, to go head to head with both tonkov and with indurain, to marvel at his fearless descending, but most of all to see pantani climb the mountains by delicately dancing on the pedals are surely reason enough to own a copy of this excellent movie?
matt rendell must once more be highly commended for his research and perspective on the diminutive italian's short career, but a similar amount of credit ought also to be showered upon james erskine for not only having the perspicacity to undertake this highly charged subject, but ultimately for succeeding.
just one caveat: on the dvd, the backgound image to the menu section depicts the silhouette of a road bicycle with a triple chainset. very un-pantani like.
both the dvd and blu-ray versions of pantani: the accidental death of a cyclist will be released on 26 may. rouleur magazine will also be hosting a showing of the movie at the whitecloth gallery, leeds on 22 may , an event that includes an exhibition of race photography by graham watson and bernard thompson. rouleur will also host a q&a session with director james erskine. full details here.
tuesday 13 may 2014..........................................................................................................................................................................................................