the nature of the beast these days is that i often am left to do the weekly shop all by myself, a state of affairs i have in part engendered by having divested the household of its motorised transport several years ago. bowmore main street sits upon a reasonably steep hill running from the round church at the top down to sea level at the harbour. about two thirds of the way down is our sole supermarket, the one with high prices and everything you want or need mostly out of stock. the conspiracy theory has the staff checking the shelves of an evening to see what is no longer available and placing it on special offer. there is always also a seeming discrepancy regarding the buy one get one free offers; there is frequently only one item on the shelf.
though i am one third of our household, and thus guilty of devouring at least that proportion of food and drink, i have standards to maintain as that of a mere man, thus incapable of composing anything resembling an efficient shopping list. unfortunately for my purposes, mrs washingmachinepost seems just as inept, though in a different way. were i the composer of such a list, i would mentally walk around the store, making a note of foodstuffs required along the way and thus in some sort of order. mrs twmp uses the scattergun approach, meaning one is lifting a couple of bags of oven chips from the freezer, before needing to retrace one's steps to the vegetable racks on the other side of the shop.
it is a wonder that the cupboards in washingmachinepost cottage are ever full.
in all honesty, gathering the shopping in either a trolley or a couple of baskets is the relatively easy bit. that descent from the round church has, rather tautologically, altered profile to that of a climb on the way home. many a touring cyclist has let the side down by getting off half way up that hill and pushing all the way to the church; this in spite of having a set of gears that would climb the side of a house. thus, arms straining under the weight of four or five everlasting carrier bags, it is possible to channel an all too lengthy, yet ultimately brief period of weight-training on the way back home.
as far as lists go, that's about it as far as the twmp household goes. none of us are overweening obsessives when it comes to this sort of thing, preferring instead to work a tad more randomly. it doesn't always get the job done, but we feel it a more relaxed way to go about our daily business.
therefore, on receiving a copy of zahid sardar's 100 best bikes, equating one's lifestyle with that of someone else's view of the bicycle enters a form of culture shock. the author, of whom i had no prior knowledge, is apparently a writer on architecture and design for the san francisco chronicle as well as contributing to several other design and architecture periodicals. having had prior experience of architect friends and colleagues, i begin to see something of sardar's approach to the bicycle as evinced in this laurence king publication.
it is subdivided into several sections encompassing race/tour bikes, bmx/mountain, city/utility and folding/innovative, augmented by an entire section dealing with accessories. to be brutally honest, this last section is the most fascinating, comprising an eclectic selection of intriguing luggage solutions and the occasional wall mount to hold a bicycle in compact and bijou conditions. though i hate to be considered dogmatic, the rest of the book is somewhat pointless, if not downright quizzical.
to base my criticism on a subject with which i am well-versed, i might draw your attention to the chapter concerning colnago bicycles. to date, i have ridden almost every model recently produced by cambiago with the exception of their time-trial and offroad models, and i feel i have an appreciation of their machines that is the equal of many. in which case it confuses me utterly as to why mr sardar would choose the taiwanese made colnago cx-1 as the best that cambiago has to offer. there can be little doubt that its ride and build quality are easily superseded by that of both the epq and c59.
i would not for one minute disparage any of the bicycles illustrated within the book's 160 pages. they are all unique and interesting in their own way, particularly one or two of those included in the innovative section, but the notion of the collectively assembled being a definitive 100 best is a somewhat laughable notion. let's face it, if laurence king had polled even a small proportion of those who read thewashingmachinepost, they would be lucky to find any agreement amongst the subsequent lists. and to be quite honest, that's exactly how it should be. it confuses the heck out of me just why an author whose claim to cycling fame rests within the brief biography on the back cover: "he is an avid cyclist, navigating the hills of san francisco on his ten-speed motobecame mirage" had the clout to be offered a book deal such as this in the first place.
my fellow pedants will have taken note of the fact that motobecane has been incorrectly spelt. the same error appears on the accompanying press release.
on the plus side, the illustrations are of high quality, and there will be many examples previously unseen or unknown to many readers. i consider myself reasonably well informed in such matters, yet there are several bicycles here i have previously never heard of. in that sense, the cover price of £12.95 might not be too outlandish if the contents add to the knowledge pool. however, i'd either try to find a copy in a bookstore near you, or take a look inside at amazon.co.uk to check that you're likely to find the contents of interest.
personally, and regretfully, i'd leave it on the shelf.
saturday 25th august 2012..........................................................................................................................................................................................................