apple computer, under the leadership of the late steve jobs denied that the tablet computer was ever likely to be a practicality. with a range of imac desktops, macbooks and the iphone, he argued, the tablet as promoted by rivals microsoft, was effectively surplus to requirements. of course, as we now know, the ipad was most likely at an advanced stage of development within infinite loop. with the ubiquitous apple logo on the back, on release, the ipad almost immediately became the success it has continued to be, throughout each subsequent iteration.
others have now surfed along on the ipad's coat tails to the extent that tablet computers are now to be seen in almost every conceivable situation. this has brought a similar situation to that of the mobile phone, where not only has pretty much everyone got one - including, questionably, many children - but the absence of one in daily use is the more remarkable situation.
much of this adoption of such technology is based on the me too principle, where phones and tablets are purchased on the basis that if everyone else has one, then alleged necessity brings a pressing need for ownership by those who then find themselves desperately trying to justify their purpose. i'd love to have an excuse to own an ipad, but i've yet to find one that comes even close to sounding convincing.
that, however, is not a situation that surrounds the cycling anthology, first brought to our senses by messrs bacon and birnie in november of 2012. in much the same way that apple release technology that none of us realised we needed until it appeared in the apple store, the cycling anthology only underlines what we'd all been missing until lionel and ellis had the foresight to put it on our bookshelves. the brief hiatus that saw one or two editions published by yellow jersey press is now no more, with originators peloton publishing having retrieved it from the corporate milieu, in the process reverting to the simon scarsbrook cover illustration style that we all know and love.
aside from writing by both editors, the contents of issue six are particularly enticing. having proven to be a man with an excellent sense of humour and a unique writing style, robert millar joins ned boulting, brendan gallagher, felix lowe, kathy lemond (yes, that kathy lemond), sam abt, will fotheringham and andy mcgrath in offering probably the finest collection of contemporary writing available today. you will note that i did not add the word cycling to that contention, for indeed i feel the cycling anthology can reasonably be regarded as a literary edifice without peer.
millar treats us to the one-sided correspondence between vern vurner of biscoe, north carolina and lance armstrong. traced through sixteen letters that begin with hero worship and end with disgusted admonishment it's a remarkably original and often humorous way of dealing with the story of the disgraced american seven-time tour de france winner.
"Folks everywhere ought to listen to what you said and respect your example of humility and honest hard work."
ned boulting, who entered the cycling fray with how i won the yellow jumper now brings us up to date with his latest career move into the realm of cycle commentary alongside former professional rider, david millar. though guilty of unnecessary self-deprecation, boulting's telling it like it is features more than just a soupcon of humour.
"Try as I might, shouting out loud at those Eurosport races with the sound turned down, I failed to convince myself, let alone our cat, to whom I was exclusively broadcasting, curled up on the couch."
if, however, you are still bristling at my confessed notion that the cycling anthology is on a par with the finest of contemporary writing in any genre, brendan gallagher justifies my faith with a chapter entitled hemingway and cycling where he openly discusses ernest hemingway's continued flirtation with competitive cycling suggesting that "Perhaps for one of the few times in his life, he just bottled it. Cycling was too big a subject even for Hemingway." the chapter ends with a comprehensive bibliography.
at the risk of raising the ire of those i have not mentioned in any specific way, the remainder of the anthology is every bit as excellent as the foregoing. in common with the previous five editions, one of the very best features (aside from scarsbrook's uncannily apt cover illustrations) is the lack of any necessity to read the chapters sequentially. perhaps not unnaturally, i made immediately for the robert millar chapter, number four in the table of contents. i will regain my professed neutrality by refraining from saying which was my second choice.
according to the final page, issue seven of the cycling anthology will be published sometime in 2016, which at the moment, seems an awfully long way away. but just like the anticipation that preceded the current release, and no matter what happens in the cycling world in the interim, at the risk of turning impatience into a virtue, i'll struggle to wait that long. for just as much as paris-roubaix, ronde van vlaanderen and liege-bastogne-liege, the cycling anthology is an essential, nay compulsory feature of the cycling season.
there ought to be a velominati rule about that.
sunday 18 october 2015..........................................................................................................................................................................................................