"this is going to freak you out, but there is actually more than one kind of biking."
i've been doing this for just over eighteen years. well, actually, thewashingmachinepost has existed much longer than that; it was originally a regular column in islay's local newspaper, but at that time it wasn't called thewashingmachinepost. as the newspaper is published every two weeks, when the transition was made to the web, that was the post's original frequency too. i'd come home from work on a friday afternoon, sit down in the armchair and figure out what i was going to write about there and then.
fortunately, few of those original web pages still exist; the notion of archiving anything didn't immediately spring to mind, so one episode simply replaced the last. this is probably quite fortuitous, as i doubt many would bear re-reading at this point in time. if you do happen to visit the archive page and scroll all the way to the bottom, you'll find that one or two of the links don't work (i must fix that sometime) and the shade of yellow background leans a tad towards the fluorescent side. and in my opinion, a lot of the writing has me wondering why anyone started reading in the first place.
however, once i'd divorced myself from the rigid two weekly update and eventually created a rod for my own back by updating daily, despite a total lack of focus (oh, you'd noticed that had you?) the post has taken on something of a periodical rhythm. during those last few years it has been suggested once or twice that i might consider grouping a heap of articles and features into either a pdf or, as is customary these days, an e-book. thankfully, for the greater benefit of mankind, i have declined so to do, and no recent events have given me cause to reconsider.
perhaps thankfully, elden nelson, otherwise known as the fat cyclist ("Elden Nelson is not fat. At least not in any real sense.") has been less reticent, having released his second collection of fat cyclist articles as an e-book entitled the great fatsby. "This is the best of about four years' worth of FatCyclist.com posts, with a few modifications." those 'few modifications' amount mostly to shuffling the articles from any recognisable chronlogical order and presaging each with some form of context.
unlike many of you, i cannot say that i am familar with fatcyclist.com. not for any reasons of arrogance, but that i rarely read other cycling blogs for fear i might realise the inadequacies of my own. in common with many who choose to write blogs (a word that had yet to be coined when i commenced the post) nelson possesses a particularly acute sense of humour. it's a feature of cycle writing i think is endemically necessary, given that most of us have the guts to ride amongst the civilian population dressed in lycra and often garish polyester yet seemingly oblivious of any lack of approbation.
"My overall impression? Spin classes might in fact be an interesting and fun way to change up your workout, and they probably burn a lot of calories in a short period of time.
"And also they really really suck."
however, there really is little chance of the prospective reader grabbing a copy of the great fatsby under any misapprehension as to its contents, for the title is subheaded "absurd cycling stories disguised as expertise & insight". and to help guide the uninitiated through its electronic pages, the author has conveniently grouped the articles into loosely thematic chapters, but sadly the e-book format seems not to support either listing of these at the front of the book nor, in their absence, any means of readily accessing the specific chapters you may wish to read. that, however, is perhaps more of a technical constraint of the format rather than a lack of forethought by the author.
the opening chapter effectively sets the tone for much of what is to follow. 'So You Want to Be a Cyclist?', which, despite its odd chapter capitalisation has much to commend it, not least for its opening sentence. "One of the really great things about cycling is how inexpensive it is." the subsequent paragraphs embarrassingly contain truths that you'd better hope your other half never gets to read. "...if you spend just $500 on that bike, you're going to find that you want to trade it in on a much nicer bike within a few months anyway.
"So you'd better plan on budgeting around $2,500 for that bike."
despite nelson's protestations on the cover, there is much sense within its pages, a lot of which could be held up as a mirror to most of us. in fact, each chapter ends by incorporating a few of the comments posted on the blog at the time of publication. several of those are every bit as humorous as the author's writing. during my reading of the great fatsby i've tried hard not to embrace any feelings of inadequacy on my own part. i fervently wish i was this perceptive and whimsical a writer. any future collection of washingmachineposts would be more than likely to pale by comparison.
with so many of you owning tablets or ruddy great smartphones these days, a smattering over £6 to arm them with some excellent reading for the holidays seems less than onerous. or you could gift it to one or two of your sunday morning peloton.
"Here's the thing about the way chains break, though: they never do it at a good time. They never break while you're coasting downhill or riding along, seated on the flats."
monday 22 december 2014..........................................................................................................................................................................................................