Friday, 20 August 2010

Bits of people...

I bought Cycling Plus out of curiosity, it doesn't have any emotional ditches hidden inside and well, I was curious. And it was kind of okay. I read Rob Penn's article about building his ultimate bike, the one that's also a BBC television programme and a book, the one where he goes around the world speccing out the parts he reckons are the best then building them onto a Rourke frame.

It made me think. Not that it would be so amazing to travel around cherry-picking parts from Campag and Chris King and obscure Italian componentry brands, but that it would be infinitely better to build a bike made from parts created by people you love. It's a good idea in theory I guess, but problematic in that you'd have to pragmatically build a series of relationships with people who made every part of a bike - saddles, bars, frames, wheels, spokes... It's a big ask. And to be honest, somewhat unrealistic.

But it made me think about other stuff. About things and love and the reverberations of stuff that sits in your house, in your life. Things that other people left behind. Books, pictures, music, the funny Ecuadorian thing on top of the VCR, the bar tape on my road bike, the strange selection of penguins that pop up all over the house, the little pot the garlic sits in, the plant on top of the bookshelf, the comedy fridge magnet, the Chrismas pudding tea pot and the odd French coffee mug with the hare on the side. And the tea-pot, the little one.

They're all little bits of people. Little triggers for memories. Freeze frame segments of points in life. And I guess somewhere out in the world, little bits of me are floating in other people's lives.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010


A few days of taking things easy and wishing the sky were bluer. I see a grey sky and I want to paint it blue? Doesn't really have the same ring to it does it. Oh well, black it is then.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Bad ideas...

Trying to do two 24-hour races in two weeks, one solo, one as a pair. A very bad move on both counts. Besides, I hate the way racing gets in the way of riding bikes - tapering, recovery, tapering and in this case, the bit where tapering and recovery become the same bloody thing. Arse.

So I'm sitting here with tired legs - running was a bad idea too - pondering why, when going slowly is logically a good idea, I don't really want to go slowly at all. It doesn't work. I don't work.

So instead, I'm sitting here contemplating another bad idea involving chocolate sponge things with Belgian chocolate melting middle things and cream and ice cream and a very good idea involving a mountain bike and a flight to Kathmandu. Or maybe Morocco.

And other recent good ideas included lying in the sunshine at Ladybower yesterday in the sun and watching unidentifiable great big propellor-driven aeroplanes flying overhead. Changing Mogg's bar tape for some rather fetching blue Techno Spugna french blue stuff - it says it's navy, but it ain't unless it's the French navy. And finding a way of converting spangly new road wheels into 2010 Revelations to replace the trashed Pikes on the 405.

Ah well. Swiss Alps. Yes please.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

One black finger...

I broke a spoke in my rear Kysrium last week. No obvious reason, just getting out of the saddle at the bottom of a rise and, ping, metallic rattle, gone. And because of the spacing and the tension on Kysriums, it was enough to bend the rim far enough out of shape that it rubbed the chain stays on both sides. So thanks to International Rescue, Glossop Chapter for bailing me out and saving my cleats and chain stays.

And then, when I got home, I realised the chain was broken too - one inner plate snapped. And of course, because I like to make my life difficult, it's an 11-speed Campag chain. So there I was, one rare spoke and one rare chain to the bad and one sulking Planskey X or Lysnklet Ti Pro Road Mog scowling in the corner.

Cue endless calls and searches and eventually spokes ordered by the three from Pedalon - thanks Kie for telling me how to date the wheel, first digits of the bar code on the rim sticker if you're wondering - along with the stop-gap installation of a ten-speed quick link, which does work, even if technically it didn't ought to.

Chain ordered, spoke ordered. Brand new Bontrager Race X-Lite transmogrified wheel installed and dis-installed because, well, it just looked wrong. Pimpy as feck with white spokes and red alloy nipples, but just not right with stealth grey titanium, though it would look great with pimped out black and red and white swoopy carbon I guess. Anyone want to buy a mismatched wheel-set of uncertain provenance?

Big props to Pedalon for delivering next day after a 3pm order, but shock horror, the spokes are black, but hey. So in it goes, some gentle tweaking on the wheel jig and now I have a rear silver Ksyrium SL with one black spoke. And you know what, I really like it. There's something human and real and endearing about imperfection in the middle of something as improbably perfect and round as a wheel.

And it's one raised black finger to roadie fascist, black and white thinking, life tyrants. Besides, it was hard enough finding a black spoke, I simply can't be arsed with finding a silver one...