the setback post

Month: March, 2014

A new #gnarrative

Bike Park WalesBikePark Wales

Regular readers* may have deduced by now that I don’t generally get much gnarlier than humiliating myself in the odd ’cross race, but since the career-related Great Leap Forward, all that is changing. Henceforth TSP will be all about the shred. It’s going to be wall to wall wheel size discussions, sick edits and freeride flicks.

[*Do I have any that aren't related to me or masquerading as my friends? Not sure.]

To get things under way, Saturday was spent at BikePark Wales, attempting to follow much quicker riders with actual talent down trails sculpted for the express purpose of making buttock-clenching fast-fast. I learned that:

  • motorway service station Costa is heinously expensive
  • egg and bacon McMuffins, whilst delicious, are terrible pre-ride food. Also blah blah evil corporate overlords etc.
  • Doddy is a tall, tall man who rides long, long bikes
  • I look hilarious in mtb kit, especially when I try to mitigate the effect with token Rapha

I was riding one of these:

norco fluid 7.2Fluid 7.2 – Photo:Norco

…which did a fine job of not breaking as I ploughed through, over, and occasionally, between obstacles. I’m fairly certain I’d have died on a hardtail.

Naturally, the next stage is curating a range of utterly bullshit-based opinions about the merits of 27.5″ wheels and the correct orientation of flat-brimmed caps.

Let the broviation commence.

It takes a village

If you’re wondering why things have been a little slow here this week, it’s because being an industry insider a douchebag is quite literally a full-time job. With, like, hours and uh… work.

However, some stories are just too important not to mention.

For those of you who didn’t grow up on a diet of loose leaf tea and middle class radio: the United Kingdom has a station called Radio 4, and on that station lives a beloved soap opera called The Archers, broadcast since 1950. It started life as “an everyday story of country folk”, and it’s entire 64-year narrative arc is best summed up by the following image:

bull mountingPhoto: Boston Public Library*

From time to time, celebrities do cameos on The Archers, and to the delight of cyclists and sideburn enthusiasts everywhere, Sir Bradley Wiggins is to appear on the programme on March 21st.

“Wiggo” will attend Ambridge to judge the winner of the village’s Sport Relief charity event.

“It’s not every day you get to star in the world’s longest-running soap opera,” said Sir Bradley.

“When I was asked to record a Sport Relief special for The Archers, there was no way I could turn it down,” he said. “I grew up with it on the radio in the house.”

While in Ambridge, the cyclist will also have an “amusing encounter with Lynda Snell and her rusty old bike”, according to programme makers.

When I heard the news, I was all:

The real question is, will he call her a cunt?

*If you were annoyed by the fact that all the visual cues in this photograph point to the United States rather than rural England, I recommend this game.

The patron’s taint

chamois-creamPhoto: Anand

Yesterday, for the first time in years, I went on a proper ride (that is to say, not a quick jaunt across town) without slathering my undercarriage in that most mystical of roadie salves, chamois cream.

And you know what? I was fine.

I’ve always been susceptible to saddle sores and I’ve been using products like Udderly so religiously that I’ve come to assume they were mandatory. I can’t remember when I adopted the balm ritual, but it seems likely it was around the time I first wore padded shorts.

The problem was, my first few pairs were bargain basement crap that chafed as much as they helped, so naturally I sought perineal succour in the form of traditional cyclist’s ointments.

But do I actually need them for every ride? Am I a victim of the Big Unguent marketing machine?

Watch this space. [Indicates crotch.]

Shimano 105 5800 11 speed

What was here, is no longer here.

If you’re looking for news about Shimano’s new 105 5800 groupset, I recommend Bikeradar’s excellent coverage.

The wood, for the trees

Campagnolo-Derailleur-wood-527x600Photo: BikeRumor

I missed this first time round.

Despite my mixed feelings about Campagnolo, I share most cyclists’ aesthetic appreciation of the company’s componentry. For the most part though, artistic representations of mechanical devices leave me pretty cold. The reversal of function and form offends my sensibilities, because I’ve generally held that when form follows function, beauty is inherent. Beauty of some sort, at any rate.

Rolex Daytona Cosmograph 1652-3Photo: Charlie J

When it comes to photography, I tend to subscribe to the view espoused by Ctein and others, that nobody cares how hard you worked. You can enjoy making your process more thoughtful and inconvenient if you think it helps, but ultimately it is the results of your labours upon which you will be judged. With an object of craft like a wooden rear derailleur, I’m not so sure though. Something about the patent futility of painstakingly hewing a complex mechanism out of a material as ill-suited to the task as wood appeals to me.

I may not care that you got up at 4am and dragged your view camera up a Scottish hill because the light was looking especially post-industrial, but I will kneel before your mastery of the Dremel.

Braking news: harmjoy edition

It’s not nice to take pleasure in others’ misfortune. In fact it’s so not nice, the Germans invented a word for it: schadenfreude, which literally translates as harmjoy*. So when I post this job ad from SRAM, please rest assured that I am not amused:


I’m especially not amused by this bit:


And this bit:


Because, ouch.

This presumably means that the poor bastard in charge of SRAM brake development fell on his sword, which would be quite upsetting if it weren’t a “transitionary” mechanical sword with only half the disembowelling power of the recalled hydraulic version.

In all seriousness, this sounds like a pretty cool job, at least until the next round of recalls.

[*This would be an awesome name for a bike by the way. I should trademark it and then find someone to sue.]

Gwen Stefani’s favourite fruit

Forgive the lull, but change is afoot – the good kind. To get yourself in the mood, pop a relevant song on and look at this awesome cutaway of a banana I made which has nothing whatsoever to do with bicycles.

banana (1 of 1)Just look at it!

Although, having said that, bananas could be used as evidence of the existence of a higher power. And if God really is behind them, I think it’s safe to say He’s a cyclist, because bananas are ideally shaped for jersey pockets and taste of ambrosia and joy after a few hours in the saddle; unlike those cheap supermarket cereal bars I still buy for some reason, which taste like recycled cardboard.

Being rather picky, the only difficulty I have here is that I like my bananas at the greener, crisper, chalkier-tasting end of the spectrum and after fifty miles in a sweaty lycra pouch, even the most vibrant of fruits can look a little tired. [WANG JOKE GOES HERE.]

All this banana talk is really just a convoluted setup for this link, which makes banana refrigeration (yes, really) seem like a far more compelling subject than you might think.

I like mine at ripeness level 4, by the way.