Posts Tagged ‘Ksyrium’

Lots of different places

February 14, 2013

merlin cyrene

I found her when I wasn’t looking. “Where are you from?” I asked. “Lots of different places,” she replied. She was mimicking Christopher Lambert’s response, and indeterminately European accent, from the film Highlander. I didn’t get the joke, but I somehow managed to get her number that night.

A few months after we met, we moved in together. One evening, as we walked home from a curry house, slightly drunk, I found the perfect pair of spectacle frames – black, square and narrow – looking up at me from the pavement with its arms folded back. I had my prescription fitted and wore those glasses until the sweat of successive summers turned the plastic a whitish grey. By that time we’d moved to a nicer part of town and I’d got a better job, through which I received an invitation to visit Belgium; a place called Zolder was on the itinerary. I accepted on a whim and saw Mario Cipollini become world champion. I never asked to be skinny or fit, but that’s what happened not long after.

These incidents that have shaped and defined parts of my identity happened by accident. So by the time I decided to find a bike that would last me many years, I knew the sensible procedure of establishing performance criteria and comparing the aesthetics of various components wasn’t going to happen. To put it simply, I never chose my bike; I gave in to chance and let the bike choose me.

The first time I saw it was on a deluged club run in the spring of 2003. The owner, one of only five members who had braved the downpour, was taking the bike out for its debut ride. He disappeared up the first hill and that was the last we saw of him that day. Three years later, I bought that bike in its essence: frame (Merlin Cyrene), fork (Reynolds Ouzo Pro) and a Royce bottom bracket. I had no idea how I wanted to complete the bike. Why did I end up choosing Ksyrium SLs? Because I knew someone who had inadvertently tested their durability by crashing into a tree (the front wheel, and the rider, survived more or less intact). Chorus for the groupset, because Record felt like an extravagance. I left it to a mechanic friend to decide the rest and build up the bike for me.

If you want to know whether or not your bike is truly suited to you, then sleep with it by your bed. Go to sleep late, wake up too early, and look at it as soon as you get up. Does it make you want to ride, even if your body is telling you not to bother? Then congratulations, you have chosen a great bicycle. For years I kept the Merlin next to our bed (yes, our bed – I managed to keep the girl) alongside an aluminium Merckx and a stickerless steel Glider, and it still inspires me to ride more than its two companions. Gleaming, naked titanium, white bar tape and white Fizik Aliante saddle: it looks indomitable, enduring, immortal, even though I’m no Christopher Lambert. The chunkier and more functional Campag gets, the more elegant my 2006 cranks look. And the Ksyriums, originally chosen out of practicality, please me with the simplicity of their thick spokes; when a child draws a pair of bicycle wheels, they draw SLs or something like them.

Performance-wise, it rides smoothly with just enough bite to get me over the sharpest bits of the Monte Grappa, the Barbotto or the Bwlch. But above all, what I like most about it is its arbitrary nature: an American frame, an Italian groupset, conjured into being through serendipity and indecision, via a workshop in Surrey. A bike from lots of different places.

The DYNAMITE! Five: The week in cycling, remixed. Issue #12

August 12, 2011

5 UP A dog in a jersey
Look! It’s a dog wearing a British National Champion’s jersey! And his name is Bradley Waggings! Or Grrr-aint Thomas! Or maybe – ha ha! – Ni-collie Cooke! That’s right! Look at the picture of the doggy which Cycling Weekly tweeted! Not at the news – the doggy! Don’t even think about bike shops being looted, races being called off at Crystal Palace and Hillingdon or that chap from the Telegraph getting knocked off his bike and robbed – just LOOK INTO THE LOVELY, CALMING, UNTHREATENING GAZE OF THE DOGGY! Bad thoughts gone away? Equilibrium restored? Good. Now we can get on with our usual weekly whimasathon…

4 UP Nicolas Sarkozy
The burden of the pretend pro, or “no-fessional”, is a heavy one. While their chums are stuck in an office, perhaps reading a sporadically amusing cycling-related top five run-down to help them get through the day, these aspirational amateurs must focus on one thing and one thing only: cranking out huge mileages, and perhaps tweeting or blogging about it afterwards. But the scope of their obliviousness – which mainly involves paying no attention to a dwindling redundancy fund and an irked spouse – pales in comparison to that of French president Nicolas Sarkozy, who last week ignored the entire eurozone almost going down the crapper so he could go for a pootle on his reasonably-priced B’Twin. To restore British honour, The DYNAMITE! Files is calling on David Cameron, our own pedalling premier, to lead an Armstrong-style Twitter ride through the locality of the next inner-city conflagration while it’s still going on. It is the only way to show the French that we are better than them at blind indifference.

3 DOWN George W Bush
Staying with World Leaders On Bikes News, issue 25 of Rouleur contains a brief appraisal of George W Bush’s crash history, courtesy of an admirably frank exchange between two staff members at Trek’s Wisconsin headquarters. “Bush had, like, eight [bikes] come through,” reveals paint technician Patrick Sullivan. “He just kept wreckin’ ‘em. He’d take ‘em round to his ranch and stuff, and I dunno how the hell he does it. I haven’t ever wrecked a bike in my entire life. Maybe he fell a lot.” Well, the former US president always did seem to be a few spokes short of the proverbial full Ksyrium, so maybe he was as clumsy with his Treks as he was with his words. Or perhaps he did what some careful owners of carbon dream machines would secretly love to do if they didn’t have to pay for them: ride the bike into the ground and then simply get a new one. We’ll just have to wait for Bush’s memoirs before this mystery is solved.

2 DOWN Pendragon – Le Col – Colnago
“Eritrean Halie Dawit was refused a visa, while Libyan Ahmed Belgassem was stuck in his revolution-affected country.” Not the sort of sentence you usually get from Cycling Weekly, and not the type of thing you expect to happen to riders signed by a British racing team. But apparently that was part of the “catalogue of circumstancial [sic] situations” that affected Pendragon – Le Col – Colnago, which announced yesterday it is disbanding at the end of the season. If only The DYNAMITE! Files had a few quid to keep the south-west squad going – then, one day, we might get to read about, say, a plucky Afghan tearing it up around Smithfield, or an Egyptian standing on the podium of the Tour Series. We can but dream.

1 DOWN Artcrank
An urgent announcement for “velophiles” everywhere: mobs of confused, pitchfork-wielding lunatics have been known to drive paedatricians from their homes, so for the sake of your own safety, you may want to find a less unusual term to express your bike lust. In the meantime, an organisation called Artcrank is selling some nice posters next Friday at Look Mum No Hands! which, according to the event’s promotional blather, is the home of all things velophiliac. It’s possible, of course, that the American organisers are living up to the “crank” part of their name by using the made-up word “velophile” in the hope that it will be adopted by a café full of gullible twerps. And, hey, anything could happen after necking a few Slags (the Look Mum unofficial house beer) – although you’d have to be really sozzled to make sense of the Yanks’ assertion that “bicycles now ply the busiest areas of the city”, as if there were once swathes of central London where cyclists never rode. “Riding a bike is like an invitation to be creative,” says founder Charles Youel – a bit like writing a press release, it seems. (The DYNAMITE! Files is going for a lie down now. It’s feeling a bit Artcranky.)

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