Posts Tagged ‘Colnago’

Cycling confessions

November 2, 2012

What every cyclist needs: a confession booth

Currently, the mood in cycling is one of revelation: I took drugs, I was on the books of a notorious Spanish doctor, I couldn’t help noticing Lance thought Bobby Julich was a bit dull. That sort of thing. But it’s not just the pros who have had something to hide. I, too, have harboured dreadful secrets. And now, pausing only to offer sincere apologies to those I may have hurt by not speaking out sooner, I shall now unburden myself of the guilt that has wracked my conscience. In return, I ask you to find the compassion in your hearts to forgive me for breaking some of cycling’s strictest edicts…

I do not drink coffee. There – I’ve said it. Drinking coffee makes me more tired by the end of the day, and I don’t miss the hit or the taste. More importantly, I came to realise why coffee lovers talk about which brands they prefer without usually discussing the differences: it’s because all types of bean juice taste roughly the same. Seriously, they do. Starbucks and your favourite independent coffee house both leave, quite literally, a bitter taste in your mouth. It’s just a slightly different bitterness. So have a tea instead, guys! Any tea! Black tea, green tea, fruit teas – there’s a lot more variety. And greater variety means more opportunities to indulge in cyclists’ favourite pastime: arbitrary snobbery. You can’t lose!

I have never looked at a carbon Colnago with envy. They look fine. Perfectly fine. Not beautiful, stunning, amazing, awesome, just… OK. Like a nice fitted kitchen or a sensible hat. To me, they appear to be just another assemblage of carbon tubes, but without the futuristic wowness of, say, a Felt, or the old-school romanticism of a hand-built steel frame. They’re sit somewhere in between. With an Italian name. Total whatevvs.

I don’t want to ride the Etape. One of my favourite pieces of cycling-related prose is Bill Strickland’s pithy, insightful and funny article on the Etape du Tour, which appeared in Rouleur’s 2008 photo annual. Bill evokes the event as a kind of living trance, where the landscape and your fellow riders recede from your immediate perception, thereby provoking a reckoning with yourself. And I can relate to that; I’m just pretty sure I don’t want or need that experience from a sportive. I think sportives should be pleasant jaunts around unfamiliar locales, and the Etape always looks far too over-populated and bloody serious to provide that sort of ride. Also, for me, riding a stage from the actual Tour de France without the speed or ability of a pro would be like running around Wembley Stadium while pretending to kick an invisible football. For these reasons, I am never going to ride the Etape.

I’m not that bothered either way about disc brakes or electronic shifting. I think I’m supposed to feel strongly one way or the other, aren’t I? I just can’t muster the effort, fellas. I’m sorry. Look, if the industry wants it to happen, it will happen. One set of aesthetic values will shift to accommodate another. And if you’re a diehard fan of rim braking or analogue gears, then you’ll probably be able to stick with them. Bicycles will still be able to start and stop. Them wheels will keep on turning. Let’s all have a group hug and try not to fight about it, OK?

The Great Cyclepassion Amnesty

December 16, 2011

I know a person who spent £135 on an empty book (otherwise known as the now-discontinued leather-bound Rapha training diary). I also know someone who, before the Nespresso and similar kitchen appliances became commonplace, would ride from his home to the nearest Starbucks every time he fancied a brew rather than subject himself to the indignity of a cafetiere or instant coffee. And I know two grown men who are not the least bit embarrassed about the top tube of their Colnagos bearing the phrase “Extreme Power”, even though such a name would even be too naff to grace the packaging of a disposable razor. (“You don’t want five blades, you don’t want six, seven or eight blades – you want the closer-than-ever-before 22-blade shaving system that only the Wilkinson Extreme Power Titanium Edition With Aloe Vera Lubricating Strip can deliver…”).

Yet despite witnessing a range of unusual and frowned-upon behaviours among a variety of cyclepeople, there is one eyebrow-raising purchase that has seemingly eluded my peers: the Cyclepassion calendar. For I do not know a single person who has ever bought one.

Which, of course, isn’t to say that nobody buys the annual collection of professional female cyclists in their underwear and various other states of undress. The 2012 edition marks the seventh year of its existence, so presumably there are quite a few men interested in this sort of thing; I just don’t know any of them. What I do know, or suspect, given my extensive observations of male cycling fans over a decade-long period, is that Cyclepassion’s punters have probably all enjoyed watching fast, strong women racing in addition to watching fast, strong men. And in any case, the lack of money and exposure currently besetting women’s cycling wouldn’t be ameliorated if a very small minority chose not to display their physiques in glamour shots. So I shall not denounce or blame these men for damaging the perception of women’s cycling, although I remain open to such arguments.

What fascinates me is this: why, when the photographs are freely available on the internet, would anyone need to purchase a Cyclepassion calendar? Isn’t your interest sated, like mine is, by a quick online gawp? I would also be very interested to know what your wife or partner thinks. Do you have to hang it up in the bike shed so she doesn’t see it?

So it is in the spirit of understanding and sheer nosiness that I am now opening The Great Cyclepassion Amnesty. If you’ve purchased a Cyclepassion calendar – the 2012 edition or any other of the previous years – then get in touch. Tell me why. Your anonymity, should you request it, is assured, gentlemen.