Monday, 29 November 2010

...bloody brass monkeys!

Good Gracious it's cold at present, which got me to thinking...... how does a chap stay warm on said velocipedial form of conveyance?

Well for me the most important part is keeping the hands warm....thick leather gloves (with a quick spray of WD40 to keep the rain off them) are much better than the new fangled nylon...or kevlar ...or other rubbish. I dare say there may be new inventions that are perfect for cold and wet, but honestly I've never found a combination of the two that works better than leather.

On ones swede I suggest a good moleskin flat cap....snug fitting, warm....none of this plastic or polystyrene nonesense which must be the worst refuge from the cold yet invented.....I think plastic protective lids are a bit like loft conversions, they seem a good idea at the time, cost a bloody fortune, but in truth you either freeze in winter or bake in summer.....seems they are incapable of delivering a happy medium.

For the body you cannot do better than a 1950's swiss army woolen coat.......they know a thing or two about the cold them Swiss chappies and their coats (especially the short ones made for bicycle troops) are bloody amazing. Made of wool, they keep you warm (I often only wear a shirt and tie beneath mine), are windproof, and the quality of the wool means that rain droplets just ball up on them and then fly off.......absolutely superb...often available on ebay....bag one soon...sizes come up a bit small....but they have a suprisingly modern cut to them and a number of ladies have stopped me in town to say how much they like my coat and where did I buy it? Praise indeed for I am, at best, an ugly bastard. I normally also wear a scarf which can be tightened or loosened as required to regulate ones body tempreature.

Legs?...trusty moleskin.....bloody marvellous stuff. Footwear....again a good leather boot with lashings of mallard grease upon a treat....water off a ducks back what!! The real secret to keeping the legs dry and warm is good mudguards and best invention of all ....a mud flap. The mudflap is probably the most misunderstood piece of equipment in cycling. Most of my fellow cyclists look down their noses at me for having a big....heavy duty.....rubber mudflap on the front mudguard which almost touches the road. "Oh the drag co-efficent of that must be simply awful!" ..."OMG.....whats that? A bloody flattened mole hanging onto the front wheel?"

I make my mudflaps from Halfords rubber car mats. You can buy the mats for £3.99...cut them to the required "rowing boat oar blade" shape (you can get two from each mat if you do not care about the esthetics...but I do so I only get one) and fix them to the mudguard on the inside....They work a water on the grime or muck on the bottom bracket or chain water on the legs........just happy cycling in the pouring rain......bloody marvellous!

So there you go fellow Gentlemen Cyclists.......tog up for winter and get out into that freezing weather....good for the "sang" they tell me....even if the jolly old wedding tackle takes some thawing out!


Friday, 26 November 2010

Thoughts of Black Rubber and smoothness

Let me first of all state that I am a Pashley lover. I cannot imagine a more quintessential classic bicycle than a Pashley Sovereign Roadster. I am smitten.....were it possible I'd be making love to the damn thing now ....but like all great passions one cannot but be honest about their flaws, however small they may be......and dear reader, and fellow cyclists, the pedals on a Pashley are a flaw........................ make no mistake.

In my honest opinion of the Pashley, however proud I am to own it, it is the pedals that let the bike down. The catalogue describes them as "Alloy with non-slip". That is a bit of a lack lustre description for any part of a bike, let alone one so important to performance and longevity as the pedals.

Look at how they eulogise about the saddle..."Black Brooks B33".......such starkness in their use of descriptor...such alliteration and use of onomatopœia.... yet how much "more" is the functional "less",... its almost poetry......they eulogise with a curt reference to the Make, Colour, and Catalogue number...... and rightly so......Brooks are the kings of saddle is a veritable joy to place ones buttocks upon the leather of a Brooks saddle. Yet the description of the pedals makes no mention of the mention of the finish....... and certainly no mention of the model number.....they appear almost ashamed to mention the pedals by name.....

Why is this?......Well perhaps they realise that the pedals are SUB-STANDARD! On recieving my bike.....(read previous post to ascertain details of circumstances) ....the first trip was a joyous reunion with the cycling of my youth.......but by the second ride a wonky right pedal made the experience less than ideal.....hammering away at the damn thing for over 70 miles all I could feel was a graunchy, grating, bumping thump, thump,...... up through the sole of my splendid Trickers brogues and on into the ball of my foot. On getting off the beauty I tried to spin the pedal and it would barely turn on its axis. Examining the said item it is clear it is a cheap after-thought ....not worthy of placement upon such a beast.

I am sure that to James at Hilderthorpe Cycles I must seem like the customer from hell (see previous post) for I related my tail of woe. Like the sterling cycling hero he is he replaced the said poor pedal for a replacement item of the same design......I have to say that on reciept of the pedal I could not bring myself to place it on the bike I hold so dear. It would be like buying Marks and Spencers underwear for a mistress when I might have brought her Aubade. Being in the presence of a woman in Aubade makes you feel like a sex god and transforms her into a cross between an angel and a skilled concubine.

With these rubbish alloy pedals on the bike, it felt rather like I'd popped in to Asda to buy bra and pants for a £10 crack addict street walker. No, nothing but the best for me and my beautiful ride off with the "Alloy with non-slip" and on with the MKS Dutch Full you're talking darling!

So, if I might make so bold.....any gentleman (or lady for that matter) worth their salt should never be seen out without their Dutch rubbers.......not only are they a stonkingly good pedal, built with the most wonderful silky smooth classic MKS bearings which glide like something entering something with lashings of KY......they set off the 1920's look of the bike to perfection.

So roll up ladies....come get a glimpse of the black rubber attachments that finish off the Pashley so beautifully........ MKS 3000R Dutch Style Full Rubber Pedals (SJS cycles)...they rule ok!

Thursday, 25 November 2010

The Peaceful Bicycle?

As every Gentleman knows it is never long before new inventions get the once over from our friends in military uniform. Almost from the inception of the bicycle experimentation took place to ascertain what opportunities the bicycle offered to the military to quicken the demise of the enemy.
Despite beavering away like demented clockwork toys it was not until 1894, and the advent of the pneumatic tyre, that improved tyre resilience and a shorter sturdier frame meant that the bicycle was considered as a practical military tool. Military Cyclists were first used as messengers and scouts and it was not terribly long before whole Bicycle units were created by European armies.
In the UK military cyclists were employed by the militia and territorial units, often quicker than their more conservative regular counterparts to adopt the novel and new. The French military started toying with cycle units in an 1886 experimenting with folding bikes on the backs of “Chasseurs a pied” but it was in the United States that the most extensive experimentation with bicycle units was carried out. Using a variety of different bicycle models, Lt. Moss and his unit of the “25th Coloured Regiment” (an African-American unit managed by white officers) carried out extensive bicycle tests. The unit often went about modifying their bikes for use over “road-less terrain”, perhaps conjuring up the first real ATB’s and won considerable attention and fame, often riding for hundreds of miles at speeds that would defy even horsed cavalry.
The first known use of the bicycle in combat occurred during the Jameson Raid of (29 December 1895 – 2 January 1896), in which cyclists carried messages for the doomed, almost lunatic enterprise. Not a terribly successful start to the military career of the bicycle, but it was quickly improved upon in the Boer war. During that conflict cyclists were primarily used as scouts and messengers, but combatative bicycle raids were conducted by both sides. One of the most famous units in the entire war was the Theron se Verkenningskorps or TVK, a Boer bicycle scout unit lead by Daniel Theron whose exploits became something of a legend across Africa and was even more broadly reported across the world.
In the Great War, cycle-mounted infantry, scouts, & messengers were used by all combatants; finding particular favour with Continental Armies . Both Italian Bersaglieri and German Jager battalions had Bicycle Companys at the outbreak of the war and enthusiasm for the bicycle really seems to have captured German Commanders imaginations, for after the war they conducted an extensive study of the cycle in war and published their findings in a well received report – “Die Radfahrertruppe” (Bicycle Troops).
Despite Teutonic appreciation for the bicycle it was Japan that took the lead on military cycling in the post WW1 world, employing some 50,000 bicycle troops in its initial invasion of China in 1937. They repeated their Bicycle campaigning in early 1941 with the successful capture of Singapore which was largely due to their speedy and imaginative use of bicycle-riding soldiery. Bicycles allowed quiet, swift, and logistically light campaigns. Thousands of troops were able to mount swift, enterprising, and multi-directional surprise attacks which confused their enemy. Bicycles were cheap, easy to maintain and made few demands on Japanese industry, especially as leg power reduced the dependence on petrol.
The Finnish army used bicycles during the 1930’s and 40’s. Bicycle units spearheaded the advances against the Soviet Union in the summer of 1941 and were used right up to the end of the war.
Hitler was less keen on the bicycle preferring motorised two wheeled transport for his reconnaissance units early in the war. Some Wehrmacht units did utilise bicycles in the blitzkrieg era especially during the initial months of the war, and towards it’s end German Volksgrenadier divisions incorporated a bicycle battalion in their structures in the faint hope that such a formation might act as a flexible and mobile reserve.
Allied Forces did not use the bicycle much in World War II, but folding bicycles were issued to some paratroopers and occasionally for special messengers where circumstances permitted.
More recently bicycles took on a new lease of military life in a series of modern insurgency conflicts where the cycle's ability to carry troops and relatively large loads across larger distances than pedestrians might alone. In the Vietnam War the North Vietnamese used bicycles to ferry supplies. The bikes were not ridden but used almost as a mechanical mule, with a tender walking alongside, pushing the heavily loaded bike.
The use of the cycle as battlefield transport continued well into the 21st century with the Swiss and Swedish Armies. In Sweden bicycle units were phased out by 1952 yet the Swiss only phased the military bike out in 2001. (Kronan produces a modernized version of the Swedish m/42 military bicycle still...although I have never ridden one I’m told it’s a marvellous and tough bit of kit!).
In very recent times bicycles have been used by terrorists as bombs; In August 1939 – just days before the outbreak of the Second World War, Coventry was the scene of a bicycle bomb attack by the IRA. In this attack a bomb exploded inside the carrier basket of a tradesman's bicycle that had been left outside a shop. Interestingly the same tactic was repeated by the IRA in Sussex at two seaside resorts during the summer of 1994. 
Even up to a few days ago the tactic was still going strong in Afghanistan when a bomb placed on a bicycle killed three people and wounded at least 25 others in the eastern province of Laghman. Sadly it appears the military use of the bicycle will remain with us for some time to come.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010


It seems strange to contemplate the bicycle as a revolutionary object but in the 1880’s during The Bicycle Craze that’s almost exactly what it amounted to. The humble cycle stimulated great controversy about men and women’s proper roles in society. Questions of "how Ladies should ride", when they should ride, who they should ride with and especially what they should ride in were much discussed and many a young buck was thought to be brought to the point of unrestrained lust by the sight of "wheeling" females. Bicycle riding was thought to threatened women’s health, morals, and reputation.....(oh please, please, please, let that be true,...... see earlier posts for detail!).

While calmer advocates of the bicycle like Maria Ward, saw "The bicycle...... creating the desire for progress, the preference for what is better, the striving for the best, broadening the intelligence and intensifying love of home and country”, Physicians suggested that the bicycle promoted immodesty, and would harm women’s reproductive systems. Others noted that women “wheelers” wore shorter skirts, exposing the ankle and "inviting" insults and rapine. Moreover, by tilting the bicycle seat, they could "beget to foster the habit of masturbation".

Specially designed women’s clothing and undergarments were created “to absorb perspiration and protect the nether parts”. Looking back on old Victorian cycle magazines it is something that men seemed to spend an inordinate amount of time considering. The study of the issues involved seemed to provide endless fascination to many, predominantly male, designers ... but this pales into insignificance when one reads of the worries about the opportunity for privacy and the potential atmosphere of libertine abandon that bicycling might grant to young men and women.

To stifle lust in man and liberty in woman changes in dress or the design of bicycles was thought necessary and social taboos operated against women riding alone and professional lady cyclists acted as chaperones and were paid to undertake the role of keeping men and women pure.

Until 1825, women normally wore nothing under their skirts at all and men roundly condemned the wearing of  "drawers", one disgruntled male calling them "an abominable invention which produces disorders in abundance". ...but the die was cast and while many men opposed both bicycling and bloomer-wearing on the bases of a belief that by wearing "male dress" (later called "rational dress" or "alternative dress" by dress reform advocates) women would adopt other masculine traits, such as the desire for other women....(I presume they feared the competition?)....the bloomer made it’s appearance and both bloomers and bicycles were gaining female popularity by the late nineteenth century, even if for some they were seen as a dangerous combination.

Where am I going with this?...well does anyone think the bloomer has the potential to make a comeback? seems an inordinately sensible piece of female cycling attire and not without sartorial attraction.....but then what the hell would I know?....

Monday, 22 November 2010

Racers and the Rest

I seem to have upset more than a few individuals on a Cycling Forum I joined recently, although I cannot really fathom why such vehmence is shown towards an alternative view of cycling. Yet I am certain that the fault must lie with me for failing to judge the mood on the site. Is there an un-bridgeable gulf between the racers and the rest?

I have always held the view that cycling has since its inception, been a force for democratisation, indeed the fact that rich man and pauper were able to share its delights always seemed to act as a force for good in bringing groups together and providing common ground. I am therefore somewhat dismayed that the forum I refer to seems to give the lie to that. Were we to be out on our bikes....cycling along in the open air...meeting up with fellow cycling enthusiasts I am sure that we would deal with each other in a far less confrontational way than we do on the internet?

They may well think I look an utter fool on my Pashley...that my choice of clothes to cycle in is ludicrous......and that in not giving the impression of attempting to burst a blood vessel at every turn of the pedal, I show my lack of dedication to “real cycling”.

What is so striking to me, is that I hold the view that were we to meet in reality, and if I were to beat them up a hill, there might be a grudging respect for who and what I am, and even what I ride. Should they soundly beat me, which they seem to see as a given, and I arrived wheezing at the summit half an hour in their wake surely we would still be able to share a glass or cup of tea together and find something in common? What is it about the internet, that seems to allow the blurting out in text of comments one would never utter in the physical presence of another?

There seems to be an internet divide, in the UK at least, between those who consider themselves the cycling cognescenti in their brand emblazoned lycra, who ride for sport on expensive carbon fibre creations dreaming in their heads that they will be mistaken for “real cyclists” and those of us who eschew the tight fitting nylon, value reliable practicality, and glory in our limitations.

I average about 50 miles a day, with some pretty siezable hills negotiated, coming closer to 70 mpd towards the end of the week.  On occasions at the weekend I have found myself overtaking (on my Pashley) a veritable peleton of wannabe weekend domestiques (on their featherlight Colnago’s etc.) who have probably been tied to a computer desk all week and are suffering for their recreation and lack of regular practice. Yet on the internet at least, it seems that to admit to ride an old fashioned bike is to offer oneself up to ridicule.  

In truth I probably take a smug and mischievous pleasure in the image of being a 1920’s throwback……. In the real world of wind and road and bikes, I try to console myself that while they scoff,  beneath my moleskin breeks there lurks thighs of steel the equal of any of them….but I must confess that in the realm of the internet cycling forum, with its apparent herd like instincts and overwhelming mass of momentum, I have the urge to hide myself the deepest recess’ of my own virtual saddle bag.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Flirting on bikes

I wonder does anyone share my conjecture that two people, of the opposite sex (yes I know I am a dinosaur) passing in opposite directions on bikes enter a flirting zone of strangely powerful possibility?

Let me try to explain. I think there is something about the speed of approaching cyclists, their physical engagement in the open air, their genuine proximity, and the angle of approach and passing that has great flirting potential.

Were I to be walking, holding the gaze of a female approaching me from the sort of distance from which I could make out her eyes to the point of our passing would take a passage of time that would probably make both of us feel a little uncomfortable.

Staring at a woman approaching you on foot is not a good way to elicit a smile.....more likely a call to the Police. I am sure there is an equation that someone could develop to explain this....but suffice to say here that approach speed has something to do with it.

Then we have the angle of attack. Cyclists pass each other in straight lines. You ride directly towards each other and this is socially acceptable in the cycling environment. On a cycle path we are all in very close proximity...sleeve brushingly close on occasions....... and although the same effect occurs on roads it is perhaps not quite so powerful.

I think there might also be something around the fact that the bicycle provides something of a distraction -keeping it upright - pedalling - steering - changing gears....... all give the brain something to think about ....a slight distraction, creating an almost Zen like state of un-mindfulness where you are perhaps more open to possibility.

Let me describe a recent example that happened to me a few days ago.....warm day...waterfront location......cycle pedalling east....she west, a beautiful lithe blonde on a maroon Raleigh with black square framed glasses set against the peach complexion of her skin. The sun was behind me (thank God or she might have realised that I was not worthy of such a beauty) we approached I touched the peak of my cap and smiled. She graciously tilted her head, smiled, looked me full in the eye and held my gaze as we past each other with a coquettish turn of the head.

I was was one of those moments in life when it is a joy to be human. Nothing would come of it, but I hazard we both enjoyed the moment, and we were both left richer for the experience.

Perhaps the very fact that we were swiftly moving in opposite directions gave each the licence to take the action we did. Would I have done the same at walking pace? No. Would she?.....Probably there is something about:-

approach speed + passing proximity + un-mindfulness  = Flirting potential
                        direction of attack                                     possibilities

On the other hand....if there is a blonde haired woman with a red coat and a maroon Raleigh shopper thinking she remembers passing a pea-jacketed man on a Pashley the other day down by the water....Do you fancy a coffee sometime?

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Poncing about?

I was accused by a fellow cyclist of being a “ponce” yesterday.

Although I have probably used the word a few times in my youth for sad macho effect, I have never really been certain what a “ponce” is........ well at least he spurred me to find out.

ponce [pɒns] Derogatory slang chiefly Brit n - A man given to ostentatious or effeminate display in manners, speech, dress, etc.

So there it was staring me in black and white. I can only imagine that to this lycra clad fellow traveller on two wheels, wearing moleskin trousers, a tweed jacket, polished brogues and a matching tweed baker boy cap while riding a sleek black Pashley Sovereign is to be ostentatious and effeminate in manner and dress at one and the same time,...... for I had uttered not a word.

As he scampered off across the red light, giving two fingers to a car with the audacity to turn left on a green one...... I prepared myself for action. Damn him I thought.

Putting the Pashley into second gear I put my head down and shot across the junction just as soon as the traffic light permitted me, moving swiftly into 4th and spinning the new MKS Dutch Style rubber pedals ( for all I was worth. The road was flat .....Mr Lurid-Lycra was twirling his pedals nonchalantly about half a mile ahead readjusting his man-bag. Left into a main road he went oblivious of the crazed lunatic in tweed storming up behind him on a veritable cycling behemoth! I got to the junction just as the lights went amber.....and like a crazed maniac I shot left after him.

His sixth sense must have got the better of him because he glanced behind and saw “the ponce” racing up behind. I’m not sure if his motivation was fear or fame but in the spirit of retreat or competition he re-doubled his effort and the distance between us steadied a trifle. The good thing from my point of view was that road works up ahead had divested the road surface of its mirrored shine and a scouring machine had taken the top surface off the carriageway. Stripped down street racers seem to have a degree of difficulty negotiating a less than ideal roadway and the gritty grooved surface seemed to upset the chaps’ equilibrium a trifle. Not so the Pash....on it strode eating up the road dismissive of both groove and gravel,........ we were gaining on him now......most prodigiously!

And then I suppose I wondered what I would do when I got up to him? Was this any way for a gentleman to behave? Could I, who considers himself a gentleman, have cast aside good manners and become a raging beast, with malice aforethought, ready to run the enemy down and crush him beneath the wheels, bones splintering in the wake of the spokes and chain-guard? Besides....I was beginning to get a trifle warm, and the claret at lunchtime had obviously been rather more quaffable than I had imagined. In addition I needed to get across to Chelsea to meet up with a rather charming female cyclist of my acquaintance at her mews cottage for some afternoon delight.

He may have felt I was a “ponce”, indeed it might be that I looked like a “ponce”, perhaps I really am a “ponce”...... but in the afternoon I would be doing lashings of horizontal gymnastics in the arms of an angel and he, poor thing, would be slaving about on his courier bike earning a crust..........and rain had been forecast.

For whatever reason I slowed, .....up ahead the man with the stop/go board turned it towards us..... STOP!

I did.

Mr Lurid-Lycra looked back and rather neatly whipped his bike up onto the pavement and avoiding pedestrians, disappeared into the middle distance. I could just make out his bright pink cycle jacket and skin tight leggings with the pair of voluminous khaki shorts over the top of them....... looking to all intents and purposes like a..........well, if truth be told,.....looking like a bit of a “ponce”.

Friday, 19 November 2010

"Does my bum look big on this bike?" -The weight debate-you or the bike?

Bicycle weight seems to be something of an obsession and I have to wonder sometimes if the male of the species has taken leave of their collective senses? I realise this subject has probably been done to death, but here goes my ten penneth……

Many make it clear that to be with the cycling "In-crowd" you must have the very lightest bicycle and do everything you  can to make your bike light. If you don't, not only is the bicycle you ride a joke.... but you must be too.

In the world of the cycle cognoscenti  Light = Good; Heavy = bad.

I should know dear readers for I ride a Pashley Gents Roadster (and by God I love it!) yet the distain of some for that small admission needs to be seen to be believed…..the bike and yours truly weighing in at 100kgs. So spare me any tourette's like blurtings all you modern racing chaps! In any case, at the risk of bringing down a storm of choice remarks upon my head I thought I’d dare to try to prop up my argument with evidence.

First of all let me make it clear, weight is important. If it weren't, I would be enjoying pleasant 200mile rides on a 100kilo road bike equipped with a chaise longues. So despite my reservations on the issue, I accept that we should all ride modern, well-made, well equipped bikes.

BUT! truth what we are debating is nothing more than a few kilos here and there. Bikes range from “commuter bikes” like my all-steel Pashley, to a super-light barely strong enough to negotiate a pot hole single speeder.  Given the usual rider and bike coming close to a combined weight of say 82 kilos, the difference in performance between bikes of differing weights may surprise you.

James Martin, Ph.D. an assistant professor of exercise and sport science at the University of Utah provides some interesting calculations that makes the issues of weight very clear.

He took a 5 kilometer hill of 7% grade as an example, which is a good stiff climb. He further assumed a 73kg rider who can produce 250 watts on a 10 kg bike. Given those circumstances it would take 19 minutes and 21 seconds for the rider to get up the hill. Now comes the interesting bit. For every 2kgs added the trip up the hill would take 30 seconds longer. So even on my Pashley on a really tough climb it would only take 22 minutes and 21seconds (a mere 3 minutes longer).

That means that even on a heavy old clunker like mine, I’d only be three minutes late for the jolly picnic at the top of the 20 minute climb. Just in time for the weight watchers to get the sandwiches and tea out!

The performance advantage of a light bike is clearest when the hill is steepest. When the road flattens out, those 30 seconds per kilo grow smaller and smaller and make no real difference on the level because as the speed of the bike increases, the greater resistance comes from the wind, tire rolling resistance, bearing drag, clothing….. less and less on the weight (on a downhill stretch it’s a slight advantage to have a heavier bike). 

Variations in peoples body weight are much greater than the weight of their bikes ever could be and make a much bigger difference. If that same 73kg, 250 watt rider on the bike indicated in the first instance were to be 100kgs in weight he would reach the top 6 minutes and 10 seconds later……..that is 3 minutes after me on the jolly old Pash….and I’d then have to ask my butler to have the “Bolly” chilled!

So don’t stress about bike weight my dear velocipedal chums…….lose weight off yourself!

Bottoms up!...heads down!

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Sex and the solo cyclist

I doubt I am the first to consider the connection between sex and cycling……no doubt many have been brought to a state of high arousal by cycling associations….but I thought it might be interesting to muse upon the issue of the erotic appeal of the biciclette.

Victorian cycling advertisements often give the nod to an undercurrent of sexual innuendo. Flying skirts, exposed bloomers, strutting males and female legs akimbo on speeding bicycles all speak of a certain sexual vitality and engagement with physical pleasure that cannot be gainsayed.

Or perhaps I am mistaken? Perhaps I am one of a small number of cycling fetishists with a perverse and perverted attraction to …. "Ladies who cycle”…..A veritable, disgraceful, and incorrigible participant in “velophilia”.

For I cannot deny that I am oddly sexually attracted to women on bicycles. Why should this be?

Aside from the somewhat crude and obvious references to sitting astride a powerful means of propulsion (My other passion is horses, and while I feel similarly attracted to “Ladies who hack”, it is by no means anything like to the same extent as it is with "Ladies who cycle”), I wonder what is it about women on bikes that arouses me so?

I have always been a leg man, and it cannot be a coincidence that the leg is the most prominent appendage in cycling. The action of regular cycling sculpts and refines the lower extremities of the female form to the proportions of an alabaster goddess. Then there is the issue of a promise of forbidden fruit…..a glimpse beneath the skirt of inner thigh,…… that soft, cool, deliciously sweet tasting, firm and yet yielding holy grail of the leg connoisseur.

Strangely, the more unexpected the glimpse…… the more alluring, and arousing the result. In this regard skirts are preferable to shorts….with a well nigh unendurable frisson being created if the object of desire should be wearing stockings.

But there is something more to this obsession than just unadulterated lust involved here…..something about the sort of woman who cycles. Such a woman must at the very least have a high degree of self possession to adopt such a liberating and physically demanding form of transportation. The real attraction for me lies somewhere in the allure of a female who understands the joy and fulfilment that physical engagement in the moment can bring to human beings.

In short Ladies who cycle are Ladies who live. Ladies who cycle offer the promise of vibrant and carefree physical engagement with the here and now. They demonstrate a willingness to enjoy their bodies, to explore and take risk, and this is perhaps their most alluring trait of all………………………………and the secret of my shame.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Buying online bikes

Would you buy a bike on-line?.....well I did despite the dire predictions of friends and fellow commuter cyclists. I took my chances with who offered me a good deal on a Pashley Sovereign Roadster..... what other sort of bike would a gentleman be seen on?

I did this after visiting various London bike shops most of whom:-
a) looked down their nose at me for buying such a beast of a cycle (....the very idea!)...."why not go for the super lightweight single speed no handlebar option with gel brakes and underseat soda stream Sir?"
b) refused to offer anything like a "deal" on the bike and associated products despite considerable sums of cash in my grubby little hand.
c) had the audacity to tell me that the bike would not be delivered for six weeks at the very earliest! Six weeks!....."I can get a suit at Anderson & Sheppard's earlier than that Man!" ....I cried!

Suffice to say Hilderthorpecycles were willing to take me seriously, do me a deal, and deliver the bike within 36hours.....

The big concern about buying on-line is the quality of service, how to get things sorted that don't quite work right, setting the bike up and a host of other factors.

Well having suffered at the hands of a very poor courier service who seemed to believe a bike is an item that can be thrown from vehicles and delivered upside-down I was delivered of a bike in less than perfect condition. Woe is me I cried.

Happily I can state without fear of contradiction that James at Hilderthorpe Cycles could not have been more attentive or have delivered a better quality of service had I been standing over him with an unholstered Colt 45. To say he went the extra mile would be something of an understatement, putting the faults right, sending me an additional light just in case I had trouble fitting the damaged one and offering me the sort of attention that I thought had gone out with the 1920's and was simply unavailable in the internet age.

So I wondered is the last repository of service in cyberland?

What experience has anyone else had with on-line delivery? Are their bastions of cycling service in London or anywhere else in the UK? Any other recommendations gentle fellow travellers?

Real Gentlemen don't wear lycra

Having just taken ownership of a splendid Pashley Sovereign Roadster I am left wondering why others persist in commuting on such inconvenient and seemingly impractical conveyances?

To my mind the commuter bicycle reached it's zenith in design in the 1920's, and such bicycles seem to have it all as far as practical commuter cycling is concerned. I am left somewhat in awe of the lycra clad, skin tight, legging wearing, middle aged, balding males with beer guts who happily don their pan's people outfits on the 7.21 and waddle up to town on cleated shoes, with weighted back packs and flashing lights dangling from every conceivable strap, topped off by some ludicrous plastic headwear.

Gentlemen do you have any idea how ridiculous you all look?... kitted out in spandex and neon clutching your super lightweight folding monstrosity? You are a figure of ridicule to all those svelte long legged sirens you long to bed as you gaze across the train zipping and posturing......and I mention this with confidence after speaking to one of the said sirens, a rather demure thing with the most wonderful auburn hair in tresses, having asked her opinion of a bevy of available lycra clad cycling manhood. Her comments were gentle, but with an air of hilarity.

How much more alluring to do the gentlemanly thing and wear a fine well cut Saville Row suit, good English brogues, a thick wool coat and a dashing moleskin cap......while riding a solid piece of British understated classic cycle.

......of course some bright spark will now point out that only folding bikes are permitted on the 7.21....but of course a gentleman seldom rises before 9am....... so on the trains I catch,....... folding is rather passe.

Toodle pip!