Friday, 27 May 2011

Hubs versus Derailleurs, an unsound judgement.

I have been pondering the views of an individual who I might dare to call an acquaintance (for he is certainly not a friend) and who is considered by some females of my acquaintance as being a rather fine example of the modern man.

I think that in some circles his type are referred to as "metro-sexual" whatever the devil that means. Amusingly when I first heard the term I was rather under the impression that a Metro Sexual was a man who exposed himself to women on the tube... you know the type... raincoat?.... fiddling with his bits?... leering?

Anyhow this acquaintance seems to see no harm in talking about his feelings endlessly...dons "cleanser" every night and talks endless rot about "relationships". I shouldn't wonder if he could barely bring himself to kiss a woman, let alone perform any other exchange of bodily fluids as he seems an inveterate hypochondriac. However, he considers himself to be a REAL cyclist, is certainly a fit bugger, and cycles wearing normal clothing even if he does ride a dutch gals bike.

However..... I digress,.....said chap was discussing the benefits of derailleur gearing over hub gears and encouraging me to ditch the old hub and go for a derailleur. Our discussions went something like this..... 

GC.....Hub plus points; less wear, less maintenance, easier to keep clean, gear changing when stationary (a very BIG plus in my book), chain runs in line so wears less, thicker stronger chain is......well.... stronger, chain-guard keeps clothing clean.

M-S....Hub negatives; heavier, slower gear changing, power stops while changing gear, gear ratios cannot be changed, limit to number of gears, lower efficiency in power train energy transfer, repairs can be expensive. 

M-S....Derailleur plus points; lighter, faster changes with less loss of pedal power, gear ratios can be changed, more gears, higher efficiency of power transfer, repairs are cheap. 

GC.....Derailleur negatives; needs regular adjustment, needs more lubrication/attention, gets dirty, difficult to clean, chain weaker and often runs out of line so wears more, exposure to physical damage, chain-guard not really viable.

I also rather unwisely pontificated that Hub gears were rather more "old worldly" and traditional than the derailleur ....he demurred.....and I have to grant him the fact that as far as biking gears are concerned he was right.....there really is not a lot in it. 

Fixed wheels were the norm until experiments with hubs started in the 1880's, but it was not until the turn of the century that things really got off the ground. In 1903 Frank Bowden, head of the Raleigh cycle company, formed "The Three-Speed Gear Syndicate", having obtained the rights from two separate inventors of hub gears. That same year the first Sturmey Archer 3-speed was born, by 1909 there were 14 different 3-speed hub gears on the British market, and by the 1930's hub gears were used on bicycles all over the world.

However, at almost exactly the same time others were looking to a different method of gear change, and the derailleur became a practical option around 1905, although it was not until 1928, when the "Super Champion Gear" began to be sold, that the derailleur really started to capture the imagination of the public and become a truly viable option.

So...there you have snobbish preference for the presumed "old world" hub gear over the new fangled derailleur gear was stuff of nonsense. Not the only shock administered to yours truly recently....for returning home the other night I happened, somewhat ironically, on said "Metro-Sexual" acquaintance going hammer and tongues at the rear of a young female who had assumed an inviting position bent over the cycle rack of a derailleur equipped bicycle! Obviously there is more to this Metro-Sexual lark than I imagined!

Sunday, 22 May 2011

My Sin of Pride

Despite my recent lack of training and all too full-some acceptance of the American way of life in recent weeks which has put untold additional pounds upon my frame I have to make a confession. Well no...truth to tell I don't have to at all...I want to.

"I take a guilty pride in thrashing the living daylights out of plastic dog-bowl wearing, lycra clad, super-light-weight pro cycling wannabes!"

There it is said.......on at least three separate occasions this week I have thrashed the daylights out of such examples of the supposed cycling cognoscenti....speeding up behind them and passing nonchalantly (despite near bursting lungs!) in an overtake and leaving them in my dust desperate to make up the ground.

Now I know in my heart that I am a shallow moral incontinent because of this failing....but oh it does feel so good to be riding in Panama hat on what they consider to be an "old Clunker" dressed in normal clothes and to speed past the lycra clad on their carbon fibre nano-weight speed-machines. I even managed to overtake a small peleton of them yesterday!

Yes!...Yes!.....I am sure they had travelled miles....perhaps they were saving themselves for the 120mile ride home....but God does it feel good!

Once again I know it is I who have failed in living up to my own principles....competition be damned....the spirit of real cycling is that the journey is more pleasurable than the speed of progress....but miserable failure that I am...I LOVE IT!


Is it just me or is there a dearth of proper cycling clubs or cycling organisations to join in the UK?

Who caters for the REAL Cyclist?.....With the exception of the odd tweed run here and there it all seems to be carbon fibre, lycra and male bonding.

I am certain some well meaning soul will now bombard me with the hieroglyphics of internet addresses to "log on to", telling me of the joys of cycling clubs foolishly un-beknown to yours truly........ but I am not really talking about the sort of groupings of ageing Jacques Anquetil dopple-gangers or juvenile spotty faced wannabe tour de france riders....I am talking about REAL cycling.

The sort of cycling I am talking about is where a group of well dressed elegant individuals of both the male and female of the species all of whom are capable of reasonable conversation meet up on a Saturday morning.....ride out somewhere a tour of some stately home or historical sight or visit an otherwise interesting location and then pop a few bollie corks, scoff a few cucumber and fish paste sandwiches before wobbling back from whence they came.

Of course who could deny that the addition of females into the mix would make the whole thing so much more fun....I always think that any segregation of the sexes seems a rather bizarre way of going about ones fun, truth to tell any visit to a UK cycling club currently is similar, in terms of gender mix, as going hawking with a group of Bedouins in Saudi Arabia!

Following the bollie and sandwiches who knows, with a few females in tow, you might even get to visit a local haystack for a spot of horizontal petting....a damned site more inspiring than checking ones times after a windswept death ride up the local A42!

So why is this? Would there be any interest in setting up a REAL CYCLING CLUB?....are there any such about......would you join one? Is there something in the female psyche that would make them run a mile from any such enterprise..... I'd be interested to know as I sort of have a dormant idea lurking in the back of my head to set something know a sort of weekly Tweed Run in our local area.....(obviously not only tweed...but in reasonable attire).....



Friday, 20 May 2011

Unseasonably warm what?

Dear All,

Having just returned from yet another chance to sample the delights of corporate USA I realise that I am turning into something of a wage slave.....and that all the quaffing of British Airways champers, dire though it may be, driving and sitting about to endless "business lunches" is not doing my midriff any good at venturing onto the old velo over the past weeks has been something of a relief....not to mention sartorial necessity.

Having been "sans velo" and rather too "surplus vino" (although anyone visiting Seattle simply must visit Zig Zag Cafe....the skilled Murray managed a "blood and sand" of simply epic hole indeed!) I felt the necessity to make up for lost time....never a good policy on the bike or in the bedroom.

Whether down to additional pounds, inappropriate attire (those new breeks were rather too clinging in the crotch and buttock areas) or the warmth of the days I know not but I began to suffer rather more than I care to acknowledge and it got me to thinking about the unsuitability of testicles for cycling......

Yes Ladies you did read that right......I said testicles.....but based upon the opinion that a gentleman should do nothing he could not talk about at dinner.....I think the subject still worthy of discussion.

I know not whether the female genitalia is better suited to the bicycle saddle or not...perhaps we could do a poll?....but the male scrotum and testis certainly are not. Now however fond of the reproductive value of keeping the sperm producing organ outside of the body, one might have thought that in our infinite scientific wisdom man might have found a better way of cycling than allowing his gonads to swing about like a veritable pendulum overheating and soiling a perfectly good pair of strides.

What might be the answer?.....perhaps one could have a procedure performed whereby they might be made detachable in warm weather......unscrewed and popped into a neat little saddle bag awaiting their masters dismounting.....featuring a quick release mechanism that might be handy for speedy replacement when necessity for fertilisation of comely maids becomes apparent......for surely they are no good to man nor beast on board of a bicycle? Alternatively why have not Brooks invented the "Scrotum Double 2 ball bath refrigerated saddle"....a neat and convenient way to keep yourself comfortable during the months of June to September?

For those of you who fear that I have fallen into the realm of fantasy just spend an afternoon in a close fitting pair of breeks, trundling along at an above average speed on an old clanker and then tell me I am mistaken in my viewpoint? I think not!

So come along all you inventor chappies out there..... put you mind to it ......see how to air-condition my unmentionables while maintaining a sartorial style befitting a gentleman.....anybody mentioning "wicking" or "lycra" at this juncture really HAS missed the point!