Wednesday, 21 September 2011

the other side

Never one to miss a chance to explore a new route, the recent visit of the Tour of Britain provided the final push to try a wee run out from Moffat. It is a typical borders market town just down the road from the legendary Abington.

Leaving Moffat on the A708 humming a rather obvious musical refrain of Cousteau last good day of the year the road rolls and trundles as it ascends gradually past Grey Mare's Tail waterfall and offers some respite to Cappercleuch.

The sun managed to break through with it brought some heat and worries of being overdressed. This is Scotland however and these fanciful ideas were soon forgotten as normal weather service was resumed. There is a right turn onto an unmarked single track road just before Cappercleuch signposted for Tweedsmuir and this is was taken on stage one of this year’s Tour of Britain. The road ascends to Megget Hill and reservoir and is at it's steepest in the first kilometre or so though the headwind was making for laboured progress through a green and brown Autumnal landscape.

bleak, bleak in a very Scottish way

A brief respite to admire the view of Talla and make a mental note to do this route in reverse before a damp descent and a run along the shore to Tweedsmuir.

The turn at Tweedsmuir rejoins the main roads in the shape of the A701 and turn into the teeth of a severe south westerly. Progress was agonisingly slow towards the Devil's Beef Tub but it did offer the chance to look out for and spare bidons that had been discarded by those pro riders. After some time it was possible to be convinced that the modern pro tour survives on Irn Bru, coffee from styrofoam cups and cheap lager but finally efforts were rewarded in the shape of not one but two water bottles. The Devil's Beef Tub marks the beginning of the descent and return into Moffat on what proved to be a tough ride that would be testing even without the wind for company on two of the three sides. The roads never really rise dramatically but are rarely flat either. They all run below 300m yet roll and wriggle and rise with a gradual persistence that adds spice to some fine borders scenery.
                                                                                              71km 810m ascent

It's only September and I'm thinking about Christmas

The recent visit to Ronde resulted in a couple of purchases. I'm a sucker for a nice print; the love of ink, big machines, oily rags, tradition, craft and the patience of saint all go into that 2D piece of joy. Well, it's not strictly 2D. Prints have a surface formed by the process and quite a few printers really take this to the limit. I have a book lurking at home which is history of the Roman typeface. The embossed pages of hand printed characters are not only a visual feast, but the tactile quality results in sensory bliss. An invite from vitsoe recently landed on my desk. In true vitsoe understated fashion, their logo is embossed on the top right hand corner. It just cries out for your thumb to be rubbed against it, lovely. Dynamoworks in Edinburgh do a fine range of bike related prints. I couldn't decide what print to buy, my wife was giving me the look (not that one) to get my arse in gear and make a decision. The result, a will do for the time being.

Talking of print, Edwin works for the same employer as me and we both have access to some pretty nice kit. He tends to print things in ink, I tend to print things in ABS. Your time is no doubt precious, but you really should have a look at his work.

The other goodie in the bag brought back childhood memories of being dragged round antique and charity shops in France. I've loved those little cycling figures for years. The weird thing is, that until now, I can't ever recall buying one. I was probably saving my money for a real bike. Capturing a dynamic activity in three dimensions is a tough call. Fair enough, these figures don't have the accuracy and beauty of a finely crafted piece of jewellery or sculpture, but they do poses a quality that is full of emotion and that is a very tough call. The manufacturing process obviously lends it's own quality, and the rustic nature has been left intact. Tool wear has a say in the final aesthetic through the decision of not removing the 'flash'. In my opinion, this adds to the honesty of the objet d'art.

The number of companies that have produced these figurines over the years is vast. A great source of tracking them down is

The real Papa de le peleton is the Roger Foundry. I won't fill the blog with their history as it is worth pointing the cursor to the link and having a read.

The plastic variety don't do it for me, Christmas crackers come to mind. Now, if a Christmas cracker had one of these beauties in it I would be a happy boy.

Rouler mag even paid homage to the models, the cover of issue 11, (now sold out) was a photo from Janol Apin  'les petits velos' series. His site is worth a look, even if only for the humour of the over the bars spill and the 'being in the right place at the right time' message captured in these inanimate objects.

The cycliste purchased from Ronde may end up losing his white jersey and returning to team duties. The four time winner of the Paris-Roubaix being the inspiration. Time to look out the red and blue humbrols...

Stay upright

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Strictly bicycles

The tail end of a Hurricane is causing havoc here in the UK, even the Tour of Britain stage from Kendal to Blackpool was cancelled yesterday. One little slimmer of joy was finding out that the Manx-missle was (and possibly still is) a competitive ballroom dancer. Mark Cavendish visited the world famous ballroom in the past to compete and returned yesterday to meet fans. The Saturday night BBC hit Strictly Come Dancing may beckon, and in true Brucey fashion 'Mark, you're my favourite'.

The cyclists and teams response to the cancelled Tour of Britain stage was a sensible one and they even had the decency to enjoy a Ronde round Kendal and meet the fans.

Thankfully the weather didn't deterrent the fans and the crowds lining the streets demonstrated the popularity that cycling is enjoying in the UK. Cycling is a visual treat and I'm sure that we have all been stopped in our tracks by a bike, rider, peleton at some point. If you where in New York recently you may have heard of the unfortunate young cyclist that was arrested for distracting motorists, her skirt was too short. Well folks, you shouldn't have been looking. New York and Glasgow have some similarities, cafe/deli culture being one. A cyclesguff favourite is Where the monkey sleeps on West Regent St.

Lunch time is a mix of creatives, suits, taxi drivers and bike couriers. Add music blaring in the background, a sandwich that will keep you going until midnight and all is well. The couriers have had to deal with some awful weather. We may moan, but at least we don't have to ride our bikes to earn our keep. The pros do, but as seen yesterday, the organisers call the shots when the conditions are grim to point of putting riders at risk.

The monkey's railings are always a source of interest. The bike below stopped me in my tracks and I even forgot about the rain as the love for the bike became very obvious. 

The New York courier scene may have the history and greater following, but if any bikes can match this, please send a pic and it will be posted, darling.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

zero bhp

The simple things in life are those to cherish and one has to be cracking descent. A descent can be even sweeter if the events prior to the gravity frolics result in you feeling that a 'gentle' tuck and coast is deserved. 

So far, gravity has played a part in cyclesguff. No, it's not the case that we are all showing our age, just look back to the guffbike post. Recent travels, family events and actually going out and riding bikes has resulted in guffbike being neglected. It will roll soon, I promise......Going back even further, there was a post about the 'comic' and scaging the mags. An opportunity arose yesterday to indulge in a spot of free reading. The love of two wheels doesn't start and stop with bikes, it also includes motorbikes. The motorbike in the garage is one very long restoration/cafe racer project. The reason I've not bought a runner, is purely and simply down to the fact that it would enjoy far more attention and freedom on the road. My plan was to use this time to build the bike that has always been in my mind.

Bike magazine is a good read and usually has an article or two that catches the attention, ZERO BHP is a perfect example. The stats: Location. Alpe D'Huez. Weapons of choice. Yamaha R1 Uberbike v 7.5k carbon road bike. The R1 was ridden by a pretty handy circuit racer, the road bike was guided down le Alpe by a former motocross - mtb and road champion. So he knew a thing or two about handling a bike. I'm not going to tell you the outcome, let's just say that it will make you smile.

If you are on the hunt for more crankshafts v cranks have a look at this.

The bike article brought back a memory of a very early date. The poor girl didn't know what to say when I turned up at her house on a tandem with a picnic. The solo 5 mile ride to her house was interesting to say the least and I discovered just how quick a tandem can drop altitude. Towards the end of the date we where full of life and pedalling back to her house. I knew a cracking descent was ahead, the road looked clear and we went for it! The Volvo estate that appeared have way down was the red rag. The driver's face was a picture when he looked to his right and saw to young pups smiling as they flew by. He was eating a choclate bar (don't know what type!!) and missed his mouth completely when he went to take a bite. We laughed so much that a speed wobble started. The girl in question is now my wife. 

Stay upright