Thursday, 20 September 2018

Spend more buy less part 2

They did finally dry out
The Goodwood Revival, the annual festival of the halcyon days of racing, fashion and glamour is well and truly over for another year. I've been lucky to go to Revival on a few occasions. Unfortunately, the majority of last year's Revival was a wash out. Those of us under canvas suffered from very poor facilities. The Duke of Richmond obviously can't control the weather, but most of us came to the conclusion that his team could have worked harder prior to and during the Revival. The lack of shelter around the track added to the dejected looks of many revivalists that had put so much time, effort and expense into their get up and weekend.  This is not to say that it wasn't fun. 'Over the road' was the place to escape the frequent downpours, trudge through the mud and enjoy a tonic or two. 

The racing was fierce and probably benefited from the wet and slippery conditions on track. Watching classic sport cars worth millions all crossed up and drifting through the bends is a sight to behold. The wonderful noise of a highly tuned racing engine being pushed to the max and beyond as wheels spin and revs rise in the futile search for grip is an aural assault.  The smell of racing engines, Castrol R mixed with drizzle, or even better a drying track and you have a sensory delight. Thankfully, this year's weather was kinder and by all accounts, the 20th Anniversary looked like a spectacular weekend.

They also have an enviable history with Auto world
Recent years have been landmarks for a number of auto manufacturers, including Ferrari, Porsche and Lotus. They are all enjoying the spoils of being Septuagenarians with their latest and greatest making the news and featured in the mags and web. One company that has links with some of the great marques and is older than most is Campagnolo. If you ever have the opportunity to read about Valentino Campagnolo, his history in developing manufacturing techniques that resulted in Campagnolo working with the greatest marques is well worth the time. For me, Campagnolo magnesium car racing wheels are the some of the most pleasing castings to behold. The geometry and patterns are enhanced by delicate, sculptural casting details. These not only visually suggest that those responsible for the components fully embraced the value of design engineering, but also considered aesthetics to be an integral part of the development process. There are even Campag parts in space. NASA doesn't come calling if you are not good enough. If you happen to be drinking a glass of vino locale, please raise a glass to Valentino's father Tullio and Campagnolo founder, he invented the self-centering corkscrew in 1966.

if you go down to the pits today....
Part 1 of this post noted that the classic auto market is showing signs that there is more value in survivor cars than those that have been restored to an incredibly high level of finish. In a number of cases, the finished level of restored cars is better than when it left the factory. Concours d'elegance winners and 100 point cars will undoubtedly hold their appeal and value. There are devices used to check the level of paint, verify the originality and if any resprays have been applied. Paint finishes that replicate the 'orange peel' of the factory finish can be specified. If you want to keep the real deal under lock and key and have the wherewithal, just speak to a growing number of specialists that will build you a tool-room copy. How many of the cars racing during the commonly billed  'world's most valuabe race' at Goodwood are original will continue to be a loaded question. Given the chance, I'd happily go for a PurSang Alfa Romeo 8C.

It's obvious that racing takes its tole on the kit. Parts will be changed, panels will be reshaped and rules and regulations will enforce alterations during the car's existence. A classic car with a racing history and an owner/s that wants to keep campaigning will require continuous investment. Nick Mason's approach with his Ferrari 250GTO is welcome; the more it races, the more valuable it becomes. For the select few, Classic Car Racing is speculation to accumulation. Then again, the recent news stories about JD Classics are worth paying attention to.

Where does all this talk of classic autos (can't forget the wonderful motos) link in with bicycles? My experience of Goodwood also benefited from a great display of cycles and associated vehicles to feast upon. Classic names from classic times. The prices demonstrated that the market and appetite for classic bicycles is far from slowing down. If you are in the market, the growing number of specialists that have built their reputation on knowledge and attention to detail is the place to start. I find myself looking Velow and Pedal Pedlar, not a bad place to spend a few minutes and escape into dreams and ambitions of old......

a fair mix of interesting parts

The tyres should last a few laps
I recently had a chance to buy back my old Ciocc Columbus SL. A bike of real beauty, classic lines, elegant tubes and lugs of silversmithing quality. The paint was deep Rosso Red coat finished with black decals and yellow piping. Chrome forks, chainstay and dropouts were the metallic toppings of what was and still is a beautiful bike. Why didn't I buy? The fly in the ointment was the mix of Campag and Shimano. When I sold the Ciocc, I was at the transition point in my component manufacturer of choice. If the new owner had fitted a period correct Campag or Shimano gruppo, I would have probably gone for it. The time required to source the appropriate parts would be an issue. The cost could be offset by selling the other parts. I'll probably regret not buying it, but I've decided to move on. Not only from spending more time riding bikes on the roads, but also from spending more on kit that will end up not being used. Add to that, a project list that isn't getting any shorter, but at least the patina of those projects is being allowed to develop.

Stay upright

Sunday, 9 September 2018

Spend more, buy less part 1

I was discussing the value of patina with a few like-minded fellows recently and was reminded of an article written by Design Critic and Aesthete, the venerable Stephen Bayley. In the article he refers to cortification, a term archaeologists use for the surface effects of aging. Bayley uses this term to explain his annoyance of classic car owners and markets to over restore and basically destroy the authenticity of the vehicle. He continues to explain, that for him, texture is an essential aesthetic attribute of anything. The market share for those that want their cars warts and all is on the rise. Languishing in the knowledge that their pride and joy has been allowed to survive, age and mature gracefully (or hopefully disgracefully and thrashed around tracks, sprints, hill climbs etc). The problem is that this market is also becoming somewhat ridiculous with stories of ‘If it’s a one owner car covered in dust and found in a dilapidated state in a rat infested barn it will be worth more.'

Would that notion be transferable to bikes? If we use the cyclist 101 as a benchmark you will not be welcome with the chain gang on the Sunday blast with an unloved, oliy rag of a road machine. What if you ride the muddy trails? There is more than a sporting chance that a clean bike will end up in few digs and jibes – ‘You wash that more than ride it!’ I’ve always had a perverse pleasure in washing my bikes. The time to engage in a task with a set outcome, switch off from what else is going on and escape. The opportunity to check the bike over and carry out a few adjustments on a clean bike is a simple pleasure. And, let’s not forget the all-important standing back, admiring your bike with a beer (or tipple of choice) in hand. Bliss.

Sticking with Design for a moment, there's been a considerable amount of web traffic dedicated to the eagerly awaited Gary Hustwit film on Dieter Rams. The furniture that Rams designed for Vitsoe is an excellent example of company that produces products that are more about a sense of ownership (possibly custodianship) based on the fact that there is mutual trust between the suppliers, manufactures, owners and users of their products. The title of this piece has unashamedly been inspired from Vitsoe's message and philosophy.

Those that have been reading the blog (thankyou!) may have noticed that I'd set a myself a challenge of changing the stable. Selling off parts, frames, bikes etc with aim of reducing the quiver to three bikes – 1x mtb, 1x road/cross, 1x adventure. Hold that thought, let's add a 1x classic. I’ve decided to keep my Lemond Alpe D’Huez. The plan is to build it up with the leftovers from my sorely missed Litespeed. The ingredients making up the leftovers include Dura Ace, Thomson, Easton, Mavic and Fizik. This pre-enjoyed spec certainly has the makings of a nice bike that will no doubt enjoy a new lease of life.  At one point I was contemplating sending the Lemond away for respray. The decals are damaged, there is evidence of surface rust at the dropouts and more than a fair share of flaking paint on the garage floor. This is when cortification came back into my head. Why bother with a new coat!? Treat the frame to some Waxoil and keep it as Mr Lemond intended. Look and feel those imperfections and marks and escape back to memories of the journeys that have been experienced. Whether it was the Paris-Roubaix, a week long Whisky fuelled trip in the Outer Hebrides or chasing the other American with a TdF history when he descended upon the good buddies of Paisley. You begin to appreciate the marks, scratches and bumps. Essentially, the beauty of those earned features are there to be enjoyed. 

One item of my biking paraphernalia that has been used everyday and accompanied me on more journeys than anyone or anything that I know is my Ortlieb Sling-it Bag. There is a post from 3 years ago that covers the quality and thought that went into designing and manufacturing this most excellent product. It truly is a wonderful piece of kit, but one, which also requires a few repairs. If you look closely at the pic below you will see some frayed and damaged seams. I have yet to send the bag back to Ortlieb and take advantage of their repair policy, the reason being that I continue to use it.

In a world of mass consumerism, it is not at all surprising that there aren’t nearly enough companies offering this type of service. Far too many companies succeed in persuading us that last years model wasn’t actually as good as it could have been and use some nicely executed marketing tricks to ensure that we believe the hype. The early adopters and return customers will more than likely continue to be happier buying their latest and greatest. Maybe they can inform us if this year’s offering is any better than last? Time will tell and here’s why I’m beginning to spend more time sourcing the long-term test.  I don’t mean 6 months of using a product that has been kindly supplied for the testers enjoyment and subsequent praise.

I received a Trakke Mule Mk2 as a birthday present a few years back. This bag has essentially replaced the Ortlieb. It is probably time for a review. However, I’m going to hold off for another year or two and leave you with these thoughts: The bag is designed to last and if required, Trakke do offer a repair service. I’m hopeful that it will be many years until that call will have to be made. Just like the Ortlieb, little reminders of travels and experiences continue to make their appearance through the age and marks of the waxed cotton. The buckles and fasteners  continue to work with the straps and I’ve come to realise that on more than one occasion I’ve forgotten my keys! 

Stay upright

Friday, 24 August 2018


There are people who understand lines. There are people who make lines into something that is beautiful. And, there are people who see the brilliance and want others to appreciate it. The wonderful and colourful collaboration between rapha and Ridley Scott Associates incorporates a 'variety' of lines. Dario Pegoretti was one of the best. If you have yet to see it, pour a Grapa and enjoy.

Wherever you are Dario, stay upright

Sunday, 12 August 2018

Treacherous conditions suit Trentin

In an epic of display of how to Stay Upright, Italy's Matteo Trentin has won the 2018 European Road Race Championship in Glasgow.

With an air temp hovering around 14c, an unforgiving and undulating course of sodden road surfaces, tight bends and directional changes, the greasy conditions were far from ideal. The riders provided a stunning spectacle of riding technique and bravery. The pace, motion and noise of a peleton hurtling through a city in these conditions is a visceral experience. 

Towards the end of the race, isolated dry sections started to appear but riders faces covered in grime from their multiple tours of Glasgow told the real story. It was a tough and treacherous day to be in the saddle. 

Well done to all involved with the Euro 2018 Championships.

Stay upright



Saturday, 11 August 2018


The guffers are looking forward to catching up and watching the European 2018 Road Race championships in Glasgow tomorrow. I doesn't seem like 4 years have passed since Big G won the Commonwealth games:

It's maybe time for Glasgow to consider putting in a bid to the UCI with the aim of hosting the Worlds. The City Circuit and TT circuit appear to have been well received. Even Chris Boardman was making comments about the spectacular scenery and roads North of Glasgow. He's spent enough time around the Globe to pass judgement. The opportunity to expand the City Circuit and take in climbs like the Crow Road, Tap o'the World, Tak me doon and even stretching it out to the Duke's Pass would make for a very challenging course. The aerial footage alone would be worth viewing. 

Stay upright

Thursday, 9 August 2018

V for Victor

The 2018 European Championships are well under way and my local village turned out in force to support the Mens Time Trial. Victory was for Victor Campenaerts, an incredible time of 54:3:78 for the 45.7km course. Those of us that know these lumpy roads will appreciate how fast that time is. There are going to be a few disgruntled local Strava KOM heroes out there. The roads have even been improved thanks to surfacing work. Overall, they are still in pretty bad shape and a repair carried out 3 minutes prior to the riders arriving isn't ideal. 

BBC presenter Hazel Irvine mentioned that Strathblane should receive a Gold medal for turn out! Kudos should also go to Sean Botha and his recent Blane Valley Bikes launch. More can be found at

Next stop is the Road Race on Sunday. It's a pity that the route is laps of Glasgow City Centre. Cyclesguff plus others have discussed the possibility of the route making more of TT circuit and exploring more of the stunning scenery and routes outside of Glasgow and finishing with a few laps of the City Centre circuit. Then again, that would no doubt require an army of pothole and road repair fixers...

Stay upright

Saturday, 7 July 2018

Time Loop

There's a loop that I often ride if time is not on my side. The terrain and surface varies from blacktop, disused railway lines, parts of the West Highland Way, the John Muir Way, singletrack, forest roads and Ford crossings. 380m of elevation gain in a loop of 26k isn't huge but there are some fairly short, steep ascents to contend with. This route is also a gauge for how dry it is. There's a singletrack section that always has puddles of mud with large stones under the surface patiently waiting to catch the unwary peddler. The other night was different, the incredible dry spell and high temperatures has resulted in scorched trails that have to be ridden to be experienced. Rooster tails of dust have replaced mud splattered bike, bodies and clothing. 

The Bokeh has not been ridden for a few weeks. I've been waiting on new disc pads and the Stache was the go to ride.  Thoughts focusing on changing my mud tyres for something more suitable for bone dry trails are all too common. The problem is limited time, and I'd rather just get out and ride my bike instead of swapping treads. I really should do it soon. The Stache on Minions in these conditions is a drifting, dusty steam roller. It also requires new BB bearings. 

With new pads fitted to the Bokeh. The all too common reviewers buzzwords of feel, modulation and power are back in abundance. If anyone is interested, an upgrade from the original SRAM Force Hydro R pads to Swissstop sintered has been money well spent. 

Stay upright