There was a day or two last month when I managed out on the bike in shorts and short sleeves, albeit with my VeloVeritas gillet – great, and no front light needed.
But as a Kirkcaldy Boy I knew it was an aberration.
In mid-April, Europe’s longest and one of the oldest – from the year of our Lord 1304 – street fairs, arrives on the Esplanade here; The Links Market.
It brings with it what us folks from the Lang Toun call, ‘Links Market Weather.’
As I write this the Market is setting up, the horizon is a fuzzy grey line where a dour Forth meets a heavy low sky of a similar colour as a chilling easterly brings in an icy drizzle.
Yes, proper ‘Links Market Weather.’
Still, sometime it’s nice late in April…
It wouldn’t be a proper rant if we didn’t have a pop at Cycling Weekly magazine… are you ready?
‘How aero is my front light?’
No further questions m’Lud.
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Then there’s the chap with the air-conned ‘pain cave;’ I hate that expression almost as much the over-use, out of context quoting of the word ‘iconic’ – and what’s with ‘medalled?’
His p##n c##e obviously cost fortunes; along with all the electronic gizmos, huge screen monitor, Wahoo Kickr with interactive fan and ‘rocker plates,’ natch – and a Giant Trinity TT bike.
But where does all this tech and money take him?
A ‘mid-22’ 10 mile time trial; Dave McCallum was riding those times on his road bike on the Dundee road, 50 years ago – on tubulars with growths on the side.
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And whilst I often shake my head at the latest hugely expensive but of dubious merit equipment, sometimes something comes along and you think; ‘yes, that’s cool.’
If you listen to Adam Blyth then you’ll know that he was no fan of the ‘1x’ transmission on his Aqua Blue 3T Strada machine.
For the MTB and gravel world ‘1x’ has taken over but for all except the flattest of road parcours it’s not the answer, the ‘jumps’ between the ratios at the low end of the gearing spectrum are just too much, playing havoc with cadence.
But the system does have advantages; it’s simpler and lighter; there’s no fluffed front changer shifts to worry about; chain angles aren’t as extreme and it’s slightly more aero.
The Belgian company, Classified have come up with ‘Powershift’ a ‘best of both worlds solution’ – a two speed hub.
This gives you all the ‘1x’ benefits but gives you two sets of ratios, the lower of which equates to an inside chainring.
The system changes seamlessly on up to 1,000 watts load – from the videos I’ve seen, it looks the business.
Tom Boonen is an ‘ambassador’ for the product with the story that he was asked to try the system out and was so knocked out by it that he decided to invest in the company.
The future or a great idea which never caught on?
Time will tell…
Tubeless: I guess it’ll be like disc brakes – it’ll creep up on us all but it still sure looks messy to me.
Vittoria have come up with a ‘run flat’ system called ‘Air Lines’ which utilises a lightweight lurid green foam insert inside the tyre to maintain a degree of integrity if the tyre sustains a gash which is too much for the sealant within the tyre to cope with.
Or, if the tyre deflates due to hitting a big or sharp enough obstacle to break the bead/rim seal.
This insert is in addition to the self-sealant within the tyre; it’s bad enough changing an inner tube, never mind wrestling with a gunk covered foam insert.
The system gets mixed reviews and costs 90 quid – but you do get a natty bag with it for that.
And researching this bit of kit broadened my knowledge of ‘tubeless tech,’ – one of the downsides of tubeless is that you need an initial big burst of air to get the tyre to locate on the rim, this is all but impossible with a track pump and needs a compressor.
Unless you purchase a ‘charger’ that is.
You ‘charge’ the device with your track pump, some go as high as 160 psi, then use a high pressure blast from the charger to bed the tyre.
They work well but cost anything up to £140; there’s still much to be said for good old inner tubes and tyre levers – or spoons from the kitchen if you can’t find your tyre levers…
And I had to check this one wasn’t an ‘April Fool’ but it’s for real; UCI approved, the DSM team in Paris-Roubaix will be riding the Scope ‘Atmoz’ real-time tyre pressure management system, controlled by handlebar buttons, in Paris Roubaix.
It’s only compatible with 700 tubeless but enables you to alter tyre pressure as you ride. The benefit being that a rider can drop his tyre pressure on the cobbles for optimal comfort and traction but then boost it back up once he returns to tarmac.
It appears to work with a compressed air reservoir so there must only be a finite number of inflations possible?
A smidgen under 4,000 Euros…
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Let’s talk competition; this spring has given us marvellous racing, Wout, Pog, MVDP, Mohoric, Girmay to name but some have all been outstanding.
And it’s great to see a wave of young British talent coming up; Ben’s Turner and Tullett at INEOS have been outstanding, as has Lewis Askey for Groupama FDJ and Ethan Vernon for QuickStep, whilst Fred Wright’s ride for Bahrain in de Ronde was exceptional.
But it was our resident soothsayer and mentor, Vik who made a very valid point; ‘how can these wonderful young talents demonstrate their abilities at home?’
In the UK, National Championships apart, we have but four UCI races, two of these are for women and one, ‘The Rutland’ is a 1.2 where we won’t see World Tour riders.
For all our success at the Olympics and Grand Tours we still don’t have a bedrock of racing in this country where the talented young men mentioned above can perform in front of a home audience – such a shame.
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Sticking with Vik, he’s a big QuickStep fan but he’s now of the opinion that Patrick Lefevere should step down and let Tom Boonen take the reins.
I pointed out to Vik that 18 wins at time of writing wasn’t exactly ‘failure’ but Vik is correct in saying that their dominance over the cobbles has waned.
Fabio Jakobsen’s Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne win apart it hasn’t been a happy classics season for the men in blue, albeit my amigo Dave reckons Kasper Asgreen will save the day at Roubaix.
I’d certainly like to see that.
And of course we still have the Flêche and Liege-Bastogne-Liege to come where Alaphilippe could well put a different slant on things.
But have they slid or is it just that other teams have raised their game?
UAE have been on fire with 22 wins and whilst Jumbo Visma haven’t won as many as that – a dozen in fact – the quality has been there with Het Nieuwsblad, Paris-Nice, the E3 and Circuit de la Sarthe all going their way.
Similarly ProTeam, Alpecin Fenix have won 10 races including Nokere Koerse, De Panne, Dwars door and de Ronde.
‘Grand Tour specialists,’ INEOS have successfully changed focus and have had a great spring campaign with 16 wins thus far including the Tour of the Basque Country and Amstel Gold Race.
The general standard is higher than it’s ever been, which can only be a good thing for the fans.
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And no rant is complete without mention of the ever crazier cost of bicycle componentry.
I was going to announce that the £20,000 bike was just about achievable now, BUT if you purchase a Cervélo R5 Lamborghini (above) at £18,468 then upgrade the wheels to Lightweight Fernweg EVO 85mm Schwarz Edition tubeless disc wheels at £8,059 then we’re getting close to the £25,000 bike.
Watch out for the Diesel spill on that roundabout though…