Monday, 29 April 2013


The Romani is now in my possession and I’ve already covered some ground on it, fixed Kryptonite’s bizarre FlexFrame U-bracket to the down-tube, raised the handlebars by a whole 2 cm, exchanged the firm saddle it came with for the Vetta Gel off of the Carlos, raised the seat-tube a couple of inches and then lowered it again by about one. The early signs are good and I suspect that buying this bike was absolutely the right thing to do.

I asked my cadres to provide some information for my readers, like you sometimes get in real life sporting publications, such as Shoot magazine. I wanted to create profiles of sorts so to get a feel for the various personalities that race for Carlos-Weltschmerz. See what you think:

Name: James Evans (that’s me)
Age: 37
Bike:  Carlos Tours Romani Prestige
Race Jersey: La Vie Claire
Giro, Tour or Vuelta? Vuelta
Preferred theatre of Second World War (assuming one partook in it, and regardless of the risk of mortality): North African Campaign - leave in Cairo
Preferred meteorological conditions (not for cycling; just in general): 28°C, overcast, no breeze, humid, with the portent of storms
Hypothetical ride-on music (like they do in the darts and snooker): Fit and Working Again - The Fall
Favourite 'ism': Constructivism
What are you reading? The Anatomy of Melancholy by Richard Burton.

Name: Simon A C Evans
Age: 34
Bike: Gary Fischer Hybrid
Race Jersey: Bic or Café de Colombia
Giro, Tour or Vuelta? Tour
Preferred theatre of Second World War: North Atlantic Convoy
Preferred meteorological conditions: Heavy Rain when on a veranda or shed with an open door, to give the feeling that I am undercover but still outside
Hypothetical ride-on music: I Can't Do Nuttin For Ya Man – Public Enemy
Favourite 'ism': Cubism
What are you reading? Steady State Economics by Herman Daly.

Name: Peter Gowland
Age: 38
Bike: Bianchi C2C
Race Jersey: PDM-Concorde
Giro, Tour or Vuelta? Paris-Roubaix
Preferred theatre of Second World War: Western Front - Normandy
Preferred Meteorological conditions: August, Ibiza - hot and dry
Hypothetical ride on music: No music: spoken word - Al Pacino's 'inches' speech from Any Given Sunday
Favourite 'ism': Atheism – f**k God and the horse he rode in on
What are you reading: Bounce: The Myth of Talent and the Power of Practice by Matthew Syed.

Name: William Mommersteeg
Age: 43
Bike: Bianchi Reparto Course Condor Squadra
Race Jersey: St. Raphael
Giro, Tour or Vuelta? Tour
Preferred theatre of Second World War: Burma
Preferred meteorological conditions: 30°C and sun shining
Hypothetical ride-on music: Rock n' Roll - Led Zeppelin
Favourite 'ism': Favouritism
What are you reading? Chinaman by Shelhan Karunatilaka.

Name: Ben Wenborn
Age: 35
Bike: Specialized Roubaix
Race Jersey: Château D'ax Gatorade
Giro, Tour or Vuelta? Giro
Preferred theatre of Second World War: The Mediterranean - naval campaigns around Malta/Gibraltar/Suez Canal
Preferred meteorological conditions: Dark 'n' stormy
Hypothetical ride-on music: Can't Touch This - MC Hammer
Favourite 'ism': Laxism
What are you reading? Ubik by Philip K Dick.

It was Mr Mommersteeg who was proving to be the most receptive to this whole London to Brighton project (although everybody was committed by way of registration). He – as my neighbour – was knocking on my door to see if I wanted to go for a ride. I did, and so we did.
            It was a Saturday, and the weather was good: a stiff breeze but the sun was out, with an ambient temperature of approximately 15°C – usual for the time of year and a marked improvement on the unseasonably cold and wet and dank conditions that have persisted through February, March and the beginning of April. We set off towards Wimbledon, by way of Kingston, New Malden and Raynes Park, in good spirits.
            The night before I’d alerted my co-conspirators of our intent, knew that it was late notice and expected little in the way of a response. I was pleasantly surprised, then, to see that Mr Wenborn had replied to my email and was open to the possibility of joining Mommersteeg and I in Wimbledon.
Somewhere along the B282 – West Barnes Lane by another name – I received a telephone call from Wenborn and impressed myself with the dexterity with which I unzipped the top pocket of my Mavic technical jacket, extricated my mobile phone, answered it, and proceeded to discuss estimated times of arrival with the caller, all the while maintaining a reasonable speed. Wenborn would indeed be joining us and I’d finally be able to begin the process of team bonding.
            We discussed bicycles over coffee and then headed off towards Wandsworth, by way of Tooting Broadway. We then made towards Putney before following the Thames to Hammersmith, whereupon we crossed to the north side of the river – its south facing aspect open to the sun’s glare – and paused for a pint.
            Thereafter we moved back south, cycled to Barnes Bridge and repeated the procedure. Over that second alcoholic beverage, cycling attire was to be the topic of conversation – what jerseys we had; should one wear a second, looser pair of shorts over their lycra; what did I think of white cycling shoes – and I was pleased that my domestiques appreciated that these things matter. Not everyone does.

Mommersteeg and I covered approximately 23 miles that day, albeit fractured with coffee and booze. It signalled the start of my training regime, though, and that was important. After having hit some good form about half of the way through February, I’d since lost it again, the cumulative effect of bad weather, full-time work, a niggling shoulder injury and too many social commitments.
            I followed this up with a 16 mile ride on Monday, a 28 mile ride on Thursday  and a couple of 4 mile round commutes to work in-between – about 75 miles in all. This is no big deal: Mommersteeg and Wenborn ride about the same distance week in, week out on their respective commutes to work. An anticipated period of reduced working hours should allow me to establish a similar routine.
The 28 mile ride is worthy of note because it represented the first time I’d dressed in full kit – my debut in Lycra, if you will. I wore the Descente cycling jersey, my cycling shorts and race socks in temperatures touching 20°C, and found the experience strangely exhilarating, like I had some sort of extra power that I could impose on people that got in my way – like I might be taken more seriously. This illusion was slightly dented by the absence of any helmet, for serious cyclists are apt to wear protective headgear at all times. I could have done with some sunglasses too, but I don’t really like things in and around my face, which is why helmets have featured so lowly on my list of priorities. This might sound reprehensible, but consider this: I’ll take more risks when I'm finally wearing a lid, in situations that I presently ease up on – like descending.
My ride took me through Richmond, Putney, Wandsworth and Battersea, and paused in Waterloo at Evans Cycles to return those Altura “mitts” after I’d recently observed the stitching coming away in the area betwixt my thumb and forefinger. On inspecting the same style glove in-store I concluded that the issue was anomalous and that my particular pair of fingerless gloves had not been properly appended in the first instance. However, my enthusiasm for them had now waned and I decided that I would replace them with something more modern. This was not because of any perceived weakness attributable to the style but more to do with a fondness for anachronism. The flavour of my bike and my race get-up has an undeniably retrospective feel, but my motive is not parodic and I’d like to offset some of these traditional aspects with a more contemporary edge. There will be my cycling shorts, the accessories attached to my bike, a helmet (eventually), and now there will also be my new gloves: I've ordered a pair of white Mavic Espoir ‘everyday race gloves’ offering ‘progressive cushioning’ from another on-line cycle store – Hargroves Cycles – for the meagre sum of £14, with free postage, reduced from £20.

In the meantime, I've secured that La Vie Claire jersey. My birthday’s coming up and I dropped noisy hints in the company of my lady-friend. Naturally, she obliged, although I will have to wait a month or so before I can wear it.
            I've sold that Carlos-Galli jersey too, so now I can run with my ‘trinity of jerseys’ theory. The La Vie Claire jersey, along with those of my contemporaries – Café de Colombia, PDM-Concorde, St. Raphael and Château D'ax Gatorade – leads me to believe that Carlos-Weltschmerz could well be the smartest looking team in the peloton.

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