That’s the way to do it

And so the last of the Big Four for this month…Cyclist magazine. Cyclist has always trodden (cycled?) a slightly different path to the rest of the cycling press, preferring a more grown-up and considered approach rather than the mildly hysterical “Ten Top Tips for Epic Sportive Success” and “Five Must-Have Bikes for Under £1000” that we see elsewhere. The result, for those who can number their brain cells in double figures, is usually a mag that is worth reading.

This month is no exception, it’s another cracking issue. Having said that, the first thing I come to in the Lead Out section is a piece about the new Venge ViAS, filled with PR guff and technobabble from some bloke at Specialized. It may be clever, but it’s mingingly fugly. The rest of the Lead Out section is filled with new kit that isn’t of particular interest to me, a nice little Q&A with Francesco Moser, a piece about colds (BikesEtc also had one of these this month), and a piece about the making of Sagan’s World Champs jersey.

In the interests of fairness and balance I’m going to rinse Cyclist (and Sportful and the UCI) for this page — the rest of this review will be almost universally positive. So…YOU’VE USED THE OLD LOGO! Seriously, people, god is in the detail. Does no one remember mocking the UCI for wasting its time and money on new corporate branding bollocks back in June? No? Anyone? OK, so the UCI changed its logo at the end of June, Sagan won the World Champs in September, Sportful produced a new jersey for him, sent it to the UCI for approval, and then off Sagan went to the Tour of Abu Dhabi…wearing a jersey with the old logo. And now Cyclist has put that same (wrong) jersey in the mag. Still, it’s not the worst thing that they could have done. They could have given him white shorts to go with it. Oh.

A short but interesting piece on inner tubes follows. This is precisely the kind of thing Cyclist does well…encourages the readers to think about their riding. There’s also an interesting look at the London Six-Days track racing. Which is great because I LOVE track racing. It’s mental, and there is no one living who understands what the fuck is going on. Not since Oscar Egg died in 1961 has anyone had the faintest idea what is happening. The other day I was watching four guys lining up on the start line when suddenly this old bloke on a motorbike appeared on the track…the racers chased him away after a couple of laps, but half an hour later he was back with a gang of other old motorbikers. I think points are awarded for chasing off biker gangs. And hand-holding. Then there’s a scratch race without any scratching, the points race seems pointless, and you can’t smoke. Everything I’ve ever read or heard about Six-Day racing is all about the booze and fags, but not in London. Shame.

Anyway, back to Cyclist. Next up is a nice piece by the omni-present Trevor Ward in praise of maps. These, apparently, were beta versions of sat-navs but never really caught on (no expandable memory, liable to catch fire or tear in half, impossible to refold, etc). It reminded why I haven’t yet thrown out the huge stack of maps I’ve acquired over the years. Then there’s the Velominati column, in which a reader writes in asking for guidance (this month, about buying a gravel bike). Sadly, the High Grand Wizard of the Velominati, Frank Strack, is clearly losing the plot and instead of telling the reader to get a fucking grip and not be so stupid, Frank actually encourages this sort of nonsense.

The Big Ride feature this month is about riding the Soulor and Aubisque in the Pyrenees, which is a lovely part of the world and a great place to ride. The piece is nicely written and photographed, and it made me want to go back there and spend another week riding the iconic climbs. Which is kind of the point of the article.

Next is a good piece about off-bike exercise for strengthening your core. It’s a substantial article, and an interesting read, even if I have zero intention of doing any of it (my core is as rotten as the rest of me). Then we have an interview with Ivan Basso. Again it’s a decent read, but I can’t get very excited about dopers of that era, especially ones who appear unrepentant about their past. It’s easy for him to say he wants to look to the future, but some clean riders had no future in the sport because of people like him doping.

The UK ride article is also a good one, and also about a place I happen to love…the Peak District. The photos weren’t up to Cyclist’s usual very high standard, but it still made me want to go back there. Next up is a piece about Deanima, a bespoke Italian frame-builder  co-owned by one of the Pegoretti brothers. It’s an interesting piece about hand-building carbon frames, especially for those with a technical bent (ooer!). Following on from this is a piece about soigneurs (good), a tech piece about tyres (very good), and a report on an Alpine gran fondo around Deux Alpes (another reminder never to sign up for one of these, but to do the route in your own time).

The Bikes section of the mag I find curious. They don’t do comparative testing, they take three different bikes and write about them individually. If the bike is of interest, I’ll read it. If not, I won’t. This month we have a Lynskey R460 Disc (painted titanium, and disc brakes…about as wrong as you can get), Merida Scultura 9000 (boring and £7500!), and a Festka Doppler, which is actually quite interesting. Then there’s a look at a pair of £4200 Lightweight wheels. Pff!

Wrapping it up is Felix Lowe’s column discussing whether Dimension Data will be HTC 2.0. It’s a subject that has been done to death since the news broke a couple of months ago, but that doesn’t stop Lowe flogging that recently-deceased equine.

And there you have it. I have no idea how many pages this issue is…I read it on my iPad using their very flaky app (it was good, then it was terrible, now it seems to be good again). All I can say is that, yet again Cyclist nails it. Five quid well spent, in my book.

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3 thoughts on “That’s the way to do it

  1. Good write up! Cyclist used to be my favourite, a proper mag, not one of these throw away rags printed on toilet paper. However, the reviews section got so it pissed me off so much I stopped subscribing. My cycling is very budget, so the thought of ever trying a 6 grand bike never mind paying for one…why can’t they EVER review a bike under £2k? I like reading about superbikes once in a blue moon, but not 3 a month!

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  2. So far your writing has been spot on. I’m a middle aged guy who commutes and cycles at the weekend slowly and poorly. I love following cycling as a sport but realise that the pro’s favourite anything is what they are paid to ride or wear or eat. It took me longer then it should to realise that there is very little in these magazines that is for me. I’m never going to race and I can’t see the point of sportives, why should I pay to ride on roads I normally ride for free? I could never justify spending £2K on a pair of wheels to save four seconds on a ride I want to last and I read these “top ten” lists wondering why they seem so arbitrary. One photo of a single solitary cyclist as a tiny dot amongst some rolling countryside occupying a double spread whilst the heroic bearded Rapha type with his thousand yard stare advertises a lifestyle only attainable by lining the pockets of its founders who I imagine must be in fits at the gullibility of the masses. The features follow an annual cycle as predictable as the seasons they advise us to dressage spend for and the features writers ascribe characteristics and subtleties to inanimate objects which I couldn’t detect if I were given from now to eternity!

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  3. Interesting how you slate Felix Lowe for flogging a dead horse with his comparisons between the future Dimenson Data and HTC while earlier in the article you went for the even older (and so over flogged that there is only a horse skelton left) “white shorts with World Champs jersey” trope.

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