Vacation 2005

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tweed1a

Bicycles

Discerning cyclists recognise that bicycle technology reached its pinnacle in the early 1970s and everything since is just marketing. Millions are spent every year on hoodwinking the public with obscure materials which are all very well if you are constructing a craft to convey astronauts to the Moon, but quite out of place on an English country lane. Lugged steel, by contrast, is durable, comfortable and offers an opportunity for the skilled framebuilder to practice his craft. Why spend a king's ransom on the latest titanium confection when any weight advantage will be rendered irrelevant by a cheese-and-pickle sandwich and a thermos of soup?

Luggage

Luggage is best conveyed by a porter. When this is not possible, a capacious saddlebag will swallow all that is needed for a well-attired weekend away. Duck cotton and canvas are impregnable to the elements and easily repairable in the event of a mishap. Longer journeys or camping trips may require the addition of a rack and panniers.

Clothing

Natural fibres are to be preferred, principally for reasons of form though also for reasons of function. South of the border, a pair of plus fours is a perfect choice. Legs remain warm, air is free to circulate around the knees and the cyclist's well-proportioned calves are spared unsightly grease stains. In the city, a pair of bicycle clips will perform the same function with only the barest diminution in style.

Up top, merino wool keeps a rider cool on a hot day and warm when it is chilly. Fashioned from the fleece of sheep, a woollen cycling jersey possesses an indelible ovine stench that will mask any human body odours. A cheery Fair Isle sweater offers additional insulation on frosty mornings, perhaps set off by a silk scarf or a jaunty eight-panelled cap.

If the barometer forecasts rain, the cyclist is wise to remain in bed or, failing that, repair to a hostelry for refreshment. Should there be no alternative to riding through a downpour, a fisherman's so'wester will keep the head dry allowing the cyclist to face into the heart of storm and push on with resolve and determination, remembering that moral fibre is the sturdiest of fabrics.

tweed1

Cyclists Special (1955) - A British Transport Films account of an earlier generation of tweed cyclists.