Cyclists are a funny bunch not adverse to the odd dichotomy now and again. We will extol the virtues of hand crafted steel frames and in the next heartbeat fire up strava on a smartphone and slip it into the hind pocket of a merino wool jersey.
The cobblemonster - whose came up with the idea for TLC – was once lambasted for using a cyclaire pump to fix a flat (an innovation in tyre inflation featuring a mini compressor driven by a ripcord). His assembled clubmates spared no wrath for this new technology but these same individuals had at one time embraced lycra, indexed gears and carbon fibre.
Some things for the bike arrive on a welcoming pillow of goodwill, others grind their way into acceptance and others still are discarded to the dustbin of history.
The cobblemonster is an opinionated so and so who likes to think he can sniff out a gimmick and is quick to put down what he believes to be false consciousness. It took him 9 years to accept the brilliance of Detroit techno music, by which time the movement was essentially over. He is hard to impress….but being opinionated he can’t help but tell you whats what and so when we asked him for the ten best cycling objects he was only too pleased to put us straight.
so in reverse order..
10. Michelin tyre levers
Why is a tyre lever on this list? Because not all levers are created equal and Michelin knew what they were doing when they put these together. Simply stated they’re wider than most other carry in your pocket designs and they’re plenty stiff for a piece of plastic. “Good enough to get a 700×32 Rubena off an MA40..and you only ever need 2″ is what the cobblemonster grunted at us. Hard to get hold of outside of La France, if you see some buy ‘em.
Available: le LBS en France | Cost: €3
9. Topeak mini morph pump
Continuing the theme of tyres and whatnot the cobblemonster was keen to inform us that almost every pump that purports to attach direct to the valve and boasts the ability to reach 100psi+ “has a mouth writing cheques its ass cannot cash”. In less brusque terms the lack of a hose betwixt pump and valve compromises the integrity of the pump seal and the valve itself whilst held on by a stricken rider miles from anywhere – who demonically pumps away trying to make the air go into the valve instead of miss it altogether and fly onto the rim. You can get air in there but never enough to ride with true confidence for any distance. This is why Zefal still make frame fitting pumps and people still buy them. If you want to use a mini pump use one with a hose. The mini morph is one of a series of excellent pumps made by Topeak and unlike most competitors Topeak sell spares for all their models so your pump has a service life as opposed to being a disposable object.
Available: LBS, Internetz | Cost: £25
From the initial days of classics madness booze has been an integral part of cycling – which is partially why The London Classic runs out of a pub. “Most of the fans are well oiled, why shouldn’t the riders be?” was the obvious but baffling logic of The Cobblemonster, “what better way to celebrate a great ride than with a great trappist ale made by proper Belgians?” It seems the TLC riders agree, on our second running they drank the bar dry of lager much to the bemusement of the landlord who thought cyclists were pure healthy folk.
Available: Everywhere | Cost: From £1
7. Park Headset cup remover tool
“This thing is beautiful to use – it slides into position with a massively satisfying clonk and then you just belt it with a hammer…headset cup is out. No swearing or gouging of the head tube with chisels and the like. And it looks a bit like a Soyuz rocket, which is a bonus. Every steel fettler should own one.”
Availalbe: LBS, internetz | Cost: £35
6. Lidl double fronted base layer
Double fronted nylon for wind protection, mesh back for cooling. “This thing has been up the Galibier, the Marie-Blanc and Canonbie Rd SE23 and is still going strong. I bought it on Good Friday 2004 in Lidl on Acre Lane, Brixton and it cost £4, these details are burned into my brain because (a) it was cheap, (b) there was no Good Friday meet at HH that year, which is why I was in a supermarket and not getting trollied at the track whilst not watching the racing.”
Available: Lidl in 2004 |Cost: £4
5. Vittoria Open Pave CG (700x24c clincher) tyre
This was a hard one for the Cobblemonster…but if you’re called the Cobblemonster you should really pledge your allegiance to a tyre with the word ‘Pave’ in its title. This tyres’ distinctive green tread make them easy to spot from the sofa when watching the cobbled classics. “They’ve now changed these to the CG3 version which is green down the middle instead of on the shoulders like these…which is a case of ‘Spaceballs 2: The Search for more money‘ in all likelyhood. (what?-Ed). “This tyre is heavier than a regular road race tyre, its nicely supple but also pretty tough once cured; only downsides are they’re expensive and they tend to slip a tad on wet weather climbs up +10% gradients with more than 80psi in them.” (surely this makes them crap for the Ronde etc?? – Ed). “But they look the nuts, so we’ll forgive them.”
Availalble: LBS, internetz | Cost: from £33.50 each
4. Cycling Cap (Casquette) – several designs available
“If you claim to be a cyclist and don’t own a cap, take yourself outside and have a word with yourself” was the sit on the fence view of the Cobblemonster. ” I have met cyclists who say they are ugly and stupid looking but these are part of what marketing folk would call ‘the iconography of cycling’….plus they are useful, they keep the bonce cool in summer and soften the indignity of wearing a helmet by providing some underpinning style…and style is in short supply these days…”. We left him to it at this point and went down the pub.
Available: Everywhere – LBS, cycle jumble, Internetz | Cost: From £4
3. 2003 Ag2R bibtights (Nalini)
“I include these because they are indestructible. I’ve had 12 winters out of them doing cross, road riding and commuting, They’re not replicas, they are team issue ie thick as f**k roubaix lycra, loads of panels for a really good fit and a top spec chamois for pros racking up 20K miles over the winter…but mainly I include them because they wind up Brixton CC’s ‘El Presedente’ Lincoln – who has complained on numerous occasions saying things like, ‘Jesus, are those still going?’ My response has always been to say nothing but instead sit directly in front of him on a club run so the legend ‘Ag2R’ emblazoned across the arse of them is right there in his line of vision…he hates this:)”
Available: bought Ripley cycle jumble 2003 | Cost: £30
Not technically an object but it can be if you print off every page and keep it in carrier bags…its now 7 years since the passing of the legend that is Sheldon Brown, this site is the first point of call for tech specs and info on bike building and maintenance. What the difference between an ISO and JSO headset spec? How many gear inches does 48×16 give me? How do I adjust a shimano rear mech without downloading a PDF from Shimano? “Almost everything is here, and the stuff that isn’t is bollocks like BB70 and Di2 shifting – which most right thinking people are content to live without.”
Availalbe: www.sheldonbrown.com | Cost:comes free with internetz
1. Velo Club de Roubaix Cyclotourisme commemorative pavé trophy
Yours when you complete the VCdRC biennial Paris-Roubaix sportive (Compiegne-Roubaix in real money). “They used to offer the full 260km course the pros do and I was lucky enough to do this once, but the ‘moyenne’ 180km route features all the 52km of pavé from the pro race and is plenty tough enough. Nothing prepares you for the shock of 4km of sloping uphill cobbles or the unrideability of the Trouée d’Arenberg. This ride is a rollercoaster of insanely difficult pavé secteurs and long, flat drags across northern France – the next thing up in terms of hard is sitting at a desk and hammering a 6″ nail through your hand. I can respect riding up a mountain really fast as being a blessing of natural talent, but to win at Roubaix you must be tougher than tough, this ride will impart just how tough you’d need to be just to finish it – questions will be asked of you.(!)…and forget the ASO ‘Paris-Roubaix Challenge’ - the VCdRC ride is the proper one whilst the latter is a johnny come lately opportunist move aimed to trap cyclismo-nouveau fundies. ” As ever, we let the Cobblemonster have the last word.
Available: Velo Club de Roubaix Cyclotourisme cyclosportive (next edition 2016) | Cost:€7.50 on completion and submission of full course dossard at municpal velodrome, Roubaix.