Tuesday, 16 August 2011

A welcome return....

... My bike is back!

At last, after what seems like an age, I have just collected my injured Trek Madone - to be fair it had been ready for a while, but I'd asked them to replace the tyres with the same ones as those that were on - that was the stumbling block. It seems Bontranger no longer manufacture those tyres - or at least are unable to supply any. Fed up with waiting I told them to forget that part of the job - I wanted the bike back - I'll buy some tyres from Wiggle and put them on myself.

The bike looks good - completely new Shimano Ultegra rear mech, and a new chain and cassette. They serviced it as well and I've ended up with new brake pads and brake cables. I rode it around the car park at the shop to test the gears, everything is good. I'm hoping to go out for a ride this afternoon to give it a more thorough test - but as I write this it's raining here so I might have to wait.

For those interested I'm reading a good book at the moment - 'In Search of Robert of Robert Millar' by Richard Moore.

The riddle being, the whereabouts of Robert Millar, the finest grand tour cyclist ever to come from Britain. The enigma being the contrast of Robert Millar's personas - the same man that performed so spectacularly and explosively in the arena of the high mountain passes in the biggest bike races in the world was also the man who gave monosyllabic answers to journalistic queries. In a way Robert Millar refused to provide his fans with any gratifying, instant emotional fix. Something that sits poorly with the modern confessional culture. The questions are simple enough, but Richard Moore's book takes us on a fascinating journey.

There's no doubt that Robert Millar was a complex man and not easy to know, but when he spoke it was always something worth listening to. He never provided the usual `lazy' race analysis. He was always more pithy and constructively critical. Perhaps this is why he wrote so well once he stopped riding a bike for a living and maybe this is also why he never really made the opportunity to impart his undoubted wisdom to the British domestic racing scene.

Even if you don't have an appetite for attempting to solve riddles, this is a cracking good read. There is a lot of raw emotion, with interesting and valid parallels being drawn with those of similar mercurial climbing tragic talent. There is also a lot of sometimes surprising character references from Robert Millar's old teammates, friends and managers. Robert Millar, for reasons that become clear when reading the book, had nothing to do with the writing of the book. A fact that make this volume all the more valid as far as I'm concerned. You are left to draw your own conclusions.

For all that was perceived about Millar he is a man of passion. An over used phrase certainly, and one that might not sit well with such a phlegmatic Scot. You won't `know' Robert Millar by the end of the book, but you will understand a lot more about him, about the sport of cycling and what makes some of the athletes tick. Buy the book and read it, you will not be disappointed.

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