Saturday, August 31, 2013

Sadly this URL was not the source for this excellent picture.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Felix Urinal

Any blog whose chosen occasional subject matter is Hong Kong toilets is not complete without the Gents in Felix @ The Peninsula. Phillipe Starck's theatrical toilet experience is generally closely guarded by a man who lives in an access panel. However, in a 5 minute stint whilst he had to leave said access panel I did manage to get a couple of hazy snaps inside this. Highly recommended for panoramic pisses onto Kowloon, these finely crafted flower pots are possibly Hong Kong's finest.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Fortress West Kowloon

Is it a castle? No, it's some of the most expensive mainlander flats going with ICC in the background. Possibly the most flattering photo one can take of such a monster.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Accidental Hipster

OK- that was meant to be me done for India posts. However, Rodafixa's Eric Lee's FB comments on this photo are too good not to share- he astutely noted the double aerospoke rear configuration ("normal aerospoke too mainstream") and he is of course loving that fork. As am I. Slack.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Drawings: The Imperial

Any hotel that employs a full time fly swatter is good in my book, and The Imperial did not disappoint. High tea would also seem to be an increasingly Asian specific specialty, not to mention the curry! Full link to Delhi photo bank here.

Sticky Fingers Complete

My next paint job. Perhaps...

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Taj Ni Hao

When I think of bling buildings I tend to think gold taps, Louis the 14th furniture and brash ornate decoration. Or a another Chinese mainland apartment fit-out. But just as there is another way beyond the shining new Bentley (like an old Rolls), history does have a habit of showing us it is possible to transcend elitist notions of anti bling by delivering the sparkle with a touch of class. With its hulking chunks of white marble, precious stone inlays and 20 years worth of gratuitous carved ornamentation the Taj Mahal certainly delivers on this front. Yes it's popular (like 3 million people a year popular). Yes it's populist as the picture postcard image of India and the 'forever Diana' backdrop of a thousand PC wallpapers in the Home Counties.

However, if you lose the iconography and deal with the amount of people also enjoying this incredible feat of human / elephant power, what you have before your eyes is a building rich in material beauty, proportion, scale and symmetry. There aren't too many buildings of this scale carved out of white marble and to witness the changing reflections of light as the sky transformed from overcast to brewing dark clouds before the Monsoon sky opened was an experience to remember. Now, back to my silver taps and plain white walls...

Monday, August 19, 2013


Future blog title / Delhi popadom post.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Garden City

This weekend I shall mostly be in Letchworth Garden City. I mean New Delhi

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

My Bikes: Bianchi Team Issue

Some bikes mean more than others. At best they carry stories, hold memories and impact how you live your life. Others, well, you ride until it gets knackered, or you get bored, and you move on. This bike more than most falls into the former category.

As far as stories go, it was an auspicious start. Having scoured the small print of Cycling Weekely circa 2002 for used road frames that I thought would build up nicely to make my first proper road bike, I distinctly remember my drive across country through the rain into the flatlands of Norfolk to pick this up. But the drive there was nothing compared with the drive home. Stopping at a McDonalds for a milkshake pick me up (yes, glamorous) I recall a lady returning her chips because she had found a finger nail clipping in her deep fried French Fry. Nonchalantly, the cashier took the fries back and asked if she wanted a fresh pack. Amazingly, the woman accepted. McSh*t, or more specifically, a desire to avoid McSh*t, will forever be associated with this bike for me. And Norfolk...

Anyhow, back to the bike- when I picked the frame up, I had no idea of the color or quite what I was buying, but I'd figured it was a top end frame from a few years back (1998- a replica from Pantani's EPO & Coke fuelled wonder days), so it should be good enough for me. The colour was something that grew on me as my cognisense of the rather iconic status of Bianchi, and of course Pantani, grew. Bear in mind that at this time I was a mountain biker first. Actually, scrap that, I was an unfit year out graduate student looking to get back on a bike first, a mountain biker second (check the pedals...) and a roadie, well, a distant third. Or thirteenth.

I built the frame up with a Campagnolo base of 10 speed Centaur / Chorus, doing my research on what upgrades were worth the extra, and what was not. The wheels were a close out deal on Campagnolo Nucleon tubulars- some of the nicest aluminium rimmed wheels I've owned. And so began a love affair with Campagnolo and tubulars. Over the past decade God knows how many $$$s I've spent pursuing these love affairs?!? Who knows, if I'd landed on a fully built deal with 105 and clinchers it could all have been quite different. Actually, who knows, maybe I'd have given up road riding on the premise of exposed cables and an inferior road feel? ;-)

But as it is, this bike was very much the start of me getting properly into road riding- I rode my first Etape on this bike. I rode my first road race up in Scotland on it (finishing second) and I learned to really suffer on a bike. My back went through an 'evolution' adapting to the roadie position, with the occasional road side pavement spasm. But adapt I did, and my road position then is pretty much the same then as it is now. For how much longer I can hold it I don't know, but I'll try...

One thing I never realised about this bike until it was gone was just how good the handling was. It might have been scandium, but somehow the light tubes had a real resilience to them that soaked up road buzz more than any other aluminium frame I've owned. The low BB also gave the bike a great cornering feel that I've since learned to be a distinct attribute of Italian bikes from this era, and one of the reasons they are so famed for their handling.

Sadly, all good things must come to an end. And so the end of this bike co-incided with me colliding into a white van in Glasgow. One seperated shoulder and a protracted court case later, the dead Bianchi was consigned to hanging on a wall in my parent's shed in Gloucestershire- a crack at the head tube junction testimony to the front end impact. A couple of years later Marco Pantani died (from powdered cocaine, not crack cocaine as I understand it), and with his death the value of an intact version this bike probably shut up. Which is a shame, but somehow the value of this machine to me has grown in my memory over the years since, for lots of other reasons beyond Pantani.


Taken waiting for a table. Somewhere in deepest Kowloonshire.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013


I'm more than ready to embrace 1x11 as the Drivetrain future, but when are Shimano going to get on the case and deliver something that isn't made of plastic? Carbon cranks & rocks do not mix! Meantime, the new 2014 Scott dirt range is one of the few from the big guns that captured any sort of attention from me.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Birds and Buildings

And the occasional spider. Life through a zoom lens: Peak > Aberdeen hike with no bike.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Vector Rip Off

Inspired by this article on how the UK Government could have better used the money they spent on Thatcher's funeral, I thought it would be interesting to see what you cycling related items one could buy instead of a pair of brand spanking new, but rather expensive, Garmin Vector pedals. Drum roll please, here's some thoughts on how else to spend $1699 USD:

A Life Time's Cycling Holiday Experience
1x BC bike race entry: $1650USD
This looks much more fun than looking at Garmin Connect graphs.

His and Hers Mountain Bikes
2 perfectly serviceable brand new '29er mountain bikes: 2 x 550 EURO
How about 2 bikes for the price of 2 pedals?!?

Flights to go Training
5 return flights to Taiwan to go train in the hills: 5 x $2500HKD
I'm thinking the training benefit of this would far outweigh a couple of metric gauges.

Enough pedals to Last a Lifetime
66 pairs of Shimano SPD pedals: 66x£16.50GBP
Power meter pedals are all good, but 66 times the price of a standard SPD? Really?!?

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Boarding Now

Star Ferry Boarding Gate- Hendrix Style

Monday, August 5, 2013

Shenzhen Riviera

Shenzhen has increasingly become the day trip de jour for HK road cyclists looking for something different, with a some fantastic roads as you head South West down the 'Riviera' from Shau Tau Kok. Some areas are deceptively nice, with Asian eyed blinkers even drawing comparisons with Milan San Remo... Maybe they don't get the passengers to push their buses out of ditches in Italy? However, maybe they also don't let sweaty cyclists sit on their 5 star hotel sofas either??? Whatever, 160km with 2200m of climbing doesn't come easy in any climate but on one of the hottest days of the year it was a serious grind hauling tired legs & bodies up the last 500m car free hill. Still, we got our just rewards in some spectacular views back towards HK on what was also one of the clearest days of the year. Rides worth the sunburn & suffering for.