Feeling loved and understood, if a little embarrassed

My faith in The Washing Machine Post was set in concrete today. To the best of my knowledge this seminal cycling review site is written by someone named Brian whose lonely Inner Hebridean existence on the isle of Islay leaves him whole days to ride between pubs testing the veracity of clothes makers’ claims. Don’t trust the label. Trust the authorial voice of the Washing Machine Post to say if Rapha’s new jacket is wind proof, shower proof, moisture wicking, whatever.


I have no idea how a copy of Cycle Space ever made it to such a remote part of the world as the West coast of Scotland. Perhaps in a bottle. But however it got there, I’m pleased. It found a reader prepared to scour it for spelling errors and gaffs more thoroughly than it was scoured in production, and digest its arguments with no interruption, except I suppose from the occasional puffin.

While I am deeply, deeply embarrassed to be told yet again I can’t spell (actually, I’m too heavily medicated to be the slightest bit bothered), the lasting feeling is one of great honour. A kindred eccentric in the bike blogging world has taken the time to read my whole book, or if they did skip a few bits, they have faked a full reading quite well. Sure, he lives on a deserted island so can’t see the point of bike infrastructure. And he has a chip on his shoulder from art school days, I guess because architects typically get great looking girlfriends while art students just draw them. But he has worked his way through my book with genuine interest, even finding where youtube links in the margins don’t work.

From my point of view, I see that it’s working: ideas I’ve personally agonised over, are being picked up and tossed around by a wider audience than I’ve ever received just writing for peer reviewed journals. And who are my peers anyway? One of my most respected rides between pubs in Islay.


  1. Luke says:

    Bitch fight!! (I am aware of these modern terms.) Architects v artists!! 10 rounds, last man standing wins.

    I’d be careful. Not sure about architects, but some artists are seriously hard bastards – see Carravagio. (Have I spelt that right?)

    But a bike blogger in Islay? Who’d have thought it? You’re right to be far more chuffed to find you’re read there than concerned about any snarking (and you have a fan really, even if your ideas are not primarily aimed at such places). And it goes to prove a point I made ages ago, I think on your blog, about the prevalence of artists in cycle racing (see “One more kilometre ans we’re in the showers” Tim Hilton).

    • Steven says:

      Dear old “Vag” they call him in Naples. And for those who have trouble pronouncing “Trompe l’oeil”, “Carravaginal” means pretty much the same things. By the way Luke, thank you for those introductions you made for me in London. I’m quite looking forward to speaking at both.

  2. tk says:

    living on a deserted island, and a preference for reviewing over-priced aspirational cycling gear, would be the ties that bind you two together, i should have thought, more than any differences of opinion over bike paths or flying buttresses?

    in any case, familie tk is coming to the blighted isle in early january. hobart only i’m afraid. weddings and a visit to mona are on the cards. keen?

    • Steven says:

      Hi Tom
      email me some dates and we’ll try to meet up, for coffee, a ride, perhaps even a dose of old and bad art

  3. well, that’s synchrony for you. i like to read the washingmachinepost for a couple of reasons: i figure that one day i will finally work out what his wonderfully obtuse prose means; i like to read his reviews of rapha clothing to reinforce my own ideology- I cycle daily recreationally and as my preferred method of commuting, and rapha is my clothing of choice- and, speaking of reinforcement, i like to reinforce my non-use of sentence case when posting on the internet by reference to twmp.

    i like to read your blog because i am a melbourne based architect- although i focus mostly on urban design- who enjoys your enthusiastic concatenation of urban design and cycling. something i enjoy doing myself.

    so when i read the twmp review of your book my first thought was “what he is critical of”- and i am not referring here to the art student/ architecture student schism- “i am in favour of as ideas to be pursued.” my second thought was “where can i purchase this book?”. looking on line told me it is out of print and generally not available.

    so imagine my surpirse and delight when i find this reference in your site. and that you have written the book. and i realise that you are located not all that far from me, at a university where i have had the pleasure of speaking in my professional capacity on a couple of occasions.

    i was therefore wondering if you know if there are any extant copies of your book that i could purchase?

    regards, david

  4. David Sutherland says:

    thanks steven. i will try both recommendations!

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