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ritchey road logic disc ..........................................................................................................................................................................................................

the mighty dave t's words of the week

the mighty dave t

"with a tail wind like this, i'll simply hoist the mainsail and glide home."

©2020 the mighty dave t, is a prendas sponsored rider and le patron of the thoroughly decent fellows.


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cafe du cycliste

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how good am i?

achtervolger

as a young, aspiring drummer, musical and economic necessity demanded that i assume the role of a session drummer, undertaking work for the highest bidder (not that too many were involved in a bidding war). in the course of fulfilling my destiny, i played pop, rock, folk, country, ceilidh, punk (yes, really) and even heavy metal. at the time, i'm sure i considered myself to be the equal of any western-based percussionist, though i don't honestly recall harbouring any doubts regarding my abilities in that department. however, since any session musician on any instrument depends on the hoped-for 'callback', the fact that i was not only frequently called back, but regularly recommended to others, would tend to suggest that my abilities were commensurate with expectations.

drummer, bill bruford, retired from public performance in 2009 after a forty year career as a professional drummer. he gave as the reason for this ending of a long-term vocation, the unexpected revelation that, having begun as a teenager who knew it all, he'd ended up a middle-aged gent who seemed to know nothing at all. it is often said that youth is wasted on the young, but it appears, from personal experience, that confidence is not one of the wasted aspects. in those years of session work, i'm pretty sure i thought it was only a matter of time before a world tour as second drummer with genesis beckoned.

nowadays, however, even a quick scan of available youtube drumming videos would educate any apprentice that, in the subsequent years, the bar has not only been lifted, but possibly elevated out of sight. i'm pretty sure i could practise from now until doomsday, yet never reach the level at which thomas lang, virgil donati and steve smith currently sit. i'm also pretty sure that, in my session days, had i implemented any of the techniques displayed by the above, callbacks would have been very few and far between.

yet, i know of what drummers at that level are capable. i know i can't match them, but i'd know how to get there, if push came to shove. jay bellerose, on the other hand, plays pretty much close to nothing at all, but exactly the right, nothing at all. but i simply can't comprehend where he's coming from, and no amount of practice is likely to change that.

so how does that relate to cycling? how would i know whether i am a cyclist who would have been worthy of a callback were i starting out today? i do remember watching robert millar attacking the tour's ascents in 1984 and thinking, how hard can it be? a quick burst over the hill leading to the town of dundonald demonstrated precisely how hard it could be, resulting in an enforced stop when only half way to the summit. it seems that the confidence i bore behind the drumset was easily matched by the same, unfounded confidence in the saddle.

but is there a level at which any, or all of us needs to be at, to ensure a lack of castigation in the sunday morning peloton? in other words, how good do you (and i) need to be? quite obviously this would depend very much on the sort of company you expect to keep. if those living nearby are all pros or ex-pros, you might want to sneak in as much secret training as you can. if you live surrounded by hilly terrain, you're probably going to want to ride a bit more than yours truly; islay's relatively flat, to be honest.

of course, if you're in the early flush of youth, you probably already believe yourself to be capable of giving wout van aert a run for his money any time you darned well like, while those of a similar vintage to myself would be content to polish his wheels and oil the chain. when attempting to encourage new cyclists to join us of a sunday morn, i am repeatedly met with claims that there is no way on this earth they could keep up. "i'll train a bit harder," they say, "and maybe in a month or two..." the reality is, that we rarely leave anyone behind, and were they to join us and we should prove to be somewhat faster, riding along would soon have them moving a bit quicker.

there's common knowledge in music circles, that the best way to improve is to play with your betters, on the reasoned assumption that their superior musicianship will pull you up by the drumsticks. the same applies to cycling; it would only take a few outings to demonstrate the level that needs to be attained, with a ready and willing support group to help reach it. i well remember my first ride with the mighty dave t (some twelve years my senior), where i very quickly reached not only my maximum heart-rate, but maximum distance. i don't mind admitting that i pedalled squares the whole way home. and a bit like jay bellerose, i can't quite figure out how the mighty dave does it still.

fortunately, even my miserable performance resulted in a callback.

thursday 13 august 2020

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prendas ciclismo ..........................................................................................................................................................................................................

a lot of cobbles

paris-roubaix

on the basis that the primary purpose behind twitter is as an outlet for smart-ass one-liners and other trivia of note, i have been in the habit of randomly tweeting the number of days left until paris-roubaix. this arcane practice would more usually take place a month or so before christmas, and once again as february hoves into view. of course, there is no practical reason behind my doing so; it serves solely as a large dollop of optimism ahead of what i consider the finest race of the season, bar none.

of course, this year, larger events precluded the running of paris-roubaix on its usual mid-april slot, when the famed cobbles remained untroubled by a peloton of bicycle wheels. like the bulk of the race season, it has been unceremoniously moved to the back end of the year, two instalments of which have already been won by jumbo-visma's wout van aert. his victories at italy's strade bianche and a lengthy milan-sanremo, must surely place him in the the frame of favourites to win at roubaix in late october across those eagerly apprehensive cobbles.

the logo for paris-roubaix has already been highlighted as one of the sport's more appropriately constituted, the veracity of which can be seen by the illustration above (i added the cobbles on the right). however, despite considering myself reasonably well-informed with regard to velocipedinal matters, other than the tour de france, i hadn't actually noticed that cycle races had begun to acquire specific logos. no doubt there are members of the audience who are aghast at such an admission, but i'd prefer that you thought of me as a member of the sporting cognoscenti, rather than one occupied by fripperies such as race logos.

now that it has been mentioned however (thank you once again, twitter), i note that omloop het nieuwsblad is also in possession of a rather neat logo, as has the ronde van vlaanderen. however, perusal of the website for gent wevelgem elicits something that looks like it should be a logo, but, at the risk of incurring the organisers' ire, doesn't quite work on that level. however, as an admission, this beggars the question, if you'll excuse my language, have i been particularly remiss in my observations, or are those particular logos simply not fit for purpose? for surely the idea of a logo is to function as the shortcuts in microsoft windows, or an alias on the mac, signifying the 'rage in the machine' so to speak, without the machine's blueprints.

meander along regent street in london, or buchanan street in glasgow, and it's hard not to notice the large white, illuminated apples sited above the doors of the respective apple stores. this is perhaps the finest example of logo design it's possible to witness in modern times. there is no need for explanation, no need for text and no need for a brochure to explain just what an apple graphic has to do with computers and mobile phones. in an ideal world, all logos would work in this fashion, but you don't need me to point out that this is hardly an ideal world.

however, if i might use the logos mentioned above (except that of paris-roubaix) as examples of where things might be less than efficient in their ministrations, click through the web pages for de ronde, gent wevelgem, and the omloop, and note that they are displayed at such small resolution atop the race pages, as to be all but insignificant. that means yet another question has to be beggared: why bother?

along with many other sports, cycling relies heavily on corporate sponsorship, witnessed by the numerous logos an team jerseys, team cars, and the wallpaper design of logos featured as a backdrop to rider interviews. it's yet another sport that has frequently adopted the americanism whereby a team is 'presented by', the main sponsor and 'powered by' most often the bicycle sponsor. midst this forest of wall to wall graphics, ought surely to be that of the race charged with hosting the above panoply of colours?

to paraphrase jrr tolkein, 'one logo to rule them all'. well, at least until the following weekend.

and there are 74 days until paris-roubaix.

wednesday 12 august 2020

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wheelsmith ..........................................................................................................................................................................................................

clicking into place

ritchey chicane stem

in the days when i still rode a mountain bike, i spent an entire week attempting to trace a really annoying click that, like all irritating sounds emanating from a bicycle, appeared to originate from the bottom bracket. i had the bicycle on the workstand several times, stripping out the bottom bracket, checking all the chain links, removing and replacing the cassette, doing the same with the rear derailleur jockey wheels, checking the quick release, checking the hub cones, the saddle, seatpost, seatpost bolt; you name it, i dismantled it, lubricated it and replaced it.

the one thing i hadn't thought to check and which eventually proved to be the culprit, was the pedal threads in the crank. as usual, i grease these threads prior to fitting the pedals and, in the dry heat prevalent during that particular year, the grease had dried out, allowing a tiny amount of play to develop in the crank arm, hence the click.

i always imagine the professionals' bikes to be pristine in this respect, gliding noiselessly through the french, italian, spanish or belgian countryside, no matter the weather conditions. one can but imagine the headspace violations that would occur should a rider find themselves in a multi-kilometre, lone breakaway, punctuated only by a creak or groan, the location of which seems to vary at every twist or turn. consider the ignominy of calling up the team car for a bike change, based purely on a squeak that might, or might not, be originating from the saddle.

if these things drive us nuts, professional team mechanics must be borderline certifiable on so many occasions. press-fit bottom brackets have occupied more than their fair share of stories concerning ever-louder creaks and groans; it would be naive to think those only affect consumer bicycles.

as i write, the met office are forecasting the lengthiest heatwave ever experienced in the uk, admittedly more in more southern parts of the country, allied to indeterminate thunderstorms which may, or may not, affect your home town. i have a sneaking suspicion that the former can be held responsible for the irritating click experienced, previously only when climbing out the saddle, but now most annoyingly when climbing in the saddle.

the ritchey logic is fitted with campagnolo's record groupset, the chainset of which is joined in the bottom bracket shell utilising their famous hirth coupling. tightening this to the required setting needs an extra-long 10mm allen wrench, but once initially installed, it rarely needs adjusting. so i have checked for any lateral play in this region, but none exists. however, a similar click has arisen on previous occasions, one that i eventually traced to the stem bolt and stem wedge.

this ritchey chicane stem eschews the usual set of clamp bolts in favour of an internal wedge pressing against the front of the steerer. in this case, either i had failed to tighten this bolt as i should have, or it had loosened sufficiently to allow minute, unwarranted movement. remedying the problem removed the click and all was well with the world. however, the same click (at least i think it's the same click) has now reappeared over rough ground and when climbing. i have again checked the tension of both stem bolts to no avail, and my current scapegoat is the dessication encouraged by the heat.

this is not to poke disparagement in the direction of ritchey's excellent, svelte chicane stem. i have experienced similar (pilot error) problems with more conventional items.

i will investigate further by removing the stem completely, greasing the bolts and refitting. but that's purely speculation on my part; the click could be coming from almost anywhere on the bike. even when previously discovered to be the stem bolts, it sounded as if it emanated from the bottom bracket. i can now sympathise with the hapless shop mechanic on being bluntly told "my bike's making a noise". heaven only knows how pro team mechanics deal with their more highly strung 'customers'.

tuesday 11 august 2020

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rouleur magazine ..........................................................................................................................................................................................................

victimisation

e-bike motor

the principal campsite on islay is situated at port mòr centre just outside port charlotte village on the road to portnahaven. it's roughly five kilometres from debbie's café in bruichladdich, soon to be reached (almost) via a mixed-use path currently under construction between the two villages. the latter crosses at least three dips in the landscape, and at the end of last week, those gaps were obviated by the installation of substantial steel bridges. when completed, similar to the three-distilleries path leading from port ellen to ardbeg distillery, passing both laphroaig and lagavulin in the process, the bruichladdich path will be tarmac'd, partly to ensure its longevity, and partly to allow for use by cyclists.

far be it for me to castigate the behaviour of my fellow velocipedinists, but as i returned from port mòr on saturday lunchtime, there were two visiting cyclists already making their way along what is currently a work in progress. the fact that there is currently no access point on the path, there are workers at various points along the route and that those bridges currently exist simply as open girders, was obviously insufficient of a clue.

as i sat indoors at debbie's, consuming my soya latte and double-egg sandwich, a young chap clad in baggy shorts, cycle jersey and a helmet with a peak (always a dead giveaway for a mountainbiker) entered to purchase sustenance and a beverage, claiming to be in need of energy after riding in the noon-day heat, all the way from port mòr. as i mentioned above, the centre is a mere 5km distant and the lad was probably in his mid-twenties and looked reasonably fit. my flabber was even further gasted on discovering, as i left for the post-lunch ride, that he was aboard an electric mountain bike.

as i'm sure i enquired a few weeks past, 'what is wrong with these people?'

more flabbergasting ensued following the sunday morning ride. in light of the favourable, sunny weather, we dined on our coffees al fresco at the benches in front of the mini-market. as we finished up, and mr maths finished the last of the marshmallows that had smothered his hot chocolate, two e-cyclists in impossibly bright yellow jackets passed on their way to bridgend. we made the usual felicitations, before finishing up our coffees, bidding farewell to the southbound mighty dave t, dragging our bikes from the rack and heading on our way into a stiff headwind. around eight kilometres later, we caught and passed the two riders.

it would be naive of me to assume that the latter two individuals had any notion of riding speedily over the same parcours as ourselves, but the implication was that, aboard electric bicycles, they would have made better headway into that wind. this perhaps offers greater credence to my suspicion that e-bikes are turning ordinary cyclists into passengers; gaining a modicum of exercise, but hardly as much as common lore would suggest.

in my younger days, there were two apellations for visiting cyclists; those riding ahead of me were designated 'victims', while those passing in the opposite direction were identified as 'customers', principally since i often saw them a day or so later, needing some sort of cycle repair. the victims, however, offered two distinct challenges; firstly, as carrots on sticks, an increase in pace would often mean they were caught before too many kilometres had passed. secondly, having caught them, did protocol dictate that one should sit patiently behind until noticed? or was it more seemly to ride past apace, offering a hearty 'hail fellow, well met' while desperately scrabbling to retain the same pace, and lessening the danger of being re-passed a matter of kilometres later.

i'm no longer anywhere near as quick as i used to be, though i find my tenacity into a screaming headwind still stands me in good stead. with the advent of the e-bike, i figured that the days of catching 'victims' were now well behind me. but with a legal maximum of 25kph applied to uk registered models, many e-riders appear to have settled for that as a maximum, rarely putting in the effort to exceed it. which, suprisingly enough, has left them, once again, dangling as victims for the taking.

what is wrong with these people?

monday 10 august 2020

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hot chillee ..........................................................................................................................................................................................................

bend 36 chamois cream

bend36 chamois cream

the ideal bike ride would feature few, if any, distractions. the bicycle would be fettled to within an inch of its quick-release levers, paying particular attention to any clicks or creaks that might have previously advertised themselves. the tyres would be inflated to their optimum pressure, while the chain would shine in the noon-day sun. the previous evening, each and every item of battle clothing would have been carefully laid out, ready and waiting to be donned prior to a healthy breakfast of porridge oats, topped with mixed fruits and accompanied by a glass of orange juice, an espresso, or both.

the parcours du jour would have been planned in advance, based on previous observations, and laid out according to an appropriate timescale, allowing for a strategic arrival at the coffee shop in time for luncheon. nothing, not even the council's yellow jcb trimming the grass verges would stand in our way.

of course, life's not like that. on the saturday morning ride, i ride up by the high school and down school street to avoid the traffic on main street. as i passed by the currently closed leisure centre, a woman stepped out from between two parked cars with a dog not on a leash. that dog headed straight for my front wheel, before stopping inches away. and i thought it was only cats that had nine lives. a few hundred metres along shore street, the car in front suddenly pulled to a halt to have a chat with folks exiting a parked vehicle. in trying to avoid the chatees, i almost hit one of them.

all this before i'd even left the safety of the village.

bend36 chamois cream

the island is twice or three times as busy as it was during lockdown; no longer is it possible to complete the 65km route in complete loneliness. i am trying to be forgiving of visiting motorists who seem oblivious to passing places and why they're there. i simply smile when one of them drives past a signposted lay-by, forcing yours truly to pull over, and again when oncoming traffic pulls in to let the car in front pass by, then pulls out as i near their licence plate. after all, i'm not actually going anywhere in particular; the fact that neither are they, is really of no nevermind.

however, in order that i remain steadfast in the face of adversity, i need to ensure that everything over which i have direct control, has been controlled. and though it might seem a tad superficial to the casual onlooker, i have long been fastidious in my application of chamois cream. i am old enough to recall the days of owning bibshorts that featured a real chamois leather pad. after washing, it was necessary to revive their inherent softness of nature by liberal application of chamois cream. failure so to do would have you riding for team brillo pad, enforcing a walk reminiscent of john wayne, and severe likelihood of having brought tears to your thighs.

modern day synthetic bibshort pads have allegedly removed any requirement for application of chamois cream to the nether regions. i know of riders who express disbelief that i still continue this age-old tradition. however, several of the major bibshort purveyors also offer tubs of chamois cream for sale, and it seems only right and proper that the pelotonese should pay heed. i'd never leave home without it. however, it has become apparent over the years, that not all chamois creams are equal.

bend36 chamois cream

many of those i have in the bathroom cabinet resemble the consistency seen in a tub of double-cream, offering the user the luxury of a low-viscosity application. however, the consistency of the bend 36 chamois cream is closer to that of clotted cream. this engenders a tad more effort, but i think you'll find it to be worth it.

of course, bend 36 chamois cream offers more than simply relief from potential chafing, for which the thick consistency is designed. however, its formula is also adept at preventing any infection (in all the years i've been riding a bicycle, using chamois cream, i have never once suffered from saddle sores or unwanted infections). it also prevents bacterial and fungal infections. from a reviewer's point of view, probably the best comment that can be made is that once on the bike, i never noticed it. and at only £13.49 for a 150ml tub, you'd have to think really hard for an excuse not to purchase a tub from prendas ciclismo.

unless you prepare with cream protettiva anti-sfregamento, you'll always remain an inseguitori.

prendas bend 36 chamois cream

sunday 9 august 2020

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rouleur magazine

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begin your own tradition

patek philippe

i cannot deny it; i am a bit of a print fanatic, very much at odds with spending each and every day producing pixels, rather than ink on paper. over the years, i have spent many a happy hour in w h smith, rummaging through magazines, the contents of which have yet to advertise themselves to my inquisitiveness. many years ago, there existed a branch of borders in glasgow's buchanan street, the magazine racks of which, held a wealth of previously unheard of titles, just waiting to be purchased and perused at length.

that particular branch of borders was also most convenient when taking the scotrail sleeper to euston station. the train departed at around 11:30pm and borders remained open until 10pm, offering a lengthy opportunity to while away the hours, browsing through books, magazines, compact discs, et al, before heading along gordon street to central station and its impossibly hard and uncomfortable concourse chairs.

however, since lockdown was imposed across many nations, the two american magazines i have on regular order at my newsagent, have failed to appear for the last three months. i am assuming this is due to restrictions somewhere in the air freight cycle, for, to the best of my knowledge, they're still being printed across the pond. this has resulted in less frequent demands for money from my newsagent, which is something of a double-edged sword; i'm saving money each month, but i'm not gaining the reading pleasure that both afforded. this has left a voracious reader, such as myself, scrabbling for material and having to resort (quite pleasantly as it turns out) to re-reading some of the many books in my possession.

i have attempted to partially remedy this situation by having purchased a copy of design quarterly 'eye' magazine, and only the other day, having read a feature on the 'brooks' website, i placed an order for domestique magazine, entirely unseen, but on the basis that the publisher seems as obsessed with print as am i. these two augment the regular complement of procycling, rouleur, and wired. it was an advert on the back cover of the latter that unintentionally inspired today's discussion.

i'm sure that 'wired' possesses reams and reams of demographic information relating to their current and potential readership. i doubt there's a magazine or newspaper in existence that doesn't spend hours poring over such numbers and graphs, trying manfully and womanfully to tailor content to match those they believe are the target audience. i can also but assume that these statistics bear a close resemblance to the advertising of the eponymous, 'lord leverhume', a man oft quoted as having said "half of my advertising is wasted money. if only i knew which half."

this is a conclusion i have arrived at, based purely on the advertising that appears each month in 'wired'. aside from the ubiquitous ad for some sort of audi motor car, adverts for electric wine cellars, maseratis, and expensive leather goods, there's an annual wristwatch supplement featuring watches that are priced decidedly higher than the house in which i live. but it was the caption 'neath an advert for patek philippe watches that engendered this particular set of pixels; 'begin your own tradition'. this, i assume, is a reference to their regular advert which contends that you never actually 'own' a patek philippe watch, you are simply looking after it for the next generation.

a quick check on google will alert you to the sort of money you'd need in the piggy bank should you wish to become part of the wristwatch elite. their 'grand complications, split seconds chronograph' bears an eyewatering price tag of comfortably in excess of £200,000. this means i have avoided wired magazine's demographic on two counts, by some sizeable margin. firstly, i'm pretty sure i'll never see that sum of money at the foot of my bank statement, ever, and secondly, why would i spend anything like that kind of cash, simply to tell the time?

however, in fairness to patek philippe, i do rather like the idea of beginning my own tradition.

though never couched in those terms, i did engender to interest my daughter in the world of the velocipede, both before and after she'd left home. now in her thirties and more interested in the make of car she might purchase next than anything to do with pedals or saddles, i fear that cycling is a tradition that has completely passed her by. she did, on one occasion, feign affection for a pink independent fabrication machine, but i believe that to have been a passing fancy.

my son, on the other hand, despite once having been a sullen teenager, desperate to avoid any form of exercise that might conceivably do him some good, has now seen the light and, up until the recent birth of his first child, was a regular on the sunday morning bike rides. and during the period of lockdown, two of the children for whom mrs washingmachinepost has cared for, since they were tiny tots, have been members of my tuesday afternoon peloton.

every second tuesday, when time allowed, the three of us would cycle several kilometres to gartbreck point for a picnic of sorts, following which, they would mess about amongst the rocks and seaweed, before we'd head back home. i'm hoping that this will have instilled the joy that can be had from cycling a bicycle, and that in a few years, they'll both be clamouring to join the sunday peloton. i live in hope.

maybe cycling uk and british cycling could both encourage members to 'start their own tradition', ensuring that the future will be peopled with more cyclists and fewer motorists?

patek philippe

saturday 8 august 2020

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ride up grades

rusty old bike

number one son began his driving years with a second-hand vehicle to which he added the inevitable huge speaker in the boot, purely to rattle the windows when playing his beat-heavy 'music' on the car's compact disc player. the fact that this large lump of speaker-filled wood occupied nine tenths of the boot area seemed not to give cause for concern. several other aspects of the car were subsequently modified before it was sold to provide a deposit on one of those 'forever and ever' deals, whereby he acquired a brand new vehicle for three years' worth of monthly payments, and after which he would barely own the wheels and the rear-view mirror.

such schemes are, according to a second-hand car dealer interviewed in 'the guardian' a few years back, the most cost effective means of owning a decent vehicle. several have annual servicing included in the price, while the period of 'purchase' usually entails an upgrading of the car prior to the need for an m.o.t. it's also worth taking into account the fact that during those three years, the vehicle is completely under warranty, should any malfeasance befall it. always assuming your level of income remains at a comfortable level, you could look forward to driving a new vehicle until you retire.

it's always the exception that proves the rule, however, for when the three year period was up, my son returned the car to the dealer and bought himself something a great deal sportier and unnecessary instead. of course, life has a habit of getting in the way, and he now shares a not entirely new car with his wife and new daughter, however, as a self-employed electrician, he has transferred his never, never attentions to a new van.

one has to wonder, therefore, considering the frequency with which bicycle marques release new, aerodynamic models each year, often at prices that would decimate even a healthy bank account, why the same purchasing opportunities are not available to the cycling population. i do seem to recall just such a system being implemented around three or four years past, but i've heard nothing since, and i've not come across any alternative, yet similar offers.

granted, the price per month applicable to the motor industry, generally takes into account an annual mileage figure, something a lot harder to determine on the average bicycle. though bar-mounted gps units would easily calculate an appropriate figure, these are always turned on and off by the rider, and i doubt your nearest branch of evans cycles would be willing to accept your word that you would never cycle anywhere without the device activated. that said, i'm not sure that bicycles suffer from the distance related issues applicable to the motor car.

after all, the engine usually watches telly, then goes to bed each night.

the recent period of lockdown served to highlight the supply levels and infrastructure with which the bicycle industry has become saddled (pun intended). when a large proportion of the uk public turned to the bicycle as a safe and convenient method of transport, many a bike shop was found wanting, due to a lack of inventory, more often than not, through no fault of their own. but if the cycle industry had notions of making itself more user-friendly in the purchasing department, particularly with their, not inexpensive e-bike ranges, perhaps they too could offer similar purchase schemes as those available to the motorist?

only the other day, cyclescheme announced that, according to their research, 83% of the nation have turned to cycling once again as a result of lockdown. this research took a look at how lockdown had impacted mental health and the nation's hobbies. though cycling topped the charts, ahead of reading and yoga, it does seem a tad demeaning to refer to cycling as a hobby. many of those surveyed contended that they would continue cycling into the foreseeable future, while others maintained that they would continue to cycle as a means of commuting to and from work.

of course, respondents to surveys are frequently known to answer in the manner they think is expected of them, their answers often quite distinct from subsequent actions. and as soon as autumn and winter appear on the horizon, you can bet your bottom bracket that a large percentage of those bicycles will be staring at the inside of a shed or garage until this time next year.

so perhaps the introduction of the 'forever and ever' scheme to bicycle purchase might just alter the mindset of those telling the surveys just what they think they want to hear. buy a new pinarello dogma f12 e-tap for £12,000 at a monthly cost of, let's say £190. at the end of the three year period, it would be a case of paying off the £6,000 balance, or trading up to a dogma f16 (or whatever number has been reached by 2023) and continue for a further 36 months. that way, you're guaranteed state of the art, or pretty close, and suffer none of the humiliation of riding a seriously out of date groupset, and the wrong colour of bicycle.

what could possibly go wrong?

friday 7 august 2020

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this is cambridge

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safety first

rest and be thankful landslip

for travellers to islay from glasgow and surrounds, it's necessary to traverse a 247 metre high hill known as the 'rest and be thankful'. it separates glen kinglas from glen croe and commences soon after leaving the town of arrochar, leading to inverarary. the longest stretch of the current road, overlooks a narrower, lower route, known as the 'old military road' and has long been the scene of seemingly endless landslips following heavy, relentless rain, for which the west of scotland is notorious.

just such a landslip occurred a couple of days ago, after 65mm of rain fell over the area in a single day.

the scottish government has, to date, spent in the region of £80 million on various measures to stem the persistent road blockages, seemingly to no avail. around seven years ago, £3.9 million was spent on upgrading the old military road, to allow its use when the main road became, inevitably, blocked. but on this most recent occasion, the landslips carried on over the side and blocking both routes and necessitating a 60 mile detour via crianlarich. the most obvious result for islay residents, is a lack of daily newspapers, something you'd figure to be a trifling incovenience, but apparently not for everyone.

a driver already on the 'rest and be thankful' during yesterday's heavy rain posted a video of his coming across the substantial dollop of mud blocking his progress, and one can only wonder what would have been the result had the mudslide hit the car side-on as it passed. as far as i'm aware, such an incident has not occurred in recent times, but it is surely only a matter of time, as climate change becomes responsible for ever more persistent rain on scotland's west coast.

safety on the roads is, however, of concern to the majority of us. for though there may have been a period of grace during the early months of lockdown, even in the small village of bowmore, the increase in visiting traffic, following the opening of tourism in the middle of july, has been quite substantial. last saturday morning, the owners of a large green motor home were found to have parked overnight on bowmore's old stone pier, generally the preserve of only the vans belonging to local fisherman. it's certainly not the place any sane person would park a car, let alone a motorhome.

the road that circumambulates loch gorm is also the direct route to kilchoman distillery, one of only two currently open to visitors, and also to the popular kilchoman beach at machir bay. where once local velocipedinists were able to ride all but untroubled by motorised traffic, we are now forced to visit each and every passing place on our way to debbie's. because heaven forbid that any motorist might interrupt their own journey to allow a group of cyclists to go on their merry way.

a recent survey by cycle insurers cycleplan, has highlighted ten uk cities in which cyclists feel their safety is most at risk, a list headed by cardiff, leeds and birmingham. the same survey discovered that only 10% of cyclists thinks that the uk government takes cycling safety seriously and only two percent more think that their local council is any better. the survey's results have been included as part of the pedal-safe campaign, highlighting the risks associated with cycling and attempting to prevent the occurrence of such accidents. according to early results, in the last year, 35% have been injured while cycling, a somewhat alarming figure in anyone's language.

the recent announcement of a £2billion government investment to improve britain's cycling infrastructure, seems to have invited public scepticism from the outset, with almost 70% of those surveyed contending that such proposed measures are unlikely to be enough to make an appreciable difference. managing director and founder of cycleplan, john woosey, said, "It's a sad fact that roads across the UK currently fall short when it comes to providing a risk-free route for cyclists."

it has always seemed a bit of a shame that whomsoever is the government of the day, becomes the target of ire when discussing road-safety. none could ever consider themselves blameless, but mr woosey's mention of 'risk-free routes' is surely something of a misnomer; walking, cycling or driving are unlikely ever to become 'risk-free', but a lack of perceived safety has far more to do with the action of individual travellers, than ostensibly well-meaning politicians in westminster or holyrood.

however, the safety precautions for cyclists, as advised by cycleplan, would carry a tad more altruistic weight were they not augmented by item number eight: get specialist cycling insurance, hardly advice designed to improve velocipedinal safety, and just a tad self-serving under the circumstances.

cycleplan cycle insurance

thursday 6 august 2020

twmp ..........................................................................................................................................................................................................

campagnolo

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how was it for you?

strade bianche 2020

eurosport, who came in for some justifiable criticism at the weekend for a non-functioning online player, are due some redeeming applause for having allowed the initial months of lockdown to be subscription free. with no live events of any description taking place, they dutifully reasoned that use of eurosport player would be minimal, if not non-existent and waived the fee for at least three months. of course, if you, like me, were one of those eagerly tuning in to saturday's delayed season opener at strade bianche, you were presumably also met by a spinning circle that ultimately, failed to resolve itself.

strade bianche 2020

as one commenter on twitter put it, "it's only taken them three months to make their player worse." as twitter discussions go, it wasn't long before conversation turned to the new online app offered by global cycling network, which, though offering some content 'powered by eurosport' (both are owned by discovery inc.), according to some, functioned with near perfect precision. gcn customer support joined in to point out that, although they shared some backline infrastructure with their stablemates, essentially the app was theirs and theirs alone, implemented in the manner they saw fit.

strade bianche 2020

an annual subscription to eurosport player is currently discounted to a more than amenable £19.99, coincidentally, identical to the amount required by global cycling network. however, unless eurosport can convince their current subscribers that this weekend's milan-sanremo won't suffer from the same blank screen as experienced at strade bianche, there may be more than a few jumping ship. according to one new user, recruited by eurosport's untimely incompetence, "The app is clear & intuitive. The purchase was flawless. ...it's superb."

strade bianche 2020

however, gcn are currently offering live coverage only to those watching on ios or android devices. those of us who prefer the big screen experience of a laptop or desktop computer will have to wait just a little longer. according to gcn, "We're working on the web version to go live very soon. But at the moment it's iOS only, though you can AirPlay." the latter option, of course, would depend on my owning an apple tv, or my rather ageing smart tv being airplay-2 compatible. which, of course, much like its owner, it isn't.

strade bianche 2020

but those are simply the technicalities or hurdles that have to be crossed to watch the racing itself. after such a lengthy period during which several teams questioned whether they'd be able to survive, chris froome decided to transfer to a team that sounds more like the name of a hip-hop band, and many had suffered a period of lockdown that curtailed any thoughts of intensive training for the season ahead, it was a particularly enjoyable experience to (eventually) watch a thrilling season opener.

strade bianche 2020

a win by one of the world's foremost cyclocross champions in a one-day classic over tuscany's white roads, was probably one of the finest results that could have been expected. but i'd be fibbing if i said i was completely au fait with the new breed of riders beginning to arguably take their rightful place at the head of the new peloton. that's where john and scott at velocast take over.

the next few months, all being well, are about to be jam-packed with live cycle racing, a period during which we can presumably dispense with any thoughts that we were 'over it'. i daresay there were many climbing their lockdown walls at the serious deficit of cycle racing in their daily lives, while others (and i can't deny i may have been one of them), actually enjoyed the relative peace and televisual quietude offered by this year's three weeks in july.

but after saturday's strade bianche, i'm over it.

wednesday 5 august 2020

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galloway cycling

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ride of the blazing sun

ride of the falling rain 2020

the reliability of scotland's weather has never been in doubt. whatever conditions you were expecting, or hoping for, there's an evens chance you'll get exactly the opposite. it doesn't seem too inordinate to consider the months of july and august as the very definition of 'summer', but then, i daresay that depends on your own definition of the season. suffice it to say, july has not been the kindest of months in the hebrides, sporting far more rain and wind than the brochures would lead you to expect. scan any number of websites related to accommodation on the island, and i'd challenge you to find one that displays galeforce winds and horizontal rain. the online world consists almost exclusively of glorious sunsets, golden beaches bordered with inviting shorelines and a preponderance of blue sky.

why, then, would anyone entitle an early august bike ride, 'ride of the falling rain'?

i'd like to answer that by pretending it's some sort of cunning marketing strategy; if the weather turns out to be just the right side of acceptable, it can be considered a bonus. if it pours down and blows you off your bicycle, well, we did say. yet after a particularly wet and occasionally breezy july, sunday 2 august, following a heavy, early morning rain shower, turned out to be more than amenable to the assembled, yet diminished horde. there had been doubt all along as to whether this year's 'ride of the falling rain' would take place. many an advertised sportive ride had been either cancelled or postponed, or even postponed and then cancelled. but given that this is an island with very definitive borders, it seemed innocuous at best to let things lie. if all came to nought, at least the indigenous velocipedinal population could have a ride all to themselves.

however, even with tourism re-opening for business mid-july, we simply avoided any overt marketing of the ride; given that it has long existed on the premise of it being a sunday morning bike ride to which visitors would be welcomed if they chose to join in. with no marshals, timing chips, feed stations, free t-shirts (included in the entry price) and, in fact, no entry price, there didn't really seem to be anything to cancel in the first place.

as it transpired, the entry consisted of only around twenty cyclists, of whom six or seven were local riders. having set off in groups of no more than four, social-distancing was never going to be a problem.

the original parcours was designed to lead riders to ardbeg distillery's old kiln café at around the half-way point, for some pretty decent food. however, the current crisis has seen only kilchoman and ardnahoe distilleries open their visitor centres, and the former is too close to the start point in bruichladdich to make practical sense as a refreshment stop. so, at the suggestion of ardnahoe visitor centre manager, paul graham, the route was altered to take us north instead of south. ardnahoe is the island's ninth, and most recently opened distillery, and features a sizeable restaurant/café with a view that is second to none.

lone_piper

mr graham had originally acceded to our request to place tables outside, as the visitor centre currently requires bookings for meals. at the time arrangements were made, i'd no idea how many might be participating, and not much of a clue as to when they'd arrive up north. suffice it to say, we were graciously seated in the comfy leather sofas and had coffee and cake for lunch. this was probably well judged, for on leaving ardnahoe, heading for the village of keills and beyond, there's a 14% ascent to contend with which is never made easier following a substantial repast.

of those to whom i have spoken post-ride, i believe they all had a grand day out, including the manager of nearby bunnahabhain distillery. not everyone (self-included) completed the entire route, but that's more by design than misfortune. i'd far rather folks stopped while it was still fun, than grovel to the very end because that's what was expected. the nature of islay's road infrastructure makes doing so, a remarkably simple affair. i still managed a respectable 130km.

thanks to aileen at debbie's in bruichladdich for much-needed sustenance on our return mid-afternoon, and grateful thanks to the staff at ardnahoe who cheerfully coped with a ragged peloton at lunchtime. thanks also to those who participated and to the young piper who played at the morning's start in bruichladdich. hopefully next year's event will see a return to something closer to normality.

tuesday 4 august 2020

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endura cycle clothing ..........................................................................................................................................................................................................

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as always, if you have any comments, please feel free to e-mail and thanks for reading.

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