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the mighty dave t's words of the week

the mighty dave t

"a cup and saucer for me. i've been brought up proper."

©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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prendas omloop van vlaanderen sleeveless baselayer

prendas omloop van vlaanderen baselayer

modesty prevents me from overstating my skillset with adobe's flagship image editor, photoshop, but let's just say i'm at black belt level. every two weeks, i am called upon to create a set of differences between two copies of the same image, for one of those 'spot the difference' puzzles featured in my local newspaper. aside from identifying which additions or removals would make for the most intriguing contest, there's then the not unrelated need to conceal those changes from the human eye.

perhaps, quite obviously, if i decide to remove a lamp post, for instance, it would be glaringly obvious if the not-so-faint outline of the removed item remained in public view. and should i add an item, it is best that its appearance and lighting match its surroundings. ideally, the image that has been altered, viewed in isolation from its nemesis, would look to be in pristine condition, with nothing apparently untoward in its composition.

prendas omloop van vlaanderen baselayer

generally speaking, i have been quite successful in so doing, successfully removing chimneys, windows, cars, people and clouds without leaving a trace. i have also introduced white lines to roadways, footballs to play parks, and lambs to agricultural shows, all without necessarily alerting anyone to the veracity of the digital augmentation. of course, it was not always so, but the more often such demands are successfully met, the better my technique for doing so becomes. if you have need of a velocipedinal example, take a look at the cover of the mousehold publication 'vive la vuelta' 2nd edition. the lower image shows alejandro valverde standing on the pedals in the heat of battle. in the original image, there was a (distracting) motorbike and cameraman behind him.

prendas omloop van vlaanderen baselayer

though photoshop's transition from the barney scan software, bundled with an early model of desktop scanner, to that of a fledgling, professional editing programme, was something of an eye-opener in the early 1990s, it was the advent of version 3.0 in 1995 that brought real revolution, for that was when inventor, thomas knoll introduced layers. no longer was it necessary to conduct pixel-wrangling on a copy of the original image; changes could now be made on separate layers, only combined with the original when adjudged to be appropriately correct. and the opportunity to use layer masks was little short of astounding, providing an all but foolproof method of editing an image without fear of mistake.

mastery of layers will make you the julian alaphillippe of the pixelated world.

prendas omloop van vlaanderen baselayer

and, as we draw ever further into autumn, the notion of layers arises once again, only this time, applied to our velocipedinal clothing choices. it's a subject of which each and every cyclist ought to be fully acquainted, if only in order to remain comfortable throughout the weekend ride. through the warmer summer months, clothing oneself in a lightweight, short-sleeve jersey is unlikely to give cause for concern, but when the world becomes a colder place, even a long-sleeve jersey would benefit from a base layer (see what i did there?). as everything ultimately becomes less clement, the ideal build will include a baselayer, a long or short-sleeve jersey and perchance a windproof or waterproof outer layer.

prendas omloop van vlaanderen baselayer

but there are variations to be had within that particular simplicity. baselayers can be had in long or short-sleeve variants or, particularly at this time of year, even a sleeveless version, preventing any propensity to overheat under those enhanced mid and outer layers. and though baselayers are rarely seen in polite company, a cobble-patterned, omloop van vlaanderen offers both comfort and thermal regulation as well as succour to the intrepid. particularly if allied to a pair of lion of flanders socks.

despite featuring a thickness of fabric that makes a sheet of andrex look obese, prendas' omloop baselayer has hidden thermal properties, even minus a pair of sleeves. where they're hidden, i haven't the faintest, but i wore this garment with a long-sleeve jersey in cutting windchill without so much as a shiver. though prendas recommend this as ideal for summer or spring, factor in the layer-method, and suddenly its versatility is extended throughout the year.

the prendas omloop van vlaanderen baselayer (part of the 'forgotten races' collection) is available in sizes ranging from xs to 5xl at a retail price of £33.99.

prendas omloop van vlaanderen baselayer

tuesday 29 september 2020

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

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

rapha core range long-sleeve jersey

rapha core range long-sleeve jersey

for the past few evenings, as i have sat watching something totally inane on the tellybox, i can see a bright and surprisingly large half-moon through the sitting room window, overhanging bowmore distillery's bonded warehouses. however, it's not been the yellowish lunar surface that has attracted my attention, but a small point of light that originally sat to the left of the moon, but latterly has appeared to its right. i am insufficiently versed in the constitution of the heavens to know which planet/satellite/space station that might be, but i was reliably informed by a member of the velo club peloton, who knows about such cosmological matters, that i am looking at jupiter.

rapha core range long-sleeve jersey

the latter planet orbits well over 700 million kilometres from the earth, yet even with my age diminished eyesight, i can still view the sun's reflected light over such a colossal distance. were i more inclined towards the numerical side of life, i'd have attempted to figure out how long it would take me to cycle to jupiter, given my rather derisory, age diminished velocity. but aside from viewing the planets in our solar system from a cosmological point of view, their various orbits and gravitational influences purportedly influence matters on planet earth. like the seasons, for instance.

rapha core range long-sleeve jersey

my naivety extends to considering earth's seasonal changes to have more relevance to climatic conditions, but it seems that in this, i am well wide of the mark. no matter the ambient temperature or the meteorological conditions seen through the same sitting room window, apparently autumn commenced on 22 september and will summarily end on 21 december, at which point, winter sets in. i confess i had been more inclined to set the beginning of september as my autumnal marker, with mid-november as the start of winter.

but, seemingly, weather has little or nothing to to with either. those are simply the earth's visible coinicidences in the northern hemisphere; the reverse will be true south of the equator.

rapha core range long-sleeve jersey

yet, here we are, but six days into autumn and already velocipedinal conversation has turned to whether we should hang up our bibshorts till spring and inhabit either bib-threequarters, or, heaven forfend, full-length bibtights? i have tentatively invoked the 'hebrideans are the flandrians of the west' mantra, more to convince myself that bibshorts are still ok, rather than any defensive show of machismo. at least, that's what i'm telling you.

my gravel-based explorations referred to yesterday, experienced the full autumnal effect. it will suprise no-one that riding through ballygrant woods in late september, offered a thickening carpet of copper-coloured leaves; if i was unaware of autumn, it wasn't unaware of me. sartorial considerations led me to inhabit a pair of bib-threequarters, but if i'm totally honest, that may have been a bit of a mistake, since their mild fleece lining was a tad cosier than i'd hoped for. still, had i actually met any living person during my perambulations through the woods, they would surely have been mightily impressed by my stature and fortitude. and simply to round off my tailored presence, i donned rapha's new long-sleeve, bright orange, core range jersey.

rapha core range long-sleeve jersey

by way of a spoiler alert, it's my new favourite jersey.

in the true meaning of 'the future's bright, the future's orange', it should probably have been fitted with a volume control. i veritably feared for the sight of anyone i may have met along the way. yet, at one and the same time, it fits right in with what we might consider autumnal hues; a far better hi-vis alternative to chartreuse. outfitted with a light, fleecy inner, despite an ambient temperature of around nine degrees, assisted by a chill north wind that brought that closer to three or four degrees, i had scarce need of any auxiliary garmentage, such as a wind-jacket or gilet.

it is said that art lies in the details, the most obvious of which is a separately crafted white fabric armband on the left sleeve. the three rear pockets, comfortably carrying an essentials case, digital camera, spare track mitts, mini-pump, kool-stop tyre-jack and the aforementioned windjacket, they were perhaps a tad tight, but then, the jersey is brand new and at least there were no concerns over anything falling out. there's also a fourth, zipped security pocket. the full-length zip ends at the collar with a zip-garage, while the collar itself is of a height neither too tall, nor too low.

rapha core range long-sleeve jersey

i am both long of torso and long of arms, yet the (medium-size) core jersey offered sufficient length to the waist and even more length in the arms than i'd hoped for. as i said, my new favourite jersey. but the real surprise regarding this orange superbness (it's also available in dark green and dark purple), is the price. the core range is effectively rapha's 'budget' offering, yet there's nothing in the way of budget about its person. i guarantee that, were imperial works to have priced this at £120, rather than its almost derisory £70, we would all have gratefully accepted the price of admission without so much as a murmur.

when winter commences on 21 december, it will be a simple matter of augmenting the core long-sleeve jersey with something to fend off the expected inclement conditions. if you've bought from rapha before, you'll be acquainted with both quality and price, but if you don't own anything from the land of the black and pink, now's your chance, before somebody in the accounts department at imperial works realises the company calculator needs new batteries.

rapha's core range, long-sleeve jersey is available in sizes from xs to xxl. colours are orange (as reviewed), dark purple and dark green, all priced at £70.

rapha core range long-sleeve jersey

monday 28 september 2020

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

riding is the answer ..........................................................................................................................................................................................................

rené herse steilacoom 700 x 38mm endurance tyres

rene herse steilacoom gravel tyres

for all my cynicism aimed at campagnolo's new ekar groupset a couple of days past, or, more specifically, at the perceived need for gravel bikes, i feel i may need to offer a smidgeon of explanation, lest you think me too disparaging. for having spent the majority of my saturday, hurtling through the undergrowth, skiting my way down gravellous descents and riding with fingers crossed that the long grass through which i was proceeding, hid no unexpected suprises, i may appear to be a bit of a hypocrite.

rene herse steilacoom gravel tyres

i'm not.

for though i still rail against the need for gravel bikes when there have always been cyclocross bikes, and i remain to be convinced that gravel specific' groupsets are a necessary thing, i do particularly enjoy a smattering of gravel riding myself. not only does it offer a fresh look at cycling, hone one's bike handling skills, and keep you well away from motorised traffic, it will also stop your legs from talking to you after nigh on 50km off-road.

the village of ballygrant is but a tad farther than five kilometres south of the ferry port at port askaig. riding from bowmore, it can be reached either by the main, a846 road, or by way of the singletrack glen road, exiting at the quarry. however, if on a bicycle, turn right off the glen road instead of left, and there awaits the entrance to ballygrant woods. the gravel track that wends its way past loch ballygrant all the way to the lily loch and on to dunlossit house, offers pretty much every type of surface you'd hope to find in pursuit of a gravel lifestyle.

rene herse steilacoom gravel tyres

there's loose gravel, sure enough, there are frequent muddy patches, and there are grassy surfaces. on a bright, sunny, but perishingly cold day like yesterday, the sunlight breaking through the trees and bushes, creates a dappled surface under tyre, frequently hiding the very pitfalls you'd prefer it didn't. i cannot deny that it's a style of riding with which i am less than familiar, having nailed by flag to the road-riding mast more often than not. but the arrival of a pair of rené herse, steilacoom 700 x38c gravel specific tyres, offered the perfect opportunity to see of what both they and i are made of.

i'll not fib; the track through the woods would scarcely register on the average mountain biker's 'to do' list, depending, of course, on how fast they approached its firmament. but i'm no mountain biker, a fact which probably did not serve those tyres well. the mtb lads' and lassies' dual-suspension farm gates, shod with rubber wider than two inches, probably eat ballygrant woods for breakfast. but, at present, gravel biking seems a tad more sedate, geared more towards a sense of safer adventure in the wilderness. at least, that's my take on the situation.

rene herse steilacoom gravel tyres

nobody calls me 'gnarly' and gets away with it.

however, the more things change, the more things change. several years ago, a perceived need for a footpath stretching between caol ila road end and ballygrant village, had the apparently well-meaning dunlossit estate, construct just such an edifice in their land, parallel to the a846. as owners of the quarry, 'twas but a snip to lay gravel the full five kilometre length of the path, offering walkers and cyclists a means of travel separated from ferry traffic. unfortunately, the gravel bore closer resemblance to boulders, and having created the path, the estate promptly left it alone.

rene herse steilacoom gravel tyres

if you didn't know it was there, you wouldn't know it was there. there is no signposting whatsoever, and many sections have either disintegrated, or become overgrown. in all the occasions i have used this path for reviewing tyres and 'cross bikes, i have only ever met four walkers; it is certainly not the pedestrian highway it was surely intended to be. and even with 28mm rubber, it is most certainly not suitable for any type of road bike. mountain, cyclocross and gravel only.

rené herse began his career in the 1930s, working on prototype aircraft, subsequently creating lightweight, stylish bicycle components. the current range of rené herse tyres and components hail from across the pond in the cascade mountains, stocked in the uk by dorset's sven cycles. i have previously given pixel room to rené herse 'hurricane ridge' 700 x 42c gravel tyres, rubber which pretty much flattened anything and everything in its path. their 38c steilacoom endurance version proposed a more refined ride through the hinterlands, which is pretty much what i got.

rene herse steilacoom gravel tyres

the steilacoom can be had in three variations: standard, lightweight and endurance. the latter is simply the lightweight version with strengthened sidewalls and puncture resistance and the version ridden by yours truly. all variations are tubeless compatible, but since i have no faith in the genre, mine were fitted with inner tubes. they are, to be frank, a flipping nightmare to fit. or at least they were until i employed the kool-stop tyre jack, which i would heartily recommend for all tyres, but specifically to ease fitting of rené herse tyres.

these are highly entertaining to watch when inflating. according to the explicit fitting instructions, the plumb-line that is intended to sit just above the wheel rim must do so around the full circumference of the sidewall. it's unlikely this will be the case on initial fitting, but as the tyre is inflated, that line starts to show itself from both sides of the wheel, eventually meeting in the middle with a soft 'pop' when complete. if its appearance stops at any time, it's a simple matter of pumping in a few more pounds of pressure. once visible on both sides of the tyre, you can adjust the desired pressure up or down as necessary.

rene herse steilacoom gravel tyres

i ran front and back at 40psi throughout the review. perhaps a tad high on soft ground, but just ideal on gravel or rock.

my lack of sensibility in the handling department ultimately meant that the steilacooms were given a hard ride, yet offered me the comfort i had hoped would be the case. the knobbly bits are well enough spaced to clear mud and gravel with ease, but close enough to offer a smooth ride on tarmac and on compacted grass. over loose gravel there was no sign of a propensity to wash out and while pedalling hard on steep, wet, grassy hills, the back tyre never once lost grip. their resilience in the face of adversity was highly impressive; though they're five millimetres wider than the sanctioned width for cyclocross tyres, i care not a jot.

these will be accompanying me on my explorations for a long time to come, and i may well come back with more when the ground gets soggy.

rené herse steilacoom tyres are priced from £71 each. those tested are priced at £87 each. i cannot deny that they're not the easiest tyres to fit, but they are well worth the effort. rené herse tyres are distributed in the uk by dorset's sven cycles.

sunday 27 september 2020

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

showers pass ..........................................................................................................................................................................................................

we're all in this together

road bike and mountain bike

our relationship with cycling, to a certain extent, depends on our associating ourselves with specific genres of the activity or sport, or even one specific aspect. in the early days of thewashingmachinepost, a friend of mine defined it as looking at 'road bike culture', a definition that seemed particularly appropriate in the light of what i thought i was attempting to achieve. it took several more years before realising that, in point of fact, i wasn't actually attempting to achieve anything in particular.

like many in the mid to late eighties, my enthusiasm for cycling was enhanced by the arrival of the mountain bike from across the pond. and also like many, this was definably not from the discovery of a latent desire to ride bicycles up the sides of mountains. marketing has always been about selling stuff to people, even if that stuff could hardly be described as necessary in the first place. i'd like to think that i'd be less inclined to fall for such a cunning plan, but at the time of purchase of my first mountain bike, what i'd really needed was a sturdy commuting bike with a few more appropriate gears than provided by my low-cost, catalogue-sourced road bike. it was purely serendipitous that the mountain bike fad coincided with this perceived demand.

of course, once in possession of such a machine, it wasn't too much of a stretch to encompass it's alleged capabilities, arguably transforming a straightforward cycle commuter, into a bona-fide mountain biker. or, at least, someone who thought they were a mountain biker, apparently inheriting an entire set of hitherto undiscovered bike-handling skills overnight. the realisation that the latter existed more in the mind that on the trails, was an encounter that extended to more than half of those who had purchased knobbly tyres in the first place.

there are oh, so many blogs, websites and magazines that deal with ofrroad riding far better than i ever could. the very fact that there are no mountain bikes in the bikeshed would tend to highlight that realisation. and though islay features one or two decent offroad explorations, the knowledge that they can only be reached by several kilometres of road-riding, was the very fact that undermined any enthusiasm for the genre i may have harboured in the first place. the growing complexity of the bicycles really didn't help much either.

the fact that road bikes were, at one time, the very epitome of mechanical simplicity, encouraged their use on an island devoid of a professional (or amateur, come to that) maintenance outlet. that this was augmented by the knowledge that simply exiting the garden gate placed the intrepid road cyclist slap, bang in the middle of the very terrain for which the bicycle had been designed, only served to increase enthusiasm for the genre. no more kilometres ridden simply to begin the day's riding; now it could be undertaken immediately upon occupying the saddle.

with little exception, all of my island cycling colleagues can be found aboard bicycles fitting the 'roadie' descriptor. wheels of 700c countenance, skinny tyres, drop bars and mostly, double chainsets. the weekends' parcours are across what we like to describe as 'roads'. i'll admit, i have not quizzed them on whether they too, consider themselves to be 'roadies', but i think it likely the answer would be in the affirmative. remarkably, perhaps, the few of my acquaint who consider themselves to be mountain bikers, with one notable exception, are never seen aboard road bikes, a situation that is conversely replicated across the velo club peloton.

divisiveness is alive and well in the hebrides.

the situation might have been succinctly captured in the slogan that meets visitors to scotland's endura cycle clothing website; to wit 'all tribes, one clan'. but our own apparent need for pigeonholing extends only as far as the back of the peloton. for instance, any newspaper headline involving cyclists, is very unlikely to delineate to which genre they refer. surely all bicycles are 'road' bicycles? the latter question is probably that which brought about the need for venn diagrams in the first place.

we, on the other hand, are definably definitive, as witnessed by the relevant search terms used on the internet. hoist by our own petard, the fact that 'road cycling' as a search criteria is used 50 times less frequently than searches for 'mountain biking', is explained, at least in part, by the likely substitution of 'cycling' for the former, perhaps proving that, if nothing else, the avowed aficionado is the only one who sees disparity between each genre of cycling.

cyclocross, track and bmx are conspicuous by their comparative paucity of searches to the aforementioned two, but i think it's worth bearing in mind that all of the non-cycling population and probably a substantial number of those on the fringes of velocipedinal activity, just see us all as 'cyclists. for motorists, we're more likely categorised as 'bloody cyclists'.

just bear that in mind the next time you feel called upon to represent 'your people'.

saturday 26 september 2020

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wabi woolens ..........................................................................................................................................................................................................

unlucky

campagnolo ekar

on sundays, since lockdown began, the compact and bijou velo club peloton has ridden the exact same parcours, week in, week out. aside from the 'familiarity breeds content(ment)' train of thought, this particular repetitive strategy had a subterfuge behind it. though matters have now changed just a tad, in early lockdown, there was no sunday ferry, thus no sunday papers, thus no need or point in debbie's opening earlier than noon. our perambulations were thus designed to bring us to our coffee at mid-day.

campagnolo ekar

on sunday past, discovering our opening gambit to be closed for roadworks, with a peloton of only two, we jointly opted to ride south of bruichladdich to port charlotte, turn right and head to kilchiaran, then south to portnahaven. my compatriot has not lived on the hallowed isle for as long as yours truly, and as we approached the turn for claddach, original site of the wavegen wavepower station (now defunct), he suggested we take a ride round the loop on the basis of having not done so before.

nothing if not compliant, i agreed, and we swept onto some very smooth, singletrack tarmac, heading towards the north atlantic. disappointingly, and just a smidgeon concerning, a few hundred metres along the road, it turned particularly gravellous; not the sort of loose, jaggy surface to be approached on 28mm treadless rubber. having suffered the world's largest puncture on the previous weekend, i was very keen not to repeat the procedure, particularly in light of our distance from debbie's.

campagnolo ekar

softly, softly does it saved the day, as we picked our way past the largest chunks of gravel, with no real knowledge of how long the gravel section was likely to be. thankfully it was shorter than feared, so pedalling normality returned sooner, rather than later.

i have made comment concerning the current trend for gravel bikes on previous occasions. it's not that i'm not in favour, but i still can see little difference between a bona-fide gravel bike and the more european variant, the cyclocross bike. i have little doubt that there are marketing departments all across the united states who will answer my apparent blasphemy concerning such matters; there are indeed detailed differences, but none that really impinge upon the ability of either genre to ride on less than metalled roads. there really is no need to own one of each.

campagnolo ekar

however, even a reality check such as the above, will surely place no restraint on the present propaganda. if it remained simply at an invented difference of genre, i could probably live with that, but matters have seemingly taken a more bizarre turn, reminiscent of hans christian andersen's the emperor's new clothes. sram and shimano have already released gravel specific groupsets, the need for which has surely been previously undermined by rapha's original north american 'continental', a loose collection of riders who traversed many of north america's lengthy stretches of gravel track on road groupsets, fitted to custom-built steel road bikes on road tyres.

rightly or wrongly, i have always held campagnolo in greater esteem, an italian company who ditched mountain bike groupsets in favour of road racing's great heritage. shimano and sram have long espoused the single front chainring, married to a wide-range cassette at the back. then sram were rightly knocked for creating another level of incompatibility with the introduction of the xd freehub to enable a tiny ten tooth sprocket for their twelve-speed groupset.

campagnolo ekar

and now there's ekar, a very oddly-named gravel specific groupset from vicenza that requires wheels fitted with their nw3 freehub. (it's apparently named after an italian mountain with a gravel track) yes, for the first time since eight-speed, campagnolo riders will probably need new wheels; the standard freehub can't be directly replaced with the new one on existing wheels without a conversion kit (the current hubs are 30mm, the nw3 is 33mm. however, the new freehub is both 12 and 13 speed compatible). and not to be outdone by sram, ekar offers a nine-tooth little sprocket at the outer-edge of a thirteen-speed cassette.

yes. thirteen. and worse still, the chain needs a new, undoubtedly eye-wateringly expensive, chain tool.

and all this because, in order to maintain our (off) street smarts, we've been told we should ride gravel. but, of course, it would be sheer insanity to ride on gravel without wearing 'gravel specific clothing, a range of which has coincidentally been released by campagnolo simultaneously with the ekar groupset. jerseys, shorts and branded t-shirts which embrace modernity, yet seem devoid of campagnolo's iconic logos.

i'm sure that, in a year or even months from now, someone will remind me of my cynicism towards gravel bikes. but i'm happy to go on record as saying it will probably be a passing fad. it's only cross country mountain biking, but with drop bars, and i've already reminded you of how short was vicenza's tenure in the mtb market. just to underline my point, it is but a couple of years since campagnolo offered its token gestures towards cyclocross. pop over to campagnolo.com right now, and enter a search for 'cyclocross'. spoiler alert: it won't trouble your credit card one iota.

once again, many thanks to velotech's graeme freestone king for his assistance with this article. i should, however, underline that all of the above opinions are mine and not graeme's

campagnolo ekar groupset

friday 25 september 2020

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this is cambridge

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hmmmmm...

cycling scotland

starting a few metres past port ellen primary school is the five kilometre, mixed-use path, leading past laphroaig and lagavulin distilleries towards its end at the entrance road to ardbeg distillery. the path's existence was encouraged by the number of whisky aficionados regularly walking towards one, or all three of the above mentioned distilleries. for what i assume are obvious reasons, those perambulations would mostly begin in an orderly fashion, but following one or two tours and/or tastings, it was common to see carrier bag carrying foreign tourists, wending a less than straight path back to the village.

prior to construction of the path, both cyclists and motorists had to be on major alert, lest their pedestrianism caused a conga-line of potential hurdles en-route.

however, taken in isolation, let's suppose for a moment or two, that digital counters capable of enumerating whisky tourists utilising the path, had been installed at the entrance. and, looking to the future, let's also assume that similar devices will be installed at the path currently under construction between the villages of port charlotte and bruichladdich. bear in mind that the latter is also home to a well-known distillery.

data from both of the above could possibly be used to prove that whisky tourism in scotland was showing a definable increase. however, similar counters placed in lochgilphead, fort william and tarbet might conceivably undermine any such contention, principally on the basis that none of the above are home to even a single malt whisky distillery.

the only lesson we could extrapolate from the above is a distinct skewing of statistics, by installing data counters in the very regions we could be sure would return the details we were hoping to prove in the first place.

i apologise in advance for this possibly counter-productive post, but it strikes me that this might be the intentional or hopefully unintentional result produced by cycling scotland. according to the latter organisation, "A surge in the popularity of cycling early in the Covid-19 lockdown has continued for several months", supported by statistical evidence produced by strategically positioned 'automatic cycle counters'. though the data received from these demonstrates that numbers peaked in may of this year, those numbers now sit at around half of that earlier high.

that leads me to question why cycling scotland claims that the popularity has continued, explained, in part, by their comparison with data gathered in 2019. there's no doubt that the histogram published in evidence shows disappointingly minimal numbers in march 2020, just before lockdown kicked in, easily overshadowed by the following months, and demonstrating a distinct increase in the number of scots cycling. for even august's figures dwarf those of march, despite their paucity in comparison with may.

however, cycling scotland's contention is that these figures relate to a 'scottish' surge, which is where i harbour a few misgivings. the locations of the automatic counters recording the biggest increases are given as glasgow, newton mearns, cambuslang, and milngavie, as well as dunfermline and dundee. newton mearns is 16km from glasgow; cambuslang is 14km from glasgow, and milngavie is around 11.5km away. that strikes me as somewhat proximitous. dundee and dunfermline are a tad more distant, but to state that there is a continued surge in 'scottish' cycling seems a little discriminatory if not just a bit misleading.

at best, they could be said to show an increase in the glasgow locale.

there's every possibility that cycling numbers throughout mainland scotland, including perth, edinburgh, aberdeen, oban, and inverness, are following a similar path, and that scottish cycling is indeed on the rise. but were cycling scotland to use these less than comprehensive statistics to lobby holyrood to pay more attention and invest some money in improved cycling facilities, they might be found wanting. though the figures do indeed show a substantial increase over the same time last year, they also show a steady decrease in recent months. it might be worth reconsidering that before writing the headlines.

and if those particular counters, despite returning decreasing numbers, are the most optimistic in terms of cycling's reputed increase, would including data from scotland's other cycling counters be at risk of undermining that headline? scottish transport minister, michael matheson, said, "This is why we have committed to invest over £500m in active travel over the next five years". i believe i have already dealt with this apparent largesse in a previous post.

heck, if i'm questioning these figures, and i am undeniably pro cycling, what will the motoring lobby and those utterly apathetic towards the activity make of them? or, once again, did i miss something?

thursday 24 september 2020

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the bicycle clip diaries

for each copy of nick raistrick's book, ('the bicycle clip diaries', reviewed recently in these very pixels), sold between now and the end of september, £12.99 goes to nick's kenyan friend's charity, which distributes food parcels and supports covid-hit small businesses in a Nairobi slum.

if you don't own a copy, do the decent thing.

the bicycle clip diaries

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

the dark ages

garmin information

i consider myself to be an average cyclist, in every meaningful conception of that description. i am, i believe of average build, and my bike sizes of 54 or 55cm are, allegedly, the most commonly purchased. the fact that i do not sport a reputation for leaving my fellow peloton members trailing in my wake, nor, indeed, am i left eating their dust, would tend to suggest that my abilities as a cyclist, are somewhat average. and when time comes to acquire a new cycle jersey or jacket, i'm right bang in the middle of small and large.

the only interruption to my personification as mr average, would be the need for size small in bibshorts and tights due to a waist size that is out of kilter with the rest of me. if i'm totally honest, my arms are a smidgeon longer than the average chap, necessitating a lengthier stem than you might suppose, but i'm ignoring the last bit, because it could conceivably be used to undermine my dialogue.

thus, like the majority of my kind, my bike rides are really nothing to write home about, unlikely to engender an interview in a forthcoming issue of rouleur, or have one of the nation's garment providers wish to feature a signature jersey in their autumn/winter range. of course, the whole house of cards falls to pieces when we start examining some of the numbers generated by my bar-mounted garmin gps unit.

i fear i have spent too many waking hours protesting too much that the sole reason for that device's existence on my bicycles in the first place, is by way of my choice not to wear a watch when riding. in order not to risk the ire of mrs washingmachinepost by arriving too late for sunday lunch, it is incumbent on yours truly to be at least aware of the time of day. i might still be late, but at least i know on which to base my carefully crafted excuses for my potential tardiness. i have no excuse whatsoever for having set the device to display the maximum number of information fields, but it's probably too late to backtrack now.

therefore, as i clamber into the saddle at the beginning of each bike ride, i am faced with a liquid crystal display informing me as to the time of day, the total distance ridden, my current (derisory) speed, my (even more derisory) average speed, the ambient temperature, ostensibly the number of calories burned, battery level and the percentage gradient over which i am grovelling. at which point, i have to query why it is that i need to know all this stuff?

for starters, given that i'm short-sighted, when wearing even my prescription rudy projects, i still struggle, over perpetually bumpy roads, to decipher the smaller panels, such as speed and average speed. i do seriously wonder what possible use the former could be, since i can rarely pedal any faster, and since the former is dependent on the latter, i can only refer my reader to this last statement. i still wear the same size garmentage that i did some twenty years past, so calorie usage is of purely academic interest; temperature is a figure best checked prior to leaving the house, and knowing the gradient simply shows how disfavourably i compare to wout van aert, when viewed in the light of actual and average speed.

i am a complete 'strava' agnostic; on my return from each ride, i simply zap all the stored information on the garmin. those are not numbers that i upload to spreadsheets or charts to later analyse in the company of the coach i do not have. the only number currently recorded, is that of distance, purely because i'm in the early stages of a long-term saddle test, one which requires distance-based reporting. that particular number is written in a notebook.

but even then, when it comes to calculating distances, i rarely pedal other than on the hallowed isle, the roads and passing places of which i know like the back of my hand. it would require simple mental arithmetic on my part to garner how far i had travelled between leaving home and returning late for lunch. because, even though the number at the top of the screen is that of the current time, i'm rather prone to ignoring the very reason i have long claimed was the sole reason for riding with a handlebar mounted garmin in the first place.

as the archetypal 'average person', i tend to figure that my bar-mounted digital encounters are remarkably similar to those experienced by the rest of my average peer group. assuming no future competitive demands, i figure we're all riding round in circles in our average glory, without any need for any of the numbers displayed in our chris froome line of sight.

and don't you just hate it when someone points it out?

wednesday 23 september 2020

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

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

craft fuseknit s/s baselayer

craft fuseknit baselayer

though i can think of several velo club peloton members who would vehemently disagree, i am firmly of the opinion that cycling in the hebrides has made me as tough as (slightly soft) nails. and i base this realisation on the number of long-sleeve baselayers that hang unused in the cycling wardrobe.

now, i am willing to admit that acquisition of those particular baselayers may have been as the result of misplaced apprehensions. islay is pretty far west as the crow flies, even though it sits on pretty much the same latitude as glasgow. therefore we're hardly made to exist in the frozen north, but it is the positioning of islay and jura, along with kintyre and arran, that saves glasgow's blushes when there's incoming from the north atlantic.

craft fuseknit baselayer

with the exception of the outer hebrides, most of the larger islands north of here rely on the smaller, less populated outer-isles to take the brunt of the winds and rain. however, were it not for the earth's curvature, stood atop a pair of very tall stepladders, it would be faintly possible to view the eastern seaboard of canada from islay's west coast. there is, to be blunt, no shelter for us.

however, either i can place the current mildness of climate on global warming, or in reality, it's always been like this, but i've been too much of a wimp to notice.

that said, during last year's 'festive 500', there was more than a single day when my extremities had numbed completely in the face of persistent rain and galeforce, chill winds. i daresay i'd have need of a daily weather diary to be suitably precise. but where once i would have approached november by retrieving my long-sleeve, merino baselayers ready to do battle, i am now content to demonstrate my physical and mental toughness by riding all winter through, clad in the same number of thermal and waterproof layers, but content with a short-sleeve baselayer.

craft fuseknit baselayer

and though an office colleague (actually, at present, my sole office colleague) was cheered to point out that the ambient temperature was likely to halve by this weekend, i have no more notion to revert to long-sleeved baselayers than i had over the past warm and sunny weekend. if entries were still open, i'd be dead cert for this year's probably wet paris-roubaix. the oddity, which likely undermines my professed faux toughness, is that i seem always reluctant to ride in a short-sleeve jersey without armwarmer accessorising.

go figure.

however, remaining true to my short sleeveness of baselayer, i perambulated the road encircling loch gorm twice on saturday wearing a craft fuseknit short-sleeve melange baselayer, smug in the knowledge that its seamless construction was unlikely to interrupt my seamless muscularity (i may have made that bit up). truthfully, there is little more irritating on warm, sunny days (few and far between out here), than a baselayer rubbing on parts you'd really rather it didn't.

craft fuseknit baselayer

knitted from recycled polyester, craft's fuseknit baselayers are bodymapped to take care of the different temperature demands of the honed physique. i am in the habit of ordering medium-sized jerseys, and saw no reason to diverge from this practice when ordering craft's maroon baselayer. the fit is spot on, demonstrated by scarcely realising i was wearing it, even in the heat of battle, ascending the hill at aoradh farm. the full function of a quality baselayer is surely to cosy the rider when it's cold, yet keep him/her warm when the ambient temperature is considerably less so.

i have every confidence that craft know their business better than do i, so i have little fear that i'm about to freeze this coming weekend, or any other in the foreseeable future. and if i were you, i'd get in there quick while prendas have the price at a very economic £16.99 (reduced from £25). i do sometimes wonder if andy storey has a proper grasp on economic reality, but i do know that he knows cycle clothing far better than most.

prendas offer the craft s/s baselayer in rio melange and navy blue, in sizes from small to xxl. current price is £16.99

craft s/s fuseknit baselayer

tuesday 22 september 2020

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

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

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

campagnolo

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galloway cycling

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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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