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the mighty dave t's words of the week

the mighty dave t

"a lunchtime jazz festival gig at the rspb? realistically, how many geese are likely to attend?"

©2018 the mighty dave t, is a prendas sponsored rider and le patron of the thoroughly decent fellows.


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this is cambridge

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ritchey - ergo bars ..........................................................................................................................................................................................................

saving the best for last

rainbow bands

on the basis that i find myself in disagreement with the application of the competitive milieu to both music and art, when time came for the original islay pipe band to accept the challenge of entering what are referred to in the pipe band words as the five majors, i excused myself from the party and went cycling instead. pipe bands are categorised predominantly in four main grades, four being the lowest and one being the top of the tree. in order to progress from one grade to the next, a band has to place well in each of those five major competitions, before repeating the process all over again the following season.

having stepped back from the competitive realm, i have very little experience of the preamble ahead of stepping into the ring to perform, but i do know that several of these 'majors' offer the bands a 'tuning park', a corralled area in which bands can tune up and rehearse the compositions chosen for the forthcoming performance. for those who know little of such matters, let me inform you that the tuning of a set of highland bagpipes is often a lengthy and painful affair, particularly if you're a drummer, though the latter are scarcely excused from the trials and tribulations of the tuning process.

should any particular piper experience unresolvable difficulty in having the pipe drones achieve perfect parity with each other, or the chanter be deemed of less than perfect pitch, the pipe major is likely to tap the unfortunate owner on the shoulder, simultaneously indicating the adjacent coach park. similarly, it is necessary for each and every snare drum to be within a hairsbreadth of the pitch identified as necessary by the leading tip. the vicissitudes of modern-day kevlar drumheads often mitigate against a few last minute tweaks with an oversized drum-key. those failing to make the cut will find themselves accompanying any hapless pipers to the coach park.

such callousness on behalf of the pipe major and lead drummer are generally accepted as being in the very best interests of the band; in order to achieve maximum points, a band should not only march onto the field with its finest players, but with instruments as close to perfection as it's possible to attain on the day.

you would hope, perhaps, that a similar set of circumstances would be applied to the national team selected for the road cycling world championships taking place in innsbruck next weekend. in the following monologue, i wish to cast no aspersions on the competitive qualities of scott bicycles, pinarellos and the like. nor, indeed, do i wish to undermine the competitive abilities of the selected members of the team. however, the clue is in the event's title: the world road racing championships, a title that presupposes the fight for the rainbow bands will be eked out by the sport's finest cyclists.

concerning myself solely with the british team, mostly on the basis that it's effectively the team of my country and also the fact that i'm less than well-informed as to the composition of the others, i find myself feeling just a bit let down. it is but mere days since i was cheered to point out that for the first time in history, a single nation has provided three different winners of the season's grand tours: chris froome, geraint thomas and simon yates. based on this knowledge, it would not be unseemly, i think, to expect those three to feature in our national team for the worlds.

yet only simon yates, winner of the recently completed vuelta espana, has seen fit to accept the challenge. both thomas and froome have cited particularly 'brutal' seasons as their reason for spending sunday morning having breakfast in bed, but simon yates featured highly in a hard-fought giro d'italia, ultimately won by froome as well as taking victory in spain. froome rode the tour de france, but opted not to visit spain. thomas, though victorious in paris, competed in neither the giro nor the vuelta. thus both yates and froome outnumber the welshman two to one, but only yates will attempt to taste the rainbow.

if the world championships is intended to produce the best rider in the world (if such a thing actually exists), should it not be raced by the best riders in the world? and if thomas and froome have each won a grand tour this year, should we not consider them to be amongst the best in the world? if the uci truly wish to emulate formula one motor car racing, ought not it be a pre-condition that the winners of certain races (the five monuments and the grand tours, for example) are honour-bound to take on the world road racing championships, if for nothing other than national pride?

the punishment for non-participation should be two hours in the middle of the tuning park at the pipe band world championships. that will certainly provide the ultimate definition of the word 'brutal'.

friday 21 september 2018

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

quest for the holy grail

humber parisienne

it may or may not surprise you to know that there is such an organisation/website as cymbalholics, constituted to serve individuals (such as yours truly) who have a great deal of difficulty in refraining from purchasing far more cymbals than are actually necessary for percussive practice. oddly enough, it's not the shiny metal factor that entices my often incautious spending (never, i might add, to the point of financial destitution), but what might be termed the quest for the holy (sonic) grail. assuming you're willing to scutter about on youtube, search, if you will, for any recording by miles davis featuring a young tony williams and listen to the great man's ride cymbal.

those were originally zildjian cymbals, but more recently, cymbal manufacturers istanbul mehmet, painstakingly recreated a replica set of tony williams' cymbals after his widow took the original set to their foundry to allow direct comparison. of course, the sound is hardly the whole deal; only tony williams could elicit that sound, in much the same way as owning a yellow pinarello will not necessarily win you the tour de france.

humber poster

the trouble with this situation is that, having admired the sound of just such a set of cymbals, click on an itunes album, or yet another youtube video and suddenly another quest begins. i mean, have you ever heard the sound of jack dejohnette's sabian ride cymbal, particularly with keith jarrett's trio?

my own preference, until recently, has been for italy's ufip cymbals, instruments that are unique in their manufacturing technique. generally speaking, quality cymbals are crafted from a cast alloy, originating as a flat disk before having the bell stamped in the centre and lathing the outer bow. ufips are 'rotocast'; the molten alloy is poured into a rotating mold, replete with bell shape. the logic behind this method is that the centrifugal forces will drive any impurities towards the edge, a part of the raw cymbal that will subsequently be trimmed off and that the bell will be formed as an integral part of the cymbal.

however, knowledge of all the foregoing did not stop me purchasing a set of armand zildjian cymbals, complete with matching cymbal bag, offering sounds that are entirely different from the italian job. and quite frankly, they're cymbals that i didn't really need. hennie kuiper's raleigh oh, yes, i can justify it to myself by arguing that the particular sounds they offer are ideally suited to the sixties and seventies based gigs that i frequently play in a local hostelry. but let's not kid ourselves; i could put dustbin lids on my cymbal stands and the regular friday night patrons of said hostelry would scarcely notice the difference.

that said, there's every likelihood that i'll buy another cymbal or two in the near future in my continued quest for that sound.

i am not, however, naive enough not to realise that a similar modus operandi affects both my equals and betters, even within the velocipedinal realm. there are always going to be those who scour the web pages of ebay and the auction houses of the world for cycling paraphernalia and mechanica to add to a growing collection, either deliberately or as a result of a quest similar to that outlined above for the holy grail of cymbal sounds. and, in a selfless quest to satisfy those thus afflicted, i'm more than happy to draw your attention to a small sale of cycling artefacts through the auspices of gorringe's online auction house.

raleigh poster

perhaps the most attractive item in this four lot sale is a french parisienne humber 'special' road racer bicycle, originating from around 1896, expected to realise a price of between £1800 and £2500. the bicycle features all its original equipment, including toeclips and a chain stamped 'perry's humber'. the bicycle is thought to have been made as a special order. there are three further lots consisting of a parisienne humber poster (£400 - £600), one of hennie kuiper's offical team raleigh bicycles from 1976, complete with the original build sheet (£1500 - £2000) and finally a raleigh poster featuring reg harris taking victory from arie van vliet in the 1954 cologne world championship. the latter is expected to fetch between £400 and £600.

if any of the foregoing strikes you as the very items to stick in your stamp album, click the link below. the auction takes place on 25 september. and if you see any nice cymbals while you're there, you know where i am.

gorringe's cycling auction

thursday 20 september 2018

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

cycling lôn las cymru richard barrett. cicerone press paperback. 124pp illus. £11.95

cycling lon las cymru

wales and cycling could reasonably be described as one of those hand-in-glove situations, following geraint thomas' victory in this year's tour de france. this is not to suggest that the country has been left derelict when conversation turns to velocipedinal matters, but after prince bradley and froomey, at least the emphasis has moved a tad west for a change. but, just as wearing a pair of specialized peter sagan shoes will scarcely make you eligible to wear the rainbow bands, neither will a potter about the lanes of cymru prepare you for those three weeks in july.

thankfully, for us mere mortals, cicerone press are not noted for their sporting excesses, happy to remain more concerned for the geographical well-being of the more average touring cyclist. author and cyclist, richard barrett has produced a compact and bijou volume detailing, as evinced by the book's subtitle, '250 miles through the heart of Wales on traffic-free paths and quiet roads'. a far cry indeed from the cobbled streets of the champs elysées.

cycling lon las cymru

this beautifully illustrated and detailed guide does not, however, require that the average cyclist, as mentioned above, attempt to swallow each and every one of those 250 miles in one fell swoop. rather than place hitherto unheard of demands upon the more casual cyclist, barrett has split the distance into five considerably easier stages, leading from the start in cardiff and ending farther north in holyhead. as is frequently the case with cicerone guides, options abound; there is really no need to undertake the stages in the order prescribed by the author, or, for that matter, to ride all of them during one visit.

after all, geraint might be busy elsewhere that week.

the best bits of a cicerone guide, in my opinion, are contained within the opening pages, the portion of the book that prefaces any impending cycle tour. in this particular case, pages 8 and 9 offer a highly informative map displaying the route in its entirety, with corresponding distances appended along the way. and a matter of ten or so pages later, there's a diagrammatic rendering of railway stations adjacent to lôn las cymru, should you wish to jump from here to there, without turning a pedal (so to speak).

cycling lon las cymru

to aid in the planning of any such cycling trip, with times based on an average cycling speed of 16kph, barrett has provided colour coded suggested schedules based on four, five, six and seven day expeditions. he also points out that the very existence of lôn las cymru can be laid at the door of the unwitting richard beeching who, in the early 1960s, recommended the closure of one-third of the uk's railway network. some of those former rail routes have subsequently found themselves absorbed into the national cycle network, along which portions of lôn las cymru will take the intrepid cyclist.

cycling lon las cymru

lest you have thoughts of your trammeling across wales leading to your becoming the next geraint thomas, the author smartly disavows you of that notion by advising that you 'Leave your best carbon frame and carbon wheels at home.' and subsequently that you 'Attach a bell, which is essential for negotiating pedestrians on shared-use paths.' however, it is not solely cycling matters that are uppermost in his mind, publishing as he has, a list of 'Ten (culinary) specialities to try when in Wales'.

the routes themselves feature not only step by step directions to ensure you enjoy your ride and the scenery, without ending up in deepest yorkshire due to a wrong turning. these are peppered with box-outs describing aspects of the surrounding area that you may find interesting. there is nothing worse than returning home to discover that you'd missed some (or all) of the more notable points of interest.

it's perhaps a mite late in the year to be setting out on a 250 mile adventure, the length and breadth of the welsh nation, if only because the weather may not offer the succour you'd hoped for. however, it's never too early to start planning next year's cycling trip.

cycling lôn las cymru

wednesday 19 september 2018

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

a victory of sorts

simon yates

several years ago, two lads on holiday on islay and staying at the youth hostel in port charlotte cycled round to my humble abode that i might inflate the tyres on one of the bicycles. i'd like to point out that in the majority of cases, i would have told them to take care of such a task by themselves, but in this case, the fellow's mini-pump seemed inclined to mangle the portion of the presta valve that has to be unscrewed to allow the measured ingress of air. my park tool track pump features an altogether less invasive chuck, hence the reason why i had volunteered my services.

as i bent down at the wheel to attempt a straightening of the valve before attempting to inflate the tyre, the two fellows were discussing the previous night's football match. at the time, i thought they were doing so with each other, but it transpired that they were, in fact, enquiring what i had thought of both the match and the final score. it would be central to your understanding of this situation, if i point out that i have no interest in football/soccer whatsoever, hence my paying little attention to the conversation taking place above me (in both senses of that phrase).

it was only a slight alteration in tone and a more querying manner that alerted me to the fact that they were actually asking me and not each other. for it seems that, even in the 21st century, the assumption is still that, if you're a bloke, you must be interested in football, eager to point out the foibles of the recently signed centre-forward and the manifest failings of the goalkeeper, transferred at great expense from real madrid (i think i've got that right). but it's apparently not what you might refer to as a transferable situation.

as evidence for the latter, i might relate a trip into the big city of bowmore one saturday afternoon earlier this year in order to purchase my weekend newspaper. it seems that the scottish rugby team had been well and truly drubbed by the opposition, for a friend of mine was bemoaning this very fact when i bumped into him outside the average market. on the way to this unexpected meet, i had passed two gents for whom the news that their favourite football team were losing by at least a couple of goals was making a less than welcome intrusion into their saturday afternoon.

yet on that very day, the british cyclocross contingent at the 2018 world championships had taken top honours on the junior women's and junior men's podiums, news of which the above mentioned individuals seemed totally oblivious. and, surprisingly to me, were scarcely cured of their own disappointments when informed of these admirable sporting successes. it will not surprise you to know that none had ever heard of cyclocross. football and rugby were (and are) both the centre and slightly left of centre of the uk sporting universe, often accompanied by cricket and golf.

so, this morning, when i sprang enthusiastically into the office, i was ready and willing to appraise all and sundry of the momentous fact that this year's three grand tours had not only been won by british riders, but three different riders, one of whom did not ride for team sky. as you will have been made perfectly aware by now, this is the first time in the history of the universe that the giro d'italia, le tour de france and la vuelta have been won by a single nation, with three different riders; the fact that it was britain that acheived this notable record only makes it more worthy of approbation. guilty as i usually am of engendering conversations regarding velocipedinal matters, i remained uncharacteristically silent on the matter, in the hope that one of my colleagues would see fit to point it out.

in that respect, it was a long, silent day.

this news was deemed important enough to reach page four in monday's guardian newspaper (yes, the very same newspaper that remained oddly silent on the recent tour of britain). according to a quote from a british cycling fan interviewed by the guardian "What we're seeing today is unique and I think it's being a bit missed in the UK. It's three Grand Tours and three different British riders. It's just remarkable." i'd love to say that it's a fact that has brought a subtle, yet smug grin to my disposition, but oddly enough, looking in the mirror, it more accurately resembles that of despair.

tuesday 18 september 2018

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

crankalicious science friction chain lube

crankalicious science friction

it has become increasingly noticeable over the years, that, aside from residing at the centre of the known universe, islay also occupies a unique meteorological niche in that universe. though i cannot claim to be fully awake when my alarm switches on each morning, just priort to being informed as to various happenings around the world, the met office happily regales us with the climatic conditions that may or may not brighten the day to follow. we are located some 25 miles north of northern ireland and goodness knows how many cubits west of scotland, yet it often appears that the forecasts for one or other of those regions seem not to apply to this portion of the hebrides.

thus, when planning the following morning's velocipedinal wardrobe, sartorial dilemmas abound. by way of a perhaps poor example, having donned bibtights, long-sleeve jersey and outer shell for an exploratory expedition this past saturday, i found my garmentage to be just a tad on the warm side, particularly since the promised rainfall did not materialise until well after teatime later that same day. on the basis that said rainfall would continue overnight (which, to be fair, it did), i laid out similar garb for the sunday morning ride. i cannot deny that there was sporadic precipitation throughout the mornings perambulations, but very much against recent trends, the ambient temperature had warmed just a tad.

sufficiently, in fact, to create that well-known boil-in-the-bag sensation, but clad in a jacket that in truth, was just too bulky to roll up and stuff in a back pocket.

still, as my mother was always want of saying when i was knee high to a chainset, "pride bears no pain", a saying that probably has little relevance here. unfortunately, this state of affairs is not an isolated incident, for more than just yours truly has declared a state of overheating on arriving at debbie's ready for the day's explorations. but, in the face of often persistent, soaking drizzle (or even mizzle), one scarcely wishes to find oneself rusting due to incorrect or inappropriate mode of dress. and, at the risk of stating the obvious, it is likely not only the cyclists who will feel the wrath of ferrous oxide. it ill behoves any of us to forget the iniquities visited upon the bicycle chain, but it seems many of us do.

crankalicious science friction

thus, the attentive cyclist will not only clean his/her chain with unfailing regularity, but fearlessly apply an approprite lube to keep it running smoothly and prevent the rather scary looking orange rusty coating that often greets the opening of the bike shed door. essex-based crankalicious offer a range of bike-care products hand-made near stansted airport, one of which is the cleverly named science friction ceramic chain lubricant. as luck would have it, the chorus groupset on my ritchey logic received a brand new, shiny chain at the same time as a box contianing a range of crankalicious products arrived at the croft for review.

and even better, providing the ideal opportunity to give several drops of science friction a hard time, it rained quite a lot. despite being told to do so by the instructions on the £10, 100ml bottle, i inadvertently neglected to wipe the excess lube after application, resulting in a less than shiny chain 'pon my return from an extensive training ride (i know you believe me implicitly). subsequently wiped with a rag, the ceramic lube appears to have clung tenaciously for an appreciable period of time, to each bushing along the length of the campagnolo chain, offering a pleasantly quiet ride and fending off rainwater and splashy puddles with aplomb.

a tenner is hardly a colossal amount to offer peace of mind when the weather turns foul, as it inevitably will over the coming months. you may already have your favoured lubes on a shelf in the bike shed, but if you've yet to try crankalicious' 'science friction', might i humbly suggest that you clear a small space on the selfsame shelf.

crankalicious science friction chainlube

sunday 16 september 2018

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galloway cycling

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dexshell ultralight waterproof socks

dexshell ultralight socks

life (and by life, i, of course, mean cycling) is full of transitional periods, the majority engendered by seasonal climatic conditions. it cannot have escaped your attention that the majority of garment providers feature both spring/summer and autumn/winter ranges, partly to entice us away from our money, but also because those two transitional periods do tend to necessitate differing velocpidinal garb.

of course such periods of transition need not solely concern garmentage; a rather obvious seguay from one aspect of the sporting season is none too far away. i, of course, refer to the upcoming glorious months of cyclocross, the mindset for which becomes legally enforceable immediately after peter sagan has won the rainbow bands once again. though the modern day competitive cyclocrosser has adopted the ubiquitous skinsuit, those of us for whom mud and hurdles are more a curated state of mind, can effectively wear whatever it is we like, particularly if inclined to stop for coffee when splattered in the gloopy stuff.

supping froth in a onesy is never going to be a good look.

however, one specific item that finds regular favour on the road when precipitation reigns (see what i did there?), is the humble overshoe, the very item designed to (mostly) keep those oh, so expensive shiny shoes, not only free from gloop and gravel, but a preferred level of dessication for your little tootsies. my own favoured pair of overshoes feature a rather cosy, fleecy lining, occasionally just a tad too warm for either of the outer edges of the above mentioned transitional periods. but, while long-sleeve jerseys and bib-threequarters are all very well and sartorially appropriate for the cyclocross meme, a pair of thermal/waterproof overshoes are just an embarrassment.

that, however, may be the least of our worries: done right, cyclocross entails a fair measure of leaping on and off the bicycle, to say nothing of jumping over hurdles. all of which plays havoc with any pair of overshoes. and even over the length of a relatively short 'cross season, that's not great news for a fragile bank balance. which is precisely where a more than welcome pair of dexshell, lightweight, waterproof socks enters the fray.

a couple of years ago, i had the welcome task of reviewing a pair of the same company's bright orange waterproof gloves, items that i still retain in my winter armoury for both their thermal and weatherproofing qualities. thus, when 'cross beckons for a total incompetent to indulge in solo exploration of the undergrowth, i'll smugly don a pair of fluorescent yellow-edged dexshell waterproof socks and attempt to carry off my less than convincing sven nys impersonation. but while #crossis(still)coming, there is the road world championships to consider, training for which continues unabated.

dexshell ultralight socks

en-route to innsbruck (a guy can dream, can't he?), this coming midweek shows particularly strong winds accompanied by more than a few millimetres of rain. though such winds seem confined to the wee small hours, their effect is likely to impinge upon any ensuing daytime velocipedinal activity. in other words, road splash, accompanied by an ambient temperature that might mitigate against my wearing the previously mentioned fleecy overshoes.


the ideal moment for those dexshell socks, methinks.

there is, however, a potential downside, one that pertains more to fluid dynamics than any failing on the part of dexshell. i have worn the lightweight socks in heavy drizzle and more pertinent precipitation with particularly excellent results, but every now and again, it becomes entirely necessary to ride in persistent, heavy rain and therein lies the problem. no matter whether you ride in boot-like footwear 'neath waterproof overshoes and over a pair of yellow tinged waterproof socks, as sure as eggs is eggs, gravity will drag that rain down each sculpted calf muscle, whereupon it will infiltrate your dexshells. (i feel we know each other well enough to accommodate such brash language.)

and, of course, being thoroughly waterproof, the dexshells simply don't let the water back out until you remove them in the safety of your own kitchen floor. just ask mrs washingmachinepost.

but they are utterly essential.

dexshell ultralite waterproof cycling socks

sunday 15 september 2018

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

the repetitive meme

searching - ian clark

assuming we're all much of the same mind, the act of cycling, whether for work or leisure, is a repetitive action. for those commuting, it may well be far preferable to taking the bus, car or train, but depending on how much you like your job, it might be every bit as onerous, yet more economic than the alternatives. we, of the cognoscenti, do it because we love it; because there's nothing better than dressing head to toe in lycra, polyester and/or sportwool, dragging the carbon fibre kicking and screaming from the bikeshed and heading into the sunset.

i am regularly reminded of how insignificant is my sunday morning bike ride, when followed by one of those 40 foot articulated tankers that service the distilleries or, perchance, a tractor towing a trailer the size of a glasgow tenement. though it might appear to be only an educated guess, the chances are that either of the above are working, while i, on the other hand, am simply playing in circles. it's the same philosophy i have extended to riding in torrential rain and galeforce winds; no matter how wet i become, i can have a warm shower and get changed when i return home.

searching - ian clark

because i'm not actually going anywhere.

so, rather than moan endlessly about my 'right to the road', i'm cognisant of the fact that i travel a darned sight slower than any motorised form of transport. and based on the previously mentioned knowledge that i'm only playing, if i have to pull off the road into a passing place, so be it. that does not extend, however, to playing second fiddle to vehicles that attempt to overtake on blind corners; in an attempt to obviate the latter situation, i mostly hog the middle of the road, just this side of the white line in the vain hope that it will give any following motorists cause for second thoughts. unfortunately, that rarely happens.

and if i might, once again, contend that we are all of similar mind, any opportunity to proselytise our velocipedinal religion will be taken with eager and unremitting glee. but if push comes to shove and our forceful advice is taken to task by means of dissemination, the repetitive nature might become unduly exposed and we will be hoist by our own petard. granted, this is likely no different from any other sporting activity. golf, for instance, seems not to consist of any great variation of theme, nor swimming or running. (is it only me, or does dissing barely comparable activities engender a warm glow inside?)

searching - ian clark

though it ill behoves me to advertise this repetitive nature more than absolutely necessary, ian clark has provided an effective remedy to this apparent conundrum. his compact and bijou video about the joys of cycling consists entirely of animated gifs culled from the interwebs and skillfully melded into a single presentation.

"I enjoy making films, having previously posted one about Cuba's cycling culture a few years ago. However, i get frustrated by the number of projects that never come to fruition due to a lack of available time."

one of the almost inadvertent beauties of ian's movie is the uncurated randomness of the footage; basically a case of using whatever he found to promote the joys of cycling that we all take for granted, rather than concentrating on producing specific clips. "I've been experimenting in simplifying the process, by just using the internet and my phone to gather content and edit it in a way to tell a new story. My first attempt was about train travel, with which I was pretty pleased. I wanted then to push a bit further and bring a more human element to my movie clips. As a keen, yet very amateur cyclist, I decided to focus on that. The freedom of cycling is quite universal."

searching - ian clark

though it would be a simple matter to compare and contrast the simplicity of iain's intent with the growing complexities of the modern-day bicycle, i hope to resist the temptation. moving pictures such as his video, 'searching', edited on a samsung s7, successfully capture what fun the bicycle can be, if only by realising that someone, somewhere saw fit to create these individual gifs in the first place. rather than spend hours persuading the uninitiated as to the joys of the bicycle, it would be far easier and arguably more successful to simply pass on the link posted below.

"If a reasonable number of people watch them, I'll definitely make more. They're a fun way to pass a commute."

ian clark's cycling movie 'searching'

saturday 14 september 2018

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chrome industries ..........................................................................................................................................................................................................

the bare necessities of cycling life

san pellegrino

though not a part of a future personal strategy, i have noticed that my travel to scotland from the principality has been on a downward trajectory. in other words, i've become a predominantly home sort of a chap, rarely straying farther than a bike ride from my back door. quite why this is the case, i cannot reasonably fathom, but for the time being at least, it is what it is.

should the notion take me, however, there is a predetermined set of parameters that are followed almost without questioning. as a non-car driver, getting to either of the island's ferry ports is accomplished by bus, a service designed (mostly) to meet departing and arriving boats from the scottish mainland. we're now entering that time of year when autumnal gales will often have ferries diverted from port ellen to the more northerly terminal at port askaig. the disappointing factor affecting the frequency of such diversions is an apparent lowering of the windspeed that makes this necessary.

our principal ferry, the mv finlaggan was reputed to be able to berth in winds of up to 50 knots, when, in point of fact, it rarely sails in winds of greater than 36 knots. and now, either boat often finds itself travelling to a non-timetabled destination due to winds gusting to 26 knots. that's about the equivalent of opening the kitchen window.

anyhow, to return to my onward travel to scotland, depending on which boat is servicing which part of the timetable, the journey to kennacraig on the kintyre peninsula takes anything from two hours to two hours fifteen minutes. the latter is just slow enough to miss the bus connection to claonaig for a ferry to arran, but early enough to garner a booked seat on the citylink/west coast motors coach to glasgow's buchanan bus station. as a vegetarian, i prefer not to dine aboard the ferry for reasons both of cost and lack of variation in their offerings to non-meat eaters (mac'n'cheese anyone?). ensconced within my backpack is a sandwich or wrap of one type or another, augmented by a carton of yoghurt and a small bottle of san pellegrino, consumption of which commences the minute i have found a suitable seat aboard the glasgow-bound coach.

none of the foregoing is likely of any interest to you, but it does have relevance to anyone undertaking a prospective bicycle expedition anywhere at all, but particularly to the more remote areas of scotland's west coast. you see, i know that i'm going to have need of eating prior to reaching glasgow; three and a half hours on a citybound coach, following on from two hours on a boat are almost guaranteed to incur pangs of hunger, hence the packed lunch. additionally, i generally travel light, carrying only a backpack and thus having no need of loading any luggage into the hold of the coach. this means i can board before the majority in order to find a decent seat and on arrival at glasgow, i have no need of waiting around while the driver retrieves any bags from a well-packed luggage hold.

so why, therefore, have i met more than my fair share of cyclists who suddenly find that, on having punctured, broken a gear cable or worn a pair of brake shoes, they have no means of repair? and it's not just a lack of a spare tube; when calling in the hope of my possessing the very item needed to have them on their merry way, not only are they ignorant of what size of tube might be required, but also what valve it need feature, how to replace the inner tube and 'do i happen to have a pump they could borrow?'

we all go off cycling now and again, hoping that a deflationary malfeasance will not interrupt our pedalling pleasure, but just in case it does, we carry at least one spare inner tube, some tyre levers and at least a mini-pump that fits the valve. just the same as my travel victuals are planned to avoid any form of malnourishment. in the good old days of yore, when touring cyclists were 'real' touring cyclists, not only were they well-versed in the art of travelling repairs, but they'd planned ahead for such an occasional misadventure, carrying cassette removers, spare brake and gear cables and a few spokes taped to the left-side chainstay. and both tyres and brake shoes had been carefully examined prior to departure.

i blame facebook.

thursday 13 september 2018

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campagnolo

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building the cycling city - the dutch blueprint for urban vitality. melissa & chris bruntlett. island press paperback. 223pp illus. £19.45

building the cycling city - bruntlett

cycling, as a means of transport, has moved up the political agenda recently. those of us who believe in the conspiracy theory, would have it that this is in order to deflect public scrutiny from the minstrations over britain's departure from the european union. that particular theory is, of course, undermined by the knowledge that this agenda ascension is also happening in countries other than the uk. so perhaps the bicycle's golden moment is finally on the final landing approach, though it's hard to deny that at least some of this approbation has arrived at the behest of the electric bicycle.

either way, beggars (as we might well classify ourselves), probably shouldn't be choosers; if our overlords and masters have finally realised what we've all known for many a long year, would it be undiplomatic to shout 'hooray' and say 'i told you so'?

more than likely.

the year 2007 is generally reckoned to be the turning point at which the majority of the global population lived in cities, outnumbering those described as residing in rural areas. it's a trend that shows little sign of diminishing; by 2014, statistics alleged that 54% of the world's population lived in cities and by midway through this century, forecasts point towards this number reaching 66%. tautologically, this will undoubtedly entail an increase in size for the majority of the world's cities, an expansion which might well impinge on the rurality from which many of their citizens originated.

as such, those cities will necessarily have to adapt dramatically to not only accept the forecast increase in numbers, but also to adapt and improve their transport infrastructures to cope with differing needs and increased demand. the latter factor will prove necessary not solely to maintain or improve living conditions, but in order to efficiently move people from home to work, to school or to the shopping mall. that there is no 'one-size-fits-all' is made manifestly apparent in this concise book from melissa and chris bruntlett.

it's worth my pointing out at this early stage in my review, that the vancouver (canada) based bruntletts are co-founders of 'modacity' "a creative agency using words, photography and films, to inspire happier, healthier, simpler forms of mobility." according to the preface, having moved to vancouver's east-side, they found a diminished need to use their motor car, ultimately dispensing with it altogether and making all their journeys "...by foot, bicycle, public transit and rental car...". this born-again' status, encouraged them to document their new-found revelatory status, leading to a five-week, five city venture to the netherlands "...to gather...inspiring cycling stories and share them through words, photography and film."

this they proceed to do (understandably omitting the film portion) over the course of the subsequent 200 plus pages, contending that countries such as denmark may have arguably achieved a higher profile with regard to their allegedly superior cycling facilities at the expense of the less ostentatious nature of the netherlands. i do wonder if this is an exploratory poke in the eye at mikael colville-andersen's copenhagenize, given that the subsequent narrative fails to mention him even once. but then again, perhaps i'm too much in thrall to the conspiracy theory.

"The Danish capital of Copenhagen may get a great deal of press and endless plaudits as the world's foremost cycling city - but quite frankly, that is as much a product of effective marketing as (it is) a result of effective policy."

i find it slightly sad that north american outsiders should feel it necessary to start making comparisons of this sort; surely the ultimate aim is to improve the world's cycling infrastructure without the need to indulge in point scoring along the way?

that said, it's hard to fault 'Building the Cycling City' for its comprehensive and well illustrated exploration of the enviable facilities available to holland's cyclists. but the bruntlett's are astute enough to realise that part of holland's success in this respect, is due to the fact that "Cycling remains ubiquitous and normal among Dutch teens. No social stigma, no special gear, just autonomy and mobility." compare this with the apparent philosophy pertaining to british and north american youth, where the bicycle is often viewed as a stop gap means of transport until old enough to drive a car.

there is many a case study described throughout the book, well-documented, clearly and enthusiastically detailed, but staring at the narrative from a safe and hopefully neutral distance, i can't help thinking that, once again, it's a book that preaches predominantly to the converted. perhaps my cynicism extends just a cycle-path too far, but, just as with colville-anderson's book 'copenhagenize', i have great difficulty imagining anyone other than cyclists reading the bruntlett's treatise in support of the bicycle.

as modern-day cities become ever more complex in their needs, it is hard to think of a mode of transport that will better serve residents who need to travel quickly and safely from a to b. the bicycle is not the sole solution; but it quite likely is the glue that conjoins other modes such as railways, trams and buses. it is, by definition, endemic in dutch culture; it's just what they do, untainted by an obsession with the sporting milieu, more common across the rest of europe. the almost insurmountable obstacle in british and american cities lies with a predominating car culture. expecting that situation to change overnight, relies on a great deal more than optimism. and though all of us here need no convincing as to the way of the jedi, it has to be borne in mind that we are frequently in a small minority. it's hard to have folks adopt the way of the chainset if they simply don't want to.

i fervently hope that this book finds its way into the hands of those who make the sort of decisions that affect city life: politicians, planners, transport consultants etc. it's an unfortunate fact that, no matter how many cyclists purchase and enjoy this book, it's more often than not the non-cyclists who make the strategic policies that could turn the netherlands experience into a world-wide utopia.

wednesday 12 september 2018

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...and so it goes

sunset

i'm afraid the early part of this discussion is going to sound a tad narcissistic, but is the only way i can find a practical way of approaching the bit that, hopefully, isn't.

i began writing thewashingmachinepost in march of 1996, long before jorn barger coined the word 'weblog' and some three years prior to peter merholz contracting the word to 'blog'. there are, so far as i'm aware, no up to date statistics demonstrating the number of blogs on the interweb, but suffice it to say, there's probably a a great deal more in 2018 than there was in 2011, when there were reckoned to be more than 156 million public blogs in existence. it's quite likely that the number is something of a moving target; writing a blog seems like a great idea until the concept of frequency arises. originally, having transitioned from a column in our local newspaper, i simply wrote one article (of dubious quality it must be admitted) every two weeks, but as the idea took hold, i updated thewashingmachinepost website (not a blog; at that time, the term seemed somewhat demeaning) a bit more often when moved to do so.

there came a time, however, and i'd be lying if i said i could remember, when it seemed a bit of a wizard wheeze to attempt to write something each and every day, from christmas through to easter. having achieved that (not always easily), i've scarcely looked back since. allowing for holidays and the occasional situation where it proves well nigh impossible to post anything, the post has its black and yellow pixels refreshed at least once a day. it probably is hard work, but so ingrained is it to my daily existence, that i pretend not to notice.

currently, it's the oldest cycling blog in the world.

i must, at this point pay tribute to the many cycle companies who have been kind enough to supply kit for review over these years, allowing me to present features of a more substantial nature other than my often ill-informed witterings. however, thewashingmachinepost is scarcely a commercial venture; it was never set up as such and though i receive enough recompense by way of advertising to pay for my annual webhosting, i'm quite happy to keep it that way. if i woke up tomorrow morning thinking "you know what...", there would simply be more bandwidth available for everyone else.

however, not everyone is quite so fortunate. though the wholesale move from print to pixel has not been as drastic as once forecast and many publishers who spent thousands creating ipad versions of their print publications have had cause for a major re-think, there are still many websites in the velocipedinal world, that now take the place of ink and paper. it is also sadly true, that the appetite for cycling magazines of all genres has taken a turn for the worse. witness the demise of cycle sport amongst others and the consolidation of many titles under one roof, where once they revelled in their independence.

it would be foolish, however, to think that any apparently related recession applies solely to the world of print. there has been amalgamation of several once independent cycling websites, one that can only affect the survival of several when their new masters observe the manifest duplication of effort. in such cases, streamlining is almost inevitable. and now, it seems, titles that would once have been viewed as the mainstay of this brave new digital world, have fallen by the wayside.

factory media, owners of the once indispensible road cycling uk, or rcuk, has filed for bankruptcy. along with rcuk, factory media was also guardian of bikemagic, bmxtalk, dirt mountainbike, total women's cycling and rideuk amongst others. of course, the disappearance of the above mentioned may have had little to do with their own individual performances on the commercial front; according to reports, their recently filed accounts show them to have been struggling for a while and the those all but indecipherable gdpr regulations apparently didn't help, with a sizeable proportion of revenue apparently based on advertising and sponsorships.

there may well still be duplication of effort when it comes to print and/or pixel titles and it's entirely up to the readers of both or either to make their choices. but this brave new digital world, which has effectively been thrust upon us from a great height, still affords unrestricted space for pretty much everyone with a vision and a laptop, so it's sad to see some of the better offerings disappear from view (quite literally).

blogs such as this one, with little in the way of onerous financial demands, occupying what i like to think is a niche in the market, will probably survive until we/i go to the great arenberg trench in the sky.

now, hand me those rose-tinted oakleys.

tuesday 11 september 2018

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green oil ..........................................................................................................................................................................................................

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tell them we sent you

quick mention for those intending to visit islay's shores on a bike during the summer. velo club d'ardbeg recommended coffee/tea stops - in no particular order.

club headquarters at the old kiln cafe, ardbeg distillery. excellent food as well as designer coffees with froth. the single malt is apparently just ginger peachy. open monday to saturday from easter to september, seven days from june to september.

debbie's cafe

bruichladdich mini market (debbie's cafe), a few hundred yards from the distillery. highly commended designer coffees with outside tables. we like. open all year round with a cycling wall in the coffee corner.

welcometogreatcoffee.co.uk

port mòr bistro. now that the original debbie's is run by her mum, aileen, debbie has taken over the catering franchise at port charlotte's port mòr centre, where you can have some of deb's famously wonderful coffee as well as a wide range of foodtsuffs. highly recommended.

braehouse gallery, portnahaven. sited at the entrance to portnahaven village, the gallery also offers takeway coffees and a range of cakes. there's also quite a wide range of photos, islay souvenirs and other desirable odds and bits. though you can't sit in for coffee and cake, there is a table and chairs outside along with an adjacent bicycle rack for parking.

and recently opened in islay house square, bridgend in the islay studios photo gallery, a fine selection of designer coffees are now available while you admire the surrounding imagery.

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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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.......................................................................................................................................................................................................... thewashingmachinepost

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book reviews

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