there are no roundabouts on islay. nor are there any traffic lights (except during road works, occasionally), nor pedestrian crossings. neither are there any dual carriageways, and i can't say i recall seeing any give way signs. therefore, those who learn to drive on the island do not have to contend with many of the obstacles that might cause untold grief for their mainland counterparts. however, on the basis that water always finds its own level, there is more than just the odd obstacle to test the mettle of the learner driver on this side of the water.
i'm thinking principally of sheep, mostly because on today's travail around at least a portion of the principality, i found myself on a single track road with mum and her lamb between me and a learner driver heading in the opposite direction. i have always found it a safe and considerate move to pop into the nearest passing place for any approaching vehicle, assuming its closer to me than to them. sheep, however, are rarely quite so aware, and for them, the presence of an 'l' plate on the bonnet is of little or no consequence.
it is not, as you may infer, purely woolly creatures that might scare the learner; cattle and the very presence of passing places have their part to play too, not to mention the existence of ditches on either side of the roads. add to that the salient fact that many a visitor seems not to be educated as to the prescient use of said passing places, and suddenly pedestrian crossings, traffic lights and roundabouts seem of little significance.
you may well be impressed that such observations, though not totally restricted to today's ride, can be brought to mind while entertaining yet another soaking at the hands of the month of may. with the islay whisky festival but six days away, this ought to be amongst our finest months, demonstrating the width and breadth of our hebridean landscape illuminated by a scorching sun, blue skies and nary a breeze to lessen the caribbean effect. sadly, summer appears to have happened on friday of last week, when it was seemly and warm enough to ride in short sleeves and in shorts rather than bibtights or bib-threequarters. saturday did not return the favour, though it's as well to be prepared just in case it happens again.
such preparation affects not only the choice of wardrobe for the day, as sartorial elegance, in the grand scheme of things, is perhaps of minor importance. as i have reiterated on several previous occasions, living on the edge of the atlantic has its benefits and disbenefits, one of the latter being a plethora of salt-infused air and, by implication, rain. in a similar manner to that of oxygen, it is barely noticeable at point of use, but leave the bicycle in the shed for more than a few days, and suddenly that once shiny sram chain has less shine and more than a little orange hued ferrous oxide.
if i were as pernickety as i pretend to be, each and every ride would see a dousing of chain cleaner applied, dried and a subsequent dripping of an appropriate lubricant to each and every link. you'd know i was fibbing if i were to attest that this is indeed the perpetual post-ride deed. what is far more likely and believable is that i run inside, more than keen to disrobe and nab a hot shower, any thoughts of chain lubricating far from front and centre.
however, i am all too well aware, as are most of you, that ignoring the facts will only come back to bite me, and considering the current spate of rainy days, it seems only right and proper to use hippo technology. the latter animal, despite its inherent size and lumbering gait, seems content to spend most of its life clothed in mud without apparently suffering any untoward effects. just the sort of technology we'd like to clothe our chains in.
the chaps at purple harry have issued two distinct chain lubes: wet and dry, rather tautologically offering protection for both instances of climate. this is not to say that purple harry dry lube will take fright should it be hit by precipitation, but for weather such as that regularly experienced on not just scotland's west coast, the wet lube seemed the ideal starting point.
by sheer coincidence (so i would have you believe), the cielo received its new ten-speed sram chain on the very day that my selection of purple harry lubes appeared, replete with that all-important hippo technology. i've been running the wet lube for almost a month now, and not exactly giving it a holiday considering the regular downpours that have invaded our shores. work has ensured that on occasion, the bicycle has been left all on its own for more than just a day, yet none of that infernal rust has had the temerity to discolour its sheen.
i have been conscientious in my application, as indeed i am with every chain oiling session, and it is much to purple harry's credit that, on the rare occasion the wind drops sufficiently to allow audible checking, that chain offers up an almost silent purr. should the weather ever find it in its heart to retain that precipitation at a suitable height, preferably over somewhere else, i will investigate the properties of purple harry's dry lube.
rest assured, i will tell all should it come to pass.
purple harry's uk manufactured wet or dry lubes retail at £6.99 for a 125ml applicator bottle, allowing precise placement of each drop of lube.
sunday 19th may 2013