you will likely not have noticed if you don't reside in either the highlands and island of scotland, but we are being discriminated against. though many of us living in the above noted region would count it amongst the very best of places to live, rain and gales notwithstanding, much like any comparably rural idyll, it has its pluses and minuses, though in my opinion, the former far outweighs the latter. the discrimination to which i refer is entirely at the hands of the nation's haulage contractors.
several years ago, when computer memory was measured in megabytes rather than gigabytes, i ordered a memory chip to upgrade my apple computer. i forget precisely the astronomical price that i was charged for this, but since the carriage was a mere pittance, i opted to purchase nonetheless. everything went completely downhill from that point; according to the supplier, because i lived in the highlands and islands, the £1.50 carriage suddenly became £19. overall, it was still costing me less than the competition, so i elected to continue with my inflated purchase anyway.
disappointment turned to anger on receiving the memory chip (these are a couple of milimetres thick, by approximately eight centimetres long) as it was contained inside a padded jiffy bag and had been sent through the post. i might point out that currently, it costs no more to send a package by royal mail from london to islay than it does to do so in the opposite direction.
i took the package round to bowmore post office and asked the nice lady if she could tell me what the cost would be to return the package to its destination by recorded delivery. £1.50. meaning i had just been charged an excess of £17.50 because of where i live at no extra cost to the supplier.
take a gander across many of the online retailers and i could almost guarantee you'll find that sending to the highlands and islands costs substantially more than if sending to a mainland destination. yet chain reaction cycles based in ireland, are able to send most items free of charge and in most cases, alarmingly quickly. i sense a conspiracy theory at work.
wickens and soderstrom, the rather elaborately named purveyors of cycle lubricants and cleaners are not, so far as i can tell, an online retailer. their slightly infuriating website (superfast broadband on islay? you're 'avin' a larf?) offers illustrated descriptions of their products, followed by a recommended retail price. in this particular case, our conversation concerns their no.1 bike cleaner. i am in the fortunate position of receiving review products free of charge in every respect, but the arrival of a container of the aforesaid bike cleaner did give cause for concern.
unpacking a box with an apparently empty clear container inside, apart from a smattering of bubbly liquid at the bottom, would immediately lead most of us to figure that the contents had leaked into the box. happily, it appears that in order to minimise distribution costs, wickens & soderstrom offer this modest quantity as a concentrate. prior to use, the bottle need only be filled with cool, clear water. this minimal distribution model is to be roundly applauded.
there are many products similar to this one on the market; the idea is to spray the liquid all over a dirty bicycle (such as the one on which i returned from bridgend woods), leave it for five or ten minutes, then wash off with either a cloth or a water spray. if i was a tad more organised, i'd have one of those karcher pressure washers at my disposal (ifs and buts...). in this case i simply filled a similar bottle to that which i had received from w&s and squirted water all over the ibis, finishing off with the truly magical purple harry magic sponge.
first off, the no.1 bike cleaner did precisely what it said on the label, but used up half the bottle on one dirty bicycle. i'd imagine it might be necessary to use a smidgeon more if the dirt has dried onto the frame. in its favour, the cleaner is safe on pretty much every frame material known to cycle-kind. the minimally filled bottle retails at £7 while a 120ml refill bottle, which makes up six 500ml bottles, costs £14. if you're in the habit of getting dirty more than once a week, or even just once a week, this could prove a potentially more costly solution over my more usual bucket of soapy water.
however, bearing in mind the cyclists' mantra of 'never stand when you can sit and never sit when you can lie down', after a mucky and potentially knackering saturday morning ride, anything that eases the task of cleaning the bicycle is likely to be welcomed with open sponge.
sunday 8 november 2015..........................................................................................................................................................................................................