red tiled roofs

red tile roof

my son's father-in-law built a new house on the outskirts of bowmore village just over a year ago, and he told me he had harboured thoughts of outfitting it with a red-tiled roof. however, argyll & bute's planning department had other ideas, so it currently matches every other house on the island in featuring slate grey roof tiles. it's plain to see that the staff comprising the planning department are not in the habit of watching the giro d'italia, where the helicopter shots show a joyous mass of red-tiled roofing, keeping the rain off some brightly coloured houses, many of which have shutters on the windows.

you can see the attraction.

and i can also see the attraction of going all out on the tv coverage of the first grand tour of 2024 offered by eurosport. not only is it possible to watch live coverage of each stage, but, if you happen to have a digital subscription, you can watch all manner of bits and pieces that you may have missed, or simply fancy watching again. however, if there is the option of a live stream bereft of commentary, i have yet to find it. but should that option be discovered, that's quite likely to be my first choice. i know it's been available during le grand boucle, but when you've arrived home from the sunday ride, the impetus is on accessing the first available slot, as long as it's not the tv footage being offered online. that one has adverts.

i wish not to disavow the efforts of the phalanx of commentators available across each stage, but with one or two exceptions, i find the irritation factor greater than i can handle. but i'm also just a tad confused as to how the broadcaster's commentary rationale plays out.

on sunday 28 april, i sat down of an afternoon to watch the famenne ardenne classic, an event of which i admit i was blissfully unaware, partly because this year it took place at a different part of the season than was the case in 2023. the broadcast of the race lasted, according to eurosport's online information, lasted just shy of three hours, but as far as i'm aware, those three hours were handled very competently, by a single commentator, the identity of whom i know not. i can't say i'd come across the voice before.

yet yesterday's stage of the giro d'italia, perhaps predicably won by tadej pogacar, following the upsetting of the cunning plan on stage one, received commentary from a seemingly endless series of individuals: adam blythe, dan lloyd, robbie mcewen, rob hatch and sean kelly. those five were augmented by hannah walker and jens voight on the parcours. i do appreciate the importance of the giro by comparison to a second tier, one-day classic, but given that the stage to santuario di oropa took not a great deal longer than the famenne ardenne classic, isn't the engagement of seven individuals rather overdoing it?

and with no disrespect to either (they have a job to do, after all) the augmentation that causes the greatest grief, is the interspersions by both ms. walker and mr voigt. the latter is highlighted as a eurosport expert, a description with which i would scarcely argue, given the length of his career and impressive palmares. but at the risk of arrogance, i figure that jens explaining everything we can already see from the televised footage, seems a tad redundant. and quite what the point is of ms. walker standing in the road close to the stage finish, again pointing out both the utterly pointless and the glaringly obvious, is quite beyond me.

i'm well aware that i may be adopting the stance of a smug know-it-all; someone well-acquainted with the intricacies of world tour cycling and of making sense of whatever is placed in front of me. every year, there are bound to be more and more (one hopes) folks tuning into watch top level professional cycle racing, many of whom would be of the same status as yours truly, when first watching american football. in the latter case, the commentary team spent no time whatsoever explaining what was taking place on the astro-turf. so i can identify with the perceived need to make cycle racing attractive and informative to the newbie.

however, quite why that extends to a perceived need for five commentators and two pundits, i know not. that said, i've hardly concealed my distaste for sporting pundits on previous occasions, so i suppose i'm simply fulfilling expectations. but comparing the ardenne classic with the giro, i can't say that an increased number of commentators provided any noticeable enhancement of the event. and do not get me started on the breakaway with orla chennoui.

monday 6 may 2024

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shiny chain

in my teenage years, i was a follower of formula one motor racing, more from the technical and engineering aspect of the cars, than the races themselves. in the 1970s there appeared to be more innovation, or at least, visible innovation taking place than i believe is the case nowadays. from what i can gather, the current state of play seems to more closely resemble that of a fast moving procession than the halcyon days of yore. the advent of aerofoils on stilts in the time of graham hill, six wheeled tyrrells in the era of jackie stewart, and ground effect aerodynamics that effectively sucked the cars to the ground, offering greater speed with less risk.

the federation internationale automobil (fia) has acquired a reputation similar to that of cycling's governing body, in that anything that promises greater speed is in real danger of being promptly banned. however, though i can find no concrete evidence for my contention, i seem to recall a ban, many, many years ago, on shiny wheel rims fitted to formula one race cars. whether this was achieved by chroming the parts, or whether it was simply some turtle wax and a hefty amount of elbow grease, i cannot recall, but for many years now, the wheels attached to the carbon projectiles have been predomiantly black.

quite what differecne that might have made, i know not, but i'm pretty sure my recollections are sound.

though i doubt its anything that sits at the top of the uci's list of items to be banned when they get round to it, bicycle chains are almost all stylishly shiny when new, and i'd dearly like to learn how world tour mechanics manage to keep them that way, even in the heat of battle? i have been sent many a chain lubricant, developed with the sport's top teams, that, while completely effective in the lubrication stakes, turns the chain from bright and shiny to black and yucky in less than a kilometre.

watch any footage from the classics or grand tours, the shots where the cameraman is hanging off the side of the motorbike, camera mere millimetres from the road surface and concentrated on a rider's rear wheel. no matter how far into the stage such images are broadcast, the chain is always immaculate, and on both sides. i have readily admitted that i prefer to be sporting a shiny chain at the grand départ each and every sunday morning, but if i wish my chain to be suitably lubricated, that shine will have long gone before we even take the turn at bridgend, only 16km into the day's ride.

of course, this is simply the result of ego, combined with a hoped-for sense of style. if the ritchey logic is outfitted with campagnolo record, i want folks to notice; and a shiny chain is my calling card. therefore, on the saturday afternoon preceding each sunday morning ride, i can be found outside the kitchen door, can of wd40 and oily former bath towel at the ready, removing the previous week's crud and scrubbing that chain till it glows in the dark. however, it was not always thus.

the comic, has, for quite some time now, featured an elderly, almost always steel bicycle on its last page, offering nostalgia for those of us long in the tooth, and education for those who are blissfully unaware that there was ever a time when gear changing was not electronic. this week's image is of a geoffrey butler bicycle from 1995, the brake levers on which had eschewed the cables exiting from the top, but still featured downtube gearshift levers. i do not recall how many sprockets featured on its shimano exage groupset, but i did note that the chain was dark grey along its entire length, and not because it was dirty.

were the chains of today left in such a natural state, we'd scarcely be having this discussion. but were that the case, we'd also be saved the ignominy of riding with chains soiled by the very lubricants we have been advised are those favoured by the sport's top mechanics. in short, the difference between a grubby chain and a brand new one, would be almost insignificant. could it be that the bling now professed by our multi-speed chains is compensation for the loss of same from the wheel rims? with even cyclocross riders sporting deep carbon rims across the board, carbon has become (literally) the new black, while chainsets and gear mechs appear to have followed suit. carbon is also responsible for the loss of acres of chrome once featured on the seatstays, chainstays and forks.

who knew that a shiny chain would become the final compensation for the loss of years of cycling heritage?

sunday 5 may 2024

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optional extras

campagnolo ekar groupset

time was when acquiring a proper road bike was an intriguing process that included many a happy, yet frustrating period of procrastination. ought one to stick with tried and tested reynolds 531 lugged steel, could the budget stretch to 653, and how excellent will it be when personal performance and the post office savings account could stretch to 753? then again, which componentry would best suit this latest selection of velocipedinal machinery, how many spokes would be appropriate for pure speed, would it be an idea to order new training wheels at the same time, and most important of all, what colour should the frame be?

up until 1973, britain was held hostage to purchase tax, application of which proved ultimately responsible for the manner in which cyclists bought their bicycles. acquisition of a complete bicycle would attract the ruling percentage of purchase tax upon the whole enchilada, but if the frame and componentry were bought separately, no such financial imposition was made. that particular situation, prior to the change to value added tax would help explain the multiples of advertising pages at the back of the comic each week, where it was all but impossible to buy a complete bicycle.

frames, wheels and componentry were listed at great length by the likes of mel bentley cycles, deesside cycles and parker international (remember those?). many a happy hour could be spent poring over these adverts, comparing prices, deciding or not deciding on reputed 'specials, before checking compatibility. several weeks could pass with no notable progress, aside from a filled notebook of options. by the time any notional decision had been made, either a new frame had been released, or the component manufacturers had updated their specifications and prices, effectively meaning the whole process had to start all over again.

it truly was one of the wonders of the world that any roadie ever owned a bicycle at all.

the advent of the mountain bike, the interloper from across the pond, effectively changed all that. mountain bikes were exactly what it said on the tin: bikes. as in, complete bikes. i owned one of the original muddy fox couriers, before moving onto a muddy fox mega with its square profile tubing. this is not to deny that it was still possible to purchase separate frames and components, but the market at which the mountain bike was aimed was less than well-acquainted with the roadie's habit of buying separately, and was more likely to be one of the instant gratification generation.

the latter wanted a mountain bike, and they wanted it now; no messing about. walk into a bike shop, choose the make, model and size, then ride it home. just like i did. though there was eventually a cross-pollination of componentry (the a-headset, for one), ultimately the same thing occurred within the ownership paradigm, with mountain bikers like yours truly, deciding that farther and faster could be better accomplished on skinny wheels and bendy bars. what hadn't changed, in many cases, was the desire to have that road bike right there and then, avoiding the period of procrastination outlned above.

which is essentially why you can currently purchase complete bicycles from pinarello, trek, specialized, colnago, merida, bianchi et al.

and though it's a facet that probably affects very few contemporary road bike customers, there's no denying that something disappeared over that period, something possibly unavoidable given the current state of the industry, where the majority of bicycles are produced in the far east. the latter is, sad to say, almost entirely responsible for the real demise in the popularity of campagnolo. the italian component supremo was once almost the only game in town for the aspiring roadie, but the advent of monocoque carbon fibre frames and a wholesale shift in manufacturing to the far east was very unkind to vicenza.

both sram and shimano are also based in the far east, meaning both simplicity and economy when specifying their componentry to accessorise those taiwanese frames. marques which opted to spec campagnolo on their bicycles would obviously have to ship product from central italy to the far east. for bicycles destined for the european market, that would then mean shipping it all back again to warehouses in various mainland locations. far better logistically simply to fit shimano or sram which could probably be driven to the frame factories without need for shipping or air freight. and if customers are buying bikes bereft of campagnolo components, they would never experience its unique functionality, and probably never ask for or expect it to appear on any future purchase.

i very much doubt anyone buys a complete bicycle, then opts to change the groupset to suit their individual preferences, and it's highly doubtful that even the most benevolent of bike shops would even entertain carrying this out in house. so while we are regularly informed that we've never had it so good, and that unfettered choice is our veritable birthright, that's not entirely true.

i mentioned earlier this week that colnago is soon to introduce the successor to its g3x gravel/cyclocross bike; the g4x. according to the press release from cambiago, this is only available as a complete bicycle (no mention of frame only) and in five different options: sram red, sram force, sram rival, or shimano single chainring or double chainring. despite their sponsorship of 'cross rider, ryan kamp, who will compete aboard a g4x outfitted with a super-record wireless groupset and a bora wheelset, colnago does not offer a campagnolo ekar option.

but to lessen the options available in the uk, importers, windwave, have decided to only stock the two shimano options.

so, in a matter of three decades or slightly more, the average roadie has gone from having the option of pretty much anything their heart desires, to a situation pretty close to take-it-or-leave-it. i see hands raised at the back pointing out that there are still frames to be had, wheels to be built and groupsets to be purchased, before combining them all into a single entity. but given the economies of scale possessed by bicycle manufacturers, assembling a bicycle in that manner will almost certainly be more expensive than buying on off-the-shelf. and average roadies are not renowned for spending their money unnecessarily.

it seems that convenience has its downsides.

saturday 4 may 2024

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opposing forces

sportful cycling apparel

further to my recent monologue that identified this saturday as star wars day (may the 4th be with you), i have now learned that saturday is also national bike shop day, a fact that seems to have received less publicity than received by jedi warriors and darth vaders the world over. though i am admittedly domiciled in a part of the world bereft of a bicycle shop, where there is no chance whatsoever of learning of bike shop day by way of a hastily scrawled poster in a shop window, i am in the habit of perusing the cycling trade news on almost a daily basis. until today, however, i was blissfully unaware of the national event, which rather brings into question just how those with less of a vested interest than yours truly might have become aware of its existence?

perhaps local bike shops across the country have been plying their customers with blatant hints throughout the month of april, but as with most organised cycling events such as this, that would surely have been preaching to the converted? if independent bikes shops, under the corporate wing of the association of cycle traders, were really keen to expand upon their existing customer base, would it not make better sense to target those ripe for conversion? perhaps advertising in local press (which would doubtless welcome the advertising revenue; the newspaper industry is in almost as parlous a state as are cycle shops), or in local community and leisure centres?

of course, perhaps that's already been the case for some, but while i could scarcely move without tripping over mention of april's world record shop day, the same has definitely not been the case for national bike shop day. sadly, i'm pretty sure i said much the same thing in 2023 and probably in pre-covid years. it's all very well organising these favourable velocipedinal events, but you really need to shout it loud from the rooftops.

however, having got that particular hobby-horse out of the way, perhaps i should temper my apparent vitriol on realising that the industry as a whole, seems not to be pulling (or pushing) in the same direction. while many indepndent bike shops across the country will be preparing to hopefully increase their footfall this coming saturday, and encounter increased profits at the same time, profits that will ideally be continued throughout the year, it seems that their suppliers might not necessarily have their best interests at heart.

though i could be accused of stating the glaringly obvious, for the benefit of those unaware of the mechanics of cycling retail, allow me to educate you of the principal chain of events. should you find that the bicycle loyally purchased from your local bike shop several years past , is now in need of professional fettling, it is incumbent on said bike shop to have appropriate accounts with the uk distributors of not only that particular bike brand, but with the distributors of the componentry with which it is festooned. if your bicycle requires a new rear gear mech, the shop needs to be able to order the item from the appointed distributor, not only from an acquisition point of view, but for any subsequent warranty claims.

once again, to point out the glaringly obvious, if a shop wishes to sell trek, colnago or specialized bicycles, they will usually require an account with the national distributors of each or all of those marques. similarly with componentry; it's also possible that the shop mechanics will have required to undergo specific training by the likes of sram, shimano or campagnolo, to enable them to correctly fit or replace components, once again, to validate any warranty requirements. the shop purchases stock from the distributor at wholesale prices, adds on an appropriate profit margin, and sells it to you or i, at, above or below the recommended retail price. that's sort of how commerce works.

but the above scenario can be easily undermined if certain brands opt to sell direct to the consumer. if instigated by the manufacturer, this means they can charge the recommended retail price and keep all the profit, cutting out both the distributor and the retailer. in certain cases, as recently advised by sportful cycling apparel distributor, saddleback, selling direct to the consumer, means the option for them to miss out the retailer, increasing their own bottom line in the process.

there is nothing particularly iniquitous about so doing; business is business after all, and market forces will frequently edge out those simply trying to make ends meet, while working in an industry about which they are particularly invested and enthusiastic. according to sportful, their decision to ease themselves out of the cycle shop retail market was taken amid the "ever-changing landscape of the cycling apparel market", whatever that actually means.

the statement continued by stating, "Sportful looks to re-establish its place amongst the cycling elite by switching to a direct to consumer model with the launch of This move allows the flexibility to re-position the brand within this ever competitive segment of the market."

though i could be wrong (and i'm wrong more often than i'm right), this probably means that for any cycle shops that once stocked sportful cycling apparel, there's either little point in continuing, or the option to continue has been removed. it does appear, however, that saddleback will remain as the brand's uk distributor, so i can only assume that they will be providing the back-end stock that will furnish onlne orders.

as i mentioned above, a single industry that seems to be attempting to go in two opposing directions simultaneously, with the independent bike shop probably on the losing side. it's worth reiterating the age-old mantra, "the internet won't fix your bike." despite the unfortunate lack of publicity, perhaps those of you who still have access to a local bike shop could make a visit on saturday, buy something and profess your undying love for a section of velocipedinal society that might well be in actual danger of dying.

photo: sportful

friday 3 may 2024

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i rest my case m'lud

colnago g4x

it's eminently possible that many innovations, inventions or endeavours commence their commercial futures at the behest of the enthusiasts who first brought them to our attention. this is based purely on the notion that bicycles or their associated componentry would hardly become reality at the bidding of a soap powder manufacturer or a paper-mill. though i have never been responsible for the origination of any bicycle-based edict, other than thewashingmachinepost, it makes tautological sense that anything of velocipedinal value would deliberately emanate from other than a cycling enthusiast. even the much-maligned (by me) gravel bike (more on that subject later) was probably not the light bulb moment of a librarian.

however, cycling obsessives at the granular level are rarely possessed with honours degrees in business studies, meaning either eventual introduction of their ministrations to those with some level of business acumen, or, eventually outright purchase by venture capitalists. i know that we have previously had this discussion, but the problem with the latter is that, when said product or the business which it has spawned, ceases to be profitable (or as profitable as its new owners would wish it to be) there's a possibility of it being offloaded. a means to an end, rather than the specific end that bicycles are for the rest of us.

though not yet at that particular stage, rapha, currently owned by the investment company setup by the grandsons of the founder of walmart, has announced the closure of its north american office in bentonville, arkansas, where it was moved from its original location in portland, oregon. it's worth noting that bentonville is also the home of rapha's owners. this has undoubtedly arisen as a consequence of six years of financial loss, probably caused by rapha producing the very style of jersey that prompted simon mottram to found the company twenty years ago, as a sportwool antidote to the industry's mediocrity.

and a bicycle company which has now been sent down the proverbial rabbit hole, is that of enve, makers of tadej's wheelsets and highly reputable carbon road and gravel framesets. previously owned by amer sports, one time owners of mavic, the ogden, utah based company has been sold to pv3, a utah-based provate investment firm.

at present, all seems to be well; but couched in corporate-speak, it's quite hard to tell. amer's ceo has been quoted as saying, "The brand has positive momentum, and we see that it has good potential. However, after a thorough strategic evaluation, we have concluded that the next phase of development should happen under new ownership."

nope, me neither.

originating as edge composites, enve appears to be in the rudest of health, and its new owners insist that they are dedicated to "...maintaining enve's heritage as a utah-based manufacturer and leader in composites technology." i believe that PV3's owners are reputedly avid cyclists. and coincidentally, the internationally renowned marque, colnago, owned by emirates-based chimera investments, has announced the upcoming release of a replacement for their g3x gravel bike with the predictably named g4x, with the qualification that this takes the shape of a 'racing bike'. though i have little knowledge of ernesto's involvement in the investment-owned business, the press release purports to have been despatched from cambiago.

but again, we have even greater muddying of the gravel waters, the press release confirming that the new frameset has been uci approved for cyclocross competition, with colnago's continuing sponsorship of ryan kamp and silvia persico. on a personal level, that would tend to support my contention that there is no difference whatsoever between the two genres, effectively confirming that there was really no need for the gravel bike in the first place. though 'cross is restricted to 33mm tyre width, the frame will, in fact, accept up to 42mm.

i cannot deny, however, that i do rather favour the yellow edition, ownership of which would surely equate to the corporate background of this very blog. though colnago are offering the g4x as a complete bike, specced either with one of sram's gravel groupsets, or two shimano options, windwave, colnago's uk importer told me that they have opted to stock only the shimano options (1x or 2x) at an all-up price of £4,500. the colnago g4x will be available in july this year.

colnago g4x

thursday 2 may 2024

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carat on a stick

lotus hope track bicycle

sport, as defined by others, has gradually taken a curious turn, one that seems more and more to depend on ownership of deep pockets than true sporting endeavour. i harbour sincere doubts that the true amateur, content to compete for the honour and glory of victory alone, still exists. one year prior to my move to the hebrides, the olympic committee allowed professionals to compete in what had always been the preserve of the amateur, thus removing possibly the last international opportunity for the reputedly non-professional to achieve sporting eminence.

moves had been afoot since the late 1960s to allow professional athletes the opportunity to compete for the holy grail of a gold medal, and, in the opinion of many, this was a retrograde step. after all, the professional millieu is surely already replete with opportunities for sporting grandeur, without taking away the last bastion of the true amateur? from a cycling point of view, there is the world's track championship, the tour de france and supporting grand tours, the five one-day monuments and less, and less, the world road race championships.

it has long been said that the downfall of any professional sport is the financial enticement that forms the principal thrust of the objective. would mathieu, wout and tadej still put themselves through the proverbial wringer were the prize to be a jersey and a voucher for halfords? granted, the majority of road cyclists will earn far less than the above three, and there's not a great deal of job security available to the ageing domestique. but the money involved in professional cycling is not solely at the behest of riders' salaries.

prior to the demise of the communism and the soviet republic, the russians and east-germans were often castigated for their dubious endeavours to capture olympic gold, whether on the road or in the velodrome. as far as the west was concerned, the strictly enforced training regimes and enhanced conditions in which the top cyclists existed, were denounced as the unacceptable face of propaganda. the communist east stood accused of doing almost anything to win gold in the mistaken belief that so doing would demonstrate socialism's superiority over the democratic west.

however, though such grandstanding is likely a thing of the past, the majority of countries now participating in the olympics will go to extraordinary lengths and expense to prove their own superiority by winning as many medals as their financial largesse will accommodate. after all, many of britain's olympic cyclists are provided with an annual stipend, allowing them the luxury of spending each and every day aboard their bicycles, the only demand being that they return from paris (this year at least) with a medal.

and as if such state aid were insufficient in and of its own, there is substantial additional funding to allow a band of technicians, mechanics, aerodynamicists, nutritionists and sports coaches to ensure those medals return victoriously to britain. the only return on investment would appear to be a precocious national smugness should the trophy cabinet require an extension be built.

should you doubt my hypothesis, witness the unveiling of a new version of the lotus hope track bike, expensively created to ride the boards in france's capital city this july. the cost effectiveness of so doing does bear some closer examination. several years past, the gb track team was outfitted with, for the day, state of the art, custom made carbon fibre, the double-diamond aesthetic ridden by chris hoy and the other girls and boys in the band. when that particular strain came to an abrupt end, british cycling contracted with cervelo to supply its successor, quite probably at considerably less expense, and, to be honest, i doubt anyone noticed.

whatever lord voldemort says, it truly is not all about the bike.

unfortunately, senior management at british cycling seem not to have watched any of the harry potter films, as they are currently embarked upon, once again, reinventing the wheel, and at considerable expense, solely in the pursuit of a few roundels of precious metal. stephen park, performance director of the british cycling team, has been quoted as saying, "British Cycling has a long and renowned history of being a world-leader in bike technology, and we are continuing to break new ground when it comes to the speed, efficiency and innovation of track bikes."

that statement would possess greater clout were it to have come from fausto pinarello or ernesto colnago, both of whom could undoubtedly capitalise on any success in paris that might ensue. british cycling, however, is not in the habit of selling even a facsimile of their expensively developed bicycles, were even anyone to have the financial wherewithal to look at the price tag. things have moved on considerably from the uci's banning of graeme obree's old faithful on the grounds that it was not commercially available.

for instance, what price a 3d printed titanium crank, lotus traling edge fork and handlebars that support increased aerodynamic positioning? can you just imagine the disappointment of the samoan or mali track cyclists as they clamber aboard their not entirely new look carbon track bikes, outfitted with regular bars and ageing wheelsets? hardly what we might refer to as mano e mano. patriotic though i may be, it would give some pleasure were one of the latter two to outpace dan bigham in the race for gold, if only to undermine the iniquity of spending a large fortune designing and constructing such an horrendous looking bicycle simply for a medal.

there was a period of time when formula one motor racing could attempt to justify its existence by purporting that its technological advancements would ultimately trickle down in the direction of the family saloon car. however, while the latter moves inexorably towards electric motors and batteries, formula one remains the stalwart of the internal combustion engine, frequently installed in projectiles that step further from the family saloon at every race. there's a strong argument for stating that bicycle construction might be heading the same way, and probably at the behest of the national track racing programme.

the bicycles that inhabit the peloton of the world tour at least offer the satisfaction of being intrinsically the same as each other; i can think of few (if any) examples, where one marque has dominated, presumably on the basis that the bike sponsors are all commercial concerns, with finite reserves allied to a demonstrable need to sell to real customers, few of whom are funded by the uk lottery.

while national cycling sports federations (britain is not alone) continue to spend millions in the quest for gold medals, anything resembling a level playing field is still quite some distance away.

wednesday 1 may 2024

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these are not the droids you're looking for

mywhoosh cipressa

my daily ministrations at islay's local newspaper, while frequently most enjoyable, occasionally coincide with calendar events that should probably not be avoided by anyone with even a rudimentary sense of humour. april fools day for example, is an opportunity too good to be true. many years ago, i intimated via an included article, that the local velo club had been sufficiently fortunate to acquire lottery funding for a substantially sized velodrome to be constructed on ground opposite islay airport.

so convincing, apparently, was the article, that even one of the velo club members congratulated me for having kept quiet such a momentous announcement. only when i pointed out the date of publication, did he break into loud laughter and, perchance, even greater admiration. however, not all the comment was favourable, with a local schoolteacher expressing outrage that so much money could have been handed to a tiny minority of the island's population. surely the money could have been put to far better use?

a few years later, a front page article alluded to the village of bowmore having been twinned with the belgian town of harelbeke and following scottish water's replacement of the sewage pipes 'neath main street, the road was to be resurfaced with cobblestones. other than from members of the velo club, that announcement drew a whole slew of negative comments. however, we're now at the end of april and the first of the month's issues did not coincide with all fools day. however, the next issue, due this saturday, does arrive on star wars day - may the 4th be with you.

though as a newspaper, it would be foolish, not to say, unpopular and likely in breach of copyright, to feature images of empire star destroyers, r2d2 or darth vader, images of the latter would leave me wide open to accusations of having turned to the dark side, when everyone knows that hebrideans are the precursors to the jedi.

i base the latter statement on our exclusive use of apple mac computers, generally regarded as the far less commercially popular antithesis of microsoft operated windows-based computing, frequently thought of as the very epitome of the dark side.

i have been known to employ similar language when referring to the practised craft of indoor cycle training, principally at the behest of zwift, a brand i would contend is the very encapsulation of the dark side meme. however, in this context, i have used zwift in a similar manner to those who refer to all vacuum cleaners as hoovers, when the latter is, in fact, a brand name. in other words, there are zwift alternatives, by which i do not mean actually riding outdoors on actual roads. and one of those alternatives, in the shape of the playfully titled mywhoosh.

founded in 2019, this brings a free-to-play online indoor training and racing platform, offering a wide range of real and imagined courses and routes. apparently until within the past few days, mywhoosh was the preserve of ios, android, macos and apple tv users, but the release of mywhoosh go as a free download from the microsoft store, means that those already on the dark side will now have a means of reinforcing their vader-like behaviour. as has become common on similar versions of pretend cycling, (i note that mywhoosh has a tendency to refer to their product as 'a game'), users can "...customise their own virtual cyclist, bike and clothing." it's the very parameters available for customisation in the 'real' world, though none of which is available free of charge.

yet, even when cycling a real bicycle outdoors, wearing real cycling apparel in the wind and rain has become the minority pursuit it will undoubtedly become, i'm sure i'll still be poking fun at any online, indoor disturbance in the force. the dark side will continue to be an object of derision, especially if you're playing the game on windows.

tuesday 30 april 2024

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