keeping it clean

bio washing powder

in the pre-internet days, before thewashingmachinepost was other than an occasional article in our local paper, i was not yet of the road-going persuasion, confining my velocipedinal excursions to the saddle of an offroad machine. i'd hardly classify myself as one of the more intrepid offroaders; even a short, shallow downhill looks a tad worrysome from the top and i had gained a lifelong affinity with all four limbs and the grey matter up top. mountain biking, however, even the way i did it, bears comparison with my current fascination with cyclocross, in that the terrain has a tendency to make a complete mess of whatever i happen to be wearing at the time.

prior to having a substantial collection of apparel from which to choose, mostly thanks to those who send items of cycle clothing for review, two days ploughing through the muddy undergrowth was usually sufficient to exhaust the possibilities of having sufficient garmentage for a third. i have insufficient recall as to the sophistication of the washing instructions sewn inside jerseys, shorts or tights, but i'm pretty sure they were ignored in favour of throwing everything unceremoniously into the washing machine in the naive expectation that 'it'll be fine.'

that may have been true many years ago, but modern-day fabrics, while a great deal more sophisticated, can also be a smidgeon more fragile in certain respects. if ever you harboured suspicions that this is merely marketing rhetoric, grab the most recent jersey to join your collection and take a look at the length of the washing instructions label.

of course, ultimately it is we who pay the price of inattention or the wholesale ignoring of the manufacturers' advice. after all, from their point of view, the worst that can happen is that we are compelled to buy a new one. an erstwhile friend of mine made great play of the fact that, no matter the constitution of his recently acquired cycling apparel, it was going in the washing machine without due care and attention to the printed protestations that hand-washing was the worst it should have to endure. so should we really be paying closer attention to these printed words, or are they indeed simply concocted by the marketing department during morning coffee break?

as with many subjects i find myself scribbling about, i am no expert in such matters, so i must defer to those of greater experience. in this case, that expert is italian-based scotsman, james lamont, a gent with a wealth of experience in garment technology and currently senior vice-president of innovation and research and development with fu hsun, supplier of fabrics to the world's major sportwear brands for more than fifty years.

the concerns most of us have predominantly rests with the efficacy of the durable water repellency or dwr coating applied to many weatherproof garments currently available. according to the folks in gore's technology plant at livingston in scotland, the comment was always "Anyone can make e- PTFE. Sticking it to a face fabric is the hard thing." and there is no real doubt that the efficacy of this dwr coating is not permanent; we doubtless all own waterproof jackets that seem lately to have become simply jackets, no longer keeping the ingress of precipitation at bay.

according to my friend james "DWR's normal spec is 30/80. So, as you now know, the D in DWR is sort of a misnomer. Yet the average gym wear garment might only get washed once a week, and worn once or twice. So 30 washes might take longer than the average use before they buy the new colour.
"Thirty washes and still 80% effective. It used to be 20/20! In the future, we hope to reach 80/80, but that's a bit further out."

it is rather helpful to have the problem, as we see it, quantified in this manner, mostly because it offers the chance to be more circumspect before throwing the contents of the laundry basket into an eagerly welcoming washing machine. but even here, there are misunderstood variables that may cloud both judgment and received knowledge.

i have, for many a long year, eschewed the large boxes of biological washing powder in the kitchen cupboard, in favour of my own small box of non-bio. i cannot take personal responsibility for this seemingly more ecological choice, as i was once informed that the biological variant could easily ruin a dwr coating over the course of a few washes. the same informant thus recommended that i wash my delicates in non-bio. it's the very nugget of knowledge that has the potential to become folklore, a standard we all live by without ever examining the truth of the matter. so while i had james' ear (so to speak), i asked him the question, 'bio or non-bio?'

"Bio maybe better to get out agricultural muck/ Belgian Toothpaste. If possible, use a short cycle on the washing machine. Some are 20mins or less, but remember you need also use a lighter load, too. Your riding kit is often just enough and use less wash material too. I prefer sports stuff, or wool stuff. Like Assos chamois cream, the trick is to use stuff that also rinses out.
"Less time in the washing machine is great; less water, less energy, less mechanical damage to your clothes. Time in the washing machine is often the toughest thing in a garment's life..."

so after all these years of scouring the shelves in the local averagemarket for the small boxes of non-biological washing powder, perhaps all this time i could have been making more economical use of the huge soap powder boxes that mrs washingmachinepost seems to have little trouble in acquiring. so is james telling me that i'd have been perfectly safe so doing?

"It seems strange that washing in biological powder would be given as a reason for compromising DWR durability. Even the thought that DWR could get washed out seems odd to me, especially when you think it gets used in the wet and when riding without mudguards, it's basically getting jetwashed.
"Chemistry is difficult. You want something permanent, which then stops other things sticking. Like gluing non-reactive, non-sticky PTFE when making (the likes of) Gore-Tex. The magic in the future will be permanent water repellency."

of course, while it is a serious business providing idiots like the sunday morning velo club peloton with garmentage capable of protecting us from sub-zero temperatures, augmented by galeforce winds and freezing sleet and rain while covering a truncated ride of only 50 kilometres, there is always space for a modicum of levity. just like the space occupied by the washing instructions accompanying a jacket from david millar's chptr 3 range. these commence with "I'm sorry if you have to read this. This label should be totally superfluous. In a perfect world you are already in the bar having a drink (or in the bath with a glass of port) with not a care in the world about locating a washing machine and barely an idea regarding the existence of this label."

the topmost portion of the instructions concludes "WE MEAN THIS. Don't pretend you know how to wash this, because you don't, and you will ruin it."

and to think you were worried about carbon nano-tubes.

monday 22 january 2018

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portland design works gravity usb tail light

pdw gravity tail light

one of the more economical ways of getting to and from the island is by boat and bus or bus and boat, depending in which direction you're travelling. and at one time, certainly in the days when mrs washingmachinepost and i first moved to civilisation, it was a simple case of turning up at either glasgow's buchanan bus station or kennacraig ferry terminal, paying the fare and boarding the bus. though citylink coaches promised to add a second coach if the first had sold out, in those days, the distilleries were simply not as attractive a destination as they have since become and there was rarely, if ever, the need so to do.

pdw gravity tail light

however, as time rolled by and timetables changed, ferry times altered and the number of visitors inexorably increased, the bus company began encouraging folks to book in advance, for it was ultimately possible that those who did not, could find themselves with an extended stay at either glasgow or kennacraig. of course, this pretty much created its own problem, for now we were fearful that the above situation could, indeed, occur, allied to the advent of online booking over a decade ago offering an apex fair at lower price.

pdw gravity tail light

this particular charge, simply put, was non-refundable and non-negotiable. if the ferry was delayed and we'd to resort to a later bus service, it was necessary to pay the difference between apex and full fare to be allowed to contribute an administration fee for altering the ticket. it is still, more often than not, perfectly possible to simply turn up and travel, but at greater cost. life was once a tad simpler on the outer edge.

the more things change, the more they don't actually stay the same. for all the emphasis placed on highlighting our presence on the national highways by wearing reflective and hi-viz clothing, the purveyors of quality cycling apparel seem hell-bent on offering less frightful colours. with this, i have a certain sympathy, for i really have no great desire to indulge in a bout of froth supping, while dressed like a crossings patrol officer or one of the guys who fills in the ever increasing number of potholes. in order to appear as the sophisticated man about the peloton we all know me to truly be, i prefer less ostentatious colours; subtlety is my watchword.

pdw gravity tail light

however, in the grey days that inflict themselves upon the early months of the year (at least until august), dark blues, blacks, browns, olives and the like scarcely help advertise my presence to the motoring public. though i have a very in-your-face bright pink gilet with which these darker colours might be accessorised, once again i live in mortal fear of someone handing me a shovel and insisting i 'get on with the job'. so i mostly choose not to.

on the other hand, were i to be out after the hours of darkness, even in the light provided by islay's new led street lighting, i observe the law of the land by fitting both front and rear lights. and pretty much due to peer pressure of a pelotonic nature, i have taken to fitting a flashing rear light during daylight hours, even if daylight can often be confused as night time at the moment.

pdw gravity tail light

though traffic on the island's roads is hardly onerous at this time of year, whether riding solo or in the body of the peloton, the fervent hope is that an approaching motorist faced with a phalanx of flashing red lights will be more inclined to take care, as opposed to discovering our presence at the very last moment. yet, in common with the bus company's pressure to book in advance, those flashing red lights have become omnipresent where once they were less than conspicuous by their absence. nowadays we feel less safe if leaving home without them.

happily, their encroaching ubiquity can only have proved beneficial to the intrepid velocipedinist. where once we would have had need of choosing an appropriate thickness of rubber shim before carefully affixing a bracket to the rightmost seatstay, it is now most often a simple matter of fastening a rubber strap around the lower portion of the seatpost. and gone are the days when that red light simply flashed; modernity and omnipresence has given us variable double-flashing, usb charging and a brightness that borders on threatening. not only that, the excellent boffins at portland design works now offer the chance to make those following aware of our decceleration.

pdw gravity tail light

their recently released gravity tail light features an accelerometer that curtails the flashing to display a highly effective static red light when braking or swerving. and in order to provide an incredible brightness of being, the led on the light's upper portion is exactly the same as that used in car brake lights. the gravity tail light offers two modes of operation, alternate flashing between top and bottom lights or solid illumination. it arrives with a usb charging cable (sadly not featuring the same mini-usb plug as seen on older pdw lights), and brackets for either seat post or seatstay.

a far cheaper and flimsier red flashing light i had previously used, offered a battery life that was scarcely equal to the length of an average bike ride. though portland design works advertise a battery life of 30 hours when in flashing mode, i left the light on solid for a continuous period of almost three days before the light went out. the gravity light is fortunately solidly weatherproof; fortunately because its usual position at the juncture of seatpost and seat tube showers it with more than its fair share of rain and crap.

those of you who have been paying close attention to this review will, no doubt, be wondering how it is i know that the accelerometer fulfils its function in times of stress, given that the light is always behind and below me when riding? fortunately, i do not always ride alone, so specific instructions were issued to those in my speeding wake to keep a close eye on the light's activities as i deliberately slowed after the sunday morning sprint. those thus charged were apparently entranced by its relentless efficacy and efficiency.

at the time of writing, portland design works are apparently in the throes of arranging uk distribution, so the best i can offer by way of pricing is a conversion from the gravity's forty american dollars to approximately £29 uk pounds sterling. i now ride safely and brightly, despite my predilection for a more sombre shade of clothing than that of chartreuse yellow.

portland design works gravity usb tali light

sunday 21 january 2018

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hue and cry

ritchey logic heritage

the current practice of denoting varying weather conditions by means of associating them with colours seems to have increased its number of levels recently. either that, or i've simply not been paying close enough attention. my initial recollection was that the weather spectrum consisted of green for everything being rosy in the front garden, through amber for less amenable conditions and eventually to red for hide in the basement weather. but recently i note from the met office's twitter feed, that yellow has infiltrated this rainbow of portended events. accoridng to a colleague, the distinction has been further muddied by a met office spokesman explaining that amber, meant 'not quite red'.

ritchey logic heritage

isn't that comforting?

the use of colour in so many aspects of daily life is nothing new; traffic lights have been around for a very long time and even pedestrian crossings feature red figures to indicate staying put, changing to green when safe to cross. my daily travail as an apology for a graphic designer is eased somewhat by the bulk of my work having need only of being realised in monochrome, but on occasion, there's no escaping the need for a well judged range of colours.

ritchey logic heritage

some are particularly attuned to the use of colours, well aware of complementary colours via the colour wheel, displaying those that offer substantial contrast and others that happily co-exist without eye strain. that's before taking into consideration the various shades and hues of each particular colour. i have had several occasions when requested to restore the original colour to seriously desaturated photos (usually from having been sat in direct sunlight for too long). my learned technique for colouring is, to all intents and purposes, foolproof, based as it is on photoshop's adjustment layers, where any initial choice of hue can be infinitely varied, including that of intensity, until adjudged to be correct.

it's during these often experimental processes that i discovered human skin to be not necessarily the pink we generally reckon it to be. and finding a red that stops short of making lips look as if lipstick has been applied, is not always the simplest of procedures.

ritchey logic heritage

with reference to adobe, a few years past, the software giant introduced a feature erstwhile known as kuler, where selections containing sympathetic colour schemes could be chosen from the wide range on offer. that seems now to reside in the website, providing much needed aid for the troubled designer on the point of tearing out lumps of hair.

it's the association of certain colours with specific objects, products or even cycle teams that is one frequently affecting the human psyche and subsequent behaviour. for instance, who can forget the iconic black and white of peugeot, the red and white of faema, or the golden brown of eddy merckx' molteni arcore jersey? and simply to step sideways for just a minute, if you had the money, would you really buy a ferrari in any other colour than red?

ritchey logic heritage

for the ten years between 1990 and the turn of the century, swiss rider thomas frischknecht rode to more than 36 major cyclocross and mountain bike victories aboard a tom ritchey frameset. those bicycles featured a classic red, white and blue fade paint scheme, one that, along with admiration for not only frischknecht's surname, but his tenacious ability in the offroad realm, had me lusting after just such a ritchey frameset. that it took me until the latter part of last year to finally ride one of those desirable steel frames is still a source of some regret.

however, the admirable folks at ritchey, in their infinite wisdom, have seen fit to bring to market, a limited edition, red, white and blue fade, ritchey heritage road logic frameset, the utter fabulousness of which can be seen in the accompanying illustrations. according to international marketing manager, jeff lockwood, they've been receiving weekly requests to produce just such a frame, so to satisfy this pent-up demand, 100 of the blighters are being released to an eagerly awaiting public. and to make life even better than it already was, the ritchey calculator appears to have malfunctioned just enough to price this ultimate re-release at only £1199.

tempted? you bet i am.

heritage edition road logic frameset

saturday 20 january 2018

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everything is the government's fault

bicycle pump and inner tube

a couple of days ago, i watched a news report concerning the apparent plight of parents in certain southern regions with regard to government assisted childcare. though this childcare should have been provided free of charge, it appears that the money being provided to one or two nurseries was substantially less than that swallowed up by their operating costs. if i correctly recall the gist of an interview with a childcare proprietor, his nursery was likely to find itself £18,000 adrift when attempting to balance the books.

without wishing to prejudice myself in your eyes too much when considering this subject, i'm somewhat at a loss to comprehend why the government is responsible for footing the costs of children that presumably the concerned parents decided to have voluntarily. though i'm likely in a minority, i rather think that, up until school-age, parents ought to accept that they bear most of the responsibilities. however, that aside, in order to make ends meet, the hapless nurseries were having to resort to charging parents for at least a portion of the daily costs. not, you would imagine, an entirely unfair decision.

but, just to place all in a more realistic perspective, the complaining parents apparently expected all the costs to be met by the government via monies disbursed to local councils, even including nappies and lunch. perhaps it is just me, but that seems just a tad unreasonable. yet this mentality that the government ought to be held responsible for the country's many ills and ailments persists across many other strains of daily life. and cycling is no exception.

the recent release by the department of transport of national travel survey and active lives survey walking and cycling statistical information, provides a contemporary overview of this particular aspect of british life. though nothing stands out as an oddity, the numbers demonstrate that more folks commute by bicycle than ride in the wednesday eve chaingang and the sunday morning peloton. to yours truly at least, this was surprising, yet welcome news.

while admittedly the margin of difference between the two was a mere 6%, this unintentionally masks the salient fact that only 2% of all national trips are carried out by bicycle. perhaps in a show of faith, conditioned by optimistically misguided conviction, the report's author explained that the number of uk cycling trips decreased by 16% in the ten years between 2006 and 2016 could be likely due to a variation of sampling procedures rather than an actual decline.

nope, me neither.

roger geffen representing the formerly named cyclists' touring club, now re-constituted as cycling uk declared that the current state of affairs was indicative of "long-term failure by successive governments...", a statement that has me a tad confused. while i'm aware that governments in the majority of the western world spend considerably more on satisfying the needs of the motoring public than that of the more humble cyclist and pedestrian, it seems just a tad unfair to cite the government as the reason people don't ride bicycles.

a few decades ago, it seemed that a modicum of cycling activism might be a prudent choice in order to persuade more of my fellow islanders to stop using their cars for journeys within villages scarcely one mile from one end to the next. however, in similar manner to the reaction often seen when visually admonishing a driver or cyclist who inadvertently (or deliberately) pulls out in front of you, this potential activism of mine promised to achieve considerably less than hoped for. in a more positive vein, it seemed to me that the simple act of being seen to ride my bicycle at my age here there and everywhere, in pretty much all weathers, might be a more effective ploy.

in reality, i very much doubt the latter has made any measurable difference to island cycling life, but arguably no more nor less than my donning combat fatigues and aggressively getting in people's faces. however, cycling uk appear to be relying on witnessing an increase in the number of women and children to gauge whether the government is 'on the right track'.

i live, admittedly, in a localised area where traffic could scarcely be described as onerous and where there is little or no need for specific cycling facilities to ease one's transportational requirements. perhaps if i lived in one of britain's car, bus and taxi infested cities, my point of view would be considerably different. but why is it down to government to ease our potential pathways through the above mentioned motorised obstacles? can we not take hold of our own destinies, get on our bikes en masse and simply cycle to and from work or school?

i agree, it is the archetypal chicken and egg situation; if more folks cycled in urban areas, governments and councils would find it easier to justify related expenditure. meanwhile, there are many who state they would be more inclined to cycle if there were better facilities available. but realistically, only one of the above resembles an immoveable mass and we're not it. in which case, one of us has to move first and i vote it be us.

next thing you know, we'll expect the government to supply spare inner tubes and mini-pumps for the journey.

friday 19 january 2018

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it's good to talk

google self-driving car

several years ago, in the halcyon days of yore, it was common practice for me to be sat behind a drumset in one of islay's legendary hostelries on the approach to midnight on new year's eve. from my point of view, as one with a distinct distaste for all the kissing and hugging that usually accompanies the bells at hogmanay, there are fewer safe places to be than the other side of a 22" bass drum and a tom tom or two.

for reasons i have been unable to fully comprehend, the isle of islay had, at one time, garnered an enviable reputation as one of 'the' places to be at new year, along with times square in new york and trafalgar square in london. such were the numbers descending upon this particular hostelry, that the owners had to resort to ticketing to curtail the numbers, with profits going to the nearby harbour association. as the evening's ceilidh entertainment got underway, groups of male visitors would enter the room decked out in kilts and sporrans, while their escorts for the evening would wear those fluffy white dresses once seen on scottish tv's the white heather club.

there was palpable dismay on their realising that the local populace were more likely to be dressed in come-as-you-are mode and that few if any wore tartan bonnets.

such revelry has now dispersed from local pubs to the village hall just after a fireworks display at midnight and i'm led to believe that the dress code has normalised considerably. however, a grand proportion of those attending are undoubtedly not solely from the next village, swelling the island's festive population by a significant amount. shortly after new year's day, when islay was still populated by one or two of these would-be revellers, i found myself approaching the t-junction at bridgend, sat in the centre of the road having signalled my intention to turn right. as i reached but a few metres from the turn, i was overtaken by a car which then pulled in front of me and turned left.

i called him a bad name.

while the above situation will most likely be experienced by many a mainland cyclist on a weekly basis, because the perpetrators are encased in an all but soundproofed metal box, any vocal remonstrations we might offer are unlikely to be heard in the manner in which they were intended, though a hand signal might better get our point across more graphically.

the recently held consumer electronics show (ces) in las vegas, revealed a collaboration between bicycle manufacturer trek and the ford motor corporation on an artificial intelligence based bicycle to vehicle communication system. it's probably too much to hope that this will include an amplified microphone that will blare my festive sentiments in the face of the driver who cut me up, but these things have to start somewhere.

if i understand the theory of this so-called b2v system, there would be need to add a printed circuit or two to our carbon fibre, allowing it to connect with the cellular vehicle-to-everything technology adding yet another app to that overburdened smartphone. those of you with a wide-ranging perspective on such transportational communications will no doubt have already made the connection between this latest development and the current drive (see what i did there?) to realise driverless cars sooner rather than later.

one of the potential flies-in-the-ointment when integrating these autonomous vehicles into every day transportation is, while they will surely be able to talk to each other, learning about potential transportational pitfalls in the locale, a cyclist or pedestrian going about their normal business might upset any carefully laid digital plans. i have a vague notion that we should be righteously indignant over this impending technology, but i can't quite define why. it may be more equitable to think of it as the digital equivalent of wearing a hi-viz gilet.

at the beginning of this week, my guardian newspaper had shrunk to tabloid size, having originally existed as a broadsheet before visiting the berliner in-between size en-route. i don't really like it, but some of us never get used to change, even if its inexorable march can be seen on a daily basis. i'm sure i'll get used to it, just as i might get used to an artificial intelligence augmented bicycle.

then again...

thursday 18 january 2018

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oh, good grief charlie brown, part 47

stockmarket numbers

it is only a matter of days since i once again admitted my total ignorance of the machinations of modern business and economics. a few years back, due to favourable conditions in one or other stock market, apple computer became the most valuable company in the history of the universe, yet oddly enough, this resulted in their share price decreasing. if i understand this mechanism correctly, one that flew in the face of logic, the reasoning behind their falling share price was that of the so-called analysts predicting that the folks at one, infinite loop, could hardly better this result and thus the universe of which they were now kings, would conspire against them.

no, me neither.

odd situations such as the above seem to happen almost on a daily basis. last week, it was announced that, due to previously arranged contractual obligations, the chief executive officer of one of britain's premier house-building firms was in line to receive a bonus of more than £100 million, an obscene amount of money to hand over, by anyone's standards. coincidentally, one of the uk's other large construction corporations was apparently considering filing for bankruptcy, with the threat of major redundancies across the board.

how is it that there can be such a drastic difference in the fortunes of two similar businesses, that leaves one in danger of shedding staff and the other paying the man at the top more money than all of us will see in a lifetime? just think how many bicycles you could acquire for £100 million.

however, despite my ongoing incomprehension of the underpinnings of our worldy existence, i have consoled myself with the thought that they really don't impinge too harshly upon my ability to ride my bike at the weekends. granted, the captains of the bicycle industry no doubt have need of making themselves a tad more fiscally aware, but that's what you get for selling bikes with your name on the downtube. and i'm pretty sure they get paid a smidgeon more than do i. or you, for that matter.

but then, just as we were minding our own damn business, along comes the singapore based obike, a company offering the ability to hire one of their bikes without the need to leave it at a docking station. it's a business model that has very quickly infiltrated all the little spaces left wide-open by the likes of london's boris bikes and similar concepts across the country. utilising the service simply requires that you download a smartphone app and carry out the necessary monetary transactions online. however, it's no longer a revolutionary concept; neither the app nor a hire bicycle that can be left against the nearest wall could truly be thought of as 'newsworthy'

but, while i can grasp the concept of dockless bike hire, it was the announcement of obike's partnership with the digital financial muscle of tron to issue a bicycle-specific cryptocurrency that has my poor little brain just the wrong side of addled. though i cannot promise that the following will make the situation any clearer, this velocipedinal equivalent of the fashionable, yet inscrutable bitcoin was announced accompanied by the following explanation:

"It aims to establish oCoin, its official token and the basic unit of accounts in the blockchain, as an acceptable mode of payment globally without the need for central bodies or third parties. [...]
oCoin, which is based on the Ethereum protocol, currently accepts only ETH, Ethereum's cryptocurrency token. Hence, all participants' wallets must be ETH ERC20 compatible to purchase oCoins."

as if that were insufficient to be going on with, the announcement continued: "oBike has become the first application of the sharing economy to be compatible with the ODYSSEY protocol. As part of its strategic partnership, ODYSSEY will work closely with TRON on cross-ecosystem collaborations which will benefit ODYSSEY's sub-ecosystem like oBike."

and here was me thinking that the pinnacle of bicycle technology was encapsulated in shimano's synchroshift system. but more to the point, how many double-espressos can be purchased with an ocoin? and where do i keep the change?

wednesday 17 january 2018

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new year revelations

12 january

my heading, in this particular case, can be easily seen as a tad disingenuous, both from the point of view of being a rather crass play on words, geared towards the velocipedinal community and additionally because the message contained below is anything but revelationary. i have not conducted exhaustive research even amongst the local pelotonese as to whether any of us still have the temerity to make new year resolutions, but it has always struck me as the kind of innocent pastime exercised by the youth of any given generation. those of a more elderly hue will have seen the emperor's new clothes and realised that there really isn't anything there in the first place.

to begin with, it rather depends on how you'd define a resolution. deciding that 2018 is the very year when you'll participate in a sportive or gran fondo, strikes me more as one of enterprise rather than either resolution or revolution. deciding, however, that this will be the year in which you get fit enough to ride one of the aforementioned, does seem more easily to fit into the resolution category. the question remains, however, as to why any of us find it necessary to wait until the first day of january to get to grips with the subject. surely resolutions must be made and subsequently broken pretty much twelve months of the year?

there have already been one or two loudly voiced opinions that the beginning of the financial year, in april, would be a more appropriate time to form these dispensable pacts with ourselves, though i've no real idea why.

however, if i'm willing to accept that the making of new year's resolutions is one of tradition, going back decades, at least in the western world, who am i to attempt to undermine the ritual. statistics and research have repeatedly shown that the number one reason for failing to reach the culmination of hastily taken resolutions is the setting of unrealistic goals. if you can currently manage a ten-mile time-trial in a shade under 26 minutes, aiming to be thundering along in under twenty minutes is quite plainly not going to happen in the next twelve months. not unless you've been playing possum all along.

according to research carried out last year, cycling to work was every bit as effective in losing weight as was nipping down to the gym on a regular basis. if, as a cycling obsessive, your new year's resolution was to lose a pound or two, it would appear that your stars have now aligned. if your rail commute has just priced itself out of your income bracket, what better solution could be had?

but this is the digital age, when everything that can be measured and displayed is being measured and displayed, even if it provides answers to questions nobody was asking. cycling's version of facebook (strava), analysing its vast terabytes of innocently uploaded data has discerned that the very day on which these resolutions begin to fade, passed last friday, 12 january. how they know that, i'm not sure i want to find out, but according to the strava high command ater looking at over 35 million uploads, the second friday in january is when reality kicks in.

i've had goldfish that lived longer.

of course, simply pointing out this disappointing fact would scarcely be worthy of our approbation, were it not possible for the selfsame data to perhaps offer a solution to such nascent apathy. according to strava's gareth mills "We also used our data to analyse ways that active people (strava customers, one would assume) can get through this time."

disappointingly, these eagerly awaited revelations, bearing in mind the purported vastness of the community from which they have been gleaned, might better be categorised under the heading glaringly obvious. mr mills continued "...exercising with friends leads to people being 22% more active, while joining a club more than doubles that percentage." nor, indeed, does the excitement end there. further analysis of those 35 million uploads concludes that those who cycle to work (the cheery individuals who are already losing as much weight as they would from an annual gym membership) are 43% more active at weekends too.

all of which does little other than remind me that graeme obree once told me that 81% of all statistics are made up on the spot.


tuesday 16 january 2018

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