rubbish birding


on moving this far west over thirty years ago, for no reason in particular, i thought of a few wizard wheezes to quickly ingratiate me into the hebridean community. i'd make a stab at learning gaelic, wear a waxed cotton jacket (even when cycling) and try hard to begin the path towards twitcher-hood. in other words, a birdwatcher. those were my days of naivety. for starters, gaelic is a heck of a language to try and learn from a bbc cassette course, not only because there are more gaelic dialects than you can shake a stick at, but because the spellings are greatly at variance with the pronunciation.

and, it transpires, it's perfectly possible to have a happy hebridean existence without recourse to pidgin gaelic.

as to the waxed cotton jacket, that's a fabric that doesn't lend itself well to bike riding and has the distinct disadvantage of making one appear as if a signed up member of the landed gentry; not always a particular advantage hereabouts. by simple means of deduction, that only leaves the bridwatching thing, a path on which i tentatively commenced by purchasing a copy of 'the observer's book of birds', the contents of which were less daunting than they originally appeared, simply because a large number of the contents never alight upon islay's shores.


rather obviously, aside from brief descriptions of each bird, the book contained decent enough illustrations to supposedly allow identification of any seen from the saddle as i wended my merry way around the principality. granted, the rough and tumble of the average islay singletrack road is scarcely constituted to endear itself to the apprentic twitcher, but like a total numpty, i had already asked myself "how hard can it be?"

well, it turns out it can be very hard indeed; in fact i'd go so far as to state that bird-spotting from a moving bicycle slips under the net of downright impossible. each autumn, the roadside verges are punctuated with parked minibuses, surrounded by waxed cotton wearing twitchers all staring intently through slightly smaller replicas of jodrell bank. from the bicycle, as i speed by, i can see nothing worth looking at other than open water or reed beds on the shores of the loch. but then again, i think it might be said that one has to have a predilection for that sort of thing. my enthusiasm was born from a desire to become involved in what i thought was a necessary rite of passage. it turns out that very few islay residents can tell one bird from another, a class into which i have obviously fallen.


each october, the island suffers (and i really do mean 'suffers') from a substantial influx of barnacle, white-fronted and greylag geese arriving from greenland. these congregate in their thousands (around fifty or sixty thousand at last count) and devour farmland grass by pulling it up by the roots. as a protected species, the farmers can do little but watch or attempt to scare them off (a bit like painting to the forth rail bridge, to be honest), totally reliant on a government scheme that averages the number of geese on their farmland and subsequently pays compensation on that basis. if ever you wondered where a substantial amount of your taxes go, you've now got a better idea.

though i'd never go for a bike ride without wearing a helmet, come the period between october and may, a helmet not only offers crash protection, but also from any waste products that may fall from on high while riding 'neath several hundred squawking geese. therefore, the best i can offer by way of identification is that there are geese and there are 'not geese'. i do recall several years ago, riding on islay with an erstwhile colleague and brian smith (of eurosport fame). when the opportunity to sprint at debbie's presented itself, mr smith pointed skywards and shouted "buzzard!". as we both looked upwards, brian sprinted to victory; therefore aside from the 'geese' and 'not geese', i can also identify a sprint buzzard.


but, a gentleman of my acquaint, david brodie, has now codified this total lack of avian identification into a modern-day hashtag, one that can now be added to any wildly incorrect identification of a bird image presented on social media. granted, gary turnbull at wild islay birding generally sets us right, but should you find yourselves on islay anytime this year, exhibiting a similar level of ignorance as that displayed by mr brodie and myself, please feel free to include it in a tweet, facebook or instagram posting to identify yourself as one of the inept cognoscenti.


the notion of a similarly emblazoned t-shirt has already been considered, while david has expanded his horizons just a tad with #rubbishfloweringwithbrodie, a hashtag which obviously has no connection with cycling whatsoever.

wild islay birding

monday 30 july 2018

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an eight month chorus

campagnolo chorus

at the risk of stating the glaringly obvious, in order to make a bicycle a bicycle (as opposed to just a frameset), one has need of appending various componentry widgets to that frameset, the quality of which can make an enormous difference to the joy experienced across the next eight months. actually, the joy need not end there, but for the purposes of this discussion, one has to draw the line somewhere. and in the best tradition of commercial endorsements, it seems only right and proper that i acknowledge those who have made the following possible: ritchey, campagnolo, wheelsmith and mavic.

unlike the 'big boys', i do not have a warehouse filled to the brim with frames and components, eager to fulfil the needs of a forthcoming review. thus, on receiving a ritchey logic steel frame, i was more than beholden to campagnolo for sending over a chorus groupset to make it go fast(ish). a major part of this joy was the opportunity to assemble both into a bicycle, aided and abetted by an ascent tubeless wheelset from derek mclay at wheelsmith.

campagnolo chorus

though i'm sure that the majority of prospective campagnolo owners would be inclined to drop the boxes into their local bike shop for amalgamation, the absence of such a service on the island requires me to be a tad more self-sufficient. and though those hefty little booklets accompanying each component in a campag groupset make it perfectly clear that only the suitable trained should attempt assembly, i'm arrogant enough to think that i know it all. and the all that i don't know much about can usually be filled in by graeme freestone king at velotech.

i'm happy enough to report that each part of the carbon groupset was affixed with ease and it gives me great pride, on behalf of myself and the good folks in vicenza, to state that in the eight months of riding pleasure i have had aboard the ritchey, i have yet to have need of adjusting the rear or front gears even so much as a quarter turn on their respective cables. that's more than impressive from both our points of view.

campagnolo chorus

i recently detailed the less than straightforward process of replacing the bottom bracket bearings, affixed as they are to each carbon crank, but in mitigation, that was entirely the result of pilot error; campagnolo remain blameless. what i hadn't expected, was their need of replacement so soon in the review cycle. as i believe i stated at the time, i own a colnago c40 fitted with a campagnolo record cartridge bottom bracket that has been in place for over ten years and has yet to display any signs of lateral movement that would necessitate its replacement.

however, forewarned is forearmed; i now intend to remove the cranks every second month or so, to liberally grease the inner regions of the external bb cups in the hope that islay's climate doesn't kill the new bearings quite so quickly. doubtless someone, somewhere will recommend that i replace all four cables every twelve months too, but i'm firmly of the 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it' school of thought, a philosophy that will doubtless return to bite me sooner rather than later.

campagnolo chorus

all eleven sprockets, served by that delectable carbon derailleur, still provide snappy gear changes and though i have attempted to keep the chain in pristine condition, i figure it will be replaced within the next month, offering another chance to use that eye-wateringly expensive chain rivet tool. i still dearly love those ergopower brake/gear levers, the only game in town offering a lever for each individual function. and bearing in mind the state of our roads and the weather experienced over the winter period, the brake shoes have worn considerably less than i feared, though not surprisingly, i've had to tighten both cables just a smidgeon.

i figure it probably says much more about me than the componentry per se, but there's a delightful confidence, bordering on smugness, to be inhabited when riding a campagnolo chorus groupset sunday morning after sunday morning, after sunday morning. there's probably every bit as much truth to the contention that vicenza's componentry is as overbuilt (read: reliable) as it ever was, but i figure i can happily live with that for another eight months (and the eight months after that, and...)

campagnolo chorus

sunday 29 july 2018

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racing bicycles. the illustrated story of road cycling. nick higgins. laurence king publishing hardback 128pp illus. £12.99

racing bicycles - nick higgins

were you to take up pencil and paper, the world is full of things to draw, some considerably simpler than others. houses are perhaps considered the province of early school years and i know when teaching beginners to use a computer mouse, that was precisely the subject matter they were tasked with, concentrating so hard on making the windows square that they momentarily forgot any hardships associated with the device. animals are also a favourite, but rarely one tackled by adults; too complicated and too many limbs that might flout the laws of proportion and/or perspective.

featured under the same heading of awkward would surely be the bicycle? though many of today's professional peloton can be seen aboard swooping carbon sculptures, closer examination of their more rustic predecessors or contemporaries would undoubtedly reveal a myriad of diffculties, not least those of the spokes. it's unlikely too, that members of the civilian population would undertake such subject matter on the basis of incomprehension as to the nature of the festooned componentry. on more than one occasion have i come across drawings of bicycles with the chainset on the wrong side.

racing bicycles - nick higgins

but if we add the complexity of the bicycle to that of the portrayal of movement expressed by their often competitive riders, it strikes me that you have a recipe for artistic disaster. not only the fear of rendering the velocipede disproportionately, but observing the relationship of one difficult subject with that of another. suddenly the idea of remaining true to the bikeshed/house ideal no longer seems as childish as it appeared above.

however, there are always those with the confidence, skill and temerity to take on the aforementioned and get it absolutely right. not just once, but throughout the pages of even the compact and bijou hardback book. illustrator, nick higgins, has produced this superb compendium of cycling inspired images accompanied by a narrative that treats the reader to a précis of road cycling's rich heritage. i could wax lyrical over several paragraphs, determining whether this is a book of pictures with elaborate captions, or whether 'tis the converse, but i think final judgment on which is the headlining act ought best be left to the individual reader.

racing bicycles - nick higgins

it works either way.

higgins' illustrative style is hard to pin down. there are technically correct drawings that may well have been influenced by those of daniel rebour, yet many of those illustrating his chapters on the classics and the stalwarts of cycling podiums past are of a looser, more fluid description, emulating the works of the impressionists. i have suggested that several of the latter would sell well as individual (preferably signed) prints, rendered more than well enough to decorate the walls of the clubhouse.

i believe the word 'consummate' could be applied.

the book's opening chapter deals with a bit of history, detailing the evolution of the modern-day bicycle and including an admirable page of finely executed drawings relating the oridnary (penny-farthing to you and me) with the sculpted pinarello time-trial bike as ridden by 'big mig'. once mr higgins has enlightened us both literally and visually of component development (gears, brakes, chains, frames, wheels; you get the idea?) he moves onto the races in which they participate, at which point his artistic endeavours step up several gears, having me wonder if there isn't a touring exhibition to be realised from this, always assuming the originals are of a size larger than reproduced here.

racing bicycles - nick higgins

the image of pantani climbing the alps on page 53 is darned near worth the price of admission alone.

which brings me to the realities of the tangible publication sat on the arm of my chair. though you'd struggle just a tad to fit this book into a jersey rear pocket, in truth it is one crying out to be at least double this size. and i worry that the price of £12.99 imprinted on the back cover is surely some mistake? it's a price that seems far too low, when related to the book's remarkable contents. even were you to remove every image from its pages, the text alone offers a concise history of competitive road cycling; this is not simply a narrative employed to fill the white space round the pictures, but a little gem of a book occupying a niche portion of a niche sport. publisher laurence king is to be highly commended for not only having the nous to publish it in the first place, but at such an incredibly attractive price.

now, where did i leave those watercolours?

saturday 28 july 2018

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hilltrek ventile hebridean cycling gilet

hilltrek ventile hebridean cycling gilet

you do have to wonder just how the weather knows. recently, the entire working week has invariably been inflected with bright sunshine and concomitant warmth. we are, thankfully, saved from the searing heat experienced elsewhere in the uk by that prevalent wind, though even that has been recently conspicuous by its absence. but we're a darned sight closer to the atlantic than most and surrounded by a sea that's never more than a mile or so distant. yet, the moment the daily grind has retired for the weekend, the weather adopts a devil-may-care attitude, dulling on saturdays and resorting to a sprinkling of rain on a sunday morning.

hilltrek ventile hebridean cycling gilet

it's hardly an uncommon situation for the velo club; there was a period of time over the winter months when it seemed the elements were intent on undermining any thought of stuffing the waterproofs into the 'infrequent' cupboard. however, pedalling while clad in nearly all of the weatherproofing garmentage we own, when temperatures are temperate, is a perfectly acceptable hardship. scroll forward to today's globally warmed principality and 'houston, we have a problem.'

i doubt there's a cyclist of any hue unaware of the so-called boil-in-the-bag syndrome. in a mistaken effort to remain dry outside, any effort greater than zone one results in gallons of perspiration dousing that honed physique from the inside. however, past experience has scared us sufficiently not to indulge in wet weather velocipedinal action without a protective outer shell.

hilltrek ventile hebridean cycling gilet

but in the same way that it can be seen as a tad over zealous to apply a photoshop sharpening filter uniformly across an entire image, it may also be a mistaken effort to clothe every last square centimetre of skin in hydrophilic material. my good friend, mr james lamont, well versed in all aspects of garmentology, once told me the secret of cooling while riding, one that doesn't necessarily involve unzipping jacket or jersey. it transpires that the clever means of cooling is to expose the wrist area, though i confess i have seen only one waterproof jacket featuring zipped openings in this area.

this accords well with a personal preponderance to have my arms heat up well before my torso, a situation that surely commends donning of a gilet, particularly one that might offer more than a smidgeon of weatherproofing. something remarkably like the excellent ventile gilet tailored by scotland's hilltrek. based in aboyne, a village on the very edge of the cairngorms national park, a place where the weather can occasionally be tactile and tangible at the same time, hilltrek are masters of their art.

hilltrek ventile hebridean cycling gilet

they are also one of the few clothiers with extensive ventile experience, a naturally waterproof and breathable cotton fabric that eschews the ubiquitous durable water repellency coating that features on the majority of cycling and outdoor waterproofs. if there's a perceived downside to ventile, it's the reduction in flexibility when it becomes wet, caused no doubt, by the expansion of the weave to close any holes large enough to allow water ingress. in practice, this is not the hardship it might sound, but it does mean that dry-cleaning is the recommended method of restoring it to pristine condition.

hilltrek ventile hebridean cycling gilet

expressly designed for the cyclist, the lack of sleeves has allowed many a comfortable ride during which my torso and core were kept warm and dry, yet my arms, which are fairly adept at fending for themselves in enforced inclemency, remained as cool as mr lamont had advised. though it would be naive to think that the cycling nomenclature absolved the hebridean gilet from any other active proclivities, it does offer a few features beneficial to those who pedal, such as a dropped tail, a wide, zipped rear pocket, impressively high collar and a drawcord adjustable hem. there's also a large, vertically zipped pocket on the left chest, but should the two standard offerings be deemed insufficient, hilltrek are happy to add a couple of extra handwarmer pockets for a minimal £30. (additionally, should you require a non-standard length, another £30 will take care of that).

hilltrek ventile hebridean cycling gilet

i have previously commendably reviewed both single and double ventile hilltrek jackets; this single-ventile gilet performs every bit as well in the waterproofing department. noting the impressive baubling of rainwater on its surface, no matter the downpour suffered, is something that never gets tired. this is not what might be referred to as a race-fit garment. it's purpose leans more towards adventuring, touring or simply commuting. that said, its lightness of being would hardly hinder peter sagan in a green jersey sprint. in my case, the sunday morning ride benefitted from its bright orangeness.

lightweight in constitution, it is possible to roll up when not required, though i seriously doubt you'd manage to have it fit in the rear pocket of a race-fit jersey. additionally, should you roll it up when wet, its stiffer constitution tends to mitigate against compactness of form. however, that light weight and full length zip meant, in most instances, that it was every bit as effective to simply unzip and carry on regardless. i did manage to squeeze a rather large mini-pump into the rear pocket, though i cannot deny it was something of a struggle to extricate it later. though a chest pocket filled to the brim, hardly constitutes the finest of sartorial elegance, pragmatism rarely favours form over function.

hilltrek ventile hebridean cycling gilet

even on warm, windy days, that tall collar offered all the benefits you'd hope it would. cycling-wise, i could easily live without the optional handwarmer pockets, but worn in off-bike mode, i think i'd be happy to spend the extra £30. the elasticated armholes are a nice and particulary effective touch; they won't stop the rain, but doubtless improved flexibility at this juncture.

gilets have all but become an integral part of contemporary cycling and it's a garment i find myself particularly in favour of. most of the others in my possession are of flimsier construction and few promise the weatherproofing inherent in ventile fabric. the material lends itself commendably and hard-wearingly to the leisure and touring cyclist, neither with which i particularly identify. yet, i love it to bits and it's not even autumn yet.

hilltrek's hebridean cycling gilet is available in standard colour options of orange/black, red/black and blue/black. the orange medium size reviewed is a custom option. price is £120 for small, medium, large or extra large

hilltrek hebridean cycling gilet

friday 27 july 2018

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london to paris. the dover/calais route and the avenue verte. mike wells. cicerone press paperback. 268pp illus. £14.95

london to paris - mike wells

on the day that the hot chillee london to paris ride left imber sports club in south london at stupid o'clock this morning, it is particularly appropriate that i am able to review this recent publication from the excellent range of guides from cicerone press, dealing as it does with two routes designed to get you from one city to the other. having ridden the hot chillee version last year, i don't mind admitting that at no time did i have the faintest idea of where i was; i simply followed everyone else following the lead car, which in turn drove through red lights, roundabouts, road crossings and through road junctions, all closed by the accompanying motorcycle outriders.

sadly, the cicerone publication does not come with a free motorcycle escort.

last year's hot chillee route appears to have been remarkably similar in intent to the first of the two explored in this guide, particularly in its parcours including the city of amiens, with its stunning cathedral, a view of which i discovered was mine for the taking on opening the curtains in the hotel room. if you're ever struggling for a convincing reason to undertake a ride from london to paris, amiens cathedral ought to be the clincher. taken in conjunction with the arc de triomphe and the eiffel tower, you can subsequently park the bike in the shed on arriving home and retire as a happy cyclist.

london to paris - mike wells

until the next guidebook arrives, of course.

in common with all cicerone guides, this publication is designed to hold your hand on leaving from either london's tower hill station or, perchance, the london eye, the starting point for the avenue verte, a route conceived to celebrate the 2012 olympics. the latter departs british soil from the port of newhaven, near brighton, while the former, more traditional means of getting to the eiffel tower, travels through ashford and folkestone, en-route to dover. the latter disembarks at calais on france's northern coast; the green route takes the itinerant, yet intrepid cyclist to the port of dieppe.

mike wells' narrative, offering pretty much step by step accuracy that it strikes me, would be hard to fault, opens his guide by providing a historical account of the regions through which velocipedinal activity is about to take place. hot chillee take all the potential strain from the peloton by carrying everyone's luggage from départ to overnight stay, having booked each individual hotel along the way, including rather sumptuous surroundings in central paris. however, should you prefer more rustic means of accommodations, such as bed and breakfast, camping or hostels, advice is provided to metaphorically and literally point you in the right direction.

london to paris - mike wells

it has often occurred to me to ask, when perusing other guides in the cicerone series, just how one might return homeward without actually retracing each page from back to front. in the case of the london to paris guide, return by eurostar from gare du nord station or by air is dealt with, prior to sending you frenchwards. the author has also the perspicacity to deal with the subject of road safety, a different prospect on each side of the channel (and how), along with suggesting what to eat, what to wear and what sort of bicycle might be the most appropriate. were i attempting either route under my own steam, i'd be less than inclined to ride the rather superb campag equipped sarto carbon fibre that put a smile on my face last year. in that particular case, the only cargo transported was a selection of gels in a back pocket.

london to paris - mike wells

the guide is copiously illustrated with both images of scenes to be viewed along the way and highly detailed maps. it's perhaps worth my pointing out that the avenue verte undercuts its compatriot by half: 240 miles against 490, meaning that once you've completed the shorter one, you can start planning for the other. twice the fun for one price. there are several organised london to paris charity rides that exist alongside the hot chillee version, with every likeihood that participants are as oblivious as was i, to their exact whereabouts. if that's not the way you roll these days, mike wells' potential ministrations on your behalf offer a more than viable and enjoyable alternative.

cicerone press

thursday 26 july 2018

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designer's block

endura on-screen design

this is a true story, but the names have been altered ever so slightly in order to protect the guilty, even though they probably deserve to be pilloried in public. it was once common practice in the local newspaper to feature a regular 'thought from the manse' column, one in which each of the island's ministers participated on a rotational basis. i'm none too sure just how many readers paid heed or attention, but the current dearth of reverends on islay may provide the answer to that particular question. and the erstwhile column is now no more.

however, on the occasion to which i refer, a particular man of the cloth, less than popular with his congregation as it transpires, submitted his thoughts for the week to the editor of the day. on reading the piece through prior to submitting it for publication, the editor thought that some, if not all, the content seemed a tad too 'professional' to have been composed by the minister of a small rural parish. typing a paragraph or two into google proved his suspicions to be true, and in the knowledge of which, he confronted the reverend on a subsequent visit to the office.

on being asked, if not entirely directly, if he was the true originator of the submitted piece, the presbyterian minister answered in the affirmative, at which point the editor called his bluff. there followed a great deal of spluttering, backtracking, embarrassment and a hasty withdrawal of both person and article. i've little doubt that the reverend will have blocked the instance from his mind; he later left the island for pastures new and his current whereabouts are unknown. to be honest, i doubt anyone's too concerned.

plagiarism at any level is a less than salutory accomplishment, despite pablo picasso's ofte repeated quote: 'a good artist copies, a great artist steals.' i would struggle personally were i to acknowledge, even to myself, that i had stolen an idea and presented it as entirely one of my own. however, the nature of a designer's job is fraught with both direct and inadvertent copying, though i believe the latter might be better phrased as 'influenced'.

the bass player in a band with which i occasionally percuss, has long bemoaned the existence of suitable pop/rock music released past the early 1980s, that can be easily and popularly covered by a three-piece pub band. beyond that period, many of the chart's greatest hits emanated from the school of bedroom, composed one note at a time on a casio keyboard received as a christmas present and cheerfully sung by a chap with an odd haircut and two female backing singers. hence the reason one of islay's pubs is stuck with an agglomeration of dire straits, free, the drifters and the rolling stones.

a similar situation appears to have inflicted itself upon the contemporary cycle jersey. i have been asked to preview a mock-up jersey design for a local commercial concern, a task with which i am keen to assist, but as one not embroiled in that side of the industry, inspiration was not something that flowed freely. thankfully, a pelotonic colleague showed me a couple of vintage wool jerseys, one of which has formed the basis of my subsequent design. take a look at the modern-day professional peloton and it becomes hard to settle on any particular design that might endear itself to an adoring public. the age of the sponsor writ large has become something akin to the worm ouroborous, the one that ate it's own tail.

incorporating the essence of the necessary style guide into a retro styled, yet modern jersey, has resulted in a reasonably successful, if partially plagiarised design. however, that from which it received its influence is so far back in the annals of velocipedinal history, that the chances of any similarity being noticed within the peloton are infinitesimal.

i hope.

the image at the top of the page bears no resemblance to the design under discussion and has merely been borrowed from endura (who will be producing the final garment) for illustrative purposes.

wednesday 25 july 2018

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a double-edged sword

loch finlaggan

several years ago, i was contacted by a gent offering rural funding, some of which he thought might be put to good use in the direction of improving the islay cycling experience. i have (metaphorically) kicked myself ever since for not having asked him to define just what he meant by such a phrase, but suffice it to say, despite money on the table (again, metaphorically), i politely declined.

now, you will perhaps forgive the arrogance of my naysaying in the face of apparent good fortune. after all, who died and left me in charge? but in truth, islay is but 21 miles end to end and proabably around the same, side to side. such facts are not, however, quite what the seem, since that very approximate side to side measurement includes a large dollop of open sea loch across which it is devilishly hard to pedal. nonetheless, it is what it is.

i believe that the grant funding was insufficient to begin planning a standalone cycle network, but that seemed ok, because i'm pretty sure we don't really need such faciities. if you've spent anytime cycling on the island, and you feel that assumption to be wrong, feel free to drop me a line. in point of fact, i seriously doubt there is any spare room to add anything like a cycle track and certainly not alongside any of the singletrack roads. ironically, it is the latter that provide access to the more picturesque and scenic regions of the island.

in my defence, islay is not the sort of island on which you're likely to get lost when out cycling. there's always someone, somewhere, more than happy to point you in the right direction and with the exception of one or two elderly and faded examples, most places are pretty well signposted (even if their logic is sometimes a tad obscure). and the roads are hardly awash with motor traffic (may's whisky festival excepted).

undoubtedly, there are a number of interesting and intriguing places on islay to visit other than the nine distilleries, directions and information about which can be provided by the visitscotland information office in bowmore. it takes only a few moments within the premises to augment your daily itinerary but i'd imagine that a substantial part of the joys of cycling anywhere in the hebrides is discovering features of which you were hitherto unaware, simply by opting to turn right instead of left. however, the growing differences between urban cycling and rural cycling prompted our council to commission a leaflet explaining the finer points of the dos and don'ts for keen velocipedinists, in order that they escape the potential wrath of locals by displaying seemingly loutish behaviour.

and now, some twelve years later, it's possible that i might be about to do the rounds once again, resurrecting the misgivings i harboured earier this century. this time the approach has been made by a more locally based organisation, one very much with islay's best interests at heart, but i'm not entirely sure the situation has changed by much in the intervening years. almost paralleling the sterling work carried out by mike breckon and the now defunct national byeways project, the plan is to offer several researched cycle routes on islay, including places of interest and a few words about each, while including any relevant accommodation details.

i'm not sure that i see the necessity of the latter intent; you can stay where you like; the bicycle is there to get you around. and once again, there is plenty of freely available information, some of which can be found on the ferry journey from kennacraig before you disembark to the prospect of a 14% climb up port askaig brae. on such a relatively small island, surely it's the delight of the road less travelled (conveniently ignoring the thousands that have ridden it before) that makes a cycling holiday to islay and beyond, the fun that you always hoped it would be?

tuesday 24 july 2018

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