shiny stuff

cyclo retro

there is an advert featuring on uk television which, i'm sad to say, has probably missed the mark slightly, because, for the life of me, i cannot recall quite what it advertises. however, the gist of its message concerns getting one's money's worth, such as continuing to make use of a fancy dress outfit for several days on the premise that the hire period had been longer than a single day. it is a situation with which i am well acquainted, for on my bedroom wall, i still have the prendas ciclismo 2013 calendar, left open at september of that year.

cyclo retro

the john coles photograph which decorates that particular month, shows the 1983 world championship held in altenrhein, switzerland, won by american, greg lemond. however, my reason for retaining this particular calendar open at the month of september is specifically for the riders at the front of a close-knit peloton. along the front of the bunch isjean-luc vandenbroucke, robert millar, sean kelly and stephen roche. it's an image i see on awakening every morning and again when retiring for the evening.

but aside from the personalities described above, the most notable aspect of the image is the wide range of shiny stuff on display, a one-time tradition that has all but gone from the contemporary bicycle in favour of black or dark-grey anodised componentry. in common with many others, it's a state of affairs that saddens my heart, something that i don't believe is indicative of my self-confessed luddite status. surely shiny stuff is every bit as efficient as anodised metal?

cyclo retro

mavic, once the go to brand for wheel rims of quality, have, over the years, successfully transformed themselves into a purveyor of complete wheels, a factory-built trend that arguably began with their highly popular ksyrium range. but, it will scarcely have escaped your notice that the rims featured on the alloy versions of the latter are of dark-grey constitution, rather than the polished surface of their a319 road rim (also available in dark anodised, it should be noted).

as an aside, those rims can only be had in either 32 or 36 hole versions, another aspect of wheelbuilding that seems to have all but gone for good.

i asked mavic's michel lethenet why shiny now seemed to be persona non grata. "Anodizing is a fine chemical treatment of a wheel rim's aluminium surface. But it also slightly changes and strengthens the mechanical characteristics of the metal; basically, it's hardening the aluminum at the same time it creates a color/tint. This makes a difference to the longevity of the component, by reducing material fatigue.
cyclo retro Additionally, this anodised coating reduces the propensity to corrode. Though aluminium doesn't 'rust', as such, it gets altered by reacting with oxygen in the atmosphere and the surface will no longer remain shiny."

there's no doubting the efficacy of such treatment; you only have to witness the rust appearing on once shiny stem bolts, while anodised wheel rims seem only to have become dirty over the same period. living in a salt-laden atmosphere such as that blowing in from the atlantic, i have been frequently embarrassed to return a review bicycle peppered with rust spots after only a matter of weeks. surely the answer would be to fit stainless steel, but that misses the point where aluminium componentry is concerned.

so could the shift from shiny to black, be more of an aesthetic trend, with no origination based on structural integrity. after all, if i might refer to the photograph described in my opening paragraph, shiny appears to have served us well for many a long year. why change now? after all, chris howard of australia's cycloretro appears to have a continuous stream of customers looking to have the anodising or paint stripped from modern-day componentry and polished to a mirror finish, often accompanied by quality engraving of the campagnolo script lettering, for example. it's a highly time-consuming process, but one you figure the giants of the industry could carry out more timeously and economically than a one-man australian band.

cyclo retro

i asked campagnolo expert and velotech trainer, graeme freestone king why the once much sought after shine from vicenza had all but disappeared from their component range. graeme told me that this is more of a commercial and economic question than it is a technical one

"It's a complicated question, but I'd suspect it basically comes down to volumes. If demand was strong and sustained for silver components (bearing in mind that Campagnolo produced silver Potenza from 2015 to 2017 and Athena silver before that, so there is practical experience there), then it would probably still be seen as viable and cost-effective to make the group in silver.
"However, the numbers need to be strong enough to support not only the manufacture and (limited) stocking of the seven primary groupset components in silver (not taking into account three or four crank lengths, three chainring combinations, short and medium cage rear derailleurs etc.) but also potentially 40 odd spare parts per range as well.
"Even in the UK, one of Campag's strongest markets and strongest for demand for silver components, the volumes are not sufficient."

cyclo retro

up till now, we've scarcely mentioned the elephant in the room: carbon fibre. that, according to graeme freestone king is possibly a major factor colouring (pardon the pun) the trend towards anodising and painting. "The use of composites - one of Campagnolo's increasingly evident differentiators from other component manufacturers - and you have a further problem. The black-and-silver look of the technopolymer upper and lower knuckles on the old Potenza silver rear derailleur, contrasts sharply with the polished alloy of the cage and parallelogram. In a true, traditional silver group, you'd be looking at using alloy for those parts, but there are good technical reasons (housing the Embrace gear, for one) why that isn't done."

graeme then added weight to my contention that fashion and aesthetics may be every much to blame as any surreptitious technical reasoning. "The strength in the original equipment market of carbon composite and the trend for darker anodised parts and a 'stealthier' look is very hard to resist. we know from the relative numbers of dark versus bright decal wheels, for instance, where the demand in wheels lies and the expectation is probably that the demand for shiny components might follow the same trend as that for bright, in-your-face branding on wheels and not prove to be sufficient in numbers to be sustainable."

cyclo retro

in campagnolo's favour, however, production of silver components is maintained with veloce ten speed and centaur ranges. it appears that vicenza is not saying "no", forever, but "not for the moment".

that's not to say all is lost, however. a few months past, i was sent a ritchey classic zeta wheelset for review, a pair of wheels that notonly features highly polished aluminium rims and stainless steel spokes, but a pair of matching, ritchey hubs. granted, the spoke count is considerably less than the hole count on the mavic a319 rims mentioned earlier, but i'm happy to mix the old with the new. i asked ritchey europe's simon beatson why their range was mostly anodised and not polished in the manner of the zeta wheelset?

"Basically, it's a combination of cost, durability, types of finish, colours, and preventing corrosion.
"In the glory days of bicycle design, the only option was polished. But this takes a lot of time, and the finish could be inconsistent. If you look at something like an old C Record group, compared to a budget component of the same era, you can see the difference in finish. One takes a lot more time, and thus costs way more."

cyclo retro

there seems to be general agreement that bringing a polished groupset or wheelset to market is a time-consuming process, though one that might become practical if the perceived demand were large enough across all international markets. yet, in these days of improved mechanisation and streamlined manufacture, offering shiny stuff is apparently still seen as a more expensive alternative than anodising and painting. you begin to wonder how this was still considered an economic reality, when robert millar and sean kelly contested the 1983 world championship road race. and even now, a polshed mavic a319 road rim costs a particularly wallet friendly £29 (£2 cheaper than the black anodised version)

simon beatson continued "Anodising allows you to play with colours, and type of finish (our components vary depending on the level: Comp is BB black, WCS alloy is Blatte, a finish so good, it's often mistaken for carbon).
cyclo retro "You also get consistency of finish in large batches, aiding the mass production of quality looking parts, while offering a better safeguard against corrosion. Anodising also provides a more acceptable finish to some awkward shapes that would be hard to polish to the same standard."

it seems, therefore, that those of us who are still in thrall to polished componentry, shiny enough in which to brush your hair, may still have to form an orderly queue outside the cycloretro premises in melbourne. perhaps at sometime in the foreseeable future, the velocipedinal world will fall out of favour with carbon fibre, perhaps as a result of the current tirade against plastics. maybe then, shiny stuff will, once again, regain its rightful place on the pelotonic agenda. of course, my fervent hopes that the square-taper bottom bracket, 1" headset and quill-stem have all come to nought, so i'd scarcely advise that you hold your breath.

all images courtesy cycloretro. grateful thanks to michel lethenet, graeme freestone king and simon beatson for their invaluable assistance with this article.

cycloretro | campagnolo | ritchey bicycles

monday 3 june 2019

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the secret cyclist. real life in the professional peloton. anonymous. yellow jersey press paperback. 216pp £14.99

the secret cyclist

in the middle of the last decade of the last century, a group of us on the island formed a blues band under the leadership of a gent who was, at the time, manager of lagavulin distillery. we called it 95 proof. in those days, there were a tad more local venues welcoming of a beat group than is the case today, but once satisfied with our general performance, we started to look more widely in order to satisfy the desire to gig.

aside from a few jazz and blues festivals across scotland, we were invited on two separate occasions to play the scotch malt whisky society rooms in leith (edinburgh), almost certainly on the basis of having a distillery manager in our midst. after both performances it was somewhat novel to be approached by a seemingly endless number of audience members, keen to engage us in conversation. this may be par for the course for guitarists, singers and the like, but i'm sure many drummers will back me up when i say, it is entirely uncommon for anyone to seek out the drummer (unless he's neil peart or buddy rich).

however, it collectively dawned on all of us, that the reason for their interest was not ourselves, per se, but the fervent hope that it would provide inroads to a conversation with the lagavulin distillery manager. given the nature of the premises, we should probably have twigged this state of affairs a bit sooner, but the expressed contention that distillery managers are the contemporary equivalent of rock stars, may just hold some truth.

i'm a bit unsure as to what they hoped to gain from this managerial interrogation; perhaps it was solely a case of being seen talking to one so privilieged as to be in charge of such a prominent distillery? or perhaps it was more that they hoped to be introduced to the inner sanctum, regaled with hitherto unheard stories and distilling secrets? i played with the guy for nigh on six years, yet learned only of two humorous anecdotes, so the audience's hopes may have been a tad misguided.

this desire to learn of happenstances known only to close participants in any activity, is surely the human desire that feeds the incessant celebrity culture, one that surely exists every bit as much in the world of cycle racing as it does in the life of simon cowal? thus, the publication of the secret cyclist by yellow jersey press could be seen to be either satisfying or increasing that particular velocipedinal inclination. perhaps unsurprisingly, the author wishes to remain nameless; yet it is odd to read in the pre-chapter one pages...

"The Secret Cyclist has asserted his right to be indentified as the author of this Work..." if you're anonymous, how can you (legally) identify with a published work, without revealing that identity if challenged?

the accompanying press release and back cover legend offer snippets of temptation, reeling in those of us who would subsequently wish to dine out on secrets of the peloton, expressed to the poor unfortunates who have yet to purchase a copy: why we should never trust a kit endorsement from a professional, what did the riders make of team sky? and is doping still an issue? the temptation to satiate the inquisitive mind may well prove too great for some if not many.

the author, we learn from his introduction, has been a professional rider at world tour level for more than a decade, having even finished a grand tour in the top ten. later revelations would tend to suggest the rider is of american origin, though that could simply be a decoy to put us off the trail. however, he states "I'm not hiding my identity as a gimmick ... I'm being mysterious because in my world, riders are meant to be seen and not heard." that seems an arguable point, but in the light that the author, at least at the time of writing, is still a member of a professional team, it's probably far less contentious to keep his identity a secret, than to risk inadvertently shortening an apparently successful career.

there will be many readers (i'm not one), who will search the pages for clues as to who the author could possibly be, a bit like those who watch hercule poirot episodes and attempt to identify the murderer. however, there's no saying that apparent clues have been contrived to put everyone off the scent. though i have no reason to doubt the veracity of his narrative, the inference of many so-called secrets could have been simply devised to cover his tracks even more thoroughly.

that said, there seem few, if any, revelations that live up to the hype on the dust jacket. i'm sure we're all well aware that bicycles, tyres, wheels and even clothing have been doctored over the years to provide riders with better equipment than that supplied by the team sponsor. this more or less answers the above statement regarding the advice to distrust and kit recommendations from pro riders, particulary in the light that they are paid to wear it and could find themselves in deep trouble if heard to be stating otherwise, whatever their true appraisal.

"We're told what to use and we have to be positive about it, even when it sucks. It's been that way since the beginning of the sport."

names are named on a few occasions, but nothing i could see, warranted secrecy of authorship. i think those who are interested in such tale-telling, are probably already aware of such matters. nothing to see here; move along. these are not the droids you're looking for. that being said, the secret cyclist is still a good read, providing an insight into the day to day world of a professional cyclist. i think many of us would have guessed it to be thus, but for those youngsters who are contemplating a potential professional career as a racing cyclist, it probably ought to sent out with every national or international racing licence.

the contemporary nature of the book is evidenced by the two chapters concerning the 2018 giro and 2018 tour, but other topics covered include: getting started, the season, the team, equipment, contracts and agents, crashes, team sky and doping, to name but a few. in the latter chapter, the author professes to be racing drug-free (though, given his anonymity, unverifiably so) and though i didn't come across any hitherto unknown revelations, the author is not slow to make his opinions clear.

"If a rider is innocent until proven guilty, the the results of an A sample should never be made public until the B (sample) is tested and everyone cleared or found guilty."

that, i believe, is an opinion worth making clear, because too many riders seem to have had the results of their a sample leaked to the press long before the b sample is even looked at, making them almost immediately and unconstitutionally guilty. the author, like many associated with the modern-day sport, surmises that widespread drug use in the peloton, has substantially diminished since the armstrong era. however, on the subject of armstrong "...he was the best at doping and more methodical than his dirty rivals. [...] There's nothing in the UCI rule book that says you can't be an arsehole, or that you deserve a special kind of damnation simply because you didn't get caught as quickly as the others did."

the secret cyclist provides an enjoyable and occasionally enlightening read. it is particularly well written, but nowhere near as revelatory as its publicity might have you believe. this means either that there are still dastardly deeds too dastardly to reveal in public, or the exact opposite. either way, it's definitely worth your time and money.

sunday 2 june 2019

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ahead of the game (for once)

international bicycle day

as you may have inferred from occasional mentions in these black and yellow pixels, this past week has seen the bulk of the 2019 fèis ìle, more commonly known to its participants as the islay whisky festival. this provided the impetus for last saturday's tour de islay, when five of us visited all nine distilleries by bicycle, while receiving a thorough soaking.

having joined the islay and jura community pipe band just over a year ago, ostensibly as an instructor, i now find myself clad in a kilt, with a purse hanging to the right side to avoid its being crushed by the weight of an incredibly heavy pipe band snare drum. and in this role, as both snare drummer and bass drummer (not simultaneously, i might add), i played every day this past week at evening festivities and at one or two distilleries in the daytime, to, hopefully, keep the thousands of visitors entertained.

islay's most recently opened distillery at ardnahoe, on the island's northern shores, held an open day on wednesday at which we were in attendance. however, given the nature of the highland bagpipe and the heft of a highland snare drum, to have played all-day, would have required a month's intensive training. therefore, there was additional musical entertainment compactly installed on the back of an articulated trailer, mysteriously facing the car park, rather than towards the outdoor seating.

both bands on the trailer, featured sets of notionally traditional-style music; one comprised a double-bass, accordion, banjo and guitar, playing an eclectic set of tunes that, while not quite to my taste, was intriguingly entertaining. the other, really jiggered, had visited these shores in previous years, and were also considered a mostly traditional band, with guitar, fiddle and drums. the visual and aural oddity of the latter was the percussionist sat behind a six-piece set of roland v-drums, a not particularly economic electronic setup and, if i may be so bold, a somewhat inappropriate form of instrument considering the avowed intent of the band, where an acoustic set would have been arguably more suitable.

i don't do facebook. even as a luddite in the midst of an ever-increasingly technological world, as espoused by the drum setup mentioned above, i have no truck with that particular form of social media. i know i am not totally alone in this choice, but it has meant some last minute changes to the pipe band itinerary passing me by, because i do not subscribe to the closed page inaugurated to cater for such eventualities. i do, however, occasionally enjoy the occasional tweet on twitter, though i preferred the challenge originally encouraged by the 140 character limitation on individual posts.

though i do have my own account, the newspaper at which i ply my trade also maintains an account, allowing a constant monitoring of ferry tales, coach timetables and any other snippets of news that might prove useful for each edition. and it seems that hardly a day goes by without there being at least a single tweet concerning one national day, week or other annual day of celebration. oddities such as national sandwich week or anti-homophobic day (yes, really), can be found punctuating the smart-ass one-liners that are my stock-in-trade.

the downside, thereof, is that by the time these have been announced, we've pretty much missed the boat, so to speak. so for once in my career, it gives me great pleasure to be 'ahead of the game', by making mention of international bicycle day, as promulgated by the united nations. first declared on 3 june 2018, we are about to find ourselves in its midst once again, this coming monday.

to quote from the un: "The mobility needs of people who walk and cycle continue to be overlooked. [...] For the poorest urban sector who often cannot afford private vehicles, walking and cycling can provide a form of transport while reducing the risk of heart disease, stroke, certain cancers, diabetes, and even death. Accordingly, improved active transport is not only healthy; it is also equitable and cost-effective." i could scarcely have put it better myself, and i'm reminded of graeme obree pointing out that " can hardly golf or tennis to work." even if you own a frighteningly expensive peter sagan replica s-works venge, it's still possible to transport yourself to work, college or the shops, while enjoying the freedom and health benefits conferred by a cycling life.

however, there are those in the poorer nations of the world who are without access to even a basic means of velocipedinal transportation and for whom international bicycle day will be no different from any other day. it does not, however, have to remain that way. world bicycle relief, an organisation that has spent its entire life providing sturdy, basic bicycles to those who could benefit most from the true power of the bicycle, continues not only to do so, but to keep itself current with modern technology.

while i have been frequently guilty of disparaging the indoor cycling paradigm as espoused by zwift, in this instance, i am wholly and gratefully prepared to forgive every one of their previous transgressions. in a marvellous case of largesse put to excellent use, at the time of writing, world bicycle relief are but seventeen bicycles away from unlocking a £20,000 zwift donation that will cover the cost of distributing bicycles to those who have most to gain from their receipt.

in the spirit of international bicycle day, given that we are probably owners of more than a single instance of velocipedinal delight, it behoves us well to donate to wbr and relieve zwift of their indoor pound notes or dollars. celebrate international bicycle day a couple of days early by donating to the cause. bragging rights are guaranteed for the rest of the week.

donate to world bicycle relief for international bicycle day

world bicycle relief

saturday 1 june 2019

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the rapha foundation

rapha foundation

at the age of around fourteen, i realised that i was never going to be either the next jimi hendrix or jimmy page, due to a complete inability to figure out one guitar chord from another. though the obvious choice for a failed guitarist might be seen to be that of bass guitar, from my close examination of 'top of the pops' a drumming career seemed to offer the path of least resistance. of course, if i'd known then what i know now, i might well have opted for four strings rather than a pair of sticks. at that point of an impressionable teenager's life, however, the die was cast.

there may be one or two of you who have acquired a drumset at an early age, then thoroughly enjoyed a period of unfettered thrashing about, before realising that, without some suitable guidance, matters were likely to remain that way into the foreseeable future. now that bill bruford's job was firmly in my sights, i needed someone to not only demonstrate how to play odd time signatures, but, more basically, how to stop the bass drum pedal from falling over every few beats.

i did manage to find an elderly, nearby drum instructor who listend to my rudimentary beats on a rubber pad, stated his confidence in my ability to manage a paradiddle, before charging me accordingly and recommending that i continue to study; considerably less than i had been hoping for. but, by now, extremely reluctant to give up, i persevered in the face of adversity, without access to a drum teacher.

shift forward far more years than to which i will readily admit and i now find myself in the position of being the very drum teacher to which i fervently wish i'd had access all those years ago. once or twice a week, i visit the local secondary school to pass on the percussive wisdom i had gleaned from my own playing and via interaction with my betters. additionally, i teach snare and bass at the community pipe band. which, to make an already long story even longer, is pretty much what rapha appear to be about to do for cycling, with the recent announcement of the rapha foundation.

the more enlightened among you will doubtless have made comparisons between this and england's successful dave rayner fund and, perhaps, scotland's late-lamented braveheart fund. as rapha founder and ceo, simon mottram has been quoted as saying "Supporting the most important grassroots causes in cycling has been a long standing dream at Rapha." a sentiment to which i can attest at first hand. though there are many who still think rapha to be solely the result of a clever and concerted marketing ploy, in truth, that is very far from the case.

the financial largesse that allows them to be quite so philanthropic seems to be based on two distinct factors:

firstly, it is not so very long since imperial works received considerable financial investment from principal shareholders, tom and steuart walton, investors who, themselves, are very keen cyclists (though more weighted towards the off-road side of the coin). they have provided seed funding that will allow the foundation to distribute $1.5 million this year and ultimately to involve rcc and rapha's customers. the money will be provided in the form of grants to applicants who must be registered charities.

the second factor appears to revolve around rapha's recent manifesto (their roadmap) concerning the malaise infecting modern-day professional cycle-racing. perhaps unsurprisingly, the first grantees are all based in north america, though future benevolence will additionally include europe, the uk and the asian pacific. their strategy appears to involve looking at the base of the triangle, rather than the pointy bit at the top. the inquities of the professional end of the sport have been long-discussed, but may well be too entrenched to alter.

the rapha foundation might seem a long way from undoing the problems at the top, and it may or may not succeed in its ambition, but in recognition of the fact that someone probably has to do something, we should all wish rapha well in their ministrations.

the rapha foundation

friday 31 may 2019

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giro d'islay

tour de islay at bunnahabhain

ardbeg distillery has acquired an old routemaster, double-decker bus, painted in ardbeg green with a large logo across the side. the registration plate is ARD 83G. downstairs is set up to offer tastings and to take bookings for distillery tours. upstairs features a backlit cabinet, sporting the principal bottlings from the range, placed opposite a high-back, leather chair with a vintage telephone on a small adjacent table. i figure that's the preserve of manager, mickey heads.

i know all this because i was allowed to take a peek inside, while i waited for my four compatriots on saturday's 2019 tour de islay, or, to be a tad more relevant, the giro d'islay. as mentioned earlier in the week, this was a bike ride that the scotch malt whisky society's richard goslan and i first undertook in 2015. apparently, with one more distillery added to the complement (ardnahoe), it was time to stage a re-enactment. instead of the tour de islay jerseys worn last time, smws had created a range of differently coloured jerseys paying tribute to the different bottlings created by the society.

after six weeks of dessication to the point where bruichladdich distillery had temporarily halted production and kilchoman had been unable to bring their new stills into production, the weather changed. wearing the long-sleeve version of rapha's shadow jersey (in may?), i was able to don the violet, smws colours for all to see, while my colleagues had to fend off the rain under waterproof jackets.

this time round, mr goslan had visited each distillery (in a van) earlier in the week, to leave dedicated rubber stamps and an accompanying ink pad, to allow us to have brevet cards stamped at each location. having this done at ardbeg was simplicity itself, but with saturday being lagavulin's open day, the lengthy queue outside (which had been in place since i had passed forty-five minutes previously), persuaded us to leave that till another day. after a brief stop for photos, we headed onto laphroaig.

though the forecast for the day had always been rain, we'd been given to understand that it would remain light and would all but disappear by lunchtime. sadly, that proved to be entirely incorrect, with rainfall becoming steadily heavier as we rode up the glen road to ballygrant, bound for caol ila distillery. it was odd to find, on arrival, that, apart from one other couple, we were the only folk there. it should be pointed out, however, that we were the only ones dripping all over the visitor centre floor.

if you've ever visited caol ila distillery, you'll know that the access road is particularly steep, meaning brakes on on the descent, and large sprockets engaged on the way out. steep, but short, ascents and descents feature at all three distilleries at this end of the island. by-passing ardnahoe, to visit on the return journey, we headed along to bunnahabhain to visit the world famous #rubbishbirdingwithbrodie, the distillery's popular tour guide.

the immediate depart from bunnahabhain is particularly steep, leading to a lengthy slog until you pass the roadside hogshead cask informing traffic that they are now heading south. it used to say 'other places', but the corporate line seems to have resulted in a diminishing of its sense of humour.

ardnahoe has a rather swish visitor centre and café at which we stopped for some much need sustenance and warmth, once again creating a swimming pool of water 'neath their table and chairs. the hill only a few metres from the distillery car park is possibly the steepest on the island, with a particularly nasty false-flat midway up its length, leading to unfounded hope that the summit has been reached. at the end of the single-track road, past persabus pottery, mr goslan suffered a puncture. we carried on to a nearby bus-stop, in order to effect a slightly lengthier repair than we'd hoped for.

brevet card

the next stop was to have been bruichladdich distiillery, but the hapless mr goslan hit a substantial pothole just outside bridgend, necessitating yet another inner tube.

the rain having continued unabated all day, preparations at bruichladdich distillery for their open day on sunday were being considerably hampered by the incessant precipitation. however, midst wooden stages, mobile cherry pickers and the placement of large 'event horizon' banners (i only wish i was kidding), they were kind enough to provide yet another rubber stamp on the collection of brevet cards.

for those of you who figure (probably correctly) that we were nuts to undertake this soggy tour in the first place, one member of the peloton had driven from glenrothes to kennacraig and arrived off the morning ferry to join the melée. but at bruichladdich, with a ferry to catch in order to drive back to glenrothes that same evening, he had to leave us. to comply with calmac's ferry timetables, and with insufficient time to cycle, he was driven to port askaig by the smws support van. this left four of us to head west to kilchoman distillery in thick mist, totally obscuring any sight of loch gorm.

more sustenance was taken on-board at kilchoman's café and for those who enjoy a highly effective double-espresso, i can thoroughly recommend those on offer at kilchoman.

by the time we headed downhill at foreland, the wind had increased just a tad and the roads were showing signs of drying up. despite a stoater of a tailwind up uiskentuie strand (40kph +), the rain was on once again before we reached the day's final distillery at bowmore around 5pm, having started at ardbeg some seven hours earlier. the other three gents were then heading to islay house at bridgend for a self-congratulatory dram; for yours truly it was a ride up bowmore main street, a hot shower and the opportunity to lie down in a darkened room for the evening, having covered 122km since leaving home around 8:45am.

despite the rather chilly rain and the punctures, we had a grand day out. all the distilleries still have the rubber stamps, so if you intend covering the same ground later this year, they should be able to stamp any bit of paper or card you bring with you. i asked richard if he intends to do it all again next year and if the answer is eventually yes, i'll let you know. if you think you might fancy joining us, drop me a line and i can use that as a more onerous means of persuasion.

islay's whisky festival/fèis ìle takes place next year from 22 - 30 may. thanks to ritchey bicycles, campagnolo and wheelsmith

monday 27 may 2019

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