only 93 million miles

sun protection

a couple of years ago, while riding towards folkestone in the far south as part of one of hot chillee's slower pelotons, the chaps riding immediately behind me were discussing the previous year's ride which, according to the bits of conversation i overheard, had featured heavy rain and strong winds. never one to miss an opportunity to come across as insouciantly blasé, i replied that it sounded remarkably like my usual sunday ride. far from dismissing me as an arrogant scotsman, one of the fellows admitted that, yes, they were probably just a pair of 'soft southerners'

this impression us northerners (or, to be more accurate in my case, north-westerners) have of those in the deep south, was reinforced by a recent tweet from one of britain's more prominent cycling apparel, purveyors. they recommended a sleeveless, mesh baselayer for the current spate of warm, sunny weather, or even for the off-season when confined to a turbo trainer, indoors. i truthfully cannot recall the last time a velo club sunday morning ride, at any time of the hebridean year, had to be abandoned due to inclement weather conditions.

granted, there have been a few sabbath sunday mornings when it was touch and go, but, indolent to the last, we went out riding anyway. thus, the recommendation of a baselayer for indoors riding, was utterly wasted upon scottish west coast cyclists. it is of little wonder that such admissions generally result in silent castigation.

however, on last week's trip to the nearby island of arran, when leaving my bicycle against the railings at the lochranza ferry ramp, the temperature readout on my garmin, displayed 35.7 degrees. admittedly, that was in direct sunlight; the ambient temperature on an effectively windless day was likely a degree or so lower, though high enough to make life harder for a rider more used to gale force winds and horizontal precipitation. not for nothing was next month's summer event entitled 'ride of the falling rain'.

it is weather such as that more usually found in the hebrides and west of scotland, that has provided the average cyclist with a remarkably pale complexion, mitigated only by a weather-beaten veneer. that means that, on the rare occasions that sun does make an uncommon breakthrough, that pastyness demands some form of protection and something a smidgeon more all encompassing than a sleeveless baselayer. probably anything from a bottle bearing the words 'factor 50'.

i believe that all the members of the velo club peloton are familar with this state of affairs, mostly because it happens infrequently enough. it is the characteristic uniform of the intrepid cyclist to wear a short-sleeve jersey, bibshorts and, occasionally, a casquette beneath the helmet. in such cases, that leaves face, arms and legs exposed to altogether unfamilar sunshine, a situation that demands as much attention as paid to tyre pressures, garmin settings and precision of gearchanging. though i believe that all cyclists should be regarded as big and tough and strong, please don't undermine the sensibility of that statement by going out riding without appropriate sunscreen.

and if you even think of staying indoors this winter, glued to a turbo and armed with a zwift membership, we'll hunt you down.

monday 8 july 2019

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inflationary tactics

tyre levers

two of the younger members of the community pipe band, spend the majority of their down-time, between tunes, obsessed with their mobile phones. this compulsion to bask in the glow of a small, yet powerful retina screen, has fascinated me for many a year, because i have no idea what transpires between screen and the interweb.

so i asked.

both pipers are fairly young, so i was convinced this feverish phone activity did not constitute frequent contact between themselves and their stockbroker. neither did i think it likely they were addicted gamblers, making use of the online betting apps currently widely available. sadly, the reality was considerably more mundane; texts were being sent simply to invite conversation. words along the lines of "hey, what's happening?" given that the purpose of our evening was to engage in perpetual music-making, quite when they intended to continue this conversational activity, i know not. pragmatism apparently did not intervene in the situation.

though what these youngsters undertake in their own time is really none of my business or concern, but the impressive part of this use of modern technology, was the speed with which they were able to text with only one thumb, while holding a set of bagpipes in the other hand. if using imessage on my ipod touch, i confess that i spend almost as much time making corrections as i do clumsily typing the actual message. i generally use my forefinger for this purpose, but i don't mind admitting that this is a slow, laborious process, considerably less impressive than that practised by the younger generation.

it has been said that one of the more obvious differences between generation z and old farts such as myself can be seen when pressing a doorbell. today's kids are likely to press the button with their thumb, while we'd use our forefinger.

what i do wonder, however, is whether all this prestidigitation is likely to result in considerably stronger thumbs. after all, practice hill climb repetitions and, aside from becoming rapidly knackered, eventually those thigh muscles will build sufficient strength to ascend with the finest of grimpeurs. thus, it is surely not too disagreeable a thought to believe that fervent thumb activity, even if only of modest proportions, might result in stronger thumbs? in which case, perhaps i could engage the services of the more junior members of the pipe band to mount a set of new rubber on a pair of bicycle wheels?

though i fear i may be guilty of viewing the past through rose-tinted spectacles, i'm sure that the process of fitting tyres, at one time, was a darned sight easier than it is today. in the process of reviewing many a bicycle wheel and probably every bit as many tyres, i will have removed and fitted more sets of rubber than many have had hot dinners. yet things seem to have become worse rather than better.

though the name on the sidewall will, for the time being, remain anonymous (there's always the possibility that that the tyres in question will redeem themselves with a 'to die for' ride quality), i spent several hours yesterday afternoon attempting to fit some review rubber to a pair of wheels. in the process of ultimately failing miserably, i punctured two inner tubes, via the infamous snakebite, while straining and grimacing to lever the last few centimeres of tyre bead over the wheel rim. this lengthy and frustrating process succeeded in driving me to the point of distraction and i eventually gave up before there was a likelihood of my throwing the whole lot in the bin.

the tyres in question, according to the fitting instructions, are tubeless compatible, so i do wonder whether they have need of being a tighter fit to ensure a perfect seal between bead and rim. however, even if that is the case, it hardly mitigates the incredible difficulty of fitting, a process that i'm sure, used to be a whole lot easier.

currently i type at my macbook with sore thumbs, shoulders and forearms, safe in the knowledge that all three will be even more painful by monday. thankfully it is likely to take a few more days to deliver another batch of inner tubes, at which point in time, i'll be able to reprise the pain and agony all over again. i would, therefore, like the bicycle tyre industry, along with the bicycle wheel industry, to accept this as an open letter to engage their assistance. if you're making the tyres harder to fit, please stop it. and if you wheel people have been incrementally raising the inner height of the wheel rim, please don't do it any more.

on the plus side, i had no idea i knew so many swear words.

sunday 7 july 2019

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who knew?

bike life dublin

it's not so very long ago that i queried the statistics spouted, not only by government departments, but by notable and respected cycling organisations, that attested to cycling use within the uk's major cities and urban areas. neither i, nor any of my cycling colleagues have been subjected to the mores of an official survey, leaving us, presumably, on the outside looking in. i have no doubt that many of you reading have similarly, been left out in the cold. but the mystery may have, at least partially, been solved, with some of the answer hiding in plain sight.

i would dearly love to give the impression that i have been digging feverishly ever since my original article, querying government departments, memmbers of parliament and home-office permanent secretaries as to the source of their statistical information, but sadly, the truth is a tad more mundane. arriving in thewashingmachinepost inbox just prior to the weekend, was a press release welcoming dublin's fair city as the most recent member of the bike life network.

(as a bye-the-way, dublin hosted the start of the infamous 1998 tour de france, an event i cycled to and from to witness almost exactly 21 years ago.)

it transpires that bike life is inspired by the copenhagen bicycle account, a project which began in 1996 and has helped transform the danish capital into a model cycling city, where more than 60 per cent of trips are made by bicycle. perhaps unsurprisingly, bike life is promoted in the uk by cycling charity sustrans, and has been implemented to assess cycling development, including that of cycling infrastructure, travel behaviour, satisfaction and the wider impact cycling has on urban areas. now, at least in part, it's possible to comprehend just how some of those statistics are gathered.

the ceo of eire's national transport authority, anne graham, when announcing their membership of the bike life programme, stated "Bike Life gives us an invaluable insight into our progress on cycling in the Dublin Metropolitan Region and the views held by people who live and work there.
"It will help us quantify the health, economic and environmental benefits of cycling, and will provide us with really useful information about the kind of projects that the public believes we should be investing in, if we are to make cycling a safer and more popular mode of transport."

it's hard not to see the attraction to a major city to have some means of quantifying the possibilities offered by such a scheme; in these days of apparently cash-strapped administrations, having a set of numbers that might prove or disprove future variations on their transport infrastructure and the planning thereof, can only be seen as a win-win situation. an interviewee on radio four's today programme on friday morning, warned against viewing the electric car as a panacea for all transport and pollutive ills. "what is really required," he said, "is that we learn to walk and cycle more, while using the car (electric or otherwise) less and less. electric cars do not reduce congestion."

however, if like me, you find that the existence of bike life comes as something of a hitherto unknown surprise, it may interest you to know that dublin has been preceded by a sizeable number of uk towns and cities, including belfast, birmingham, bristol, cardiff, dundee, edinburgh, glasgow, cambridge, manchester, inverness, liverpool, newcastle, paisley, perth, southampton, stirling and tower hamlets. not only had i not previously heard of bike life, i had no idea whatsoever, that seven adherents were in scotland, almost equalling the number south of the border.

glasgow city's reasons for signing up are encapsulated in their vision for cycling 'Designing a city that is safe for cycling will play a part in reducing the health and social inequalities that Glasgow faces, ensuring that this inexpensive, healthy mode of transport is possible in all communities." how close they are to achieving that can be seen in their own set of statistics, presumably provided by bike life: in the past year 18.6 million trips have been made by bicycle in glasgow, arguably saving the nhs £1.2 million, taking the equivalent of 13,087 cars off glasgow's roads and benefitting the city to the tune of £62 million. according to the same set of figures, a rather meagre 7% of residents usually cycle to and from work, but if you consider that number is mostly responsible for the savings outlined above, imagine what could happen if that number doubled or even trebled in the next few years?

according to sustrans, 69% state that their cities would be better places in which to live and work if more people cycled. to be cynical just for a moment, i'd dearly like to know how many of those 69% were currently regular cyclists and not just car commuters feverishly hoping for a reduction in others doing the same as themselves?

if your town or city does not appear in the list above, but you figure they really ought to, contact sustrans to find out who it is on your council you need to hassle. apparently 75% of people would like to see more money spent on cycling, so you shouldn't find too much opposition when trying.

sustrans - bike life

saturday 5 july 2019

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team issue

prendas cycle jerseys

it was usually the numbers that gave the game away, or perhaps the lack of them. while you and i order our jerseys and bibs in small, medium or large, cycle clothing for the professionals usually features a tag with 1,2,3 or 4 printed near the collar. i know this because, on occasion, i have been receipt of team issue clothing, for one reason or another (none of which, sad to say, has been due to being a member of a team). several of you will recall the back pages of the comic in the early nineties, when more than one advertisement claimed to be purveyors of the real thing, almost always a statement that proved remarkably wide of the truth. aside from the fact that most of us had thicker toilet paper, one wash and it no longer resembled a jersey of any description.

rapha ef education first

velominati's rule #17 would indicate that wearing of team kit when not in possession of a professional contract with said team is not a recommended state of affairs, a rule that i might suggest, does little for the sales of replica team kit. i can only advise that i feel a tad safer than many, when dressed in such a fashion, due to having mostly been provided with the aforementioned for purposes of review. i still have a rapha team sky jersey with my name on the side panels, not available through official channels.

while i recognise that cycling is neither soccer nor nfl football, i do often wonder why it is that no-one bats an eyelid when replica jerseys are worn by many, even when conducting the saturday morning shopping. heck, attending the ceilidh at which i played last weekend, was an individual sporting a scottish soccer team jersey with matching track bottoms. quite what persuaded them that this was suitable attire for a ceilidh, i shall probably never know.

endura movistar jersey

but nowadays, there is either very little or no difference between the jerseys as worn by our tour de france heroes and that which arrived in the post. spain's movistar team will, once again, contest le grande boucle, clad in kit emanating from premises in starlaw park, livingston, near edinburgh. and you and i can purchase exactly the same kit from our nearest endura dealer. i have been to starlaw park, seen the jerseys being printed and able to attest to the fact that quintana's jersey is exactly the same as yours or mine, though obviously about ten sizes smaller.

rapha ef education first bucket hat

similarly that of ef education first, a team partnered by rapha, not only as kit supplier, but also as media partner, meaning we gain a bit of insight into the inner workings of a world tour cycle team. you may recall, however, in my review of the secret cyclist, the anonymous author warned against taking any recommendations from a professional rider. this may be because their kit actually isn't the same as ours, but more likely because they are bereft of the choices available to us. you can scarcely imagine alejandro valverde asking if he could wear something from the castelli summer range, rather than that from his team issue endura. that sort of thing is still the province of wheels, tyres and frames (as far as i know)

endura movistar team jersey

but few, if any, cycle clothing purveyors are lax enough to print off a slew of jerseys, then sit back and rest on their projected laurels. it varies as to how many items of team clothing are supplied to each team member, but i'd be pretty sure that the number of jerseys and shorts does not equate to being able to open a new packet each and every day of the upcoming tour. not for nothing does the service course truck feature a washing machine or two. it's a fact of life; professional riders are a tad harder on their clothing than us namby-pamby amateurs, thus it makes a great deal of commercial and research and development sense, to have the pros wear prototype kit before it goes on sale. that way, all the pitfalls should be uncovered and removed before we part with our hard earned.

according to rapha, the riders of ef education first, will be clad in imperial works' finest, the only real difference being the presence of team logos. though i seriously doubt those three weeks in july will have the riders reaching for a pair of bibtights, rapha have yet to commercially offer those team issue leggings seen at the partnership launch in january this year. that was the very point when those of us in the northern hemisphere would have preferred ef tights as opposed to the shorts matching a remarkably thin jersey. however, fans of the team can but hope these will feature in the autumn/winter range later this year.

prendas retro jerseys

meantime, the boys in pink and purple will have access to a team issue rain jacket not available to us mere mortals, along with a team-only shadow jersey, team leg warmers, woollen transfer hoodie and sweatpants, and a time-trial suit. we should, therefore, take solace in the fact that, by the time these become available from a website near you, a bloke much faster and harder to please than you are, will have hammered the living daylights out the lot of them.

however, for those less than desirous of causing a rule#17 infraction, might i suggest a perusal of the offerings from prendas ciclismo? though i'd be hard-pressed to offer advice as to when a team jersey can be designated as desirably retro, i have every faith that if it's available from prendas, you're as safe as houses. though i intend to stick to my tour free zone mindset over the next three weeks, i cannot promise that i'll not be seen wearing both ef education first team kit, or attempting to curate designer stubble that might convince innocent bystanders that i am indeed, alejandro valverde,when seen in movistar kit.

rapha cycle clothing | endura cycle clothing | prendas ciclismo

friday 4 july 2019

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have we become wimps?

campagnolo cassette

i recall having a discussion with the young chap who worked in the bike shop near my home when i lived in (mainland) scotland. at the time of an impending purchase, the only bicycle they had in stock in my size, featured a single chainring. since the majority of road bikes of which i was aware inevitably had two, as did that ridden by robert millar to polka dot victory in 1984, i wondered if one more than one was truly necessary?

in the true tradition of customer service, he asked that i wait a week or two and a double chainring version of that on which i had set my mind, would arrive in the shop. oddly, that failed to answer my question; did i actually need two chainrings? in an uncharacteristic manner, i decided to answer the question by myself, to my own satisfaction, hopefully learning more about the chainring creature along the way. the first hurdle to overcome was the number of teeth on those chainrings; i wasn't aware options stretched this far down the component pecking order, and i had no idea at all, as to the constitution of those apparently on order through the aforesaid, local bike shop.

thus, when 'richard's bicycle book' waxed lyrical and technical in this department, i'm afraid i did not possess the chutzpah to return to the bike shop and enquire as to the number of teeth potentially heading my way. nor, indeed, had i realised that, depending on make and model, those chainrings were either bolted or rivetted to the crank, the latter substantially diminishing any options that might have appeared available. richard then went onto have discussions about the type of cycling one intended to undertake, knowledge of which would ease the problem of how many teeth were actually necessary, or whether a third (granny) chainring ought to be included.

as with many a technical matter, the more i learned, the more i knew i didn't know.

the bicycle duly arrived, by which time i'd settled on having both rings, in this case, rivetted to both the crank and each other and numbering 42/52, which, i was advised, was the industry standard. on trying manfully to ascend dundonald hill on 42/52 matched with a six-speed 14-25 freewheel, i very quickly realised that i did not own industry standard legs. clearly, one of us had miscalculated; since i seriously doubted that the bike shop chappie actually cared, i felt certain the miscalculation was mine.

wholly unrealistically, i had harboured notions of some localised touring on this grey bicycle, an aspiration thoroughly put paid to by such a miserly selection of gears. i had, by then, discovered the formula for calculating gear-inches, but despite writing all twelve in a notebook, the numbers made little or no sense.

campagnolo record chainset

i have not, of late, attempted to purchase a bicycle shaped object for a few pounds, so, for all i know, those are still supplied with a 42/52 chainset, and more than likely, utilising rivets as opposed to chainring bolts. but in a strange turn of events, the double/single chainring question is once more uppermost in our minds, now that a single chainring on a bicycle scarcely turns a head these days.

however, i believe i'm correct in saying that the 42/52 industry standard, subsequently morphed to that of 39/53, offering a bigger gear for those blessed with tom boonen's thigh muscles and a smaller inner ring to aid defiance of gravity. yet, even that industry standard is all but defunct nowadays. with their latest, twelve-speed, super record groupset, campagnolo still offer the latter, but the more likely choice, i'm led to believe, is one of the so-called compact chainsets: 36/52 or 34/50. the former appears now to be the new compact, though as advancing years take their toll, i often long for that 34 inner ring, just to take the sting off the climbs.

to the outsider, it would appear that the big three have horns locked in battle over just how many rear sprockets can be fitted to a freehub, before the wheel ends up with negative dish, a once hypothetical situation that has edged closer with every additional sprocket. the campagnolo record groupset currently affixed to my ritchey logic affords me a range of twelve sprockets, from the still shiny, unused eleven, to the drastically overused 29. and now, in order to complete a future review, i have ordered one of the new campagnolo chorus twelve-speed cassettes featuring 32 teeth. it's what i believe the touring fraternity of yesteryear would have referred to as a dinner plate, yet i'm about to make use of it on a relatively lightweight, steel road bike.

and though not compatible with my record carbon rear derailleur, the new twelve-speed chorus groups offer a cassette providing a 34 -tooth, large sprocket. which leads me to ask the question; have we become total wimps in the years separating the present with the days of 42/52? i'm pretty sure i could now breeze over dundonald hill on 36 - 32, but the fact that even the professionals have adopted compact chainsets would surely point the finger at either a lessening of resolve, or marginal gains being not all dave said they were.

maybe i'll get 42/52 chainrings and give it a try. or maybe not.

campagnolo record chainset

thursday 4 july 2019

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the colour problem

vintage marine pearl

on one side of the stage at arran distillery, last saturday evening, was my stunningly attractive, vintage marine pearl, drum workshop drumset. it features a 22" bass drum, 13" rack tom and a 16" floor tom. aside from the bass drum size, the only other thing separating it by comparison from that used by gene krupa and buddy rich, is the absence of a second 16" floor tom. which is ok, really, because buddy only ever used that on which to leave his towel. ownership of that particular drumset, places me in a specific percussive category; despite bearing neither slingerland nor ludwig on the bass drum head, few drummers would doubt my idolatry of the acknowledged 'world's greatest drummer'.

it is surely only a matter of time before i acquire a bass drum-mounted cymbal arm on which to place my 6" splash cymbal.

i appreciate that at least some of you will be about to google 'buddy rich', entirely unaware of his esteem within the realms of big band jazz. simply think of it in the same light as the quizzical look garnered from civilian members of the public whenever you mention claudio chiappuci. but though buddy's heyday was in the forties and fifties, ownership of marine pearl in those sizes gives a clue as to my drumming proclivities, even though my own abilities are less than a tenth of buddy's.

bicycles are less easy to pin down, though there seems to be as many outlets for vintage bicycles as there are for vintage drumsets. naturally, a mapei decorated colnago c40 would probably align you with johan museeuw, or one of his cronies, while a steel peugeot harbours connotations that are not hard to decipher. but the colour of bicycles once afforded the velocipedinal obsessive the ideal means of hiding any acquisitive behaviour from the joint owner of the joint bank account.

though it's possibly an apocryphal tale that has entered the pantheon of mythology, while the colour of a bicycle was ultimately one of personal choice, the ability to accurately replicate the latter likely saved many a marriage. at the commencement of each successive cycling season, the intrepid rider would order a new steel frame in precisely the same colour as the outgoing version. thus, while afforded the luxury of riding brand new reynolds or columbus tubing, him or her indoors was blissfully unaware of its shiny expensiveness.

modernity has all but robbed us of such subterfuge.

my bicycle transportation for the past weekend was an eyewateringly fluorescent orange and green, specialized crux elite, first reviewed in these pixels almost three years ago. happily, my obsessively compulsive bicycle disorder has kept that bicycle in shipshape and bristol fashion; other than a small nick in the bar tape near the left bar plug, it's almost as undeniably bright as was the case when first removed from its box. there is, therefore, no necessary reason to replace its magnificence.

however, should i have wished to do so, the current model, as displayed on the specialized website is offered in gloss acid pink/acid purple, the illustration demonstrably displaying a bicycle that is plainly not fluorescent orange and green. even though mrs washingmachinepost is scarcely cognisant of the contents of the corporate bike-shed, i would live in fear of her noticing the differentiation between a former and latter crux elite cyclocross bicycle. to make matters worse, were i assured of her innocence in the componentry department, none of the other crux in the range are suitably coloured to assuage her suspicions.

so, while we genuinely and rightly welcome the many technological developments that have given us a new state-of-the-art, it seems, perhaps, that the world's bicycle manufacturers may have shot themselves in the foot when it comes to upgrade persuasions.

and, just in case you were thinking of trying it, felt pens don't really work that well.

wednesday 3 july 2019

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first world problems

1940s steel touring bike

at the end of june 2018, i was invited to the isle of arran to ply my meagre percussive talents at the island's festival of malt and music, taking place in the northern village of lochranza. the table of events required that i arrive on the thursday for an evening rehearsal, given that none of us in the band had previously played together. this was to ensure that all would go according to plan at the event itself. naively, i had inferred from the thursday practice session, that the gig would take place on the friday eve; i was wrong. it transpired that i was miles from home, in a village not known for its endless activities, yet with an entire day to spend as i saw fit.

thankfully, the lochranza field centre at which i was staying, kindly offered to lend me a mountain bike on which i might travel south to lagg and sample the delights of the velo café, but a few kilometres past the island's intriguing new second distillery. i am not a fan of flat bars, i had brought no cycle kit with me, the temperature was in the upper twenties and the bicycle had a predilection for chain-suck at strategic moments near the summit of any hill i may have seen fit to ascend. but, negative factors aside, it was a grand, if remarkably warm day out.

having been asked to repeat the performance once again this year, i opted to ride across in the saddle of my specialized crux, appropriately fitted with a set of 33mm challenge road tyres to smooth my journey. aside from providing potentially better quality cycling when on arran, the bicycle also solved the transport problem of getting from kennacraig to the lochranza ferry slipway at claonaig, some ten kilometres east. the ferry was timetabled to arrive from islay at 12:20pm, yet the connecting bus service, the sole purpose of which a stop at kennacraig, is to collect passengers from the islay ferry for this very trip, departed at 12:10pm.

go figure.

friends who arrived on the same islay-mainland service, reached claonaig by taxi around half an hour after yours truly, including my struggling up a 14% incline along the way. under normal circumstances, the latter bike ride would have presented few, if any real problems, but i had neglected to take account of the rather heavy backpack used to carry my civilian clothing for when not on the bike.

and here also, is where a twenty-first century, first-world velocipedinal problem reared its ugly head.

not so very long ago, i replaced the pads on the sram rival hydraulic discs with which the bicycle arrived from specialized. not unexpectedly, there was some minimal drag experienced during the breaking-in period, of which this trip formed a part. however, in almost a repeat of last year, the temperatures experienced were higher than normal for the west coast of scotland. on parking the bike on claonaig slipway, the figures on my garmin edge displayed a temperature of 35 degrees. admittedly this was in direct sunlight, but it's likely that the 'real' temperature was not substantially lower

when tethered to a support on the car deck of the m.v. hebridean isles, the crux had been sitting in the open for the two hour boat trip. thus, the ambient temperature had heated the hydraulic fluid, causing the pads, particularly on the front disc, to bind a tad more than i would have liked. having replaced the stock wheels in order to use the aforementioned tyres, i discovered that, when in the largest rear sprocket, the spokes were pinging off the inside of the jockey cage. this fact was insufficient to prevent forward motion, but fears that i may lose either spokes, jockey wheels or potentially both, led to my implementing the 'discretion is the better part of valour' part of the contract, and walking up the early part of the climb.

with the combination of backpack weight, binding brakes and pinging spokes, it seemed the only sane and physically sensible thing to do, under the circumstances.

if you promise not to tell, i'm willing to admit that the advice to leave the bicycle outside the main door of my accommodation, was advice i chose not to follow. as soon as the fellow had returned to his office, i brought the bicycle into my room. so doing did, had i need, prove that the binding brakes were the result of swollen outdoor temperatures. on my friday morning ride to lagg, the first few kilometres were conducted with little in the way of rolling resistance, but a situation that changed as i headed south in increasing temperatures. the latter gradually induced repetitive squeaking from the front rotor and considerably increased resistance on the flat and climbs, not aided by those clinking spokes when the gradient proved too great for the second biggest cog.

it's a bizarre fact that you only ever seem to meet cyclists heading in the opposite direction, but rarely come across others heading the same way. of course, this could simply be that i'm never going fast enough for that to happen, but an oddity nonetheless. i saw many bike riders also clad in lycra, aboard disc-equipped carbon, who were presumably better prepared than yours truly, but not all of whom returned my cheery waves.

as i walked back from lochranza hotel later that same day, after a most satisfying, carbo-loading repast, a helmet-less cyclist, dressed in beige cargo trousers and a baggy, checked shirt, riding an elderly steel tourer with rear panniers and good, old-fashioned caliper brakes passed me by (in the opposite direction, funnily enough).

it could be that less really is more.

tuesday 2 july 2019

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