age is only a number

loch gorm

i'm well aware that my reader thinks of me as a spring chicken in the first flush of youth, a rider who can ride homeward with two 3kg bags of porridge oats in a back pack, yet still sprint sprightly uphill with scarcely a care in the world. the reality, as the rest of you will have learned, is somewhat different. despite that ponytail maintaining its once impressive length, the hue has changed from jet black to a much lighter shade of jet black and i'm sure i noticed a solitary wrinkle only the other day while shaving.

all things being equal, the ageing process ought, logically, to affect this honed physique in a uniform manner, gradually stretching out each edition of the sunday ride. don't get me wrong, there has been many a sunday morning when i find it hard to reconcile the assumption that i am, in fact, a cyclist. i doubt i'm giving away any secrets by admitting that there have been times when i'd have been quicker walking and my time in the bruichladdich sprint would have been every bit as well measured by means of a calendar, rather than a stopwatch.

as the mighty dave has often been quoted as saying "i'm riding like a sack of potatoes". disappointingly, there have been more than a few occasions when i have had to concur.

but it would also be wrong to imply that i'm the only individual languishing at the back of the velo club peloton. because, let's face it, if i'm getting older, so is everyone else. it's a glaringly obvious tautology that applies to everyone; the difference is just how we cope with it. my secret formula is to ride my bicycle as often as possible and pretend that the fact that i'm not a grand tour rider is purely a lifestyle choice.

therefore, logic would dictate that the older and less flexible we get, the slower our perambulations of a sunday morning, content to leave that big ring well alone and enjoy the countryside. if i might pay tribute once again to the mighty dave t, i doubt he's had to replace an outer ring on that fsa chainset for many a long year, keen to take in his surroundings at a more sedate pace and completely ignore the end of ride sprint with astounding consistency. yet, oddly enough, that simply isn't happening.

it has long been a favourite parcours of the velo club, to perambulate the 22km circuit of loch gorm, riding the length of uskentuie strand, straight from debbie's before turning west just past uiskentuie farm. this route takes us past the rspb reserve and visitor centre at gruinart, before climbing the two gradients and descending to loch gorm on the island's atlantic coast. the normal course of events would have us turn right towards carnduncan and ride the loch's perimeter road in an anticlockwise direction, passing kilchoman distillery before heading inexorably towards the rapid descent at foreland and back for coffee and cake.

however, this past weekend, there was a suggested alternative, lengthening the ride by several kilometres, to allow for more bragging rights come monday morning tea break in the office. thus, on reaching loch gorm, we turned left, climbed the parabolic hill at rock mountain (no, i have no idea why it's called that either), turned right and went round the loch in a clockwise direction. and where we would usually head back towards aoradh, we climbed that hill at rock mountain once again, turned left and benefitted from the pleasantly offered free speed down foreland hill.

though my description of the parcours will likely mean diddly squat to the majority of those reading, take my word for it, it was measurably longer than our usual digressions. yet, quite against any applied logic, we returned to debbie's well ahead of schedule. after froth-supping, i would usually return to the croft just after 1pm, yet this weekend, i was home early enough to cause gasps of astonishment from mrs washingmachinepost, wondering how the heck that happened?

speaking for myself, i can wholeheartedly embrace the mighty dave's words of the week from last week; i too gave up training some years past, and it seems not to have done me any harm. i'm inclined to apportion some of the blame to strava, given that a sizeable portion of the peloton are in thrall to cycling's facebook, forever nipping off with no notice and without so much as a by-your-leave to acquire yet another kom to add to monday's bragging rights. but even taking those details into account, we would still appear to be defying the ageing process and riding faster as the weeks roll by.

and if there's hope for us, there's hope for everybody.

monday 22 july 2019

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obsessive compulsive

roadside cycle fans

glasgow is home to two major players in the scottish football (soccer) league: rangers and celtic. aside from being in opposition and the occasional difference in constitution, they are visually separated by means of their colour schemes. i am insufficiently well-informed when it comes to this particular sport, having a complete aversion to the game in its entirety, but from early recollections curated by a father and brother who were both football fans, the celtic strip featured green and white hoops, while rangers sported plain blue jerseys.

like many team sports, their supporters identify fully with the colours associated with one team or the other, to the extent of disparaging each other at every opportunity. this dyed-in-the-wool approach to fandom extends to the younger members of society; if dad is a celtic supporter, it's more than likely that his (predominantly) male offspring will follow in his footsteps and wardrobe choice. sadly, at such an early age, children have little personal discrimination and thus accept dad's persuasions as the way of the world. it is very much the case that such specific, colour-related fandom tends to remain within the family for generations.

i know of celtic supporting fathers who refuse to have their children wear blue and, conversely, of rangers supporters who abhor the colour green. it's what is commonly referred to as fanaticism and, in my opinion, fanaticism of any colour is a very bad thing, obscuring pretty much everything else from view. obsession, however, is a whole 'nuther bucket of ceramic bearings, provided it is tempered by a smidgeon of obsessive behaviour.

early last year, i told the pipe major of islay's community pipe band that i would be happy to teach, but that i was definitely not playing with the band at any of their frequent summer outings. unfortunately, islay's community doesn't quite work that way, and to date, i have played three gigs in the last three weeks, with the promise of more prior to the end of september. my original objection to playing was entirely self-centred; it cuts heavily into my cycling time and, once again, in my opinion, that is, or at least ought to be, sacrosanct. cycling is my obsession, one that i believe to be a healthy obsession in more than one sense of that word.

therefore, before having to don a tartan skirt and a purse yesterday lunchtime, i put on jersey and bibs, dragged a particularly fast bicycle from the bike shed and headed southwest to debbie's for a morning coffee. froth-supping was kept as short as possible before heading quickly homeward, arriving well ahead of an imposed schedule of preparation for a bout of snare drumming in the afternoon.

mrs washingmachinepost has often told me that i'm obsessed with bicycles and on reflection, it seems she's probably correct. fanatic, i am not. i can watch any cycle race you care to mention and i will not be identified as in thrall to any particular team or rider. whoever crosses the line first, quite probably deserved to be the winner; the thrill will have been provided by the quality of the chase. i have witnessed cycling fans who have nailed their colours to a particular flag, yet do not cast aspersions on those riding for another team. witness, if you will, the majority of cycle fans at the roadside, vehemently cheering every rider who passes, no matter the name emblazoned upon their jersey.

that's obsession, but it's definitely not fanaticism, and for that we should be truly thankful.

sunday 21 july 2019

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a map of the future

national cycle network

a young fellow who has been a member of the sunday morning ride for a number of months, recently undertook an extensive, solo ride from john o'groats to lands end, raising in excess of £12,000 for the brain tumour charity. by the time he reached the most southerly point of the uk, he'd covered over 1,000 miles and, in his own words, experienced some of the worst summer weather he'd ever witnessed, while riding through the cairngorms.

national cycle network

commonly, the prevailing winds strafe scotland and south of the border, predominantly from the south or south west. bearing this in mind, riding from north to south would hardly seem like the choice option. yet, despite having had this pointed out to him prior to departure, his stoicism and stamina got him all the way to his intended destination. given the length and adversity of his bike ride, we have tactfully refrained from saying "we told you so", because, aside from raising such a substantial amount of money, he rode a darned sight further than any of us have ever done over a nine-day stretch.

after a couple of weeks' rest and recovery, he joined us once again last sunday and, not unnaturally, we were all keen to know which part of the trip had been the worst. those of you who live in wales should probably look away now, because he described the roads in the southernmost part of the country in somewhat colourful language that i couldn't possibly reprise in a family website. unkempt surfaces, road signs predominantly in welsh and roadside hedges that gave the impression he was riding in a maze, all combined to frustrate the joy of the long-distance rider.

national cycle network

i am unaware if there is such a thing as an off-the-shelf, route map for a jogle attempt, or whether the intrepid fellow had created his own by poring over a series of ordnance survey maps, but either way, and desultory regions aside, he managed far better than i fear i would have. that may well be the principal reason why i tend not to stray too far from home when cycling; at least, around here, i know where i'm going. in the face of ever-increasing motor traffic, that's probably just as well.

however, for those resident in the big metropolises, or having need of moving between some of them, there is the national cycle network, as promulgated by transport charity, sustrans. the latter has made excellent use of disused, former railway routes to open up swathes of the uk to cyclists and walkers, allowing the latter to either commute traffic free, or spend a safe, family weekend cycling in the countryside. but in order to access and make best use of this often idyllic series of routes, it's necessary to know where they are.

this has, in the last day or two, become a far simpler process than was previously the case, as sustrans have partnered with ordnance survey to help more folks discover and access the national cycle network. between the two of them, they have provided detailed, user-friendly and accurate information on the 16,000mile plus, traffic-free and quiet on-road cycling and walking routes that have infiltrated the whole of the uk.

national cycle network

chief executive officer of sustrans, the impressively named, xavier brice introduced the partnership by saying "IThe National Cycle Network is a well-used asset enjoyed by millions across the UK each year. We hope the new maps inspire more people to get out, discover and explore all that the Network has to offer, whether on wheels or foot, for commuting or leisure purposes."

nick niles, the ordnance survey leisure managing director was every bit as enthusiastic, commending the new overlay on the os map to all who would like to access the national cycle route. so far as i can figure, the current state of the art is a free layer on the os maps website, displaying the locations of all the uk's cycle/walking routes that comprise the sustrans curated national cycle network. whether this will extend (or already has) to printed matter, i'm afraid i'm unaware. however it is possible to print out relevant sections of the online map free of charge.

sadly, there is no outreach of the cycle network in the southern hebrides, though there is an end-to-end route across the outer hebrides, stretching from vatersay and eriskay to the north west of stornoway on lewis. granted, there are a few wet bits in between, but you can't have everything. that said, the public roads round these here parts are probably less trafficked than some of the quieter mainland, on-road sections and the network will take you as far as the calmac terminal at kennacraig.

the future's bright. the future's ordnance.

top image © jonathan bewley

national cycle network ordnance survey map | sustrans

saturday 20 july 2019

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creative void

bicycle advert

we are the great unwashed, who flounder in the wake of the professionals, yet, to all intent and purposes, are the very individuals who provide manna for their breakfast table (so to speak). the world tour peloton rides upon a wide variety of bicycles, some allegedly emanating from the same taiwanese factory, but the majority of which bear differing names along the down tubes. along with the riders who compete against each other, those cycle brands conduct their own battle for supremacy. quite whether any victories can be directly attributed to the carbon fibre 'neath the saddles, is a debatable point, but naturally enough, sponsorship of the victor has to be trumpeted in one public manner or another.

the infinitesimable differences between one brand and another, more than likely, make little difference. that can more readily be attributed to the strength and fitness of the rider, augmented by the daily preparation and attention of the team mechanics. but that scarcely curtails the constant research and development aimed at producing a frame that is lighter, stiffer and more aerodynamic than its competitors, a process that costs a substantial amount of money. that money comes, more or less, directly from you and me.

and that's where the house of cards almost falls apart.

i have used the word 'almost', because, though we probably do know better, there's still an over-arching desire to own a bicycle resembling that of our world tour heroes. the implication is that, if rider a achieves a string of impressive victories, or domestique b is able to offer uninterrupted support to his/her team leader, then the frames aboard which they achieved those feats are surely more than suited to our own aspirations. and that, to be quite honest, is a bit of a fallacy.

bicycle advert

patrick lefevre, team manager of deceuninck quick-step, was once quoted that he doesn't pay his riders to be comfortable, an allusion to the stiffness of the average tour level bicycle. when push comes to shove, the intrepid professional needs instant forward movement; none of that expended effort should be absorbed by the carbon fibre or wheels. we, on the other hand, have no direct need of such explosive finesse, however much we'd like to think that to be the case.

a friend of mine purchased a top-of-the-range specialized sagan edition, with carbon roval wheels and dura-ace di2, possibly because his cleats were bigger than his thighs. after riding it for only a matter of weeks, he came to the conclusion that, while it was an exciting bike to ride, it wasn't the most comfortable bicycle in the world. and though peter sagan does not ride for deceuninck quick-step, i'm pretty sure that the bora-hansgrohe team manager holds similar ideas to his belgian counterpart.

however, the collusion behind both research and development and marketing, rests pretty much on convincing the great unwashed that things are other than they actually are. otherwise my friend would scarcely have spent many thousands of pounds on a peter sagan replica bicycle. disappointingly, the efforts to interest our bank balances have improved pretty much not at all in many a long year. why cycle marketing efforts have remained static in the face of endless technological development, is surely something of a conundrum in the 21st century, particularly in comparison with those seen in other areas of retail.

bicycle advert

this is scarcely the first time i have levelled this particular argument at the bicycle industry, or at least, their marketing departments. a quick scan of the cycling press will confirm the veracity of my assertions. invariably, an advert for a bicycle consists of a profile image of said bicycle, or perhaps an anonymous rider crouched aerodynamically about its person. the accompanying copy will indubitably attest to its aerodynamicism and the efforts that have been made to ensure that it "rewards every pedal stroke with forward motion"; almost exactly replicating that which i mentioned above.

the most obvious omission, if it can be classed as such, is an almost total lack of connection between the bicycle on display and the teams to which the manufacturers pay large sums of money to ride their product. with at least one notable exception, few bicycles are even shown in the livery of the sponsored teams. i have little doubt that the r & d departments benefit from the laison between themselves and the professional teams, but it would appear that this two-way street does not travel via the marketing office.

the uci have scarcely spared their efforts to globalise the sport, not always with the approval of the many, but they, along with the grand tour organisers, have arguably brought cycle-racing up to par with the many other, technologically based sports. much of this has been achieved by thinking 'outside of the box'. it seems a shame that the art of selling the bicycle has not kept pace. in fact, it seems hardly to have changed in at least two decades.

friday 19 july 2019

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going the wrong way

island hopping

it is, according to common lore, the summer holidays north of the border (for the schools at least), with england following suit in a matter of days. over the years, islay has become a frequent stop or visiting point for the nation's cyclists and one or two foreign bicyclists too. the catalyst for these visitation rights was most likely the opening of a youth hostel in port charlotte village several years ago, but the vagaries of the calmac ferry network have, oddly enough, assisted in a positive manner.

for those unacquainted with the geography of the hebrides, the most southerly is islay, adjacent to the isle of jura. the next major island north of here is that of mull, the journey to which, via oban, punctuated by the smaller island of colonsay. on saturdays and wednesdays, one of islay's two ferries sails from kennacraig to port askaig, before going onto oban via colonsay. this offers a rather convenient route for cyclists intent on riding, ultimately, to the outer hebrides, commencing from ardrossan on the west coast of the scottish mainland.

leaving from there, 'tis but a 55 minute sea journey to brodick, on the isle of arran. fifteen hilly miles west of there is the sleepy village of lochranza, home to one of arran's two malt whisky distilleries and to a small car ferry that travels to claonaig on the kintyre peninsula. disembarking the latter entails a short, but hilly once again, bike ride along a single track road to kennacraig, from whence departs the islay ferry. assuming the latter is arrived on at the weekend, that affords the intrepid and itinerant cyclist a couple of days at least on islay's shores, before catching the wednesday ferry to either colonsay or oban, before heading over to mull. if arriving on islay later in the week, there's a colonsay ferry on a saturday too.

the options available would then consist of returning to oban and taking a ferry to castlebay (barra) or lochboisdale (south uist), or cycling north to skye from where a ferry departs uig for tarbert on harris. there's even the option of sailing from ullapool, a good few miles north of skye on the mainland, across to stornoway on the isle of lewis. that, briefly, is scottish island hopping and where islay fits into the picture.

however, to return to those cyclists who arrive for a few days on islay, it is a remarkably curious anomaly that they are almost always to be seen riding in the 'wrong' direction. though it's hard to explain the physics behind this situation (every bit as visible on arran as on islay), whichever direction i, or my pelotonic colleagues, find ourselves riding, we will (almost) never come across fellow cyclists heading in the same direction. yes, we will come across any number of pedallists heading in the opposite direction, cyclists who will either share the joy of two wheels by returning our 'hail fellow, well met' waves, or, as seems more common these days, ride past, eyes on the road, pretending that we simply do not exist.

behaviour such as that described is almost inexplicable, for whatever reason can there be for traversing the islands, other than at least a partial desire to make one or two new acquaintances along the way? especially velocipedinists as friendly as are we.

attempts to explain the state of affairs leading to a lack of cyclists heading in the same direction, can be largely discredited. it is obviously more than far-fetched to try and explain this away using physics, the most common version of which contends that any cyclists riding up ahead, travelling at a similar pace to ourselves, would always remain at a constant distance from our ever-moving location. the extremely obvious fact that the sunday morning peloton travels at close to the speed of light, would surely bring us not only into contact with a hypothetical advance party, but an ability to leave them trailing in our warp-speed wake.

and even if you refuse to accept the latter construct as an obvious truism, the law of averages posits that at sometime during the summer months, we would unwittingly happen upon the breakaway. yet, even if adhering to a belief in that law of averages, we still fail to see even distant groups of riders that we might fail to catch before the sprint. on my ride from lochranza on arran, to the velo café at lagg, some 40 kilometres south, i met not a single cyclist heading in the same direction, yet passed at least a dozen riding north. on the return journey, it was no different, except the directions had reversed.

let's face it, if they could land a man on the moon fifty years ago, this particular conundrum really ought to have been solved by now.

thursday 18 july 2019

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the only way is up

cent cols challenge

fifty years ago, on 20 july 1969, the americans landed neil armstrong and buzz aldrin on the moon, almost 385,000 kilometres from the earth. as the remnants of the saturn rocket headed away from the earth, images received from the lunar orbiter showed a blue, white and green planet, hanging almost desolate in inky surroundings. it possibly should have been a bit of a wake-up call to those back on earth that, in an expanding universe, we were/are somewhat isolated and that this was pretty much the only planet we had at our disposal. however, there may have been thoughts at the time, of colonising the moon, so that lack of an appreciable safety-net may have been ignored.

cent cols challenge

what also seems to have been ignored by a certain section of society, and throughout the entire apollo 11 mission, was that each and every image of the earth, when see from the moon or space, showed a spherical planet. what is technically described as an oblate spheroid. the folks that chose to ignore or dispute the veracity of those images are still alive and (presumably) well to this day, carrying their flat earth society membership cards wherever they go. and not only does such a society exist, they, not unnaturally, have a website ( thankfully, i do not propose to enter a discussion as to the foundation of their flat earth belief system, for i seriously doubt there are sufficient pixels at my disposal.

cent cols challenge

however, the basis of their tenuous theory revolves around (see what i did there?) the earth being none spherical, rather than devoid of hills and mountains; those would be a lot harder to deny. but should you have need of garnering sufficient evidence as to the frequency and wide range of gradients available to the intrepid velocipedinist,you could do a lot worse than speak to phil deeker.

i first met phil a long, long time ago, when we briefly collaborated on a yet to be published manuscript, detailing his inveterate climbing of rather a large number of european climbs in a single month. the warning signs were there for all to see; not only had phil subjected his wiry frame to an endless list of whacking great mountains, but he subsequently invited others to join him in this singular (at the time) activity, through the auspices of the cent cols challenge. some of you may even have joined him in those (mis)guided efforts before his notoriety brought him to the attention of rapha. they effectively adopted the cent cols challenge, provided it with a new, ultan coyle designed, logo and provided not only webspace, but a number of short, compulsive videos into the bargain.

cent cols challenge

with rapha's recent re-organisation, those days are now past, but phil is still intent on bagging those cent cols, while taking others along for the ride. however, the window of opportunity to join mr deeker has, it would seem, a statute of limitations. when i contacted him recently, he stated his intention to retire from such foolhardy gradients in 2022 ("retirement means only stepping back from the Big Events, NOT stopping riding up hills!"). though the dolomites and west pyrenees remain to be yet ridden this year (all 2019 events are sold out), phil has already trained the organisational portion of his brain on next year's programme, including the ardennes, southern alps, east pyreneees, piemonte and corsica.

cent cols challenge

about the latter, phil said, "I love riding in Corsica for the craziness of the roads, the free spirit of the people, and the sea views. Two nights at each hotel helps too, to create the most relaxed of all the Cent Col Challenges. Fewer double-figure gradients than any other ride also helps! Definitely one for those who don't enjoy finishing each stage running on fumes! But having said that, there is very little flat road in Corsica!"

no longer a part of the imperial works empire, phil has teamed up with albion cycle clothing, who offer cent cols jersey, bibs and cap for purchase on their website and a company with which phil says it's a pleasure to work. though we're scarcely midway through this year's summer season, for many it's just the right time to plan for next year's cycling holiday, just while warm, sunny weather can provide the necessary impetus and enthusiasm. regarding the nature of his cent cols ascending challenges, phil pointed out that "These are tough rides. Participants shouldn't be afraid of riding from dawn till dusk on occasion. They will be taken out of their comfort zone, more often than not, but in my experience, they'll learn to love that!"

as for ageing gracefully, yet with self-imposed retirement looming, phil mentioned "Life after 60 seems pretty good so far for me. Must be all the pedalling." if we're willing to accpet that mr deeker will actually take a metaphorical step back in three years' time, i would advise those of you who wish to take advantage of his climbing and guiding skills in the high mountains, to pop on over to the website and book sooner, rather than later. in the words of joni mitchell, "you don't know what you've got, till it's gone", even if that's only to the lower slopes.

cent cols challenge

wednesday 17 july 2019

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under pressur(ed)

gravel road

though not what it once was, this island is still regarded as a farming community, even though far more folk work in the distilleries and local averagemarket, than spend time in tractors or cutting silage. depending on your own place of residence, though it might be a remarkable occurrence to witness a very large red tractor speeding along your main street, on islay, it is entirely unremarkable. nor is it worthy of note to see young ladies wearing summer dresses, accessorised with a pair of wellington boots, undertaking the daily shop.

and while the preponderance of large, four-wheel-drive japanese pick-ups perambulating the island's road is doubtless based on a degree of agricultural necessity, it cannot be said to be the sole reason for viewing so many parked in the island's villages or driveways.

three of the sunday morning peloton regularly undertake the sunday morning ride, aboard defined gravel bikes, a sight you would scarcely have encountered or, indeed, expected, some five or so years past. having spent at least half of saturday past, scurrying up and down gravel tracks in the pursuit of joy and happiness, conditioned by the need to review a pair of rené herse, hurricane ridge gravel tyres, i enquired of two of our number, whether they had, in fact, gravelled on their machinery recently?

it transpires that neither had, in fact, done so, replying that they considered the majority of the island's highways and byways to be the very equivalent of gravel riding in any case. this is a stance with which it is hard to argue. i have recently fitted both new rubber and new wheels to my ritchey logic and currently suffer slightly from that reported lack of clearance 'neath the campagnolo record front caliper. i have mitigated this disadvantage to the point where it causes almost no determinable grief whatsoever, but on scurrying across a recently surface-dressed stretch of road, inevitably a miniscule piece of gravel will become trapped between tyre and caliper, resonating like a land rover defender over a cattle grid to all within earshot.

i hope i am not naive in assuming that our council's somewhat tendentious methods of rendering potholes and unkempt surfaces, is in keeping with practices elsewhere in the uk? much of this seems to be accommodated by means of what we have come to refer to as aerosol tar, sprayed into place by a large, yellow and black truck with a substantial boom reaching forward over the cab. such repairs are normally witnessed by their resemblance to a scorched-earth policy, where the repair appears to have been burnt onto the road. though initially effective, many of these repairs subsequently become an agglomeration of loose gravel, an element scarcely friendly towards smooth-treaded, narrow road-bike rubber.

it's most likely the nostalgia of a ten-speed-racer that keeps me riding a road bike at every opportunity, even though those ten speeds have mushroomed to a probably unnecessary twenty-four gears. i have not yet convinced myself that a cyclocross or gravel bike looks appropriate anywhere other than on gravel, mud, or grass. but a number of years past, i undertook the entirety of rapha's festive 500 on a ridley 'cross bike, the results of which were a slightly slower pace, but more than offset by the substantial increase in comfort. if islay's roads remain substantially as they are, potholed and gravelled, it may be time to plan a similar undertaking this december and carrying on well into the next year.

but by doing so, are we in danger of letting the council/holyrood/westminster (delete as applicable) off the hook? various, enormous sums of money have been bandied about, when time comes to estimate the cost of restoring britain's roads to their once rose-tinted, former state of glory. considering that all three of the above are probably more involved in planning for the disaster that is about to become brexit, the chances of those billions of pounds being spent on the roads infrastructure, seems farther away than ever. so the fact that three out of a local peloton of nine or ten have already adopted the gravel bike for comfort (and, arguably, safety) would indicate that expectations are disappointingly low.

thus, if american-style, four-wheel-drive pickups become as en-vogue as the family saloon, and the pelotonese swap road-bikes for cross or gravel, will government, in all its various forms, simply breathe a sigh of relief and figure out ways to turn this prospective tide of events, into (for them) a win-win situation? we currently have nine distilleries on the island, with a tenth under construction and an eleventh in the throes of a planning application. annually, those single malts contribute well over £100 million to the exchequer, substantially more than £30,000 for every man, woman and child on the island. if there was some means of reclaiming some of that cash to get the roads fixed (bearing in mind, it's mostly whisky traffic that's causing the deterioration of our roads in the first place), we'd be home free, so to speak. and probably all riding track bikes on silk tubulars.

i appreciate that, other than speyside, there are no comparable regions in the uk with the potential to do likewise, but it seems a great shame that our choice of velocipedinal transport may be substantially conditioned by a government that prefers to spend billions on non-existent ferries across the channel, rather than (literally) keeping the wheels of industry in motion.

tuesday 16 july 2019

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