highland cows

there is a certain frisson to rural life that steps not aside from velocipedinal activity, but occasionally intervenes, making the velo club experiences somewhat different from pelotonic life on the mainland. for yesterday's sunday ride, it was one that we managed to both impose upon our surroundings and subsequently have something remarkably similar imposed on our perambulations by return. as advised probably more often than necessary, we have taken to revisiting the same parcours week in, week out, purely as a means of arriving at debbie's in time for coffee and one of those hot chocolates festooned with a large number of small pink and white marshmallows. (the guilty party shall remain nameless).

while this may appear to be something of a repetitive procedure, due to the nature of the island, that has singularly failed to be the case. why, only a matter of weekends past, we'd to amend the route due to previously unannounced road works; the luck of the draw. but, as frequently intimated, islay still remains an essentially agricultural community, with tractors the size of small houses rolling past at speed with large, rattly trailers in tow. and the fields which border any particular parcours you may wish to mention, are often host to several varieties of livestock, rarely the same week in and week out, due to the demands of modern-day agricultural procedures.

there's no denying that the light offered by the onset of autumn is particularly favourable to the eye of any intrepid photographer. the gent who most closely parodies the accelerations of wout van aert, yesterday brought with him a compact and bijou trakke shoulder bag containing a dslr camera, with which he intended to punctuate the sunday ride.

we had gone but 14 kilometres, when the fields on both sides of the road were seen to contain impressive herds of highland cattle. their beatle haircuts and substantial horns were more than our photographer for the day could ignore, so we took a short break while these surprisingly docile animals viewed us with increasing suspicion. photographic demands satisfied for the moment, we remounted and headed off into the wide, autumnal light, ultimately leading to coffee and hot chocolate with marshmallows.

a matter of ten or eleven kilometres later, we pulled to a halt on suspicion that a car was approaching in the opposite direction. safety has taught us that, should we find ourselves adjacent to a passing place at such times, it makes a great deal more sense to stop, on the common understanding that car drivers rarely reciprocate. on pausing, however, came the realisation that the car was heading in the same direction as ourselves, but had come to a halt in the next passing place along the road. the cause of this sequential stoppage was a herd of cattle being driven in our direction by a farmer sat on a quad-bike behind the cows.

cows are rather large animals, sometimes peacefully docile, sometimes not. it's never a good idea to enter a field of cattle, especially if you happen to have a dog with you. a friend of mine suffered severe bruising and both broken and cracked ribs after a recent altercation with a cow protecting her calf. he was walking his dog at the time across open grassland. since one of our peloton was clad in a red softshell jacket, we were less than keen on proving whether cows are colour blind or otherwise. naturally enough, our photographer used the situation to add to his gallery of cow pictures.

so, for those of you who moan about having weekend bike rides interrupted by traffic jams, imagining the rural idyll to be just that, you can take my word for it that we have our own obstacles to overcome, even if ours are a tad more photogenic than yours.

monday 12 october 2020

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living in the past?

integrated bars

the pattern is pretty much the same every week. arrive at debbie's for lunch, and while i await my double-egg roll to cook to perfection, i occupy my time, reading snippets and paragraphs from this week's comic. the cover of the current edition advertises inclusion of one of the latest offerings from specialized; in this case, if memory serves, a very expensive (£10,500) s-works tarmac sl7.

though others have commented on the new, lightweight aetheon, with no disrespect to specialized, the new old ones are the best (probably).

though the arrival of my roll, with dribbles of tomato sauce oozing from the centre, prevented an in-depth reading of the review, i did manage to elicit that the reviewer (whose name, sadly, i have forgotten), would have preferred to have ridden the sram red e-tap axs equipped version, purely on the basis that shimano's dura ace di2 is surely in need of a makeover and comparably shabbier than sram's wireless offering. as one who fails still, to see any advantage in electrically operated gears, and a smugly neutral campagnolo aficionado, i do wonder if we have become over-privileged in our adopted modernity?

in other words, have we lost the plot?

i'm sure that my reader is more than tired of hearing that i adopted the way of the road, predominantly due to the relative simplicity of the genre, compared to that of the off-road brigade. it seemed, in the early 1990s, that every edition of mbuk brought with it a new horizon of anodised gadgetry, little of which added any notable joy to the art of bike riding. sadly, in my view at least, road bikes have ever since, followed suit, from integrated, tapered head tubes, to seat stays that fail to reach any sort of junction with the top tube seat cluster. there may be perfectly sound, explicable engineering reasons for many of these 'innovations', but they are all but hidden behind the marketing department's copywriting.

similarly, the apparent need for aero-ness on every frame surface, on every component, and perish the thought that the smoothness of airflow be disrupted by an indolent cable. having once ridden a very early version of di2, with the wires cable-tied to the downtube and the battery sat exposed to the elements on the seat tube bottle-cage mounts, i fully understand the desire to secrete these wires internally and save them from inadvertent breakage. but i'm pretty sure every mechanic in the country would agree that it hardly makes their job any easier.

though internal cables are nothing new, having been applied to the rear brake cable of even low-cost, steel raleighs some considerable number of years ago, they were a complete pain in the posterior back then, and no amount of wind-tunnel testing has eased that situation one iota. having just returned from crosswind inflected bike rides over this weekend, i am still highly suspicious of the purported advantages of flattened aero tubes, based entirely on the predilection of my 44mm campagnolo bora wto wheels to give a little nudge every now and again when a gust takes them by surprise.

though controlling an optimised, deep-rimmed front wheel has proved to be child's play, i'm less convinced that children would be happy curtailing the sideways preferences of an attached aero frame under the same circumstances. and though i'm sure every watt and millisecond counts for julian alaphilippe or peter sagan, i seriously doubt the same can be said for you or i. sadly, with the advent of carbon fibre construction and the ubiquitous monocoque mold, bicycles engineered for the guys at the top, are the very same, or remarkably similar to those offered for public consumption. it then becomes the job of the marketing departments to convince us that if it's good enough for julian and peter, then it's certainly good enough for us.

though that's undoubtedly true, in its own way, the fact that we have little need of such cutting edge features, seems to have become lost in the telling.

lest you think i spend every waking moment, ruminating on such matters (which i do), this particular monologue was, in fact, inspired by a communication from a good friend of mine. in his missive, he stated "I'm not thinking of full hidden integration, but a look of simple class and style that is seemingly overlooked in the latest wave of road bikes. A hint of practicality and user friendliness, coupled with design that matches our desire for clean lines.
"It is often overlooked by reviewers that the fully hidden cables are a home (and professional) mechanic's nightmare, the thought of a roadside repair long turned to dust. Battery dead? Hydraulics not working? Tubeless deflated unexpectedly? That's your Sunday ride scuppered.
"Need your local shop to replace that fully internal routed brake hose? That's half a day's labour right there."

do not mistake this for further evidence of our deification of ned ludd. i like my twelve-speed gears and their brake lever actuation. and even though it's totally superficial, i love the sound my carbon wheels make on a smooth bit of road. i can even admit a certain love for my integrated headset, based entirely on how simple it is to replace the bearings. but i also love my round-tubed, apparently non-aero steel frame and i greatly favour the externality of my gear and brake cables.

a fully integrated carbon aero road frame with nary a cable, wire or battery to be seen, is surely a holy grail that has been found by several manufacturers, whether you actually wanted/needed such features or not. the worrying bit is not that you can buy all this, but what they might do next.

though i'm in no position to advise or encourage any sort of revolution, i'd like simply to quote the final sentence from my reader's communication. "Maybe the people need to fight back and vote with their wallets."

i doubt i could have put it better myself.

sunday 11 october 2020

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utter cobbles

paris roubaix cobbles

in douglas adams' em>'the hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy', arthur dent discovers that the earth is, in fact, an enormous computer, engineered by mice to discover the meaning of life, the universe and everything. due to the ruminations of their original computer, 'deep thought' they know the empirical answer to this to be '42', but making little sense, the earth was subsequently supposed to have presented greater clarity.

unfortunately, just before the true meaning of '42' was about to be announced, a vogon constructor fleet destroyed the earth to make way for an inter-galactic highway, a fate from which arthur dent had been surreptitiously rescued by his friend, ford prefect.

it's not altogether hard to sympathise with the plight of the mice. despite their strenuous efforts over the course of millenia, quite literally, at the last minute, victory had been snatched from the jaws of defeat, leaving them no wiser than they had been when the large-scale experiment had been conceived.

naturally, none of us are or have been in a position to replicate anything on such a grand scale, but i'm sure we've all experienced similar situations, where we've looked forward to something for so long, that disappointment is writ large, when the expected outcome is postponed indefinitely, or cancelled altogether.

for no reason, other than the fact that i can, i have repeatedly, yet infrequently, posted messages on twitter, advising of the number of days or sleeps until paris-roubaix, probably the finest one day cycle race on the planet. i have several t-shirts and a baselayer in the closet featuring cobbles and pavé to be worn on or around the running of each year's event. with the original april date having been cancelled, this year's race was re-scheduled to take place on 25 october. three days past, i tweeted that there were a mere 18 more sleeps till i could awake and shout 'it's cobbles baby' to a less than caring, mrs washingmachinepost.

yes, i do believe that those enthralled by the ronde van vlaanderen the previous weekend would clamour that the belgian race holds greater pre-eminence, and no doubt it's an argument that surfaces each and every year. however, paris-roubaix is the absolute shizzle; i'm right and they're wrong. but you will doubtless have shared my pain on learning early on friday morning, that both the men's and women's events had been cancelled, due to an increase in covid-19 cases in the lille region, close to the race finale in roubaix.

it is, of course, the correct decision to have been made. though i can hardly believe i'm typing this, paris-roubaix is, after all, 'only' a bike race, one that has already been re-scheduled for 11 april 2021. but until i wipe the tears from my eyes, i'll be unable to calculate the number of sleeps between now and next year's cobbles. and if i'm this disappointed, one can only surmise the despondency experienced by the likes of matthieu van der poel or wout van aert, both of whom would have been looking to add to their palmares and acquire a cobblestone for the mantelpiece.

both riders have agreed that it now places greater emphasis on races such as de ronde and gent wevelghem, and i daresay we should be extremely grateful that not only will both 'cross riders go head-to-head in those events, but that neither event has received threats of cancellation.

but, along with many, i am now inconsolable, and there's nothing you can say that will change that.

saturday 10 october 2020

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bringing in the new

wynn evans

some ten years ago now, i had the great good fortune to ride with the inimitable graeme obree, a man who many of us feel ought to be designated a national treasure. chatting about nothing in particular, with the arising interest in cycling prevalent at the time, i said to graeme that he must be a happy man, with so many new riders becoming part of the velocipedinal landscape. surprisingly, to me at least, he said that he wasn't a great fan of the new recruits, and that he'd rather enjoyed cycling the way that it was.

though i do believe he was only half-joking at the time, i can, at times, see where he was coming from.

mrs washingmachinepost and i have been in the habit of holidaying each year at center parcs, a holiday that we will unfortunately miss this year. the main reason for this habitual state of affairs has everything to do with encouraging a week's worth of lethargy, rather than a desire to have an activity break. i think i work quite hard each year, as does mrs twmp, so rather than exhaust ourselves further by swimming every day, learning archery, battering a shuttlecock across a high net or a daily session in the gym, we're inclined to settle ourselves in a large, leather sofa, drink coffee and read books.

however, it was not always so. in the first few years at the nottingham center parcs, i was in the habit of hiring a bicycle in order not to let those honed muscles atrophy while supping incessant soy cappuccinos. granted, the bicycles on offer were unlikely to find favour in even the amateur peloton, but for stately perambulation of the estates, they were just fine. however, it seems that the majority of cycle hirers were drawn from the ranks of those who had scarcely ridden since early childhood, holidaymakers for whom the right and wrong sides of a road were indistinguishable, and who encountered the mini-roundabouts in any direction they liked. it was not unusual to find a family group with entirely different approaches to the same roundabout.

since those early days, i have refrained from even considering a hire bike, concerned as i have been, for my own safety. far preferable, i think, to refrain from cycling altogether for a few days, than return home with an injury precluding 'real' cycling. and yet there is no official or legal barrier to climbing aboard a bicycle and inserting yourself into heavy traffic, without so much as the need to undergo any awareness or skills training whatsoever. though i am a regular proselytiser of the velocipedinal way, i sometimes wonder why.

this does not, i hasten to add, arise from misplaced arrogance. after all, we've all been newbies in the past, and doubtless given cause for concern to our elders and betters at one time or another. however, casual observation would tend to suggest that there is an unfortunate increase in new cyclists who simply don't know that they don't know. and worse still, are inclined to argue otherwise. now come figures to suggest that this could conceivably be on the increase.

the man on the telly box with the corkscrew moustache and the tuxedo jacket, constantly exhorting us to 'go compare' has been out and about making enquiries about lockdown inspired transportation. the results of his queries would tend to suggest that the most favoured means of transport, at the expense of public transport, has been the bicycle, showing an increase of 38%. i will not insult your intelligence by claiming that all those percentage points are as a result of newcomers to the way of the saddle. many of those polled quite likely cycled long before such a thing as a coronavirus entered the modern lexicon. however, it would be every bit as naive not to presume that there have been recruits for whom the bicycle is the start of a new adventure, even if, at the behest of electrons.

i know that organisations such as cyclinguk do their level best to attract the attention of those new to the pedal, and i am of the opinion that they do a remarkably good job. but there's always the slight danger that their ministrations are seen to be preaching to the converted, and slightly missing the target. but on the basis that i would class our goodselves as the 'converted', it well behoves us to make sure as many of those new to the bicycle and cycle commuting, are given as much practical advice as they need.

if there's someone you know who fits the bill and cycles in the same direction as yourself, to and from work, school, the shops or whatever, perhaps you could do the decent thing and offer to accompany them, riding alongside, in front, or behind as deemed appropriate. if you go cycling at the weekends, invite them along, but not to simply drop them on the first hill, demonstrating the extent of your carefully honed physique. i still come across folks to this day, who have yet to fathom out the multiple gears on a road bike or mtb, or who permanently ride in the drops. and not suprisingly, many are highly fearful of so-called 'clipless pedals' for reasons i think we can all understand.

edinburgh bicycle have long contended that 'the revolution will not be motorised', but suppose the revolution has now arrived and we let it fail because we're not paying enough attention? that wouldn't look good as a t-shirt slogan.

friday 9 october 2020

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getting a decent tan

tan sidewall tyres

many years ago, at the glasgow start of the tour of britain, on the evening prior to the grand départ from glasgow green, the organisers hosted circuit racing around george square in the city centre. in order to foster more of a 'carnival' atmosphere, the square appended to george's name, featured several manufacturer's stalls, along with one of those mountain bike demonstrations, where young riders with more bike handling skills than you and i put together, jumped from one ramp to another.

while waiting for the tour of britain cavalcade of official cars to arrive, prior to the commencement of early-evening racing, i occupied my time by wandering in and out of the stalls and displays, pretending i'd have the nerve to attempt some of the death-defying stunts if i wanted to. the continental tyres tent featured an impressive rack of pretty much every tyre they manufactured, yet despite close inspection by yours truly, i could find no clincher road tyre that resembled their competition tubular.

prior to my departure for glasgow, i had been fortunate enough to have borrowed a pair of carbon sports eyewateringly expensive carbon/kevlar wheels, which, even when fitted to a bicycle, could have been blown away by a decent sneeze. suitable only for tubular tyres, the nice folks at carbon sports had kindly fitted a pair of continental tubs, presumably to prevent me from doing any lasting damage to their wheels, had i attempted fitting them myself.

if you've never ridden a pair of these german-made tubular tyres, i would advise you to take any opportunity to do so if it is offered. leaving aside the 'what would i do if i got a puncture?' question, the armchair ride provided, even over less than pristine cattle grids, is one to be greatly admired. however, in the process of my review, i noted that the tubs featured an all-over tread pattern made up of little bobbles of rubber, one that seemed to fly in the face of the endlessly trendy patterns featured on clincher tyres from many different manufacturers. so much was i taken by this minimalistic tread, that i felt sure there would be a continental road clincher somewhere that mimicked its professionalism.

as it turns out, i was wrong, a state of affairs that continues to this day. on enquiring of one of continental's technicians why this was the case, he informed me that, essentially, the pro riders, for whom the tubs were intended, would ride on whatever they were provided, while the mechanics who prepared the pros' bikes had little time for emerging trends. if it had worked in the past, it would continue to do so; if it ain't broke, don't fix it. however, he continued, we as consumers, were always on the lookout for new stuff, and in order to satisfy that demand, continental, along with their peers, were inclined to provide us with what they thought we wanted.

unless, as it turns out, we want a clincher tyre resembling the competition tubular.

but the other aspect of tyre design that seems to have similarly made itself scarce, is what i believe is referred to as a tan sidewall. in the days of 27 x 1-1/4" tyres, pretty much every tyre featured a tan sidewall. and even in my early days of road-riding, the selection of tyres from which i chose, seemed also to feature a tan sidewall around their 700c circumference. and though i have no pictorial or statistical evidence to back up my conjecture, i fear it may have been the introduction of coloured tyres that consistently altered the aforementioned tan sidewall, to an all black sidewall.

as i have pointed out on many a previous occasions, i am neither engineer, or technician, so i'd be hard-pressed to state whether, from a pragmatic point of view, there is any real difference between either style of tyre, other than that of colour. but should such a choice be available, i can assure you i would plump for tan every time. though the continental tubulars are black all-over, many of the tubular tyres used by the professionals tend to sport a tan sidewall, which is perhaps from whence my subliminal preference arises. maybe i'm an incurable 'dyed-in-the-wool' wannabe?

this is not to deny that there are still tyre manufacturers offering that which i seek, but a brief perusal of the road tyre section on 'chain reaction cycles, elicited very few examples, midst a sea of black. i think, therefore, that i will write to my msp and mp, demanding that both parliaments enforce tyre producers to offer black or tan on each of at least their more popular models. unless you have disc brakes on your road bike, the tan section does tend to become a bit discoloured with saturated brake dust, but that only adds to the patina of the intrepid roadie.

it's probably the only decent tan some of us are likely to get.

thursday 8 october 2020

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it's a worry

cycle lane

arriving rather earlier this year, the schools within argyll and bute region are now three days into the autumn break, a holiday of two full weeks for the perennially 'overworked and underpaid' teachers and the children they are charged with teaching. and though many an adult will admit to being only fair weather cyclists (if they cycle at all), for primary age kids, the occasional bout of torrential rain seems to be the least of their worries.

the office from which i ply my trade, is situated on bowmore main street, a wide road on a considerable slope, descending from the iconic round church at the top, all the way to the small harbour on the shore of loch indaal. it is, for children of a certain age, the ideal test track for their descending skills upon outsized bicycles and the born again scooter. from the window, i can witness them speeding downward, holding close into the parked cars on the left of the road, augmented by screams of either joy or fear. given the almost complete lack of braking power on a flimsy scooter, i'm inclined to go for the fear option.

strictly speaking, those on bicycles are breaking no laws (i'm none too sure about non-electric scooters), but it would simply take a non-attentive motorist to open the driver's door in front of a mini-peloton of screaming descenders, to bring the whole practice into disrepute and probably require an ambulance.

many years ago, the main street was narrowed at strategic points to prevent boy racers in their drainpipe exhaust outfitted astras and hondas, racing each other side-by-side, up and down the road. that no-one was ever injured was more by luck than design. had such narrowing not taken place, however, it may have been possible to install some form of bicycle lane, though having lived here for over thirty years, iwould be inclined to ask the question why?

yet a recent survey revealed that, in rural areas, presumably including islands such as this, 63% of respondents were concerned about colliding with another vehicle, and 18% claimed not to cycle because there was no cycle lane within reasonable proximity. i hope that, over the years in which these black and yellow pixels have existed, i have been able to illustrate in words and pictures, how little traffic exists for the most part, and just how much of the island is covered with single track roads.

the latter fact should be sufficient to demonstrate that there is neither space nor need for any form of cycle track. though there continues to be a mixed-use path under construction between bruichladdich and port charlotte, this particular route has never been one to feature any form of conflict between modes of transport. the three distilleries path between port ellen and ardbeg is an entirely different bucket of freewheels, since the existence of three distilleries along the way, had led to large groups of visiting pedestrians, often slightly inebriated, walking along a busy (by islay's standards) road.

other than that, islay is something of a cycling haven, with kilometre after kilometre of relatively traffic-free byways. i can understand the fact that there is 'rural' and then there's 'rural', but i am less than encouraged that it has come to occupants of such portions of the united kingdom, worrying about motor traffic to the extent of preventing them riding a bicycle. the conjecture of the aforementioned survey is that up to 15.71 million more britons could take to two wheels, if the government were to implement a more comprehensive infrastructure of bicycle lanes.

though surveys can often be a tad wide of the mark, often on the basis that those surveyed are inclined to answer in the manner they believe they are expected to, we need only view the success such cycling facilities have brought across mainland europe in the netherlands and denmark, for example. however, the facilities in those countries were introduced many, many years ago, often as a distinct alternative to car use. britain, unfortunately, decided to go down a different road (if you'll pardon the pun), leaving us with a distinctly car-centric culture that will be very hard to break.

i harbour serious doubts that those respondents who claim they'd cycle, if only there was a cycle lane nearby, would actually do so. assuming the likelihood of satisfactory facilities being implemented to be quite unlikely, particularly in the light of current economic uncertainty, many will hope that their bluff will never be called. and when you realise that as many as 28% cite punctures as a top concern, the whole exercise begins to take on a different perspective.

though the kids on bowmore main street seemed particularly untroubled by inclement weather, the professed sympathy i received for having been soaked on both days of last weekend, would suggest that the adult population sees rain and wind as almost insurmountable obstacles. as it happens, i found the rain most welcome, with a rather brightly coloured waterproof jacket to review. i tend to think that getting another 15 million plus folks onto bicycles will need a great deal more than just bike lanes.

lets just see what the statistics tell us in a few months time, regarding how many of those who took to the saddle during lockdown, have continued, now that cold, wet and windy weather has appeared over the horizon. in truth, it really shouldn't make any difference, but i'll bet that it does.

and as if to underline at least part of the point i'm labouring, derby city council has decided to remove a segregated cycleway, for which they received £228,000 worth of government funding, principally on the basis that "it has become apparent that the cycle lane is not achieving the intended purpose, with many cyclists choosing to use the adjacent footway or the wider footway on the opposite side of the road."

so much for 'build it, and they will come'.

wednesday 7 october 2020

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missing in action

bike to school

i would appear very foolish if i pretended that the world has not changed substantially since i was a school pupil, at either primary or secondary education. car ownership was considerably lower than is currently the case, with families frequently owning only a single example. though my parents weren't exactly rich, we were comfortably off, my father driving his company car, and my mother eventually purchasing her own morris mini to get to work in the neighbouring town. so we occasionally had two cars parked in the driveway. by the time i had returned from college, i had my own car, though, by this time, dear mama had once again become a pedestrian.

i have no recollection of mandatory parking spaces, the need for which seems to have infiltrated from below. a few years ago, a new housing scheme was built nearby, planning permission for which demanded a minimum of two parking spaces per abode, even, apparently, if several of those were single-person occupancy. notably, there seems no requirement whatsoever to provide any regulatory cycle parking. the croft, meanwhile, resides within an older scheme, surrounded by footpaths as part of an erstwhile pedestrianised area (even though nearby residents have taken to parking on some of the pathways). oddly, the new scheme, despite its professed modernity, has fully-featured, two lane roads offering access to all the houses and flats.

however, when i was a kid, i cycled to school, pretty much every day. the wall at primary school was home to a phalanx of oddly-shaped and frequently mechanically unsound bicycles. on arriving at secondary school, it was often difficult to see the wall at all, covered as it was, by up to three layers of bicycles in some parts. so commonplace was cycling to school that it was something to which none of us ever gave a second thought. but, as i said earlier, those were different days in different times.

on arriving on islay, some thirty odd years ago, the house in which i stayed could not have been closer to the high school if it had tried. the most obvious ommission, from my point of view, was a complete lack of bicycles anywhere in the school grounds. what i hadn't realised at that time, was the nature of the island, where the majority of pupils are bussed in and out each day from the other villages on the island, as well as the more remote areas.

that would scarcely prevent bowmore pupils from riding to school, but given that the majority live less than a half-kilometre from the building, that's probably unnecessary. and, though peer pressure plays its usual part, embarrassingly enough, many local kids are driven to school by their parents, even so far as driving into the school grounds.

however, the island's primary school pupils are all drawn from the villages in which the schools exist; their constant emphasis on ecological matters and the pupils' more diminutive size, is often extended to staff encouragement of bicycle use (not that i've ever seen a teacher cycle to school). yet, once again, even small rural primary school parents seem hell-bent on emulating their mainland and high school counterparts, often driving them to school over such minimal distances. so, despite living in the midst of the rural idyll, transport matters are often more akin to urban conditions and habits.

so, on discovering at the beginning of last week, that the sustrans curated, 'bike to school week' was about to take place between 28 september and 2 october, i contacted the island's primary school head teachers to confirm their participation. except, none of them had heard of its existence. in mitigation, the event was being promoted in partnership with bikeability, to which none of islay's schools are signed up. and following last year's demise of the council's road safety department, it had presumably remained a well-guarded secret.

however, an article published in bikebiz in august of this year, suggested that all uk schools had been invited to take part, with sustrans ceo, xavier brice saying "Now, more than ever, it is vital that as many pupils as possible are able to cycle to school through the creation of dedicated routes, and removing cars from the school gates." sadly, it seems that the word 'promotion' might have a slightly different meaning in the sustrans and bikeability offices than out here in the sticks. i have every confidence that somewhere there is probably a list of every primary and secondary school in the land, possibly even with contact details for each. it hardly seems too outlandish to think that two organisations with the best of intentions towards the encouragement of cycling amongst the junior members of society, would take it upon themselves to make direct contact, even if solely by means of a bulk e-mail shot.

if the nation truly is intent on meeting environmental and pollution targets by the agreed dates, none too far in the future, would not it make sense to encourage cycling in the early school years, potentially creating a generation that even poo-poo'd electric cars?

how dare you call me an idealist.

tuesday 6 october 2020

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