spot the difference

ritchey outback gravel bike

the last decade or more has not been a good time to be in the newspaper business, with social media not only hoovering up most of the available advertising, but the reading habits of the western world swapping ink and paper for online pixels. the arrival of covid-19 and the subsequent lockdowns experienced all across the world, pretty much wiped out newspaper advertising overnight. it's a factor that drastically affected islay's local newspaper, the ileach, the back page of which was formerly full of 'what's on' adverts. under the government guidelines of the time, it was no longer possible to hold concerts, fêtes, fairs, coffee mornings etc., so nobody advertised.

for reasons of both employment, continuity and keeping islay's population informed during these strained times, it was still necessary to fill a minimum of twenty pages every two weeks, and to come up with a back page alternative to those non-existent 'what's on' adverts. that, in desperation, was a 'spot the difference' feature, that filled a need and allowed me to practice my photoshop skills, creating up to a dozen differences between two images of islay.

and though, in this case, necessity was very much the mother of invention, the feature has proved endearingly popular, so much so that it has attracted advertising sponsorship until at least christmas. it's not often that circumstances such as these provide a win, win situation, but it surprisingly, that's what seems to have happened.

two good friends of mine, whose advert for galloway cycling holidays regularly fills a few of these black and yellow pixels, have engineered an ideal situation for themselves in the field of gravel racing. i'd love to tell you more, but for now, my lips have been sealed, and if i told you, i'd have to shoot you. however, in the process of preparations for this gravel-based future, they hosted a few team riders and a film crew for a day or so, just the other week. while keeping me abreast of developments, an e-mail i received was full of admiration for the riders and even the cameraman, who could apparently pull a wheelie even when loaded with several thousand pounds worth of gear on his back.

and, should you be interested, everyone, other than my two friends, could 'track stand and jump off anything'.

i have always marvelled with envy at even road riders who can easily clamber aboard their bicycles with ease after sign-on, clipping in as they roll towards the start line. former american cyclocross champion once explained to me how i should practise mounting and dismounting my cross bike, in order that i might emulate professionals such as himself. i spent many a happy hour or so, in bridgend woods, with lowered seatpost, climbing on and off my cross bike, raising the saddle a few millimetres as i mastered each increase, until, eventually, i could leap on and off with the best of them. sadly, even following those hours of repetition, i could still fall off with the worst of them, unable to clip in quickly enough to retain forward momentum.

watch the likes of tom pidcock, matthieu van der poel, or wout van aert, and they make it look like they were born to do just that. it is, without doubt, the difference between them and me, based at least in part, because they have to do it, and i, quite frankly, don't. but that doesn't make such skills any less desirable. riding around the principality, dressed in brightly coloured lycra, has never, i'll warrant, been a particularly good look, especially when dismounted and clacking like a duck across the floor at debbie's, trying insouciantly, to look cool.

in short, it's not something that's ever going to work, at least, not for us. perhaps it's a lot different looking out from the inside; perhaps, to the innocent onlooker, there's an inherent desire to join the happy throng, though a lack of recent recruits would tend to discredit that theory. from our point of view, those acrobats on 'cross bikes, or perhaps gravel machinery, always look way cooler than our own efforts, and the considerably more relaxed and funkier attire of the mountain biker, holds the same allure. not that i have any desire to ride an mtb, you understand, and though i think gravel to be yet another solution looking for a problem, purely for the bike-handling skills (very few of which i own), 'cross and gravel hold a certain attraction.

which is why, i suppose, i found myself perusing the ritchey logic website, informing myself as to the specifications of both their 'cross frames and the recently released 'outback' gravel frame. ritchey have helpfully overlayed strategic points of each frame with small crosses, mousing over which opens a comment box, providing more information about the frame section in question.

so, for instance, on their cantilever cyclocross frame, highlighting a cross on the top tube, informs as to the smooth top tube cable routing, while another on the chainstays, alerts the peruser as to the optimal power output curated by their smoothness. but, as if to highlight what may be the only difference between gravel bikes and cyclocross bikes, mouseover the top of the seatstays on the 'outback' frameset, and you learn that jimi hendrix was left handed, but played a right-handed guitar, while the highlight adjacent to the downtube bottle cage mounts, enlightens us to the salient fact that beer is the third most poured drink in the word, after water and tea.

sadly, even if those are the sole differences between the two genres, now i'm worried i might want to ride gravel.

ritchey logic outback gravel frame

monday 19 october 2020

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the inner chimp is winning

rapha pink backpack

the mighty dave t, despite his advanced years, is still capable of the occasional surprise attack, just to make us all look like rank amateurs, and, at the same, time, reminding us of where we sit in the pelotonic pecking order. only a couple of weekends past, as we grunted and groaned up the hill past the rspb's aoradh farm, an incline that tops out around 6%, the mighty dave slipped in between two of us, pedalling quickly and easily towards the summit. having reminded us of our place in the firmament, he sat up and joined the merry throng.

there's no doubt that advancing years play a part in the lowering of one's average speed, and i'm sure that, were the mighty dave to have lowered himself to use a gps device on his handlebars, he'd have noticed a slowing of the weekly average. i, on the other hand, do have just such a device in the handlebars, and it would be hard to deny that, though my average noticeably increased during the early days of lockdown, i think that probably more related to less car traffic, than any sudden upsurge in fitness. if evidence were required, as soon as government restrictions were eased, and more cars took up the rota of 'essential' journeys, my average speed dropped to more acceptable levels once more.

but then there's that infernal 'inner chimp' beloved of professor steve peters, the emotional part of the brain that apparently thinks and acts without our permission, the very obstacle that ought to be trained to do otherwise. at least, that is, if i've understood the principle correctly.

yesterday, i had need of delivering some documents to a friend of mine who lives almost half-way round my intended parcours. intent on allowing no interruptions to my regular saturday bike ride, i placed said documents in a brown jiffy bag and secured them within my bright pink, rapha emergency back pack. these documents amounted to little more than a few dozen sheets of a4 paper, while the back pack weighed little more than did they. what i'm trying, very ineloquently, to convey, is that these weren't heavy enough to have any negative bearing on my velocity.

yet, it seems that they were. i can usually reach the turn-off to the glen road sporting an average of more than 24kph, but yesterday, the numbers were considerably lower, despite an almost windless morning and little by way of traffic interruption. the only explanation was surely the existence of the pink backpack and its lightweight contents, which, as i've already explained, couldn't possibly have slowed me to such an extent. it seems that my inner chimp objected to the backpack after all. oddly, when i have a 3kg bag of my training porridge in the same back pack, the average speed seems mostly to be on the upswing.

as if to confirm the nub of my theory, having delivered the aforementioned documents and folded and zipped the pink backpack into its minimal state, the remainder of the afternoon proceeded in a speedier fashion. so, have i inadvertently incurred the wrath of my inner chimp? and if i have, what do i do about it? is there truly any alternative to purchasing a copy of steve peters' 'the chimp paradox', of which i am entirely bereft of the time to read? or am i simply ignoring the obvious that, as i rapidly approach the age which inspired a beatles song, the blur in my peripheral vision has more to do with age, than with speed.

is it just me, or is this happening to anyone else?

sunday 18 october 2020

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where it all goes horribly wrong

schaeffler bio hybrid

since the early 1990s, adobe have produced their flagship image editing software, photoshop, originally as a means of tidying up scanned images, but following the advent of digital cameras, it has come into its own, allowing those with the necessary skills, to manipulate images in all manner of previously unheard of ways. however, many photographers would prefer to spend their time taking photos, rather than sitting in front of a calibrated monitor attending to minutae such as sharpening, layer masks, adjustment layers, saturation, etc., etc.

the downside of photoshop, from a photographer's point of view, is an inability to work on more than one image at a time. the act of capturing digital images costs as much for one image as it does for hundreds, unlike film which incurs both film and processing costs. "why can't we," asked the photographers, "have some software that will allow us to not only catalogue and keyword a batch of images, but also apply the same adjustments to them all?"

that request, to an extent, makes a great deal of sense. if i was any sort of photographer myself, i'd rarely take single images as i do at present, but capture dozens of successive frames of the same review object. once loaded into something resembling the requested software, i could name each image, save them to a common folder and proceed to sharpen and lighten them in one fell swoop, based on the knowledge that, all taken at the same time, under the same lighting conditions, there would be no need to deal with them on a laborious, individual basis.

adobe, always on the lookout for more sales, listended intently, and produced adobe lightroom, first released as a public beta, allowing everyone and their best photographer friends, to try out the software free of charge and give feedback to adobe that would possibly improve this new software. unfortunately, what was initially a simple programme, fulfilling the basic needs of the intrepid digital photographer, rapidly became festooned with many of the features that could be found in photoshop, making it a great deal more cumbersome and unwieldy than it probably should have and could have been.

it seems that, everytime my copy of lightroom is updated, it takes longer to load, and a great deal longer to figure out how to do everything, from importing images, to storing them in a safe place. and it looks as if cycling might be about to set off along the same path.

essentially, dyed-in-the-wool cyclists, such as you and i, are relatively easy to please. most of the technical developments that have afflicted the humble bicycle in recent years, have been at the behest of the manufacturers, rather than by way of a demanding nature exhibited by their customers. did we ask from hydraulic brakes? not really. did we express a desire for electronic gears? i doubt it. but we got them anyway.

however, the recent upsurge in the bicycle's popularity for both transport and leisure, has mostly been at the expense of either public transport, or the personal, household car. and a bit like those who move from the rat race to rural idyll then spend all their time moaning about all the things they left behind, these cycling newbies, are more likely to be concerned about the level of comfort and convenience they feel has been lost when switching from four wheels to two.

and if that's not actually true, there are a whole host of manufacturers and technologists who would like to make it so. if you need any supporting evidence for that theory, just look at the meteoric rise in sales of electric bikes. and, of course, it won't stop there. brooks have already released a new edition of their cambium saddle, the c67, "carefully designed to meet the needs of e-bike riders", with a wide top and a raised rear surface, which, according to brooks, accounts for and lessens the forces created by the sudden accelerations of electric bicycles. i have ridden a few electric bicycles, but apparently missed out on the 'forces created by the sudden accelerations'. i obviously wasn't doing it right.

granted, it's unlikely that many of these demands will play havoc with our own corner of the velocipedinal world, if only on the basis that we're probably beyond saving. but following any notable transport developments, there will be the inevitable legislation, and health and safety concerns, some of which are almost bound to get in our way.

maybe all those clamouring for bicycle improvements, as they move away from their cars, could be told to work from home aboard their turbo-mounted zwiftness, leaving us to get on with our pain and suffering?

saturday 17 october 2020

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the missing link

absoluteblack chain

as previously advised, i have something of a fixation with a clean chain on my bicycle. sadly, this has more to do with aesthetics than with mechanical efficiency, but i like to believe that cleanliness might be close to wout van aertness, and ease the strain of trying to move forward in the teeth of a winter gale. and far from using some of the more exotic recipes on the market today, i'm in the habit of spraying a small selection of chain links at a time, with wd40, before cleaning them with one of the towels that mrs washingmachinepost doesn't know that i have secretly purloined from the bathroom.

of course, the chain has already been lubed with the eyedropper in my tiny bottle of revolube, a product that securely attaches itself to the chain and is allegedly impervious to water or degreasers (such as the wd40 alluded to above).

aside from perennially comparing the chain on my ritchey to those seen on tv coverage of the grand tours - such as the giro showing at this very moment - i have another reason for keeping a shiny chain. during an edition of the festive 500 several years ago, following a particularly agricultural set of kilometres, i was moved to clean the chain ahead of the next day's escapades, at which point, i discovered a cracked side-plate. in the middle of winter, on less than pristine roads and frequently, more than a handful of kilometres from home, a broken chain would not be a feature to which i'd look forward.

regular chain cleaning, in that case, might well be the very preventative measure that would save a long walk home.

however, it seems that having sideplates in which you can see your reflection are no longer enough. prior to his attempt on the hour record, the chain affixed to prince bradley's pinarello track bike was scrubbed to within a nanometre of its life, before being coated with a remarkably low friction lubricant, all the better to save brad a watt or two. at the risk of pointing out a growing, yet seemingly highly unnecessary trend, this appears to be something at which a substantial level of research is being aimed.

i can fully understand why the professionals would be looking for every last vestige of performance that can be squeezed from any component you care to mention, but i am somewhat mystified why that is something in which either you or i would be willing to indulge.

chain lube specialists, absoluteblack currently offer two options in the reduced friction chain-o-sphere, treated with their graphenlube. applied to a shimano dura-ace eleven speed, or a sram red axs twelve-speed, they have indicated that a great deal depends on how fastidious is the removal of the manufacturer applied anti-rust coating. this has now extended to a proprietary vacuum - ultrasonic process, while stating that it's "incredibly important not to leave any oily substance on the pins." assuming that to be the case, and i have no reason to suppose otherwise, it's not the sort of thing that you or i could attempt at home. perhaps the simple solution would be for the manufacturers to offer uncoated chains as an option?

this adopted use of vacuum-ultrasonics apparently guarantees that the lubricant applies without air bubbles (who knew?) and absoluteblack contend that they expect an upsurge in adoption of vacuum-packing, so to speak. but, while i realise that the pros will stop at nothing, i really can't see why you or i would wish to go down this road. i do not deny that a reduction in friction is likely either to result in an increase in speed, or the expenditure of fewer extraneous watts in reaching our usual, derisory speeds. but given that the purported advantage is likely to be miniscule, how many of us would be willing to spend over £125 to do so? (a standard version retails around £35).

the pro teams have multi-million pound budgets from which a few expensive chains are probably the least of their concerns. if it proves necessary to re-equip a rider's bike with a new chain every week or so, who's worried? but, for cyclists like yours truly, who is often criticised for replacing the chain as often as every three months, how effective would that expensive chain still be after a few thousand kilometres round the farm roads near loch gorm? and, more to the point, how much quicker would i have been, compared to a standard production chain?

thankfully, for the present, i am spared the sleepless nights that such questions might engender, since absoluteblack do not offer any campagnolo variants whatsoever. but a bit like those aero frames i was harping on about the other day, i doubt that a second-place-in-the-sprint peter sagan, would ever claim he'd lost because vacuum-ultrasonics had not been responsible for applying the lube to his chain. nor, indeed, can i imagine him citing that as a reason for victory. similarly, i don't see a vacuum-ultrasonic prepared version taking me to debbie's any more quickly tha is currently the case.

after all, i can buy nearly 63 soya cappuccinos for the price of a single exotic chain.

friday 16 october 2020

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aero bubbles

null winds spoke patent

i can still recall reputedly the first aero bicycle frame being announced to great fanfare prior to the same year's tour de france. i will spare the blushes of the cycle manaufacturer concerned, but suffice it to say, they are currently conspicuous by their absence in the modern-day, professional peloton. if memory serves, according to their wind-tunnel tests, the aero nature of the frame ought to have saved around 45 seconds during the average road stage in the tour, or similar events. and again, if i remember correctly, the first rider home aboard just such a bicycle, arrived in 7th place.

you will realise that this plays directly into my grubby little hands, for i hold the entire concept of aero frames with great suspicion, wind tunnel or no wind tunnel. i'm sure that, as an admitted non-engineer, those working at the leading edge of aerodynamics will be guffawing loudly, as i make a complete fool of myself, but i fail to see how the current batch of aero-road frames can possibly work effectively in such as a galeforce crosswind. i have based my un-scientific results on my real-world observation of my campagnolo bora wto wheels.

and though campagnolo have apparently wind-tunnel tested their carbon rims, and made a remarkably good job of doing so, there's no denying the occasional nudge down uiskentuie strand in windy conditions. join those wheels to a slab-sided carbon frame, and suddenly that nudge might well tip me sideways into the atlantic ocean. that's why i wear bright orange jackets, so that the helicopters will find me first.

but now comes news, sent to me only yesterday by a long-term reader of the post, of a patent filed in the usa, for a streamlined, tapered spoke, the accompanying drawing of which is sat above these words. according to the aptly named, null winds technology of california, maintaining a bladed cross-section near the wheel rim, will reduce drag where it is at its greatest, while morphing to a round profile near the centre of the wheel, reduces the effect of crosswinds which are at their greatest towards the hub.

according to nullwinds "Spoke drag actually most affects overall vehicle drag only when spoke surfaces are positioned in the critical vehicle-drag-inducing uppermost region of the wheel.", but then we all knew that. they continued by pointing out "Since flattened bladed spokes actually induce more drag against crosswinds than a round spoke, a combination of both bladed and round spoke profiles is needed for reduced overall drag under common crosswind conditions." it's a statement that, i'm afraid, makes no sense to me whatsoever.

if you consider the archetypal, deep-section carbon wheel rim, as evinced by the afore-mentioned campagnolo bora model attached to my ritchey logic, the bladed part (the rim) is at the outermost, fastest moving portion of the structure, and i'm pretty darned sure that it's this bit that feels the full-force of any crosswind you may care to mention. my steel ritchey logic, features non-aero rounded tubing, a bicycle which, when fitted with standard rimmed, spoked wheels, shows far less deflection in crosswinds than with the bora wto carbons. therefore, i have logically deduced that the frame is an innocent bystander in such matters.

a slab-sided, aero road frame, cannot surely do otherwise, than feel the full effect of a crosswind over all its side area, which, when married to deep carbon rims, would give it most of the characteristics of a kite. and if null winds are to be believed, blading the spokes at the outer edge of the wheel is now going to minimise that effect, aided and abetted by the slower moving and rounded profile near the hub. it's just as well i stopped at lego, for i'm afraid the purported benefits of aero spokes and aero frames would seem to defy logic (or at least, they defy my logical understanding).

and believe me, i have a great deal of experience riding in galeforce crosswinds, and their effect on a hapless bicycle and its rider.

if you're an aeronautics engineer, in great despair at my demolishing of all that you hold to be true, please don't e-mail me with cosines, tangents and co-efficiency equations, because i fear i am bereft of the intelligence that would allow me to comprehend how this all works, and i'm better left alone with my ignorance. and for those who are in sympathy with my forlorn plight, allow me to make matters worse, by quoting null winds founder and inventor, garth magee.

"This new tapered spoke profile maximizes propulsive efficiency by streamlining the outer spoke with a bladed profile for the predominate headwinds impinging upon the critical uppermost region of the wheel, while simultaneously streamlining more centrally-positioned regions of the spoke with an oval or round profile for reduced drag against the higher effective crosswinds impinging on lower regions of the wheel."

nope, me neither.

thursday 15 october 2020

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just ride bikes

dave arthur - just ride bikes

the 1990s gave rise to the term 'information superhighway', a phrase allegedly first used by vice-president al gore to describe a national communications network that would cross the united states allowing americans to quickly access and exchange information via voice, data, video and other services. nowadays, it's pretty much the whole world that benefits from this highway, only we now refer to it as the internet. or more archaically, the world wide web.

it's doubtful that anyone foresaw the revolution this would impose upon everyday living. so many services we once conducted face to face, are now carried out online, often whether we actually want to or not. and this connectivity, aside from the notable benefits it has engendered, has also fostered a new meaning for the word 'virus', and allowed the dregs of humanity to attempt to separate hard-working people from their savings.

the washingmachinepost, conceived in the early days of access to the web by the rest of us, existed before the word weblog was coined, and even before it was subsequently contracted to the shorter 'blog'. at the time, i thought of the latter as something of a put down, maintaining that the post was a bona-fide website. however, since blogs and bloggers are part of the mainstream these days, i have accepted my fate.

but, with the advent of better and better strains of video codecs and the ride and rise of youtube, it perhaps makes perfect sense that, rather than simply reading reviews about bicycles, modernity has offered us moving pictures to augment or supplant plain text. writing is something that suits my persona far better than attempting to portray everything in video; i prefer to play to my strengths. however, there are those far better versed in such technology and with the ideal personality to provide addictive, watchable cycle reviews online, one of whom is the inimitable dave arthur.

readers may have been introduced to dave's writing and reviewing via the sadly demised roadcyclinguk and bikemagic, though more recently on but he has now departed the fold to ride solo on the youtube channel, 'just ride bikes'. i asked him how long he'd been at and why he'd left to be all on his own?

"I joined in 2012 after a long stint at RCUK and Bikemagic. I enjoyed working on the most exciting new road cycling website at a time when websites were still in their infancy and the big publishers were focused on print mags. I've always enjoyed working for online publications because of the immediacy of publishing and engagement with readers. Though I could do without the pedants pointing out my typos! I chose to leave for a change and new challenges and wanted to pursue new creative opportunities."

dave is a seasoned bike reviewer, easily capable of differentiating such minutiae as the width of a thirteen-speed chain, and the variations of carbon fibre employed in professional level bicycle frames, so it was something of a surprise to learn that his youtube channel features the moniker 'just ride bikes'. surely that would be the sort of heading used to entice the sustrans crowd, or those new to cycling? so what's behind the name?

"I got into the bike industry by accident, as I'm sure many do. I was enjoying mountain biking as a hobby in the South West and regularly racing and competing. As well as riding, I also pursued my other hobby, photography, and would regularly take my camera along to events and rides with friends.
"At the time I was pursuing a graphic design career, but along came the internet and I quickly transitioned into this brave new world, and got my head around HTML and started building websites. Naturally, I produced a website to host my photos, which was great. But I realised it needed some words, so I started writing. Just ride and race reports to begin with. I bought the Just Ride domain name - it just summed up my love for just riding bikes.
"Then, while taking part in the amusingly named Soggy Bottom XC races in Newnham Park, Plymouth  (organised by Martyn Salt who went onto to organise the Olympics) I was able to get my race reports published on the BBC website and this was a pivotal turning point, but I didn't realise it at the time. I continued updating my website for the enjoyment of it, then a friend showed me a job advert for an editorial assistant at Bikemagic (which in the 2000s was one of the biggest cycling websites in the world).
"I sent off my CV, a couple of weeks later I interviewed successfully, and next thing I know I'm moving to London to write about bikes for a living. And I've never looked back, though I've always joked that I'll get a proper job one day. But right now I continue to enjoy writing about my hobby and the changes in the last 15 years have kept it fun and enjoyable. I've met some amazing people and been to some amazing places, and ridden some amazing bikes that I regularly can't afford to buy!
"So when I started my own YouTube channel I decided to use the name 'Just Ride Bikes', as a clear statement of intent for the content and to reflect on where it all started for me."

i regularly receive e-mails from pr agencies and individuals, offering pre-written content for thewashingmachinepost, the caveat usually being that they want me to link to some commercial outlet somewhere or other. occasionally there is the offer of possible financial recompense, but most often, the only proposed benefit is a reputed increase in visitors to the post. however, i actually enjoy writing, and i'm of no mind to give up my daily ramblings, replacing them with often remarkably badly written copy.

dave, however, though perfectly capable of the art of word-wrangling, has chosen to go down the road (if you'll pardon the pun) of video reviews. why?

dave arthur - just ride bikes

"I absolutely love writing bike reviews, it has always been my favourite aspect of being a cycling journalist. But I felt there was an opportunity to bring my years of bike testing experience and expertise to a video channel which I didn't feel really existed in the way I, as a cycling enthusiast, desired. I had no idea what to expect, but I have been blown away. The channel growth since starting in March/April, the engagement from viewers enjoying my reviews, and the support from the bike industry has been incredible. It has gone far better than even my wildest expectations."

with tehwashingmachinepost, i have endless creative freedom, such as it is, predominantly because i have no need or desire for commercial success. however, leaving the fold at behind, to champion a new venture featuring bicycle reviews on an untested video channel, can't have been an easy choice. the success of such channels is largely dependent on subscriptions, likes and followers. has it started to pay the bills? how many subscribers does dave currently have?

"The YouTube channel isn't full time yet. I still actively pursue freelance writing since leaving I started my channel in March/April with 1000 subs and the latest figures are just shy of 17,000 which just seems incredible to me. As well as the skyrocketing subscriptions, the watch time and number of comments on my videos, regularly stuns me as well, showing that my videos are really resonating with my audience."

if you had a blog, or website that explained the intricacies of nuclear physics in great detail, there's little doubt that the content of such would be a great deal more important than a series of black and yellow pixels concerned with bicycle conversations. however, in my defence, i post something new each and every day, whereas your nuclear physics might only be updated once every couple of months. therefore, in google's eyes, my ramblings are more important, and definitely more frequent than your quarks and gluons. sad, but true.

the same principle applies to content on any platform, so how frequently does dave hope to post new content? "I aim for one bike review every Sunday as a minimum, but have regularly been posting as much as three times a week.
"I'm focused on a balance of quality and quantity - I'd rather do one really good video than two average videos. My workflow (planning, shooting and editing) has become much quicker since I started, which helps the output rate. I'm working towards a goal of two bike reviews a week. There's also the time involved in managing social media as well."

and therein lies the reason that 'just ride bikes' offers addictive and immersive quality viewing. i daresay we've all had a go at capturing video, and you may even have had a shot at nle (non-linear editing). but with the level of professionalism currently at an all-time high, there's a lot more to it than simply pointing your iphone in the right directions. the quality of dave's output is exemplary; is he solely responsible for both video and editing, or is george lucas on the other side of the camera?

"At the moment it's 100% me. I have some previous experience video editing and I've always been good at picking up new skills very quickly. The quality of the content has improved since I started, but I'm aiming as high as possible to ensure the production values are as good as they need to be in a competitive space. I must give a shout out to my partner for her help with 'Yeti Cam' filming, for riding segments on the road bikes."

one of the obvious problems, related to production of continuous content, is a potential lack of bicycles. there is no way on this earth i could offer a bike review each week, none of which is related to where i live. nowadays, as ever, it's often a case of who you know rather than what you know, so is dave able to acquire an uninterrupted supply of new machinery to maintain quality content?

"It was slow to begin with but it's picking up pace. I feel lucky that several brands really gave me a chance in the early stages: Giant, SRAM, Canyon, Specialized, Shand, Kinesis, without which I wouldn't have been able to build the channel as I have. I like to think I have a level of respect in the bike industry and some brands have been incredibly supportive of my new venture and ambitions. But it's still an uphill battle, with many brands very much held back by the traditional marketing of working with a small handful of long-established publishers. But I'm slowly changing these attitudes and gaining more support."

if i take a look back at my earlier postings from twenty or so years ago, i regularly cringe at my phraseology (i'm sure many of you still do), but i like to think that my skills as a writer have improved over the years, to the extent that i am now occasionally asked to assist with manuscripts intended for publication. i'd also hope that i have become a better reviewer in the process. does dave think that he's a better reviewer now than when he started (he is, but don't tell him i said so)?

"God that's a tough question! Maybe ask the readers? Ha ha. I'd like to think my experience has improved the quality of my reviews, and I've always listened to the readers to ensure my reviews are as helpful to somebody buying a new bike, as they are to those who know exactly what they want. It's not lost on me that I'm performing a service to people who want help when choosing a new bike or product, so that does hold me to account when it comes to writing reviews."

there's little doubt that, in order to achieve some level of success, it's necessary to know just who you're writing for. for instance, it would make little sense in reviewing a passoni titanium gravel bike, equipped with campagnolo's new ekar groupset, if your reading public thinks anything more than £250 constitutes an expensive bike. who does dave view as his target audience?

"Cyclists who are interested in the latest bikes and products who value my honest, real-world, in-depth and unbiased reviews. They trust my opinion and recommendation when it comes to making an informed buying decision and I'm approachable with an active presence on most social media networks and regularly help people with advice around such topics as what new bike to buy, to which tyre is best for gravel riding, etc."

those of a certain age probably started out on their cycling careers by riding mountain bikes. in the late 1980s and 1990s, the offroad bike reigned supreme, and only the dyed-in-the-wool roadie gave it the cold shoulder and continued riding skinny tyres and bendy bars. thus, more than just a few of us writing about bicycles and bicycle culture cut our teeth (so to speak) on knobbly tyres and flat bars. does dave consider himself a roadie who rides mtb, or vice versa?

"Mountain biking is my first love and always will be, but I consider my ability to ride and write about road and mountain bikes as a valuable skill that sets me apart. I always cycled as a youngster, but it was 90s mountain biking - MBUK, Grundig XC racing, the bike tech - that really captivated my young eyes and kept me hooked. But I get as much a thrill from riding mountain bike singletrack as I do hurtling along on an aero road bike."

time was, in those halcyon days of the mountain bike, that the intrepid cycle scribe was never short of material for his or her wordprocessor. gadgetry and so-called technical development proceeded at a pace that frequently meant that whatever you'd written about last month, was now so passé, replaced by a purple-anodised something completely different. dave's wide experience of all things cycling is bound to have sharpened his extra sensory perception, so what are the emerging trends we'll all be obsessed with in the coming months?

"I think all the emerging trends are currently being fiercely debated on the comment boards around the internet. Disc brakes, 1x gearing, aero road bikes, 12 and 13-speed groupsets, affordable power meters. The tech that really excites me is 3D printing and future materials like Graphene, real tomorrow's world stuff, but I'm also excited by the continued investment in current materials and technologies, especially when it comes to making better bikes at better prices. It's easy to fixate on the uber-expensive flagship bikes with which brands like to lead new bike launches, but the fact is, affordable bikes are so much better than they ever used to be, especially when I think back to my first bike."

dave arthur's 'just ride bikes' can be found on youtube.

wednesday 14 october 2020

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rapha classic winter gore-tex jacket

rapha goretex classic winter jacket

since earlier this summer, the window-sill at debbie's has been home to at least couple of 2021 calendars, few of which (or even none) appear to have been sold. i confess, I've never known anyone to purchase a calendar for the following year, when they might be barely half-way through the current one. however, contact any calendar publisher, and you will likely be told that they need copy by may, for publication in late june. friends of mine acceded to this request/advice a few years ago, working on the basis that, by the time the invoice was due, they'd have recouped most of their costs to pay the outstanding balance. suffice it to say, not a single calendar was sold until the first week of november. the experience put them off repeating the process, so there was no opportunity to be twice shy.

rapha goretex classic winter jacket

every year, our local newspaper asks its readers to send in their images of islay and jura for prospective inclusion in the following year's calendar. the closing date for entries is generally the beginning of october, leaving yours truly time to have the successful entries selected and all the concomitant design work and in-house printing completed prior to announcement of its availability come the beginning of november.

calendars of this type, are, by and large, an ideal means of advertising the island's finer points, with the majority of images having been snapped during the brighter and (hopefully) sunnier summer months. the final array of imagery is received from those who live here, and from those who have visited for their summer holidays, thus the majority of photos tend to reflect the months between may and september. but if we're going to present a calendar with images appropriate to each month, one or two showing snow, or galeforce winds are generally considered necessary.

rapha goretex classic winter jacket

the shiny, easter or summer months are also those most favoured by the cycling press. when was the last time you lifted a copy of the comic on which the rider on the cover was grovelling through inclement weather? happily, it's not a trend followed by those who regularly present us with velocipedinal apparel, the inhabitants of which must sit by the window, keeping at least one eye on the seasons through which the intrepid will continue to ride.

after filling our e-mail inboxes all year with images of attractive short-sleeve jerseys, the nice people at rapha's imperial works have presaged a long, hard winter's cycling with their first volley in the battle for winter: the classic winter jacket, and it's a garment that has me slightly confused.

rapha goretex classic winter jacket

once again, rapha have collaborated with goretex to produce a garment fashioned from the latter's infinium windstopper fabric, on which the attached tag explains "when performance matters more than waterproofing". many of you, self-included, would likely think it a contradiction in terms for a jacket to sport a goretex membrane, yet exclude the possibility of breathable waterproofing. but, at the risk of engendering a spoiler alert, i wore this bright orange example for a total of five hours in persistent rain, without once fearing for the water-absorption of the jersey worn beneath.

in short, no matter what the folks at gore might profess, as far as i can see, waterproofing is included as standard.

rapha goretex classic winter jacket

the garment sports fully taped seams, and two waterproofed chest-height zipped pockets/air vents. the full length front zip rides all the way to the zip-garage on a tricot-lined tall collar, featuring the all-important hang-loop inside. those two pockets mentioned above are of a mesh material, easily swallowing an essentials case, but doubling as ventilation, should your power output, outstrip the jacket's inherent breathability. there are further two wide, elasticated pockets at the rear, split by a bright-white, rapha monogrammed reflective strip. these will swallow a council skip whole.

rapha goretex classic winter jacket

the superbly judged length of sleeves, ending in scalloped cuffs with a reflective edge and hiding internal lycra cuffs are just ginger peachy. on a cold day, worn over the recently reviewed core range, long-sleeve jersey, star trek's defence shields suffer badly by comparison. and just to add the icing on the cake, the hem features a draw cord to keep cold winter draughts at bay, whether sprinting, grimpeuring, or just standing outside the coffee shop, supping takeaway froth. by comparison to last year's rapha/goretex offerings under the pro-team banner, the classic winter jacket is a less figure-hugging fit, allowing a more normal approach to breathing.

granted, goretex infinium is a few rungs further down the ladder than shakedry, but 1n my experience so far, not as many rungs as you might think. winter on the outer edge will undoubtedly bring a phalanx of galeforce winds, accompanied by more than our fair share of horizontal rain. when that happens, as far as i'm concerned, the future's bright, the future's orange.

rapha's classic winter gore-tex jacket is available in both men's and women's styles in sizes ranging from xs to xxl (men), and xxs to xl (women). the men's version is coloured brown, black or orange, while the women's style is shaded orange or navy. retail price for either is £270.

tuesday 13 october 2020

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