that wasn't my idea


last saturday's solo bike ride was of minimal constitution: a brief lap of bridgend woods on the 'cross bike in pouring rain, a few kilometres on the grass down to debbie's for lunch, and more grassy kilometres on the return, only this time into a 75kph headwind. character building. sunday was marginally better, but with higher winds than the forecast would have had us believe. and it's quite astonishing the difference a week can make. this saturday's ride returned a considerably higher average speed than has recently been the case, and utterly devoid of waterproofs; a first for 2021.

yesterday, however, was very definitely the icing on the cake. granted, there was no mention of the rain that featured on the outward part of the trip, and we've very much hit the time of year when there's really no way of predicting what sort of clothing to leave out the night before. the friday afternoon ride, in winter jersey and thermal jacket, resembled little more than a mobile sauna, so on sunday i replaced the winter jersey with a lighter version, but still worn below the thermal jacket.

if i can once again cite the 'four seasons in one day' mantra, we were left wondering how it's possible to begin a straight road with no wind, finish it with a (mild) headwind, and have us reaching for the zip tabs to fend off a rapid cooling en route. that shouldn't really be able to happen, but happen it did. and though the atlantic waves at saligo are always reasonably impressive, yesterday's were but a scale model of those witnessed last sunday. in truth, a very fne day for a bike ride.

but group rides would scarcely be of great interest, were the mid-peloton chatter to be less than interesting. and given the limited number of us constituting said peloton, eccentricity is probably an inevitability. so, in the light of the uci's recent banning of odd, yet allegedly aerodynamic bike positions, along with the phantom tri-bar position, the conversation turned to what we might wish to ban or encourage, were any of us to be invited onto the board at aigle.

the first on the list was a proposal to ban shades, so that we could all see the whites of the riders' eyes as they realise the achtervolgers are close to threatening their position as kop van de westrijd. apparently there was little in the way of sympathy for an inability to see clearly in bright sunshine. there was also tacit agreement that, were we to be issued with uci blazers, we'd insist that all bicycles feature mudguards, even during those three weeks in july. any mechanics found filing off the mudguard eyes from carbon dropouts, would be severely admonished, probably in fluent flemish.

any further discussion was somewhat stymied by coming across two friends at the sheep fank at the top of foreland hill. on querying why the sheep had multicoloured wool, it transpires that the yellow marks on their back signified ownership, while the red dots identified those due to have twins. as to the blue stripe along their backs, well, i really can't recall what that was for. apparently the flock contained several different breeds of sheep, from small, black shetlands, to mules to blackface (rather obviously, the sheep with black faces, though apparently not all blackface sheep demonstrate this feature). one of the older shetland sheep had failed to appear, its whereabouts unknown, to which one of the peloton mentioned tracking via sheep.p.s (it sounds funnier if you say it out loud).

as if to underline the change in the weather, for the first time since late 2020, we were able to dine al fresco at debbie's. rapha may have released a new range of colours for early 2021, but to be honest, we'd be happier with a clothing guide that took account of the wide variation in meteorological conditions.

monday 1 march 2021

twmp ..........................................................................................................................................................................................................

ritchey wcs chicane b2 stem

ritchey wcs chicane b2 stem

omloop day, when the real cycle racing begins. no disrespect to the cycle event taking place in arabia, but a gaggle of riders spread across a motorway bordered by endless kilometres of sand just doesn't do it for me. though the competitive element appears to be in place, surely a proper race needs iconic scenery that varies occasionally along the way? i mean, which would you rather have: acres of sand, or the kappelmuur?

ritchey wcs chicane b2 stem

i rest my case.

and yet, at the beginning of this past week, omloop wasn't even on eurosport's menu; an odd turn of events in the light of their intent to televise today's kuurne-brussels-kuurne, another proper race that receives a lower grading from the uci, than the race we almost didn't see. the original lack of an omloop televisual feast caused much frothing of mouths on social media, but whether eurosport's relenting was simply the end result of lengthy, behind the scenes negotiations, or a reaction to the frothing, i'm really not sure. you will, by now, be aware that not only did the sports broadcaster provide excellent coverage of the men's race, but the final hour of the women's omloop het nieuwsblad, which trailed home the former.

ritchey wcs chicane b2 stem

but then, what's a cycling fan to do, when the race takes place on a saturday? it is my regular habit to ride out from the croft around 10:30am, circuitously en-route to debbie's for the requisite double-egg roll and a soya latte around noon. this is generally followed by a circumambulation of loch gorm, prior to heading home, but so doing would have left scarce time, following the obligatory shower, to watch any belgian cobbles being trammeled by an intrepid peloton. and then there was the not so small matter of new stem fitment.

in 2019, ritchey released the first edition of their chicane stem, one which answered my oft muttered, and seemingly unheard wish for a handlebar stem that lost a couple of the faceplate bolts in favour of a hinge. i surely can't be the only home-mechanic who has manfully struggled to hold the bars in place while attempting to catch the threads of the first bolt? the pros will be sniggering into their coffees, but stem or bar replacement had, until june of 2019, offered a level of faff that offered one irritation after another. surely there was a better way?

ritchey wcs chicane b2 stem

as it turned out, there was/is indeed a better way: hinge the faceplate at the top of the stem and place two bolts at the bottom. that hinge bears sufficient stiffness of operation to comfortably hold the bars in place while bolt faffing takes place. on tom ritchey's chicane stems, those two bolts face backwards, meaning little in the way of manoeuvring room to get the torx key between the steerer and stem, particularly on the shorter versions. i found the simplest method to be affixation of those bolts, prior to sliding the stem over the steerer.

the original chicane stem, apparently still available, eschewed the use of external steerer clamp bolts in favour of an internal wedge securing the stem on the steerer. but, traditional to the last, it seems that more than enough roadies prefer the more traditional means of clamping the stem to the steerer via two individual, external bolts. hence this second version of the wcs chicane stem. of course, it would surely be iniquitous to remove all the faff that we enjoy so much. the original chicane stem faceplate bolts were torx t20, while the new version features torx t15 bolts. unfortunately, the steerer clamp bolts are t20, while the stem bolt holds with tradition as a 5mm allen bolt. i'm all too well aware that ritchey are not the worst offenders in the bolt variety stakes, but wouldn't it be so much simpler if all the bolts were the same size and the same type?

ritchey wcs chicane b2 stem

one tool to rule them all, to quote bilbo baggins.

all that said, it really didn't take too long to fit the stem to the ritchey logic. the only difference between the original and the second edition was the need to add a thin headset spacer 'neath the standard top cap (replacing the flat magnetic plate on the original) to prevent the stem bolt bottoming out before achieving the desired lack of play in the headset.

the first half of my ride equaled the roughness seen in sections of the omloop parcours, the difference being that islay's churly bits arrive courtesy of surface degradation (potholes), rather than a road surface that is the toast of cycling connoisseurs worldwide. should there have been any untoward movement from bars or stem, it would undoubtedly have been at the behest of saturday morning mechanical ineptitude, but i'm happy to say that the stem's more traditional look offered every bit the same mechanical advantages promulgated by its predecessor. and, surprisingly enough, i believe i can probably attest to the increased aerodynamics mentioned on the ritchey website; on arriving back at the croft, my average speed was noticeably higher than previous outings.

surely the perfect choice for the spring classics?

ritchey's wcs chicane b2 stem is available only in black and in lengths ranging from a very minimal 80mm to a wrist stretching 130mm | ritchey wcs chicane b2 road stem

sunday 28 february 2021

twmp ..........................................................................................................................................................................................................

flat bar society

flat bars

several years ago, i was sent a titanium framed bicycle from holland for review on the post, a review which subsequently failed to please the manufacturer. however, on querying with which part of my review they were disappointed, i discovered that their despondency was more with those who had prepared the bicycle prior to its departure from the warehouse. i might offer some indication of the troubles covered, on revealing that the islay carrier had to deliver the bicycle upside down, because the bottom of the box had distintegrated sufficiently, that the cycle would have fallen out if left upright.

this particular bicycle featured a rohloff 14-speed hub gear, gearing that i had previously reviewed, but one that i had hoped to feature once again, but this time operated by means of a belt-drive. that had been the basis of my request, yet the bicycle arrived with a standard chain drive, rather undermining the point, and leaving solely the titanium frame as the object of desire. and to place the crowning glory on the entire affair, the bicycle featured very wide, flat bars. reputedly the reason for the latter rested on the alleged lack of a gear lever for the rohloff that could be fitted to a set of drop bars.

in the late 1980s/early 1990s, i, along with many in the velocipedinal world, based my pedalling activity around mountain bikes, the darling of the period, and arguably saviour of the cycle industry. islay being pretty much devoid of mountains, or even big hills, my recreational use of the muddy fox centred around scooting through any available undergrowth, ploughing through nearby fields, and generally falling off while attempting to embroil myself in the nascent downhilling genre.

but while riding flat-bars hither and thither offroad was probably seen as quite pragmatic, i found (and still find) flat bars to be somewhat unpalatable on the often lengthy trips endured to reach suitable offroading territory. in an attempt to recreate the hand-position engendered while riding on the hoods of a road-bike, i fitted purple anodised bar extenders, but the width of the bars rather mitigated against accurate reproduction of road-going ergonomics, and i found shortened bars a bit less manouvreable over tractor-rutted fields.

champion mountain biker, john tomac, famously fitted drop bars to his mountain bike in order to replicate his road-racing position, achieving impressive results via this hybrid solution. but that was john tomac, a sponsored rider who presumably had an entire entourage of mechanical assistance to integrate mountain bike gearing with road-bike gear levers. aside from the potential costs involved, i'm afraid i lacked the cojones to create a homegrown solution. and while there are presumably advantages to be gained from flat bars on mountain bikes, faced with a galeforce headwind down uiskentuie strand, they effectively removed any likelihood of a hiding place in the saddle.

cyclocross has a heritage almost as long as that of its road-going brethren, its bicycles having sported drop bars for pretty much every year of that heritage. arguments have raged, and will likely continue to do so, over whether there is truly any real need for gravel bikes, when cyclocross already exists. it's an intriguing dilemma that adopting the name gravel' might have been a marketing coup that overturned a certain reluctance. i recall asking the importer of a famous italian marque almost two decades ago, if there might be a model of their top-line carbon 'cross bike available for review. the response indicated that so few of that particular model were sold in the uk, that it made no commercial sense to feature a review model on their fleet.

i'd be willing to bet that, if i asked now about their top level gravel bike, such a problem doesn't exist today.

however, the advent of providing flat bars on certain brands of gravel bike is one with which i hold little truck. while it presumably allows the manufacturer access to offroad groupsets with flat bar gear changers, have several component manufacturers not already provided the wherewithal via dedicated gravel bike groupsets? and, as i and others have mentioned before, surely a flat bar gravel bike is simply a mountain bike with a trendier name? but the over-riding factor, presumably endured by the mountain bike fraternity in the same way that roadies experience 'pain and suffering' is the unavoidable fact that flat bars are simply uncomfortable on which to ride.

drop bars offer a wide variety of hand positions: on the hoods, on the flats, on the drops, on the flats of the drops - i'm sure you get my drift. therefore, on longer rides and in the face of headwinds, there's no reason to endure numb fingers or pained wrists. on flat bars, where else is there to go? three years ago, on a weekend visit to the isle of arran, to play drums at their annual whisky festival, i was loaned a rather crappy mountain bike on which to ride to the cycle café at lagg, some 30km south of lochranza. by the time i returned at the end of the day, my hands and wrists were in agony, and i was exploring every supposedly alternative grip available (to no avail).

mark my words, flat bars are the work of the devil. whatever you do, never purchase a gravel bike that shows signs of arriving thus equipped. you have been warned.

saturday 27 february 2021

twmp ..........................................................................................................................................................................................................

build it, and they will come

uiskentuie strand

i know i've mentioned this before, but some of it (at least) bears repeating as a precursor to the point i'm about to eventually make. the advent of last year's lockdown and subsequent period of furlough, meant that for several months, there were but two of us industriously slaving away in the office, altruistically ensuring there was still a business to which our furloughed compatriots might return. however, having successfully produced a new edition of the newspaper every alternate week, there was still the matter of distribution.

the bulk of our output is collected on a saturday morning by the royal mail, who, not unsurprisingly, travel across pretty much every centimetre of the island, perfectly poised to dispense boxes of newspapers to islay's newsagents. that leaves only those destined for bowmore's two contracted retail outlets, and the three on the rhinns of islay (on the far shores of lochindaal). royal mail could and would deliver to the latter, but only when delivering saturday's mail, most often by mid-afternoon. on the basis that 2pm on saturday afternoon is perhaps a tad inconvenient for those news-sellers, the lady who acts as printer, usually delivered them late friday on her way home.

of course, during furlough, said printer was not in the office, leaving a glaring gap in our distribution strategy. thankfully, the farthest flung of those rhinns newsagents opted to collect her sales copies on friday morning. and since one of the remaining two happens to be debbie's cafe, i very quickly volunteered to cycle the 28km round trip to deliver those, principally on the promise of a soya latte on arrival. and in a serendipitous coincidence, the owner of the remaining store, in port charlotte, is a member of the velo club, every bit as keen (most of the time) to cycle to bowmore, collect his sales copies and ride back with yours truly.

we have, on occasion, been commended for our environmental perspicacity, eschewing use of fossil-fuel driven distribution methods, and substituting what amounts to a grown-ups' paper round, something i've not done since before heading off to art school. however, much as i'm happy to bask in some reflected glory, even if slightly misplaced, in truth, the paper-round subsists not only on our joy of the bike ride, but the inevitable coffee at point of delivery.

but then it gets even better, very much in a 'build it, and they will come' scenario. another member of the velo club, a fellow who has been working from home since march last year, has cottoned on to the fact that friday afternoons are free from work-related imposition, leaving time and opportunity available for a gratuitous bike ride. so, for the second time in a fortnight, he elected to join us on the ride south, simply for the joy of the bike trip.

i'm happy to admit that all of us are fully paid up members of the velo club, frequently eager to take advantage of any excuse to drag our bicycles from the bike shed, as opposed to needing earnest persuasion. however, it dawned on me that, were we to advertise our nascent friday afternoon excursions, perhaps there might be others eager for more experienced, velocipedinal company over a relatively short parcours. this might be something worthy of serious consideration, not only by the island's indigenous cyclists, but perhaps by others elsewhere.

such a bike ride need not take place specifically on a friday afternoon, but pretty much at any time there would appear to be sufficient demand. it could prove to be an ideal way to recruit new adherents to the cause, in a distinctly, non-sporting, sort of way. bear in mind that, on the outward journey at least, two of us are encumbered with rucksacks in which those newspapers are being carried, preventing any likelihood of a sprint finish at bruichladdich.

though i am happy to proselytise the cause to anyone within earshot, i tend towards apathy if attempting to actually do something practical about it. however, when it happens to coincide with a bike ride that pretty much has to take place, come hell or high water (both of which have featured in recent weeks), i'm all for an indolent bout of recruitment. now you can all go away and figure out how you can replicate this shareware of an idea in your own neighbourhoods.

once again, you're welcome.

friday 26 february 2021

twmp ..........................................................................................................................................................................................................

it's knobbles baby

nurse's cottage pothole

a recent issue of our local paper published the questions and answers posed to and the responses gained from the lead roads engineer for argyll and bute council, in which region islay exists. the principal thrust of the questioning revolved around the rapidly deteriorating state of the island's roads and the questionable economics of the current method of repair.

the latter is carried out using a roadmaster vehicle which has the ability to repair potholes from the cab of the truck, with a single operator manipulating a moveable boom affixed to the lower portion of the cab. repairs involve several stages, which include using compressed air to blast any gravel from within the pothole, spraying tar into the hole and sealing the repair by means of an applied top coat, all from the comfort of the driver's seat.

many, including members of the velo club, have contended that these repairs do not last any appreciable length of time, several having become a loose pile of gravel within a few days, not only reinstating the original pothole, but scattering gravel all around its circumference, potentially making the road more dangerous (particularly for cyclists) than was previously the case.

when the question was posed that surely 'repairs' of this nature were thus uneconomic, given that they were being continually re-done, incurring repeated cost with no satisfactory result, the engineer's reply was somewhat disingenuous. given that the completed repair, of necessity, features a light coating of tarred gravel, the intention being that car traffic would flatten it in place, he said that the loose gravel around a repaired pothole may give the indication that the repair had failed, when this was rarely the case.

a couple of weeks ago, a very large hole appeared on the route two of us ride on our way home from debbie's (see image above). at the time we first encountered it, the weather had filled it with rain, meaning neither of us had any idea of its depth. fortunately, there was still a reasonable gap between the edge of the pothole and the verge, meaning we had no need to place ourselves in danger from following or oncoming traffic. however, less than a week following a reputedly competent repair, and at the time of writing, it is once more a large pothole, now surrounded by substantial amounts of tar-coated gravel, effectively rendering our previous escape route null, void and ultimately, dangerous.

those of us on two wheels have smugly congratulated ourselves on an ability to avoid the majority of the island's potholes, an option lost to the majority of car drivers. but a recent eruption of small, but frequently deep holes in the road, has begun to limit even that option, when faced with certain traffic conditions. with some of the velo club still on 25mm rubber, and the remainder sporting 28mm tyres, the risk is still relatively high, should we happen to cycle over or through one of these holes.

the council regularly cites ever-reducing budgets, stretching their resources to their limits, but the islands suffer iniquitously and, in our minds, unfairly due to the inevitable ferry trip involved in transporting tarmac and vehicle from the mainland. budget allocations are apparently made according to the total road length pertaining to an individual area. but in the case of island locations, travelling expenses require to be factored into the equation. thus, a ten kilometre stretch of road in campbeltown, for instance, might be apportioned £300,000 to effect repair. ten kilometres on islay and jura would ostensibly receive the same amount.. however, there may be several thousand pounds of travel to be accommodated within that £300,000. inevitably, we receive less money for the same problem.

currently, and particularly in the light of the covid pandemic increasing costs all round for all local authorities, it seems highly unlikely that matters are likely to improve in the foreseeable future. only yesterday i was advised that several island motorists have had to have suspension repairs carried out to four-wheel-drive vehicles recently, including a land rover defender. apparently even the council leader had to have the springs on his car replaced.

so while i have not been remiss in disparaging the recent trend towards gravel bikes, in point of fact, many of us may need to shelve our ambitions to be viewed as refugees from the peloton, and adopt a more pragmatic stance, riding gravel bikes fitted with rubber in excess of 35mm width. granted, i have yet to see a gravel bike displaying the sveltness of even an average road bicycle, but in truth, expecting that to be the case is simply a conceit that seems to have been repeated often enough to become the default position.

if you actually plan to race, all good and well, but if you simply live in hope that you might be mistaken at a distance for peter sagan, or wout van aert, maybe it's time to wake up, smell the coffee and make practical decisions about our velocipedinal future. i may have been somewhat parochial in my remonstrations over the local road conditions on islay, but i'm reliably informed that the situation is every bit as bad all across the country. maybe we should simply swallow any forlorn aspirations, and face reality straight in the potholes?

last saturday's ride on a rene herse, gravel tyre shod cyclocross bike certainly gave considerable food for thought.

thursday 25 february 2021

twmp ..........................................................................................................................................................................................................

hidden power

world bicycle relief mechanic training

there can be few reading who are not at least slightly impressed by the effect the bicycle has had on their lives. particularly in these somewhat straitened and difficult times, the bicycle has asserted its importance as an economical and pragmatic means of transport that allows compliance with the government's social-distancing restrictions. the very fact that bicycle shops have remained open throughout all the lockdowns we've suffered so far, is surely official recognition of the bicycle's importance in our social and transportational infrastructure. complementing the above has been last year's £50 repair vouchers, redeemable at the still-open cycle stores. a bicycle is of little use to anyone if it doesn't work.

world bicycle relief mechanic training

during lockdown in 2020, the gent who operates islay cycle hire was kind enough to become part of this scheme, allowing those with previously unloved velocipedinal machinery in the garden shed, to join what i fear might be a trend, one that will likely evaporate when daily life returns close to normal. however, some of the current use might just stick, particularly with those who may have joined the e-bike movement.

what will not alter, is the result of any mechanical malfeasance. no matter how many remain aboard their bicycles (or otherwise), breakdowns are highly unwelcome happenstances, particularly if you, personally, are utterly unacquainted with the inner and outer workings of the machinery. classify me as suffering from obsessive compulsive disorder if you like, but the sound of a chain having not quite meshed with the cassette sprockets would be likened to the sound of fingernails scraping down a blackboard. the remedy is simple, but few of my acquaintance seem appraised of the simple adjustment needed.

world bicycle relief mechanic training

one of the necessities engendered by the opening of a bike shop, would be the employment of an experienced mechanic. few new machines arrive in ready-to-ride state, so someone will need to assemble and tune each one, to say nothing of their inevitable return a few weeks later, when the cables have stretched and nothing works as desired. then a year or so down the road, bits will cease to function, for which mechanical experience will be required at point of sale. world bicycle relief could, at a stretch, be likened to a particularly large bicycle store, only in their case, the bikes are provided free of charge.

world bicycle relief mechanic training

so doing, however, scarcely absolves them from the maintenance issue. and if you think your local roads are potholed, the back roads of central africa would surely beg to differ. thus far, wbr have donated well over half a million of their sturdy buffalo bicycles, machines specifically designed to be of simple mechanical constitution and sufficiently robust to pummel africa's roads into submission. but to imagine that donating the bicycle is the end of the equation, would be a naivety that has happily not been embraced by world bicycle relief.

world bicycle relief mechanic training

it is in their interests to ensure that, for the individuals in receipt of a buffalo bicycle, and the localities in which they live, those 540,000 bicycles remain mobile and in fine working condition. wbr generally reckon on apportioning one mechanic to every 50 - 100 bicycles, providing not only the wherewithal for regular and important maintenance, but training and employment within the locale. the receipt of a buffalo bicycle has allowed many girls to achieve regular attendance at school, despite social tradition that they undertake chores not imposed on their brothers. they have also enabled many individuals to undertake work that would otherwise be outwith practical and economic reach.

world bicycle relief mechanic training

world bicycle relief have been commendably diligent in their mechanic training programme, announcing at the beginning of this week, that they have reached 2,511 trained mechanics available to serve their communities. to quote wbr country director, brian munga, "...whether it be attaining education, or economic sustainability, there is power hidden in the bicycle." and it's not simply a case of explaining how to inflate a tyre to the correct pressure or lubricate the chain. the mechanics' training encompasses pretty much everything apart from building the frame. each individual is supplied with world bicycle relief overalls and toolkit, along with tuition on how to build wheels from scratch.

aside from this technical training, the mechanics now have a profession, increased confidence, and a greater sense of self-worth. and rather than sit by the roadside and wait for the customer, there are scheduled visits to schools in order to carry out maintenance while the owners are in the classroom. the only part of the occasion with which i'd take issue, is that the bicycle's power is hidden.

for most of us, it's glaringly obvious.

world bicycle relief

wednesday 24 february 2021

twmp ..........................................................................................................................................................................................................

who knew?

data stream

i have, in my possession, a ritchey logic frameset on which is affixed a minimal range of components, sourced from rene herse (tyres), campagnolo (gears, brakes and wheels), brooks (cambium saddle) and ritchey (bars, stem and seatpost). now my case is admittedly different from the norm, given that these were all provided by the manufacturers for review purposes. that said, were i to start with a clean slate and a blank cheque tomorrow, i'd probably choose exactly the same options. so, for the purposes of this discussion, let's assume that to be the case.

so why would i choose a steel ritchey frameset, as opposed to some sleek carbon fibre originating from the far east? as a fully paid up member of the luddite society, i readily subscribe to the 'steel is real' school of thought, added to which, the ritchey frame is fully painted,and shows nary a hint of chrome anywhere about its person. the atlantic mist that encapsulates the hebrides is inclined to eat chrome for breakfast (though in a non-luddite fashion, the bike is every bit as quick and tensile as carbon, in my opinion). now, my frame arrived direct from ritchey europe, but once again, for the purposes of our distinctly one-sided conversation, let's pretend that i purchased it from an authorised ritchey dealer.

though the hypothetical ritchey dealer would have cash in his/her cash register as evidence of my singular choice of frameset, perhaps someone else is also aware of this selection (and i'm not referring to mrs washingmachinepost).

cycling is still a miniscule part of the world economy, and a mere fraction of the world's transportational needs, but it nonetheless does not exist either in obscurity or in isolation. in other words, cycling needs resources, whether you consider those to be individual (bike shops, bike lanes, bike racks etc.) or as part of more official, national infrastructure. components listed under both headings, exist at the behest of statistical information, either estimated or dutifully recorded. for instance, were i to consider opening my own bike shop, i would be less than prudent if i failed to verify the existence of a sufficiently constituted local market. but how would i know?

similarly, though the cry is often heard calling for more public cycle facilities, the only way that's going to occur, is if government believes there to be a demonstrable need, deserving of allegedly scarce financial resources. and those groups which have made it their life's work to lobby government for just those resources, require a great deal more than saying pretty please?' how do you think bike shops became classified as essential retail, allowed to remain open for business during lockdown restrictions?

i have previously reported on passive cycle counters sited about the person of scotland, recording as many bicycle movements as possible. these are obviously not just for fun, but to provide statistical data that can probably be used both for and against any velocipedinal case you may care to mention. naturally enough, this is information probably best not left to cyclists, for all most of us have in mind, is simply to ride our bikes and complain about the lack of national cycling infrastructure, and how little the assistant at the nearby branch of halfords knows about tyre pressures. thus there are a number of companies whose raison d'etre is to provide metrics helpful to the cause. companies such as sms, geovelo and ecocompteur collect market data as well as information referencing the routes most commonly used by cyclists, and at what times those numbers are likely to peak.

i can scarcely be the sole individual who constantly wonders how the government can issue percentages indicating the numbers using the bicycle for computing purposes, when neither you nor i have ever been asked why we cycle. aside from the above mentioned counters, it's conceivable that such data might originate from the local bike shop we visited at the outset of this monlogue. if you've recently purchased a pinarello dogma with hydraulic discs and campagnolo eps gearing, there's a better than evens chance it won't be ridden to and from your place of work.

but if the purchase involved a flat-bar hybrid with 38mm tyres, a rack, brooks panniers and a kickstand, it seems unlikely you'd be contacting british cycling to apply for a racing licence. in truth, i have no specific idea of what data is collected, and for what direct purpose, i only know that somebody else knows what i bought and what i do with my bicycle, even if the data is effectively anonymised. facebook and amazon are renowned for the information they regularly collect about their users. how else can jeff bezos' cohorts offer a weekly e-mail promoting items based on your recent purchasing/browsing preferences? the local bike shop might not be quite so forward, but do not doubt that the information that might facilitate their doing so, exists but mere clicks away from their fingertips.

so, despite the oft promulgated image that the bicycle allows us to achieve individual or group freedom; a way to get away from it all, if you will, it seems ironic that by so doing, we have innocently immersed ourselves in machinations that make the matrix seem like a loose agglomeration of rubber bands by comparison.

i won't tell if you don't.

tuesday 23 february 2021

twmp ..........................................................................................................................................................................................................