the long and winding road

lachlan morton

yes, indeed, i did say that i wouldn't mention the tour de france while it was still en-route to paris, but this isn't really le tour as we know it, only the parcours has been changed to protect the innocent. for, stalwart of gravel rides around the world and decidedly eccentric (in a very good way) ef edication first professional, lachlan morton, for reasons best known to himself, has elected to make his own way (literally) to paris, completely self-supported, by bikepacking and camping each night, and also riding the various transfers between stages. and aside from the fact that, should he succeed, he'll have ridden around 5,500km and ascended over 65,000 metres in 23 days, all in aid of world bicycle relief.

while nobody denies that le tour is one of the world's greatest sporting events, and definitely one of the hardest, this year's participants, as in every recent year, have luxury coaches in which to arrive and depart everyday, several team cars to hand up bottles, jackets, gels, daily newspapers (ok, i made that last one up), and soigneurs, mechanics and masseurs ready and willing to attend to their every whim. lachlan, meanwhile, is taking care of himself, and has only sore knees to show for it. in fact, so painful did those knees become, that he'd to resort to sandals and flat pedals in order to continue.

at the time of writing, morton had ridden for 190 hours, covered 4,391km and climbed 60,100 metres. but for all that effort, by saturday 10 july, he'd raised £302,933 for world bicycle relief, with still one more week to go. actually, add £45 to that total, because on saturday evening, i added that amount to the wbr coffers, having completed a mere 108km in support during the day.

as clothing a media partners of ef education nippo, rapha have invited the great unwashed to join lachlan's fundraising effort, by riding the same distance as he'll cover on his final stage into paris next weekend: 108km. as the e-mail said, "Celebrate his astonishing ride and help us raise as much money as possible by joining the Alt Tour Challenge and riding the final stage of the Tour together."

as it transpires there's no need to wait until next weekend to undertake the ride, but feel free to ride the distance whenever it suits you best. though i didn't bother, because i'm not really into it, sign up is on strava and everyone who completes the alt tour challenge will be entered into a prize draw to win £1,000 worth of rapha kit and an ef education-nippo jersey signed by lachlan. i cannot deny that i incorporated my own alt tour ride with a pressing need to take photos of lagavulin, laphroaig and bruichladdich distilleries (i forgot to take one of kilchoman), for an article to be published elsewhere. and strange to relate, on stopping in a passing place to allow a car to proceed, the driver slowed, opened his window and said, "well, what about cavendish then?" that doesn't happen around these here parts too often.

we all congratulate ourselves on making a difference, riding bicycles rather than driving cars (though i'm sure a proportion still have one parked in the driveway). but this way, we can make a difference to those considerably less well off than are we, by adding to lachie's total. if you decide to undertake the alt tour challenge (and why wouldn't you?), badger friends and relatives into donating sponsor money to the cause, or in the absence of any friends or relatives within shouting distance, simply donate even a modest sum yourselves. unlike jimmy whelan and rohan dennis, we don't have the opportunity to join lachlan morton in person on his impressive challenge, but we sure as heck can ride 108km.

sign up for the lachlan morton alt tour challenge

photo: rapha

monday 12 july 2021

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big rides - 25 of the best long-distance road cycling, gravel and mountain biking routes. kathy rogers and marcus stitz. vertebrate publishing softback 153pp illus. £20

big rides - rogers and stitz

i'm not much one for the long-distance ride, i must admit, even though it's possible to undertake the 162km of the ride of the falling rain, without too much repetition of the parcours. in fact, even when back at debbie's being resuscitated, there are still several roads left untramelled. even yesterday, having undertaken rapha's lachlan morton challenge of 108km, is far more the exception than the rule. so, when someone (or sometwo, to be perfectly accurate) publishes a book entitled 'big rides', what sort of distances are they talking about. my idea of a big ride, might either be your idea of a mere flippancy, or, as is the case with my colleagues in the office, "you rode how far?" with many things in life, it's all relative.

and entirely coinidentally, the editors of this highly impressive collection of ride, answer the very question asked before we're past the introduction.

"A Big Ride is an opportunity to explore, an invitation to ride beyond the horizon. [...] A Big Ride is an adventure to be had in the saddle."

big rides - rogers and stitz

that rather puts my saturday ride in its place, given that the horizon never featured as a factor in my paltry kilometreage. however, you need only reach big ride number one (of 25), on page 3, to discover just what you might have let yourself in for. the avenue verte introduced as " iconic 394 kilometre route that links the capitals of Britain and France, from the London Eye to Notre-Dame cathedral." that's not exactly a simple undertaking, completed on a bowl of porridge, a double-egg roll and a soya latte. that's a big ride. and lest you think the rides are listed in descending order of distance, let me disavow you of that misapprehension right now. while ride number two (balyshannon to larne) is but 37km shorter, and ride three (coast and castles south) shorter still, on reaching ride four (great north trail) with a self-satisfied grin, all bets are off in the face of 1,292 kilometres. hardly the sunday morning ride.

big rides - rogers and stitz

the shortest big ride, is that of the north norfolk coast cycleway, at 159km. so, i think we'd be safe in assuming that big rides could take more than one day, and that some preparation might be in order.

satisfyingly, the editors have already thought of this; the introduction covers such subjects as their own particular favourites, how to use the book, accommodation icons, when to go, and timings. rather than do everything for you, however, (remember, this is supposed to be the start of exploration from the saddle) "This book is not intended to let you plan your next Big Ride adventure, but rather to inspire you." that said, the next section of the book is entitled, Planning for a Big Ride, in which messrs rogers and stitz (marcus rode around the world on a single-speed) cover preparation, both rider and bicycle, a brief paragraph on training - "Ride in different weather conditions and after dark, and with a fully loaded bicycle." - and a recommended kit list, the latter probably worth the price of admission alone. for who hasn't headed out on even the sunday ride, with the water bottle or garmin, still sitting on the kitchen table?

big rides - rogers and stitz

there follows an overview of differing bike types, though if any of those are new to you, might i suggest you undertake a few small rides before looking towards the bigger ones. the editors emphasise that you should always carry a mobile phone in order to alert emergency services in the event of an accident. while this seems a sensible precaution for those already in possession of just such a device, remember that many successful velocipedinal circumnavigations of the globe were carried out long before mobile phones were invented. where indeed, is their sense of adventure?

big rides - rogers and stitz

each ride is well described, well illustrated, featuring essential information, pros and cons likely to feature, a route profile and a detailed map. the book is too big to fit in a jersey pocket, but would probably fit comfortably in a bar bag. though each ride features a website for more information, it may be slightly disappointing, following the advice to take a mobile phone, that there seem to be no downloadable gpx files available for any of the routes. however, i figure that can only add to the sense of adventure; a big ride ought to take you away from the world of smart devices and the e-mails and text messages that are likely to interrupt.

big rides is, nonetheless, an excellent book, well written, well presented and just the inspiration needed to go a tad further than the corner shop. and in the light of the governments' advice to have a staycation this year, what are you waiting for?

sunday 11 july 2021

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the grindstone as it's meant to be, and likely to become

e-cargo bike - hammersmith heating

riding a bike for the simple pleasure of riding a bike is, for some of us, one of the great joys of life. knowing that, when the working week has finished with friday, and the prospect of one or two days out on the bike at the weekend beckons, there's possibly even less incentive to look forward to monday mornings. many of us spend our weekdays tethered to a computer, in an ergonomically designed chair, the benefits of which are largely ignored as we sit on its edge, avoiding any contact with the lumbar support that would probably help that aching back. others, however, have manual labour to contend with, building house extensions, wiring in new accoutrements that will only serve to increase an already oppressive energy bill, or fixing leaky pipes and plumbing in new, internet connected washing machines that can be operated from your smartphone as you sit on the edge of your computer chair.

e-cargo bike - hammersmith heating

don't you just love it when a plan comes together?

but even the latter occupations generally involve some time in the seat of a works van, getting to and from the job du jour. all the more reason to look forward to a weekend of cycling. but, and it's hardly a brand new idea, with increasing congestion in city and urban areas, driving a van or car can become a particularly onerous part of the day. not only getting to the job midst thousands of others intent on the same thing, but finding somewhere convenient to park on arrival. since many skilled workers still need a library of tools to complete the job, there's little fun to be had carrying a heavy toolbox from two streets away. so why not cycle?

e-cargo bike - hammersmith heating

i have already had this (brief) conversation with my son, who is a self-employed electrician with a very sporty looking grey van in which to travel and carry the necessary bits and bobs required to carry out his trade. the mere suggestion that this could be accommodated on a suitable cargo bike, led to more excuses than boris johnson could manage in a single press conference. in truth, he may be correct; the distances to be travelled between jobs on islay may be a tad excessive, and the winter weather less than complementary (there's probably always going to be a need for a van at some point over here). but in the cities and urban areas of the western world, those needs may be considerably reduced, or removed altogether.

e-cargo bike - hammersmith heating

the chap at hammersmith heating, a plumbing and heating sole trader, says that during the first lockdown, he considered using an electric cargo bike in preference to his van, as an experiment. "interestingly to me, i expected to do 50-60% of my business by bicycle, but actually i've discovered that it's closer to 95%." i'll cheerfully admit to having little idea of the machinations of the plumbing and heating trade, but those with whom i've come in contact, tend to have a sizeable number of mole grips, wrenches, spanners and the like, to carry out the required installations or repairs. therein probably lies what many would see as the ideal 'get out clause', from having to leave the van at home.

"every time i get on it, i'm blown away. it's amazing. everybody should be doing it."

e-cargo bike - hammersmith heating

of course in portions of the world where the bicycle has a greater importance in the fabric of society (the netherlands, denmark, portland, to name but a few), employing cargo bikes as a means of transport is nothing remarkable. but the advent of such machinery with a passive electric motor, has brought the idea to the notice of those perhaps less intrinsically enthusiastic about bicycles for their own sake. this way, parking is far less of a concern, the overheads associated with motor-vehicle based transport are considerably reduced, and, given that 27% of britain's contribution to greenhouse gases arise from motor transport, it's a means of making a real, albeit small, difference.

"instead of arriving in my van with everything on board, i have to plan my day a little bit more carefully, which isn't such a bad thing. it does mean a little more running back and forth, but that's quite nice because it brings me home for lunch, which is really lovely."

e-cargo bike - hammersmith heating

my son's immediate reaction was to ask if e-cargo bikes came in a long wheelbase to carry three-metre lengths of conduit, a rhetorical enquiry i tend to think, the answer to which he hoped would exclude him from even thinking about joining the cargo-bike community. however, something like a cube cargo e-bike, for example, retailing at £4,600, sports a wheelbase of just over two metres, the full length of which would certainly come within shouting distance of three metres. you'll notice from the video (linked below), that the fellow from hammersmith heating, carries ladders on the side of his considerably shorter e-cargo bike.

however, there must surely be thousands of small businesses and sole-traders who could transition from a van to an e-cargo bike without too much complication. yes, it'll mean more physical effort, yes, it may require better planning of the working day, but already there are mobile bicycle mechanics who travel to the customer rather than vice-versa, and there's no forgetting the original butcher's bike (an example of which i rode for a summer job while at school) of yesteryear, before modernity relegated its pragmatism.

e-cargo bike - hammersmith heating

according to climate scientists the recent heat-dome which affected canada and the northern states of america, is unlikely to be a singular occurrence. in the years to come, mankind's pollution of the atmosphere is likely to cause even greater, potentially disastrous, weather disruptions, about which we need to do something now, rather than wait for politicians to sign yet another utterly ineffective agreement. if you're in a business where swapping to bicycles seems like a practical alternative, have a word in someone's ear.

"i feel rather smug as i cruise past all the cars that are nose to tail, but i thoroughly enjoy it. [...] i want to keep the air clean; i want to clean up london. we should all do as much as we can."

e-cargo bike for business video

saturday 10 july 2021

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land's end to john o'groats. richard barrett. cicerone press paperback 227pp illus. £14.95

lands end to john o groats - richard barrett

riding from land's end to john o'groats, on the north east tip of scotland, is a bit like skateboarding or bmx; enthusiasm for riding and/or reading of the longest uk bike ride seems prone to periodical resurgence. i have no doubt that there are cyclists undertaking the distance both before, during and after this review, but highlighting its existence arrives unexpectedly every now and again. a friend of mine rode the opposite way only a matter of years past, while i reviewed paul jones' excellent end to end in march this year. now arrives a compact. and bijou guide to undertaking the ride by our very selves, scribed by the highly experienced richard barrett, should we find ourselves with unfulfilled holidays in the coming weeks or months.

a bit like riding up mont ventoux (chapeau, wout van aert), alpe d'huez or the gavia pass in italy, it's a strenuous ride that surely must feature on the bucket list of many an intrepid cyclist.

"Cycling the length of Great Britain between the two extremities of Land's Eend in the southwest and John o'Groats in the northeast is a challenge that many cyclists aspire to at least once in their lifetime."

only the other day was i forwarded a link to a gcn video featuring the inimitable mark beaumont and james lowsley-williams (hank) attempting to break the record for the quickest ride from south to north. match paul jones with beaumont and lowsley-williams, accompanied by barret's cicerone guide, and you can presumably see what i mean about it's resurgence in popularity.

but honestly, where would you start to prepare for such a ride? aside from training sufficiently to ease the pain, there's the not inconsequential job of preparing the bicycle, figuring out how much stuff to take with you, organising vehicular support, assuming you're not opting for the lachlan morton approach of riding unsupported. and that's before taking care of accommodation needs and the actual 874+ mile route itself. thankfully, mr barrett has removed most of the pain all the foregoing is bound to entail, aside from the training part. he's even prepared an outlne itinerary depending on whether you're going to attempt the ride in ten days or eighteen days. if you fancy minimising that to under forty hours, have a word with messrs beaumont and lowsley-williams.

though there's every likelihood that you'll have other matters on your mind during those long, lonely miles, the author has provided an overview of the geological make-up of the british isles, though it does seem ironic (if i've read the colour coded map correctly), that john o'groats seems to sit upon devonian sandstone and the like. and, in the manner of the ubiquitous travel blog, he lists ten foods to try out along the way, one of which, on the ride through glasgow, is chicken tikka masala from the famous shish mahal indian restaurant.

though mr barrett suggests choosing an appropriate schedule, he does qualify that by pointing out that the availability of suitable accommodation may bring its own vicissitudes to bear. "(this) will also determine where your days begin and end, which could be at places before the end of a stage, into the following stage or perhaps somewhere off the route altogether." i have no practical experience of southern england whatsoever, though i'd imagine the winter months to be the least appropriate in which to begin a lengthy ride such as this. however, scotland is probably not the country in which to schedule any lengthy ride past september. happily, it appears the author concurs with this appreciation, stating that "The best time to go is between April and September, when the days are longer and the weather is at its best."

the book's introductory sections continue by advising just how to get to land's end in the first place, assuming you've decided to lejog, rather than jogle. and if intending to return from scotland by train, mr barrett helpfully points out that the nearest station is in wick, some seventeen miles from john o'groats; perhaps just seventeen miles too far, if you've already pedalled all the way north. aside from travel and accommodation, the author includes a brief section on projected costs, in which he suggests employing the use of a spreadsheet to firm up costs prior to deciding whether you can even afford the ride in the first place.

lands end to john o groats - richard barrett

having decided what you're going to take with you, having put in sufficient training miles on the bike and ensuring that the latter bears the constitution, if not the weight, of a centurion tank, there's the small matter of maps, for it would be sheer folly to try and commit the route to memory. thankfully, according to the author, "This book is designed to be small enough to carry with you and includes linear maps that are entirely adequate for following the route." it does fit in a jersey back pocket - i checked. however, should you prefer to follow the modern-way, there are downloadable gpx files to apply to your bar-mounted gps device or smartphone.

in common with many other cicerone cycling guides, and accompanying turn by turn guides, maps and a profile of each stage, the author has provided a few relevant out-takes where those on the less frenetic schedules may have time to look around.

Glasgow: "From a small rural settlement Glasgow slowly grew to become a medieval bishopric and a royal burgh, with the first bridge over the Clyde being recorded in 1285 and the University of Glasgow being founded in 1451. When the author Daniel Defoe (1660-1731) visited the city in the early 18th century when its population was about 12,000 he recorded that it was 'the cleanest and beautifullest, and best built city in Britain, London excepted."

if i ever decide to travel to john o'groats via land's end, this is the very guide book i'd read before i go and subsequently take with me. at only £14.95, it's probably the best investment the prospective lejogler can make. apart from the bicycle, of course.

friday 9 july 2021

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what else are friends for?

rouleur magazine

this is not the ideal time to be involved in print. let me qualify that just a shade by stating that i mean print publications, such as magazines and newspapers, perhaps more collectively described as periodicals. even before the pandemic hit, print publications, and newspapers in particular, had seen their circulations drop by an alarming amount over previous years, pretty much at the behest of digital: google and facebook. many long-standing publications went out of business altogether.

in my youth, i was an habitual purchasers of melody maker, a weekly newspaper concerned entirely with the machinations of the music industry, featuring concert reviews, features on important bands of the time, and musician interviews. my brother subscribed to new musical express (nme), while both of us occasionally purchased a copy of sounds. all three were sold in broadsheet newspaper format, and none of them exist today (nme pretends to still exist, but it bears little or no relation to editions sold in the 1970s and 80s). it might well explain, amongst other reasons, why few of today's kids are encouraged to form their own bands.

the problem was not, however, that of content; there's probably still more than enough of that to go around even three music publications. the problem was and is, advertising, or rather, the lack of it. currently, 91.9% of american businesses with more than 100 employees advertise on social media. and although 74% of users state that they're fed up with adverts on social media, the annual spend on such is expected to increase by 89% in 2022. with so much advertising spend heading online, there's precious little left for traditional publishers, whose financial model is more or less entirely predicated on advertising.

when i was getting started in the world of graphic design, tuesday was the day to purchase a copy of the guardian newspaper, for that particular day's issue featured several pages of jobs within that particular industry. it is now no longer the case, with very few, if any, such positions featured in the guardian today. so in less than 30 years, that particular advertising spend has completely evaporated. the guardian attempted to setup a website dedicated to employment advertising, hoping to retain a healthy percentage of their income, but had to call it quits after spending an eyewatering sum of money. seemingly everything now heads to google or facebook.

our local community newspaper, which has survived pretty much intact for over 48 years, saw its advertising drop from a regular nine pages, to less than two overnight when lockdown was introduced last year. sadly, not all of that has returned over a year later, predominantly as a result of a community facebook page for the island on which many post their advertising (including hotels, distilleries and shops), free of charge. you can sort of see their point, but there's a better than evens chance that many would miss the newspaper, were it to suffer the slings and arrows of financial destitution. there's also evidence to suggest many are not advertising to the market they think they are.

the world of cycle publishing has not escaped unscathed. we've already lost cycle sport magazine, and many of the remaining publications have become a part of future publishing, undoubtedly the saviour of many a magazine, but at the risk of the entire box of eggs now residing in one basket. i recall even the heyday of the comic when many a page at the back of the magazine featured adverts from deesside cycles, mel bentley, parker mail order and many others, with comprehensive lists of available componentry, bicycles and clothing to pore over for the hours and days until the following thursday. though facebook and google must escape the blame for that one, the finger can still be pointed squarely at the internet.

but not all is a complete loss, if indeed, that accusation can be levelled at any of the above. nothing ever stands still, and i seriously doubt we could uninvent the internet. it's probably a case of accepting that changes will happen, and quite possibly, we won't like all of them. however, one publication that has endured for more than 100 issues, is that of rouleur, a quality magazine whose format has been imitated, but arguably never equalled, and a cycling publication that has become almost as much of a mainstay in the velocipedinal firmament as that of the much-maligned comic.

the reality is, however, that production of a quality publication such as rouleur brings with it, associated finaincial overheads. and with the current trend for advertising to head elsewhere other than paper and ink, the only appreciable means of forestalling any drop in quality or pagination, is simply to sell more copies, by way of subscriptions. as rouleur's publishers are keen to point out, "we don't have lots of magazines aimed at different interests, we only do cycling." and as individuals with a declared interest in the sport, perfectly at ease with spending inordinate sums of money on carbon trinketry (which probably won't make us any faster), it's time to step up to the plate, do the decent thing, and support the type of quality cycling journalism from which we all ultimately benefit.

so subscribe here before mark zuckerberg decides he likes cycling. you'll thank me for it one day.

thursday 8 july 2021

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from a to b. a cartoon guide to getting around by bike. dave walker. bloomsbury hardback. 128pp illus. £12.99

from a to b - dave walker

i newspaper editor with whom i once had the pleasure of working, constantly maintained that a picture was worth a thousand words, a belief which he enforced frequently to the point of exhaustion. i never quite figured out if this was because he found it simpler to nip out of the office and take photos, rather than sit at his computer and write those thousand words. however, this editorial stance frequently resulted in page spreads that left a great deal to be desired from an aesthetic point of view.

it's all very well having canoeists (for example) cut from their backgrounds in photoshop and having the meagre amount of text runaround the resultant shapes, but when so doing breaks the text into all manner of illegible paragraphs, by that time, the point has been well and truly lost. however, over the course of his tenure at the helm of the newspaper, a new found literary zeal arose, in direct proportion to the reduction in quantity of images, a happenstance for which many of us, particularly yours truly, were forever grateful.

from a to b - dave walker

however, in essence, he may have been essentially correct, even though my own appraisal of the situation can be seen as somewhat of a generalisation. personally, i am most welcoming of those thousand words, even if illustrations are few and far between. i am currently in the throes of reading a book for review, in which the sole illustrations are confined to accompanying the chapter headings; language is there to be enjoyed for its own sake, as well as being viewed as a means to an end. however, i would be the last to decry any attempt to portray thoughts or subjects in an illustrative manner, even if my note-taking at art college was viewed as undermining its status as a place of visual rather than literary learning.

from a to b - dave walker

and if ever there were an individual with the graphic wherewithal to invite the unconverted into our velocipedinal world, it would be dave walker, whose book 'from a to b' is a treasure trove of line-drawn persuasion, both subtle and blatant in its ministrations. how can anyone argue with a book, the first chapter of which is entitled cycling is brilliant? for those keen to serve an apprenticeship leading to the tour de france, this is possibly not the book for you, though the author, intent on proving me wrong states "If you are more interested in the sport and racing side of cycling, you will most certainly still enjoy this book." it's worth qualifying this contention by saying that such is very probably the case, if only for the joy of appreciating mr walker's draughtsmanship and sense of humour, as he goes on to say "We just ask that you conduct your racing on an upright dutch bicycle for the duration."

this last statement is accompanied by a drawing of a rider on just such a 'sit up and beg' cycle, wearing a time-trial helmet.

from a to b - dave walker

however, should the past year's trials and tribulations have either brought you to the world of two wheels and a saddle, or had you considering it as a transportational option, succour is at hand. the author minimises the apprehension that speed, wattage and dogma concerning helmet-use might be a particular train of thought given much credence within the book. however, finding the right (lovely) bicycle, being sociable, adding panniers and baskets, and reaching your destination safely, are all primary considerations of his artistry.

many of the arguments for becoming a cyclist will be well-known to the majority, however, quite how many of us have considered the multi-tasking proclivities of even the average bike rider, or the thoughts passing through our heads en-route, may not have been given the prominence they're given here. riding your bike with friends, with family, commuting, the benefits to be seen at work, and even romance, are all succinctly illustrated in walker's inimitable fashion.

from a to b - dave walker

of course, there's a strong sense of "i see what you did there" to be gained on studying the pages. dave walker is not only an accomplished illustrator, but demonstrates the air of a psychologist, by drawing in (pardon the pun), even those who believe the bicycle is not for them. though i've not put it into serious practice, read through this book as if you were a velocipedinal naysayer, posing perceived obstacles to adopting the bicycle as transport. you may rapidly find that each of those obstacles is undermined one gripe at a time, leaving the non-believer with nowhere to hide.

of course, both he and i are preaching to the converted. we are all well aware of the benefits of riding a bicycle, even for purposes of getting from a to b. that said, there are a number of valid points made that are not necessarily glaringly obvious to even the most dyed-in-the-wool cyclist (who knew there were quite so many varieties of folding bike?). but i would suggest that from a to b is the very book you'd buy for yourself, partly to check you've all the bases covered, and partly because it's great fun and entertainment, but then you'd offer it to the cycling agnostic in the office, or the cousin who maintains cycling's for sissies, or just the annoying bloke you meet in the pub who's always taking the mick.

and why do we need a crossbar?

wednesday 7 july 2021

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the generation game

motorhome + e-bikes

the last recruit to the velo club peloton was my son, who, at the ripe old age of around 26, decided that to achieve the level of fitness he so desired, riding a bicycle seemed like the best option from a number of choices. since his work as an electrician can often find him not at home for tea, the possibility of nipping up the road a kilometre or two, to scrabble through the undergrowth in a field owned by his father-in-law, had me semi-permanently, lend him a cyclocross bike. sad to say, the latter proximitous recreational opportunity was rarely, if ever, taken advantage of, for the 'cross bike very soon found itself shod with a pair of wide road tyres. as far as i know, it still is.

however, both his colnago road bike and the aforementioned cyclocross machinery has lain dormant for well over twelve months, since the arrival of his first child, and the first grand-daughter for mrs washingmachinepost and myself. there was a potential flicker of velocipedinal life in the not-so-old fellow, when sunday morning feed duties apparently followed a rota that might have allowed twice monthly outings with the peloton. those, however, have remained theoretical and never a practical reality. so the velo club continues with the ageing old farts that have been its mainstay since before the pandemic hit in 2020.

we have all been made perfectly aware of the rapid increase in cycling that has taken place over the past year or so, with pop-up cycle facilities appearing in many of the country's major cities and urban areas. factor in halford's increased profits, but dearth of new bicycles and componentry, and the rise and raise of cycling, while possibly not maintaining the much-promised heights foretold when it seemed that cycling's day had apparently arrived, have done not too badly at all. but the intriguing part is the demographic of those taking on a new transportational mantle.

once again, i'm sort of out on a limb here, having no valid statistics to back up my theory, one which may have as much validity as monty python's dinosaur theory. based entirely on local observation (for travelling restrictions have prevented my carrying out an informed look-see anywhere else), i'm inclined to think that, while the analogue bicycle seems generally to have suffered at the hands of the e-bike, those seen aboard the latter tend to be more elderly than the touring cyclists observed in previous years. and just to throw a spanner in my very own works, few of the e-bike riders actually appear to be touring.

now i can think of a couple of reasons for the latter, one of which was gleaned from my own days of mediocre touring. in short: weight (though battery charging is not altogether separated from that issue). the more experienced touring cyclists - extant from the bikepackers - tend to pack light, eschewing the need to take with them, everything bar the kitchen sink. the less experienced (and i include myself in that set) take far too much unnecessary kit, leading to a heavy and frequently unresponsive bicycle, awkward to manouevre over high kerbs and gates. e-bikes, in the main, carry this sort of weight before adding any luggage.

any substantial touring by e-bike, and i admit i'm not yet sure whether that's a 'thing', could quite easily result in unwanted purgatory. how many books have you read where the main protagonist finds him/herself at the end of their tether and at a campsite where there is either no available space, or it's closed, necessitating a continued ride of several more kilometres. an e-bike with a drained battery, festooned with filled panniers, could well be the straw that broke the tourist's back. in the current discussion, it seems entirely likely that those e-bikers, not in the first flush of youth, have brought their transport with them on top of a motor car, or hung off the back of a motorhome.

in which case, lest you lose the point of this monologue, those e-bikers seen midst the scenery, are what might be termed localised tourists, extending from a mobile base, but, in the grand scheme of things, not cyclists at all. so should we be despondent about such an observable happenstance? absolutely not. though i'm convinced that nobody who currently rides an e-bike has any thoughts of ever replacing it with an analogue version, if the major portion of a visit to the hallowed isle (and other non-hallowed isles) is enjoyed from the saddle, then there's considerably less chance of the velo club encountering them in a motorhome, one which doesn't fit the road and in which they simply cannot reverse.

extrapolate the above, and very soon, you have senior e-cyclists parking their vehicles at kennacraig, boarding the ferry avec e-bike, and cycling as far and as frequently as their battery charge will allow. of course, this might all be total rubbish, simply the result of having inhaled a particularly potent double-espresso yesterday afternoon.

but what if i'm right?

tuesday 6 july 2021

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