colouring book

rapha new colours

i have made it ever so plain that training is not an item on my to-do list, consoling myelf that i literally have nothing for which to train. there are those who would argue against this point, one of whom would probably be phil cavell at cyclefit, following publication of his book, the midlife cyclist. phil made it perfectly plain that the ageing process is more than dscriminatory against the more elderly challenged, one of which would certainly be yours truly. no doubt, rather than simply head out of a weekend, intent on riding the familar parcours once again, i ought best be forging a strategic plan that would see my muscles, sinews and cardio-vascular system challenged in a variety of ways to ensure i maintain the meagre fitness i currently possess.

yet, with no disrespect to mr cavell, who makes several excellent points in his publication, i am neither organised nor intrepid enough to undertake the necessary planning, based, presumably, on familiarity with my own strengths and weaknesses. like many who eschew the use of heart-rate monitors, power-meters and strava, i figure getting out and about in all weathers is quite enough to keep me both sane and fit. the last time i undertook anything like a modest training regime, was prior to riding sven thiele's londres-paris a few years past, when i aimed for 100 miles, simply to prove there was still life in the old fart.

rapha new colours

however, even with the gadgetry mentioned above, and inferred mostly from those who actually do train regularly, the process seems to encompass peaks, troughs and plateaux throughout the undertaking. that may well be the manner in which the system is expected to proceed, and if so, it seems it has a parallel in the cycling apparel industry, one which also experiences peaks, troughs and plateaux. currently, and this is purely based on personal observation, we seem to be experiencing the latter of the three, things having plateau'd just a tad. but even acknowledging this to be the case is hardly circumstances for despondency.

you see, cycling apparel has recently endured a period of technological development, one that has brought either new fabrics, or new deployment of same, but a period that has a finite, if indefinable length. there have been a whole slew of waterproof and windproof fabrics that not only offer greater protection to the cyclist, but often via fabrics that are impossibly thin and lightweight. there are even those which have taken the breathable fabric and turned it on its head (so to speak), placing the membrane on the outside, thus avoiding the iniquity of saturation of the outer fabric and compromising the effectiveness of that membrane. and not unnaturally, there have been several important maneouvres towards effecting a range of recycled fabrics. in the light of endemic climate change, this is certainly a move to be welcomed with open arms.

rapha new colours

yet, such development cannot be expected to continue ad finitum. following every splurge of such activity, there is, almost of necessity, a period of consolidation, when, in this respect, not much happens. but the purveyors of cycling apparel are, at the behest of a fickle public (you and me), expected to offer something new at regualr intervals. so why not explore the world of colour, a world that is, itself, often heavily influenced by technology? for instance, has it ever dawned on most of us, that certain colour combinations have to remain as 'no go' areas? i recall asking one of rapha's designers why it was that the usual contrasting hoop on the left sleeve was missing in action, replace with an embroidered hoop in the same colour as the rest of the jersey? his reply informed that during the testing process, they had found the main colour to be one that would bleed into that white hoop. not a good look on a jersey on which you or i may have spent well over £100.

rapha new colours

therefore, many initial offerings from any manufacturer you care to name, are likely to err on the side of conservative colouring, leaving plenty of time to experiment for the follow-up release in subsequent seasons. though i'm not saying that's been the experience of imperial works prior to releasing their upcoming autumn/winter release, but there's no denying that they have made superb use of the colour wheel when specifying a range of jackets and jerseys heading your way very soon.

it may seem a trivial diversion to introduce new and, quite frankly, exciting colours to existing jerseys, but the brightness and aptness of these to both the season and visibility, ought not to dismissed out of hand. if i had £1 for every touring cyclist i have met, clad in a fluorescent yellow jacket, i would have enough money to purchase rapha's entire range of jerseys. the world relies on colour and it relies on colour becoming less than ubiquitous; there are so many wearing fluorescent yellow or orange jackets nowadays, from all walks of life, that it has lost much of its visual importance. the speeding motorist has to distinguish between refuse collectors, police, ambulance, road workers and many others, notwithstanding the cycle tourists mentioned above.

so, before you utter a derogatory p'shaw! on viewing existing apparel now in alternative colours, alter your point of view, and this turns into a peak, rather than a plateau, or worse, a trough.

rapha's new season colours

monday 20 september 2021

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scottish cycling by design

cycling by design

late last year, i was asked by the local community access group to recommend a bike repair unit, three of which they intended to apply for funding to site adjacent to two recently completed mixed-use paths, with a third under consideration even as i scribble. these stands feature a built-in track pump, along with two short arms on which the saddle can be placed to effect a verisimilitude of a workstand. inside the main cabinet are several necessary tools affixed to thick, stainless steel cables, to prevent any thoughts of theft. the latter, however, is not a serious consideration in the hebrides. they sent me links to eight different models, from which i chose one to recommend.

a few months ago, i was copied into e-mail correspondence stating that the council had agreed to fully fund the purchase of all three, following which i was asked for suggestions as to precisely where they might be usefully sited. it seems that no-one has yet sussed that i am considerably less well informed than that for which they appear to have given me credit.

however, it appears that, reading between the e-mail lines, there are serious moves to create a network of walking and cycling paths, joining strategic locations on the island, conceivably lessening the island's dependency on the motor car. and to be honest, it's not before time. that said, it will take a serious alteration in mindset to have them leave the car behind and either cycle to work or the shops, but there's no doubting that a start had to be made somewhere. it might even begin to bring the island into line with government transport and environmental strategies.

earlier this month, the scottish government's island's secretary, mairi gougeon, stated that by 2040, at least three of scotland's islands would become carbon neutral. i contacted argyll and bute's msp, who happens to be an islay resident, to ask if i might be informed which three islands were under cnsideration, only to be told they had not yet decided. i believe that might be referred to as a somewhat pointless exercise. however, given that we already have nine distilleries and a further four under consideration, it will possibly take a tad longer than twenty years to make islay carbon neutral, though cycle paths might just be the thin end of the wedge.

however, transport scotland have recently updated their future cycling strategy, one that contains more than a few cunning plans, should they ever make it to fruition. these are contained within twelve key messages summarising how designers of cycling provision ought to approach their drawing boards. number one proves that transport scotland has its collective head firmly screwed on. at present, there are many hardened cyclists who might well welcome improved facilities, but have acquired sufficient skills and tenacity to cope with the present situation north of the border. however, many a survey has proved that there may be a large, untapped cycling fraternity who have delayed any attempt to climb aboard the saddle, due to a perceived and actual lack of suitable facilities.

point one of the twelve, clearly states, "We must plan and design for mass cycling by all kinds of people on different types of bike. Cycling infrastructure should no longer be something that we provide on the road network to only be used by the same people who are currently cycling. Instead it needs to be something that can be used by everyone." adopting that as the over-arching thread running throughout any subsequent considerations, will hopefully result in cycling facilities that meet the requirements of all scots who not only hope to adopt cycling as a means of transport, but assist the government in creating an environmentally sound nation.

lest this come across as flag-waving for the snp government, my recent diatribe on politics will hopefully have advertised my apolitical stance. this is all about the bike (and those who ride them). point number two doesn't let up on the dogma: "Cycle users must be protected from motor traffic by physical separation or by significantly reducing the volume and speed of motor traffic on local neighbourhood streets. Additional space for protected facilities should be taken from the road carriageway and not from the footway." this also comes back to the reprehensible act of parking on pavements; surely there are sufficient kilometres of roadway for the motoring public, without the need to borrow or steal from pedestrians?

however, point number four is the one that not only makes most sense, but would surely reaffirm any cyclist's faith in the transport department. "Cycle routes must form part of fully connected networks and be of a consistent quality throughout. We would not design a road network that 'abandoned' drivers or required them to get out and push their vehicle between routes. Cycling must be no different." only a matter of weeks ago, i travelled to scotland to visit my mother, and while on the bus travelling along glasgow's great western road, i noted the cycle route along the left side of the road. this was occasionally separated by red and white bollards, and featured raised portions in front of each bus stop to allow passengers to embark and disembark buses stopped on the right side of the cycle lane.

however, i counted six vehicles parked in the cycle lane, forcing cyclists onto a very busy road, and also noted that the cycle lane simply evaporated before getting anywhere near the city centre. quite what city-bound cyclists were expected to do, i know not. aside from designed cul-de-sacs in housing estates, pretty much every road in scotland actually leads somewhere; the motoring public would be highly remonstrative were that not the case. why it should be expected to be otherwise for the cycling public, is one of life's unanswered mysteries. and just to underline that fact, a friend of mine on a recent visit to glasgow, sent a photo of a car parked across a cycle-lane featuring highly visible double-yellow lines and a narrow paved section separating it from the road. the car's nearside wheels were clearly parked on the latter, completely blocking the lane.

you can imagine the outcry were we to leave our bicycles lying in the middle of the road, while we nipped into the shops.

in the early 1990s, i elected to cycle a designated cycleway leading from ardrossan to irvine. to access this facility, the hapless cyclist had first to lift their (in my case, heavily laden) bicycle up a twelve inch kerb, then ride past one of the less salubrious council estates during which i had several lengths of copper piping thrown in my direction. when the cycle track had need of crossing a roadway, there were two half-barriers enforcing a deliberate slowdown. unfortunately, these were sited too close to each other to allow negotiation a bicycle with front and rear panniers. i had to remove the two front panniers, wheel my bicycle across the road and through the barriers on the other side, before returning to collect my panniers and refit them to the bicycle.

bearing in mind the proximity to that particular council estate, this was not a much-favoured manouevre. i could only surmise that whoever had designed the cycle route, was definitely not a cyclist. that state of affairs, however, might be about to change, for key message number eleven states, "Designers should cycle and experience each route they design to fully appreciate how the users of their infrastructure experience the network." not before time, it seems that transport scotland has experienced a serious bout of pragmatism.

we can only hope that their implementation of the twelve key messages offers the same level of optimism.

scotland's cycling by design 2021

sunday 19 september 2021

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ambient sound

i miss my cycling

in an episode of the good wife, the main character, alicia florrick (played by julianna margulies), had left the laywers' business of which she'd been an integral part, to go into business for herself. this, of course, entailed finding new clients, a task to which her daughter set herself, while her mother was involved with existing clients. initial phone calls to prospective customers mostly went unrequited, until she stumbled upon the idea of having office sound recordings playing in the background. subsequent phone calls met with greater success, as respondents inferred that the communications were being made from a busy and prosperous office.

though employed as a narrative device in that particular episode, it transpires that research into such matters revealed that this ploy was, indeed, a legitimate one, for the very reason outlined above.

and only yesterday, i happened upon a webpage entitled created for those who are/were consigned to work from home during the pandemic, but found themselves missing the ambience of their local café, once visited during lunch-breaks or at weekends. the page is nicely and conveniently constructed, offering the once habitual coffee-ist the option of dialling in the sounds on offer to their own requirements. sounds such as the attendant barista, the preparation of drinks, the sound of clinking coffee cups, the sounds of neighbouring customers at nearby tables, the background hum of the segafredo coffee machine, and whether the coffee break is taking place on a rainy or sunny day.

all these sounds can be switched on or off, and the volume and mix of all eight controlled by the customer. aside from the fact that the barista has an american accent, which may not remind you of the branch of costa on the corner of sauchiehall street and cambridge street, it's quite effective, though you may wish to switch it off if your boss calls, just in case it gives the wrong impression.

thankfully,the islay velo club has no need of such ethereal augmentation, given that debbie's has never been out of bounds throughout, even in the days when we were purportedly confined to takeaways (there was rarely anyone else on the premises on a wet sunday morning anyway). nor have we suffered the restriction of riding on a turbo in the sitting room, sat in front of an ipad on a bookcase, zwifting like there was no tomorrow.

the numbers confined in this manner have, i would imagine, dropped substantially since social-distancing and exercise restrictions have relaxed, but i am reliably informed that despite such societal changes, a goodly number have decided to continue this velocipedinal purgatory nonetheless. and it occurs to me, far from wishing to encourage such behaviour, it would be a dickens of a good idea, were zwift themselves to add just such a service to the landscape views of watopia. not for coffee, you understand, but ambient sounds from the peloton.

imagine the joy of pedalling as fast as you may, only to be sworn at in slovakian by peter sagan. or perhaps a slider offering the cacophony of a directeur sportif berating you from the following team car. or roadside fans shouting "allez, allez, allez" as you close in on a hapless set of pixels further up the virtual road. it may be that zwift headquarters has already allocated a team of boffins to this very task, likely enabling a dramatic increase in the annual subscription; but on the assumption that this will come as a complete surprise to the californians, i would like to stake my claim to the vast sums of royalties i will doubtless be offered for pointing this out.

you're welcome.

i miss my cafe

saturday 18 september 2021

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what does it say about us?

ballot box

a few years ago, during a heated discussion with one of our local councillors who had taken exception to a published article, i let slip that, as an apolitical and essentially uninterested voter, i tended to lump all politicians together under one description, one that he, not unsurprisingly, took as being derogatory. which, to be honest, was exactly my intention. however, during the half-hour conversation, i made mention of my daily purchase of the guardian newspaper, at which point he immediately surmised that i would therefore be not supportive of his own (conservative party) views. though i'm less than well-equipped to include any political narrative within the post, i purchase my daily copy of the guardian by default, with no political sympathies involved.

my original choice of newspaper had been the sadly defunct independent, but it had an annoying habit of not arrivng on the island with astonishing regularity. the guardian was my fallback choice when that happened, but when i received the latter four times in one week, i decided it was time to make the alternative my permanent choice. it transpires, however, that the guardian is, or was, regarded as leaning heavily towards the left, directly contrary to my interlocutor's more right-wing sympathies. this concerns me not one whit, for i purchase the newspaper on the basis of its reporting and writing; i could care less about any supposed political partiality.

the conversation did not end well, though i will admit to being on better terms with the gentleman nowadays.

but if one's choice of daily newspaper can be viewed as a reflection of my individual political views, is it possible that riding a bicycle does likewise? is, in essence, every action or activity adjudged on political grounds, and are those views predicated by the social standing of that activity? for instance, in light of emma raducanu's victory in the usa tennis open, the very fact that an eighteen year-old is in a position not only to return victorious, but to play at that level in the first place, would tend to suggest parentage that's not short of a bob or two. and as it turns out, both her parents work successfully in finance.

soccer/football, once regarded as 'the beautiful game', and the preserve of the working class, seems no longer to be the case, with several players earning more money in a week than most of us will earn in a decade. and a quick check shows season tickets from glasgow rangers football club to cost around £700, while manchester united season tickets can cost as much as £950. of course, none of this actually says anything about those who attend football matches, for, if i remember correctly, tickets for the world cup track cycling at the chris hoy velodrome were a tad more expensive than the amount mrs washingmachinepost allows me for pocket money.

and why stop at the simplicity of cyclists and non-cyclists when divining for political sympathies? would it be a useful exercise to drill down a bit further? for instance, i ride a steel ritchey logic, while one of my colleagues rides a carbon-fibre colnago. but i too have a carbon colnago of earlier vintage in the bike shed, so would innocent, yet inquisitive bystanders, judge me differently depending on which bicycle i was seen to be riding? i have little doubt that there are many, throughout the world, who judge people on all manner of visible attributes, and i have little doubt that those of us in the velo club are classified under one heading or another (the words 'idiotic and 'eccentric' spring to mind), and i'm sure some will infer political bias.

granted, i think this arguably less likely on the outer edge than the inner-city, simply because those things are not reckoned to be front and foremost in the hebrides (though i'm likely displaying my naivety at this point), but anything's possible. i initiated this monologue purely from having read the words of a portland, oregon resident, who claimed that being a bike rider identified her as a liberal, a designation that probably means something different on the other side of the pond. i've no idea whether such observation is more acute or pertinent in the usa than in the uk, but it now has me wondering whether my (and by implication, your) incessant cycling behaviour is viewed as something other than it actually is?

after all, if my voting preferences can ostensiby be inferred by my choice of newspaper...

friday 17 september 2021

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the holy grail


an office colleague of mine, owner of a rather fetching blue e-bike, and having owned the bicycle for several months, has begun to make greater use of its benefits on a regular basis. for most of us, that might seem like the obvious thing to do with a new(ish) bike, but often, that's the hardest part of the equation. viewing the model online or on the shop floor before taking delivery, is, for the relative newcomer to cycling, often the best bit, before, as the mighty dave to is wont to say, 'at some time, you're going to have to pedal the darned thing'. that's the moment at which aspiration bumps unceremoniously into reality.

several years past, a few of us hatched a cunning plan that we entitled 'going the extra mile', a sneaky plan to con folks into riding a touch farther than they thought they'd be pedalling. a pleasant route, away from the mores of islay traffic, would take them one mile (more or less) from the starting point. however - and this was what we thought was the really clever bit - they'd now be one mile from where they started, with the looming necessity of havng to ride back again. disappointingly, for reasons i cannot recall, the event, targeted at kids and those new to cycling, never took place. that said, i still have the concept in mind, so it might happen yet.

so to have those recently blessed with bicycle acquisition, following up the sale of delightful shinyness with the need to ride, and to do so on a regular basis, is often the hardest part. how many kids do you know, who received a bicycle for birthdays or christmas, rode it for a few days, then left it mouldering in the porch or the bike shed? of course, if you'd had the likes of yours truly as a parent, there would be no end of hassle until the bicycle was ridden over and over again, from one year's end till the next. but many parents seem rather lax in that department. and sometimes it's no different for adults, who often need as much persuasion as do their offspring. in essence, it's a bit of an unresolved problem on which scientists continue research to this day.

and once the persuasion state has been successfully completed, there is what might be regarded as the current 'holy grail' of velocipedinal life; the breathable waterproof jacket. for there's no denying that the uk attracts more than its fair share of precipitation, particularly if you reside on scotland's west coast. and as edinburgh's endura clothing once said, 'if you think the spring classics are bad, try scotland'. so, in order to have the recently saddled continue their cycling activity, it's generally been a good idea to shield them from the rain, lest their enthusiasm diminish.

it has been my experience, however, that rarely is the breathability of the majority of apposite garmentage on the market, the equal of the moisture control required by the intrepid cyclist. it's the ultimate objective of many a cycling apparel purveyor to offer the maximum breathability married to external waterproofing. logically, the latter is seen as unattainable: if totally breathable, the waterproofing will suffer and vice versa. but now, i fear, has arrived a totally different holy grail and one that i'm not sure is the direct object of anyone's investigations.

e-bike weight.

i've no doubt there are many e-bike owners for whom this is hardly a new problem. it's quite possible that there are more than just a few would-be arnold schwarzeneggers in the making, having had to carry a very heavy bicycle up and down stairs to their residences. but the lack of e-bike versatility came to light yesterday morning when my colleague arrived at the office. her usual transport is a motor car (she lives over ten miles from work), but since it was being deposited at the garage for servicing, she'd popped the bike in the back, to cycle onto work. however, the weight of the bike entailed having someone assist at home, and again at the garage.

on the other hand, when i have needed to rent a car to shift my drums for the jazz festival, i've cycled to the rental place, singlehandedly popped the bike in the back, and driven home. the process is then reversed when returning the car a day or so later.

though some roadies can be categorised under the heading weight-weenies, there's no denying that the average road bike is several kilograms lighter than even the lightest of e-bikes, so for added pragmatism aimed at e-bike owners, concentrating on the weight problem would seem like a good idea, rather than the electronic fripperies that seem destined to arrive sooner, rather than later. the weight, obviously enough, is concentrated in the motor and the battery, sometimes factors outwith the jurisdiction of the bicycle manufacturer, requiring co-operation between two or three parties. but if we truly want to make the e-bike ubiquitous in every given situation, i figure that would be an ideal place to start searching for the next 'holy grail'.

going the extra mile, if you'll forgive the paraphraising.

thursday 16 september 2021

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passing the bottle

eenkhorn + xander graham

while preparing material for the next issue of islay's newspaper, i came across the very first article i wrote for the publication almost exactly 32 years to the day. the editor of the time graciously allowed me to harangue (in the nicest possible way), 1989's readers of the paper over their use of motor cars instead of bicycles. i had only moved to the island nigh on two years previously, to find myself something of a tourist attraction as the sole cyclist on the island, following the moving on of a gent i would occasionally meet during my perambulations. i never discovered his name, and, following a couple of accidental meetings, he moved elsewhere, leaving me as the keeper of the quaich.

the article referred to above, effectively the progenitor of thewashingmachinepost, attempted to persuade islay's fine citizens that, if they were to purchase quality bicycles for the nuclear family of two adults and 2.4 children, festooned with racks and panniers, and augmented with a decent set of waterproofs, the cost of so doing would undermine the price of a new car, leaving sufficient funds, on an annual basis, to hire a car for the likes of holidays or necessary trips to scotland. i have no idea how many people read the article, but the level of apathy can be perhaps gauged from the letters pages of the following issue which contained no reference whatsoever to my proposed solution to the island's transport demands.

subsequent conversations in later years discovered that, far from reading my later ramblings as a means of joining the happy cycling throng, my words were being sourced as a means of entertainment. to be honest, that's the principal reason that the post continues to this day, for i quickly adopted the strategy of entering the hebridean psyche by subliminal means. perhaps, went my reasoning, if i appear to be entertaining the public at large, continual mention of cycling's all too apparent joys, would have them eagerly perusing both freewheel and ron kitching catalogues, keen to avail themselves of a more sustainable and pragmatic mans of transport. though i have no means of appraising the metrics of such strategy, a quick glance at the village streets today, will attest to an almost complete lack of success.

i have, therefore, along with my cycling colleagues, decided on a simple method of leading by example. every weekend, without fail, at least one of us can be seen aboard a bicycle, frequently (during the winter months) in weather that we ought best not be seen, demonstrating not only our relentless stupidity, but the fact that inclement weather and galeforce winds need not be an obstacle to riding bicycles under adverse conditions. so far, however, that has shown little signs of adoption by the wider community, leading only to suspicions that we're every bit as eccentric as folks thought we were.

but then along comes the tour of britain, a race of which i confess, i saw remarkably little. it can be easily criticised for not being a tour in the accepted sense of the word, consisting as it does of several almost totally unconnected stages, from penzance in the south of england, all the way to aberdeen in the north-east of scotland. that said, the battle between jumbo visma's wout van aert and british ineos rider, ethan hayter, pretty much went down to the aberdonian wire, with the belgian taking top honours. but it was one of van aert's team-mates, pascal eenkhoorn, who gained major plaudits, passing his bottle to youngster, xander graham, while he 'led' the breakaway from the pavement, during saturday's stage to edinburgh.

wout van aert + casper cavendish

that gesture alone is likely to have bolstered the youngster's confidence that he had opted for the most beautiful of sports, but after the race organisers managed to track him down overnight, he was given a signed jumbo visma team jersey and shared the final podium with members of the team, including van aert. there then followed a guided tour of the team bus. the passing of the bottle was obviously a spur of the moment gesture by eenkhoorn, but given that he was engaged in battle with his breakaway companions at the time, it's hardly one that ought to go unheralded.

and jumbo visma's grip on the extra-curricular activities of the tour of britain did not stop there, with winner, van aert, presenting mark cavendish's son with a signed jersey and a hug, post race. eenkhoorn and van aert managed, in the space of a few minutes, to achieve ten times more than i've ever managed in the past 32 years. maybe i need to pass my ritchey water bottle to an innocent bystander in bowmore main street this sunday, before winning the sprint in bruichladdich?

what could possibly go wrong?

wednesday 15 september 2021

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am i in the wrong room?

british cycling membership stickers

i do not wish to be seen as disparaging, but i do seriously wonder if i've joined the wrong club. ever since the inestimable matt seaton, in his late, lamented guardian column, two wheels, encouraged british cyclists to ensure they possessed at least third-party insurance, i have been a member of british cycling, where my silver membership arrives with said insurance cover as part of the deal. i tend to support mr seaton's contention regarding insurance, for you just never know when you might inadvertently clobber another vehicle or pedestrian, in an incident for which you remain liable.

however, it seems that my british cycling membership has put me in line for entry into next year's tour of britain. well, ok, i may have made that last bit up, but according to the plastic membership card that arrived along with a sheet of pointless stickers (do aspiring racing cyclists really plonk stickers bearing the words sprint finish onto their carbon top tubes, or one that spells out the word race in a highly dubious typographic style?), i appear to have provisional race membership. those of you of my acquaint, will realise just how ludicrous that actually is. i have never raced, nor, at this age, do i have any intention of doing so in the future.

but i do enjoy watching live race coverage on eurosport and itv4, i have friends who were once top level professional cyclists and i have a monthly standing order for procycling magazine with my newsagent. and however, hard i try to deny it, i do own bicycles with drop handlebars and, on the ritchey, a very nice campagnolo groupset. as the saying goes, all show and no go. so, aside from the stickers, the plastic card and the insurance cover, have i joined the wrong club? and what would be the alternative?

when i moved to the hebrides, i was a fully paid up member of the cyclists' touring club (ctc), which may well have included the insurance discussed above, but of which i was blissfully unaware. at the time, i did harbour notions of travelling the world replete with front and rear panniers and a bar bag. that, i believe was mostly as a result of reading books by the crane brothers and josie dew. i would humbly point out that such expeditionary travels never actually took place. they remain in the same closed box as my denial of any aspiring race ambitions. following an internal and external reshuffle, the ctc became cycling uk, a national organisation that also offers third-party insurance with certain levels of membership.

cycling uk, as far as my experience of the organisation goes, has no interest in the competitive milieu, concentrating more on campaigning, encouraging non-cyclists to take to the saddle, and lobbying government for improvements to the national cycling life. at the time of writing, were you to visit the cycling uk website, you could be forgiven for thinking that it remained the cyclists' touring club at heart, judging by the banner illustration. however, it's hard to argue with a strapline claiming 'let's make a better world by bike', which i'm sure would meet the approbation of even british cycling members. it was when comparing membership costs between the two organisations that i began to have doubts about my choice of organisation and category.

it seems i hold silver race membership, which i'm sure it wasn't named when first i joined almost two decades past. on perusing the headings and benefits, had i been paying attention, it appears i should probably have opted for 'ride' membership, apparently designed to cater for sportive, club and leisure cyclists, a heading that sounds much more like me, and doesn't mention the word 'race'. had i been more eagle-eyed, i could have saved myself around £6 each year.

it transpires that individual membership of cycling uk is a couple of pounds dearer than my bc race membership, but also includes the insurance that brought all this about in the first place (generally, i'm right behind groucho marx, never joining a club that would have me as a member). however, for those extra pounds, i would receive six magazine issues per year, a publication that i believe, would equate a smidgeon more closely to my velocipedinal ideals, than a message from four-time olympic gold medallist, laura kennedy, telling me what a wonderful fellow i am (and not forgetting those stickers).

of course, i have only just realised all this on receipt of my british cycling membership pack - even though i actually applied to join scottish cycling - and have already paid one year's membership in advance. the chances of my recalling all of this next september are slim to none at all, so i now harbour thoughts of having an affair with cycling uk, while still remaining married to british cycling. that way, though i'll be almost £50 worse off financially, at least at this time next year, i'll be able to make an informed decision. and i'll be able to bore on a whole 'nuther level.

cycling uk membership | british cycling membership

tuesday 14 september 2021

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