missing the point

capti screen

when first i owned a computer, to occupy downtime from pixel wrangling in photoshop or manipulating vectors in illustrator, i had sights set on acquiring a flight simulator. this, i would have imagined at the time, would be simplicity itself, given that each month's macuser magazine arrived with a covermount cd, featuring a wealth of trial software, various items of freeware and usually a folder containing games. the fly in the ointment was never that flight simulators were not included in the latter, but more that the instructions accompanying them were either too obscure to make sense of, or so lengthy and complex, that i lost the will to fly before reaching the end.

those were, of course, days long before dedicated gaming machines became de rigeur for christmas, displaying a quality of graphics that would convince the user that they were, indeed, sat in the cockpit of whichever aircraft had been selected from the opening set of options. the insistent problem was one that reputedly affects the male of the species: an inherent inability to read the manual. to be honest, that is the principal reason behind my having no affection for computer games, or indeed any 'real world' board game for that matter. for example, who amongst us spends any time reading those little booklets that accompany new componentry?

be honest.

as a confirned luddite, you will understand that the following impinges not upon my velocipedinal career, but it seems that, far from being followed by flight smulators, it seems that we are being staked out by bicycle simulators. the major player in this simulation is, obviously enough, zwift, but there are others who have meantime, joined the party. the standard mode of practice appears to be an exercise bike setup such as peloton or wattbike, or, as in the case of zwift, affixing your own bike to a smart trainer. to participate, anything from an ipad to a sizeable television screen is necessary to view either your instructor, or in the case of zwift, the roads of watopia.

not all online cycling apps are equal, and i'd imagine i have made my own feelings on the genre well known to the point of boredom. yet, despite my best advice and as many put-downs as i can come up with, two members of the sunday morning peloton have taken to the streets of watopia, leading me to believe that i may soon be in the minority. it's cycling jim, but not as we know it.

however, just when i thought the online cycling milieu had settled down, that flight simulator meme once again, reared its ugly head. capti, whose website trumpets 'game changing smart bike' has begun to muddy the waters. i confess that i initially misunderstood the press release, when they claimed to deliver 'two bikes in one'. by means of so-called 'smart-ride' technology (there's always a technology appended to such ventures), they claim that the bike morphs from a road bike to a studio bike (whatever that might be). it transpires that this is not an actual morphing, but a simulation of 'real-life riding'. as soon as someone mentions the latter, i really do have to wonder whatever was wrong with 'real-life' riding in the first place?

but it gets worse. according to the colourfully named jeff veldhuizen, the ceo of capti, "The growing convergence of gaming and fitness shows that consumers are looking for fun and engaging ways to level up their workouts." this is the first time i have heard of this convergence of gaming and fitness, but mr veldhuizen makes it plain the the beauty of his offering is that "Users can opt to ride through snow-capped mountains, or play fun coin capturing games. Capti makes fitness feel like play for the modern fitness household".

the notion that any intrepid cycling fitness aspirant would wish to deviate from their chosen task by playing "fun coin capturing games' does not describe any of the cyclists of my acquaint. surely so doing would be the euqivalent of tadej pogacar or wout van aert stopping mid-training to have a hot chocolate with cream and marshmallows, accompanied by an iced doughnut? it certainly doesn't sound like the sort of thing that patrick lefevre would prescribe for those riders in his charge. but more disappointingly, this frames cycling as a form of enjoyable entertainment, a definition that we all know to be well wide of the mark. surely the fact that capti has implemented their unreal engine to deliver 3d video game-level graphics totally misses the point? cycling is all about three to four hours in galeforce headwind-driven rain in an attempt to build one's charactier beyond all reproach.

actual enjoyment has always been surplus to requirements.

capti - the life-changing smart bike

monday 11 october 2021

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porridge and jack and me

porridge and jack

i'm hoping that both jack kerouac and adrian belew will excuse the paraphrased heading, but it seemed too good an opportunity to let pass, under the circumstances. you will hopefully recall that, only a matter of a few days past, i offered an initial review of jack the rack, explaining just what that is, and how simply it could be attached to the handlebars of a nearby bicycle. at the time of writing, jack's kickstarter campaign has a mere 21 days to run, having already acquired over twenty-five times its required funding goal. that, i would assume, means that there is little chance of jack not reaching production, and then some.

this is indeed fortunate, for as one youtube video review pointed out, 'this is genius level', not only for the design, but for the simplicity of use. having attached it to the handlebars of my specialized crux cyclocross bike for review, it has remained there ever since, fulfilling its duties with aplomb whenever required. however, i can but admit that, until yesterday, i had hardly caused jack anything like the grief he was designed to accept. sorties into the estates have generally been accompanied by no more than around 1kg of 'stuff', but both necessity and opportunity combined on saturday to increase that number threefold.

we have previously discussed not only my resistance to change, but my habitual pattern of cycling at weekends, so it will come as little suprise that i spent the early, pre-luncheon part of my saturday bike ride along the usual parcours, before the soya latte and double-egg roll. i would have subsequently indulged in a square of millionaire's shortbread, but the white chocolate topping was not one that agrees with my palate. however, my breakfast-time supply of green city jumbo porridge oats was now in a serious state of depletion, and jack had offered to help me carry home the replenishment 3kg bag.

the necessary stock, somewhat infrequently kept, and not because of the present day truck driver shortages, was espied during a brief visit on friday, so i figured i would not only transport the goods, but test my mettle round loch gorm carrying an additional 3kg of cargo. jack is no friend of the weight-weenies. taking into account the fact that precipitation appeared to have little intention of ending, i had thoughtfully brought a waterproof backpack into which the oats could be stowed; no sense in making cold porridge at saligo bay. this charged jack with a mite greater than 3kg to carry safely home, and i will admit to beginning the climb at foreland, humming the refrain from neal and jack and me, from the 1982 king crimson album, beat.

you can see why i live on a relatively remote island.

unfortunately, though in my head i have a voice that would equal that of mr belew, reality is several miles distant, but the odd grating sound accompanying the lyrics appeared not to have anything to do with me. emanating from the rear wheel, i feared it may be a terminal case of hub or freehub bearings, subsequently electing not to continue round the loch, lest i failed to reach the exit road. so, despite those porridge oats sitting up front, i opted to head to the sand dunes of uiskentuie, lest the hub ground to an unceremonious and dramatic halt, in which case, i would not be in traffic's way.

you will accept, i believe, that grassy sand dunes edged with machair, are a tad less billiard flat than the road running parallel. yet, despite the numerous ups and downs not only failing to trouble jack one whit, they caused no untoward distractions to the bike's handling. and believe me the sand dunes of uiskentuie did everything in their power to prevent the front wheel describing a straight line. i'm pleased to report that the jumbo porridge oats reached home in pristine condition, and that the scraping sound accompanying my dreadful internal singing, turned out to be a disintegrated bearing in the lower jockey wheel; considerably less expensive and troubling than a failed hub bearing.

pledge £58 or more, and you too could benefit from jack's excellence on your own bicycle when deliveries begin in may next year. by that time, jack and i will have recorded our second album.

jack the rack kickstarter

sunday 10 october 2021

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now what?

tv pundits

though i have frequently disparaged cycling punditry and those who practise the art, i have come to the conclusion that, despite these misgivings, their output is, nonetheless, highly industrious. if you will allow me to explain, in recent weeks, not only have we witnessed the beginning of alaphillipe's second year in rainbow bands, but quite possibly the finest paris-roubaix in the last two decades, with more than simply a smattering of mud. then today, the world tour season effectively comes to a close in italy's lombardy region. and you just know that an entire international army of pundits will have made lengthy deliberations on our behalf before presenting those on whom we ought to keep an eye.

whether this is related to the insidious creeping of betting into every nook and cranny of pretty much every sport on the planet, i know not. at least placing money on one member of the peloton to cross the finish line ahead of his or her compatriots can be blamed on a hapless pundit if the prognostication proves entirely unfounded. far better than having to accept personal blame, i shouldn't wonder.

my point of contention has most frequently surrounded the knowledge that, no matter the collective forecast as to the winner of any given race, would it not be better use of viewing time to simply watch the event unfold and cheer whomsoever makes it across the finish line in first place? my apprenticeship in the outpourings of the average and not so average pundit, was served during the days of bbc grandstand. when football matches were once the sole province of saturday afternoons (other than midweek replays, you understand), around lunchtime, during the match previews, a bevy of ex-footballers would invariably offer their insightful knowledge as to the afternoon's potential winners, accompanied by their reasoning as to why.

come late afternoon, when my father and brother had returned from the terraces, the tv would once again be pressed into action for the results, from which my mother could check her littlewoods pools coupons. following the results, the cameras would turn their attentions to commentators/pundits at several football grounds, where the poor soul behind the microphone would frequently have to explain why his choice had been so wide of the mark.

a quick look on google to check whether il lombardia took place today or tomorrow, was headlined by three illustrated choices: "ten riders to watch at il lombardia" (, "five things to look out for at il lombardia" (cycling weekly), and once again "new il lombardia could inspire long-range attacks." meanwhile, across the atlantic, velonews was a tad more specific, stating, "clash of the titans: primoz roglic, remco evenepoel set for rare face-off at il lombardia."

let's face it; even following those pronouncements, the race will be/was no different for anyone . by the time you read this, the result will probably already be known, and though velonews might be right on the money, their prognostication is unlikely to affect either the outcome or our appreciation of watching the race unfold. however, whether you are in agreement, that punditry is an unnecessary velocipedinal augmentation, or conversely, an intrinsic part of each world tour event, you have to be concerned for the immediate future of the pundits themselves. for, as mentioned above, il lombardia is the final world tour race of the season, and with the tour down under already removed from january's calendar, how will those poor souls spend the winter months?

granted, cyclocross season has already commenced, and surely punditry is a transferable skill? the latter point is, however, somewhat moot. naming no names, there are those who excel behind the microphone throughout the road-race season, yet it's all to clear that their knowledge of cyclocross and its combatants often leaves a great deal to be desired.

one well-known pundit of my acquaint spends many a long hour studying the start list prior to each road event, making endless notes on the form of each, backed up by an encyclopaedic knowledge of their respective palmares, and an intrinsic understanding of the peloton's internal mechanisms garnered over several seasons as a professional rider. such preparation is immeasurably enhanced by a sixth-sense when reading just how a race might proceed well over 50 kilometres from the flamme-rouge.

i do truly wonder how these fine fellows and fellowesses occupy their downtime, until the season once again kicks into gear as spring is sprung in 2022. at which point, i shall doubtless disparage them all over again.

saturday 09 october 2021

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when will it be our turn?

utrecht cycleway

as i briefly mentioned yesterday, glasgow has proposed plans to construct a city-wide infrastructure to encourage what is usually termed as active travel. in other words, pretty much any means of getting about other than using motorised transport. glasgow currently offers a fairly efficient and frequent bus transport service, stretching even as far as the ayrshire coast. when visiting my mother who lives in that direction, after arriving off the kennacraig - glasgow service, i have only to wait a maximum of fifteen minutes before catching the x77 heading to ayr bus station. and had i designs on remaining within glasgow, there is an ample number of taxis from which to choose, or, if i wish to indulge in active travel, i can rent glasgow's equivalent of the boris bike from a stance just outside buchanan bus station.

utrecht cycleway

that said, should i have opted for the latter, there's still the not insignificant need to negotiate city-centre traffic as i head to wherever my active travel should eventually lead. of course, i could always walk, something i have been inclined to do whenever visiting glasgow in the past. however, the object of my attention in the city, apart from the hmv vinyl department in argyle street, was always drummers only just across the clyde. they, however, opted to leave the hustle and bustle, moving considerably farther towards the outskirts of glasgow to larger premises.

utrecht cycleway

this new, enlarged store i have yet to visit, predominantly, it has to be said, due to pandemic restrictions being in force, and yours truly remaining ensconced on the hallowed isle. however, with a visit looming at the end of november, drummers only might well be the object of my scheme to avoid being dragged round city-centre shopping by mrs washingmachinepost and number one daughter. in order to be true to my climate-change leanings, i would prefer to opt for a macboris bike, but i'm unsure of the traffic conditions that exist between buchanan bus station and unit 4 queenslie park. this route may have benefited from one of the city's 'pop-up' cycle lanes, but with little to no experience of riding on city streets, i find myself in a bit of a quandary.

utrecht cycleway

glasgow's proposed active travel plans aim to ensure that the city's schools are never farther than 400 metres of a principal route, and that no home is farther than 800 metres from segregated cycling infrastructure. according to glasgow city councillor, anna richardson, with the city's population continuing to increase, there will undoubtedly be more and more journeys made each day, creating a potential increase in traffic, congestion and pollution. they've decided, therefore, that they need to provide viable alternatives for those who need to get about greater glasgow.

utrecht cycleway

that said, glasgow has not mentioned the subject of public demand, apparently working more on the basis of 'build it and they will come' than offering a mental picture of hordes of dispossessed cyclists clamouring outside the council chambers. as pointed out in carlton reid's 'roads were not built for cars', the town of stevenage, constructed in 1946 as the first of the uk's designated new towns, featured a separated cycle network which singularly failed to gain any traction whatsoever, mostly because stevenage's road system was every bit as easy to use; possibly easier. with little perceived benefit to be gained from cycling, it more or less remained untrammeled.

utrecht cycleway

but, given britain's apparently healthy distaste for imposing quality cycling infrastructure on a travel network that heavily favours the motorist, doesn't necessarily augur well for the end result. it would be decidedly unfair to pre-judge whatever glasgow has in mind, but i fear it will have to experience a serious level of lateral thinking to emulate the facilities taken for granted in the netherlands. for instance, while sustrans have made commendable inroads converting disused rail routes into walking and cycling routes, they are as nothing compared to the former railway now a beautifully surfaced cycleway in utrecht.

this cycleway makes a billiard table look bumpy, while offering facility for two-way cycle traffic completely separated from the city's roads. i'd imagine this is the very type of cycle network the majority of uk cyclists not only want, but most certainly deserve. however, i fear that glasgow's road network has scant space in which to build such luxury, and for all their professed goodwill, i doubt there's the wherewithal to make such investment in the future of active travel, cop26 or no cop26.

come the revolution.

utrecht cycleway

friday 08 october 2021

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a tent on the wild side

wild camping

if we can accept that the majority of new gravel bike owners and adherents will not be participating in the uci's new world championship gravel series, it seems possibly that that bikepacking and gravelling are soon to exhibit a symbiotic relationship, if that has not, indeed, already happened. while cycle-touring as we know it (jim) still exists (racks panniers and bar bags), the modern-way, if i read this correctly, is a gravel bike or verisimilitude, festooned with bike-bags as evinced by the world of bike-packing. german rider, marcus stitz, who rode around the world on a single-speed bicycle, has made great inroads, in scotland at least, to popularise bike-packing as an activity now practised by many. however, aesthetically, those oddly shaped bags sticking out here there and everywhere, would make a mockery of any aero bike's propensities, leaving mention of 'wind tunnel testing' as an unlikely topic of conversation as gravel scrunches under knobbly tyres.

it may well be that the archetypal gravel bike suffers from a similar breakdown in nomenclature as did the original mountain bike, few of which ventured anywhere near even a humpback bridge, let alone anything resembling an actual mountain. and as pointed out by dr hutch in a recent issue of the comic, there are few instances of 'real' gravel in many regions of the uk. which, to a certain extent, is possibly a blessing in disguise. i say so, because a partnership between os maps and cycling uk has released a video explaining how to wild camp in the uk, something in which new gravellers may find they have more than a passing interest. if you live north of the border, wild-camping is a distinct possibility, which this very video displays in a brightly-coloured graphic. south of the border, dartmoor is pretty much your only option, and apparently even that is in danger of proposed new restrictions.

scotland, it seems, is the uk capital of wild camping, with apparently no areas out of bounds. while that is demonstrably untrue (there are a couple of estates even on islay, who do not allow overnight camping), scotland's access code does extend to wild camping. it states, "This type of camping is lightweight, done in small numbers and only for two or three nights in any one place. You can camp in this way wherever access rights apply, but help to avoid causing problems for local people and land managers by not camping in enclosed fields of crops or farm animals and by keeping well away from buildings, roads or historic structures. Take extra care to avoid disturbing deer stalking or grouse shooting. If you wish to camp close to a house or building, seek the owner's permission." the key words in the above statement are, 'wherever access rights apply'.

loch lomond and the trossachs national park enacted byelaws over four years ago, making it illegal to camp in certain areas of the national park. however, the vast majority of scotland, aside from the weather, is a wild camper's playground. but, as espoused in the video, the (not so very) secret trick to successful wild-camping is effectively leaving no trace. you'll likely experience little in the way of animosity if you move on and nobody realises you were ever there in the first place.

yet, the very notion of wild-camping is one that islay community council has had to reinforce in a recently published leaflet. for while cyclists and hikers can pitch a tent, light a fire and experience a blustery night under canvas, those in motor vehicles, motorhomes and campervans are excluded. perhaps tautologically obviously, you can't equate the word 'wild' with cuddling up inside a state-of-the-art motorhome, with every amenity including satellite tv.

in my opinion, this is a timely video. i only recently mentioned that sales of e-bikes were apparently on the rise, following something as unexpected, yet temporary, as the much-vaunted fuel crisis. and we have been constantly reminded that sales of bicycles and their use has increased dramatically since the pandemic came to tea. glasgow city has recently unveiled plans to create a city-wide, active travel network, both to cater for those who have already joined the party, and those who might be encouraged to do so by the promise of suitable, easy to access facilities. its timeliness, i believe, may rest upon the possibility that, having taken to the saddle during the week for commuting purposes, particularly if aboard endlessly advertised gravel machinery, a portion may wish to extend their velocipedinal interests to the weekend, but away from the city streets.

what better way to do so, than pop off for a weekend's bikepacking and wild camping?

you may think, therefore, that i discriminate against such individuals, by suggesting that they need video instruction on how to behave in the great outdoors. however, with several friends and colleagues who work the land through farming, i am well aware of the ignorance (and arrogance) displayed by several of those more used to urban rituals. perhaps one of the more humorous, yet apt examples can be illustrated by knowledge of a sign placed on a farm gate. it read "if crossing this field, ensure that you can do so in nine seconds, because the bull can do it in ten."

os maps + cyclinguk wild camping video

thursday 07 october 2021

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difficult choices

inner tube

probably every bike shop mechanic in the world despairs of this oft-repeated scenario. a hypothetical customer either arrives at the shop, or calls on the phone to report a problem with their bicycle. on further questioning, it transpires that the aforementioned bicycle is "making a noise." deeper investigation elicits that this 'noise' appears to be coming from "somewhere at the bottom." unfortunately, due to bicycle construction featuring either a series of hollow tubes, or a hollow, monocoque frame, usually entails that every sound appears to emanate from "somewhere at the bottom."

all of us here have probably experienced headset problems, cassette creaks, quick-release sounds and any other number of squeaks, bangs and crunches, all of which seem to come from the bottom bracket. sometimes, those noises do indeed come from the bottom bracket, but a lack of knowledge of even the most basic parts of the bicycle (an office colleague, who has owned an e-bike for almost two years, had no idea where the headset was), often means that, asking from where noises arise, would make any episode of 'columbo' look like a walk in the park.

though i tend to carry out far fewer cycle repairs nowadays than was once the case, predominantly due to a lack of time so to do, the occasional cycling visitor is still referred in my direction by the well-meaning ladies at the village tourist office. invariably, these calls for help revolve around flat tyres, for which, in their innocence, they have failed to pack either a puncture repair kit, a spare inner tube, or, in more cases than you'd like to think, no pump.

leaving aside the first and last, for which i fear there is little cure, it's the middle problem that has a tendency to make me, or anyone else for that matter, come across as an arrogant snob. for starters, there's the not insignificant question as to what size of tube is required. in one particular instance, the gentleman on the phone informed me that he was astride a mountain bike, a genre of velocipede that sports three different available diameters. on reciting all three in the hope that he might choose the correct one, his response was to enquire where he might find the answer. we all know that the size is most frequently notated on the tyre sidewall, but given that my respondent seemed unable to decipher this rudimentary information, i said i'd bring one of each.

on arriving outside the tourist office, he pointed in the direction of red mountain bike with large white lettering on the sidewall of both tyres, signifying 'twenty-niner'. some people just should not be allowed to own or ride a bicycle.

the follow up question to the 'what size?' enquiry, is almost certainly to be "what type of valve?" it still astounds me just how many are unable to asnwer that question, even after informing that the schrader valve is that fitted to pretty much every motor car on the planet. but if it's a road bike, the second-part of that last question has become, "what length". at one time, that would have been superfluous, for presta valves were mostly around 42mm in length. if fitted to deep carbon or aluminium rims, inflation would be effected by a fitted valve extension. deep rims were once the preserve of the racing cyclist, the sort of people who would be well aware if the rims featured just such an extension. but deep rims have become considerably more common in recent years, the inner-tube industry having moved to comply, offering 42, 60 and even 80mm length valves.

only a matter of years past, i was contacted by a fellow, sporting 40mm alloy rims on his road bike, but having packed three inner tubes featuring 42mm valves. quite frankly, no pump on earth is going to gain purchase on a mere 2mm. but the problem does not stop with the relative ignorance of the estranged visiting cyclist; those of us who have need of acquiring inner tubes for our own use are often to be found deep in gloop all of our very own.

following a weekend puncture and the realisation that i had sold all the tubes i had previously reserved for my own use, i set about ordering some replacements. the ritchey sports a pair of campagnolo's very fine bora wto carbon wheels, with 45mm rims. therefore, the minimum length of valve required is 60mm. however, i'm also running 28mm inner tubes, tautologically meaning that i needed to purchase at least one 700x28c inner tube with a 60mm valve stem. yet despite searching several online stores (a common occurrence in the more remote parts of the country) with very little in the way of luck. if i could find tubes of the correct width, they were unavailable with the desired valve length, or if the latter proved doable, the tubes were of the wrong width.

i found several retailers offering multi-packs, none of which fitted my exacting specifications. so, ignoring my own advice to others, to always buy bicycles and componentry from their local bike shop, or, in the absence of the latter, a bona-fide online cycle retailer, i'd to order the required tubes from amazon. i do not feel proud for having done so, not only from the point of view alluded to above, but because i really have no great desire to add any more to the bezos coffers so that he can invite william shatner to join him in space. however, there's really no doubting that bicycle shopping has become a darned sight more complex than in the halcyon days of yore.

for those who will point out that tubeless would be the obvious solution, do not get me started.

when there are cassettes featuring anything from eight to thirteen sprockets, with seemingly no end of tooth variations, all of which need to be reconciled with the capacity of tiagra, sora, 105, ultegra, dura-ace, super-record, record, chorus, potenza, rival, force or red gear mechs, suddenly, it appears we need to be far more informed than simply knowing where we left the bike shed key.

remember when we simply went for a bike ride?

wednesday 06 october 2021

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paris-roubaix 2021

according to those better informed than i, autumn began loosening the leaves from the trees on 22 september, lasting, believe it or not, until 21 december, at which point winter takes over. this may come as news to calmac ferries, whose winter timetable comes into force on the last weekend of october, almost two months ahead of its production date. following a relatively blissful summer, when there was so little wind, even in the hebrides, that britain is now awash with bankrupt electricity suppliers, following a drastic increase in prices, at least partly engendered by the lack of wind generated power.

paris-roubaix 2021

while one would hope for a gentle downhill merging of summer into autumn, offering many a shortened day to consider one's velocipedinal apparel for the weekend, the transition has been a tad more abrupt. on my bike ride from bowmore to lagavulin on friday, though xc weather promised temperatures of ten degrees to accompany forecast wind and rain, the garmin struggled to get over six degrees for much of the day, not faring a great deal better on saturday morning. the first day of the proper weekend was very much a game of two halves, with often heavy wind-driven rain over the morning, followed by a blustery, yet sunny afternoon.

paris-roubaix 2021

as i pulled the ritchey from its bikeshed slumber on saturday morning, my neighbour issued well-intentioned guffaws when i told him the rain was expected to clear by lunchtime. as it turned out, i was right and he was wrong, but it could just as easily have turned out the other way. as he marvelled at my stupidity in face of inclemency, i pointed out that, in years gone by, i would have spent the morning prevaricating, giving it "just another half hour" before making a decision, followed by yet another half an hour, until the morning had disappeared for good. and by then i'd effectively ruined any hope of a bike ride, and was subsequently a nightmare to live with for the rest of the day.

paris-roubaix 2021

in those less than halcyon days, i was not much one for riding out when the rain was already falling, though i was less perturbed if it began raining when i was already pedalling. however, given that i am particularly well catered for in the waterproof department, it seems particularly churlish to avoid wet weather, the existence of a wardrobe of breathables, effectively forcing me out regardless. it's very much a case of motivation, if i'm perfectly honest, a situation that i have left far behind, currently more than happy to go out in anything that won't actually blow me off my bicycle. oddly, motivation is rarely a consideration expressed in the myriad of training manuals published for the benefit of the intrepid rider.

paris-roubaix 2021

though the majority will employ concepts such as 'periodisation', 'functional threshold power', and 'heart-rate zones', few make any mention of motivation, without which, the former three are of academic interest. it's the very part that needs considerable work when attempting to engage the new kids on the block. this can be seen in the numbers who adopted the bicycle as a practical means of transport when lockdown hit last year, and how many continued the practice when the weather became a tad inclement. many regular cyclists, such as yours truly, advised that this was likely to be the case, midst protestations from the great and the good, that the bicycle's time had finally come. this may be proved true regarding the e-bike, but even that is likely to suffer at the hands of the weather.

paris-roubaix 2021

however, for those of us who consider ourselves the flandrians of the west, the true hardmen and women of the saddle, motivation is every bit as much a part of the equation as it is for those of lesser ambition. it's all very well gloating over the black and white images from cycling's glory days at the spring classics, but a journey in the maelstrom still has to begin with a single turn of the pedals. so, in the face of impending autumnal and eventual winter inclemency, should you be in sore need of that motivational force, i highly recommend that you watch at least highlights of sunday's paris-roubaix. the first wet and muddy hell of the north for nineteen years, when tom boonen was still in (bib)shorts, was a joy to watch, no matter which of the participants you were rooting for.

though those fabulous examples of french country roads were ridden by professionals whose livelihood often depends on so doing, that should make little difference from our point of view. britain's roads may be excessively potholed, and particularly on the west of scotland, we're scarcely bereft of wind and precipitation, but if watching sunday's race doesn't get you motivated, then you probably need to take up flower-arranging.

tuesday 05 october 2021

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