rapha logo organic cotton sweatshirt

rapha organic cotton log sweatshirt

an erstwhile acquaintance of mine was in the habit of removing all and every logo from purchased items, adamant that it was iniquitous to advertise the manufacturer, having paid for the item in the first place. i, and undoubtedly naomi klein, could see from where they were coming, but the process of removing often well embedded logos, seemed to me to be taking things just a smidgeon too far. for others, however, the logo is the very reason for which the garment or item was purchased in the first place, advertising to all and sundry that either they had the financial muscle to acquire an item of value, or one that might impress the neighbours.

rapha organic cotton log sweatshirt

not for nothing do bicycle manufacturers have their names writ large on the downtube; several appear to have added their marque to every tube on the frame. after all, marketing would would dictate that it is a great deal more impressive to be seen in the peloton astride a colnago or pinarello, rather than a raleigh, or townsend. one-upmanship has no doubt reared its envious head within the velocipedinal realm, but probably far less so than that of the world of the automobile. this sort of thing makes itself known in all walks of life; i have seen folks shopping in the co-op while carrying a sainsbury's tote bag.

rapha organic cotton log sweatshirt

essentially, there is nothing inherently wrong with such situations; it's a free world (for some of us) and we can buy anything we want for whatever reason, even if we have fallen for the marketing trap, cunningly set for us by those devious copywriters.

but then there is the extension of acquired skills. in this particular case, many of us will ride each weekend clad in rapha cycle clothing, either because we like their sense of style, or because, despite the label price, their garmentage has proven to be a sound investment. to bolster the latter theory, i have a rapha sportwool cycle jersey purchased in 2005 and which looks to all the world, as if it was removed from the packet yesterday. it has not frayed, the colour is as bright pink as ever it was, and the applied mortirolo lettering is still in pristine condition. as far as i'm concerned, it was well worth the money.

rapha organic cotton log sweatshirt

so, if imperial works has garnered sufficient experience in cycling apparel, why would they stop short at jerseys and bibshorts? why not extend those abilities to the world of leisure clothing, allowing their satisfied customers to dress in rapha even when no longer anywhere near a bicycle? that, in short, is the rationale behind what rapha have designated the logo collection. this consists of sweatshirts, such as that reviewed here, hoodies, t-shirts, socks, caps and leggings and shorts for the ladies. of course, you might wish to be less ostentatious than to dress in dark blue organic cotton bearing a bright pink embroidered logo on the front, in which case your subtler tastes have also been catered for.

rapha organic cotton log sweatshirt

it has to be said that the sweatshirt is unashamed luxury, built from thick, heavy cotton with a chain-stitched logo, a nod to the cycle jerseys of yesteryear. according to rapha, because the sweatshirt offers a relaxed fit, you might wish to size down, but as is my wont, i opted for medium, just as i do for every jersey, baselayer and jacket, and it fits just fine. assuming that you're happy to advertise your velocipedinal affiliation to those other than the weekly peloton, this may well be the range for you. there's also a hooded sweatshirt available, but since i'm not a great fan of hoods, the hoodless version is just fine by me.

the difficulty now is how to affect a relaxed, sweatshirt related demeanour, while still convincing others that i am but a coiled spring who could climb or sprint at the drop of a rapha logo'd hat.

rapha's organic cotton logo sweatshirt is available in sizes ranging from xs to xxl, in blue/pink (as reviewed), light grey/teal, black/white, and charcoal/black. cost os £55.

rapha organic cotton logo sweatshirt

monday 25 october 2021

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the best there is

a tune a day for drums - c paul herfurth

a tune a day for drums, by c paul herfurth, was the first drum book i ever bought. if memory serves correctly, it was on the book rack in the sole music shop in the town next to where i grew up. first published in 1951, the original version cost an affordable four shillings and sixpence, which would be about 25p in decimal coinage. clarence paul herfurth must surely have been an impressive musician, for it was he who fostered the entire series of tune a day books, the first of which was published in 1937, followed by a tune a day for cornet in 1941. born in 1893, he began violin lessons at the age of seven, graduating from the new england conservatory of music in 1916, and six years later he moved to new jersey, organising the state's first instrumental programme. that, presumably, would account for his wide-ranging musical knowledge.

clarence herfurth died in august 1988 at the age of 95.

a tune a day for drums is slightly odd in that it contains instruction for both snare drum and bass drum, probably because, other than tympani, those are the principal drums used in orchestral settings. of course, as a teenager, my interest in percussion was firmly aimed in the directions of louie bellson and gene krupa, for 'twas they who featured prominently in copies of the zildjian cymbal catalogues i managed to purloin while purchasing my copy of c paul herfurth's percussive instruction. interestingly, the line drawings included in a tune a day for drums depicted marching drummers, so perhaps my assumption that the snare parts bore orchestral leanings were somewhat wide of the mark.

whatever happened to the copy i owned as a teenager is lost in the mists of time, for there is little doubting that i am no longer a teenager, or anywhere close. however, while perusing the pages of a vintage drum specialist website only last week, i came across an original copy of the book, with the same cover illustration as featured on my long lost, but strangely, never forgotten issue. so i bought it, at a price considerably greater than that imprinted on the cover. in fact, the postage alone, was far greater than four shillings and sixpence; i can assure you that this particular copy will not suffer the unknown fate of its predecessor.

but while this aimless exploration of a website i have not previously come across, has allowed me to celebrate one of the seminal periods of my teenage years, i very much doubt that the same could be said for any of the vintage bicycle sites i have occasion to land upon. though i have purchased very many drum instruction books in the intervening years, it is a tune a day that has stuck in my mind since i was twelve. and while i can recall the bicycle used throughout my school and paper-round years (a green raleigh twenty), my very first bicycle was obviously not memorable enough to imprint itself quite so strongly. i do remember that it was blue and had but a single freewheel, but i'd be fibbing if i said i could remember the name on the downtube. i do remember that i didn't know it was known as the downtube, and that in common junior parlance of the time, the top tube was referred to as the cross bar.

in truth, i'm sure the same could be said for most of us, though others will likely have far better recall than yours truly. but while i can purchase a copy of my very first drum book, to find many of the lessons enclosed to be every bit as valid today as they were back then, i seriously doubt the same could be said of any bicycle i may have possessed at the time i was being percussively educated by clarence paul herfurth. the wheel rims on many a standard bicycle of the time were made from steel, spoked with so-called rustless spokes. when it rained, there really wasn't much hope of the flimsy caliper brakes bringing the bicycle to anything like a full stop in less than sixteen bike lengths.

and even if i could fill in all the blanks, there's very little chance of the bicycle being the correct size.

given such a state of affairs, one that's easily applicable to almost all of us, unless of course, you're still a teenager, i have found the best solution is to apportion any nostalgic feelings, towards the bicycle currently resident in the bike shed. and in the likelihood that we have all adopted velominati's rule #12 ('the correct number of bikes to own is n+1), be sure to choose the one ridden most frequently. if that too, gives cause for concern, line them up, one at a time, against the garden fence and look the other way. whichever bicycle produces the most satisfied grin when you turn around, that's the modern-day equivalent of your very first bike. instead of constantly looking through magazines, youtube reviews and manufacturer websites, just enjoy your new first bicycle, and be happy with it. to fly in the face of the velominations, you don't need another one.

you can thank me later.

sunday 24 october 2021

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double the fun

two coffees

as you can perhaps glean from the images that accompany my infrequent product reviews, i am no photographer. sadly, that is an admission that many others ought to bear; with a camera on every smartphone, as has been said by many, "nowadays, everyone's a photographer". but i have seen several of the world's top photographers at work and collaborated with one or two; as ronnie corbett was wont to say in the frost report of yesteryear, "i know my place". i like to think i can manage not to take disastrous photos, but i'm well aware of my minimal abilities in this respect.

however, on occasion i am required to be the photographer du jour for islay's local newspaper, if only because i do not require to be paid for this extra-curricular activity. one such occasion occurred yesterday morning. if you're in any way a whisky aficionado, you will probably have heard of jim mcewan, a man who, in the world of the amber nectar, is a legend in his own lunchtime. he's also a fellow who has had more retirements than frank sinatra. however, at what he says was his final retirement, in conjunction with colin and bruce from whisky bottlers, dram fool, he conducted an online whisky-tasting masterclass which, if i recall the figures correctly, attracted 350 individuals in ten different countries, over eight time-zones.

during the subsequent sale of jim mcewan whisky, bottled from the man's collection of casks, they sold 249 bottles in a matter of eleven minutes. this realised a sum of £20,540 for which jim and his wife barbara nominated the scottish air ambulance service to receive. presentation of the cheque was made yesterday morning at jim's home in bruichladdich, of which i was asked to take photos.

eagle-eyed observers will have already noted that alternate fridays are those on which i usually ride to bruichladdich around lunchtime, to deliver copies of the newspaper to debbie's cafe for sale on saturday. however, it seemed a mite redundant to pedal to the village for 9am, then do so again at 1pm, so i loaded the newspaper copies onto jack the rack and headed south west, midst one or two light showers. following an apparently successful photo session, i dropped into debbie's for a soya latte before ultimately heading for home and later, popping into the office to carry out my friday administrative duties.

i had already notified my two lunchtime cycling colleagues that i would not be joining the afternoon peloton. however, on returning home, the fact that the weather had not only notably brightened, but the temperature had risen a degree or two, encouraged a second bike ride, and, perchance, a second coffee at deb's. now, is this a situation that features in any other outdoor activity? for instance, of the one or two runners that i know locally, i'm unaware of any who run in the morning, then, full of enthusiasm, do so once again after work.

do any of those who climb hills, do so once and feel suitable encouraged to repeat the process later that same day? do members of islay kayak club feel desirous of more than one paddle a day? i know that it's often the case that football tournaments can feature several games in a single day, but that's a tad more onerous than two bike rides in one day for the sheer heck of it. so does that make us different? does cycling release so many endorphins in a mere 30km, that the brain demands a reprise only a matter of hours later?

part of the reason folks are keen not to engage me in conversation, or would prefer to cross the road on the pretext of needing to be elsewhere very soon, is my predilection for talking about cycling. granted, the increased popularity of the tour de france has brought one or two respectable citizens to seek my opinion or reaction following one or other stage during those three weeks in july, but by and large, i think they'd prefer that i discuss the weather, health or einstein's theory of relativity; anything, in fact, other than bicycles. in my favour, i rarely set out to discuss the velocipedinal realm, but invariably the third party will highlight a particular situation for which i have a comparable story in which there is a bicycle, a cyclist, or both.

i doubt i'm alone in this, and i can see more than a few heads nodding in recognition of the situation. but are we alone in this? i daresay not, for i know several individuals who do likewise, only substituting football for cycling. however, few of the latter then nip home for a quick game of soccer. so are we pleasantly different, and even if true, do we really care?

i'm still very much of the opinion that the best way to proselytise the cause, is simply to be seen in the saddle as often as possible. therefore, if that means going for a second or even third bike ride in a single day, then so be it.

isn't it great to be a bicyclist?

saturday 23 october 2021

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emission impossible?


in mid-2024, islay ought to take delivery of the first of its two new ferries, the building of which has proved something of an embarrassment to the scottish government. the hierarchies involved are themselves a tad embarrassing, given that the money for the west coast ferry services is distributed on behalf of government by transport scotland, who are the overseers of caledonian maritime assets ltd (cmal). they own the boats and the piers, all of which are operated on their behalf, by caledonian macbrayne ferries, in effect, a state-owned ferry company. bureaucracy unbound. however, having nationalised ferguson's shipyard in glasgow a few years ago, two ferries already under construction still languish, far from complete, in the yard. the first of these ought to have been delivered to the ardrossan - brodick (arran) route, over three years ago.

to date, the windows on the bridge remain no more than black painted shapes, originally done for cosmetic reasons, for the first minister's launch of the ferry several years ago. late last year and early this year, cmal undertook online public consultations with residents on islay and jura over the design of a single replacement ferry. it was but a matter of weeks past that we learned we would receive two and not one new boat, with fears that, were they also to be assigned to the state-owned shipyard, we would likely be waiting until the end of the decade for delivery. however, the embarrassment factor moved off the scale on discovering that of the four european yards tendering for the build, none were from scotland.

you can but imagine the political mileage made by scotland's opposition parties.

however, aside from the construction of the boats to fit the requirements of the route, one that boasts the second highest freight carrying on the west coast (the outer hebrides has only a marginally higher freight requirement), despite a population more than four times that of islay and jura), principally at the behest of the exceptional number of malt whisky and gin distilleries in the area, there are environmental issues to be taken into consideration. several of the smaller ferries on the west coast, such as that plying the route between claonaig on kintyre and lochranza on arran's west coast, are powered by hybrid diesel/electric engines, and it is this mode of power that is likely to appear on our two new boats when they arrive. understandably, this will require alterations on the three piers featured on the service, allowing for re-charging etc., when berthed overnight.

but while electric is seen to be the way to go at present, it's how that electricity is derived that is still under development. were these sizeable boats to subsist on electric alone, you can but imagine the amount and size of the batteries required, the combination of which would add to the all-up weight, meaning possible compromises on the carrying capacity and the efficiency of travel. the longer-term strategy has suggested that the electric motive force might be better served by hydrogen-powered fuel cells, though that in itself brings its own set of problems. for starters, even liquid hydrogen (stored at well below minus 200 degrees celcius) occupies around eight time the space of a similar quantity of diesel fuel. that makes for a very large and very expensive boat.

the big deal about hydrogen power is that the only by-product of the energy process is water, a fact that has led one or two motor manufacturers to consider hydrogen fuel-cells as a means of propulsion for future cars. it's also being mooted as the very means of powering trucks and buses, given the number of batteries either would have to carry to satisfy their greater need for power. it would also entail considerably less time refuelling than is the case when needing to recharge an electric vehicle. so while the latter is the immediate solution to motorised transport across the world, current electric vehicles may turn out to be the betamax to hydrogen's vhs future.

but the above is all well and good, demonstrating, if nothing else, that technologists are taking environmental concerns with the seriousness they deserve. but such concerns revolve mostly around life continuing precisely as it is, merely changing one method of motive force for another. and at present, for all that renewable energy fills several tv adverts, this past summer of low winds, has meant that the much vaunted wind turbine has effectively failed to earn its keep. that, in turn entails that the power for all those electric vehicles and hybrid ferry engines has often come from burning fossil fuels. doesn't this simply mean we've moved the problem from one place to another?

many folks a great deal wiser than am i, have pointedly made it clear that, rather than find differing means of fuelling our transport, we really need to drive less. and ultimately, we also need to consume less stuff, meaning a reduction in the number of container ships available to jam the suez canal.

the city of barcelona, however, might have hit on an ingenious partial solution. since 2017, city residents who voluntarily give up their polluting vehicles have been provided with t-verda tickets, allowing free, unlimited use of the public transport services across the principal zones in the spanish city for a period of three years. since the scheme began, barcelona has awarded over 12,000 of these tickets, in the process, removing more than 10,000 cars and just under 1200 motorcycles.

in towns and cities with comprehensive public transport systems, there's little reason why the same could not be enacted in urban areas all across the world, always assuming that governments and city councils are serious enough about achieving net-zero in the first place.

but for areas in which public transport is either non or barely existent, there would be little to be gained from being handed a free ticket. and perhaps that's where the bicycle could once again stick its hand in the air, shouting "remember me? if i might use islay as a nearby example, public transport is rarely an option for a comprehensive means of daily travel. so rather than hand out free tickets, why not hand out free bikes - even in towns and cities - as an alternative? a bus trip from bowmore to port ellen costs about £5; assume one return trip per day, five days per week for, shall we say, forty-eight weeks per year. that equals £2,400 per year. over three years, it's over £7,000, meaning providing even a quality electric bicycle would be substantially less expensive.

but, as in so many situations, the bicycle still seems to be the forgotten solution, even when it's forcibly pointed out. perhaps it's not a fair cop(26) after all?

friday 22 october 2021

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all dressed up


nipping out to the bike shed to grab the bicycle prior to preparing for the day's ride, has always made pretty good sense. but, as we slide through autumn on our way to winter, so doing has become more of a necessity than a luxury. to gauge the ambient temperature, this should ideally be undertaken without casquette or gloves, in case either shield that honed physique from what might turn out to be a less than pleasant reality. the first day like that happened on saturday past, the morning after it became necessary to turn on the heating in the croft, lest mrs washingmachinepost and i find ourselves with chilly toes while watching last of the summer wine.

problem is, i thought i had it correctly sussed, ensuring my velocipedinal cosyness by donning a thermal winter jersey, topped with a goretex jacket to fend off the impending post noon precipitation. and i'm afraid that, in the hebrides at least, bibshorts have been replaced by bib-threequarters, or augmented with knee-warmers. for the time-being, at least, shoe coverings are still an optional extra, depending on the ferocity of rainfall. and, if only to confirm my status as a total wimp, i have re-introduced the belgian-style winter cap, remaindered since late march.

the double-edged sword at work here, concerns the duality of dressing as described above. it's more than possible that this thermal-based mode of dress may prove to be somewhat excessive, but since around half of my parcours skirts the atlantic coast, any mechanical malfeasance that may befall yours truly during such coastal perambulations, would result in rapid cooling at the roadside while attempting to fix whatever has interrupted the day's happy place. as the boy scouts would rarely fail to point out, it's always better to be prepared in advance.

accepting that the garmin displayed near eight-degrees, without incorporating a modest level of windchill, even before the rain began, i cannot deny that i was remarkably cool, and not in the good way. thus, when laying out cycling apparel for sunday morning, i took all the foregoing into account, choosing a long-sleeve baselayer (i know, i know), thermal, long-sleeve jersey with matching gilet (even in the face of adversity, it's important to reinforce one's sense of style), rainjacket and yet another pair of bib-threequarters. the shoes got their way, being covered with thermal overshoes, given that rain was in the air.

the fallacy of the latter paragraph can surely be illustrated by noting the temperature on the garmin to have been seven degrees warmer than home-time on saturday. how the heck, even in the inner-hebrides, can the temperature vary so wildly in the space of about twelve hours? but that, to be quite honest, is the nub of the problem. as autumn merges into winter, it's all too easy to be both underdressed and overdressed all in the one day. for that reason alone, i have little truck with those who claim layering to be outmoded, that there is, according to the naysayers, no need to dress in such a manner. but at least on sunday, both the rainjacket and gilet were not only removeable, but small enough of constitution to be stuffed in a rear pocket. had i observed contemporary advice, i'd likely have worn an outer thermal jacket, with no visible means of carrying it, should it have (undoubtedly) proved too warm.

not every sunday ride benefits from a following team car.

i'm willing to accept that being overdressed is considerably less onerous than being underdressed, but as the weather changes, please choose your apparel with care. layer as much as you like, and even if it's warmish on departure, stuff a jacket or gilet in a back pocket, because there's no guarantee things will remain that way for the length of the bike ride. i've no real idea how many folks read the post on a regular basis, but i'd like to hang onto as many of you as i can.

thursday 21 october 2021

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bean to cup

roasted coffee beans

for whatever reason, coffee and cycling are persistent bedfellows. however, the combination occupies the upper echelons of velocipedinal society, in that i doubt you'd witness tadej pogacar or primoz roglic supping a cup of nescafe instant on the bus prior to the grand départ. for those of us more used to the way of the saddle, such imbibing is constrained to double-espressos, lattes, cappuccinos and the like. well-intentioned coffee snobbery.

however, my apprehension of the reasons behind this conjoining of two different worlds, initially revolved around the italian connection. surely there must be more than meets the eye, when many of the world's principal coffee machine manufacturers are of italian origin. yes, rocket espresso might be owned by australian, andrew meo, but the manufacturing base is in italy, and the company bears an italian ancestry. gaggia too is a well-known italian manufacturer, as are saeco and segafredo. couple this with the desire for british and american cyclists in the mid to late part of last century to own gios, colnago, pinarello etc., and it's easy to see from where the purported italian connection arises.

but is that borne out by commercial reality? italians may be the kings of the coffee machine, but has the country's population joined the party by drinking a consummate quantity of roasted beans? as it turns out, nothing could be further from the truth. the country that drinks the most coffee per head of population, is, surprise, surprise, finland, a nation not renowned for producing world class cyclists. probably the only one of which any of us will have heard, is charly wegelius. and it doesn't actually get any better, for second and third on the list are, respectively, norway and iceland. thankfully, sanctity is restored with the netherlands at fifth place, and belgium three places behind.

italy languishes in 13th place and the home of starbucks is right at the bottom of the pile in 25th place. who knew?

but, as i park my bicycle in the cycle rack at debbie's on a saturday lunchtime, before popping indoors for a double-egg roll and a soya latte, i can but admit, i pay scant attention to the origins of my admittedly excellent coffee. i might also point out that debbie's coffee supply does not originate from any of the nation's boutique suppliers, but in boxes oredered from the provider of the coffee machine. suddenly, the snobbery dissipates just a smidgeon.

yet, while we congratulate ourselves on how green is our valley, when it comes to the environmental credentials attached to our two-wheeled activity, how sustainable is the mid-ride coffee stop? as it turns out, there may be one or two areas for concern. for starters, coffee is a commodity traded on the stock exchange, where profit and loss are of far greater importance than the crema atop your double-espresso. given that stocks are not known for their financial stability, there's every possibility that, for the poor guy who grows the beans in the first place, the wages barely cover the costs of production.

and when it comes to fairtrade certification, according to the fine coffee purveyors at pact coffee, the problem is quite often that more than one coffee company "sees fairtrade accreditation as a ceiling rather than the floor." apparently the base price has remained static for many a long year. add in the fact that there are several intermediaries between the farmer and the white mug sat on the table at debbie's, to make that coffee and sell it at an amenable price to us self-absorbed westerners, means that a lot of people don't earn very much. and while we vegetarians moan about deforestation of the amazon rainforest to provide pasture on which to rear cattle for beefburgers, or try to ignore that this is also done to grow soya to put atop my latte, such deforestation also persists to facilitate growth of low-quality coffee.

suddenly our predilections aren't looking so good.

but it seems that the world's supply of coffee might already suffering from the effects of climate change, the very cataclysm that the former president of the united states claimed was fake news, and the very subject that the upcoming cop26 is soon to hopefully address. it is a salient fact that arabica beans, which form at least threequarters of the world's supply, grow best in cooler climes. the planet's increasing temperatures are not only rendering many of these regions inhospitable to arabica plantations, but encouraging previously unseen pest invasions.

several smaller coffee roasters are intent on making things better, paying farmers well above the basic fairtrade rate and encouraging sustainable farmng practices, but their size can only do so much. while i doubt any of us would wish to reduce our coffee habit in any meaningful way - it just wouldn't be cycling as we know it - we could presumably help in an individual way by supporting those coffee roasters, and persuading our coffee shops to do so on our behalf. if only because it's the right thing to do and, more self-centredly, because so doing pretty much guarantees a quality crema in those tiny little cups.

pact coffee

wednesday 20 october 2021

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city lights

city cycling advice

though i try not to make a habit of it, i fear that i have, on occasion, written way too many words on subjects i am ill-equipped to write. i could produce a veritable 'war and peace' on the use of passing places, riding on singletrack roads, riding in galeforce winds (and remaining upright), incorporating a distillery or two in your weekend parcours, riding in torrential rain, and how to safely negotiate cattle grids. though the latter simply entails riding across, while gently lifting your posterior from the saddle, you'd perhaps be surprised at the number of excellent bike riders who have asked advice on what to do when faced with a cattle grid.

and just to undermine the whole purpose of these devices, i have witnessed at first hand and entire flock of sheep jumping them with relative ease.

however, i cannot deny that i feel something of a fraud when faced with city and urban cycling matters, given that bowmore, with a nominal population of around 1000, can rarely be cast as even an urban setting, let alone the city lights. yet, city cycling, an increased object of desire brought on by last year's lockdown, has been a considered subject of discussion and debate ever since. for now that the recommendation to work from home has lessened its effect and necessity, returning to city offices seems likely to encourage more folks to either acquire a new bike, or resurrect the one lying mouldering in the garden shed.

i've a notion that the majority of you reading these black and yellow pixels are probably not domiciled in remote island locations, more likely living in the urban or city settings averred to in my opening paragraph. and given this notable disparity in our respective locations, why, you might ask, would you be inclined to take advice from someone who can see sheep from the kitchen window? thankfully, the very fine folks at merlin cycles have produced an eight-point guide to city cycling, based, one presumes on far greater experience than possessed by yours truly. some of these could reasonably be filed under the heading of 'glaringly obvious', particularly for those more used to the ways of the saddle. but repetition is hardly a crime.

amongst the eight, there is, of course, the mildly contentious. for instance, number one on the list advises to use cycle lanes where appropriate, quite possibly like a red rag to a bull for rapha pro-team clad individuals aboard ribble's latest aero road bike. pride, i'd imagine, dictates that those spend as little time on a designated cycle lane as possible. but then, we knew that already. likewise, the advice to 'learn your signals'. i recall from earlier years being told that you could always tell a racing cyclist by the distinct lack of hand-signals. those are requirements that, for some reason, are often seen as demeaning by those in possession of dura-ace di2 equipped carbon fibre. however, i'd be inclined to signal to all and sundry; it's a lot safer.

since it is a legal requirement that all road users obey traffic lights, i figure that if you're inclined to contravene that advice, then you probably deserve everything you get. bear in mind, however, that, other than temporary road works, islay has no traffic lights, no roundabouts and no pedestrian crossings, so what do i know? the one aspect of which i do have minimal knowledge, is the counsel to be aware of drivers' blind spots, though in the case of rural cycling, it has more to do with singletrack roads and exiting passing places. in the city, it means positioning yourself on the road, or at junctions, where you're clear that the drivers of cars, vans and trucks can clearly see that you're there. the consequences of remaining hidden scarcely merit thinking about.

i confess, i've never previously come across the advice to make eye contact with drivers behind, when stopped at road junctions. however, it makes sense, perheaps lessening the likelihood of your being considered solely as an unidentified object on a bike.

'own the road' is advice that pretty much every cyclist should take to heart, whether inner city, urban or rural. i have ensured that, on approaching blind bends, that i ride as close to the centre-line as i dare, in a visual attempt to point out to any following drivers, that i do not want to be overtaken when it's impossible for either of us to see what's coming in the opposite direction. the same goes for turning right; signal, move to the middle of the road, put both hands back on the bars, only signalling again just prior to turning. on two occasions, having followed those specific directions, i was about to be overtaken just prior to turning. owning the road is not without its hazards.

planning your route is probably something we all ultimately do anyway. if it's a new route to work, it might take a day or two to suss out whether it's the best one on offer. maps rarely show road surfaces, traffic conditions or exposure to the elements. finally, and a practice that applies to every place i can think of, 'be visible', in every aspect of that advisement. that means wearing bright, reflective clothing, using flashing lights even in daylight, and positioning yourself where as many other road users can see you coming. including pedestrians. and check over your shoulder as often as is practical.

assuming all goes well, and the above advice highlighted by merlin cycles works as well as we'd hope, parhaps we can have this conversation again someday.

photo: jordan brierley

merlin cycles

tuesday 19 october 2021

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