a few minutes in the sun

port charlotte village

a member of the sunday peloton and i were discussing only yesterday morning that, way back in the 1990s, islay was regarded as a well-kept secret. many folks, particularly those in thrall to the amber nectar, were aware of the island as a source of a fine dram, and a whisky region all of its own, but it was always surprising just how few folks knew just where islay was. to illustrate that point, again, in the nineties, british eagle bicycles discovered its location after three years of sending me bicycles for sale, and realised that they had allocated me to the wrong sales department.

of course, islay has a great deal more going for it other than distilleries, though you'd be forgiven for thinking otherwise. and following the travel restrictions in force over the past two summer seasons, with the annual whisky festival taking place online only, and the majority of those distilleries having closed their doors to visitors, tourist numbers have been a mere fraction of those from 2019. undoubtedly the same situation has affected the majority of uk locations since lockdown began.

thus, explore islay and jura, the local tourism marketing group, has tasked themselves with redoubling their efforts to attract those intending to follow the original staycation advice. you will perhaps recall a few weeks past, i informed you thusly about the visitation from mark beaumont and his pal hank, from global cycling network, intent on examining the pretty much non-existent link between gravel riding and whisky. whether that will attract cycle tourists in their thousands is open to debate, but it seems that the efforts haven't stopped there.

as the sunday peloton headed out on its regular parcours yesterday morning, word on the street indicated that the route was to be extended by a few kilometres to accommodate filming a group of cyclists arriving at port charlotte hotel. that would be us.

however, it transpired that our arrival at the hotel was only the ending. following our having stopped next to loch gruinart guest house to allow two oncoming vehicles and one following to pass, we discovered that the black pickup stopped in the next passing place, contained a filmographer looking out from the hatchback capturing our every move as we headed towards aoradhsberg. for the next few kilometres, we stopped and we started to allow filming from in front and behind, before we finally reached the hotel at which we were treated to soup, sandwiches and, for my four colleagues, a dram of bruichladdich whisky.

filming for social media broadcast is hardly anything new, particularly for tourism or marketing purposes, but what was a change from the norm, was the deliberate choice to film a group of cyclists. granted, i have long stated that islay is an ideal location on which to go cycling, home to the itinerant tour de islay and ride of the falling rain. rather obviously, the idea is to attract cycle tourists from elsewhere; in all the years that i have been riding the highways and byways of islay, there have been very few local recruits to the velo club. in truth, over time, we've had more cyclists from out of town join our sunday morning efforts, than any likelihood of residents doing likewise.

however, it seems that despite any local public announcements concerning our velocipedinal efforts, these have seemingly been taken note of, though perhaps only as a means to an end, rather than as an end in and of themselves. nonetheless, this can surely be counted as something of a success. i'm currently in the throes of designing yet another cycle jersey for a local business and four of islay's distilleries already offer at least one branded cycle jersey in their visitor centres.

i think i'd be somewhat previous if i claimed that our finest hour had arrived, but it looks as if it might be en-route. and though islay is the hub of the universe, if it's happening here, it's probably happening, or about to happen somewhere else. and since you asked, the soup at port charlotte hotel was very good indeed.

monday 7 march 2022

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blodge-it brothers

shoe sole

in the early 1990s, a friend and i setup a cycle repair facility in the garage adjacent to the former post office at the top of bowmore main street. originally this was purely to service the bicycles owned by the postmaster, who had formed a cycle hire business, but without any mechanical knowledge relating to bicycles. it wasn't long before one or two island residents began asking if we'd service or fix their own bicycles, a request to which we readily agreed. subsequently, we organised a few cycle trade accounts and were able to offer spare parts and cycle sales too.

however, many of the bicycles brought to us for servicing, had lain unused in a garage or shed for more years than their owners would admit. this often meant that parts which required removal or replacement were pretty much stuck in place, requiring an unhealthy dose of brute force to shift them. for obvious reasons, this was an unsubtle technique we preferred to keep hidden from customers, lest they learn that some of our methods were less than by the book. i don't doubt there are still occasions when the same thing transpires in bike shops today.

our particular solution generally involved lowering the garage door, taking the bicycle behind the counter, anad beating the living daylights out of it with as large a hammer or mallet as deemed necessary. the postmaster thus dubbed us the blodgett brothers, a fitting epithet under the circumstances.

sadly, a variation of that mindset remains to this day. for instance, all my jackets and jerseys are size medium. all my shorts and bibtights are size small. and all my shoes are size 44. little or no variation is tolerated. similarly with tyres, which are pretty much always inflated to the same pressure, no matter the terrain or weather, the saddle generally remains at the same height, whatever the variation in footwear or pedals and i always place my cleats in exactly the same place, whatever brand of shoe i happen to be wearing.

granted, you may all be guilty of doing the same thing, which would probably account for the numerous videos on youtube explaining how to set your saddle height, what length of crank might be most suitable, and how best to position those cleats. and it's the latter that has come into play this particular weekend, when a disturbance in the force highlighted the shortcomings of the hamfisted method.

though you'll have to wait a few days for the review, i currently have new footwear under test, the soles of which are a smidgeon thicker than the previous pair. with my usual devil-may-care attitude, i simply put them on, tied the laces and set off for the saturday bike ride. however, after around 30km, i began to notice a certain tightness in my right calf muscle and noted that my leg seemed less extended at bottom dead centre than i thought ought to be the case. lifting the saddle a few millimetres seemed to alleviate this malady. like many, i have one leg slightly shorter than its partner, so the lower saddle scarcely troubled my left leg.

however, prior to all the above taking place, had been the cleat fitting the night before. following my supposedly tried-and-tested method, i had pushed the cleats as far forward as they would go, lined them up with the centreline of the shoe, and tightened the bolts. nothing more scientific than that. however, during the bike ride, i had a distinct feeling that the cleats ought to be back a few millimetres, as there seemed slightly undue pressure on the front of my right foot in particular. the fact that the heel clipped the chainstay on more than one occasion, something that has not been witnessed on previous rides with other footwear, rather lent credence to the fact that the shoe was probably not far enough forward.

i have since moved the cleats rearward by around 3mm, having determined that the slots on the sole of the shoes are a tad longer than their predecessors. the moral of this particular story is not to be quite so blasé about supposedly tried and tested methodology. just because something worked previously is no guarantee that the same conditions will prevail across all eventualities. i am now feeling somewhat chastened, always convinced that i know best, when obviously i don't.

i may have to refine my attitude by more than a few millimetres.

sunday 5 march 2022

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is this the e-way to go?


whether you're simply drooling at the mouth following last week's opening rounds of the classics season or eagerly watching today's 'strade bianche', in the real world, the almost ubiquitous e-bike is transforming the velocipedinal landscape, even for folks who could benefit just as much from riding an analogue bike. and i have expressed my surprise at the willingness of cycling newbies to remain straight-faced when the salesperson tells them the price of that which they are admiring.

the latter is a situation with which i can identify. well over twenty years ago, when i was the proud owner of a steel colnago superissimo, a visitor to my next door neighbour enquired as to the price of just such a velocipede. on informing him that it would have been around £1500, he loudly exclaimed his astonishment that a bicycle could cost so much. i concealed my own astonishment that a man with a £40,000 motor car could find the bike's cost to be so remarkable, a fact made even more astonishing in the light of how much petrol his sports car drank at a single sitting.

the price of certain analogue bicycles has, admittedly, hit the sort of levels that creates a sharp intake of breath in even the great unwashed. though there are one or two e-bikes that achieve similar wtf? exclamations, considering the present price of batteries, those are marginally more justifiable than the five digit prices asked for racing carbon. but when you consider that a harley davidson can be purchased from around £6,000, it's hard to see from whence cometh the high price for certain items of pedallable machinery.

the motoring world (and i include motorbikes and their kin in this) however, seems a tad more advanced in the financial realm than is the bicycle industry. despite all the hoo-ha surrounding specialized's move to online sales, payment seems mostly to revolve around the use of credit cards and paypal, though there is the option of using instalment plans hosted by klarna. nowhere did i see the option to pay a monthly fee on finance terms, whereby the bicycle could be upgraded after three years.

perhaps even the £13,200 demanded for an s-works aethos is an insignificant amount for any finance company compared to the price of a new tesla. but just like those with an aversion to music streaming, perhaps the option to actually own a recording in any of its myriad formats, is one that has greater appeal to the well-heeled roadie. maybe nobody actually wants to upgrade after three years?

but for the commuting cyclist, it's undoubtedly possible that ownership of a bicycle is one of necessity or pragmatism, rather than one of desire. and as such, a bicycle designated as a reliable daily means of reaching work, is not one on which to lavish shiny trinketry. i tend to think that the average cycle commuter would prefer that it simply worked day in day out, with as few mechanical travesties as possible in a mechanical device susceptible to the rigours of the british weather and british roads.

for this reason, and we're talking exclusively about e-bikes here (and to be more spcific, for the time being, in london), swapfiets, a company reputedly once described as the netflix of bikes recently introduced their latest subscription model, offering an alternative to outright purchase, for which there appear to be more than a few singular benefits. subscribers to the swapfiets domain receive an e-bike delivered direct to their door with a lock, anti-theft protection, an on-demand maintenance and repair service and a guarantee that, if any problem surfaces, the bike will be swapped for another within 48 hours.

perhaps specialized ought to have considered that too.

of course, swapfiets have loaded the dice in their favour, having designed a bicycle on which every part can be easily repaired, replaced or recycled. prices range from £74.70 per month for the seven speed top tier model, to an early bird price of £12.90 for the base, single-speed model. if you're in london and don't feature as one of the 'fully clad in rapha on carbon fibre' peloton, you might like to consider a short test ride from the company's store in commercial street. though no mention has been made, it makes sense to assume that if this proves successful in london, either swapfiets or someone else would be keen to implement it in other parts of the uk.

though the bicycle has a long way to go to supplant the motor car as a personal mode of transport, anything that makes it easier to do so ought to be given its day(s) in the sun.


saturday 5 march 2022

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thinking ahead

finlaggan car deck

as the calmac ferry, mv finlaggan heads off somewhere to undergo its annual refit, and we put our transportation needs in the hands of the two oldest boats on the fleet, it dawns on me that we really need to talk about this year's ride of the falling rain. though you probably think the two factors to be largely unrelated, i will now disavow you of such a notion.

the majority of western islands harbour (pun intended) local ferry committees or action groups. essentially, it's their job to engage with calmac, caledonian maritime assets ltd (cmal) and transport scotland to negotiate any perceived failings or iniquities in the ferry service provided to their particular locations. in the autumn of every year, negotiations open over the following year's summer timetable, where the respective committees ask for the moon and it's the job of calmac, cmal and transport scotland to tell them why that can't happen.

the past two years have been, as sergei would say, 'simples', given that the covid restrictions in force at the time have often suggested that travel ought only to be undertaken if absolutely essential. thus, i'd imagine, the majority were probably quite satisfied with the service provided. however, now that the country has changed, apparently for the better, things are very much on the up, including vacations, tourism and, in our case, distilling.

the latter, on islay at least, is undergoing a major expansion, with two distilleries under construction and planning submitted for a further two. meanwhile, bunnahbhain is constructing a new biomass plant, ardnahoe is in the early stages of building ten warehouses, and laphroaig is building a few extra too. since many of these projects require specialists in their particular fields, the ferries are already being tasked with bringing trucks, vans, and personnel on a daily basis. added to that, scottish water are currently in the process of upgrading the underground pipework in bowmore, having employed contractors on the mainland to undertake the work.

in short, it's a busy island.

and that busy-ness has implications. the islay ferry committee were in negotiations with the above mentioned parties until november last year, when discussions seemingly faded out without any agreed result. then calmac published the summer 2022 timetable without a single alteration from that of 2021. all this, despite figures from a variety of sources indicating that ferry traffic this coming summer is likely to be at least 25% higher than last year. yet, calmac have made provision for no extra sailings.

that means that, for those of you who are perhaps considering participation in this year's 'ride of the falling rain', whereas we generally advise booking both accommodation and ferry transport well in advance, this year that has all but become compulsory. a recent conversation with the warden at port mòr campsite, revealed that bookings for this year are already well in excess of last year, meaning space will be at a premium. it seems quite likely that the same will be true for all of the island's accommodation providers, particularly when the majority of summer visitors book for more than just a weekend.

and though it seemed like a really good idea at the time, long before whisky tourism hit the heights of recent years, the ride is always held on the first sunday of august, a decision that rested on the forlorn hope of fine weather. you can probably guess how that turned out by the name of the bike ride. as if that were insufficient bad news with which to contend, this will be the first time in two years that the nine distilleries currently in production will have opened their visitor centre doors for tours and tastings. if, like me, you experienced severe cobbles withdrawal over the two years of paris-roubaix postponements, you can perhaps appreciate the enormous anticipation with which many a whisky aficionado approaches this summer season.

naturally, we in the velo club feel that cycling trumps any whisky associated devilment, but i fear we may be in the minority. however, if you find the ferry bookings to be full at the proposed time fo travel, bear in mind that bicycles currently travel free, and passenger traffic is usually less constrained due to the capacity of the ferries on the route. therefore, you could, if you see fit, leave the car parked at kennacraig and hop on the ferry with your bicycle and necessary luggage. it's certainly a cheaper alternative to paying for the car.

you're welcome.

friday 4 march 2022

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under pressure

fiat 500

i'd hate for you to think that i harbour any enthusiasm for the motor car, or even sympathy for the current plight of the motorist, though i'd agree that latter part paints me as a somewhat draconian individual, totally devoid of empathy. it's hardly the fault of the motorist that the price of fuel has steadily increased of late, though i'm led to believe by motoring colleagues on islay, that the fearsome prices currently being experienced on the mainland, are akin to those seen in the hebrides several months past. my own opening statement notwithstanding, hebridean motorists feel little sympathy for their mainland counterparts, who are moaning about fuel prices several pence a litre lower than those on the islands.

but my own, wholesale indifference to their plight, will obviously come back to bite me sooner rather than later. higher fuel prices mean higher transport costs, and on an island where we even have to import whisky (very little of the local output is bottled on the island), that will make life even more expensive than it has already become. yet those increased prices at the fuel pumps, appear not to have affected matters one whit. as i walked to the averagemarket this morning, there were still several village residents paying similar visits, only doing so by car, before driving to somewhere else in the village. i tend to figure that moaning about fuel prices, yet continuing to drive where it would have been easy to walk or, dare i say it, cycle, rather undermines their case.

i'm sure that many of those still driving a few hundred metres, are the same folks switching off lights and turning down the heating as a result of dramatic energy price increases. as an erstwhile friend of mine was once heard to comment on the night-time lewis hamilton wannabes, speeding hither and thither in souped up golfs and astras; "there goes proof that petrol's still not dear enough".

however, the plight of the motorist has become the subject of press releases, one of which arrived in my inbox late yesterday afternoon. the subject heading was "drivers urged to check tyre pressures to combat rising costs". no mention of attempting to curb their mileage or driving at more economic speeds, or, heaven forbid, leaving the car at home and walking or cycling where practical. it seems that rising fuel costs should not lead to a reduction in drive time, as long as you pump your tyres properly.

however, aside from the purported economic benefits of so doing, the press release continued to point out that underinflation of car tyres causes a 10% reduction in tyre life, and there are obvious dangers to driving on flattish tyres; 20% underinflated and you've entered dangerous territory, while 40% underinflated is really dangerous. the motoring press obviously delights in tautological statements.

however, it occurred to me that, while we can smugly ride as far and as often as we like without incurring financial penalty, we might also be guilty of entering dangerous cycling territory if our tyres too, are underinflated.

a friend of mine purchased a new, very expensive carbon fibre road bicycle a number of years ago, one that ran on an also expensive pair of deep carbon-rimmed wheels. relatively new to the velocipedinal realm, when time came to inflate the tyres, he simply opted for the upper number displayed on the tyre sidewall. never has any cyclist on islay suffered so many consecutive punctures in such a short space of time.

aside from rarely having the saddle at the right height, the most commonly seen problem with those new to the way of the bike, is underinflated tyres. this is usually the result of one of two sets of circumstances: an inability to find the pump, or one with an adaptor to fit the valve, or, more often than not, a couldn't-care-less attitude. thankfully, bicycles rarely travel at the speed of even the slowest of motorcars and are likely to be several hundred kilogrammes lighter. thus, overshooting the expected braking distance is unlikely to result in death, though in towns and cities, it could lead to serious injury.

my press release recommends that drivers check their tyre pressures at least once a month, while i would suggest cyclists do so once a week. or if you have tubeless or latex inner tubes, once a day. and the tyre conundrum brings me neatly on to prices. i have heard of a young lady requiring two new front tyres for her recently acquired fiat 500, the price for which came to a total of £70. compare that with the price of one rene herse 700x28c road tyre at nigh on £90. i accept that there may be more fiat 500s in the world than there are ritchey logics (maybe not) and economies of scale are less applicable to road cycling than mass produced italian cars, but how can one thin cycle tyre, of whatever quality, cost more than two, much larger car tyres?

and motorists think they're hard done by.

thursday 3 march 2022

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the online code

computer code

it has frequently been said (probably by me), that, if you create any machines with wheels, there will immediately be a group of people intent on racing said machinery. either that, or they'll want to flip them around on half-pipes or a nearby ramp. to keep everything within reason, rules will be found to be necessary, but as soon as money becomes part of the equation, someone is almost bound to look for ways either to stretch those rules to the limit, or subvert them altogether.

just ask lord voldemort.

if said 'circumvention' simply created individual pariahs, that would be bad enough, but a bit like the endless lies that follow the very first one, breaking the rules can, in certain circumstances, create a whole raft of problems for others who were originally only intent on doing their job.

for example, every professional cyclist needs a contract of one form or another to earn their livelihood by riding/racing a bicycle. the really fast, really talented will find this requirement a great deal easier than those who are simply 'good'. if i might use lord voldemort as a prime example, given his predilection for indulging in systemised circumvention, any rider whose contract depended on being of assistance to his nefarious leader, yet quite plainly without the requisite talent to be a serious contender, would likely have to indulge in similar dubious practices such as those employed by the team leader just to be considered useful. and worthy of an extension to their contract.

so what exactly is a guy or girl supposed to do? with next year's contract depending on fulfilling this year's, the choice is not as straightforward as they might have hoped when winning teenage races while still at school.

but now, with a substantial international peloton having taken to the great indoors and the highways and byways of watopia, surely the potential for subterfuge is increased by several magnitudes? for instance, when taking part in zwift challenges (i am reliably informed by my colleagues that such events are a real thing), what's to stop anyone substituting an e-bike for the state-of-the-art carbon fibre that populates the adverts? after all, it's not like there's a helicopter hovering over your kitchen, exposing your lies to the world. or, perchance, the modern equivalent of the old trick with cycle computers: affixing two magnets to the front wheel.

the major online cycling purveyors are probably a great deal more aware of such misdemeanours than am i, while the uci have reputedly enacted the means to weed out drug-taking by the more serious participants, though i've no idea how that works. it's probably a very stupid question to ask why those participating in e-sports, can't simply be satisfied with competing without external or internal assistance, given that the same question could be asked of any 'real' sportsperson.

computers rely entirely on code to have them perform the tasks demanded of them, and the more streamlined the code, theoretically the faster and more efficiently those computers will perform. but computer software often consists of millions of individual lines of code, and as i know to my own cost, even proofreading something as simple as these daily meanderings is fraught with errors. no matter how often the same paragraph is read, that missing vowel remains hidden from sight.

computer code multiplies that problem exponentially, particularly when the code is rarely in contextual english. in other words, mistakes are there, remaining to be found, and apparently most often by those looking for ways to exploit those errors. and it may not be something as simple as an error; quite often, while coding to solve one problem, an entirely different one is created, once again open to exploitation by the less than conscientious. all the while, the creator remains oblivious.

which, it appears, is precisely what's happened in watopia, where a zwifty happened upon the knowledge that it was possible to fool the software into thinking a rider weighs less than is truthfully the case. in what has become known as 'weight doping', a user discovered that it was possible to manually enter a lower than truthful weight into the software, thus fulling the system into thinking the rider features a far higher power-to-weight ratio than is actually the case. this, it transpires, will give said rider a distinct advantage when the virtual road ascends.

according to zwift, this errant behaviour is now detectable, even retrospectively. but in order to repel boarders. they have instigated the equivalent of beta-testing reportage, where users are encouraged to report any 'bugs' they find while sweating profusely in their pain caves.

remember when we used to just go for a bike ride?

wednesday 2 march 2022

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tyre glider

tyre glider

i very much doubt i'm the only one who has serious concerns over modern-day bicycle tyres. nothing to do with the quality, longevity or even price, but very much with how flipping difficult most of them are to fit to a pair of wheels. i'm insufficiently well informed to know whether this is due to a change in wheel parameters, tyre sizing, or a bit of both. every now and again, i come across rubber that poses no serious problem, fitting both tyre beads with ease and leaving my thumbs ready for turning the pages of a book or newspaper. but nowadays, that seems more the exception than the rule.

tyre glider

the last pair of tyres i fitted with the assistance of only a pair of tyre levers, i could barely use either thumb for a matter of days, so hard had been the task of getting those last few centimetres over the wheel rim without nipping the inner tube. acting on advice from a correspondent, i purchased a tyre-jack, a device that sits on one rim edge, while hooking under the opposing tyre bead, offering sufficient leverage to pull the bead over the rim. and not only that, it's portable enough to carry next to my mini-pump in a jersey pocket.

however, though changing tyres or tubes in what passes for my outdoor workshop is one thing; attempting to do the same several kilometres from home in a freezing wind while sheltering from the rain, is another matter altogether. the rim edges of every wheelset i've ever owned become so afflicted with crud that, even if i can fit a tyre lever under the bead to begin removal, it refuses to slide round the rim due to too much friction. for that very reason, i carry an offcut of soap from bowmore's spirited soaps in order to lubricate the rim edge and ease the tyre removal process. at home, i just skoosh a dollop of wd40 for the same reason.

i tend to think that in this, i am not alone, for every now and again, a widget of some description or other arises, promising to cure the problem once and for all, the most recent of which is kevin baker's tyre-glider, an eccentric looking red plastic device that promises to not only ease the problem of tyre removal, but similarly, the more painful refitting process. kevin kindly sent two of the widgets, one of which i passed onto a fellow member of the velo club peloton who was awaiting new tyres for his colnago road bike.

tyre glider

as mentioned to the point of boredom, i intended to fit a pair of rene herse 700x28mm tyres to a pair of wheelsmith race 24 wheels as replacements for the campagnolo bora wto wheelset that were beginning to prove a tad restrictive in perennial galeforce winds.

i had little difficulty easing the tyre-lever section of the tyre-glider under the bead and pulling it over the wheel rim, but unfortunately it suffered the same friction problem as that of my tyre levers, once again requiring the intervention of wd40 to complete the first half of the removal process. every pair of rene herse tyres i own has proved unbelievably difficult to fit, and regularly requires even a tyre lever to ease the second side of the tyre over the wheel rim to complete the tyre removal. in my case, i'd to revert to a park tool tyre lever for this process, as it proved impossible to fit the tyre-glider under that second tyre bead. park tool levers feature a very thin end, while the tyre-glider proved just a tad on the thick side.

to widen the scope of the review, i attempted to remove a goodyear 700x30c tyre from a ritchey zeta rim, but failed completely to fit the tyre-glider edge under the bead. in fact, even the thin edge of a park tool tyre lever was a hard ask. it might have been possible if the removal edge of the tyre-glider was a bit thinner.

tyre glider

my colleague, working on two sets of tyres, was completely unable to fit the tyre-glider under the bead on one pair and resorted to a tyre lever instead. the second pair, however, proved more compliant.

but the real reason i believe most cyclists will be interested in the tyre-glider, is the promise to ease the refitting process, and that, quite frankly, is where the problems began. fitting the first side of the tyre was easy peasy, after which it was a simple case of inserting the inner tube, but in using the tyre-glider to persuade the bead over the rim, that inner tube continually got in the way, leading me to carry out the majority of the process with fingers and thumbs. however, as with all tyres, i eventually got to those last few centimetres where it proved impossible to keep the inner tube out of the way, and impossible to tuck it in inside the tyre because the opposing bead was being pulled towards the very rim edge over which i was trying to fit the tyre.

i even inflated the tube slightly in the hope that it would behave a bit better, but to no avail. no matter what i tried, i could not get the tube out of the way when trying to get those last few centimetres over the rim, ultimately resorting to the tyre jack. in case this was the result of incompetence on my part, or simply a recalcitrant tyre/tube pairing, i tried once again with the second wheel, tyre and tube, but with no more success, i'm afraid.

returning to the goodyear tyre mentioned above, having managed to wrestle the tyre bead over the rim with the park tool lever, i attempted to refit the bead using the tyre-glider. it worked; perhaps not seamlessly, but it did work. however, this was a tyre and tube combination previously fitted, and not an attempt to start from scratch.

tyre glider

so, figuring it might just be the rene herse tyres (which have proved difficult on every occasion), i contacted my colleague to ask how he had faired with continental tyres. like me, he had reasonable success with tyre removal, but hit problems similar to my own during the refitting process, predominantly due to the mavic rims in question. one proved too wide on which to seat the tyre-glider, while the other featured a serated edge that prevented the tyre-glider being moved around the rim.

most of the videos i have seen, where refitting the tyres looks to be simplicity itself, appear to be the same tyre/tube combination, where the inner tube has been in the tyre before the tyre glider came on the scene. none i've seen have attempted to fit a new inner tube, or even a new tyre. however, if suffering a puncture in the middle of nowhere, few of us nowadays attempt to repair an inner tube at the roadside, being a tad more pragmatic and inserting a new tube, which is where both of us found it well-nigh impossible to refit the tyre in the advised manner.

i contacted kevin to discuss the problems experienced. he pragmatically admitted that until the tyre-glider was 'out there', there was no way of telling what problems might be encountered. "it was never going to be the perfect solution for everyone", agreeing that my colleague and i would appear to inhabit the section of the venn diagram where forces of tyre, tube and nature prevented a perfect result. as i've already pointed out, it seemed to work on one make of tyre, yet was defeated by another. that said, kevin told me that he had sold a great many tyre-gliders already to pretty much all four corners of the earth and with commendable approbation from the majority of those customers.

believe me, both of us really, really wanted this to work and tried everything we could think of, even, in my case, attempting to hold the new inner tube in place under the tyre with the blunt edge of a tyre-lever, while using the tyre-glider to fit the bead in place, but all to no avail. i could find no specific advice on the tyre glider website concerning the inner tube, but found no scenes in which the inner tube flailed about in the manner the two of us experienced. i tried inflating the inner tube more than usual in the hope that it would fit itself inside the tyre, but once again, when it came to the last few centimetres, the tube sat well over the outer edge of the rim and retarded the tyre-glider from completing the process.

in theory, this device ought to work just fine, and it certainly does if you remove the inner tube from the process altogether. and according to the reviews posted on the tyre-glider website, others have succeeded where we failed miserably. i should imagine it works a treat if using tubeless tyres, and maybe that's just where it scores best, but for the two of us, we'll stick to our tyre jacks for now. that said, it's an alternative well worth pursuing if tyre-fitting or removal is your least favoured part of the velocipedinal life

the tyre-glider costs a very reasonable £9.99 each plus postage. tyre glider

tuesday 1 march 2022

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