i can hear the grass grow

i can hear the grass grow

in 1967, the move released their second single entitled 'i can hear the grass grow', which, given the era in which it saw the light of day, led to accusations of hallucinogenic substance use particularly by songwriter and singer, roy wood. the band vociferously denied that to be the case, pointing out that almost any song title at the time, could be (mis)interpreted in that fashion. in point of fact, the song was inspired by a letter received by photographer robert davidson, where his correspondent said that he listend to pop music on the radio because it was so bloody quiet where he lived that he 'could hear the grass grow.'

i can hear the grass grow

to be honest, the chap could have been resident on islay up till now, where, aside from the substantial amount of distillery building work being undertaken, some of the more remote areas are still peacefully quiet in advance of the easter rush. for the past couple of years, the island's distilleries have been all but closed to visitors, and the annual whisky festival has taken place online. believe me, the silence was more golden than you can ever imagine. two years in succession, it was possible to walk down bowmore main street without feeling as if you were a stranger in your own town, where the language du jour was either german, dutch or swedish.

i can hear the grass grow

this year is going to be a culture shock once again.

for that reason, it's still possible for me to ride around loch gorm on a saturday afternoon, past kilchoman distillery, yet meet perhaps only a couple of cars. in the upcoming weeks, we may have to instigate our former sunday pastime of guessing how many vehicles we'll meet between the latter-named distillery and the main bruichladdich road. the record (bearing in mind it's only around 6km along a single-track road) currently stands at 23. and that's only the vehicles heading in the opposite direction.

i can hear the grass grow

however, it is the 12km perimeter road around loch gorm that has been the principal factor in my assertion that hebrideans are the flandrians of the west. perhaps not pertinent to yesterday's ronde van vlaanderen, but certainly to the likes of the dwars door vlaanderen those narrow, single track roads, bordered by ploughed fields or flocks of sheep, are more than reminiscent of those seen from the helicopter shots on eurosport. the only aspect missing is large numbers of roadside bystanders waving enormous lion of flanders flags.

i can hear the grass grow

but the redeeming feature of the majority of these islay roads is the grass growing through the tarmac in the middle. we are sufficiently far off the beaten track not to benefit from wholesale refurbishment of what are essentally farm roads, the economic solution being surface dressing, one that resembles nothing more than apple crumble. and applying the latter does not entail the filling in of any potholes, or removing the grass in the centre; the apple crumble is simply plastered over the top of everything, giving the impression of a smoother surface, but in point of fact solving nothing whatsoever.

however, it is roads such as these that enhance the velocipedinal experience, every bit as attractive and cute to the indigenous peloton as they are to visiting cyclists. and if, for a moment, you can dispel any thoughts of emulating wout, mathieu or tadej, listen closely to the centre of the road, and you can probably hear the grass grow.

monday 4 april 2022

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


hot chillee london paris gravel ride

the world is awash with cycling sportives and multi-day rides from one place to another, though i know this only through observation rather than practical experience. except for one particular ride which i've been fortunate to undertake on three separate occasions. emerging in the early part of this century, the hotchillee london-paris ride takes place over three days, currently leaving from imber court in south london, all the way to a cross-channel ferry, before continuing the ride to paris with two days in france. while on this side of the channel, motorcycle outriders and lead cars can only ensure the safety of the riders en-route. but once across the channel, it's closed roads all the way to the champs elysées.

the effect is that of being a professional rider in almost every aspect, other than the need to ride at world tour speeds. each group of riders is followed by a technical service vehicle with spare wheels in the event of punctures, and mechanical assistance in case of breakdown. augmenting that level of service, are several ride captains in each group along with a lead car past which riders are not permitted, maintaining the average speed ascribed to each individual peloton. i first participated in 2007 and enjoyed it so much, i rode it again, over a different route, in 2008.

those two editions took place in the month of june, the first actually ending at the palace of versailles, following an overnight ferry trip from plymouth to st. malo in southern france. by 2008, the route had changed to the more common route from dover to calais. by 2017, when i rode for the third time, the london-paris ride had moved to july, allowing for arrival in paris on the eve of the final stage of le tour into paris. quite how hotchillee supremo, sven thiele, managed to achieve closed roads on the champs elysées, past the arc de triomphe with a finish close to the eiffel tower on the eve of the tour de france must surely rank as one of the greatest achievements in the sport.

the ride has had to take a two-year sabbatical due to the covid pandemic, resorting to the vicissitudes of zwift to keep the dream alive in the interim. however, this year, aside from the undoubted bureaucracy engendered by brexit, the ride returns to the real world on 20 july, hosting not just one three-day ride, but two. however, the addition eschews british and french metalled roads in favour of the new darling of the velocipedinal world: gravel.

while the traditional road route covers a total of 500km between the two cities, the new for 2022 gravel route is an admittedly more scrabbly 350km. i spoke to sven thiele to ask what inspired the idea to take the route less travelled?

in his inimitably enthusiastic way, he said, "Easy! We love trying new things, we love gravel and we love the Tour de France. It was a no brainer!"

gravel riding is a genre that originally surfaced (pardon the pun) across the atlantic in north america, where there are endless kilometres of gravel tracks that criss-cross the continent. britain, on the contrary, tends to have slightly fewer kilometres of offroad riding that predominantly consist of mud. finding 350km of predominantly gravellous offroad to get the intrepid rider all the way from london to paris must surely have been a bit of struggle?

"Surprisingly not. We were anticipating having to include a fair bit of the Avenue Verte in France, but we've managed not having to do so. And found a truly off-road adventure."

as advised above, the road ride consists of several groups of riders, all adhering to differing average speeds, with the slowest group heading out early and the speediest having an extra hour or two in bed each morning. if the arithmetic works out properly, everyone arrives at the hotel at roughly the same time. but perhaps, given the nature of gravel riding, that might be a tad more difficult to achieve. so i asked sven if the idea of several vitesses on the gravel edition will be the case?

"No. This will be very different. It will still be highly supported by the same experienced events team, however, because of the nature of riding off-road, participants will have to be much more self-sufficient and can ride solo, or in small groups." that should still allow for the cameraderie and mobile conversations that are an intrinsic part of the road ride

hot chillee london paris gravel ride

on the three occasions i have participated in the road-going london-paris, i opted to ride in one of the slowest groups, encouraging a minimum average speed of 25kph. this was partly because i have little experience of riding in large groups (it's a population thing), and partly because i wanted time to look around at the french scenery. otherwise i might have described france as consisting of black lycra emblazoned with either assos or rapha. the purpose of the lead car is to curate that average speed all the way to paris. but will there be a minimum average gravel speed?

"Yes, You'd need to ride at a minimum of 15km/h to make the ferry on day one! But there's enough time and a broom wagon for anyone who needs a ride."

as i recall, even though we'd a fully-equipped service van following the peloton, the number of mechanical malfeasances and punctures en-route were remarkably few. but still, it was a comforting thought that it was there, particularly on my last ride when i rode a pair of campagnolo bora carbon wheels outfitted with continental tubulars. believe it or not, there was a spare pair in the van. however, having watched too many editions of paris-roubaix to know how awkward it is to provide service on narrow cobbled roads, surely the same difficulties will be faced on gravel?

"There will be Hotchillee ride captains for mechanicals en-route, and mechanics at the start, stops and finish of each stage."

one of the great joys of the three day road ride was the quality of the hotels along the way, in which all riders stayed overnight. this encouraged idle conversation each evening at dinner and the following morning at breakfast. however, if you add the vagaries of the gravel route and the increased numbers riding, i asked sven if the gravel riders will stay at the same hotels as the roadies?

"Only in Paris. The routes are totally different for days one and two. The road and gravel routes only merge 40km outside of Paris, and then roll in together as one giant peloton, complete with rolling road closures to the foot of the Eiffel Tower."

i have hardly positioned myself as the poster boy for gravel-riding, suspicious that it might simply be a marketing ploy by our lords and masters to encourage the addition of yet another bicycle in the bike shed. however, the mainstream cycling media (admittedly reliant on industry advertising) seem to have adopted gravel almost without question, so once again, i feel honour bound to accept that i might conceivably be out of step with the majority. so i take it that sven sees a gravel london-paris as becoming a regular event, and not a passing fad?

"We'll definitely be repeating this, and for sure don't see gravel as a fad. It's been around forever; it's just that the kit and the tech is now catching up!"

cognisant of the fact that the road route has experienced its variations from year to year, is it possible that the gravel event will do likewise? "Everything's possible!" and will sven be riding gravel or road this year? "Gravel all the way!"

until mid-day on 11 april, you can win a place on this year's hotchillee london-paris gravel ride. enter here.

hot chillee

hot chillee london paris gravel ride

sunday 3 april 2022

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

the parts that others can't reach

apple headtube

after spending years and a great deal of advertising dollars dissing intel at every turn, in 2005, apple announced that it was ditching motorola's powerpc processor in favour of the intel processors from which it had been extracting the michael for many years. in order that the majority of software owned by mac users across the world would continue to work, apple introduced a system translator called rosetta that would compile the code into that required by the change to intel.

such a change, ostensibly welcomed by the world's major software purveyors, required that they now re-engineer their products to take account of the new megahertz, and it wasn't that long before the majority announced the ending of support for existing powerpc-based macs. this meant that, at some point, those who retained their motorola powered macs, would be stuck with the last version they owned, excluded from any subsequent upgrades.

conspiracy theorists maintained that this was a less than subtle ploy to have customers buy new hardware, and it's possible that there may have been a grain of truth in that. however, by 2021, it's more than likely that every apple user now worked on an intel-based macintosh, using software optimised for the platform. but, as they said in 'jaws', just when you thought it was safe to go in the water, apple suddenly announced they'd be moving once again, but this time to their own processor, referred to as apple silicon. yet again, a new version of rosetta was called into service.

even such a small, cottage business as our local newspaper, has need of mantaining currency with modern software. it was left behind once before and the fallout was not pretty.

so, having acquired funding from our electricity supplier, i now sit in front of a dark blue, 24" apple silicon imac to complete my designated tasks. the rationale behind this recent upgrade was our expectations of adobe, purveyor of our major software requirements, such as photoshop, indesign and illustrator, who, within a year or so, are quite likely to end their support of the intel processor. with monthly subscriptions being often the only way to use software packages these days, if adobe end support for intel, we won't even own the software we'd need to continue. and if auto update is inadvertently running, we may well end up with a software programme we can't even use.

though the bicycle industry has yet to resort to a subscription model for acquiring a new bicycle, there's no doubt that it is particularly guilty of ending support for models no longer in the current range. in the latter part of the first decade of this century, i reviewed colnago's carbon clx, a bicycle that sported a seatpost with a teardrop cross-section. i know well that seatposts don't suffer a particularly excessive lifestyle, but for owners of that particular model, should that proprietary component fail, it might prove particularly difficult to source a replacement.

and though i've done little research into the subject, owners of cycles outfitted with shimano's original dura-ace di2 might also struggle to source one of the less than svelte batteries required at the time. indeed, i still have a pair of mavic clipless pedals that were eventually discontinued by the french firm, and even though they still function, it's no longer possible to buy replacement cleats.

the cycle industry has become every bit as ephemeral as the fashion industry, with an apparently pressing need to bring something new to the market each year, even though the existing product works perfectly well, or bringing the same old same old to the shop floor, but in a different colour. in a world that has become more aware of its environmental responsibilities, would it not be better to maintain parity for a few years at a stretch, while strenuously maintaining compatibility throughout? of all the myriad bottom bracket standards that were foisted upon us over the past decade, how many will still exist in another decade, or more to the point, how many will continue to be available?

i know i've referred to this state of affairs on previous occasions, in the forlorn hope that someone with clout might read and effect the necessary changes. but i fear that we are simply being cast as commercial fodder, ripe for purchasing anything prefixed with the word aero, featuring integrated, internal cabling and in this season's colours.

saturday 2 april 2022

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


bicycle bell

from the north, there's only one road into the village of bowmore, a route that i am in the habit of perambulating on both days of each weekend. i generally have an accomplice on sundays, following the regular ride, while on saturdays, i can be found flying solo. shore street, leading to the village centre, is gently curved, with vehicle parking allowed only on the seaward side. this means that vehicles entering the road from the opposite end cannot see me at the other end, and even though i have right of way at the behest of the parking arranegements, by the time i can see them and they can see me, it is inevitably yours truly that has to give way. depending at which point of the road is being traversed, that's not always as simple as it sounds.

however, such iniquities are pretty much part and parcel of every cyclist's regular experience. i have every faith that, were shore street dead straight, allowing clear visibility at both ends, it would still be the cyclist that had to give-way. after all, we're about to enter the beginning of the island's potentially very busy tourist season, when the twisty road to kilchoman distillery will be fraught with suvs and motorhomes, none of whom will have the faintest idea of what the sign 'passing place' actually means and on overshooting such a potential escape route, will find themselves fundamentally unable to find reverse gear.

but the real sting in the tail at the southern end of shore street, is the left-hand turn into main street. a matter of metres from the corner is the local averagemarket, home to itinerant parking and rampant crossing of roads while pushing shopping trolleys or carrying of heavy shopping bags. such behaviour apparently diminishes the ability to look both ways before crossing (just as your mother taught you), with all but the occasional individual using their ears to listen for traffic instead of their eyes.

the problem here, and i don't doubt many of you have seen this conclusion arrivng from quite some distance, is the lack of noise made by the intrepid cyclist. we have now become inured to such behaviour, taking a wide berth around the corner in the hope of allowing any pedestrians and shoppers as discussed above, sufficient time to reconsider their onward trajectory. somehow, it seems a tad unseemly to ride round the corner issuing voluble vocal sounds in the hope of alerting those about to step off the pavement, but i fear it may eventually come to that.

i can see several hands going up at the back, so let me save your exertions by acknowledging that the obvious solution would be to fit a bell to the handlebars, ringing it persistently until we are safely in sight of all and sundry. but yet, it appears that the humble cycle bell is decidedly old-hat technology and something more contemporary and technologically advanced is required to alleviate the situation.

should evidence of my contention be required, might i cite the receipt of additional funding by the unversity of salford's acoustic research centre to continue its work developing a universal sound for the electric scooter, seemingly the darling of the urban commuting set. in partnership with dott an amsterdam-based scooter operator and the royal national institute for the blind (rnib), they seek to solve a problem that is of public concern regarding all electric vehicles. but at the risk of opening a can of worms that has sat ignored for over a century, analogue bicycles make even less noise than their electric counterparts, yet i'm unaware of any university department having funding bestowed upon them to solve that particular ministry of sound.

british safety standards make it mandatory that all new analogue bicycles must be sold with an accompanying bell. would not it save a considerable amount of time and public finance to simply make the same requirement a prerequisite for sale of e-bikes and e-scooters? personally, i cannot see how any safety or government body can claim that friends who are electric are substantially different from human powered bicycles, and thus deserving of a differing solution to their quietude. is it not possible that e-bike and e-scooter users could simply ring their bells when approaching pedestrians? same as it ever was.

and just to unecessarily underline my point, dr antonio j torija martinez, principal investigator of the project at the universty of salford said, "Based on initial research, we found that the addition of a well-designed acoustic signal can significantly increase vehicle awareness and ultimately safety." like i said, a bell, which costs less than a fiver.

or am i missing something?

friday 1 april 2022

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

endura gv500 reiver s/s jersey and bibshort

endura gravel range

gravel cycling, as a genre, has obviously provided one or two headaches when it comes to simple categorisation. with developments already splitting down the middle, those offering gravel augmentation have had to make an early decision as to which particular fork in the (gravel) road they opt to follow. already, international bikeshows have shown gravel bikes featuring suspension, along with others who have dispensed with drop bars to replace them with the flatter variant. marry suspension with flat bars, and surely you have a mountain bike?

endura gravel range

older cyclists may recall the inimitable john tomac, the inspiration behind tioga's farmer john tyres and several other mtb products. a man whose principal metier was offroad, was also known to compete on the road during the summer, outfitting his mountain bike with drop bars in order to replicate his road-going position. he could arguably be credited with having ridden the first true gravel bike.

endura gravel range

but whether gravel is regarded as an adjunct to mountain biking or a descendant of road-cycling, depends pretty much on from which side of the loose stuff you arrived.

editor of cyclist magazine, pete muir, explains in his editorial this month, that he is on the receiving end of mail informing him that gravel is an abomination, dangerously close to mountain biking and "...has no place in a road-focused magazine such as cyclist." mr muir has responded by explaining that he sees gravel as " extension of road-riding...", an opinion i'm not entirely sure that i share. however, if such a diversity of opinions exist, how does, for instance, a purveyor of cycling apparel decide down which road to venture?

endura gravel range

for instance, if opting for the more mtb train of thought, as already witnessed from one major cycling apparel provider, the range is almost compelled to feature baggy(ish) shorts and technical t-shirts, as opposed to the more standard, close-fitting cycling jersey with three rear pockets, accompanied by a pair of lycra shorts. the latter is the route taken by scotland's endura with their gv500 gravel range, items from which they were kind enough to send in my direction (and a range that also includes technical tees).

endura gravel range

following on from the gt500 offroad shoes reviewed but a matter of weeks past, i was sent a reiver jersey in paprika to match not only the aforementioned shoes, but also remarkably closely, the principal colour of my specialized crux cyclocross bike. the jersey was joined by a pair of gv500 reiver bibshorts and a hooded, paprika coloured waterproof jacket. a review of the latter will need to wait until the rain begins to fall once again; the curse of the waterproof reviewer struck once more, its arrival coinciding with unbroken sunshine.

endura gravel range

the short-sleeve jersey, in truth, is not a great deal removed from a regular road-going cycle jersey. though sunshine prevailed throughout the review period, the temperature never quite matched the picture-postcard views, leading me to accessorise with a pair of endura tartan armwarmers. if i might, once again, briefly refer to the waterproof jacket, it offers the opportunity to pack tightly into its mesh-lined chest pocket. the potential problem appeared to be the size of that pack, its dimensions and bulk threatening not to fit easily into any one of the jersey's three rear pockets. yet blow me down, did it not fit easily into a pocket that appeared to be far too small.

endura gravel range


constructed from elastane, nylon and recycled polyester, the jersey commendably feels more like natural fibres and provides a very comfortable fit. though i can't pretend my exertions would have overtly troubled its constitution, it does offer a high degree of breathability and gossamer weight. and, having mentioned the three rear pockets, in true road-style, there is also the obligatory zipped fourth for keys or coffee money. aside from being able to stuff the waterproof jacket into one of the three main pockets, the other two comfortably swallowed a mini-pump, tyre-jack, digital camera and essentials case. despite such heavy cargo, the jersey retained its form impressively, without edging any closer to the rear tyre.

endura gravel range

the bibshorts, to introduce an immediate spoiler alert, are amongst the finest bibshorts it has been my good fortune to wear. the fit was superb both on the legs, grippers, waist and elastic bib straps. the right leg features a large mesh pocket, while the left sports a similar sized mesh enclosure, but divided in two. i have seen riders wearing similarly featured bibs, jam these with everything but the kitchen sink, however ungainly it appears. having filled the rear pockets, i'd no real need to utilise the mesh pockets on the shorts, but i did try the digital camera in the right and pump and tyre-jack in the left, without either creating any impediment to my smooth, supple pedalling style or hindering my lightning quick speed.

endura gravel range

a guy can dream, can't he?

in the true spirit of their origination, i spent many a happy hour or so, perambulating some nearby gravel tracks, constructed during logging operations a few years back, with both feet clad in a pair of tangerine jagged socks (referring to the pattern, not the comfort factor) and the mt500 footwear. of course, there's nothing stopping anyone from referring to any item of cycle clothing as gravel related, and i may be guilty of reviewing by association, but for my gravel efforts, these products from endura are absolutely ginger peachy.

endura gravel range

totally gravellous.

endura's gv500 s/s reiver jersey is available in paprika (as reviewed) and olive, in sizes ranging from small to xxl at the remarkable cost of £89.99. the reiver bibshorts are available only in black, in the same range of sizes as the jersey, priced at £129.99, considerably less than the price you'd expect. a review of the waterproof jacket will follow when it rains.

thursday 31 march 2022

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

(not) the end of print

quoc pham book

the above named book by iconoclastic graphic designer, david carson authored in conjunction with lewis blackwell, was, in every way, a direct contradiction of its title. published in 1995, critics accused him of being flippant and of destroying the communicative basis of design, yet his techniques spawned countless numbers of imitators and the book went on to sell in excess of 35,000 copies, something of a coup for a book ostensibly concerned with the world of graphic design. carson was the fellow who steered rock magazine, raygun, first published in 1992, away from the rigid grid-based design that, until that point, had been the basis behind pretty much every magazine and newspaper.

though i only managed to acquire a few copies of the publication, i recall an interview with bryan ferry published entirely in zapf dingbats, a typeface that predated the emojis we now take for granted. in addition one interview featured lines of text that extended off the edge of the page, continuing directly overleaf. i cannot deny it was a mixture of hard-work and fun reading from start to finish. carson was also guilty of butting text up against often graffiti-like illustrations and increasing textual leading, to intersperse that from an adjacent column. it seemed that visual design was of far greater importance than legibility, which it probably was. though carson left the magazine after only three years, and the magazine ceased publication at the turn of the century, it is still considered highly influential even today.

print and graphic design has arguably settled down in a more peaceable manner, with the emphasis now resting on the online experience which, as many have pointed out, isn't print. with continuing increases in paper prices and the sword of damocles hanging over environmental choices, many publications, (such as thewashingmachinepost, for instance) have opted for the online existence inevitably for both economic and distribution reasons. had the post been born in the 1980s, print would have been my only option, along with any number of punk-like fanzines.

however, despite carson's tongue-in-cheek book title, print has survived quite well, thank you very much. first published by rapha racing in 2006, rouleur magazine bucked the trend by offering quality cycle publishing on interesting paper stocks accompanied by the delightful aroma of ink on paper. one that had been missing from polite society for too many years. interestingly, rouleur followed on from the rapha experience of producing quality print material of their own, advertising their new old style sportwool clothing, initial versions of which inhabited a monochromatic world, even when printed in colour.

however, rapha eventually gave way either to economics or modernity, ending the pleasantly regular stream of printed marketing material in favour of website enhancements and frequent e-mails. in a world living under the shadow of climate change, it's hardly an unexpected state of affairs, but there's something disappointing about the lack of the tactile and aromatic experience of print.

yet all may not be lost. just over a week ago, on return from my solo saturday bike explorations, i was met by two packages delivered in the mail. one contained the cicerone book reviewed last week, while the other included a sixty-page, a5 size book from quoc pham, purveyors of quality cycling footwear. for a moment it was 2004 all over again, even down to the paper and aroma of print. contained within were not only creative colour images showing off quoc's footwear to its best advantage, but portraits of the staff at quoc pham, the company's core values and an interview with the vietnamese shoe designer himself.

i asked marketing's bonnie cooke, why they'd opted to embrace print alongside both web and e-mail, particularly when it seemed everyone else in the industry had shifted their focus away from paper and ink?

"There were multiple reasons for opting for the printed word. In a time where more and more content is moving online, we feel there is a lot of value in providing something physical to flip through, visually enjoy, and keep at home or elsewhere. Especially as attention spans on digital platforms are getting shorter, and many brands are becoming faceless or opting for mainly product-focused messaging.
"We wanted to effectively communicate who and what our brand is and what we stand for in a more engaging and absorbing way. Finally, much of the imagery in the brand book was provided by our community, freelancers, and ambassadors, and it was rewarding to bring together these photos and stories from our supporters and team, and to curate them in a way that celebrates and appreciates the individuals (more so than a photo you simply scroll past on Instagram or Facebook)."

it is perhaps a vote of confidence in their choice of medium, that my copy still sits beside the sitting room armchair, where it has been perused on several individual occasions. yet mailshots received since, from both cycling apparel providers and several drum stores, have been read and subsequently deleted. this is not to dis the practice of e-mail marketing, a medium that allows for greater immediacy at considerably lower cost, but there's something strangely comforting about turning the real pages of a real book, even when its intent is not only to inform, but to sell.

according to bonnie, they'd received encouraging feedback to the book's appearance on welcome mats all across the nation. and she intimated there would be more to come from quoc pham later this year, though whether this will arrive in printed format, i know not. hopefully, like the impressive resurgence of vinyl, print is about to prove david carson's aphorism wrong once again.

quoc pham cycling footwear

wednesday 30 march 2022

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

giving it all away

vittoria service bike

i have what is probably a very annoying habit of informing all and sundry whenever anyone is feeling 'under the weather', that it's probably due to a lack of cycling, on the basis that cycling cures all ills. locally at least, i may have engendered a certain level of credibility for such statements, however annoying they may be, if only on the basis that i am personally in excellent health. local doctors have begun practice and retired, having never professionally made my acquaintance. no doubt having made this fact concrete, will now invite fortune to turn round and bite me, but while it lasts, i expect to continue making hay while the sun shines.

it is my contention, and that of many others, that the bicycle is one of mankind's greatest inventions (graeme obree conjoins that with the invention of the duvet) and in simplistic terms, regular riding of a bicycle could probably prevent many of the maladies moaned about on a daily basis. my only moans concern curtailed opportunities to actually go cycling as often as i would like, particularly in the light of more favourable recent weather conditions. in fact, later this very week, i am due to interview a local hotel manager, providing an ideal opportunity to spend at least part of my morning on the bicycle, travelling to and fro.

however, aside from personal enthusiasm for the way of the saddle, it's hard to argue against the bicycle being a force for good. taking note of the excellent work undertaken by world bicycle relief, the wbr effect was very effectively multiplied by ef education's lachie morton last year, following his completion of the alternative tour de france. this extensive solo undertaking raised considerable funds for the charity, enabling them to extend the reach of their work in poor african countries. then but a matter of days ago, lachlan once again took to the bike, cycling from munich in germany to the polish/ukraine border, raising over $200,000 for charitable expediency in the invaded country.

that, to me at least, proves the value of the bicycle and the community that has adopted it as a greater part of our lives. many of the world's sportive rides incorporate a charitable element, including our own ride of the falling rain, historically set to benefit world bicycle relief. this has long been the case; it seems quite natural that others should benefit as a result of us enjoying a grand day out on the bicycle. if those benefits happen to include receipt of their very own bicycle, that they might also experience similar independence and joy, so much the better.

but despite my fervent exhortations, there are obviously many situations that might depend on the charitable undertakings of international velocipedinists, yet it's the money raised that's the important component for all sorts of reasons. and it's not only the great and the good who are keen to help fundraise - the industry plays its part too. the latest to help fundraise towards the humanitarian disaster affecting ukraine, is italian tyre manufacturer, vittoria, who are offering three of their fully-equipped pinarello service-corse bicycles as prizes to those who donate to the cause.

you can donate as little as ten euros to have 100 chances to win or as much as €10,000 for 100,000 chances to win. all donations will go towards soleterre onlus, ensuring assistance for ukrainian children with cancer. the link to enter is listed below.

meanwhile, mountain bike magazine cranked is donating profits from its new merchandise range to the red cross, edinburgh's criterium cycles is donating 10% of net sales for one month, and nutrition brand rawvelo is sending £5,000 worth of bars to those in need, while contributing 10% of sales to the red cross.

the bicycle maybe doesn't cure all ills, but it's having a darned good try.

vittoria ukrainian raffle | cranked magazine | rawvelo nutrition | criterium cycles

tuesday 29 march 2022

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