in and out

porridge oats

at work, i am in persistent receipt of 'press releases' from a number of agencies for which, i can only presume, one of my predecessors signed up. the majority of their output scarcely merits being described as trivial, informing the great unwashed that, for instance, only 0.01% of yorkshiremen were ever likely to play for england at international level, or that google searches for 'bleach blonde' had risen 239% following pamela anderson's new tv programme. whether there are any news outlets which actually publish such nonsense, i know not, but their constant arrival in my inbox has become a daily source of humour. for that very reason, i have avoided unsubscribing to the service.

however, during the past week, amongst the prodigious output arrived a press release reputedly quoting a nutritional expert's opinion on why so many individuals failed to lose weight on subscribing to particular diets. bearing in mind the usual reputation represented by the average press release, i harboured little by way of expectation that the contents would prove even half-way credible, but for once i was proved very wrong. i do not wish to give the impression that the contained subject matter was of any publishing interest, but on the basis that a few of my female colleagues are mid-diet, i thought i might learn of one or two truths that might just help.

the so-called 'expert' pointed out several entirely obvious points that everyone knows, but to which very few pay any heed. as an example, he made it plain that a diet that involved the purchase of expensive ingredients would scarcely last, if only on the basis that it would soon prove unaffordable. similarly, diets that concentrated purely on avoiding carbohydrates or were predominantly heavy on proteins, were also unlikely to succeed because the resulting menu would soon prove unpalatable. basically speaking, any successful diet would have to abide by the laws of thermodynamics: one needed to consume fewer calories than one expended, in order for the human body to burn fat calories to make up the deficit in energy expenditure.

that way, we lose weight.

that, to put it in simplistic terms, is why cycling is regarded as an ideal means of maintaining or reducing weight. if i believe my garmin gps unit, each saturday and sunday, i expend close to 4,000 calories in the process of perambulating the estates. i actually doubt the accuracy of those numbers because of the means by which the device arrives at such figures, but there's no denying that riding around 150km each weekend will burn a sizeable number of calories. just how many of those are from fat and how many originate from carbohydrates, i'm insufficiently well informed to say, but since i don't appear to have put on any weight over the last decade, i do not feel inclined to investigate further.

but while i was broadly in favour of the several statements by the above mentioned nutritional expert, one i feel i may have to take slight issue with. though the claim with which he himself took issue has always seemed a tad far-fetched, i cannot deny that i have heard it repeated on several previous occasions. there have been proposals that certain foods hold a reputation for calorie burning, consumption of which would result in the human body expending more calories than contained within the food itself (celery has been named in this context). the expert was firm in the knowledge that this is pure tosh and nonsense. "there are no foods," he said, "that burn more calories than they contain."

porridge oats, to the best of my knowledge, have no sell-by date when packed; if they do, it must be one of the lengthiest in christendom. which is why, to a certain extent, i wonder why aileen at debbie's café, does not purchase a greater amount than has long been the case. unless, of course, glasgow's green city wholefoods do not possess sufficient quantities in stock to supply a larger order. prior to christmas, i bought two 3kg bags of jumbo oats from debbie's, to ensure a continuous supply for my morning breakfast needs. by this past weekend, i was but one week's supply away from running out, and i'm sure i don't need to tell you just what a major catastrophe that would have been.

however, indications were that the stock at debbie's would be replenished by sunday at the very latest, an indication that, thankfully, became fact. in anticipation, i had taken with me my fluorescent pink emergency back pack, one which folds into the size of a rapha essentials case when unrequired for service. once again, to future proof my breakfast requirements, i purchased two 3kg bags of jumbo oats, fitting them tightly into said backpack. in this particular manner, i refer to them as my special training porridge.

the distance from debbie's to the croft is just shy of 15 kilometres, over which i had need of transporting those six kilogrammes of jumbo porridge oats, expending great effort so to do (it's incredible just what a difference six kilos can make to one's pitiful climbing ability). though i do not have specific numbers with which to illustrate my point, it seems perfectly possible that those particular porridge oats may just have proved the gentleman wrong, by expending more calories than they are calculated to contain.

and even if i'm a few calories short of incontrovertible proof, i'm sure you can see where i'm heading with this.

monday 20 february 2023

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it's started already

blind corner

during a recent conversation with a non-islay resident, i was asked what was the attraction of riding a bicycle on the island. in other words, if i was looking for a soundbite to attract velocipedinists, of what would it consist? aside from the frequently attractive surroundings in which to pedal, it seemed pertinent to point out that, even at the height of summer, when the distilleries are awash with visitors, and the roads frequented by the very same group of personages heading either to or from those distilleries, the roads are generally a good bit quieter than any urban setting you may care to mention.

i am, of course, making assumptions at this point (though fairly safe assumptions i would imagine), that the average cyclist would far rather meander along a lonely hebridean singletrack road, assured of meeting only a few oncoming vehicles as they proceed, than spend their time dodging an endless stream of cars and trucks in a less picturesque urban or city setting. from the onset of the easter holidays, the velo club is in the habit of instigating the sunday morning challenge, as we guess the number of cars we're likely to meet between kilchoman distillery and foreland road-end.

the current record has sat at 23 for at least a few years, the covid lockdown years having stymied any notable increase. but as the island continues to add to its number of distilleries, there is little doubt that visitor numbers are likely to increase; by just how many, it's a tad too early to say. but to refer back to the above statement, it would normally be easter before an influx of visitors becomes substantial enough to notice, but i fear that is not only about to change, but perchance, already has.

we are still one week away from omloop het nieuwsblad and kuurne-brussels-kuurne, yet the influx may already have begun.

as i wend my merry way towards debbie's and a latte and double-egg roll, i have need of riding the corner at crosshouses. this is a blind corner, whereby any oncoming vehicles can only be seen as you round the very last bit. to discourage following vehicles from overtaking me on the corner, i have acquired the habit of riding almost in the centre of the road, a few centimetres from the white lines. the rationale behind so doing is that, even if the following motorists wonder what on earth i think i'm doing, they will be unlikely to pass on the simple basis that doing so would necessitate driving on the wrong side of the road with no way of knowing or seeing what's round the corner.

it's a fairly short corner that, at normal riding speed, takes me fifteen seconds at most to clear. yet on saturday this week, as i pedalled towards crosshouses, as usual, in the middle of the road, the car approaching from behind simply drove past without even attempting to slow or wait. had there been something driving in the opposite direction (bear in mind the pot-ale tankers - 40ft articulated trailers - still ply this route even at weekends), the knee-jerk reaction would probably have forced me into a wall as they attempted to avoid crashing. and i seriously have to wonder why waiting for a few seconds was seen as too much trouble.

i cannot claim that this is the first time this has occurred, and disappointingly, it's not only visitors that behave in this manner, but such happenstances tend to be few and far between outside of holiday season (a few years past, i rounded this corner to be met by two japanese in a hire car, driving on my side of the road. i'm not sure who got the bigger fright).

this corner is about 8km from debbie's and along the in-between stretch of road, i was passed by two foreign-plate cars with those upturned boats on the roof racks. according to aileen at debbie's this past week she'd hosted french, belgian and german visitors, indicating not only that europeans have excellent taste, but that holiday season would appear to have come early. if this keeps up, soon there won't be a break in procedings from one year to the next, and those idyllic hebridean roads will become notably less idyllic.

our unique selling point may be in danger of evaporating.

sunday 19 february 2023

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gear wire

i mentioned earlier this week that i planned to complete the servicing of the mountain bike left in my charge, ostensibly simply to have a replacement rear gear mech fitted, but one that ultimately revealed it also had a problem with the gear cable. on friday afternoon, fearful that the rain would commence at any moment (i do not have indoor space in which to carry out any fettling activities), i revisited the bicycle in order to replace said gear cable in the surety that the gearchanging problem was at the behest of a corroded cable.

though less and less common these days on upmarket machinery, the lower castes still feature what i refer to as slotted bullet stops, cable stops that are marginally bullet-shaped, with slots cut in the lower side to ease cable fitment and release. this particular bicycle on this particular gear cable, sported an outer cable from lever to the underside of the top tube, where it met with the first of four bullet stops. the wire ran unhindred to the rear end of the top tube, where it once again, enetered an outer cable to take it a third of the way down the drive-side seatstay, from which it ran naked for a few centimetres, before passng through the last of four cable stops, entering another length of outer cable and heading towards the cable adjuster fitted to the rear of the mech.

though not exclusive to this (un-named by me) brand of mountain bike, there is an inherent flaw in this cabling arrangement, a flaw that had finally caused the identified corrosion problem.

that inner wire leaving the cable stop at the top end of the chainstay, on the short length for which it was uncovered, was the nub of the problem. if you recall the great play made of the inclement weather affecting the hebrides, when precipitation and other substances landed on that uncovered section of wire, gravity would have them slide south and into the final section of outer cable, where they would (and had) remain until the wire had corroded sufficiently to forestall the movement that would allow ease of gearchanging.

it's a problem that rarely affects the likes of my ritchey logic, where the gear cables run the length of the downtube, through cable guides under the bottom bracket, and essentially, slightly upwards along the chainstay, ending their travel at the gear mech. in this arrangement, any moisture, along with lashings of belgian toothpaste, will always congregate at the bottom bracket, where the wires are bare to the world, but unrestricted by operating within an outer cable. i can appreciate the mountain bike designer's keen-ness to keep the cables away from the sort of stuff in which real mountain bikers are apt to play, but in so doing, he or she has created the very problem their routing was designed to obviate.

however, the object of this monologue is not to offer self-congratulation for pointing this out, but to celebrate the simplicity of process engendered by good old-fashioned gearing. granted, levers on the downtube would be true old-fashion, but considering indexed shifting arose in the 1980s, that will suffice as the definition of old-fashioned for today's lesson.

the cassette on this particular mountain bike bore a total of eight sprockets, matched by bar-mounted push-pull levers. in order to replace the gear wire, it ws a simple matter of placing the lever in an untensioned position (small sprocket), before unscrewing two small screws atop the right-hand lever. this allowed access to the cable end, which could be pushed free from its retainer and removed entirely. replacement demanded the opposite procedure, threading the new gear wire through the slots in the lever and allowing the stopped end of the wire to seat itself within the casing.

once all the outer sections of cable were tightly in their bullet-stops and the end of the wire clamped on the underside of the mech, testing the changing and adjusting the tension were simple to carry out. satisfied that all was in working order, i replaced the top of the lever, and crimped an end-cap to the wire at the derailleur end of proceedings. not only is the foregoing a simple procedure that pretty much anyone could successfully carry out, but the mechanics of the system are painfully simple and fairly cheap.

certainly a magnitude of complexity less than the current crop of electronic setups which achieve exactly the same thing. as i was wont to state in conversation earlier yesterday afternoon, though i have ridden several electronic groupsets, nearly all of which have worked faultlessly (and the one that didn't was as a result of a design flaw), even now, some sixteen years after di2 was introduced, i still regard electronica as a solution looking for a problem.

and this changes not one whit whether considering road bikes or mountain bikes (though i believe electronic groupsets are far less favoured by the knobbly-tyred brigade). the simplicity of the process when looking at mechaincal groupsets, beggars the question as to why it was ever found necessary to consider replacing it with electrons in the first place. in days gone by, folks used to clean carpets either with carpet beaters, or eventually, human-powered carpet sweepers. the advent of the vacuum cleaner was not only more effective, but an energy saver. similarly, electric windows on motor cars; though hardly onerous, it is a great deal simpler to move the windows up and down by means of a switch than turning a door-mounted handle.

but mechanical gear-changing only involved pushing a very short lever a very short distance, something that can be achieved with one finger. electronica has swapped that for pressing of buttons, which may, arguably, involve less physical effort, but on a micro-level. even after riding london-to-paris on a bicycle equipped with campagnolo super-record mechanical, the exhaustion on arrival in paris had nothing at all to do with the number of times i'd had to push a gear lever.

and they call it progress.

saturday 18 february 2023

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the hole truth

glasgow world championship road race potholes

one of the most common questions i have received rcently as a cyclist, bears little relation to the bicycle on which i ride, the clothing i wear while doing so, or even what on earth possesses me to ride in horizontal rain and galeforce winds. instead, i am most commonly asked how well i and my cohorts fare on islay's potholed roads? the simple answer is "...probaby a darned sight better than those driving motor cars." based predominantly on the knowledge that it's frequently a lot easier to avoid potholes on a bicycle than it is in a car.

firstly, cars tend to move a lot more quickly than do i, making it less likely that drivers will spot any incoming potholes in the first place, other than any crater-sized examples that might swallow the vehicle whole. secondly, and perhaps more importantly, it's not always possible to move laterally if there are oncoming or following cars, therefore having to drive across any depressions that feature in the road ahead.

i'm pretty sure that islay's and jura's roads are no better or worse than many other regions of the country, though a great number of potholes seem to have surfaced (pun intended) in the last month or so, frequently in the most bizarre of locations. certain council regions (highland council, for instance) have a reputation for better care of their roads infrastructure than the likes of argyll and bute, under whose jurisdiction the islands of islay and jura live, however, the latter council contains far more islands than any other scottish council, and given the lack of island-based repair facilities, the degradation of hebridean roads should perhaps be viewed in isolation.

according to those who know, the principal problem appears to be the application (or lack thereof) of hot tar. there is nowhere on the island where such a road-repair necessity can be provided. thus, all the hebridean islands rely on hot tar being brought from the mainland. but hot tar only fits that description for a limited period of time; with so many potholes over so many roads, carrying out necessary repairs within an amenable timetable is well-nigh impossible. and even where it might conceivably be possible to deliver hot tar across a suitable timescale, calmac's block-booking policy often means that it's a tad difficult to ensure that the tar truck can be guaranteed safe passage in timeous manner, particularly in the better months of the year.

however, though the potholes may directly impinge upon any visitors to the island, perhaps caught unawares on some of the more obscure parts of the islands' road network, shouting too loudly about the problem might be seen as a possible disincentive to those hoping to holiday on our shores. therefore, though you'll probably read more about potholes on the post than you really wanted to, i think i can confidently state that you'll read very little, if anything, about potholes on any islay or jura holiday or accommodation websites.

as mentioned above, the pothole problem is scarcely one confined to the hebrides, or even scotland, so it probably shouldn't have come as a surprise to discover that the glasgow part of the equation had made headlines across the atlantic, relevant because in only six months, the uci's first all-encompassing world championships will descend upon the home of robert millar and billy connolly for a period of two weeks. and those two weeks will see the women's, men's and junior's world road championships, as well as the matching set of time-trial rainbow bands. with the best intentions at heart, it seems that a velocipedinal whistleblower has alerted the world to the city's pothole problem, by going straight to the top.

and that tweet was picked up by america's bicycling magazine, resulting in the headline 'Glasgow Cyclist Calls Attention to Shockingly Bad Conditions on Road Worlds Course.'

glasgow-based, liam mcreanan, tweeted about the state of glasgow's roads directly to uci president, david lappartient, saying that the roads chosen for the various events "...have been like this for years, decades." he further questioned whether there was sufficient time or money remaining to remedy the problem. this is compounded by every council in scotland receiving continually reduced amounts of money from holyrood, leading to budgetary cuts and prioritising of services. a similar fate is likely to befall hebridean roads; but we're not hosting two weeks of world championship events in six months.

it has been repeatedly repeated by councillors and individuals that islay ought be best positioned to find itself on the receiving end of incoming financial aid, in the light of the substantial amount of excise duty that leaves the island at the behest of our plethora of malt whisky distilleries. unfortunately, those outgoings head south to westminster, to a government that is not responsible for funding scotland's regional councils and their roads budgets. should that situation ever change for the better, there's no chance it will ever be in time or directed to help glasgow.

perhaps the uci should reconsider and hold only the mountain bike and gravel world championships on glasgow's roads?

photo: liam mcreanan

friday 17 february 2023

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anything but routine

rusty bicycle

the hebridean climate, apart from anything else, is not at all kind to bicycles. i was sufficiently embarrassed on a couple of occasions, to apologise to bicycle distributors who were kind enough to send review models to the island, if only because the stem faceplate bolts had rusted in the few weeks the cycle had been in my possession. i would dearly love campagnolo (amongst others), to install stainless steel pinch bolts on their rim brakes to hold the cables in place, for on every occasion, potenza, chorus and record, those have been the first casualties of ferrous oxide. for all the extra it would cost vicenza for stainless steel, surely that would be a sound investment on behalf of their (scottish) customers, no matter how good the weather is in naples?

as no doubt many of you will know, rust is a problem pretty much everywhere in the uk and not solely confined to brake caliper bolts. i own a colnago master x-light steel framed cycle on which the lugs have been chromed as a shiny contrast to the molteni orange of the tubing, as indeed, have the precisa steel forks. currently the bicycle sits in a spare room in my son's cottage, where any rust encroachment has been stymied by the warm and dry indoor temperatures. but prior to this, it lived in the bike shed along with its compatriots, acquiring what calmac ferries refer to as steel wastage.

during the period in which the cycle was in my personal care, i had a designated oily rag just inside the shed door, ready and waiting to wipe down the fork legs and lugs in the vain hope that so doing would stave off the inevitable. i'm sure you can garner from my tone of writing that this failed to work.

the worrying part of this particular equation is that in general, i take great care of my bicycles. granted, i could probably wash them a tad more often, rather than simply wiping them down with a sturdy towel to maintain some sense of decorum wihin the peloton. and i am fortunate that the bicycles in my care tend towards the more salubrious, constituted as they are of quality components and frames. what of those on islay who own bicycles of a less robust nature and perform no maintenance whatsoever? as it happens, i am in the very position to describe exactly what happens.

prior to the february school holiday, one of the inmates accosted me in the music department, claiming derailleur problems and inquiring if i might replace the recalcitrant component were he to purchase a replacement. i am nothing if not compliant, and agreed so to do. that bicycle arrived at the croft a few days past, and following work yesterday afternoon, i opted to remove the broken item and replace it with the new. (to save the lad from greater embarrassment, i will not detail the substantial difference between what he said was wrong and what actually turned out to be the case. had he asked first, either he or his parents would be a tad richer.)

following removal of the chain, i removed the old mech and substituted a new, straight out of the box, replacement. i refitted the chain and re-attached the cable. following a few turns of the cable adjuster and the limit screws, i had the gears working once again. or at least i thought i had. attempting to drop the chain back down the cassette proved unsuccessful and closer examination revealed that the gear wire was corroded from top to bottom, unable to release on depression of the gear lever. having run out of time, i will have to come back to the bicycle on friday and replace the derailleur wire to complete the repair.

despite the fact that the wires for front and rear derailleurs are external and run under the top tube of the mountain bike, it appears no attention has been paid to them since the bicycle was purchased. and while we're on that subject, it was noticeable that the chain was both bone-dry and peppered with rust. as previously advised, it's probably unrealistic to expect any bicycle to remain in pristine condition, but a few preventative measures wouldn't have gone amiss.

the external cable routing, augmented as it is with slotted bullet stops, make it simplicity personified to periodically unhitch the cables and at worst, spray them with wd40, or at best, smear them with a smidgeon of light grease. the rust would eventually have got the better of them, but its encroachment would have been staved off for a few months more. no doubt teaching staff nowadays have little affiliation with bicycles, while parents try very hard to emulate their indifference, but between the two categories, at least one of them surely has to accept responsibility for teaching the kids how to perform basic cycle maintenance?

though it is many a long year since i was of similar age, my father insisted that my bicycle was cleaned and lubricated once a week, though sometimes more frequently in winter. few of today's generation seem to think it cool to ride a bicycle, and for those who do, it may well be a fleeting association, but however brief, it would serve them well to have a basic understanding of a bicycle's motive power. heaven knows the majority will lavish copious amounts of turtle-wax, body kits and alloy wheels on their motor cars on reaching the age of the motorist.

this seems to be further evidence that the bicycle is still often regarded as a toy, rather than a means of exercise and transport. and that's not something we only learned today. i fear i am preaching to the converted once again, but if you have kids, please teach them the basics; if you don't know, find out.

thursday 16 february 2023

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and yet, it still happens

islay high school

i have briefly outlined on several previous occasions, my continued relationship with islay's sole secondary school sited in the village of bowmore. for nigh on six years, i have visited once or twice a week to instruct pupils in the music class in the finer points of percussive venture, helping them through the practical portion of national five, higher and advanced higher drumming. and then, in august last year, the teacher charged with providing instruction in journalism, invited me to assist with that very subject. initially this was to have simply equated to a visit to the island's local newspaper, to appreciate, at first hand, the production process of creating each fortnightly issue of the community paper. however, on the (possibly mistaken) assumption that a weekly presence by yours truly might conceivably be thought a good idea, i have set aside one hour each thursday morning to join the class, in the hope that my limited experience of the job might pay dividends further down the line.

the curriculum for the journalism course includes many of the skills i have painstakingly acquired over the years, including photography, blogging, page design and the writing of articles, reports and features with a view to local, national and international publication. additionally, one of the skills on which great emphasis is placed, is that of the interview, a skill that i believe all journalists ought to possess, even if only at a rudimentary level. though the pupils have interviewed each other, and were recently able to interview one of the education department's hmie inspectors, the opportunity to 'grill' an individual in public life was always the subject of earnest discussion.

we are fortunate on islay to have the three councillors representing the council ward resident on the island, as well as our msp (member of the scottish parliament), all of whom i know personally. since the msp (jenni minto) holds the highest profile, i was able to arrange for her to visit the school earlier this week and subject herself to earnest questioning by members of the journalism class. this allowed them to ask questions of national and local importance with the object of subsequently turning the answers into a completed article, possibly even for publication in the local newspaper.

as ms. minto was holding a surgery in the village later the same day, her school visit had been arranged for 9am, a meeting which i had indicated i would attend, not only as an interested party, but also to record photographically, very much for publication. as i have frequently mentioned on several occasions, the village of bowmore is but one mile from end to end, a distance that i think it possible for any healthy individual to walk unaided without incurring physical distress. in fact, the previous day, i walked there and back to the gaelic centre for a brief meeting, having decided that the two miles were scarcely worthy of removing a bicycle from the bikeshed.

for the teenage children resident in the village who attend islay high school, the majority of whom live far closer than a mile, a morning walk to school ought scarcely to scratch the surface. particularly in the knowledge that most of them walk down the village at lunchtime. yet, as i myself walked the few hundred yards from the office to the school, i witnessed several kids being dropped off both outside and inside the school playground by ostensibly well-meaning parents.

in all my years living in the village, the only regular occupant of the school's bike shed has been the yellow road bike belonging to the head teacher, alone amongst a veritable plethora of teachers' cars, several of whom also live in the village and closer to the school than does the head teacher. it may be a forlorn hope to expect any of the village's school pupils to ride a bicycle to work; for the majority of hebridean teenagers, cycling doesn't ever crack the top twenty list of cool things to do, and when you have elderly individuals such as yours truly visiting while wearing a big bobble cyclocross hat, chances are cycling will always struggle to appear cool (which we all know it to be).

yet, perhaps surprisingly, many of the school's pupils seem well-aware of climate change and its increasing prominent effects (that very subject formed a part of at least two of the questions aimed at their msp), yet the vicissitudes of motorised transport within their own daily lives seem not necessarily to have become apparent. that said, if i might refer the reader to the notable lack of bicycles in the school bikeshed, and the delivery of many pupils by parental vehicle, there seems little by way of example being set by either mum and dad or teaching staff. (i should perhaps point out that my journalism teaching co-host walks to and from school every day, as does his wife).

the educational demarcation is clear to see; though several of the pupils attending the adjacent primary school are happy to ride their bicycles to school and frequently participate in any 'cycle to school week' or 'walk to school week' events, the minute they enter first year of high school, the bicycle seemingly becomes persona non-grata. rack my feeble brain as i might, i cannot think of a cogent strategy to alter that state of affairs.

i dare say similar siutations exist all across britainshire, but in a small rural, island community, it seems a tad more obvious than it might do in the relative anonymity of urban or inner-city areas. perhaps cycling uk or british cycling have verifiable solutions?

though i somehow doubt it.

wednesday 15 february 2023

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rab activities

because it is effectively an integral part of cycling, cycle clothing tends to feature as an intrinsic part of the velocipedinal life, with reviews and announcements featured not only in these yellow and black pixels, but in the majority of print publications, of which there is a diminishing availability in the uk. most recently mentioned was the oddly-named assos winter jacket reviewed in the current issue of the comic, and priced at £610, which, if nothing else, demonstrates that at least someone must be prepared to pay the price of admission.

of course, outdoor activities, including that of cycling, require all manner of appropriate clothing, some of which inhabits a similar price range. rohan, though not the ultimate in outdoor clothing, features a ventus waterproof jacket retailing at £350, close in cost to that of rapha's recently announced gore-tex jacket priced at £395. berghaus, who seemingly delight in providing images of their jackets worn by gents and women who appear to be setting off for the himalayas, top out at £500, placing assos very pointedly at the sharp end of the price points.

but why should any of us be particularly interested in the machinations of the outdoor set? though cycling (apart from the zwifties) can be easily classified as an outdoor activity, according to the manufacturers at least, the demands of each are remarkably different, even if such claims ought best be taken with a pinch of salt. i own two hilltrek ventile jackets which the manufacturer aimed fairly and squarely at the cycling market, but which function perfectly well as daily hebridean waterproof outerwear. the double-ventile jacket features two rear pockets, but in truth, neither are specifically tailored for on the bike use, though in practice, you'd never really know.

rear pockets on a cycling jacket are a welcome boon, but always assuming the jersey worn beneath offers such cargo space, such a lack is simply a minor gripe. granted, if your cycling is predominantly for the purposes of commuting, or a leisurely ride in the country at weekends, you can wear pretty much whatever you darned well like, as long as it covers the majority of bases, such as weatherproofing or breathability, predominantly to make life as comfortable as possible. perhaps the sole concession to cycle wear would be the adoption of padded cycle shorts, even if worn below less overtly cycling trousers or shorts.

take my word for it.

however, even outdoor clothing that might prove perfectly acceptable for daily cycling in which the rider doesn't resemble a refugee from the peloton, scarcely advertises itself as such. i would imagine that even those considering adopting the way of the saddle, would be unlikely to check out the websites of either berghaus or rohan, more likely to pay a visit to the likes of evans cycles, or halfords, online or in person, or perhaps wiggle/chain reaction's pixels, simply because of the assurance that any apparel on offer is pretty much guaranteed to be appropriate for the activity.

this would possibly explain why, in early 2012, rohan opted to specifically attract the cycling market, by creating a range of cycle-wear, offering a windrider jacket, a polo shirt and three-quarter length shorts. however, before you all reach for the web browser to visit the rohan website, none of the above still exist. despite 2012 being on the approach to the bradley bubble, when the great unwashed began to take note of cycling as something that might be incorporated into a healthy, active lifestyle, rohan's cycle range was remarkably short-lived.

there could be a number of reasons for the above state of affairs, but it's eminently possible that they quickly learned just how large a range they might have to offer to retain a new customer base, or more likely discovered that the more they learned, the more they realised how much more they'd still to learn. i have been reviewing cycle clothing for many a long year, and there are those who know, and those who appear to be guessing.

however, as recently featured, the cycle clothing market commands a sizeable annual income, of which i'm sure many would like to carve their own slice. yet a cycle clothing company originating a mere two years prior to rohan's tentative entry into the cycle market, closed the doors for good in january this year. milltag, idiosyncratic purveyors of jerseys once associated with both matt stephens and richard mitchelson in its time, entered voluntary liquidation just as 2023 cemented its presence.

but, despite the possibility/likelihood that the cycle market is about to descend into an indeterminate period of uncertainty, outdoor brand, rab has announced the approaching availability of its first adventure cycling range, dubbed cinder. unlike rohan's remarkably minimal toe in the cycling water, rab's cinder range will include 31 different styles for both men and women. though the apparel range is aimed at the offroad adventure and bikepacking fraternity, rab claim 40 years of knowledge and experience "...crafting clothing and equipment to manage these conditions."

however, there is no mention of any relevant experience in creating said clothing for the demanding cycling market. as i know from experience, designing a waterproof, breathable jacket for cyclists is perhaps less straightforward than rab might think. were that not the case, assos, rapha, castelli, endura et al, would hardly be still offering new items, their experience having brought them the ultimate garmentage several years ago.

rab was founded in 1981 as a hand-made sleeping bag brand. which, incidentally, offers a gore-tex jacket with a price tag of £530, and a down parka at £600.

rab outdoor clothing

tuesday 14 february 2023

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