three things


an office colleague currently has her brother-in-law and sister-in-law visiting from australia. the former moved to the antipodes over forty years ago, and during this, his first return visit since departing these shores, many folks have asked if he notices many differences (other than the glaringly obvious proliferation of distilleries). i'm unaware as to how he answered such inquisitors but islay features several conservation areas, where the council and possibly historic scotland have decreed things must follow a certain pattern. for instance, if upgrading house windows to double-glazing, those facing outward must be as close as possible to the originals, and planning permission is required prior to doing so.

not everyone has followed these directives and strangely, not all infractions appear to be censured. given the apparent lack of standardisation from the council's planning department, that's probably not too unusual.

however, in the midst of all this, there are specific traits ascribed to predominantly the male of the species which confer all but indigenous status upon the incumbent. i see no reason why these should not also find themselves applicable to those domiciled on the scottish mainland, but there, it's likely they will simply confer eccentricity upon the practitioner, while in the hebrides, they are signifiers of resident status within the community.

i believe i may have broached at least a part of this subject on a previous occasion, but much like the aspects of island life that have changed for my colleague's visiting brother-in-law, so indeed, have the accoutrements of hebridean living. these are based on observations over more than a decade, not necessarily applicable in each and every situation, but seemingly common enough to be regarded as worth remarking upon. perhaps less than entirely idiosyncratic on an island surrounded by water, there's ownership of a boat.

the odd thing about the type of boat ownership to which i refer, is that said vessel need not ever venture anywhere near the water. and nor is it necessary for the owner to have the faintest notion of maritime practices. it is, to be precise, sufficient simply to own a boat, preferably on a trailer and have it sat in either your driveway, or the car park.

secondly, should you continue to harbour aspirations toward donning the islander mantle, you should own a digger. nothing too large, you understand; a small, one person version will suffice. and in common with boat ownership, there is no requirement to either have the faintest idea as to how the machine operates, nor indeed to have any particular need for such a device in the first place. you can leave it in the garden, if it's large enough, otherwise anywhere about the property or in the driveway. should the house possess an adjacent garage, it is apparently ideal to leave that blocking the entrance, meaning both digger and car will spend eternity out of doors.

the aforementioned boat and digger have been the mainstays of island life for many a long year, but based on recent surveillance, a third requirement has inveigled its way into hebridean life: scaffolding. perhaps unsurprisingly, the scaffolding joins the former two by needing to serve no practical purpose. the network of steel piping and platforms should not be all eneveloping of the building to which it is attached. the ideal would be scaffolding constructed on the gable end, where the purpose of doing so will remain forever inscrutable and pointless, but it does seem to be permissable to erect a narrow height of scaffolding in front of a dormer window, or above a porch, even though there is little or no evidence as to the purpose of doing so.

it is also necessary that the scaffolding remain in place for at least a month or two, while no-one is ever seen making use of its availability.

unfortunately, what seems to be conspicuous by its absence, is the bicycle. oh, there are many households on the island which are in possession of bicycles, many of which lie unloved and unused in garages or bikesheds. it probably seemed like a great idea at the time; the start of a new year and the idea to lose weight, get fitter, or even use the car less in favour of riding to work/school/the shops. it's probable that january and february are the very months likely to test folks' resolve; the wind, rain, hail and cold, are not only the aspects that keep kids indoors, instead of out and about on the bikes santa gave them for christmas, but those that, more than likely, have subsequently led to bicycles lying dormant in forgotten places.

the ideal time to bring cycle use into the household would probably be the months following on from easter. i have been quoted as saying that "i adore summer; it's my favourite day of the year", but the weeks and months of spring would offer a taster of not entirely clement weather, but as summer appears on the horizon, things could surely only get better?

it is my great hope that this time next year, i'll be able to add bicycles to the list of things that maketh the islander, up there with boats, diggers and scaffolding. but, despite being a confirmed optimist, i have doubts that such will come to pass anytime soon.

monday 11 september 2023

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watch your step

challenge limus 'cross tyre

i have pointed out on oh, so many occasions, that saturday is cyclocross bike day, offering the opportunity to incorporate one or two offroad sections in the weekly parcours, while heading inexorably towards debbie's for the requisite soya latté and double-egg roll. in truth, i'm not sure whether the latter reason is simply there to augment the fact that i don't have to keep up with anyone, so the slower approach offered by the crux suits my less aggressive stance (a scarcely disguised euphemism for slow).

that said, i do rather enjoy the more comfortable ride proffered by the wider and knobblier tyres. and it is those tyres that are of concern in today's monologue, though i should mention in advance that the fault is not entirely theirs.

last week, on my departure from debbie's and heading towards the hill at foreland, i thought i had incurred a slow puncture, something that had also given cause for consideration while rolling across the dunes of usikentuie strand on the approach to lunch. i pulled in at bruichladdich hall to check the tyre pressure which proved more than adequate, so i thought no more about it and headed off to complete the afternoon part of the ride.

challenge limus 'cross tyre

yesterday was yet again a cyclocross day, always living in hope that dunlossit estate would have shifted their highland cattle and allowed access to another section of offroad while heading for mulindry. though the cattle cannot be seen from the road, there is a large deer gate at each end of the track which, if open, signifies that the cattle are not in residence. sadly, that proved not the case this weekend, so the decrepit road surface had to suffice.

once again, i made use of the grass separating the main road from the shores of lochindaal (cue for song) as an enjoyable alternative to tarmac, en-route to debs'. ever a creature of habit, i set off, following a hearty lunch, to perambulate the circumference of loch gorm, a road that passes by kilchoman distillery, now closed on saturdays and thus providing a more peaceful bike ride. however, as i descended the hill around two kilometres from the distillery, the rear of the bicycle felt a tad squirmy on the tarmac, so i pulled into a passing place to check for play in the wheel or deflation of the tyre.

neither seemed to be the case, so i carried on downhill, when the squirminess seemed to pervade, leading to another stop a few metres farther on. that's when i realised the depth of the sh!t in which i might well have found myself. prior to departure from the croft, i'd paid attention to the substantial wear on the rear tread, but which i had intended to replace within the next few weeks (the tyres are two seasons old). however, it transpired that, not only had the tread begun to delaminate from the carcass, but at two distinct points around the drive side sidewall, there were substantial frayed sections that would undoubtedly have weakened their resolve in keeping the inner-tube where it should preferably remain.

challenge limus 'cross tyre

rather than persist with my usual route out to coull farm, saligo, and onto ballinaby, i retraced my steps to the main bridgend road at a remarkably conservative pace, and rode directly home. with the luck on which i can usually count, i figured that crossing the two cattle grids that feature on my original route, would likely have dismembered the tyre and i would have had a 23 kilometre walk home. fortunately, nothing untoward occurred on the return route, and i immediately ordered a new pair of challenge grifo clinchers from sigma sports to replace the worn limus rear, that is now disintegrating.

as the saying states, 'do as i say, not as i do'. with autumn pretty much in place and winter distinctly on the horizon, despite the current heatwave, even in the hebrides, this is the perfect opportunity to check the componentry on your bicycle(s). a breakdown of any description at the likes of saligo bay in november or december, would be considerably less welcome than even had it happened this particular weekend. granted, the nature of the island means that i'd probably have met someone who would have given me a lift home, but i'm well aware that not everywhere is as user-friendly as the hebrides.

now is very much the time to check the stuff that might break without warning: tyres, cables, chain, pedals, disc-brake pads or caliper shoes and, if you're on carbon rims, ensure that spokes and rims are not just waiting to spring a surprise upon you when you least expect it. according to my tyre order, the replacement 'cross tyres cannot be despatched until the final week of this month, and i don't doubt that there will be many other bits and bobs subject to similar or longer delays. fortunately, i have a spare pair of tyred wheels to which i can swap until the new rubber arrives, but things could have been a lot different.

go on, check everything now.

sunday 10 september 2023

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green oil bike armour


for the past six weeks, bbc scotland has shown episodes from its eight-part series entitled island crossings, a look behind the curtains of scotland's state-owned ferry company, caledonian macbrayne (calmac). in truth, it hasn't told islanders much more than of which we were already aware, commencing in episode one, with a broken ferry and the inconvenience caused to prospective passengers and to calmac staff who have to deal, at first hand, with the repercussions a broken ferry creates.

green_oil bike armour

the current crisis, which logically has followed on from pretty much every other previous calmac crisis, changes by the day. as a pertinent example, islay is currently served by two vessels, the finlaggan and the isle of arran, but only yesterday morning it was announced that the latter had been found to show 'sight material fatigue', hardly surprising given that it's the oldest boat on the fleet at forty years old. as a result, all its friday sailings were cancelled and at least one saturday sailing too.

there are two unfinished ferries sitting in ferguson's yard on the clyde, more than three times over budget and five years' late for delivery to calmac. had those boats arrived on the arran route for which they were intended in 2018, much of the current crisis could have been averted, but it is what it is. all this and more has been highlighted in the documentary, but even when the series is complete, the problems are highly likely to continue unabated, and we'll still have hassles trying to get a spot on a ferry, and we'll still be down to a single ferry one month earlier than advertised.

green_oil bike armour

during the course of the programme, we were shown a ferry in dry-dock during its annual refit, where it was necessary to remove a section of the hull in order to allow the replacement of the ship's generators. during that particular episode, the engineers discovered that the metal structure on which the old generators were seated, displayed serious corrosion, requiring unplanned-for replacement; once the new generators were in place, it would have been more costly to deal with the problem during a future re-fit.

thankfully, the average bicycle is several magnitudes simpler in construction than a west coast car ferry, meaning that any spots of corrosion or wear are a great deal easier to see, and mostly simpler with which to deal. and though the very latest carbon frames lean heavily towards internal cable routing (which may eventually require a calmac engineer to replace), many already in existence and bicycles a few rungs down from state-of-the-art, still expose their cables to the great outdoors. and in the process of so doing, some of those cables necessarily contact the bicycle frame on their way to the business end of matters.

green_oil bike armour

though in essence, brake and gear cable outers would seem to be the very epitome of a stationary object, in the rough and tumble of the average bike ride, they move up and down and side to side, gradually wearing the surface against which they nestle. there are a number of purveyors who offer clear plastic stickers which can be placed at the points of contact, but in my experience, those often seem less robust than the cable outers with which they come in contact. what might be required is something a tad tougher, like green oil's bike armour, for instance.

these oblong stickers announcing, in relief, the object of their existence, are made from real metal. they do bear an uncanny resemblance to metal-coloured plastic, but green oil ceo, simon nash, assures me they are fashioned from the real thing. with an adhesive back, it is simplicity itself to attach one of these to an area likely to receive unwanted wear, or small areas of tube damage, even on carbon frames. and at a mere £4.99, its not a purchase that's likely to harm the bank balance.

having recently replaced the gear and brake cables on the ritchey, i find the rear brake outer to have begun scuffing the side of the head tube a centimetre or so above where its predecessor sat. i have, therefore, appropriately attached a bike armour sticker to fend off the cable's undesired attentions. i'll let you know how i get on.

green_oil bike armour

and while we're on the subject of green oil, they've recently launched a kickstarter campaign to fund the production of gardinól, a wd40 substitute that eschews use of ptfe, a carcinogenic additive which simon nash feels ought to be made illegal. to help achieve that, gardinól has been formulated using biodegradable plant-based ingredients. this will be available in both a spraycan version and a small dropper bottle, priced at £11.99 and £8.99 respectively. if you'd like to help and to receive bonuses for doing so, subscribe to green oil's kickstarter list to hear when the campaign goes live.

green oil bike armour

saturday 9 september 2023

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it works

bangladesh map

each day, the guardian newspaper publishes a centre-page image, or collection of images depicting happenings from the four corners of the world. every so often these are drawn from the ranks of winners in national or international themed competitions, maintaining, if nothing else, the value and importance of imagery in a medium known for its concentration on the printed word.

yesterday's image portrayed a hindu girl in dhaka, bangladesh, dressed as lord krishna during jammashtami, the festival which celebrates the god's birth. alongside the image's focal point, is a young woman holding a child. but directly behind the hindu girl is a somewhat ramshackle collection of four steel or aluminium-framed bicycles, very much the worse for wear. three of these bicycles are mountain bikes, while the fourth features 700c wheels and flat handlebars. one of the mtbs sports a pair of deep-rimmed wheels bearing a hero bikes logo.

the machine against which the surrogate lord krishna leans has obviously seen considerably better days, with the black paint all but scraped from the crank-arm and lack of paint to be seen on the seatstay. the quick-release lever securing the lowered seatpost appears to have been fastened in the wrong direction. and though the next bicycle to which it appears to be shackled by means of a substantial padlocked chain shows a narrow, road-type saddle, the seatpost to which it is clamped is most certainly not of the micro-adjust variety.

bangladesh was originally a part of british india, but following the country's partition in 1947, it became known as east pakistan, before transitioning to the name, bangladesh in 1972, following several internal conflicts. the state religion was declared to be islam in 1998, perhaps making the subject of the guardian's image all the more poignant, given the minimal percentage of hindus (around 8%). the population of the country is 169 million and the less than salubrious background to said image belies the country's apparent economic prosperity, said to be greater than that of neighbouring india, a country that recently landed a vehicle on the moon.

of course, the image describes a very narrow perspective; were the photographer to have turned his camera through 180 degrees, we might well have been looking at a bustling metropolis, with car-filled roads and rapha-clad cyclists aboard state-of-the-art carbon bicycles. in parts of the country, that might well be true, but two of the bicycles that form a part of the scene's background are decidedly from the cantilever brake era, one from which the offroad world graduated in the 1990s. yet one of the bicycles which features a cottered crankset, also sports suspension forks and disc brakes, no doubt providing a bit of a quandary for local bike shop mechanics.

yet, the image is undoubtedly one of the greatest testaments to the sturdiness of not only the bicycle itself, but the long litany of velocipedinal technology, much of which modernity seems intent on outdating almost on a weekly basis. as far as vision allows, all four bicycles appear to rely on the late, lamented square-taper bottom bracket, a technology that has been superseded so often, the bottom bracket family tree would likely cover the back of a roll of wallpaper.

though no-one can be seen riding any of the bicycles in the photo, the fact that they all seem to be padlocked would surely suggest that they still have transportational value, though possibly not to lord vishnu. and while that doesn't exactly suggest that the bicycle industry has been lying to us, it does give the impression that the inveterate western changes made to both mountain and road bikes may have had more to do with the apparent and constant need to sell something new to wealthier, first-world bicyclists. though i'm leaning heavily on educated assumptions, i'd be willing to bet that the bicycle owners enjoy and rely upon their dilapidated machinery every bit as much as their more demanding western cousins.

while it would be pointless to deny that new bicycle technology doesn't bring with it greater expectations and at least temporary satisfaction, there's a danger that it's becoming an end in itself, as opposed to a means to an end. that the technological advancements that can be seen even during the current tour of spain have become as much a part of the spectacle as are the results of the event and the sight of speeding cyclists. perhaps that's the intended outcome of the industry's continued tinkering with almost every aspect of the diamond-framed bicycle.

for once, could it be that the matrix has been reversed?

friday 8 september 2023

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just plain wrong

ballygrant woods

there is, according to common lore, a pattern to seasonal events, with which, at my advanced years, i believe i have become comfortable. the commonality of such happenstances is not, however, solely applicable to yours truly if observations concerning the world's cycling apparel purveyors is to be believed. almost as regular as clockwork, the aforesaid producers will bring to our attention, their autumn/winter ranges, to be followed some six months later, by an entirely new (they hope), spring/summer offering. it is thus writ large that, as summer blends into autumn, the covering of our nether regions will morph to bib-threequarters in advance of opting for full-length bibtights, while our torsos become familar once again with long-sleeves, goretex and all manner of thermal coverings.

with regard to the foregoing, i had already begun to acquaint myself with the locations of my autumn/winter attire, the majority of which had been in hibernation while i pretended very hard, that summer in scotland was every bit the same as summer elsewhere. (believe me, that can take some doing.) july and august, this year, have been less than ideal bedfellows from a velocipedinal point of view, fresh as they were with precipitation and summer breezes.

despite having little faith in weather forecasts, particularly those of a long-term nature, i still find myself checking in advance to provide some clue as to the sartorial possibilities required by the weekend's forecast, allowing a certain correctitude in that prepared in advance of both saturday and sunday bike rides. as i have mentioned, now that we're wholesale into the foothills of autumn, there's almost an inherent need to differentiate between even the dying recollections of summer and what presumably lies ahead.

and then this happens.

my use of the word this relates to the current spate of highly agreeable weather, where blue skies have become the daily norm, and temperatures, even here on the outer edge, have begun to populate the lower twenties. granted, our proximity to the north atlantic ocean always finds us with a bit of a cooling breeze, but i now find i must use the word cooling euphemistically, since its use in an adjectival manner is entirely relative; highly unusual for autumn in the hebrides.

disappointingly, i think it possible that the current meteorological state of affairs may well be responsible for my having ridden like a bag of spanners on saturday past. try as i might, i can come up with little else by way of excuse. granted, the day's average speed was no different from any other saturday, but i felt to have expended a great deal more energy in getting there than has become commonplace. or, it may have been a combination of factors, remarkably pleasant weather being only one. despite my unprovoked exclamation but a matter of seven days previously, that the island's road traffic was in decline, rarely have i met as many vehicles on my chosen parcours as i did last saturday. along the two kilometre stretch of singletrack at gruinart flats, i was, quite literally, riding from passing place to passing place, ever more frustrated that not one car stopped for me.

it is a recordable fact that traffic density is not only a subjective observation, but a relative one at that. meeting more than two-dozen motor vehicles on an eight kilometres stretch of singletrack road would seem perfectly equitable in the majority of locations, but when the normal rate would be two cars over the same distance, you can perhaps see from where i'm coming. hot weather, coupled with stop/start perambulations was never going to end well. but in truth, what i would like to end well, is this blister of warm, equitable weather.

i pay my council tax and my british cycing membership dues, so why am i being made to suffer like this? even early autumn ought to be rife with increasing winds and more than a soupcon of rain; i ought to be dithering over the possibilities of a winter cap under my helmet, of valiantly trying to recall where i left the waterproof overshoes last march and whatever happened to the several pairs of full-finger gloves? in a good year, it might even be pertinent to consider a long-sleeve baselayer.

granted, the forecast for this weekend, while still showing a distinct and disappointing deficit in the wind department, offers a modicum of succour when it comes to precipitation. but allied to continued warm temperatures, the wearing of any sort of waterproof promises to curate a boil-in-the-bag state of affairs. the mercury ought to be in single figures by now, whilst the member of the peloton riding deep carbon rims, ought to be seriously questioning his choices. nobody likes change, but i am somewhat predisposed towards those which were expected at this time of year.

some folks are never satisfied.

thursday 7 september 2023

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the best blog ever

bmc red bull speedmachine

i am, by and large, totally unfamiliar with the rules governing the design and build of formula one motor cars. i am, however, reasonably well-acquainted with the fact that, last year, lewis hamilton's mercedes suddenly found itself at a remarkable disadvantage when pitted against many of its rivals for the constructors' championship, and ultimately his own championship aspirations. having watched a video expounding the so-called 'porpoise' effect that was held responsible for the season's subsequent below-par performance, i did rather wonder how none of that displayed, had shown up in pre-season testing?

of course, the latter query also demonstrates my lack of knowledge concerning how and when pre-season testing is carried out. but if i might assume that the design of a formula one race car bears some resemblance to the finite element analysis brought to bear on world tour level bicycles, it also seemed a tad odd that these presumed computer simulations didn't at least point in the direction of the car's desire to emulate sea-going mammals. however, that last statement also pinpoints (yet again) my demonstrable lack of knowledge concerning such technology.

however, i think it a safe assumption that, aside from attempting to provide pin-sharp handling qualities, the principal objective of a formula one motor racing car, is to travel as quickly as possible, explaining why aerodynamics play such a big part in proceedings. road bicycles, and particularly those employed in the quest for time-trial victory, have also secured the latter as a major part of their design process, frequently involving the use of expensive wind-tunnel testing, reputedly at angles closely related to those experienced in real life.

however, what seems inherent in formula one, appears non-applicable to bicycles, which, considering the views of the uci's technical department, is something of a mystery. having unveiled new cars prior to the first chequered flag, it appears that teams are prevented from making wholesale changes to the vehicle once the season is underway, perhaps explaining why mercedes had to suffer the ignominy of resembling an episode of 'flipper' throughout 2022. world tour cycling invokes no such preventions, meaning, should it be desirable, economical or practical, a different and entirely new time-trial bike (for instance) could be brought out the truck at every race across the season (always assuming it had received uci approval).

and cycle manufacturers often appear as a flock of sheep; where one goes, the rest feel compelled to follow, particularly if a certain feature appears to have the possibility of becoming a trend. though i have found no demonstrable aero or handling reason for the current spate of dropped seatstays, it hasn't stopped the majority from having adopted this possible aberration. similarly the adoption of hydraulic disc brakes, for which supporting improved velocity evidence seems a bit thin on the ground. though all are keen to promote any perceived advantage over their nearest competitor, none seem overly keen on standing out from the crowd in any other way.

but there's also another, far simpler reason for the gaping distance between motor racing and cycling: commerce.

not one of the ten formula one teams competing this year is under any commercial pressure to sell their cars to members of the public, though considering the expense, i'd imagine the market to be quite minimal. cycle manufactuers, on the other hand, live by the number at the foot of the balance sheet. as of sunday, red bull driver, max verstappen, achieved a world record ten consecutive victories. and while these will likely go a long way to confirming him as the 2023 world champion, and red bull as constructor champion, that's all it will do.

wout van aert's considerable reputation as a super-domestique and stalwart of the cyclocross circuit, allied to the victories of jonas vingegaard and primoz roglic, have doubtless had a particularly benevolent effect on sales of cervelo bicycles. and safe in the knowledge that even a replica jumbo-visma race machine will make very little difference to the performance of the eager purchaser. though it's a very long time since last i rode a cervelo, i guarantee that neither wout's bicycle, nor the canyon of mvdp would make me any quicker than is currently the case. but that salient fact, applicable to the majority of us, has rarely, if ever, stopped the manufacturers from claiming otherwise.

but what happens when the guys at the top of their tree in motor-racing get together with one of the top cycle manufacturers? this is not a new proposition, arguably initiated by colnago's association with ferrari in the late 1970s, but the latest and current amalgamation is that between red bull's engineering company, rbat and bmc, resulting in yet another, 'fastest bike ever' claim, conveniently ignoring the parallel requirement for the 'fastest bike rider ever' to pedal it.

the bicycle which has inherited such an extravagant and unverified moniker, is intended for both top-level time-trialling and triathlon and likely to be seen in the mechanics' truck belonging to ag2r, the sole world-tour team sponsored by bmc. however, presumably to justify the probably alarming costs of development, bmc will need you, me and the guy at the back of the peloton (which would also be me) to buy one. and in order for that to happen without too much humming and hawing on our part, we will be expecting an ag2r rider or two, or three, to win several time trials.

i have expressed my doubts over the point of continually trying to make bicycles faster by a matter of seconds, both because it makes little difference to the bicycle-buying public and because it has little or no effect on the entertainment value of watching top-level cycle racing. the old days when eddy rode lugged steel were no less the subject of fascination, than tadej aboard an ugly looking colnago tt bike.

i'm insufficiently well educated in the principles of mathematics to provide an appropriate equation to describe the basics, and though this latest collaboration between red bull and bmc could actually have produced the fastest bike ever, that will only remain true until someone else goes one better. and then again, and again, and again.

and yes, it's hideous.

wednesday 6 september 2023

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safe and secure

uci glasgow city bikehangar

though the differences between bicycles and motor cars are significant, there is one particular variant that can have a greater effect on the use of the former as a means of daily transport: security. for those of you who drive as well as cycle, the difference might not be as large as we'd all like to think, with car theft being a major issue in the uk, and recent data suggesting that it is an unfortunate trend that is definitively on the rise.

the insurance arm of the automobile association casts the above as on the receiving end of a 25% increase year on year. and before you ask, there does indeed seem to be a single brand that suffers more than others. while you'd perhaps imagine that the never-ending march of technology would have a latest trick up its sleeve, one that has been applied to the very latest the motor industry has to offer, it appears that the very latest from jaguar-landrover (the velar r-dynamic) is the most stolen car in the nation.

worryingly, six out of the top ten most illegally purloined vehicles are manufactured by india's tata owned manufacturer.

however, even the simplest of motor vehicles sports a locking system of one sort or another, that can hardly be removed with a hacksaw, jackhammer or angle-grinder. the latter are three of the most common means of separating cyclists from their bicycles, and methods that are, by-and-large, ignored by passers-by. there still exists on youtube, an american video of a would-be thief taking an angle grinder to a lock securing a bicycle to a lamp-post. in order to gain better access, the thief (in truth an imposter being filmed for an american cycle magazine) kneels on the road, only to be accosted by two police and asked to relocate to the pavement (sidewalk), after which the police car drives off.

though i am extremely fortunate to live where bicycle theft is all but unknown (other than occasionally by the inebriated needing a means of getting home after closing time), i do own a pair of cycling jeans that feature a large open-ended panel on the waist to allow the carrying of a d-lock while cycling. and unfortunately, as the latter style of lock becomes ever more impervious to attack, the weight invariably sees an unfortunate increase. that's scarcely a consideration for the average motorist.

i'm well aware that the majority of cycle-commuters will be far more acquainted with the ins-and-outs of the above than am i. any cycle-commuting in which i might indulge on the island, will be, i guarantee, bereft of any type of bicycle lock. and though i'm basing this entirely on educated conjecture, i figure that the security aspect of cycle-commuting or cycle travel into the city or town is one that is hardly of scant concern. for that reason, and following the recent uci world championships on which glasgow and scotland hope to build a less car-reliant culture, the siting of secure bicycle hangers must surely come as a welcome initiative.

during the ten days of championship events, twelve units were sited around the city, painted with the world championship rainbow bands and sponsored by the uci. these consisted of eleven bikehangers capable of securing six standard bicycles, and one offering space for two cargo bikes. these will be joined this month by a further eleven units, as a part of a new, short-term cycle parking initiative complementing the city council's avenues project, funded by sustrans' 'places for everyone'.

currently, the city is looking for cyclists who commute daily into the city-centre, to volunteer to participate in a trial prior to the scheme opening in full at the end of the month. the fourth generation of the bikehangers has been tested to withstand five minutes of attack by security experts using hand tools and a power-drill and a minute and a half fending off an angle-grinder. as with pretty much every aspect of contemporary life, accessing the the bikehangers is achieved by means of the ubiquitous smartphone app. this can also monitor usage at the twenty-three units across the city, find any available spaces and allow payment.

which means, i'd imagine, that as one of only two people in the world without a smartphone, i'll still be carrying that d-lock.

tuesday 5 september 2023

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