book review - bikie | september 03
book review - inside the peloton | november 03

all roads lead to…

it's possible that those of you who read the comic will have noticed a week or so ago, some members of a cycle club invited their local councillor out on a weekend bike ride to point out the disastrous state of the roads in their particular area. and all credit to the councillor that he took them up on their offer and joined them for said reason. and even more credit to the guy when he was able to arrange to have some pot holes on a local climb filled in within a day or two.
we have, like many areas of the country, a state of quickly deteriorating roads on islay, so much so, that there ar certain parts of the island that it is just no fun to cycle un;ess on a full suspension mountain bike. the colnago and i do not like these bits of raod and i must confess that the thought of making an open invitation to the local roads department administrator (in the loosest sense of the word) to join me on a weekend jaunt, is particularly enticing. i'm pretty sure that he would refuse, if not only because he knows how bad the roads are but also because i don't think he's fit enough to cycle to the shops.a large part of islay consists of peat moss - hardly the most substantial base on which to build roads. because of its consistency, or lack thereof, the roads tend to subside slightly in various places, resulting in cracked tarmac leading on to holes of varying size. since the sepa directive regarding industrial waste extended to cover the
outpourings from the island's distilleries, all the waste that used to flow into the sea, much to the benefit of the local sealife population, has now to be transported by tanker to a location on the north of the island to be pumped into the channel between islay and jura. so now the problem is colonsay's and not ours.
these tankers are not particularly small, nor light and since islay's roads make the m8 look like a motorway, the surface is showing serious signs of degradation and they're not spending any money on repairing them. while this might be a minor irritant in a motor car, it is a serious safety problem on a colnago running 23mm axial pros pumped up to 120psi. it used to be that i could freewheel down main street of a quiet sunday morning and easily take the right hander at the bottom without any serious braking. unfortunately this corner now resembles a relief map of afghanistan and if i don't brake completely, c & e roy's on the corner would have a whole different window display.
now it is entirely possible that if the motorists of the country or even of the island were to create sufficient noise regarding the state of the roads, something might, just might, be done about it, financial restrictions not withstanding. but my incessant witterrings about how uncomfortable it is and how dangerous it is to cycle along some of these roads meet only with sympathy and no action at all (not unless you call 'sniggering' action).
islay, along with many parts of rural scotland, depends very much on tourism for its livelihood, and an increasing number of these tourists either arrive on bikes, bring bikes with them, or hire bikes when they arrive and the state of the roads on which they are being encouraged to cycle is not conducive to encouraging repeat business.
at some time during the coming months, the national byways project is due to launch several routes around and through islay but i don't see the uptake being very rewarding unless somebody does something about the roads. why is it that those in charge of the roads departments never seem to be cyclists? perhaps car drivers should be banned from elegibility for any administrative position within the local roads' departments.
and i will probably win the tour de france this year

Remember, you can still read the review of 'the dancing chain' the utterly excellent book on the history of the derailleur bicycle by clicking here

any of the books reviewed on the washing machine post can probably be purchased from or

as always, if you have any comments on this nonsense, please feel free to e-mail and thanks for reading.

this column almost never appears in the dead tree version of the ileach but appears, regular as clockwork, on this website every two weeks. (ok so i lied) sometimes there are bits added in between times, but it all adds to the excitement.

on a completely unrelated topic, ie nothing to do with bicycles, every aspect of the washing machine post was created on apple macintosh ibook and imac computers, using adobe golive 5 and adobe photoshop 6.0.1. needless to say it is also best viewed on an apple macintosh computer.