all by itself

rusty chain

in the spirit of recycling, something that has gained a far higher degree of acceptance (if not necessity) in present times, islay is served by rejig, based in a warehouse of a place at whinpark in bridgend. though to all intents and purposes they are a funded offshoot of the local council, with a principal remit to organise what to do with the contents of those green wheelie bins and, in our case, the red bags of plastic bottles and cans usually left atop the newspapers and magazines, they have also become a repository for unwanted, but still usable items.

we had cause to use their collection services just recently when replacing desks in the office; before we could find the space to build and place the new, welcoming and slinky furniture, we had to have the outgoing incumbents removed. two chaps in red overalls arrived at the appointed hour, negotiated the somewhat narrow front door, and popped the aging desks in the back. i have no intention, for the time being, to educate you on the palaver that was delivery of the flatpacked newbies.

in the grand warehouse where our old desks now reside, there is a veritable cornucopia of unwanted but saleable items, including a huge array of books, items of furniture, garden implements, an exercise bike (nabbed for a pittance by marjory last week), and the occasional real bike. it is this latter edifice that concerns us today.

a young lady of my acquaint, recently returned from college, has had the excellent notion to eschew motorised transport and cycle to and from work and home, having rescued a full-suspension mountain bike from the aforementioned rejig warehouse. with a flat tyre at the front, you can likely guess whose back garden it has ended up in for repair. strangely, for it is the second example i have seen recently, the front forks had been fitted back to front, with the dropouts and brakes facing rearwards. repairs were time consuming, but reasonably simple; new cables, new front tyre and an inner-tube.

rusty chain

i am convinced that our local population believes that bicycle chains are coloured deep brown when new; i would be very suprised to learn if the local hardware store sells many cans of three-in-one oil for the purpose of keeping bicycle chains in pristine condition. it is common lore locally, that lubrication when related to machinery means only one thing; wd-40. with an ambient atmosphere of salt air and more than a few instances of precipitation, this so-called lubricant doesn't stand a chance, hence the rusting bicycle chains that often retain their shape when removed from the bike.

fortunately, in this case, there is just enough flexibility left amongst the 112 links to allow for pedalling of a forward nature, though i have been precautionary and liberally sprayed with lubricant by way of preventative medicine. i am confident that this will be the last dod of teflon bearing lubricant this chain is ever likely to see; or any other for that matter.

the chain truly has to be the hardest worked component on the bicycle, which is likely the very reason why it is necessary to replace it according to a pre-planned maintenance schedule. at the risk of stating the obvious, as chains wear in daily use, this wear also affects the chainrings and the cassette sprockets. changing the chain every three to four months can often be a more economic solution than waiting until it starts skipping under pressure and having to replace almost the entire drivetrain. or at least, until now, that was the current thinking.

if we take the ubiquitous ten-speed compatible chain (only campag have gone spinal tap), prices across the board average out at around £25. replace this on average every four months, and the annual cost will be a not too unreasonable £75. working on a schedule similar to the above, you could expect the chainrings and cassette to last at least three years, always assuming you pay a suitable amount of attention to keeping the necessary components, including the chain, lubricated. this should add little to the overall cost of bicycle living.

however, nothing stays the same forever, and it was probably only a matter of time before someone gave us a self-lubricating chain, obviating the need for anything from wd-40 all the way up to chain l no.5 to keep that lovely purr as the chain rolls through those ceramic bearing jockeys at the rear, and providing us with precision changing throughout the life of the chain.

rusty chain


in order to test this theory in the real world, i have, as of sunday 6th march, fitted a bbb bch-103l nickel-coated self-lubricating chain. according to the bbb catalogue 'installing a bbb self-lubricating chain will reduce the need to service your bike's drivetrain to a minimum. thanks to a unique two-layered coating on all of the chain parts, lubricating the chain becomes less necessary. due to friction caused during a ride, the bbb self-lubricating chain releases ptfe lubrication. under normal use, there is enough lubrication on the chain to cover 1500 kilometres before any maintenance is required.'

the chain is of quality build, with slotted side plates, hollow pins and in keeping with many a modern chain (except those from campagnolo, who would prefer you shelled out a substantial amount of money for the requisite eleven-speed tool), joining is by way of the appropriate power-link. if you'll pardon the pun, it's an absolute snap to use, and seems more than compatible (on this occasion) with a sram red groupset.

bbb self-lubricating chain

it is not too unseemly that we here take a look at the numbers. if i assume that the chain will be replaced after four months, if there is a self-lubricating expectancy of 1500 kilometres, that equates to 375 kilometres per month. in my case, if i take a conservative average of three days riding per week over four weeks, a total of twelve days, that works out at 36.5 kilometres per week. which means i already start at a disadvantage, because i cycled almost exactly double that distance yesterday alone. in fact, at this time of year, i average about 150 kilometres a week, meaning in a matter of ten weeks, or just over half the lifetime of the chain's lifecycle on the cielo, i will have to start maintaining the bbb self-lubricating chain.

as i may have pointed out above, islay's ambient atmosphere is not at all kind to metal products, so it will be interesting to see whether 1500 islay kilometres equate to the ones that bbb had in mind. at the moment, this may seem little more than an academic exercise, and you might be wondering at my implied cynicism with regard to the promises made for this product. let me bring you into the circumstances that have engendered this cynicism; the bbb bch-103l self-lubricating chain costs an eye opening £64.95, getting on for three times the cost of a standard chain.

surely the cost of purchasing a standard ten-speed chain and regularly putting a quality lubricant on each link, would be considerably lower than is being asked in this instance?

i intend to find out.

posted monday 7 march 2011


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dedicated to making it awesome

21st avenue bicycles

many a remark has been made regarding cycle shops in the uk and abroad, and not all of them in complimentary vein. while most of you reading likely have sufficient cycling knowledge and constitution to withstand the indifference or ignorance that has featured in stories, apocryphal or otherwise about the reception to be gained in more than one of the nation's cycle shops, those new to the game might not fare so well.

though i have brought this subject up before, and probably even brought to light the following (true) story, it may just bear repeating. of course, prior to plunging headlong into territory that could lose me as many friends as it might appease, i should point out that things may have changed for the better since i last bored you with my first and secondhand opinions.

mr hastings and i, on a visit to london a few years back, wandered aimlessly in our pre-iphone gps days, trying vainly to discover tour de ville. in the process of having no idea of where we were, we passed a rather nondescript shop window that subtly (beyond belief) advertised itself as a bike shop. quoting to ourselves the mantra in for a penny, in for a pound, we pushed open the door to be greeted with a veritable sea of finely crafted machines, including a brompton corner all of its own.

21st avenue bicycles

while loosely fingering attached price tags, attempting unsuccessfuly to unfold one of the aforementioned bromptons, and pulling brake levers, we both had to step to one side to allow past a member of staff intent on things other than enquiring as to whether we might wish a modicum of assistance. now i am willing to grant you the knowledge that neither of us had any intention of purchasing so much as an inner tube, but at the time of our getting in the way, neither of the two staff members we saw were aware of this.

and when we pulled open the front door to depart several minutes later, they were still unaware of this, having made no attempt whatsoever to ascertain the purpose of our visit. neither of us would have been so insensitive to have asked a rival concern the whereabouts of tour de ville, but in point of fact, we were not given the chance. so, you might ask, of what have i to complain, given that there was no intention to buy? well, it seems positively impolite, apart from anything else, not to have at least acknowledged our presence, and it hardly seems the ideal way to have a positive effect on the annual sales figures, to make no attempt to sell anything.

21st avenue bicycles

while i have here disparaged the non-existent service of a london store, i have experienced exactly the same invisibility in one of edinburgh's particularly well-known boutiques, so the practice is obviously no heeder of national boundaries.

though generally happy with my daily travails, and encouraged to think similarly of those of you reading, i would have thought the ideal of working in a bike shop for a living, however paltry, would be somewhat of a gas. imagine the luxury of being surrounded by by shiny bicycles, shiny components and other fun bicycle parts on a daily basis, along with the endless opportunity to converse with like-minded obsessives, and perhaps convert a few more en-route. there are few better placed to organise and publicise local bike rides, to have the likelihood of pimping one's own ride with discounted parts, and having free access to someone who can either fix those annoying noises emanating from the bottom bracket, or dish out appropriate advice on other mechanical ailments.

21st avenue bicycles

can we, therefore, agree on the premise that working in a bike shop offers the opporchancity to be a bundle of fun, mixed in with the semi-drudgery of re-stocking the shelves and changing the price-tags everytime the government decides vat needs to alter its percentage? and wouldn't it be just the finest advertisement for our cosy little world if those stepping through the front door were welcomed in the same way as visitors to the apple store? and had the more arcane specifics of the genre patiently explained in the same way?

of course, the majority of bicycle shops operate in just this way, but few receive deserved plaudits; it's far more satisfying and cathartic to write vitriol about the experience of poor service. and just to show how much fun can be had in the bicycle retail trade, 21st avenue bicycles of portland oregon have created possibly the finest video tour of any cycle shop in existence, portraying the eccentric and salutory behaviour of the staff behind and in front of the counter. this is probably just how it should be done, and were it not for the daily bus journey, i'd have my job application in the post come monday.

21st avenue bicycles

posted sunday 6 march 2011


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an interview with herbie sykes

maglia rosa

there's an article currently resident on bikebiz, a magazine and website aimed squarely at those involved in the bicycle trade, as to whether that very trade ought to pay more attention to bloggers (of which i am apparently one). traditionally, items for review, whether bicycles, clothing, components or books would be regularly be sent to cycle publications that relied on paper and ink for their stock in trade. in fact, until recently, campagnolo had an internal directive that prevented their marketing department from sending anything to other than traditional media (a directive now mellowed in favour of pixels). now, you will be unsurprised to hear, the appearance of blogging as a legitimate form of dissemination on many a subject, is seen as perhaps a more virulent and possibly speedier way of bringing the never ending flow of cycling paraphernalia to public view.

having come into this part of the business very gradually and with no specific background in cycling journalism, i am grateful that so many manufacturers are happy to send items for review, that i might force my own opinions upon them and, subsequently, you. i have been reviewing books for a lot longer, and not always about cycling, having filled this function for a number of publications outside the world of two wheels and a chainset. additionally, i have been extremely fortunate to have been asked by some of the world's finest cycling authors and publishers to proof their books or manuscripts prior to their being sent to press. not only does this do wonders for the ego, it has the not inconsiderable byproduct of allowing me to read cycling books several months or even years before they finally make it to print.

i have never met herbie sykes, though we have conversed electronically for many a long year. i am a great admirer of his writing; i know for a fact that i could never achieve in print what herbie has done, through the excellent eagle of the canavese and many of the articles that have appeared in rouleur magazine and procycling, and having read his latest epic maglia rosa (review to follow sooner rather than later), it seemed the ideal opportunity to ask him a bit more about how this substantial undertaking was achieved.

of course, herbie is now domiciled in his adopted home of italy, while i am still here on the scottish inner hebrides, so despite the flow of questions and answers that follow, we have still not met. but it's a highly worthwhile interview nonetheless.

read the interview

maglia rosa by herbie sykes is currently available from rouleur books priced at £29

posted saturday 5 march 2011


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cycling in the peak district by chiz dakin. cicerone press. softback 218pp illus. £12.95

cycling in the peak district

geography has never been a particularly strong point of mine, a failing that manages to cross continents. with the announcement that next year's north american handbuilt show was to be held in sacramento, it was mere seconds before google maps had to be approached to elucidate the location of this (apparently) californian town. far closer to home, it takes not too long on the bike of a sunday morning before the mighty dave t likens the occasional scrappy islay road to that of one in the peak district, though i am reliably informed that the surfaces are nearer to pristine than those of the inner hebrides. ah to be free of argyll and bute council.

while i have committed to nodding sagely when the peak district is introduced to the conversation, this bears no reference to my being able to place it in geographical context. in short, i know it to be south of the border, but that's pretty much the extent of my knowledge. the mighty dave has manfully offered to place it in some sort of spacial context; my brother resided in belper near derby for many a long year, and it seems that the peak district lies in close proximity to the north of there. but, lousy sibling that i am, i failed to visit him in his abode while that was still his residence. now that he has moved a lot further south, i fear i have lost the ideal opportunity to visit and make myself known to the peak of which we speak.

should, however, the status quo have been maintained with regard to familial location, one of the latest volumes to arrive from cicerone press would likely have made up for my brother's lack of interest or knowledge in the way of the cyclist. written by the sonically named chiz dakin, as with previous comprehensive volumes from this iconic and informative publisher, few, if any, stones have been left unturned. stones, we are introduced to by ms dakin, that straddle two formats; millstone and limestone. these two are the principal building blocks of the district which, i was even more educated to discover, is a national park.

those of you more acquainted with british geography and embedded hubs of cycling, will be sniggering loudly at my ignorance and naivety. whether this makes me qualified to review books concerned with places of which i have little acquaint, or whether it makes me the ideal customer at which cicerone books are aimed could be made the subject of lengthy debate, a debate i have no intention of engendering here and now.

the opening pages advise many of the details that the would be cycling adventurer would be likely to ask, but probably at the wrong time in the proceedings. ancilleries to the act of cycling itself such as geology, history, wildlife, culture and the like are covered comprehensively yet briefly, creating a web of scenery that may form an informed backdrop to any prospective pedalist. perhaps more saliently, there are directions on just how one might transport oneself and bicycle to a suitable starting point in middle england. of course, it is also helpful to know when would be a pragmatic time to arrive and just where to access suitable accommodation for the trip.

assuming all the above to be in order, chiz dakin has then provided a total of twenty routes plus a five day tour that might be undertaken by the intrepid. with many of the routes following less than metalled roads, the basic information heading each route is perhaps not as encouraging for those on road bikes as it is for those on knobblies and springs. however, inspired by the exertions of the rapha continental on roads less smooth across the united states, perhaps ms dakin underestimates the tenacity of the modern rouleur. then again, perhaps not. there is, of course, always the cyclocross bike.

directions, maps and commentary are all helpfully comprehensive, but if i might be allowed a minor criticism, it is of several of the captions applied to the small colour photographs scattered willfully about the compact and bijou volume. while most are written to elucidate the reader as to the location or feature captured on film and thus perfunctory in their approach, one or two are bordering on the mundane. 'quiet lane signpost captioning a photograph of a 'quiet lane' signpost; a figure on a mountain bike riding a gravel track captioned typical terrain on an easy route. i'm sure you get the idea. it is sad to see a book of such credibility and informity be undermined by somewhat uninspiring picture captions. if it is truly obvious what the picture depicts, leave it alone, and if you can't think of a caption of merit, either leave the photo uncaptioned or leave the photo out altogether.

a minor gripe against a book that does exactly what it says on the cover, but if you're me with little real chance of making it to the peak district in the first place, publications such as this can fulfil a secondary role as escapist literature, escapism which is not enhanced by one of the types of terrain a rider will encounter on a hard route.

however, superficiality aside, if i ever make it to the peak district, this is the first thing being packed in the brooks saddle bag.

cicerone press


posted friday 4 march 2011


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the best in the world?


as mr distefano in portland was keen to point out at the beginning of february, he considers the superbowl to be the championship of the world, and indeed, the most important event in the world (i believe he rounded that last statement off with the word 'ever'). this despite the blatantly obvious fact that only north american teams participate. chris has an unusual sense of humour and it is likely best to take the above with just a modicum of salt, but it doesn't detract from the fact that there will be many who seriously think the very same. baseball, after all has the annual world series despite the fact that, yet again, no team outside the united states was asked to take part.

i can already hear the naysayers pointing out that this is a feature somewhat peculiar to those across the pond, and is born either of arrogance, insularity or more likely sheer obsession. but it's worth considering whether those of us in the world of road racing are actually that different. this year's world road race championship takes place at the end of september in copenhagen, a geographical location not renowned for its alpine climbs, its searing descents or frequent interruptions of pave. if i might quote from a press release pertaining to the tour of britain (which, this year, really is almost a tour of britain, with a start in scotland, finish in london, and an excursion into wales en route)

"with the world championships in copenhagen just a week after the tour of britain, this will be a dress rehearsal for some of the world's top sprinters to go head-to-head before the worlds. the course in denmark looks to be suited to the sprinters, so there is a very real chance that we could see a world champion in waiting winning in london at the tour of britain."


i fear that you would have to cast your mind back quite some number of years to find a world road race championship that didn't, in some way, suit the sprinters. i know that every year, riders like pettachi, cavendish et al, play down their chances of victory and a set of very nice coloured hoops on a white jersey, but when was the last time you read pre-race commentary that indicated those with climbing prowess might reach the line in front? even looking back to the 1996 race, held in switzerland, a country well-known for bumpy bits, the winner was johan museeuw, that well known king of the mountains challenger. that museeuw took the jersey slighlty softens any prejudice towards classics riders, but the very nature of the competition as a one-day race at the tail end of the season does, i believe, mitigate against our acceptance of its importance in the panoply of all things cycling.

many riders participate in one or two of the major tours (though i hear cavendish is lined up to attempt all three this year), and many of those riders excel over the course of three weeks, and less so in the one-day classics. so to borrow a metaphor from american football, could we not level the playing field by instilling a system of points gained across the season that would produce a champion, something similar, in fact, the uci world cup series of yesteryear, but organise it fairly across the entire season. or perhaps, if the degree of randomness currently on display is to be maintained, the uci could designate a different race each year as the battleground for the rainbow stripes, rather than nominating different countries each year to host the ride on an almost entirely artificial route?

world roads race

i say this not to increase or decrease my popularity amongst the great unwashed, nor in an effort to prove how little i really know about these things, but it concerns me that the guy on top of the podium each year is not truly the world champion because of the circumstances under which the jersey was gained. neither is this intended to denigrate those who have successfully campaigned, trained and won, but other than his early career world's success, i do not remember larry competing in the season finale, nor, for that matter, bertie or one or two other race victors of note. if the best riders from the rest of the year are not present, how can it realistically be trumpeted as the world championships? surely the best in the world would have to be present to fulfil the trade description?

or maybe we start the season at the tour down under and knockout all those who finish below 30th place. keep that up through the rest of the season and see who's left at the end.

did i just say that out loud?


posted thursday 3 march 2011


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cycling at any cost?

port mor wheelers

you will perhaps recall that mr hastings and i set up and operated port mor wheelers cycle club for kids, surprisingly enough at port mor centre in port charlotte. we start the 2011 sessions this coming saturday morn, and it is partly recognition of such that provided the impetus for the following article.

the directors and staff of the centre have been kind enough to allow the use of their grounds for this venture over the past couple of years free of charge, we have received valuable assistance from brian smith at cyclevox and the guys at bikefood, while and jez and i are only too pleased to put something back into an activity that really hasn't done us any harm over the years. in the spirit of this altruism, when two older boys turned up last year with pretty much full-size bikes, but an inability to ride them, mr hastings and i did our backs no good whatsoever over the course of two or three sessions, holding on to saddles while running across the substantial expanse of camp ground, hoping that these two lads would gain sufficient confidence to fly the nest (so to speak).

one or two of you may be asking the same question that threatened to leave our lips as to why their parents could not have undertaken this very task prior to their attending saturday morning wheelers. the general notion of the club was to show kids of primary school age (cycling seems not to be cool enough for those of a greater age) that cycling can be a lot of fun, with no pressure and no specific learning outcomes; that's what the cycling proficiency test is for, and we wanted an antidote to that. thus, it was not unreasonably expected that those attending would already be able to cycle, even if only a bit. we have successfully graduated at least two from the trials and tribulations of stabilisers to the freedom of the open road (figure of speech; they're not actually allowed on the open road without adult supervision).

olympic velodrome

the good part of our sciatica inducing instruction sessions was two resounding successes; both lads were able to climb aboard their slightly oversized and overweight bicycles and ride off into the sunset. the bad bit? well, they never returned. we did meet their father from time to time, who assured us they were both more than keen to join in and at the very earliest opportunity, but up till now, we've not seen hide nor hair of them again. philosophically speaking this is not seriously demoralising as we both tend to act without expectation; things will be as things will be. but sometimes situations such as this can be just a smidgeon demoralising, particularly when, as i said earlier, it's really something their parents should have been doing.

not every aspect of cycling bears so little by way of expense; parents are generally only expected to supply a packet of biscuits and a bottle of juice now and again for those hungry, thirsty moments after a morning's hard graft on bicycles. we will all have found to our cost (pardon the pun) that a growing obsession with two wheels and a chainset (or drivetrain, as the mighty dave likes to grumble about) tends to have a correspondingly lightening effect on the bank balance, though there are many other trifles upon which money could be spent with less than half the health benefits. but at least in such cases, the money is ours to spend.

olympic velodrome

it's the spending of our money on much trumpeted cycling facilities that concerns me somewhat. i'm thinking specifically of the impending 2012 olympic games about which we will no doubt be hearing more and more as the start date looms ever closer. last year, richard moore wrote an enlightening piece in the guardian alerting us to the dave brailsford's reduction in his cycling budget by around a million and a half (if memory serves well). i was ready to accept and sympathise with the poor man's plight until it was subsequently pointed out that this left the impoverished track team with a mere £26 million (annually i believe) to work with. before you join my finger pointing, it is only fair to state that most of the other olympic participating sports had budgets commensurate with the likelihood of their gaining medals, all reaching well into double figures with the word million appended. to my mind, a ludicrous amount to spend on the attempt to win some bits of metal on a ribbon, particularly during the current worldwide economic crisis. i have a feeling there are more worthy causes to which such unimaginable sums of money could be applied.

if only i had done more research at the time, i would have been, perhaps, less outraged of bowmore at the money seemingly required to provide some (albeit very good) cyclists with the chance to win gold for their country. such research may have brought up the recently publicised fact that the olympic velodrome had been the first of the planned complex to be completed on time and on budget; a budget of £96 million. hopefully my scribblings over the past sixteen or so years will have convinced most of you that cycling occupies a substantial portion of my day to day, and that i am generally in favour of anything that does well to promote cycling. but i found it very hard, in the face of such a substantial amount of pound notes, to justify this level of spending on only one particular cycling discipline. i appreciate that britain is lacking just a bit in the velodrome department, but considering such cost to build a pringle, it is easy to see why that is the current state of affairs.

olympic velodrome

however, just to add insult to injury and clobber any appeasement once and for all, was the report in a daily newspaper the day after, that the building will require an annual subsidy from the public purse of around £400,000 to operate, even though it has been grudgingly admitted that it's the one olympic facility likely to have year-round use after the olympics is all done and dusted. the bmx track is currently under construction, a facility that will be subsequently modifed post games to allow the public free access; the cost for this is reckoned to be £1 million. i am not sufficiently well versed in economics to figure out why a difference of £92 million between two cycle facilities is a) acceptable and b) allowed in the first place. as a perhaps inept comparison, it almost appears as if the rarefied atmosphere of track cycling is becoming the opera of the two wheeled world.

no doubt there are perfectly good reasons and explanations for all of the above, some of which may be able to convince me of the error of my ways, but i'll take some convincing. cycling cures all ills, it is the solution to every problem and it always leads to a coffee and carrot cake, but i'd prefer if the crosshairs of public spending on cycling were aimed in a more egalitarian and, dare i say it, pragmatic fashion.

or are the emperor's new clothes truly made from merino wool?


posted wednesday 2 march 2011


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because no-one ever said 'i wish i'd gone in to the office more'

sun over loch indaal

as the nineteen eighties became the nineteen nineties, an initiative of someone or other led to a string of so-called telecottages being set up around some of the more far-flung nooks and crannies of the scottish highlands and islands. funding was supplied by highlands and island enterprise while computers and telecoms came from british telecom, or whatever they were known as at that point in time. one of these electronic cupboards was located in islay, providing me with a modest degree of freelance employment in my early years in the hebrides.

they were not only ahead of their time but also ten years too late; the premise of their origination was based on the (forlorn) hope that local business would form an orderly queue at the front door, eager to have their accounts, stationary and administrative duties handled by the tech-savvy staff feverishly beavering within. of course, by the advent of the nineties, personal computers had become reasonably affordable from a business perspective, and local businesses of varying hue were already in charge of their own destinies, thank you very much. however, a number of computers connected to what, at that time, passed for the interweb were all but unused apart from by the centre manager who fulfilled the role of nerdy geek. bulletin boards and rudimentary e-mail were of little use to real people, and it wasn't long before the connecting wires were removed on the basis of being uneconomic.

tractor at loch gorm

none of these telecottages still exist in their original form, though many have moved with the times and morphed into some form of community resource. we've all got computers or smartphones these days, and even internet cafes are very thin on the ground. e-mails have become bloated well beyond their original intentions, particularly in comparison to the brevity of those all but incomprehensible text messages. there can be few of us who haven't an example of that sitting in our inboxes, to wit, those formed in impeccable html; graphics abound, or those with endless small print advising what to do with the mail if in fact it has not been sent to the person to whom it was intended. a more recent addition, in the light of our green aspirations is the furtive question 'do you need to print this e-mail?'

i can recall the advent of the personal computer being once hailed as the beginning of the paperless society; reality has proved that wrong on so many levels, but it seems that more paper is involved in the conducting of electronic business than was the case pre-computer. and our lives are all but ruled by the devices nowadays, whether the fast disappearing tower system with monitor, laptop, smartphone or ipad. we are tied to a pixelated view of the world, sitting in seats that promise comfort and support, but apparently not in this universe. though health and safety dictates the necessity of removing oneself for around fifteen minutes in every hour to avoid eye, arm, back and shoulder strain, the premise of modern society tends to prevent that happening with any regularity, and very much to our collective detriment.

twmp hebridean

ibis cycles have adorned parts of their website with a logo bearing an uncanny resemblance to one of those explicit stickers that seem affixed to many a hip-hop recording, except this one is more positive in its outlook: ride more, work less. it's a directive most of us would be happy to follow, and one that i had/have every intention of making a part of my working life, safe in the knowledge that much of what i do has to be done, but it can often be up to me just when that might happen. this morning started seriously overcast and drizzly, not weather conducive to going for a bike ride as an alternative to keyboard and mouse. it seemed another day of video editing was in prospect.

but, with an uncanny sense of timing, alien to any highland bagpiper, the sun came out, blue sky took over, and 'twas a no-brainer to let the screen-saver take over the imac. i cannot tell a lie; coffee was involved in the afternoon's rant on a bike, but for the bulk of my skive time, single-track roads more often occupied by tractors, quad bikes and sheep were eagerly trammeled without a trace of guilt. because no-one ever said "i wish i'd gone into the office more". ok, so i'm going to have to work like a demon for the next three days to catch up and complete the week's pre-determined quota of pixels, moving or otherwise, but it was worth it.

ride more, work less.. (thank you scot.)


posted tuesday 1 march 2011


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