sram's digital age

over the course of the weekend, i was privileged to hold a one hour rehearsal with two of scotland's finest jazz musicians, this in preparation for a gig at the islay jazz festival in early october. following this, the saxophonist e-mailed the bass player and i a note of the tune arrangements on which we'd all agreed, augmented with a request for my mobile phone number in order to keep in touch in the interim. one or two of you will recognise what a pointless request that was (i do not own a mobile phone). however, on receipt of my reply to that effect, her response was 'what a great idea'.

that's not the first time someone has responded in that manner.

but then at sunday lunch in debbie's, having been joined by a new member of the peloton, he was asked for his mobile details in order to incorporate him into the club chat room, the existence of which, i must confess, i was blissfully unaware. and, of course, as a confirmed luddite bereft of mobile phone, i am unable to be a part. it will not surprise you to learn that this bothers me not one whit.

the same applies to the pipe band. there is apparently a private facebook page through which pipers and drummers make each other aware of practice times and venues, any cancellations and upcoming engagements. which would explain why i only discovered on saturday evening, the existence of a tuesday evening event at which my percussive efforts are required.

and, it seems, because of this almost wholesale reliance on digital technology, the fine folks at sram corporation have taken this as a green light to infect almost their entire line of componentry with digital, wireless technology. a bit like the mobile phone and its ever-changing colours and screen sizes. i do have history with so-called technological improvements, though in earlier years, this featured predominantly mechanical differences such as oversized and integrated headsets, press-fit bottom bracket bearings and a few complementary items. but now, it seems, wireless electrons are gaining the upper hand.

and though it is sram who have released a short youtube video promoting their electronic ambitions for the present and future, you can bet your bottom bracket that the chaps and chapesses at campagnolo and shimano are working on remarkably similar developments.

who ever would have thought that a promotional video for bicycle componentry would have had its participants subtitled as 'category manager for digital integration', 'global director of advanced development', or introduce the educated opinion of a 'philosophy and cognitive science professor'. suddenly my plans to replace the cables on my ritchey logic seem decidedly low tech. but then, that decidedly low tech allowed me to advise our new velo club member on how to adjust his rear derailleur when the chain commenced making untoward noises on the road to loch gorm. had he been riding di2, eps or axs wi-fli, i fear he'd have been stuck with the noise.

of course, technology progresses whether any of us want it or not. already the local council are investigating the possibilities of converting all of their park and pay car parking to an app-based system, meaning those without access to a mobile phone might experience some difficulty in parking legally. and when renewing my broadband contract during last week, the helpful gentleman at british telecom made mention of the fact that, come 2025, they will be switching off the copper-wire pstn system, shifting the nation's phones to broadband, for which he kindly sent a new broadband phone free of charge.

this of course, means that when the power goes off, so does the phone system. the manual for this new phone advises customers of this potential state of affairs, suggesting that it might be prudent to keep a fully charged mobile phone nearby, just in case of emergency. however, on islay at least, and depending on which service provider powers your mobile phone, when the power goes off, so do the phone masts. i do worry about how the elderly, such as my mother, will cope, given that she does not subscribe to broadband and nor does she have a mobile phone.

i have a sneaking suspicion that all this has not been fully thought through.

and that sneaking suspicion has already found its way into velocipedinal matters. i have long contended that electronic gear shifting is a solution looking for a problem, and despite watching sram's latest video, i see no reason to alter that stance. with shimano having electrified dura-ace, ultegra and 105, and sram doing likewise across their top three groupsets, there's really only campagnolo left with which to make a valid comparison. their super record mechanical, rim-brake groupset can be purchased for around £2,300, while the electronic rim-brake eps version retails at nearer £3,500. yet both accomplish exactly the same thing.

i defy any user of the latter to claim that it has made their cycling experience physically less taxing. it's hardly the hardest part of a bike ride to push a lever and change gear. and despite having personally fitted a mechanical, rim-brake version of campagnolo record to the ritchey over two years ago, it has yet to require any cable adjustment of front or rear derailleurs.

sram's contentions seem to be based around the widespread knowledge that, because modern-day life is overlayered with a plethora of digital technology, that the cycle industry ought to follow suit. according to the video (link below) the addition of numerous wireless electronic developments can only enhance the cycling experience. they refer here to the ability to customise bike settings via the inevitable app, tyre valve devices that advise on tyre pressure, dependent on the terrain over which the bicycle is being ridden, and for those in the offroad world, front and rear shocks that talk to each other wirelessly, making adjustments on the fly, all in the search for that ultimate cycling experience.

based purely on the comparison between campagnolo's two groupsets, it's obvious that refining the so-called cycling experience is going to increase the price of admission, one that's hardly insignificant at present. watching the video, i couldn't help thinking that much of what sram appear to be working on, was being done because the technology exists to allow it, rather than the fact that there was any public demand or underlying need to do so.

sunday morning's bike ride was as enjoyable as its ever been, enjoyment that i know would not have been greater had i had access to a power-meter, strava, electronic shifting or a device advising of my optimum tyre pressure. and i also know that, had the weather been particularly inclement, the existence of a home zwift setup would not have presented itself as a viable alternative. after all, following 65km on a turbo, there isn't a debbie's to pop into for a soya latte and double-egg roll, along with idle banter amongst the peloton.

of course, there are situations, as described in the video, where the technology has enabled those with particular disabilities to experience the joys of cycling every bit as much as do we, under the umbrella of access for all. and there are developments that can improve cycling safety that should hardly be casually disparaged by the likes of yours truly. those are particularly admirable, but surely come under the heading of a means to an end. i can't help thinking that some of the other stuff has become something of an end in itself.

as an admitted luddite, there's probably never going to be a time when i offer a text-based round of applause to sram, shimano or campagnolo for the next digital gee-gaw that emanates from their research labs. a bike ride is a special event, no matter when or how it takes place, and personally, it is a means of escaping my voice over internet protocol phone system and the endless range of technology and software that is a part of daily life. imagine how distraught i was last week to learn that japan's roland corporation had purchased drum workshop, purveyors of what i believe to be amongst the finest acoustic drums on the planet. roland, at least until now, have concerned themselves solely with electronic keyboards, guitar synthesisers and electronic drumsets. wooden drums that make a noise when you hit them without plugging in, are as much a source of solace as are bicycles bereft of electrons.

remember when we just used to go for a bike ride?

sram - riding into the digital age

monday 19 september 2022

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the northern line cycling calendar 2023

northern line calendar 2023

i know we've had this conversation before, and i've no doubt that we'll have it again, but outside is beginning to look and feel very autumnal, even though, officially, there's still a week to go before the end of summer. of course, that could be a regional thing; if you're reading this in the far south, just back from a ride as described in friday's book review, perhaps you have a distinctly quizzical look on your visage. or perhaps you're about to participate in one of the world championship events in australia, where everything is topsy turvy.

as a recognised wimp, my brief saturday ride featured, for the first time in many a long day, full-fingered gloves. granted, i felt a bit of a pratt by the time i'd reached debbie's for lunch, because, to be honest, it really wasn't that cold. the thermal gilet was overkill too.

northern line calendar 2023

however, the foregoing is really of no great nevermind, for irrespective of the meteorological outlook for your particular area, there's already a uk tv channel broadcasting christmas movies, 24/7. and even if we're all agreed that this might be a tad early to begin the festivities, particularly since mrs washingmachinepost and i have yet to have our summer holidays, the christmas industry seems bent on introducing a large soupcon of 'ho!, ho!, ho!' earlier every year.

that, i'm sure, must bring a great deal of confusion for many of junior members of society. hallowe'en has yet to take place (still over a month distant), while north america is nowhere near thanksgiving. yet already there are shop windows stuffed with cotton wool, santas, faux presents and associated paraphernalia. how long will it be before cadbury's cream eggs are available in late november?

northern line calendar 2023

that said, there are benefits to be gained from such santa-based excess, predominantly for those of you who, like me, struggle to choose suitable christmas presents for their better halves. once you're past a certain age, a quick survey of all that we possess very quickly brings the knowledge that neither of us really needs any more stuff, yet societal norms have made it all but compulsory, resulting in even more stuff, much of which simply takes up cupboard space.

unless, of course, that better half is of a velocipedinal persuasion. should such be the case (sadly not in thewashingmachinepost household), might i suggest not only a cycling related gift that won't break the bank, but will also prove most practical throughout the following year.

northern line calendar 2023

don and sarah at the northern line have impeccable taste when it comes to offering aesthetic items of velocipedinal concern. aside from the many posters that have previously featured on the post, once a year they introduce their annual thematic cycling calendar. for 2023, the calendar theme is stage by stage, featuring thirteen (december 2022 is included) some of the memorable stage races from cycling history.

'The breakaways, the lung busting battles in the mountains and the game changing time-trials. Each race has been re-imagined as a promotional poster with details of the start and finish destinations of each race.'

amongst the impressive artwork is the 1968 giro d'italia that signalled the emergence of eddy merckx, the 1964 tour de france featuring the rivalry between jacques anquetil and raymond poulidor, right up to the pandemic era, 2020 tour and the emergence of tadej pogacar as the man with successful designs on the yellow jersey. obviously enough, there are many other significant years from cycling's rich heritage, colourfully designed to brighten the bedroom, hall, kitchen or office wall for thirteen of the coming months. and all for a mere £12.95.

your wall needs this.

northern line cycling calendar 2023

sunday 18 september 2022

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car free road

i moan rather a lot. regular readers will already have realised that. nothing's ever good enough, or how i think it ought to be. things could always be a lot better. if apportioned to personal circumstances or habits, that's a fairly commendable attitude to hold, but if simply applied to everyday happenings, particularly those curated by others with at least a soupcon of altruism, it smacks of arrogance, insolence or downright criticism. however, i'd like to think that i only moan about things about which i care. as i once wrote to a previous editor of the comic, i wouldn't complain about stuff if it didn't bother me.

that's perhaps a tautological statement; why would anyone moan about stuff if it didn't bother them? and though i consider victor meldrew to be somewhat of a hero, i'm fervently hoping that i have not acquired the habit of moaning simply for the sake of doing so.

but then along comes june's national bike week, followed by national bike to work day in august each year, and now we can look forward to world car free day on thursday 22 september. according to the website one day a year is set aside to try and avoiding using cars and cycling, walking or using public transport instead. car free day aims to take the heat off the planet for just one day by encouraging people to be less dependent on their cars and try alternatives.

you will note the phrase, '... aims to take the heat off the planet for just one day', a sentiment with which i have a certain sympathy, but ultimately, there's as much point in doing so, as there is setting aside a single national bike week, or encouraging car drivers to cycle to work on a single day per year. these events may have made a decent amount of sense when they were first thought of, but things have moved on by quite some distance since then. climate change has become a major item on everyone's agenda, and to be quite blunt, one car free day per year is going to make as much impact as a marshmallow on tarmac.

additionally, would it not make better sense if the bike to work day became far more open ended, culminating in an endless series of incentives to ditch the car for a lot more than a single day? while you and i might be perfectly willing to ride all year round in all weathers, i think it might be expecting a smidgeon too much to believe that having opted to ride a bike, the apprentice velocipedinists will adopt our all-weather stance and do likewise. but i see little problem in hoping that those new to the way of the saddle, might find it within themselves to ride during the summer, reverting either to personal or public transport when the climate turns a tad inclement.

'car free day' exists, i'm led to believe, as a means of reducing pollution within cities and urban areas, though leaving the car at home even in rural or island locations, is bound to have a similar effect, if slightly diluted. but realistically, is anyone going to notice the difference after an all too brief 24 hour period? consider the dramatic reduction in car pollution across the world following the onset of the covid 19 pandemic, a situation that many city leaders promised they would do their level best to perpetuate for the future.

we can all see how that worked out.

so if my remarks and narrative featured above come across as moaning, then so be it. but i'm only doing so because it bothers me greatly.

saturday 17 september 2022

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traffic-free cycle trails south east england. nick cotton & kathy rogers. vertebrate publishing softback 175pp illus. £20

traffic free cycle trails cotton & rogers

the concept of traffic-free is one that rarely exists nowadays, other than across gravel tracks, or alternative offroad scenarios. and to a certain extent, that's where the new-kid-on-the-block, the eponymous gravel bike makes its strategic play. many of the 'gravel' tracks that exist across the nation, have been there for years, often longer than any nearby stretches of distinctly non-traffic free tarmac. and given that cyclocross has existed since the early 20th century, i continually ask myself why these have only come to the fore in recent years?

another of vertebrate publishing's authors, markus stitz, has made a tidy career out of researching gravel and offroad routes across scotland, almost all of which have been available to us for many a long year, yet apparently unrecognised in their own domain. some, of course, have featured in the world of mountain biking, but it has seemingly taken the advent of the gravel bike to make any inroads to their use.

of course, it could well be that the never-ending increase in motor trafiic, along what where once quiet country lanes, and the acknowledged deterioration of driving standards (noticeable even on islay), has encouraged more of us to look for alternatives. it's an unavoidable fact that if the bicycle goes head to head with the motor car, there's only going to be one winner, and it's probably not going to be us. whether this has been fostered by the gravel bike, or is simply a happy coincidence for those in business of making them, is somewhat beyond the scope of this review.

traffic free cycle trails cotton & rogers

however, rest assured, whether you own a gravel bike or not, the majority of the routes depicted by authors nick cotton and kathy rogers, are traversable on virtually any type of bicycle, though you might want to check your tyres before travelling.

the proof of the pudding, when it comes to cycling guides, is whether they instil a sense of confidence and adventure in folks like me, who have never visited many of the regions with which the publication is concerned. in this particular case, i've rarely visited south-east england, so, on the offchance that an opportunity comes to pass, would i feel comfortable taking my cyclocross bike with me?

the answer is a resounding yes.

however, before getting down to the nitty gritty of each individual ride, there's a short chapter covering what might reasonably be referred to as frequently asked questions. things such as 'how do i find a trail near me?', or 'what sort of bike should i use?', all of which are clearly answered, along with any salient advice the authors feel should be imparted to the unwary. the book is divided into sections dealing with different terrain and style of riding: forestry, mountain biking, national cycle network and other rides which don't fit into those categories.

The routes themselves are sub-divided into colour-coded regions, including southern counties, western counties, greater london and eastern counties. the beginning of each chapter sports an ordnance survey map on which each ride is clearly numbered, allowing a choice of route perhaps nearby the existence of which had passed you by. each is standardised in a remarkably clear and concise format, offering a brief overview of the ride and the area.

traffic free cycle trails cotton & rogers

'The name, centurion Way was suggested by a local schoolboy and is based on the fact that the path crosses the course of a Roman road. [...] The Chichester to Midhust railway was opened in 1881 and was finally closed in 1991. In 1994 the county council purchased the railway line and the old railway line was converted for recreational use.'

alongside descriptions such as the above, are details of which you might wish to take note. items such as the starting and finishing points, the total distance and the authors' categorisation. the majority of rides are well under 20km, so these are the sort of routes along which you'd saunter, rather than of expedition distance; probably the sort of routes along which you could take the kids, if you were of a mind to do so (in fact one or two of the routes feature illustrations of parents doing just that.)

this is not a book from which you'd derive your bedtime reading, but assuming you fancy a quiet ride in the country, untroubled by motor traffic, there's plenty from which to choose. that said, none are of a length that would encourage the hike from the hebrides, but if you just happened to be in the area...

friday 16 september 2022

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from the inside out

jura road

i recall a conversation with the inestimable graeme obree where i mentioned that he must surely be gratified that so many more had taken to the bicycle following the sporting successes of not only himself and chris boardman, but more recently of chris hoy. unpredictable as ever, graeme replied to the effect that he preferred it when cycling was less popular, because the roads were a tad quieter with fewer bikes. i can understand from where that came; in the late 1990s into the early 2000s, i was the sole cyclist on islay; i was master of all i surveyed (sort of).

but from a personal point of view, i rather looked forward to having company every now and again. sure, nowadays i cycle alone each and every saturday, but then there's the sunday velo club ride where i can be left behind by the others, the sort of collective approach that brings joy to all. however, that's a somewhat narcissistic view, given that it pays attention solely to the converted, giving little heed to those who have yet to find their way.

but aside from the latter, there may be those who, having watched the cost of filling their petrol tanks increase rather a lot lately, might harbour designs on a bicycle. in many rural areas (and, it has to be said, urban and city areas too) daily trips can be remarkably short. as i have said to the point of boredom, bowmore village is only one mile from one end to the other, a distance that i walk twice every monday evening without any difficulty whatsoever. why there are others who drive far less than that to and from work each day, is still a great mystery to me.

but, while it can occasionally be fun to snipe from the sidelines, it would behove us well to look more favourably on our potential apprentices. though many of us here will have taken to the saddle with no external persuasions, not everybody is built the same way, and it would seem only right and proper that, if they're going to learn even the basics, it's probably better that they do so from what passes as local expertise. but just because you and i know how to pedal confidently, doesn't mean that we have the faintest idea of how to teach others.

thankfully, cycling uk has its finger on the pulse (so to speak).

referred to as shift, if you live in scotland, there are grants of up to £1500 to help support those who'd like a piece of the velocipedinal action. to paraphrase the cycling uk (scotland) website, "Using modules specially designed by Cycling UK, you can access expert support as well as funding to run activities that will help people jump on a bike, instead of into their car.
From cycle training and confidence boosting sessions to cargo bike trials for local businesses, we will help your ideas flourish. One of our local development officers will be there to support you every step of the way, with access to training, networking and expert advice."

a few years past, we did make some inroads into this situation with the help of cyclinguk, when bruichladdich distillery held a big bike revival in the distillery courtyard. aside from advice on cycling, mechanical advice and assistance, cycling uk kindly brought a range of e-bikes for attendees to try-out, an exercise that resulted in several folks purchasing e-bikes of their own. none of those who attended found their way to the sunday rides, but, to be honest, that was never part of the cunning plan. if your enthusiasm is greater than your expertise, fear not, for that can be provided by the folks at cycling uk, along with specialist training and assistance with marketing any events you may wish to hold.

this may be particularly apt on islay, if only because it has been chosen as one of six islands intended to achieve net-zero by 2040. though there is government support for the bigger picture, actually achieving that target will necessarily include many smaller, incremental projects, such as persuading more folks to leave the car at home and take a bike ride instead. though the net-zero islands project is at the very early stages, it would make sense for those of us in the velo club to find our own way to contribute, safe in the knowledge that net zero won't be happening exclusively at the behest of a regular sunday ride.

according to cyclinguk development officer, ralph jessop, for those, like me, domiciled in the rural idyll, there's rural connections, similar in intent to shift, but more cognisant of the specifics of rural life. there are volunteering opportunities for those who'd like to become ride leaders, help teach others how to ride a bike, help those less mechanically adept to look after their bicycles, or volunteer as a ride buddy, to cycle with someone less experienced in the velocipedinal art.

don't get me wrong, cycling is perfectly capable of punching above its weight, and it will always get there in the end. but sometimes a little well-aimed assistance wouldn't go amiss.

cyclinguk shift | cyclinguk rural connections

thursday 15 september 2022

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the right direction?

stromer s-pedelec

last friday afternoon, when delivering copies of the local newspaper to debbie's in bruichladdich, the conditions were, to put it succinctly, very much in our favour. though not what might be referred to as strong winds, the draught pushing us down the strand resulted in a 27.5kph average over a 14km ride. for many, that might seem nothing to write home about, but for an ageing old fart such as yours truly, it was a source of comfort.

and as if to prove that the old dog still has something in the legs, at the end of the return trip, into the headwind that had assisted our outward pedal, the garmin was still registering well over 25kph. as the fellow in the talk, talk adverts is fond of saying, that'll do.

this week, however, a part of my self-imposed remit was to research a potential article on the definition of carbon neutral in relation to future climate change. in the process of so doing, i found myself discussing the merits or demerits of e-bikes, particularly in the light of government statistics relating to the knock-on effect of driving an electric vehicle over a long distance (glasgow to london was that defined in government figures) as opposed to travelling by national express coach over the same route.

while the ev produced no direct emissions, the very fact that it contained a lithium-ion battery, production of which is less than environmentally friendly, and required energy that has to be generated somewhere, meant that it scored lower than the bus. and though the ev was classed as more environmentally friendly than several other modes of transport, the fact that it still creates some form of environmental footprint, may come as a disappointment to many actual and potential owners.

i then read in my daily newspaper yesterday, that car industry bosses in germany are warning that soaring electricity charges pose 'a threat to the future of electric cars'. this would suggest that, despite their initially high cost of ownership, owners of said vehicles are more concerned with financial savings than saving the planet. it seems that germany still offers purchasers of electric vehicles a subsidy of £3,900 (which will halve next year) and nearly £6,000 for purchasers of hybrid vehicles.

strangely, for me, i'm not going to once again raise the query as to why purchasers of e-bikes seem not to receive similar benefits, or why purchasers of analogue bikes are not offered a substantial amount more, due to their complete lack of emissions, and no need to provide energy from a wall socket.

however, what i do find a tad unplalatable in this context, is the launch of a white paper intent on persuading european governments to review and clarify their traffic regulations for so-called speed pedelecs. for the uninitiated, these are electric bicycles with the capability of achieving 48kph, as opposed to the 25kph on the more common pedelec. currently the former are classed, in the uk at least, as electric mopeds, requiring a driver's licence, registration plates, insurance and a helmet. however, the paper, produced by partners leva eu, a belgian electric vehicle specialist, and stromer, a swiss-based purveyor of e-bikes hopes to change some of that..

they contend that this faster version of the electric bike offers cost-saving opportunities, energy efficiency and is more environmentally friendly than driving a car. their research reputedly demonstrates that 37% of all european car trips could be replaced with speed pedelecs. according to the stromer/leva eu partnership, the projected saving of an average 88% of greenhouse gases, demonstrates that electrification of cars alone, is not the solution. but it seems tautologically obvious that e-bikes with more powerful motors will require more energy, and not all will find themselves in the hands of former car drivers. do we really want riders of 48kph bicycles racing along britain's cycle or mixed use paths?

one of the factors that makes cycling midst traffic such a potentially dangerous undertaking, aside from the size of the average car, is the speed differential. as friend of mine on a more northerly hebridean island has pointed out, 'hit a cow at 40 miles an hour, and it'll hurt. but hit the same cow at 70mph, and the chances are it'll kill you' being hit at 48kph by an s-pedelec in the hands of an average cyclist is probably not the ideal way to enjoy your bike ride.

it should also be taken into account that at least one half of the partnership is in the business of selling s-pedelecs, and thus have a vested interest in changing the law. just such a bicycle currently advertised on the uk stromer website retails at just over £8,000 and weighs around 28kg. who amongst us fancies being hit by one of those? yet should their lobbying prove successful, the need for a driving licence to operate could well be removed, allowing such machinery to share the same cycle facilities as those using human power.

if the stemming of climate change is truly the objective of national governments, why are none championing the cause of the humble bicycle, sidelining its electric compatriots? aside from releasing not one single greenhouse gas at point of use, cycling offers comprehensive health benefits. why are we so desperate to adopt technology that effectively makes us lazier? several years ago, there were three cycle-hire outlets on islay offering analogue bicycles. those have all gone, to be replaced by three e-bike hire outlets, two of which possess more bikes than was ever the case for their predecessors.

i dread to think how much that would grow if faster models were made available.

wednesday 14 september 2022

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i believe i may have mentioned on at least one previous occasion, that winter is deemed to have begun on the day following the annual islay show. the latter took place on the second thursday of august this year, meaning, for islanders at least, we've been living through winter since 12 august. there have been days that attested to this contention, but only weather and not temperature-wise. sunday afternoon felt a bit winterish in parts.

however, despite the foregoing, according to the met office, autumn does not even begin until the 23rd of this month, winter following on as late as 21 december, a date that places the entire season in a whole different light, as far as i'm concerned. were i to leave the acquisition or arranging of winter clothing until 21 december, i fear i would be in a far more bedraggled state than i'd prefer to be the case. it also seriously draws into question the perspective in force at britain's meteorological office. though i'm happy to subscribe to the forlorn notion that winter begins following the islay show, in truth, the 'real' winter in the hebrides begins a darned sight sooner than late december.

however, based on the apprehension that preparation is king, and that the stage of preparation might be a tad longer than presumed, now might be a reasonable time to consider winterproofing the bicycle. by this, i do not mean slathering the frame in goose grease and fitting snow tyres, but undertaking a longer than usual pre-flight inspection to ensure the continued working of the velocipede(s) du jour.

for instance, i have already noted the onset of corrosion around the end of the rear gear cable where it enters the cable-stop on the downtube. though everything functions perfectly well at present, there will come a time when it doesn't; the trick is to get in there before it does. thus, when ordering new pedals recently (another aspect of winterisation brought forward by the untimely demise of their predecessors), i included a full campagnolo brake and gear cable set. if one part of that has already shown signs of wear, it's a reasonable conclusion that others won't be far behind.


additionally, taking into account the disintegration of the island's roads (jura's roads on the contrary, were mightily impressive) and subsequent tyre wear, i have also placed an order for new rubber to see me through to at least 20 march next year, when the met office claims winter to end. what a cruel sense of humour they possess. and if your sense of procrastination is anything like mine, 21 december will be a whole lot closer before any of this makes it as far as the ritchey logic. and i am acutely aware that the specialized is in sore need of new headset bearings.

the problem is one of obsessive cycling. despite thewashingmachinepost bike shed to be soon filled with componentry and replacement parts to enable a period of winterisation, the constant need to go out on the bike, rather than spend time at the workstand with spanners and pliers in hand is bound to delay any of the parts so far described making it onot the bicycle. yet i am only too well aware that, should any mechanical malfeasance occur, it will do so at the furthest point from home, in weather conditions that make even a roadside repair a darned sight more difficult than i'd hope.

with reference to the pedals once again, the left pedal recently separated itself from the axle, just as i pulled into a passing place near ballinaby farm. that road is, geographically, the furthest point from the croft, on our regular sunday route. i'm only glad it decided to do so one week prior to our recent visit to jura; that would have put an entirely different face on proceedings.

sometimes, it would be nice to have a local bike shop into which i could drop the ritchey, accompanied by a list of items to be renewed or fettled, i'm sure, for many, that is the designated route to winter nirvana. but were islay to feature just such a possibility, pride and a gross over-estimation of my mechanical abilities would likely prevent me from taking that particular route. as it is, i am responsible for my own fettling and acutely aware that it will have need of taking place within the foreseeable future.

yet, whether you take the shop option or the home-mechanic ploy, now is the ideal time to check every velocipedinal nook and cranny with selfless gusto. there's really no point moaning about a broken bike, miles from home, in appalling weather, if you decided at the time that the tyre/chain/cable/brake shoe/gear mech (delete as applicable) "...looked ok to me."

you're welcome.

tuesday 13 september 2022

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