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fassa bicycle protection

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the mighty dave t's words of the week

the mighty dave t

"cooling fins on disc brakes? that's like garlic bread in barnsley."

©2019 the mighty dave t, is a prendas sponsored rider and le patron of the thoroughly decent fellows.


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this is cambridge

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ritchey wcs upgrade ..........................................................................................................................................................................................................

nerd-speak

bicycle chain

cyclists can be cruel. imagine having bought a shiny new bicycle, turned up for the sunday morning bike ride and no-one makes any attempt whatsoever, to mention the shiny newness. how long would it be possible to ride around in their company, desperate to receive acknowledgment of the new set of wheels, before you could no longer contain yourself and blurt out everything there is to know about this new shinyness?

this did actually happen, and it gives me no great pleasure to admit that i was party to this lack of velocipedinal enquiry. having recently broached the subject of cyclists learning more about the mechanical workings of their bicycles, i'd be inclined to stop short of encouraging the sort of nerd-speak, for which a percentage of the peloton are materially guilty. those individuals have had a series of field days recently, with the advent of both sram's new wireless groupset and now campagnolo's super-record eps.

with websites and magazines falling over themselves to offer a first look or exclusive first review, every minute aspect of the latter two sets of components has been laboriously detailed, sufficient to keep even the most enthusiastic obsessive happy, till the next big thing is released. of course, it would be wrong to imply that cyclists are the sole progenitors of such minutiae. only the other evening i watched a youtube drumming video, under which at least one commenter was want to point out that the percussor was using two different bass drum beaters on his tama double-pedal.

i'm quite happy to self-identify as a cycling obsessive, though definitely less so than was once the case. age, it seems, has a tendency to place things in some sort of useful perspective.

but, while it would be a normal commonality to comment on a colleague's new bicycle, new wheels or even a reassuringly expensive new waterproof jacket, at what point does that transform from being colloquially polite, into nerd-speak? would it be regarded as such to enquire whether a member of the peloton was sporting a new chain on his bicycle (given the apparent lack of maintenance on many, perhaps it would be considered less so, to point out that said bicycle was in sore need of a new chain). and at what point should even that end?

would it be considered sociably unacceptable to enquire as to how many links the chain now consists, or whether the method of fixing was by rivetted pin, or the now ubiquitous power-link? i tend to think it probably is, but it does call into question what the acceptable boundary might be. every peloton across the world has a maintenance guy, one rider who has both the skills and the enthusiasm to fix the majority of problems encountered en-route, even to the extent of taking over a puncture repair while the unfotunate rider stands and watches.

sadly, there's almost always at least one other rider who discusses, at great length, the compatibility between widely differing components, usually from different manufacturers. this rider is easily identified: no-one else wants to double-up with them during the ride. and while their bicycle is usually a mis-mash of barely functioning componentry, their garmentage would suggest little money is being spent in that direction.

do not misunderstand, i have no great wish to disparage those who regularly indulge in 'nerd-speak'; i'm sure i've been guilty of so doing on more than just a single occasion. but always assuming you are aware that you are 'that rider', try very hard to moderate the situation. try to think happy thoughts that don;t concern any aspect of your bicycle. or anyone else's for that matter.

you'll know you've succeeded when folks start riding with you once again.

monday 18 march 2019

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endura cycle clothing ..........................................................................................................................................................................................................

rule five (for the rest of us)

bicycle parking

the twitter feed on the office imac is set to show such items as any alterations to timetable tweeted by calmac, citylink, and islay airport. these things tend to come in handy if considering a report on transport links to and from the hebrides. but just like any other newspaper, i also have several west coast newspapers populating the feed just to see if they're reporting anything we might have overlooked. on friday, a couple of those published further north, were presenting photos and articles featuring primary school kids on climate-change walks.

this has become a somewhat thematic meme of late; kids taking centre-stage to point out the failings of the adult population. governments continually hold summit meetings to set timescales for making carbon reductions and then two years later, meet up once more to ratify the changes they said they were intending to impose. at the annual davos summit, which i believe is specifically concerned with climate change, a party atmosphere seems to have developed, with certain high-profile attendees having seemingly little or nothing to do with the business at hand. couple that with the fact that the majority of delegates arrived by private aircraft, and you do begin to wonder whether this is simply an expensive game of smoke and mirrors.

several politicians are particularly well-off financially, either through directorships of various companies, or through family inheritances or investments. thus, regular day to day occurences, such as an increase in taxes or other monetary constraints, tend to hit them less hard than the constituents on whose behalf, they are allegedly acting. however, climate change is a situation that transcends any accumulation of wealth; there's little point in having money in the bank, if sea-level rises and eccentric weather fronts are destroying everything in their path.

the office of islay energy trust is but a few metres farther down bowmore main street from my office. it exists at the behest of a former british petroleum executive, who bid for government money to help implement a charitable organisation, to help transform islay's energy and environmental situation. his point was that the money was going to go somewhere, so it might as well be islay. so far, they have been involved with several local energy consultations and have installed a wind-turbine at the end of a track leading off the high road. this feeds into the national-grid, the benefits of which are disbursed amongs many of the island's charitable organisations. a successful venture, by all accounts.

having engaged the services of an energy advisor several years ago, it was within the incumbent's remit to demonstrate a 300 tonne reduction in the island's annual carbon footprint. this may have been party to the smoke and mirrors mentioned above, for there was no base level measurement made in order to show any eventual reduction after two years. such a situation notwithstanding, the claimed reduction was apparently in excess of that specified. however, it is a recognised fact that the largest contribution that can be made to global warming/climate change by individuals, is that of the pollution emitted by their motor cars. based on this salient fact, i wrote to the aforementioned energy advisor to enquire when she would be tackling this particular aspect of island life.

the answer was particularly moot, since apparently the job's remit did not cover emissions specific to personal or public transport.

this past week, while keeping an eagle eye on twitter for the reasons already espoused, i came across a clever, if a trifle staged, video, demonstrating how twenty bicycles would comfortably fit into a single car parking space. the point was well-made, but such strategies are but soya milk froth. unless we can persuade more people to leave the car at home and cycle the inevitably short distances that most car journeys entail, nothing much will ever change.

it would be an insult to the intelligence of the majority of britain's population, to labour the point that bicycles are more efficient and considerably less polluting than even the greenest of electric cars. in truth, that is scarcely the reason that the majority opt not to cycle. most will spend more time explaining why they need the car, as opposed to figuring out how they could lower that need. yet, at the same time, the majority agree that car journeys really ought to be reduced.

i have frequently enquired of island residents as to the reasons why they don't cycle? the majority actually own bicycles, or at least, bicycle-shaped-objects, but even when it comes to popping a few hundred metres to the shops, they'll still get into the car parked outside. some of the reasons have been creative, to say the least, but at the back of everything is the weather; nobody fancies getting cold and wet, when there's a car available with heated seats and cosy warmth from the dashboard vents within minutes. nobody wants to experience the extremes that climate change might visit upon them, but even if the only solution was to ditch the car and ride a bike or walk, few would comply. and in the era of cloud computing, there is surely little need to carry substantial quantities of printed documentation, thus removing at least one of the spurious reasons behind continued car use.

i spent two and a half hours of my saturday morning riding in freezing sleet, in winds a lot higher than forecast just for fun (well, actually i was reviewing a number of cycling components, but that's fun, right?). almost everyone tells me i must be big and tough and strong, surely a euphemism for 'totally nuts', but not a personality trait that any seem keen to emulate. and certainly not as a means of travelling about the principality.

oddly enough, quoting the definition of velominati's rule#5 has made no difference whatsoever. how can that be?

image courtesy of cyclehoop.com

sunday 17 march 2019

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rouleur magazine ..........................................................................................................................................................................................................

home on the range

home mechanics

the current generation of riders in the peloton quite probably consists of individuals who have little to no experience of friction-shifting gears. as far as they are concerned, gears have always clicked into place; those who accept hyperglide and ergopower as their birthright. but, as many of you will no doubt recollect, it was not always thus. arriving first on mountain bikes, the shifters initially offered an adjustable knob atop the lever allowing the rider to return the rear mech to friction mode, just in case an errant piece of undergrowth grabbed hold of the derailleur, only letting go after it had been suitably deranged enough to ruin the indexing.

such a facility disappeared on the second generation of shifters, presumably because in any bike/undergrowth interaction, a non-indexing rear mech was the least of your worries. ostensibly, the technology revolves around a simple principle: each click of the gear lever pulls sufficient cable to move the gear mech the precise distance between sprockets. any slack in the system will result in the lever simply taking up loose cable, before beginning to shift the derailleur, thus falling short of its desired and promised precision.

the fact that this works more or less faultlessly in the heat of battle even at the hands of more than distracted bike pilots, is surely testament to the integrity and quality of modern editions of the componentry. even considering the alarming lack of maintenance lavished upon such trinketry, there's still enough leeway in the system to allow for such neglect. on early models, there was usually a small booklet attached, explaining how to make fine adjustments to the gear mechs. on a new setup, there will always be the inevitable cable-stretch (even on so-called 'pre-stretched' cables), resulting in sloppiness only a matter of days or weeks after purchase.

but despite such straightforward, printed advice on how best to compensate for this built-in malfeasance, few folks managed to comprehend the relative simplicity of the systems (at the time) ending up with an effectively disabled set of gears and a bike shop bill that they weren't expecting.

nowadays, the recommendation is that every last cable, grommet, nut and bolt be affixed, assembled and ultimately fettled by a mechanic who speaks fluent shimano, campagnolo and sram. as owners of a selection of the foregoing will know, though the end result is effectively the same, the process of getting there can differ wildly. i am reliably informed that at least two of the above have already considered refusing to warranty their componentry unless fitted by an appropriately authorised mechanic. and that's not entirely at the behest of today's litigious society.

so where does that leave the mail order recipient? though trek bicycles disallow their dealers to offer mail order, the rest of the velocipedinal world, as yet, has issued no such draconian directive. it shouldn't, however, come as a surprise to learn that your local bike shop will probably be less than welcoming when you bring in that mail order machine, for some post-sales adjustment.

so how hard can it be to do it yourself?

that depends very much on how confident and skilled you are at such matters. oddly enough, though my greatest contribution to the world of diy is a small pile of newspapers on the sitting room floor, fixing bicycles is something i've rarely found too onerous or difficult. in mitigation, most of the bicycles that arrive for review have been expertly setup before despatch and i do have subsequent access to the manufacturer's technicians, should anything seem in less than prime condition.

that said, it would probably reward the majority of cyclists to learn how to fettle the simpler parts of their bicycle(s), the least of which would surely be the adjustment of gears. i think, for reasons of possible expense, i'd leave electronic gear systems to the 'real' experts, but minor adjustment of mechanical systems is probably within the capabilities of most of us. granted, the ease of use is rarely assisted by the wide variety of allen, phillips and torx bolts, even from the same manufacturer, but with an increase in the numbers of us participating in sportives and often the absence of nearby technical assistance, the more you know, the more independent you can remain.

many professional riders know as much about the workings of their bicycles, as i know about nuclear physics, but they're supported by an entire team of professional mechanics who will surely have attended every training course known to mankind. though we might like to think that the only difference between them and us is the lack of a contract in a back pocket, sad to say, that's only in the movies.

suck it up and learn to fix the simple stuff.

saturday 16 march 2019

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cables not wires

campagnolo record twelve-speed groupset

at one time in my past, i used to teach cycling proficiency at the local primary school. this was an extension of having been responsible for checking the mechanical worthiness of the kids' bikes, after the local police ended that service after orders from on high. like many other schools, we had a selection of cones, markers, ropes and other plastic oddities that might allow a semblance of the roads out in front of the school. having received appropriate training from the region's road-safety department, i proceeded to carry out these duties for a number of years, before increased work demands meant i no longer had the spare time available.

having been a keen cyclist for many a long year, i harboured delusions that my personal enthusiasm would be passed along, particularly when ending each outdoor session with regular or slow bicycle races. those always seemed popular and i'd occasionally take along a shiny freestyle bmx bicycle in the forlorn hope that it might increase an appreciation for the way of the bicycle. sad to say, but not entirely unexpectedly, i know of only one individual who suffered through my instruction, who now rides a specialized roubaix and joins us on the sunday ride.

campagnolo record twelve-speed groupset

the dawning realisation, over the course of the few years in which i was responsible for the cycle education of primaries six and seven, was that the majority, even at that age, saw the bicycle as a stop gap until they were old enough to drive. of all those who currently undergo cycling proficiency training in that same school, and cheerfully bring their bicycles to school in the first weeks of the autumn term, the minute they enter secondary school, the bicycle becomes persona non-grata.

the local newspaper office is currently the only location on the island in which it is possible to have passport-size photos taken. these are now a prerequisite for any form of id, for bus passes, ferry passes and provisional drivers' licences. we are, therefore, on the receiving end of a constant stream of individuals needing photos for one purpose or other. however, the secondary school pupils who drop by in the process of applying for their provisional licences, seem far more enthused than any of the kids about to embark upon cycle training. all this despite the almost endless amount of money that driving and car ownership ultimately entails.

campagnolo record twelve-speed groupset

i do wonder whether a similar set of circumstances applies to any perceived progression from mechanical gearing to electronic, a notion that has been encouraged by campagnolo's introduction of their eye-wateringly expensive super-record eps groupset in the past day or so. and, in case that purports to be true, i thought i might make a last-ditch case on behalf of their record (and by implication, super-record) mechanical groupset.

fitted to the ritchey logic is currently a full campagnolo record mechanical groupset, one that has logged just the right side of 1000 kilometres so far and all this without so much as a hiccup. the version in my possession is the caliper brake version, rather than the disc edition, a groupset that is priced at around £1700. the caliper brakes initially provided the only downside to fitting this groupset, when the front tyre failed to clear the underside of the caliper. i tried a couple of different tyres to obviate this problem without satisfaction, but having recently fitted goodyear eagles to the wheelset, i find that a lower profile than the mavics they replaced offers the necessary clearance, though we're still talking cigarette-paper clearances here.

campagnolo record twelve-speed groupset

however, the fact that this is a record twelve-speed groupset would rather pre-suppose that the gearing would be uppermost in the mind of most folks. on that score, i'm happy to give twelve marks out of twelve. considering this groupset was not only fitted by yours truly - not a qualified campagnolo mechanic, but one well-trained by the very best - and attached around four months ago, i have not had to adjust the front or rear mech cables even once over that period of time. the chain still clicks from one sprocket to the next, both up and down, with seemingly never-ending precision, as it does also up front, across the two chainrings.

considering the weather and road conditions with which the hapless italian componentry has had to cope, that strikes me as the highest recommendation i can offer. the braking has been superlative in both wet and dry conditions, while the gear-changing has only been interrupted by pilot error when fitting new bar tape, the incompetence of which caused the downshift lever to intermittently malfunction. that error has now been corrected and all works as designed.

i am on record (pardon the pun), somewhere or other, as stating that electronic gearing is a solution looking for a problem; that's something in which i still believe. clicking through even twelve gears with a thumb or forefinger has never struck me as particularly onerous, so quite why it was found necessary to offload that task to wires and electrons, is quite beyond me. and i would balk at paying £200 short of £4,000 for the super-record eps caliper brake version, just to save a few whiskers of effort on behalf of my gloved fingers.

however, if you have a substantial disposable income and it's electrons you fancy, far be it for me to disavow you the perceived luxury of push-button gearing. and as found in the competition, it is possible to use an iphone app to programme just how the switches behave when pressed. but you probably already know my views on that sort of thing.

friday 15 march 2019

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campagnolo

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going round in circles

sugar wheelworks

in the early nineteen nineties, when i still sold and repaired bicycles for a living, i attempted to bolster my reputation locally by assembling an entire road bicycle from scratch. having sourced a well-made, reynolds 531 steel frame from a framebuilder no longer in existence, i acquired a campagnolo chorus groupset, including hubs, along with the necessary bars, stem, seatpost and saddle. the observant amongst you will note that i have, so far, not mentioned wheels, the very component that threatened to stall the entire project.

sugar wheelworks

you would be correct in pointing out that i could surely have purchased a ready-built pair and completed the bicycle in that manner, but since this was ostensibly a marketing exercise, i had every expectation of building my own. and that's a far harder ask than simply fitting a bottom bracket to a frame, or sliding a seatpost into place. those are both relatively simple tasks, since there really is only one place to fit either. wheels pose a whole 'nuther set of difficulties all of their own.

for starters, what kind of rims would i need? should i get double or single-eyeletted, or do eyelets matter at all? should the rim be flat or aero in profile? and once past that hurdle, do i build with 36, 32 or 28 spokes? two-cross, three-cross or radial? and depending on which one option i followed, how the heck would i figure out the length of (plain gauge, or double-butted) spokes required?

sugar wheelworks

not exactly a first-time exercise for the faint-hearted.

happily, many of the above questions were taken care of by a mainland bike shop, who kindly worked it out for me and sent over a red-cross package, ready for construction.

but were the circumstances different and given my somewhat remote location, you can see where at least a few potential pitfalls are likely to occur. bear in mind that this was long before the advent of the off-the-shelf factory-built wheel, but given that purchase of such an item hardly assists one's ability to carry out future repairs, maybe a factory-build would not have been the ideal long-term solution.

sugar wheelworks

in the interim, off-the-shelf has become the de-facto standard, aided and abetted by sale of complete road bicycles, a state of affairs that once almost solely applied to the offroad world. very few manufacturers of mass-produced bicycles are likely to engage the services of an expert wheelbuilder to augment the supply chain. far more likely is a scenario where they source wheels from the likes of ffwd, campagnolo, shimano, fulcrum, mavic or any others in the business of churning out quality, machine-built wheels. this may appear to be the sensible option, now that carbon, disc rotors and massively reduced spoke counts are in the mainstream.

sugar wheelworks

but what of the humble and not so humble handbuild? i realise that there is no particular reason to listen to the likes of yours truly, for i seriously doubt that my opinion is any more valid than anyone else's. however, having ridden many wheels from both sources, i definitely favour those emanating from the skilled handbuilder, in particular, those from derek mclay's wheelsmith in larbert, near stirling and wheels from the expertise of jude gerace at sugar in portland, oregon. and should you decide that handbuilt is the way forward, it makes perfect sense (to me at least) to inform yourself appropriately.

sugar wheelworks

try very hard not to be like the customer who takes the bike to a shop mechanic and simply says "it's making a noise". rather than simply arrive at (or phone) the wheelbuilder's premises to ask for a pair of wheels, do your homework. and in order that this homework become a tad less onerous than it may at first appear, the aforementioned jude at sugar has made a series of short videos outlining many of the options, along with helpful suggestions as to which may prove more beneficial, depending on your style of riding. there's even a video on how to fix a spoke in the middle of nowhere (like here, for instance).

just as there's the mantra 'steel is real' for frame aficionados, i'd dearly love to be clever enough to compose a similar epithet for handbuilt wheels. sadly, i very much doubt that's going to happen.

meanwhile, congratulations and best wishes to jude gerace at sugar wheelworks and tony pereira and ira ryan of breadwinner cycles on their recent amalgamation. sugar wheelworks have been building the wheels for breadwinner bicycles for many a long year and in jude's tenth year of being in business, sugar is to be incorporated into breadwinner's premises, which are but a stone's throw from sugar's current premises in north williams avenue. one of the few occasions on which the phrase 'a marriage made in heaven' can be legitimately used. jude will now leave the business to concentrate on the next adventure. nick and ryan will continue to provide the skills and quality that customers have come to expect over the last ten years.

sugar wheelworks | sugar wheel videos | breadwinner cycles | wheelsmith wheels

thursday 14 march 2019

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flavour of the month

box ticking exercise

twelve years ago, argyll & bute council placed an advert in our local newspaper, inviting the great and the good to attend an open meeting to discuss cycling and walking provision on islay. what would we like to see by way of improvement, what were our identifiable needs etc., etc? this meeting took place on tuesday 6 march 2007 under the umbrella of the council's nascent 'active travel' policy. it might surprise you to learn that, as a result of that meeting, absolutely nothing happened.

fast forward to monday 6 march 2019, and once again, islay's residents were invited to attend a consultation hosted by jacob's engineering, a vast, american technical consultancy, commissioned by argyll & bute council to look into, guess what; cycling and walking provision on islay. never one to pass up an invitation involving velocipedinal activity, one of the sunday peloton and i attended, admittedly with a healthy dose of suspicion over the likely outcome.

you see, the scottish government had added a few pennies to their own 'active travel' budget and invited bids from third parties to acquire some of the cash on offer, should their motives coincide with that of active travel. i can but presume that sustrans bid for that money, subsequently inviting bids from third, third parties to make use of as they saw fit within the guidelines. it transpires that argyll & bute council acquired almost £250,000, subsequently passing it onto jacobs engineering to carry out the consultation on their behalf.

that is the long-winded reason as to why i was sat in bowmore's gaelic college on a less than pristine monday evening.

the long and short of it is that this is essentially a box-ticking exercise. for starters, any walking requirements required by the island have either been taken care of by the local access group (witness the three distilleries path, leading to laphroaig, lagavulin and ardbeg distilleries and a proposed link between port charlotte and bruichladdich), or are soon to be implemented by the builders of new community housing schemes in bowmore and port ellen. as to cycling provision, the best i could offer was to plead that they simply repair the roads to a higher standard than they've been left in by never ending distillery traffic.

cycling provision has never been a serious problem on the island. it has taken almost twenty-years to amass a sunday morning peloton of ten (if everyone turns up) and though the isle is popular with touring cyclists, the wind and rain are the principal reasons cited by the locals for not going anywhere by bicycle. it's not like there's a huge pent-up demand of potential velocipedinists, desperately awaiting a ten-mile cycle path from port ellen to bowmore to take to the saddle. rather poorly, we thought, the maps displayed on the tables at the aforementioned meeting, were intended to display the current cycling provision available across argyll & bute, but simply delineated portions of the existing road network. when queried on this, the representative from jacobs stated that while that might be the case, all those marked in red were part of the national cycle network.

to be honest, i don't quite see how that qualifies as cycling provision, in the sense that we naively expected.

but, as jiminy cricket once said, "there's more...". only a matter of weeks earlier, in order to accede to budget cuts, argyll & bute council agreed to dispense with their road safety department. from a cycling point of view, this does not bode well. though i'm pretty sure it's no longer referred to as the 'cycling proficiency scheme', that's an intrinsic part of road safety education in the region's primary schools. though there are many trained members of staff and volunteers able and willing to continue with this scheme (whatever it's called nowadays), assessment of the childrens' skills was undertaken by argyll & bute's road safety department, as was any updating of the trainers' skills.

that resource has now gone, probably for good.

i contacted rospa, enquiring if they would be in a position to take over the assessment and training duties, but they informed me that, in scotland, cycling proficiency came under the jurisdiction of cycling scotland. when i spoke to their press department, they admitted that, yes, they did offer those services, but some years back, argyll & bute council decided to follow their own path to cycle training and had thus disengaged themselves from the cycling scotland umbrella. right back where we started.

by closing the road safety department, the council expects to save close to £250,000 over the course of the next three year, and the more astute amongst you might recall having seen a similar figure, earlier in this discourse. if only it wasn't from a different budget. though the constraints may well have mitigated against such a thought, we figured that perhaps the council could have applied to sustrans for the same amount of money, but instead of carrying out the expensive box ticking exercise of which we not entirely unwittingly found ourselves a part, they could have used the money to sustain the road safety department. i cannot quite see how the definition of 'active travel' would exclude such an undertaking.

for those who may think my cynicism has taken me a stage too far, consider the following. the road safety department, along with one or two other cuts, was axed in order to save money by a cash-strapped council, so we must suppose that 'spare' and 'cash' are not words now common in its vocabulary. therefore, if jacobs engineering return by the end of may this year, with concrete, well-supported and demonstrable cycling and/or walking projects that would not only benefit the residents of argyll & bute, but potentially aid the economy, it seems more than just highly likely that the council has no money to implement any such recommendations.

and even if they had, i'm sure you can see the irony of interrupting the basic training of cycling's potential future, while, on the other hand, asking what cycling provision might be highlighted on our own agendas. two ideas heading in opposite directions.

in fact, had they not been provided with such financial largesse by sustrans, the entire exercise would not have taken place at all. and had they chosen to commission consultants from within the region, instead of an international firm with annual revenues of $15 billion, there's every possibility that the money would have remained within the local economy. twelve years later, we're no further forward.

as to my assertion implied in the title of this article, we were to be paid a visit by a representative from cyclinguk this evening, a meet for which, as recommended, i registered in advance (as if there was likely to be a queue round the block, awaiting the opening of the doors). however, following the early sailing of the first ferry on tuesday morning, all subsequent ferries have been cancelled, due to winds gusting to 65mph. these were forecast to continue throughout today, forcing the cyclinguk fellow to cancel the projected meeting and attempt to re-schedule for the future. though i would conditionally favour all this attention, i do often wonder where it has all come from all of a sudden.

wednesday 13 march 2019

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chrome industries ..........................................................................................................................................................................................................

the emperor's new clothes

zwift drop shop

on 7 april, 1837, hans christian andersen published the third and final instalment of his 'fairy tales told for children', a collection which included not only 'the little mermaid', but a tale entitled 'the emperor's new clothes'. the latter narrative concerned the story of two weavers who hoodwinked the emperor into believing that they could weave him the most beautiful and elaborate set of attire he had ever seen. the caveat was that these richly decorated garments were invisible to anyone unfit for his/her position in the royal hierarchy, or simply 'hopelessly stupid'. naturally enough, including the emperor, nobody wished to admit that they were unable to see the fruits of the weavers' labour, fawning over his appearance with conviction.

the hoax was blown, however, by the cry of a small child, obviously not party to the facade, who pointed out that the emperor was wearing nothing at all. at that point, all around took up the chant. despite having had the glaringly obvious pointed out, the emperor chose to continue with his regal procession.

zwift drop shop

historical anecdote tells us that hans christian andersen had presented himself to denmark's bourgeoisie as an individual scarcely acknowledged by this strata of danish society. he used this tale to highlight the hypocrisy and snobbishness he discovered when finally allowed admission to this exclusive circle. in fact, apparently the book was already at the printer's, when christian andersen was inspired to change the ending, from one where the admiration of the new clothes continued unabated, to the child's exclamation of impropriety.

i have long considered the validity of such a fairy tale to be confined to the mores and vicissitudes of mid-nineteenth century danish society and not one that could ever gain a foothold in the second decade of the 21st century. a period in time when private enterprise can build a space capsule that not only successfully docks with the international space station, but safely descends to earth for re-use. however, it appears i may have been incorrect in my assumption.

zwift drop shop

arriving home at around 4pm each day, there are still a few children in the care of mrs washingmachinepost, yet to be collected by devoted parents. on occasion my services are requisitioned to assist with homework, some of which, i am assured, can now be carried out on an ipad, by way of various educational apps. one or two of these pockets of software encourage the attention of their subjects by accruing credits or tokens that can be exchanged for items deemed 'essential' to further progress within the programme. it all seems a tad naive in its assumption, but given that we're dealing with primary school-age children, it all seems quite innocuous.

you can perhaps imagine my surprise and astonishment to discover that such so-called 'rewards' are alive and well and living in modern-day, state-of-the-art velocpedinal software. this is currently being touted as 'where the pros go to train' at each eurosport cycling advert break. yes indeed, the intrepid fellows and fellowesses at zwift headquarters have implemented a rewards scheme equalling that practised by c-beebies 'topsy and tim' on the ipad. after spending a long-day going nowhere in front of a large format flat-screen television, it is possible for the average 'zwifter' to acquire 'drops', related to the recognised effort put in during those interminable indoor training sessions.

zwift drop shop

on their drop shop website, 'zwift' welcome visitors with the news that "our new virtual store (is) stocked with... frames and wheels", surely giving adherents of the online training method the opportunity to stick out their tongues at naysayers such as myself. all around are icons depicting the availability of cycles and componentry from brands such as parlee, specialized, liv, cannondale, canyon and bmc, for example. i'd gladly exchange the spontaneous burst of indifference exhibited by mrs washingmachinepost after my so-called saturday training ride, for a set of credits that might acquire me several sets of bling for the cycles within the bike shed.

i was perilously close to reconsidering my erstwhile cynical approach, until my eye dropped to the line below, which informed me '...to customise your in-game ride!' yes, gullible as i am, i thought the emperor was indeed wearing a wondrous set of velocipedinal apparel, before realising the total lack of substance on show. i find it a tad incongruous that a platform that is keen to position itself as a professional level training tool for the aspiring cyclist, offers its adherents the opportunity to pretend they are aboard an s-works sagan replica venge, clad in the finest pixelated apparel, sporting campagnolo super-record eps while rolling on a pair of enve carbon wheels.

ah, how we laughed.

zwift drop shop

tuesday 12 march 2019

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

galloway cycling

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tell them we sent you

quick mention for those intending to visit islay's shores on a bike during the summer. velo club d'ardbeg recommended coffee/tea stops - in no particular order.

club headquarters at the old kiln cafe, ardbeg distillery. excellent food as well as designer coffees with froth. the single malt is apparently just ginger peachy. open monday to saturday from easter to september, seven days from june to september.

debbie's cafe

bruichladdich mini market (debbie's cafe), a few hundred yards from the distillery. highly commended designer coffees with outside tables. we like. open all year round with a cycling wall in the coffee corner.

welcometogreatcoffee.co.uk

braehouse gallery, portnahaven. sited at the entrance to portnahaven village, the gallery also offers takeway coffees and a range of cakes. there's also quite a wide range of photos, islay souvenirs and other desirable odds and bits. though you can't sit in for coffee and cake, there is a table and chairs outside along with an adjacent bicycle rack for parking.

and recently opened in islay house square, bridgend in the islay studios photo gallery, a fine selection of designer coffees are now available while you admire the surrounding imagery.

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

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