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this is cambridge>

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dromarti ..........................................................................................................................................................................................................

the mighty dave t's words of the week

the mighty dave t

"never mind talking to me, just serve my coffee."

©2017 the mighty dave t, is a prendas sponsored rider and le patron of the thoroughly decent fellows. the mighty dave t recommends purple harry products and n+1 cycle t-shirts


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

data day cycling

binary code

the gist of carlton reid's recently reviewed book 'bike boom' was to undermine the optimism of its title, by explaining that the last time such a situation could be considered a reality was some 45 - 50 years ago. however, with global warming and environmental change high on the media's agenda, while cycling might not be considered cool, it has garnered sufficient collateral clout to merit more than just the occasional mention by the press.

thus the so-called bradley bubble, though looking a tad shakier than it did in the immediate aftermath of the 2012 olympics, undoubtedly had/has had some traction, surfacing as a notable increase in the memberships of both british cycling and cyclinguk and resulting in greater numbers of cyclists heading along old street into the heart of london. and though it would surely be tantamount to unsupported proselytisation, there has been an undeniable improvement in the size of the g.c. ristorante debbie's peloton, though none of us is socially or statistically enough aware to provide cast iron evidence as to the reason behind this state of affairs.

therefore, combining both statistical and anecdotal evidence, it would surely not be too outlandish to claim that there has been a distinct increase in the number of individuals cycling. even if we discount the probable fact that those of us who like to think of ourselves as cyclists are likely to will this to be the case (anything to alleviate our status as underdog), it has probably still become a specific reality.

and once again, despite evidence produced by bike boom to show that the 'build it and they will come' mantra may well be considerably wide of the mark, it's possible that the current boom, if we may call it so, could receive a welcome shot in the arm were central and local government to adopt more of a can do attitude. after all, there is a continuous stream of improvements made to britain's transport infrastructure to benefit the motorist, most of which rely on pragmatic observation or funding plan rather than demanding unassailable statistical data.

yet the needs or desires of cyclists and pedestrians are seemingly rarely catered for without demonstrable statistical evidence. should you think that i doth perhaps protest too much, might i enlighten you to the fact that earlier this month, the university of brighton advertised for a phd candidate to undertake a cycling datafication project.

i am not naive or innocent enough to believe that every potential benefit laid before the motoring public is there on the basis of a whim or well-intentioned goodwill on behalf of government. it's quite likely that there are hundreds of computer servers full to the brim with collected data that have a direct bearing on motoring provision across the country. with the amount of taxpayers' money involved, it would be highly iniquitous were there not to be a bona-fide paper trail. but cycling leaves a considerably smaller footprint on the planet and is less subject to the vicissitudes of perpetual data collection.

perhaps, therefore, i should be welcoming this innovation by the university of brighton. after all, should the collected data prove what we already suspect, what could possibly go wrong?

my concerns rest predominantly on the language used to support the requirement for such academic study. according to e-bike expert, dr frauke behrendt (the word 'expert' already has me worried), the ideal candidate's background would revolve around social media or computer science. the absence of any mention of cycling in those criteria strikes me as a bit odd, though i cannot deny that a non-cyclist may well view the results more dispassionately. however, dr behrendt continued by stating that the study will aim to "bring together scholarship in mobilities, intelligent transport and big data to explore the potential of industry-collected cycling data in informing policies and planning for more sustainable transport and mobilities."

nope, me neither.

apparently the study will be of "key importance to develop a big data perspective on cycling alongside the typical focus on motorised modes of transport, to really understand mobility patterns and bottlenecks, actual door-to-door tracks, citizens' behaviour, routes in places where cars cannot go, to model how a city could move without car traffic."

however, no matter the rhetoric that accompanies the advertised position, i have little doubt that the university is well-meaning in its intentions, though it's possible the ideal candidate will need to be possessed of an innate sense of responsibility and personal enthusiasm. for despite the british government promising in december of 2014 to spend £15billion on road schemes in england, this phd position carries with it an annual stipend of £14,553.

therefore, despite the big words and professed intentions, ultimately, it seems in the short-term, nothing much has changed.

friday 23 june 2017

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specialized bicycles ..........................................................................................................................................................................................................

waterproof cover

waterproof cover podcast

perhaps one of the few disadvantages of living on what i'm inclined to call the outer edge is the almost total absence of an intrinsic network relevant to the aspects of the furrow which i am attempting to plough. in the day to day, i am a self-taught black-belt in adobe photoshop, a complex piece of software that i have been using on almost a daily basis since the early 1990s, only a few years on from when it was originally released as barney scan.

there have been some incredible developments made in photoshop since those early days, fairly easily absorbed when it's at your fingertips on such a regular basis. but in such a small community, the opportunities for networking with similarly equipped individuals is pretty much zero. when you're the go to guy for pixel-wrangling, even by local photographers, the only way that lateral improvements can be acquired or made, is by scanning relevant websites or picking up a magazine when visiting scotland.

on the whole, this is hardly an iniquitous situation, given the surrounding rural idyll, but sometimes it would be sort of nice to hold an open discussion with someone equally qualified in digital image post production. a similar situation occurs with that of scribbling stuff about cycling. granted, there is always the sunday morning peloton to bounce ideas off, even if done in an obscure manner so as not to alert them to my often odd mode of thought. but the very act of writing on a daily basis has provided me with a peer group that i could not have experienced in any other manner, particularly in the light of my remote location.

the advantages conferred by the latter are not hard to understand. though i try to keep it to a minimum, every now and again i find myself writing about matters on which i am less than well-informed. in cases such as these, i have access to individuals whose expertise far outweighs that of my own and who are generally very generous with their time and knowledge. paying attention to the information provided allows me to not only better educate myself as to the often mysterious ways of the velocipede, but ultimately to pass that knowledge on to my readership, though undoubtedly in a more convoluted fashion than it arrived in my inbox.

however, as a self-confessedly non-competitive individual, how others conduct themselves online by way of their own blogs and websites concerns me not. i deliberately do not read any other cycling blogs, just in case i find myself second-guessing how i should be writing these daily scribblings. but how do others deal with what might be termed a similar set of circumstances? what about, for instance, cycling photographers, sizeable numbers of whom can be seen peppering events such as cyclocross races or occupying the back seats of a flotilla of motorbikes during the grand tours and one-day classics? are they all in serious competition with each other, trying at all costs to snap the single image that will launch them from obscurity to international demand?

or is there a close community of cycling photographers, ready and willing to lend an sd card or spare lens to a fellow photographer who didn't have the presence of mind to bring along their own?

balint hamvas, a cyclocross photographer who has featured on the post on more than one occasion might be the very chap to answer that question, though you will have to bear with him while he does so. inspired by a series of podcasts by national geographic photographer, robin moore, broadcast under the title of no filter, where moore talks to his fellow ng photographers. so balint figured that he'd try to do likewise, by holding conversations with fellow cycling photographers.

"We bump into each other every now and again, say hello, but we very rarely have the chance to sit down and talk in a relaxed setting. Most of us have an interesting story to tell and that gave me idea to start this podcast."

balint has entitled his own series of podcasts 'the waterproof cover' the first of which is already on itunes. in episode one he talks to belgian photographer kristof ramon whose career began as a television director, influenced by the lack of a belgian film industry into which he would have preferred to immerse himself had it existed. in conversation with hamvas, he states that his use of composition to tell a story was influenced and informed by working with some of the best tv cameramen in the business. this was further developed by working as a film editor.

the biggest challenge of now flying solo was the absence of a support team, though he confesses to often enjoying the autonomy of his singular position and the ability to conduct his own post processing.

ramon entered the world of photography by taking pictures at music concerts, gaining him paid commissions. in order to learn techniques he felt would be necessary for a future career as a photographer, rather than impose them upon paid work, he figured some form of personal project would offer the ideal opportunities to practice on the sly (so to speak) and that project turned out to be cycling, a sport of which ramon was already a fan.

some podcasts cannot but alert to the listener that the participants are all too well aware of the microphone and a potential listening audience. the waterproof cover, however, sounds like a conversation between two friends which has been surreptitiously recorded by a third party. it's a joy to listen to and promises us the opportunity to learn more about those whose imagery we are regularly exposed to in cycling magazines and websites.

and it's totally free.

the waterproof cover podcast

thursday 22 june 2017

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hilltrek greenspot single ventile lightweight jacket

hilltrek greenspot single ventile lightweight jacket

there's a not altogether uncommon saying around these here parts that you can tell when it's summer because the rain gets warmer. the only time that is less than true is whenever i've been sent a waterproof jacket to review. at that point, the clouds scurry hither and thither, the farmers moan that the ground needs rain and you could fry a free-range egg on the pavement. actually i might be fibbing about that last bit. this is a rather round about way of saying that my review of hilltrek's single ventile lightweight greenspot jacket will probably not be resolved at a single sitting.

hilltrek greenspot single ventile lightweight jacket

as i recall, pretty much the same thing happened when attempting to review its double-ventile big brother.

ventile is a pretty darned interesting fabric, fashioned as it is solely from tightly woven cotton, bereft of any form of durable waterproof coating. therefore, unlike many of its allegedly more technologically advanced peer group, there's nothing to wash off after several months or years of use. actually, and rather oddly, despite its natural origins, hilltrek recommend that both single and double ventile variations are dry-clean only. since the lightweight review garment was as burnt orange as its predecessor, there's more likelihood of it needing to avail itself of the cleaning process than the olive, charcoal or black editions. that, however, is a risk i'm more than happy to accept.

hilltrek greenspot single ventile lightweight jacket

hilltrek advertise this lightweight variation on their website as "Ideal for warm weather cycle touring and commuting." the lightweight aspect is more than accurate; there is a noticeable difference in heft between this single-ventile example and the double-ventile edition. however, i cannot but make a couple of polite suggestions as to how the jacket might be made a tad more cycle friendly.

firstly, there are only two, large, zipped front pockets. impressively, either of these capably swallowed a marginally oversized mini-pump without any discomfort while pedalling. but having to place everything in those pockets is not what might be referred to as a good look. either a lower internal pocket or preferably one reasonably sized rear pocket would have been ideal. hilltrek's double-ventile jacket features two, zipped rear pockets, which have proved invaluable in oh, so many ways, by keeping any accoutrements away from frantic pedalling action.

hilltrek greenspot single ventile lightweight jacket

on the plus side, fewer pockets really ought to translate into carrying only essential bits and bobs, but cyclists are only human after all.

my second suggestion is a tad more superficial, but would be a neat luxury nonetheless. the high collar on the lightweight jacket is quite excellent, particularly with a popper to fasten against the elements. however, an internal drawcord would be a helpful extra to pull it a bit closer when riding on the lower portion of drop handlebars. i know i'm guilty of nitpicking here, but a cyclist can dream can't he?

i apologise to hilltrek if i appear to be painting a rather negative picture of what is truthfully an excellent jacket, one that's every bit at home in the saddle as it is forcing its way down bowmore main street into wind-driven rain. though i have yet to find a breathable jacket that copes with the heat generated by an intrepid cyclist, the greenspot lightweight fares considerably better than most. add to that the fact that its lightweight, hard-wearing nature offers versatile comfort on and off the bike at this time of year and it begins to look like a more than appropriate choice of garmentage for both touring and/or cycle commuting.

hilltrek greenspot single ventile lightweight jacket

the full-length sturdy front zip features a wide storm-flap, poppered at both top and bottom, while the single weight ventile fabric means the jacket is more than flexible enough for the occasional bout of enthusiastic pedalling.

but, of course, its build and sartorial elegance are as mere bagatelle if it fails in its primary purpose; keeping me dry. so far i've managed only around eight kilometres in heavy drizzle, during which a coating of baubled raindrops offered the very comfort that i sought. as with the double-ventile edition, i'd have liked an extra couple of centimetres on the sleeves, but given that this is an option when ordering, i can but congratulate hilltrek on realising that cycling activity often demands subtle differences from that of walking or hiking.

part two of this review will have to wait until that warm summer rain reaches saturation point, when i can guarantee the prospect of getting a thorough soaking. till then, i am verily sitting pretty in burnt orange.

hilltrek's greenspot lightweight single-ventile jacket is available in black, olive, royal blue, charcoal or burnt orange, in sizes ranging from xs to xl at a cost of £220. the jacket can be ordered in optional non-standard length and optional non-standard sleeve length at extra cost.

hilltrek greenspot single-ventile lightweight jacket

wednesday 21 june 2017

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veloeye bicycle theft protection

veloeye sticker pack

the rural idyll provides many a benefit that simply cannot be had or experienced in an urban or city setting on the mainland. in my previous residence prior to moving west, i could successfully nip to the newsagent of a saturday morning, collect my reserved copy of the comic (in the days when racing was king) and take the long way home without once meeting anyone i knew. that has rarely, if ever happened on islay; it would be a sad or very rainy day indeed when i can make it as far as the office (a five minute walk from the croft) without bumping into someone of my acquaint or receiving a wave from a passing vehicle.

though it appears a little twee when seen in print, there still exists a sense of community over here that is speedily diluted when moved to locations featuring greater numbers. it is prudent to remember that the population of the entire island numbers very few over 3,200. there are inner-city housing estates that are home to many more and the on-board accommodation of several cruise ships comfortably exceeds such a modest total. probably because of the fact that almost everybody knows everybody else, crime is fairly minimal, verging on the non-existent.

yes, drivers park their cars where they legally shouldn't, many use their phones while driving and people take their shopping home in trolleys that legally belong to the local averagemarket. however, at the risk of jinxing the current situation, it is perfectly possible to leave expensive carbon fibre unlocked in the bike rack outside debbie's, safe in the knowledge that it will be still there when froth supping has ended. at least part of this confidence arises from the knowledge that i probably couldn't pay the majority of the local populace to ride a bicycle, so the chances of them pinching something that needs cleated shoes to ride are fairly minimal. add to that the fact that few are aware that gear changing occurs at the brake levers and the risk factor is probably less than onerous.

veloeye scanned

however, there is currently more house-building taking place on islay than i have witnessed in the last thirty years and that has resulted in far more instances of white van man than usual, many of whom are not from the island. while one would hesitate to cast aspersions upon the honesty of the occupants, it pays to be at least slightly perspicacious when it comes to ensuring none of that carbon fibre goes astray. though there are many bicycle locks that purport to be bomb-proof, angle-grinders are not in short supply at present; if the bike did disappear, how might i find it again?

one answer to this question comes from veloeye based in eddleston in the scottish borders. by creating and subsequently making use of a self-engendered community, they hope to assist the hapless owner in tracking a stolen bicycle after locking has apparently failed as a deterrent.

veloeye works quite simply. via the veloeye.com website, you can purchase a sticker pack for only £10. the pack contains a sachet of isopropyl alcohol in order to wipe down the top tube of your precious bicycle as preparation for the affixing of the three stickers in the pack. these feature a qr code that is tied to the details supplied at the time of online purchase. having done so, it is then necessary to download a free app from either apple's app store or google's android store to your smartphone.

should your bicycle be stolen at any point, the app allows this to be recorded on veloeye's database. and if a fellow veloeye user comes across your missing bicycle, they too can scan the code to check its status and immediately alert the police. but surely, if it's simply a sticker, couldn't the thief remove it to avoid detection?

veloeye stolen

sitting front and centre inside each sticker pack is a warning and disclaimer advising the purchaser that the stickers, in order to feature as an effective deterrent, are "essentially permanently stuck to your bike." therefore, if you're in any doubt about attaching the sticker to your valuable frame, you should simply return the sticker pack for a full refund. however, as the same disclaimer states, attempting to remove the sticker with solvents, heat guns or scrapers "may affect the integrity of your frame."

more than one member of the peloton pointed out that surely it would be easy enough to respray the frame, thus obscuring the code printed on the sticker? but if done professionally, you'd hope that the paint shop would have their own suspicions; if not, hopefully the eventual purchaser would be a bit dubious about acquiring a frame featuring one large and two smaller apparently concealed stickers. and if you happen to sell the bike, you can log-in to your veloeye account to transfer details to the new owner.

it's doubtful that any one method of theft deterrent will offer complete protection, but the veloeye system appears to hold great promise at very low cost. and the more who sign-up, the greater chance there is of recovering a stolen bicycle. so other than a sticker on your top tube and the cost of three double espressos, what have you got to lose?

veloeye.com

tuesday 20 june 2017

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arrivée intermediate l/s jersey

arrivee intermediate l/s jersey

i've said it before, and it seems i have cause to say it once again; cycling must surely be one, if not the best provided for activity when it comes to choice of apparel. in my early days on islay, i thought it necessary to acquaint myself with the availability of specifically outdoor clothing, the sort of garmentage that would keep me warm and dry in the face of north atlantic adversity. this had less to do with the need to cycle all year round as it did with my vain attempts to fashion myself as a landscape artist. you will all well know of the internal warmth that can be achieved when cycling, even at a sedate pace, but sitting for hours in remote locations during the winter months will rob even the most active cyclist of the majority of that heat.

the search, therefore, was on to find breathable jackets, insulated trousers, waterproof overtrousers and appropriately constituted woolly hats to make the act of scribbing charcoal on paper a tad less iniquitous than it would otherwise have been. however, i'd be fibbing if i didn't admit to at least a modest desire to appear as outdoorsy as the pages of several of the (pre-internet) catalogues made it appear was a prerequisite of the genre.

arrivee intermediate l/s jersey

though there still exists an internal artist, the external expression of this has long since flown the coop. however, since those early nineties days, garment technology has moved on considerably. despite global warming, sitting on the council isle at finlaggan in mid january is every bit as cold as it has ever been.

the activity of cycling has arguably outrun that of long walks in the country, or hiking up the side of tall mountains. granted, there are still those intent on exploring the more obscure corners of antarctica and their clothing needs will forever be more demanding than the sunday morning peloton. but that has not put paid to a continuous momentum to satisfy the needs of the velocipedinist even to the extent of giving him or her stuff they hadn't even realised they needed in the first place.

new to me at least in the cycle clothing market, is cheshire based arrivée performance clothing, the brainchild of former dave rayner fund and gb cycling rider, mark baker who gained some professional success in europe during the late nineties and early noughties. pursuant to my contention that the cycle clothing market was all but saturated, i asked him why he'd decided to put his toes in the water (so to speak)?

arrivee intermediate l/s jersey

"I prefer to think of the market as competitive rather than saturated. It's true there are many new brands appearing, however I'm going to try and offer value and experience to our customers.
"Many new cyclists need guidance and advice on aspects of cycling and the vast majority of online and offline retailers just sell the kit and send them on their way."

as with yanto barker's le col clothing, it's not unheard of for former pros to apply their experience in favour of providing cycle clothing that bridges the gap between the amateur and the professional. with this in mind, arrivée sent me a long-sleeve intermediate jersey for review that might better demonstrate the quality of their wares. the latter seems quite extensive for a company that only arrived (pardon the pun) at the marketplace under a year ago and which features of both men's and women's ranges consisting of more than just a handful of competitively priced jerseys and bibshorts.

along with the upsurge in availability of cycle clothing has come the distinction between regular and race fit. the former tends to be a little less figure hugging and tolerant of the less than svelte figure. it also has the useable advantage of not making the wearer look like a refugee from the peloton. the race-fit genre mostly consists of jerseys that feel less than comfortably tailored while stood in front of the bathroom mirror, yet magically transform into a second skin the moment those arms reach for the brake hoods.

arrivee intermediate l/s jersey

arrivée's intermediate jersey, drawn from their national range features a neutral grey augmented by three horizontal black hoops and black cuffs. the hoops appear on both front and back. disappointingly, from my point of view at least, across the upper back, above the hoops appears the legend 'arrivée performance clothing' writ large. this also appears in smaller form on the front left along with apc at lower front right and on the leftmost rear pocket. i could live with the the latter and on the left breast, but the rest, especially the large wording on the rear, seems a tad unnecessary. it's one thing to feature the club or sponsor name on a jersey, but this seems like branding overkill.

a superficial point i agree, but one i feel compelled to make nonetheless. your mileage may vary.

but to return to the race-fit aspect, arrivée's almost seems to work in reverse. though the medium-sized jersey reviewed was a very close fit (i was advised that this range tends to come up a little smaller than normal), i had no complaints on that score whatsoever. but while all felt perfectly normal in front of that well-used bathroom mirror, there seemed a little tightness across the shoulders when in attack mode on the bike. oddly enough and most welcome, in practice this made not one whit of a difference when riding; in fact the jersey behaved impeccably even when its wearer didn't.

arrivee intermediate l/s jersey

in common with most quality jerseys, the intermediate offers a full-length front zip with zip garage at the top, along with the usual three rear pockets and a fourth, zipped security edition. sadly, those pockets were a bit shallower than required by the contemporary pelotonese. i struggled to stuff a rolled up rainjacket into one of the outer pockets while the length of a mini pump was more out than in. however, it would be unfair to single out arrivée as the sole practitioners of this minor inadequacy as i have several other jerseys with a similar problem.

all disparaging aside, if viewed as such, the arrivée intermediate jersey was remarkably comfortable, more breathable than i'd expected and quite frankly, a joy to wear. but with the bulk of the arrivée ranges being relatively new to the world, i also asked mark what plans he had for the future?

"I plan on doing tutorials, events, Q&As with professional riders to pass on their and my experience. For me it's all about adding real value to people's lives and helping people.
"At present, I'm reaching out to people I know and trying to make connections to facilitate the above."

the long-sleeve intermediate jersey is available in sizes ranging from small to xxxl, but you might wish to consider moving up a size from your usual fit, as they are of a commendably close fit. the jersey is also available in black with white hoops and both retail directly from the arrivée website for a most amenable £84.99.

arrivee performance clothing

monday 19 june 2017

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because mark says so

mark beaumont and sustrans

each year at the islay jazz festival, i have cause to hire a motor car in order that i might arrange the pragmatic shifting of a drumset that is not only too unwieldy and fragmented to move by alternative means, but to be quite honest, too heavy into the bargain. quite how hollow shells of wood can weigh as much as they do, i truly have no idea, but as the saying goes, 'them's the biscuits.' as an acknowledged non-driver by choice, even the fellow who rents out the vehicles was surprised to discover that i actually own a driver's licence.

mark beaumont and sustrans

in my early years on the isle, when the kids were of an age where it was more practicable to own a motor car than not, two successive vehicles passed through thewashingmachinepost household. at the point of owning the first of the two, we had occasion to travel to the scottish mainland. nowadays that would be discharged by way of ferry followed by a bus trip to glasgow. that the latter is now the accepted mode of travel brings me great joy, for though i prefer to avoid driving altogether, i absolutely abhor having to drive on the mainland, something i have successfully avoided since the mid 1990s.

mark beaumont and sustrans

i can, therefore, completely understand why, even on the relatively quiet roads this far west, there are those who have no truck with cycling. mrs washingmachinepost is one such person; so intimidated is she by the closeness and speed of motorised traffic, that she refuses to cycle at all. in this, she is not alone, as i know of several others who prefer the safety of their four-wheeled metal boxes than the relative exposure of two wheels. however, were there to be cycle paths or tracks nearby that would offer scenery from the safety of riding nowhere near motor cars, those non-believers might be inclined to accpet velocipedinism into their lives.

mark beaumont and sustrans

just to be clear, i'm not referring to the sort of segregated cycleways as discussed in carlton reid's excellent and recently reviewed bike boom, but the sort of riding to be had on the cycle routes created by sustrans as part of the national cycle network. north of the border, according to sustrans, there are approximately 3,815 kilometres of routes, which include just over 1,000km of traffic-free cycling making use of railway paths, forest roads, shared-use paths, cycle lanes and canal paths.

mark beaumont and sustrans

however, sustrans are keen to underline that their work isn't all about long-distance routes to indulge the cycle-tourists. they're extending deeper into the heart of scotland's communities and have employed the talents of mark beaumont to advertise some of the more prominent aspects of their work in scotland. though beaumont is more renowned for his extensive cycle expeditions, including the length of africa and round the world, he's also keen to show us all how shorter cycling trips can be every bit as enjoyable. routes such as helix park and the kelpies in falkirk, rob roy's grave and the glen ogle viaduct in stirling and the forth bridge and blackness castle to name but a few.

i think those of us gathered here are happy to acknowledge that, as far as cycling obsessiveness is concerned, we are probably beyond saving. however, most of us know of those for whom cycling is hardly front and centre on a daily basis. it is entirely conceivable that the sustrans routes comprise the very palliative that might cure them of their agnosticism. watch the movie, then check out the information on the sustrans website (it scarcely merits mentioning that sustrans are every bit as active south of the border, for those of you unlucky enough not to live in scotland).

sustrans scotland | sustrans and mark beaumont

sunday 18 june 2017

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golf is the new cycling

golf course

in around five weeks, all being well, i should be pedalling a bicycle from imber sports club near hampton court palace in the general direction of folkstone on stage one of hot chillee's 2017 londres-paris ride. as i have mentioned all too frequently recently, i first participated in this annual ride some ten years ago, when the route took us in a westerly direction towards plymouth before taking an overnight cross-channel ferry to st. malo on the french coast. from there, we cycled north towards paris, but in 2007, the end point was the palace at versailles; it was 2008 before the route was changed to land us at calais with a southerly ride to the french capital.

having taken a look at the parcours for this year, it's fairly obvious that each day's riding tops out at a few kilometres more than 162. in other words, 100 miles. though islay features the ride of the falling rain every august, which is also a 100 mile ride, it would be naive to pretend that the route offers anything like the ascending included in the three days of londres-paris. however, even in the absence of appropriate gradiency (is that a word?), i set out on wednesday past just to make sure i could still ride 100 miles without having the need to lie down in a nearby ditch and wonder what excuse i might proffer to sven thiele. happily, the latter did not come to pass and i can ride south with my head held high.

for day one at least.

but three days of cycling is merely the result of a great deal of preparation by those working at hot chillee, who have endeavoured to simplify the necessary processes both prior to and after the bike ride. though i have need of making use of ferries, buses, trains and hotels to be present at imber court at some ungodly hour on the morning of 20 july, there are those who will travel from far further afield. and one of the necessary requirements of signing up for the bike ride is that each participant have some form of travel insurance in place.

it takes only a moment or two on comparethemarket.com to realise that the price of acquiring the necessary insurance varies wildly, from considerably less than ten pounds to well over £45. unsurprisingly, the cover offered by those policies varies quite substantially and it's very much a case of choosing the one that either fits the budget or offers at least the minimum cover necessary. to check that this is the case means wading through dozens of pages informing what's included and excluded for your money and any excesses demanded for each specified section. it's hardly what you'd call fun.

however, such schedules are not without their humorous aspects. i found one company that, despite mentioning cycling not at all in the included activities, did feature insurance cover for elephant riding, something that i'm surprised is frequent enough to garner a specific mention. ultimately, making use of my british cycling membership, i opted for the travel insurance available through the bc website. this may or may not be more expensive than it needed to be (and i'm sure someone will now e-mail me to tell me how foolish i've been with my money), but the fact that it specifically covers the cycling activity that i expect to undertake gives me the peace of mind that i'd like to have while in french france.

but as i read through the policy schedule, i confess i was rather surprised that under section n1, it is possible to acquire cover for golf equipment, equipment hire, non-refundable green fees and, believe it or not, a hole in one bar bill. according to section n4, if you achieve a hole-in-one during an organised competition or tournament at a recognised golf course (?), the insurance company will pay out £100 to offset the cost of taking your golfing buddies for a celebratory drink at the 19th hole.

i'm currently investigating whether they might cover the cost of a glass of san pellegrino should i win the sprint on the champs elysées.

hot chillee

saturday 17 june 2017

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shutt vr custom jersey and pro bibshorts

shutt vr custom

it cannot have escaped your notice that the average member of the pelotonese has an intrinsic need to stand out in a crowd. i do not intend to suggest that we are, by nature, either narcissistic or ostentatious, but it's hard to deny that dressing in brightly coloured polyester and lycra on a sunday morning is hardly the behaviour of the shy and retiring. but it gets worse, for not only exists this need to be noticed, but it seems we also have a needy predilection for standing out amongst those who already stand out.

if you catch my drift.

shutt vr custom

to place this theory (which, as related by john cleese, is mine) in a more relevant context, imagine the anonymity of pelotons all across the country dressing in precisely the same colour of jersey. for starters, the comic's weekly club feature would be a tad less interesting. the need to belong is often expressed by way of the ubiquitous club jersey, allowing the demonstration of a collective membership in a dye-sublimated tribal fashion. those of us in the velo club, despite our minimal numbers, are no different.

shutt vr bibshorts

historically speaking we originally demonstrated an adherence to the amber nectar originating at ardbeg distillery, principally because they had eventually caved in to our repeated requests for an ardbeg cycle jersey. however, since none of us live within even shouting distance of the old kiln pagodas, we subsequently transferred allegiance to debbie's café in bruichladdich, a little closer to home for the majority of the peloton. this was outwardly expressed by way of the highly acclaimed welcome to great coffee jerseys.

shutt vr custom

but, as bob dylan has occasionally mentioned, the times they are a-changing and we are not ones to dispute the philosophies of mr zimmerman. thus, inspired by an italian vintage wool jersey, the decision was made to commission the extremely helpful chaps and chapesses at shutt velo rapide to produce a verisimilitude of that italian jersey, fashioned in the colours to which we had become accustomed.

and in faux italian style (a bit like pronouncing campagnolo with an italian accent) we have become 'gruppo ciclismo (abbreviated to g.c.) ristorante debbie's'. you can laugh if you like, but it's hard to deny the coolness factor that such a finely honed jersey confers upon the wearer. and not only does the decor pay homage to the home of the giro, but the fit has also been inherited from the nation of coppi, bartali and pantani, favouring the slim of figure and offering what we like to call a race fit.

shutt vr bibshorts

however, in the modern age and ever mindful of a velominati rule that may have inadvertently escaped our committee meetings, i feel it is incumbent on the well-dressed to match bibs with jersey, at least as far as branding is concerned. thus i was more than happy to accessorise the new club jersey with a pair of shutt's excellent italian-made pro bib shorts, tastefully trimmed with their trademark rainbow colours at the hems of both legs.

once again, the fit favours the slim, featuring mesh bibs that not only resist the temptation to cut into a pair of bony shoulders, but make for easy access should you happen to get caught short, if you see what i mean. the constitution of the red shutt logo'd pad appears particularly technical and i cannot deny a certain perceived 'bulk' when worn for the first time. however, all such apprehensions evaporate when in the saddle; after but a matter of kilometres it was easy to forget it was even there.

shutt vr bibshorts

after well over 100km of riding, my only quibble was a certain tightness to be noted where the black lycra joins the rainbow hems. i did dismount with a couple of reddish areas on the lower thighs, but on subsequent rides this had all but disappeared, so perhaps i moan about nothing.

it is comforting to come across quality at this level from a british-based cycling apparel. in truth, there's little point in standing out from the crowd in any other manner. i can but commend, from our own experience, that you consider shutt vr when it comes time to commission your own custom clothing, but also the efficacy and style of their off the shelf bibshorts.

don't be afraid to tell them we sent you.

shutt cycle clothing

friday 16 june 2017

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wheelsmith ..........................................................................................................................................................................................................

bike boom. the unexpected resurgence of cycling. carlton reid. island press paperback. 246pp illus. £22.99

"During the German occupation of the Netherlands the private use of automobiles was stamped out, and even more people than usual took to riding bicycles."

bike boom - carlton reid

the fact that great numbers of ordinary people ride bicycles in the netherlands has led the country to be placed on a pedestal; many a town planning committee from all across the world has made the pilgrimage to holland, fascinated to learn why it seems to work in a country which owns no fewer cars per head of population than many other european countries. in fact, according to the dutch government, the netherlands is the only European country with more bicycles than people

carlton reid, despite entitling his latest book bike boom begins his preface by informing us "...despite what you might have assumed from book titles, there is no bike boom right now, nor has there been one in the United Kingdom or the United States since the early 1970s." he continues by explaining that though the media are fond of mentioning that bicycling is apparently booming and that he frequently goes along with this misapprehension, "This book is a 79,000-word reaction to my timidity about not explaining why - despite appearances - bicycling may not actually be booming right now."

if you, like me, were wondering why reid named his book contrary to his stated belief, he informs us on the same page that by acknowledging a boom does not exist, "we can better explore how to go out and create one.

firstly, however, the book's other idiosyncracies. though the netherlands are quite rightly dealt with in great detail, there is scarce mention of any other european countries. though italy's fascination with the bicycle is often portrayed as being predominantly related to bartali, coppi and the giro, et al, vittorio de sica's the bicycle thieves which portrayed the great importance of the bicycle in the post war employment stakes, receives not a mention. nor, according to recollection and the book's expansive index, does italy. the home of le tour is mentioned but once.

secondly, though i garnered the impression that bike boom leaned just a tad towards the north american point of view, page 12 of the book's introduction seemed oddly inexplicable. reid subjectively contends that the british word pavement is nowhere near as descriptive as the american word sidewalk, despite the author hailing from this side of the pond. he compounds this subjectivity by stating "I also use American spelling throughout." it may be a superficial point, but throughout the book i kept wanting to ask "why?"

there is, however, no denying the author's tenacity and ability to research even the more obscure aspects of his narrative. he also has a comforting knack of offering particularly apposite descriptions of things as they appear. "To many people all cyclists are the same, they are the 'other', whether that's the Washington DC, executive who commutes... on her $4,000 gravel bike or the low-paid Hispanic rider on his $130 Walmart bike..." (note the americanisation once more).

the bulk of those aforementioned 79,000 words are quite fascinating. this is not a book that concerns itself with the sporting milieu, but with the historical reasons as to how, despite the huge numbers of cyclists that existed prior to the second world war, the motor car gained ascendancy. in both britain and north america this could almost be summed up simplistically by noting how the motor car became a status symbol almost as quickly as it became the predominant mode of transport. the inference being that those who rode bicycles did so because they were too poor to own a motor car.

but as with everything, simplistic is rarely the whole answer.

in the early part of last century, when the motor car became more affordable and thus more populous on britain's roads, the powers that be, ostensibly concerned with avoiding predicted comings together between cyclists and motor cars, were intent on separating the two by constructing wholly separated bike lanes or cycleways. however, the cycling public, fronted by the cyclists touring club were concerned not only that this conferred a more lowly status upon those who cycled, but that such cycleways rarely connected them with the locations and town centres they wished to visit. the (correct) supposition was that the authorities were intent on keeping the cycling public out of the way of the apparently more important motorist.

"Cyclists, in effect, became scapegoats for the congestion that they didn't cause, a blame game that's still played today."

in a situation that features echoes still resounding to this day, despite a 1935 ministry of transport census that demonstrated 80 percent of vehicular traffic in some english towns consisted of bicycles, british motorists demanded that the majority users of the roads should "step aside for their betters." not unnaturally, the cycling organisations felt that the opposite should be the case. however, policy makers and town planners were more often than not rich motorists. not only did they beg to differ, but effectively held the power to have matters arranged in their own interests.

in a contention that still exists amongst cycling activists today, it has long been stated that were british and american cyclists to be provided with state of the art, connected cycling networks that separated them from speeding motor cars, more would choose the bicycle over the car. reid uses the example of davis county in california where a growing influx of students to the university of california were advised to bring bicycles, not cars. this led to davis becoming the acknowledged bicycle capital of america. nowadays that is no longer the case, but in examining davis, reid cites the state capital, Unlike Sacramento, twelve miles to the west, the flat and sleepy town of Davis still had a cycling culture in the early 1960s..."

that may well be the truth, but reid subsequently fails to mention that sacramento currently has around 32 miles of segregated cycleway (that passes san quentin prison), a pathway that is maintained not only by the city but the state. on a visit in 2012, i rode along the bulk of this route and marvelled to see a team of leaf blowers out on a saturday morning keeping the tarmac clear of anything that might impede the wide range of cyclists making use of this unadulterated freedom from the motor car. davis was influenced by the dutch model, but then so was the english new town of stevenage. in the face of what was being referred to as vehicular cycling, where cyclists were encouraged to ride with the same confidence and authority as those enclosed in their faster-moving metal boxes, stevenage was proclaimed as "...a shining example of how the provision of high-quality, joined-up cycle infrastructure would encourage many to cycle, not just keen cyclists."

stevenage was planned by eric claxton, a man that reid describes as a utility cyclist. approval of the cycle network was given in 1950 and constructed alongside the primary road network. these cycleways were mostly flat and designed to encourage residents of the new town to walk and cycle, completely separated from motorised traffic. caxton had witnessed the high usage of holland's cycle tracks and figured this could be replicated in the uk. "Instead - to Claxton's puzzlement, and eventual horror - residents of Stevenage chose to drive, not cycle, even for journeys of two miles or less."

carlton goes on to explain not only why the experiment at stevenage and indeed at thamesmead failed to replicate the situation in the netherlands. there, cycling is so ubiquitous that it is seen as regular behaviour and probably not something that they're inclined to examine with any expectation of profundity. that is left to the visiting non-dutch. reid also examines why holland succeeded where britain and america quite patently didn't. i could tell you here, but then you'd miss out on the pleasure of reading an incredibly informative, well-written (american spellings notwithstanding) and fascinating publication, in this genre, carlton reid is head and shoulders above any other author; these things matter to him a great deal and it's not really too hard to see why.

even those who are inclined to place the carbon fibre on the roof of their audi or bmw four-wheel-drive suvs should make themselves aware of this historical struggle between two wheels and four. britain's bike boom might not really exist (nor that of north america) and the bradley bubble simply the result of media invention, but as with many a contemporary situation, reality bites. this is the ideal preparation for the revolution when it arrives.

thursday 15 june 2017

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the man behind the book - a few words with peter cossins

peter cossins

read interviews with, or biographies of, riders from yesteryear and at some point in the conversation, mention will be made that the racing today is a tad different from what it was in their time. though some of those comments may be tinged wth nostalgia, it is a contention with which it's hard to argue. the velominati amongst others have been keen to point out that not only did eddy merckx race from the spring classics all the way through to lombardy, but managed to win more than a select few in the process.

and merckx was hardly alone in such efforts. whereas the majority of contemporary riders, particularly those designated as team leaders, are more likely to target specific races or parts of the season, not so very long ago (let's call it the pre-lemond era for convenience' sake) it was expected that every man would do his duty, no matter that they were rarely fighting for other than second place.

of course, this season-long situation began long before merckx pulled on a peugeot or molteni jersey. in the recently reviewed book bird on the wire, tom simpson and his peers frequently needed to show well in the tour de france in order to guarantee their earnings by way of post tour criteriums. nowadays, the millions of pounds oft quoted when sponsorship is discussed, have eased the pain of the need for perpetual victory in order to guarantee a comfortable stipend.

sponsorship, other than that of specific events, was all but unheard of at the turn of last century. the inaugural tour de france, as we all well know, was the brainchild of henri desgrange, born of a need to increase the circulation of his newspaper at the expense of those of his competitors. we have been recently reminded of this with the publication of butcher, blacksmith, acrobat, sweep - the tale of the first tour de france, a superbly forensic recounting by renowned author peter cossins, of the first, six stage event that took place in 1903. that the book illustrates its subject so well and in such an eminently readable manner is of great credit to its author, but the undertaking to write about a race that took place 114 years ago, seems almost rash. was this cossins' idea or the result of an unfortunate bet?

"It was my idea and stemmed largely from reading conflicting and sometimes very inaccurate accounts of that first race.
One thing that struck me quite quickly and led to me putting together a book proposal, was the fact that very little was said about the political, cultural and sporting situation in France at that time. As someone who has spent a lot of time in France and now lives in the country, that really interested me."

peter makes a highly relevant point, for even today, any recounting of this year's tour de france is highly unlikely to make mention of the current french president emmanuel macron and the salient knowledge that his en marche! party is a remarkably recent addition to the country's political scene. whether any dyed-in-the-wool cycling fan is particularly interested is something of a moot point. but in laying bare the machinations of that first ride across france, it would be a less than responsible dissertation that ignored the national and european circumstances under which the race came to fruition.

but allowing for the fact that cossins felt compelled to bring us not only the twists and turns of the competition, but also the context in which they thrived, it remains that all this took place over a century ago. how does a writer go about researching an historical subject such as this?

"By spending a lot of time digging through the newspaper archives in the Bibliothèque Nationale de France in Paris.
Thankfully, a lot of its archive is available online, which helped get me started. There are also plenty of books in French about that race and period, although, surprisingly, not a single one about Maurice Garin."

that in itself must be regarded as somethng of an oddity. with prince bradley having provided us with at least two published insights into his competitive career and alisdair fotheringham having recently regaled us with a well-curated insight into that of miguel indurain, you would have thought it likely that the winner of the very first grand boucle would have merited at least one or two compendia over the last hundred years or so. for those of you who have read butcher, blacksmith, acrobat, sweep, you will be aware that the gent engendered more than one or two anecdotes in 1903 alone.

however, there still remains the inescapable fact that both wiggins and indurain are still in the land of the living and possibly available for interview. it surely must be a potential stumbling block that none of those participating in the 1903 tour are still with us. nor, indeed, are those who witnessed the event at first hand. didn't this complicate matters somewhat?

butcher, blacksmith, acrobat, sweep

"To a degree, although the race was very extensively covered in contemporary newspapers. One of the oddities, though, of reporting then is that journalists didn't tend to give too much space to the views of the riders, so there are very few direct quotes from any of the participants apart from Garin, Hippolyte Aucouturier and Rodolfo Muller.
"It's clear that most of the journalists knew the riders well and spent a lot of time talking to them, but they tended to use the riders' words to support their own analysis of the racing, rather than present them directly. Reading reports from other sports, this style of reporting wasn't exclusive to cycling."

on the basis that i sit down each evening and scribble a few hundred yellow backed, black pixelled words, it has been suggested that i should probably write a book. however, with no disrespect intended, those people are wrong. it's all very well for me to undertake a modest level of background research when necessary, before committing fingers to keys, but the word systematic is not one to which i readily answer. and then there's the matter of time. how long did butcher, blacksmith, acrobat, sweep take from conception to handing over the final draft?

"It probably took the best part of a year, although I only worked flat out on it during the final four months."

for readers of butcher, blacksmith, acrobat, sweep, not only was there the thrill of the chase, but the opportunity to learn more about an event that has effectively fostered the sport as we know it today. it's possibly every bit as important as watching footage of this year's event. yet despite as i believe i mentioned to peter cossins in an e-mail, we already knew that the butler did it and even the name of that butler, there was the sensation of being on a voyage of discovery, to learn not only of the race and its competitors, but the scenery in which it was played out.

but what of the author? is it important to be previously aware of the facts prior to the commencement of writing? was this also a voyage of discovery, or was he already familar with many of the race specifics?

"I knew all of the basic details - who won where and the final placings - but I didn't know much at all about the riders, and very little at all about the political and cultural influences that also played a significant role in the race's foundation.
I was really interested to discover a lot more about the language used to describe the race and the riders, and how, for instance, fears of another German invasion coloured this language so much. Even then the Tour was marketing France and any number of brands, but it was also marketing French manhood and strength, presenting the riders as examples of vitality, virility and determination."

thewashingmachinepost began almost as an exercise independent of the subject matter with which it deals. i have long been a great admirer of charles m schultz, writer and illustrator of the peanuts cartoons, particularly for his tenacity in successfully offering humorous, poignant and relevant cartoons for almost fifty years. i was fairly sure that, in the mid-nineties, i could scarcely hold a candle to such awareness and intelligence, and so conducted what began as an experiment to see how long it would last. thankfully, things have gone far better than i could have hoped, but there was always (and still is, to be honest), the strong possibility that i'd bitten off more than i could chew.

that, i tend to think, must surely remain at the back of every prospective author's mind. to have conducted negotiations with a publishing house and agreed a timescale for delivery of the final draft, personally i would always be concerned that tomorrow might never come. or perhaps, the next chapter. were there any points during the writing when peter thought he too had bitten off more than he could swallow?

"Not at all. I enjoyed writing this book more than any other I've done before. I got swept up with the race, with the personalities, with every aspect of it. By the end, I was completely convinced that the significance of the first Tour is all too often overlooked. It was, after all, cycling's first stage race and the race that led the sport away from the use of pace-makers. Finding out more about it revealed an awful lot about how the Tour became the race it is now."

when investigating the whys and wherefores of the ideal training regime, that we might improve upon the meagre fitness and speed that is currently ours, the modern idiom continually emphasises the need for rest and rest of a quality upon which we have scarcely crept before. it would be naive to suppose that this formula is one that applies solely to the quest for velocity and a honed physique. after the trials and tribulations of exploring a century old cycle race, will peter's next book be about something simpler to research?

"I can't say what it's about, but I already suspect it's going to be harder to research, or perhaps harder to structure and write."

i fear mr cossins needs to revise his training schedule, should such a concept exist for hard-working authors.

but finally, after the publication of such an essential volume for the cycling bookshelf, it seems only fair to ask who will play the part of peter cossins when steven spielberg makes the film version of butcher, blacksmith, acrobat, sweep?

"George Clooney, almost certainly. On a serious note, I think the story of the first Tour would make for a fantastic film. Sporting heroics, cheating, murder and bouillabaisse - it's got it all!

butcher, blacksmith, acrobat, sweep - the story of the first tour de france, is published in hardback by yellow jersey press.

wednesday 14 june 2017

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rapha lines pro team flyweight jersey

rapha lines pro team flyweight jersey

the scots language, as opposed to what might be termed the queen's english has provided us with words that are every bit as descriptive as they are functional. at least as far as those of us north of the border are concerned. shand cycles have already made excellent use of one or two examples: stoater, bahookie, skinnymalinky etc., but as you might expect, there are very many more, a few of which i intend to impress upon you below.

rapha lines pro team flyweight jersey

for instance, it is not considered unusual for mrs washingmachinepost to ask the children in her charge to 'wheesht', a word that implies they should become a tad quieter than caused her to utter the request in the first place. very much not a word you would expect to hear during the course of childminding day would be bevy (sometimes spelt bevvy) referring predominantly to any form of alcoholic refreshment. it can also be employed to describe a selection of more than simply a single bevy.

should you subsequently consume large quantities of bevy, there is every likelihood that you would become blootered or stocious, either of which describes a drunken stupour. thus, on receiving rapha's lines pro team flyweight jersey, mrs washingmachinepost was heard to exclaim that it had made her skelly-eyed, an exclamation with which it is hard to argue.

rapha lines pro team flyweight jersey

english painter, bridget riley, was an inspiration to one or two of those with whom i attended art college. while several of us were impressed by the works of the fauvists and abstract expressionists, delighting in the application of heavy impasto oils (assuming we could actually afford another tube of winsor and newton oil paint) with more abandon than grace, there were at least one or two who spent inordinate periods of time decorating their canvasses with masking tape, soon to be followed by the application of thin areas of paint that would ultimately make our own eyes go skelly.

bridget riley commenced her best known style in the 1960s, presenting an adoring audience with the opportunity to experience sensations frequently described as approximating seasickness and often similar to sky-diving, sensations guaranteed to help you stand out in a crowded art gallery. of course, while those of us intent on reaching graduation had need of undertaking our own graft, from the early sixties, riley was merely the facilitator; the works were carried out by assistants.

rapha lines pro team flyweight jersey

in 1967, riley commenced exploring the world of colour, while continuing to explore the oddities of so-called op art.

with the latest releases of their lines flyweight jerseys, if mrs washingmachinepost's reaction is anything to go by, rapha have successfully continued the artistic theme commenced by riley some five decades past. it's eminently possible that jerseys decorated in this fashion (the pro team range currently consists of the black and white variation, as reviewed, along with a black and pink alternative) might form the basis of the latest in hi-viz. the only fly in that particular ointment is that the casual observer may have to be a smidgeon closer than we'd like. however, though the lines range is mere surface decoration, for those with an artistic sensibility, it's pretty darned excellent.

rapha lines pro team flyweight jersey

however, in these days of relatively low-cost dye sublimation, almost anyone with a blank jersey and access to the technology could do (almost) the same thing. designer jerseys are all very well, but at these prices, functionality surely ought to take precedence? with this in mind, on receiving news of the release of rapha's flyweight jerseys, i jokingly contacted their press officer to request small, medium, large and extra-large samples that i might layer them and keep myself warm enough to undertake a review. though i don't usually care for being proved wrong, in this case you'd scarcely comprehend just how wrong i was.

the hebridean climate is one that has singularly failed to understand consistency. despite heavy clouds and a smir of rain on the kitchen window last saturday morning, only a matter of kilometres after leaving home, i'd to remove my rainjacket, carrying on clad only in my skelly-eye inducing flyweight jersey and pro team bibs. over the course of the subsequent 80 kilometres, that jersey proved the ideal companion even into a sturdy headwind and alleged temperatures of 21 degrees. that may not be considered warm in the home-counties, but it passes for the height of summer up here.

rapha lines pro team flyweight jersey

assuming you can concentrate vision long enough to discriminate between jersey and pockets, the latter are more than capacious. otherwise, where was that rolled up rainjacket to abide meantime? and though true members of the pro-team generation presumably have a skoda to do the heavy lifting, it was a comfort to discover a zipped security pocket on such an anorexic garment. as with all rapha's pro team range of jerseys, the fit can but be described as race; awkward in front of the mirror, but perfection when in the drops. additionally, it might be an idea to have lessened any untoward bumps in your physique prior to making the shift from sportwool.

that said, the lines flyweight jersey confers both style and illusion upon the pelotonese. with the presumed onset of improved temperatures sooner rather than later (unless domiciled in the southern hemisphere), opting for a graphically challenging jersey that vyes with tracing paper in the heft department, might well be the pertinent choice.

rapha lines pro team flyweight jersey

tuesday 13 june 2017

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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

port mòr bistro. now that the original debbie's is run by her mum, aileen, debbie has taken over the catering franchise at port charlotte's port mòr centre, where you can have some of deb's famously wonderful coffee as well as a wide range of foodtsuffs. highly recommended.

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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.......................................................................................................................................................................................................... thewashingmachinepost

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book reviews

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