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vc_port_wemyss

a rare photograph of the assembled multitude: vc port wemyss (also known as velo club d'ardbeg) outside the well known tea/coffee and carrot cake stop, the croft kitchen in port charlotte. this after cycling three centuries before lunchtime (ok, i made the last bit up).

l to r: directeur sportif dave thomas, james from islay it, me (notice the rapha training top), and jeremy from islay birding .........................................................................................................................................................................................................

draught excluders

oh the psychology of it all. now that we're into winter (honestly, we are), the wind has decided to become vengeful round these here parts (last monday, they clocked a gust of 115mph at the measuring point at the airport).

i have had a number of people ask me over the course of the year whether velo club d'ardbeg (or vc port wemyss - take your pick) went out cycling in the wind? well, if we didn't venture out in the wind, we'd never go out at all. well, apart from today when there really wasn't any wind at all, but those days are so few and far between, that it's unlikely to be something i mention too often in this column.

anyway, back to the draughty stuff. last week's sunday bike ride was quite pleasant for the first two thirds, but the latter part when the ds and myself wend(ed) our weary way back to the croft kitchen for an espresso and a carrot cake (yum) became a total slogfest. i must admit that last year in a perennial wind that didn't seem to go away for months, it was possible to eventually get used to it. insofar as it is possible to get used to a strong headwind, it almost started to become enjoyable. more so if you can successfully work 'through and off'

now just so that we all know what we're talking about when i say 'headwind', anything above 20mph counts as a headwind, though more usually it's 25 - 28mph. i state this not to convince you that we are hardened individuals out here on the western extremes of scotland (but actually we are), but more to illustrate the huge discrepancy between the windspeed shown on the televisual weather forecast and what we actually get. most of the measuring stations are on the mainland which is sheltered by the kintyre peninsula and arran - so there's plenty to diffuse the wind before it reaches the relative comfort of the scottish west coast. the ds and i have oft times remarked on the fact that, while we pedal manfully into horizontal rain and look disparagingly at the single digits shown on the cycle computer (unless i'm looking at my heart rate which always seems to be a bigger number than i would like) that the nice weather man on the telly told us it would be dry and 15mph winds.

however, stalwarts that we are, we have now learned to ignore the weather forecasts, or at least any numerical information associated therewith and base the days' outings on visual information garnered each sunday morning.

so where does psychology come into it? well, i have a penchant for hills and will even settle for slight uphill gradients with an unconcealed look of glee on my face (put it down to watching robert millar's 'high life' maybe once too often). since i seem to be in a minority of one round here regarding pedalling uphill, i have to put that down to the psychological advantage. i'm not a good enough cyclist to gain any real physical advantage over my islay colleagues, but i can go uphill a heck of a lot faster. this has to be my joy of vertical displacement.

so why not adopt the same attitude towards the wind. if it's behind me i'm happy and if it's in front of me, i'm also happy. it's a no lose situation. the harder i have to work into a headwind, the fitter i'll be to take advantage of the tailwind on the way back. and if i head out into a headwind, then it's leaving me more energy to cope with the headwind in the other direction.

and if it really is a pain in the proverbial, then i can always fall back on the notion that it's character building and excellent training. this would ring true if only i was training for something. anyway, suffice to say, i don't mind headwinds anymore, which is just as well, because it's only november, and we've already had two severe gales in one week.

and just on a related note, i'm still conducting a long-term test on the rapha merino training top - still cosier than it has any right to be, surviving the washing cycle with only minor bleed of the black into the white, and still looks pretty much as good as the day it was delivered. and despite having to be pulled over three rear pockets filled with all sorts of sunday pedalling stuff (pump, waterproof, inner tube, mini toolkit, munchies etc.) it has retained every inch of its shape.

those really nice people at rapha are offering winter packs with substantial discounts: the 60 winter pack consists of three pairs of merino socks (best on the planet), a pair of sportwool armwarmers, and a merino base layer. this gives a total saving of 45; the 120 Winter Pack has a classic sportwool jersey (best jersey i've ever bought) a pair of sportwool armwarmers, an epic cap, and a merino base layer. this saves 55 in total; and lastly, for the well heeled cyclist, the 300 winter pack: a softshell jacket, a merino training top (luxury), a merino base layer, an epic cap, and three pairs of merino socks (get the black ones, wear them with kneewarmers and change your name to bram de groot). this saves a whopping 140.

these offers are only available from rapha's website. click here to see.

they're also bringing out a range of clothing called 'fixed', starting with a rather super merino wool jersey for a mere 80. have a look here. according to rapha, the jersey is 'designed for the rigours of all day urban riding, the jersey is made from hard wearing pure merino wool, with a generous cut and understated style.' and no, they didn't pay me for this - it's just ruddy good cycle stuff.

don't forget to read the extract from allan peiper's 'a peiper's tale' in the robert millar pages on this site. major thanks to adrian bell of mousehold press and allan peiper for permission to reprint.

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this website got its name because scotland's graeme obree built his championship winning 'old faithful' using bits from a defunct washing machine

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

this column appears, as regular as clockwork on this website every two weeks. (ok so i lied) sometimes there are bits added in between times, but it all adds to the excitement.

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