it will not have escaped the attention of those paying even scant attention, that pretty much every bike ride no matter where on islay, has a touching point at debbie's cafe somewhere along the route. though not written in stone or necessarily dictated as obligatory, it might as well be.
prior to miss macdougall returning to her ancestral home almost exactly five years ago, there were few places that the island cyclist could call home, especially over the winter months when everything seemed to close. though the italians and portlandians may have had a monopoly on accompanying or interrupting a bicycle ride to partake of fine coffee such as an espresso or cappuccino, islay's riders were confined to the croft kitchen in port charlotte, and that was often erratic in its servings.
the latter, however, had a tradition of closing from october until easter, the very months when a warm something or other post-ride would have been eagerly welcomed if not downright necessitous. but instead, the rudimentary velo club peloton had little option but to recite a hail fellow, well met, prior to going its separate ways, teeth a chittering and with numb fingers.
miss macdougall, however, became our saviour, not only being a virtual black belt in the art of designer coffee, but intent on providing the comfortable equivalent of a clubhouse. heck, she was even amenable enough to set-aside an entire area of wall for various illustrations pertaining to the art of cycling, though often not as we know it.
over the course of those five years, debbie's has acquired a cult following, making it a required stop for pretty much every visiting cyclist. it's the very reason why the current and various back issues of the comic can be found resting beneath the coffee tables from which indolent but satisfactory supping can be practised. the once empty patio was soon populated with external tables and chairs and on fine days like sunday past, the indigenous peloton and visiting comrades could while away the hours arguing over just whose tyre width had claimed the sprint at the speed signs on entering bruichladdich village.
last year an american gentleman and his wife intimated several months in advance of their intention to run the islay half marathon on saturday and hire two bicycles that they may visit debbie's on the sunday. fame and fortune spread far afield. it is also the start and finsih point for the annual ride of the falling rain providing a caffeine boost for the off, and a recuperative cup at the end of 100 miles.
though officially known as bruichladdich mini-market and situated only a few yards from the distillery, debbie's has become the preferred moniker both locally and across the world. regular customers have, in the pursuance of holidays at locations across the globe, genuflected at the lack of a coffee to compare with that served within; had this not been the case, there would really be no substance to back up our proselytising. so far, i am unaware of any who have called this aspect into question.
however, such are the whys and wherefores of island life, that some folks tend to stay forever (me, for instance) and others manage a few years before life, ambitions or both take them elsewhere. such is the immediate future for debbie, having intimated her intention to move on several months ago. though we are happy for her to follow fate and fortune, members of the velo club, fearing for our own future comforts and coffee, were a mite concerned over the identity of a succeeding incumbent.
but all is good with the world, for as of friday afternoon, 1st april, debbie's mum, aileen, who many of you will already know, has taken over ownership of the lease and our world has seamlessly continued as before. aileen is easily the equal of her daughter when it comes to serving a fine cup of coffee; if we were aware of none of this, and entered the cafe with eyes closed, the difference would be, to all intents and purposes, immeasurable.
but though on a technicality, it should now be referred to as aileen's, island tradition and aileen's insistence demands that we will continue to refer to it as debbie's.
not all change is bad.
posted monday 4 april 2011..........................................................................................................................................................................................................
as an occasional observer of trends in which i frequently partake without realising, when did we start referring to it on this side of the channel as ronde van vlaanderen or der ronde? years ago the tour of flanders was the byword (or three) until we came over all continental. i do agree, the belgian moniker has more character and je ne sais quoi, impressing on all those within earshot just how dyed in the wool we are when it comes to bike racing. a badge of honour, if you will, even though it is frequently the case that those in proximity could care a jot.
while the race itself, now passed, occupies the bulk of sunday morning and pm (eurosport being particularly impressive with coverage this year) it doesn't seem too eccentric to think of both saturday and sunday as vlaanderen weekend, giving most of saturday over to working oneself into a frenzy before a few hours of couch potatoeness come sunday lunchtime. those given over more to wanderlust and uncurbed enthusiasm will of course have been standing eagerly by the roadside somewhere in central europe, valiantly waving a yellow flag with a black lion aboard.
or maybe two.
those of us less given over to literally following our obsession, either due to work commitments or lack of wherewithal to experience those cobbles in the flesh, need to resort to more heath robinson constructs to enhance the intangible that is david and sean. preparation is key, based on perceptible weather and over twenty years of local knowledge which continues to desert me with alarming regularity. i really thought i'd have learned by now.
however, after moaning insufferably about the state of the roads, for at least a couple of weekends in succession, the less billiard table-like the route to nirvana, the better. between crosshouses and coullabus, peaking at the ruined cottage at borraichill (now given to storage of hay and farm implements), is the road that all review bicycles are required to traverse; it's the road kept for special occasions. it's primary purpose is that of an access road for west carrabus farm, and though a passable single-track, i am using the word passable in its loosest sense. consisting of one (fairly anodyne) cattle grid, this is more than compensated for by lashings of belgian toothpaste, potholes that could eat a tractor and frequently an entire herd of cattle that stand in the middle of the road and stare imperiously.
if this were the only association that could be found for a local de ronde experience i would be happy to raise my hand and admit to the saddo cyclist epithet. this is, however, but the mere appetiser en route to the belgian road encircling the western half of loch gorm. of course, it's not really belgian, but it does have grass growing along its central portion, it is exposed to every type of element on offer, and the surface would not know the word smooth if it were ladled from a can. the building of character is immeasurably enhanced should a gale force headwind be available and, as luck would have it, that is just the way it was.
i will gloss over the direct route towards debbie's, for by this time the wind was in its ascendancy but very directly at one's back: cycling for softies. despite der ronde coinciding with ridiculously long school holidays, traffic was notable by its absence, and the tractor tyre mud had dessicated and mostly blown into the surrounding fields.
to fully appreciate the workload of the professionals it is necessary to conduct this pre-ronde enthusiasm on something approximating a competitive or once-competitive bicycle. in the case in question, sun and wind had recommended the colnago master, for a lack of precipitation and scarcity of road grit was unlikely to sully the chromed parts.
for those who sit at home with their tom boonen fan club poster and lion of flanders cut out bunting, reading from the prognostications of the monthlies as to next weekend's cobblefest to roubaix, take my advice and get truly into the spirit by doing as i did. with rapidly deteriorating road surfaces all across the planet (by the way, did you know that diageo consider scotland not to be a part of great britain?) you shouldn't have to travel too far to find a verisimilitude of sufficient discomfort for 3d riding.
though hebrideans are undeniably the flandrians of the west, there's always room for more.
posted sunday 3 april 2011..........................................................................................................................................................................................................
schooldays are often promoted as being the best days of our lives, but i'm willing to bet that it's a phrase not often repeated outside of western culture. in many a third world country, school is something that gets in the way of life itself; chores, cooking, gathering fuel, transporting water; pretty much staying alive really. but many of those facets of an underprivileged lifestyle are almost bound to remain that way through lack of education. it can't be easy to make your way upward without the know-how, knowledge that likely only comes from an instituted, progressive education. however, it's not hard to see from some of the above listings that getting to school at all might conceivably be the hardest part of the day.
while it bothers me little becasue i cycle everywhere, the transport infrastructure (far too kind a word for what actually exists) on islay is fairly rudimentary. the operator runs the service at the behest of the local council and thus has no incentive to improve it beyond its current meagre timetable. it may or may not surprise you to know that if you arrive of the evening ferry service, there is no public transport meeting the boat. and currently there is no bus service on a sunday whatsoever; if you get off the ferry, you're on your own. about half the postbus service was removed several years ago.
but we really have no right to moan, for many a country in africa and elsewhere has no public transport service whatsoever. it is therefore hard to finish the daily morning chores and walk several long, dusty miles to school, before facing the same again on the return, ready to tackle the evening's chores. it's not necessarily something that has sprung from nowhere unexpectedly; for many of those indigenous to these countries, it's an occupational hazard, but that doesn't mean to say a change wouldn't be welcomed with open arms, and that's where bikes4africa steps into the breach. reconditioning donated bikes in the uk, they transport them to african schools, enabling disenfranchised children to: get to school; arrive at school on time instead of late; begin the school day alert instead of exhausted; stay for extra lessons at the end of the school day; reach higher academic achievement; arrive home earlier; help their families more at home; remain safe by travelling home from school in daylight. perfectly laudable aims, but aims that need a bit of assistance to achieve.
many of the donated bikes are refurbished by prison inmates around the uk before they're packed into sea containers and despatched by sea to africa. (the charity delivered its first shipment to gambia, west africa in april 2006.) on reaching their destination, the bikes are distributed to the beneficiary schools for allocation to the students who need them most. they remain the property of the schools concerned, thus ensuring that the children only retain temporary ownership of their bicycle while they continue to attend school. when they graduate, the cycle is passed to another deserving child.
a highly practical situation.
around this time last april, i was privileged to be invited to join the london tweed ride, several miles around the country's capital at a throughly relaxing speed, accompanied by tweed clad and moustachioed gents and some rather glamourously attired women. enough to turn a dapper gent's head. mr scofield of dromarti very kindly loaned me one of his distinctly retro and particularly fabulous steel bicycles along with a pair of storica leather shoes. coupled with a single malt tweed jacket and a slightly incongruous pair of rapha fixed shorts, i had a marvellous day replete with string quartet and tea and cucumber sandwiches. the organisers were kind enough to invite me again this year, but due to circumstances almost outside my control, i have sadly had to decline.
if i were you, reading all the foregoing, i would now be somewhat disorientated as to where all this is heading, but i am about to supply the missing link that should hopefully make everything slightly clearer.
if i was to formulate a word association exercise relating to the tweed run, (which, incidentally, i'm not) brooks saddles and pashley bicycles would not be too far from the list of thoughts, and not without good reason. and here's where the connection makes itself known, for pashley bicycles of stratford upon avon, not content to simply benefit by association, have put their skills where their tweed is, and built a one-of-a kind pashley clubman. it is, in fact, so one-of-a-kind, that only one exists. featuring a black mainframe with ivory head-tube and seat-tube banding, chromed fork blades, gold head-tube lug lining, hand gilded and dated 'tweed run london 2011' down-tube and seat-tube graphics, all on a 21.5" frame.
too cool for school.
with only one in existence, the owner has not yet been decided, for the bicycle is the subject of an e-bay auction ending on 7th april at 12:45. the winning bidder will be able to smugly ride the bicycle on next week's tweed run (saturday 9th april) with the prize incorporating two places for the winner and an accomplice on the bike ride round london.
such is pashley's generosity, 100% of the proceeds will be donated to bikes4africa. don't you just love tweed and bicycles?
posted saturday 2 april 2011..........................................................................................................................................................................................................
generally speaking, products i receive for review are turned round as quickly as practical for a number of reasons. if it's a new or soon to be released item, the manufacturer is likely hopeful that a positive review will generate enough interest, ensuring perhaps a healthy return on investment. and for purely egotistical reasons, it engenders a smug grin on the visage to have ended up with a bit of an exclusive, even if that hadn't been the original intention. i have been fortunate to publish reviews of at least a couple of eagerly awaited colnago bicycles before anyone else in the world, principally due to the generosity of colnago uk, and i've endeavoured to repay their faith by conducting the review in a timeous manner.
however, one of the downsides to reviewing by any publication (web or print) is that publishing is often after a relatively limited, though thorough, experience of the item. this is of little consequence when reviewing books or dvds, since those will still be the same even several years later. with clothing, the most that can be elicited at point of writing is whether the garment fits well, is well constructed and achieves whatever the manufacturer claims it should. what is endemic in this mode of operation is knowing whether it will continue to do so many years hence.
of course, our modern society dictates that if certain items were to remain on test, particularly clothing, for more than a specified period of time, they would either have been discontinued or replaced, rendering comment by self or others somewhat reduntant.
however, some items of cycle equipment demand to be tested over a considerably longer period of time. one or two of you may have been following my year plus review of the chris king cielo, allowing indulgence in how well the bicycle and its componentry lasts across the four seasons, and one part of this test, which i have been unable to elucidate to the degree i would have liked, has been that of the continental tyres.
those fitted to the cielo on commencement of the test were 700 x 25c four seasons which have been mentioned in dispatches during the course of the months. what i have been unable to say, due to an nda (non-disclosure agreement) was that the label on the sidewall actually states smp four seasons and on the diametrically opposite portion of the sidewall is the word prototype. this is because the initials smp abbreviate shape memory polymer.
i cannot pretend to understand the science behind this development, but that was hardly my remit from the start. very basically, as explained to me by shelley childs, brand manager at continental uk, the construction of the tread portion of these tyres allows an alteration of shape (tread pattern) based on a combination of atmospheric conditions, hence a more enforced application of the four seasons moniker.
thus, having commenced the test in january 2010, the tread resembled that of the current conti four seasons tread that you can purchase from any continental dealer. however, atmospheric and weather conditions change as the months morph into spring and early summer, the tread imitating this morphing by subtly changing from one tread pattern to another, before reaching its summer ultimate coat resembling that of a continental racing tubular.
of course, nothing's perfect, and i'd be interested to know how the rapha condor sharp team fared in more testing conditions, as i believe at least two members of that team were running a narrower variation of the same tyre. in my case, the change from the original to the second tread was almost indistinguishable, or would have had i not been detailed to supply continental with daily photographs. however, when the polymer moved to the more bobbly tread dictated for summer, the transition was not quite so smooth, resulting in one or two heart-stopping moments on scrabbly bends when it seems conflicting treads may have been working against each other.
it may be a year or two yet before these are ready for mass market. i'm currently on my third pair; not really due to insurmountable problems, but more because conti wanted the others back to check wear and other specifics. the initial pair were thought to be a bit too soft to provide a competent level of tread wear. the current pair seem considerably hardier and have morphed to their secondary tread within the past two weeks (long winter up here).
memory polymers have been used in a variety of applications, but continental believe this is the first instance of their being employed in the tyre industry. i am led to believe that the current prototypes are a presage to implementation in car tyres, but that too is a few years away.
meanwhile, i continue to run the smp four seasons on the cielo, as i believe the current set will now fulfil their full title with a new fourth tread pattern; a variation on that bobbly tubular tread.
after continental, you'll be the third to know.
posted friday 1st april 2011..........................................................................................................................................................................................................
colour isn't as neutral and inoffensive as its mum tells us it is; it is an aspect of daily life that has the ability to subliminally alter behaviour and perception. a lethal weapon in the wrong colouring book.
my summer employment as a student brought me into contact with a manager who suffered from migraine headaches on a regular basis (so i was led to believe). in order to lessen the effect of this affliction, he had his office walls painted the most apalling shade of green it is possible to imagine. i will readily admit to green being very much at the bottom of my colour pile (though there are shades that are allowed past the guard dogs), and i'd find it hard to believe anyone would have painted their walls this shade of vert out of choice, but he assured me the effect was as desired.
animals in the wild unknowingly but naturally use colour to render themselves apparently unpalatable to predators, and we all know that elephants paint their toenails red so that they cannot be seen on a billiard table. even the folks at cadburys have identified purple as being readily associated with their products, producing a series of television advertisements that failed to mention either product or manufacturer, yet still got the point across. that must have been a comfort, given the cost of making and airing to an adoring public.
so how does this affect us as cyclists? many of us are carbon daft, partially because of the association with unlimited speed, cutting edge technology and weightlessness. and it's black. with an outer lamination of impressive carbon weave. but there must also be some degree of preference, as many are happy to wait anything up to several months to receive their frame colour of choice, despite a less appealing colour sitting in the showroom ready to ride away.
i have no real desire to revisit my moaning and complaining over the covers of the comic from years past. i, along with hundreds of others, no longer subscribe to this once great publication, though more on the basis of content rather than the fundamental colour scheme bluntly decorating each week's cover.those with even tenuous connections to the print industry will perhaps recognise the acronym cmyk; cyan, magenta, yellow and key(black). in their raw state they're not the most attractive colours, yet many a magazine concentrating on the celebrity culture (and the comic, for some unknown reason) use those bald colours to differentiate their publications on the shelves of wh smith. it seems not to have dawned on anyone that if they're all using cmyk, nobody wins.
but now colour has made its way to bicycle componentry in a not altogether flattering or practical fashion. sram have their top of the range groupset named after the colour red, yet confusingly produced a tour de france special monikered sram red yellow (wouldn't that be orange?) and now have compounded their crime against the spectrum by introducing sram red black. am i missing something here?
having distanced themselves from both major competitors, campagnolo, with a different freehub cassette spline pattern and one more sprocket than either sram or shimano, have apparently decided to join the club at least for a few minutes, by introducing colour variation into their 2012 (!) athena and centaur groupsets, though the fact that this is happening is not particularly noteworthy in and of itself. when apple introduced the very first imac, subsequently changing the casing colour with every upgrade, much of the rest of the computer industry simply didn't get it and liberally plastered uncoordinated colour panels on their tower systems figuring it must be the colour that saved the (apple) world.
however, not content with getting the crayon box out of the cupboard, campagnolo have garnished the ploy with some well-chosen but ill-advised rhetoric to accompany the launch nearly ten months in advance of the year for which they are reputedly intended. athena is available in a deep black version and the top ranging ten-speed groupset, centaur, will be available in same plus a black and red version. if i may be allowed to quote directly from camapgnolo's press release 'the new black & red version has been created based on a special treatment for the finish of certain parts that make the groupset sportier and more aggressive.'
you will, i hope, excuse the guffaws of laughter and continued sniggering in the background. first off, when did black ever confer any degree of sportier? does that mean coal is sporty? and conjoined with red it seemingly advertises aggression. while i'm unsure that any inanimate object can be regarded as aggressive, does this mean that adobe systems is an aggressor, since its logo is black and red? if the products are worthy of our attentention, and i sincerely believe them to be so, painting them isn't going to alter that in any appreciable way. there are red chainring bolts on the centaur carbon chainset, a red frame bolt on the rear gear mech and a red cable adjuster on the brake calipers.
i'm willing to accept that the rider may accidentally catch a glimpse of the forward caliper while in the pilot seat, but when was the last time you saw the chainring bolts when pedalling? and when did you ever see your rear mech from the saddle? therefore, if the colour scheme invites sporty aggression, it is only going to do so for those not on your bike, and that's hardly the sort of reaction you want if you're trying to beat them to the finish line.
undder no circumstances should next year's components be revealed until the latter stages of september during those endless trade shows and certainly not at a point when most of us are still trying to get used to writing 2011 on a cheque instead of 2010. and unless its made of carbon, componentry should pereferably not be black. i am not willing to accept any argument. i'm right, you're wrong. especially if your surname is campagnolo.
but is black really a colour?
posted thursday 31st march 2011..........................................................................................................................................................................................................
an erstwhile friend of mine was, and perhaps still is, a big fan of a heavy metal band, a band which i will not sully these pixels by naming. it's a not inconsiderable undertaking to travel from islay to either glasgow or edinburgh to attend concerts of any kind, but such was his fandom, he would literally drop everything to be present at or near the front row of any concert promoting this un-named band.
though likely a generalisation on my part and somewhat of a cliche, members of the musical institute of heavy metal are not averse to drinking vast quantities of liquid refreshment, though reputedly only to excess. in the process of both my, now removed to the mainland, friend and the singer of this anonymous band enjoying an apres gig pint, they happened to bump into each other, in a manner of speaking. surprised and overjoyed to come face to face with his long-time hero, he attempted to engage him in deep and meaningful conversation.
recounting this story to me some weeks later, i had expected the story to be one of unbounded joy, since rare are the meetings between acolyte and the worshipped. however, there is a well-worn phrase to the effect that one should never meet one's heroes because they may not live up to the lofty heights that years of adoration have constructed. in this case, the epithet held up its side of the bargain. "he was a total p**ser" was his final word on the subject.
hero worship is all well and good provided it is tempered with the knowledge that such is generally based on the hero's/heroine's achievements rather than their personality. the only musician hero that i have wanted to meet is bill bruford, and on the one occasion that we did meet in person, he was very polite and gracious, though i confess we did not spend more than a couple of minutes exchanging pleasantries. if i shift the conversation to hero worship within the realm of cycling, and i am happy to admit to being of an age at which such has a tendency to be a mite unseemly, i would dearly like to meet robert millar, but i have a notion that is very unlikely to happen.
the mighty dave t, a man of stature and lengthier heritage than my own, held brian robinson to be the hero of the day when dave were a lad. they too have never met, but on the evidence of graeme fife's superb biography recently released by mousehold press, and this unstintingly comprehensive documentary by ray pascoe, any meeting with brian robinson is likely to be a most gentlemanly affair.
though modern day top professional cyclists are cossetted, supported and feted worldwide, things were considerably different in the 1950s, particularly for an englishman in france. britain was not, and likely is still not, regarded as one of europe's great cycling nations, therefore any rider foolhardy enough to relocate to the velocipedinal heartlands had not only an uphill struggle to carve a career in the professional ranks, but in the case of someone from uk shores, the need to prove one's mettle all the more. that brian robinson achieved this without seemingly compromising his personality or ethics, is one that could be well learned nowadays.
though professional riders of the fifties often received contracts, unless you were the cream of the crop, these were unlikely to be as lengthy or as watertight as is currently the case. thus a rider who participated in the tour de france as part of a national team of mixed nationalities had not only to look after his own well-being, but be sufficiently strong to gather a palmares that would promote automatic entry to the post tour criteriums. this is how money was earned.
brian robinson was a member of the first british team to take part in the tour de france in 1955 and the first brit to win a stage (1958), reprising such with a solo 150km ride in 1959 to win at chalon-sur-saone. ray pascoe, famed for his cycling nostalgia series of dvd productions, has a fabulously neutral, transparent production style, allowing his subjects to speak for themselves either through contemporary interview footage, or rare archive footage that likely no-one has seen for many a long year. though perhaps less relevant to the brian robinson story, there is also film of brian participating in the phil and friends ride with phil ligget, local rides with the tint and during his duties as president of the dave rayner fund at the annual dinner.
while it is his racing exploits on the continent that many hold in high esteem, and which ultimately carved his name in stone, it is salutory and endearing to see that he is still the gentleman his past reputation foretells him to be and that cycling is still as much a part of his life today. many a cyclist of the era, dependent on earning a crust by how fast he could ride a bicycle, has maintained a less than colloquial connection with the sport when theracing career has ended. it was a masterstroke to have writer graeme fife read the appropriate chapter from his book, detailing robinson's solo victory in the stage from annecy in 1959, accompanied by some incredible black and white footage of the stage. pascoe has also managed to include colour footage taken by mr cycling, ron kitching, of the tour's atmosphere in the late nineteen fifties. it is all too easy to forget, in these modern times of internet race coverage, that even the tour de france was far less well documented on celluloid.
much has been said and marketed regarding cycling's luxurious heritage, and it is not only the exploits of individuals such as brian robinson that have added to the panoply, but the obsessive nature of men such as ray pascoe. he has ensured that cycling's heritage remains more than an intangible marketing ploy, preserving and enhancing the careers of the brits who had the temerity to throw themselves mind, soul and body into the maelstrom that is/was european professional cycling.
this is not what might be regarded as a blockbuster in movie terms, but there is no doubt that this superb dvd should be filed under essential.
ray pascoe's 'brian robinson; a gentleman cyclist' is available direct from bromley video at a cost of £17.99.
posted wednesday 30th march 2011..........................................................................................................................................................................................................
the bicycle,if you hadn't already realised, is a truly marvellous invention, fabulous mode of transport and involving activity. with serially elevating fuel prices, more and more people are discovering the same, and though not quite becoming part of the great outdoors (and all that that entails), i am frequently in the company of folks but a mere step away from enlightenment, bridging the gap via the indoor exercise bicycle.
garbed as we often are in stylish and flamboyant jerseys with rear pockets, shorts with comfy bits in the important regions and shoes that make us walk like wildfowl, it's easy to look downwards upon those whose bicycles remain precisely where they are even after riding 20km. but now that the jokingly named british summertime has kicked in, it is likely, perhaps, that thoughts may stray towards velocipedinal distance of the tangible kind. none are likely to even hint at joining the pelotonese of a sunday morning, but that really is not the point; the more bums on saddles of any kind can be considered a moral victory of some sort, even if that victory is not directly attributable to the proselytisers.
me, for instance.
the mighty dave t is a pristine example of the benefits of peletonisation; a man nigh on reaching 150 years old, with the body and mind of a 25 year-old, and kept in such condition through the regular practice of pedalling thither and hither on a regular basis, all the while composing epithets to grace the topmost section of these very black and yellow pixels. while much of his, and our cycling, equates more with that of the dandy horse - more recreational than transportational - it still has long-standing health benefits through its comprehensive method of exercising bits of the body that few of us were aware existed.
so what the flipping heck is the point of an electric bike?
the clamouring in the background is from those eager to point out that it is all very well for those of favoured with peak physical fitness, but what of those who could do with a smidgeon of electro-mechanical assistance on the hard bits. well, at the risk of sounding arrogant, where do you think that the aforementioned physical fitness came from? if, every time the faint whiff of a headwind made itself known while heading towards debbie's, i were to press the on switch, those chris hoy thighs would be a shadow of their former selves.
and though i have little experience of the gamut of electrically assisted bicycles currently available, i have come across one or two examples, both of which existed in the realm of conundrumness. though improving battery technology will doubtless render my current argument null and void, those that i have examined so far, bereft of battery and electric motor, would be easily cycleable by any healthy (or marginally unhealthy) individual. it seems often to be the case that these artificial means of propulsion are involved in overcoming the weight of same, leaving..., well, leaving an ordinary bicycle.
britain is, i am led to believe, a market leader in the production of these so-called e-bikes, yet lags hideously in converting its population to the idea of electric transportation. according to my opinion (as mr sachs would aver), the marketing of these vehicles is entirely mis-directed. in these modern, green times, surely an electric bicycle is ideally placed as an environmentally sound replacement for such as the moped or scooter, capable of achieving appropriate speeds and with concomitant cargo carrying proclivities.
cycling, is cycling, is cycling; it is an energetic activity that has been the saving of most of us; an activity regular proposed as a means of increasing and maintaining fitness. assuming we are all singing from the same hymn-sheet, might we collectively wonder why it is that the electric bicycle is being proposed as the saviour of all ills? surely if the fitness level of an hypothetical electric cyclist is sufficient to pedal at a reasonable pace along a level playing field (sorry), then that same fitness would be sufficient to ensure forward motion in more trying circumstances on an electrically unencumbered velocipede? increased weight can only be reasonably viewed as beneficial when heading downhill.
if any of you have watched the bizarre situation that is seemingly almost commonplace in portland, whereby folks on bicycles of various hue have actually moved the contents of a house to another some distance away, you will be aware of the versatility of the bicycle as an instrument of facility. from an elevated position in my ivory tower, i cannot see any redeeming feature that would confer parity between an e-bike and the bicycle as we know it, and i sure as heck don't see how it could possibly be poised to revitalise the health of the nation as we know it.
in the same way that microsoft works is an oxymoron, so to, i believe, is the concept of an electric bicycle.
posted tuesday 29th march 2011..........................................................................................................................................................................................................