thewashingmachinepost




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hoist by our own petard

debbie's

though the vast majority of you will never have visited the island delight that is the isle of islay, it has become, over the last three decades, a remarkably popular destination for holidaying or visiting. the latter is predominantly on the basis of a surprisingly large number of single malt whisky distilleries all within a few kilometres of each other. counting solely those currently in production, there are a total of eight, with a ninth at ardnahoe in the north, due to commence distilling later this year.

meantime, 'elixir spirits' have applied for planning permission to begin work on a tenth distillery a few hundred metres before laphroaig distillery on the island's south coast. and diageo, only a matter of years after demolishing the remnants of the original port ellen distillery, have decided to rebuild it once more, with the aim of getting started in 2020. that will mean a total of eleven single malt whisky distilleries, along with port ellen maltings and one more distillery on jura.

if the amber nectar is a liquid in which you have either a specific or passing interest, you can perhaps see why islay is the ideal place to be.

and, it will perhaps not surprise you to learn, some of those in thrall to whisky and the great outdoors, arrive either on or with bicycles, one or two of whom are you. yes, you. i'm sure you're all well aware of who you are. and those of you who are who you are, appear to have had occasion to read these black and yellow pixels, for i regularly receive e-mails enquiring whether the esteemed velo club peloton might be welcoming of a few interlopers on a sunday morning.

so, while we're here, let me make it perfectly plain, that any and all cyclists are more than welcome to join us, come wind, rain or shine and whether you're on road bikes, mountain bikes or anything in between. particularly wind, now that you come to mention it. i have no idea whether this is common practice amongst 'real' cycle clubs, but it's certainly one that figures uppermost in our own philosophy.

however, and this may be entirely my fault, almost every e-mail without exception, tends to suggest that those intent on swelling the sunday morning peloton, might not be up to our regular pace, apologising in advance of potential sloth when it comes to that average speed. though i have not done so deliberately, i may have inadvertently given the impression that we are the sort of chaps who regularly distance team sky, quickstep and the belgian national team without so much as a by-your-leave.

if that is the case, i can but apologise; yes, the chap who regularly trounces us all in the bruichladdich sprint might just be capable (in his dreams) of giving froomey a run for his money, but the rest of us just like riding our bikes. sometimes slowly and sometimes even slower. so, by all means, drop me a line if you fancy riding along, but rest assured, team-time trials are not within our ideals, let alone capabilities.

see you at debbie's on sunday at 10am.

monday 18 june 2018

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prendas/santini bordeaux-paris jersey & cap

forgotten races - prendas

i've never been able to comprehend the importance of formula one motor racing, a 'sport' in which the particpants appear to be paid salaries that would make soccer players envious and yet one which, like the scottish midge, seems to have no fathomable function. as an admittedly very poor driver, i can see that driving a missile at such speeds takes considerable skill, but given the inequality of the various cars, i fail to see how it qualifies as a sport. indeed, one of the long-running reasons for its existence always centred around that of technological development, but other than an engine and a wheel on each corner, i cannot see the connection between the average family saloon and a mclaren f1.

forgotten races - prendas

yet the uci's programme of mondialisation of cycle sport, is allegedly based roughly upon the formula one motor racing model. indeed, each world tour team is required to send a selection of riders to compete in sanctioned events, but the key phrase there is 'a selection of riders', one that need not consist of any who rode the previous event. thus, having won this year's giro d'italia, chris froome is perfectly entitled to take a break in margate during the tour de france. if you'll pardon me for saying so, formula one doesn't quite work that way. and though i am hardly a close observer of the pinnacle of the world's motor sport, they seem to have been able to add races to the season without losing the more iconic circuits.

forgotten races - prendas

of course, motor racing is considerably better funded than that of cycling; you need only witness the vast sums paid to some drivers to verify that. therefore, when the uci lusted after the arabian dollar, many long-established events fell by the wayside. many of us steeped in the milieu and heritage of road-racing are wont to mourn the passing of several of these events, including the fine chaps at prendas ciclismo, who, with the co-operation of italy's santini have introduced a series of jerseys, caps and socks commemorating three of those forgotten races: trofeo baracchi, omloop van vlaanderen and, under review here, bordeaux-paris.

i asked prendas' andy storey why create a forgotten races series in the first place? "The very start of the Forgotten Races collection was really born out of the success of the 20th Anniversary kit (2016) and the Grand Tour Kit (2017).  With both designs, we offered a number of garments that were exclusively made for us by primarily Santini, but in the case of the caps, socks and gloves, three other different Italian factories.  Although we are very well known for our retro cycling jerseys, not everybody wants to wear one and we felt that by offering a these special edition capsule collections, our customers would have more choice.
forgotten races - prendas "We are also keen to offer the kits across multiple seasons, so that if you do spend your hard-earned money with us, the items are not obsolete within months.
"As you attended last year's Rouleur Classic, you know we have a vast array of old books and magazines like Winning and it struck us recently how many races are no longer on the calendar. So the collection is here to pay tribute to races that were once at the pinnacle of our sport and enjoyed by many."

if push came to shove, no doubt we'd all have a selection of forgotten races we feel deserving of a modern-day jersey or two, so i asked andy why those specific examples and were others planned for the future? "I picked six different races that were once popular, yet no longer in existence to give (Santini designer) Fergus Niland some choice on what he went for. I left it with him for a few months and he came back with the designs and very few amendments.
"We certainly plan to add to the collection; the Grand Prix du Midi Libre was always a favourite of mine, as was the Setmana Catalana de Ciclisme. And I wouldn't mind adding a six-day too, like Dortmund or Zurich."

forgotten races - prendas

of course, with regard to the bordeaux-paris jersey featured here, andy was pretty much honour bound to present the corporate response as to its origination, but in truth, i believe this jersey to be most appropriate to clothe the honed physique of yours truly. i base this observation on the glaringly obvious fact that the initials bp cover pretty much every square centimetre of the jersey torso and well we know to whom those refer.

as with pretty much everything leaving the santini factory, the jersey's fit is impeccable, sitting midway between a relaxed fit and that of the bona-fide racer. the short sleeves are of admirable length and the three rear pockets are almost large enough to contain a spare wheel (i may have exaggerated that last part). unceremonious stuffing of a waterproof in the centremost example was simplicity itself and aside from the bordeaux-paris graphic adorning one of the three, there is also the obligatory, fourth zipped security edition. the cap and socks are, as expected, a perfect match.

forgotten races - prendas

sadly, even regular wearing of any of the three jerseys on offer are likely to resurrect any of the events, but there's no doubt that they are part of a racing heritage worth celebrating and what better way than via such well-designed and crafted jerseys?

the prendas ciclismo 'forgotten races' series jerseys are available in sizes xs all the way through to a very impressive 8xl, at a price of £59.99 each. socks retail at £6.99 while the caps cost a very reasonable £7.99


prendas retro jerseys | prendas 20th anniversary jersey | prendas grand tour celebration jersey | prendas forgotten races collection

sunday 17 june 2018

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d. i. s. c. o.

bbuc disco collection

a matter of days ago, should the aged amongst us not already feel we're living in an era intent on leaving us behind, the national newspapers featured an article that pretty much set the seal not only on nostalgia but a dawning realisation that we're really not getting any younger. this is a state of affairs that has, no doubt, been already underlined on the sunday ride as chaps and chapesses many years our juniors, slide effortlessly past on climbs that were once our very own fiefdom.

bbuc disco collection

being forcibly informed that it is 41 years since john travolta strutted his stuff down a brooklyn street to the sound of the gibb brothers' falsetto harmonies, proclaiming to be 'stayin' alive', conferred a knowing perspective on modern-day existence. in the opening scene of 1977's saturday night fever, travolta, playing the part of tony manero, orders two slices of pizza from lenny's pizzeria before making them into a double-decker pizza sandwich. it's a scene that has apparently been recreated by 'fever' fans ever since, bringing fame and fortune to the real-life 'lenny's peatzeria'.

i was never one much in thrall to the disco craze of the late seventies/early eighties. far more interested was i in live music, however badly played some of it might have been. though i like to think i have a good sense of rhythm, one that has enhanced my percussive abilities on many an occasion, i have two left feet and an acute sense of embarrassment when it comes to dancing. that, and a susceptibility to flashing lights, kept me well away from the mirror-balls of the twentieth century, in favour of playing drums while others embarrassed themselves in white suits with wide lapels.

bbuc disco collection

when i first moved west, the island featured both live music and discos, quite often in the same venue on the same night. i once attended a bill bruford's earthworks gig in glasgow's sauchiehall street where, after enjoying a marvellous evening of intelligently written and produced jazz, we were unceremoniously ushered from the venue in order that the glittering lapels could dance the night away to louder and more mundane sounds into the wee small hours. and this was on a school night.

i am too advanced in years and too far separated from what passes as urban society to know whether the disco retains its tony manero aura, or even whether such events are still referred to as 'discos'. however, i can tell you that it's not a question that keeps me awake at nights.

bbuc disco collection

but were evidence required that the so-called disco revolution is not only still breathing, but occasionally emerges from the depths in ways you'd scarcely think credible, i note that the eccentrically named, vienna-based cycling apparel provider 'brilliantbrilliant unicorn' are party (pun intended) to one such regeneration. you'd scarcely think it possible that a john travolta style caricature could make it onto a race-fit cycle jersey, but that's precisely what has happened in bbuc' latest disco collection, one that they claim is "...a state of mind, where the sunbeams dancing through the trees become your disco lights and your feet move to the rhythm of the road. Now you have the kit to take you to nature's dancefloor..."

hmmmm...

it appears that their copywriters are every bit as unique as is the company's branding. whether you desire to join the sunday ride clad in bibshorts with the word 'disco' brightly emblazoned on your shorts is, of course, entirely down to how comfortable you are with your exhibitionist side. the jerseys are available in four, plain variants consisting of black, rose, yellow and white and just in case you fear i'm reading too much into the tony manera connection, bbuc state that "Every jersey features a logo inspired by the king of disco, John Travolta, to the left chest."

it would seem there is yet life left in the boogie.

bbuc disco collection

saturday 16 june 2018

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london-paris: later that same century

london-paris 2017

for those of us of a certain age, there is the opportunity to luxuriate in what might have been compared to what, sadly, certainly is. as a relative latecomer to the joys of road riding, there was never any danger of my having been recruited to the professional cause, at the time blissfully unaware there was any cause to be recruited to in the first place. not for me the lengthy days and nights of inveterate training, acquiring skills and fitness that would have me see off my peers in no uncertain fashion come the weekend.

yet, professional cycle racing is still one of the few sports where estrangement from those deserving of hero worship is considerably less than that of formula one motor racing, for example. that in itself, however, is still barely sufficient for the wannabe or distinctly 'has been' pelotonese to identify with the travails of the modern-day cycling pro. yes, we can all jest about going back to the team car during the sunday ride, or make merry about the likelihood of mavic lending a yellow skoda for neutral support on the way to debbie's café, but what's that really like?

london-paris 2017

i ask that question because few of us possess the fitness, skill or tactical nous to replicate even a short stage race. but that scarcely undermines the quest to find out what it's like to 'simply' ride a bike all day. that bike, all but hypothetical, would be devoid of spare tubes, tyre levers and multi-tools; the ride would be over closed roads, with motorcycle outriders to stop traffic and in place of a mavic car, there would be at least a fully equipped following vehicle with a mechanic ready and willing to leap out and perform a wheel change in the event of a puncture.

and best of all, there would be a luxury car (maserati anyone?) up front, announcing your impending arrival.

london-paris 2017

under normal circumstances, the foregoing would be the fairy dust of which dreams are made of. indeed, it's not hard to convince yourself even during a lone saturday ride, that a chasing peloton is hot on your heels, if only you can maintain the breakaway till the coffee shop or reality intervenes.

however, the dream outlined above, need not remain the articles of fiction; there is a way to emulate the professional peloton without straining much over 25kph, yet accoutrements such as luxury coaches, neutral service and closed roads can all be had as you wend your merry way towards paris, just as froomey and his pals do every july. the annual hot chillee, london to paris ride, once the province of late june, now arrives on the champs elysées on the saturday afternoon before the tour de france gets there and in 2018, it will take place for the fifteenth time. it's a ride i undertook in 2007, 2008 and again last year, along with hot chillee's founder, sven thiele.

sven thiele

as this year's ride approaches, i asked sven what his background in cycling was prior to 'inventing' the first london-paris ride in 2003?

"My only experience was as a passionate newcomer to cycling, looking for events to participate in. I was racing 3rd cat, badly, in the Surrey League. My real job was in technology and certainly in those days cycling was nowhere near as cool as it is now. In terms of 'sportive' style events, there were stunningly few in the UK. As it turns out the Dragon Ride and the Fred Whitton Challenge started up at the same time as we did with the London-Paris."

sven makes a good point, for it is only in the last decade or so, that the sportive market has not so much blossomed as exploded. however, the majority of sportives take place over a single day, with one or two of the shorter routes being accomplished in a matter of hours. and with no disrespect to any on the calendar, aside from timing chips, feed stations and the occasional event featuring closed roads, there is little to identify them with the professional milieu. the hot chillee london-paris event, however, occupies three whole days. but the question still remains, why ride from london to paris in the first place?

london paris 2017

"Probably my passion exceeded my ability! Our thought was, "how hard can it be to ride three long (200km+) stages?" It so happened that we could create a 630km route from London to Paris; with Paris being the home of the Tour de France, it seemed to be a natural finish."

it's hard to argue against the french capital being the ultimate endpoint for any lengthy bike ride, if only due of its long-standing association with arguably the greatest sporting event in the world. however, though paris is currently the event's finish line, that hasn't always been the case. in my first year of participation, we rode to plymouth and took the overnight ferry to st malo in southern france, heading north to versailles that year. when did the route change to its present parcours?

"You will have ridden the 'long route', which included two 200km+ stages. The following year in 2008, we replaced St Malo with Calais and the stages became 3 x 100 milers which was more manageable from both the riders' and crew's perspective. The route still changes in part every year, like including parts of the Tour de France route, but visits London-Calais-Amiens-Paris. It is surprisingly hard to get 600 hotel beds for riders and crew!"

london paris 2017

the last time the tour de france made use of a few of the paris-roubaix cobbled sections, vincenzo nibali took the stage victory, while several others claimed the stage to be barbaric and dangerous. yet, from a spectator's point of view, it provided a real sense of drama and derring-do in a race that sometimes seems to have gone soft at the edges. hot chillee have provided in the past for those who wish to put their handlebars where their mouths are and ride from dunkirk to roubaix, but in 2008, a few of those lumpy stones featured en-route to paris, and to be perfectly frank, i'd have gone back and ridden them again, if i hadn't worried about everyone else riding off and leaving me behind. in the light of this year's tour incorporating cobbles once again, does sven have any plans to do likewise?

"Yes we did include cobbles. We found that many riders were nervous of this, and so separated out the cobbles into a different event, the HotChillee Roubaix, where we cater for more hardcore classics-style riders!"

london paris 2017

as i mentioned above, the annual london to paris ride was once the preserve of a late june date in the calendar, but last year's superb event moved tantalisingly closer to the tour de france heroes we were all emulating in our heads, arriving in paris on the eve prior to that of the real tour. there are no words to describe the elation of riding up the champs elysées in a combined peloton of 400 riders, round the arc de triomphe and down to the eiffel tower, all on closed roads and on a saturday afternoon in july, the day before the tour de france does much the same thing (albeit a tad quicker and without a texting australian weaving all over the road in front).

at the time i asked sven if he thought london would offer the same luxury if he opted to reverse the route? but was getting to paris the day before the big boys always the ultimate plan?

"It was a dream from the beginning and along the way opportunities and contacts aligned to make this possible. Being able to ride with rolling road closures into Paris a day ahead of the Tour finish is special and very emotional. We have now also developed a TdF finish line hospitality package which means we watch the pros finish on the Sunday, which is a wonderful way to finish off the ride."

london paris 2017

not only was the london-paris peloton able to experience such a fine finish, but the luxurious parisien hotel in which we stayed overnight, was pretty much slap, bang in the middle of the city. which beggars the rather obvious question, how on earth did he manage all that?

"I'm really not sure! I think if there is a strong enough dream or passion, then one works incrementally over many years to make something happen!"

aside from a lead car ahead of each group (a maserati ghibli in 2017, now that you ask), announcing the presence of an oncoming peloton and ensuring that a breakaway is a complete non-entity, the five london-paris pelotons are accompanied by a set of burly but highly jovial motorcycle outriders who, once across the channel, simply shut down everything: roads, roundabouts, traffic lights; you name it, they close it. within each group of riders on the road, there are also several hot chillee 'ride captains', making sure everyone is coping with the pace and pulling into line those who don't always look out for their own safety. have there always been ride captains as part of the event?

london paris 2017

"We introduced the Ride Captains in 2007. It was actually an idea of the GC winner, who felt that with a few 'Peloton Patrons' we could better manage large groups on the road from a safety and etiquette perspective. Some of the group riding skills in those days was below par compared to now."

i can vouch for sven's appraisal of those group riding skills, for as one, resident on a small rock in the atlantic, there is a dearth of others with whom to practise the necessary ability to ride in relatively close formation. aside from such a mitigating factor, a distinct lack of top line speed and a desire to see france at a more leisurely pace encouraged me to join one of the slower groups on each of my three years of participation. however, had i had the option of riding the event more frequently, i have little doubt that such skills would have become second nature. as the ride prepares for its 15th year of existence, other than himself, has anyone ridden the lot?

"I did actually miss one year (regrettably), but we have a fairly significant group in the '10 Club', for those riders who have completed ten editions. The first person to ride ten consecutive editions was Ian Whittingham, founder of Sigma Sports!"

london paris 2017

i'd be fibbing if i said that those three days in july come cheap. on my first ride in 2007, i recall the cost of entry being not much more than £400; today it's almost four times that amount of money. however, pretty much everything has increased in price over the last ten years and very much in favour of hot chillee, not only has the route and support noticeably improved, but the standard of accommodation and food is immeasurably better. and it was pretty good then, too. to be honest, i left paris last year wondering a) how they managed it all for the price, and b) how can it possibly get any better? in the light of the latter question, are there any cunning plans afoot for the next fifteen years?

"I have been very fortunate to be part of this wave in road cycling and have thoroughly enjoyed it; and I do see it growing even more. For the last three years, I have been working on launching a seven-day point to point gravel race; the Rainmaker Rollercoaster in the Western Cape in South Africa. I always regretted not getting into road cycling earlier, but with gravel riding I'm so glad I started when I did! I think this is the next big wave."

this year's hot chillee london to paris ride takes place between 26 - 29 july and is all but sold out. if you fancy participating in the 2019 event, sign up for hot chillee's newsletters on the website linked below. however, there's still time to enter the inaugural 'rainmaker rollercoaster' seven-day gravel stage race taking place between 6 -12 october 2018 across south africa's western cape.

hot chillee bike rides

london paris 2017

friday 15 june 2018

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vèlocité

marginal gains

in common with many a cycling club across the world, it is traditional for the members of g.c.ristorante debbie's, who can be bothered, to sprint for the speed sign on entry to bruichladdich village. participation in this display of competitive flair is rarely, if ever, joined by the mighty dave-t on the perfectly sound reasoning that he's done it all before and has no need to recapture the speedy days of his youth. i, on the other had, can rarely be bothered to even think of an excuse for my characteristic restraint, let alone to slip into the big ring and ride hell for leather.

unsurprisingly, there is a small coterie within the velo club peloton who feel it their onerous duty to do precisely that and one in particular who regularly stands atop the hypothetical podium at debbie's in the aftermath. you, me and the mighty dave t can righteously scoff at such blatant competitiveness, but the guy takes top honours more often than not because he rides his bike more often than do most of us and he's a fit lad. very much a case of the best man winning.

mind you, on the rare occasion that he fails to reach the imaginary finish line in first place, the excuses are rarely as creative as his sprinting technique.

in the case outlined above and probably one reflected all across the panoply of sunday morning bike rides, the fastest rider got there first. though we all ride different bikes, ranging from boutique steel to mass-produced carbon fibre, in truth there's little to separate them technologically; the winner would probably still be the winner even if we all swapped bicycles. it is, essentially, 'mano e mano' as the saying goes.

however, there really is nothing at stake here other than bragging rights and to be honest, they're not worth that much. the winner of the bruichladdich sprint doesn't even get his coffee paid for. but rather obviously, it's a different story in the upper reaches of the professional peloton, where a string of victories can not only help guarantee an extension to a team contract, but conceivably a healthier pay cheque to boot. collectively, for one team to consistently beat their peers undoubtedly aids the sponsor's confidence and makes it easier to, surreptitiously, increase the annual budget.

at this level, it's not necessarily as straightforward as man against man, if only due to the continual fulfillment of dave brailsford's oft mentioned, marginal gains. as soon as large sums of money are involved in competition, someone, somewhere, will start looking for an edge over their competitors, not necessarily restricting themselves to more efficient training methods.

this is not a situation that constrains itself to that of professional cycling. many sports have had competitive aids banned on the grounds that, though technically legal, they hardly sit within the spirit of the regulations.

the most recent case to infect the peloton surfaced during this year's criterium de dauphiné, when the lotto soudal team were seen to be riding both the individual time-trial and team time-trial using so-called 'speed gel'. the product itself can be sprayed onto the riders legs, leaving behind washing powder-like ball deposits which allegedly provide a similar effect to the dimples found on team sky's aero suits and the rims of certain carbon wheels. though the latter have been deemed legal by the uci, the regulations do not allow for 'non-essential elements that have been added with a view to improving the [riders'] aerodynamic properties'. spraying little aerodynamic balls onto your legs would rather seem to contradict the above regulatory advice.

naturally enough, lotto soudal have pointed the finger at patches featured on the sleeves of team-sky's aero suits, but the ruling on those seems to hinge on the latter being an integral part of the clothing and thus allowable, whereas, no such leniency could be applied to smothering the lower limbs with speed gel. though i can well comprehend the vast sums of money spent in the furtherance of cycle sport, though not always the reason why, i truly wonder if the teams at the top of our sport ever take time out to consider those of us whose confidence in their methods has taken a severe beating over the past two decades?

is there even one amongst us who would not prefer to watch a bike race in which each individual rider achieved success purely on the basis of their training and aptitude for the job in hand? for once, wouldn't it be nice to know that rider a had beaten rider b due to a greater level of fitness, more time spent training or simply a 'wile e coyote' strategy that outfoxed the others? essentially, that's what sport ought to be all about and certainly not whether my speed gel is better than your skinsuit dimples.

meanwhile, back in the real world...

thanks to james lamont for the seeds of this article.

thursday 14 june 2018

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i couldn't make this up. really, i couldn't

e-bike insurance

with the threat of trade sanctions from donald trump's administration regarding the import of aluminium and steel, the possibility that the eu will impose a tit-for-tat response on such staple american items as bourbon whiskey and harley davidson motorbikes, it's hard not to point out the relative disparity in moaning about trivialities (and by comparison they are) that may or may not affect the world of the velocipede.

only a matter of weeks ago, i was brought to mention that the selfsame european union, obviously stuck for some legislative impetus after a busy weekend's gardening, intended to make third-party motor insurance compulsory for owners/riders of electric bicycles. despite the fact that ordinary pedal cycles, in the right cleats, are able to exceed the limited speed of the former by quite some margin, someone in brussels thought this to be a bit of a wizard wheeze.

the onset of this apparently illogical decision originated in slovenia, where an unfortunate farm worker was knocked from a ladder by an uninsured, reversing tractor. with the case ending up in the eu's court of justice, the subsequent ruling, that the incident should have been covered by compulsory motor insurance, elicited chinese whispers ultimately bringing them to a decision that vehicles normally not necessarily intended for use on the public highway (including, believe it or not, racing cars), must have this compulsory insurance.

but, as with pretty much every eu legislative ruling you can think of, it failed to stop there, with the court deciding to extend this compulsory need for insurance to any vehicle which could potentially travel on the public highway, including the hapless e-bike. for the time being, at least, pedal bicycles are not subject to the designation 'vehicle', though i often wonder how much longer that state of affairs will last. so the e-bike industry, long aware that this very situation might occur, is now to increase its lobbying to have this questionable decision overturned, one that is almost bound to have a detrimental effect on the sale of such electric friends.

currently that lobbying has centred around the salient fact that such bicycles are motor assisted and not reliant on the motor alone for propulsion. it seems that the eu financial directorate resonsible for the decision (i told you i couldn't make this up) may have simply reacted to the word 'motor'.

but on a slightly different tack, another situation has occurred that is almost directly related to yesterday's reported plea from scott snaith of 50 cycles regarding an increase in the speed limiter applicable to pedelec classified bicycles. you will recall that mr snaith's heartfelt request to the european parliament was to increase the speed of such 'vehicles' by 8kph on the spurious grounds of increased safety. yet only a day before mr snaith put metaphorical pen to paper, the city of london, in league with london cycling campaign, announced their own initiative to improve cycling etiquette and encourage a reduction in speed within london's square mile.

apparently the speed they have in mind is precisely half that promoted by mr snaith for electric bicycles, predominantly on the basis that cyclists ought best to travel at a speed "where you can easily stop if a person walking happens to step out." in other words, for safety reasons.

remember when they moved the headsets inside the head tube and told us it was to improve stiffness? then moved the bottom bracket bearings outboard and told us that was for reasons of improved stiffness? well, this is exactly like that; an increase of 8kph will improve safety in exactly the same way as a reduction in speed of 8kph will improve safety.

and to think we were concerned about donald trump.

thanks to carlton reid of bikebiz for invaluable, if unwitting, assistance with this article.

wednesday 13 june 2018

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more assistance please

e-bike at speed

several years ago, i experienced my first meeting at first hand with an electric bicycle. made to look every bit the same as your average hardtail mountain bike, the game was only given away by the enormity of the rear hub making no attempt to conceal the motor and a sizeable rack platform where the battery hid in plain sight. so, nothing like a mountain bike at all.

the machine was prospectively to be purchased by the local leisure centre, who had requested that i, as an 'experienced cyclist' might take it for a short perambulation of the estates in order to satisfy that they were receiving value for their more than one-thousand pounds. as you may be aware, particularly if you read my recent review of specialized's turbo vado, the european union classifies electric bicycles in two ways: pedelecs, which are restricted to 25kph, and s-pedelecs which bear the lesser restriction of 48kph, but which are subject to licensing, insurance and helmet requirements.

on taking that original bike for a spin, though the gent who brought the bicycle to islay patiently explained the legal speed governance, he also pointed out that, were i to hold the two display buttons simultaneously for five seconds, no longer would 25kph be my ceiling. and though the bicycle was of the common pedal-assist variety, it also sported a handlebar-mounted throttle, allowing me the infrequent luxury of remaining personally motionless, while i terrorised any livestock ruminating in the adjacent fields.

specialized, quite correctly, offered no such speed hack.

however, though all pedelec electric bikes feature motors capable of up to a 250w output (as do s-pedelecs; it's another eu regulation), the seemingly arbitrary restriction to their top speeds doesn't necessarily bear close examination. a few days after the arrival of the turbo vado, i rode my usual saturday route that takes me around the perimeter of loch gorm on islay's west coast. realising that any speeds above 25kph were unassisted and thus rather contrary to the ethos of an electrically assisted bicycle in the first place, it was all too soon that i became a passenger, adopting a mentality that rarely dropped below 25kph, but almost never exceeded it.

what would have been the point?

thus, on returning home, my average speed was shown to be 23.8kph. hardly revelatory, but under the circumstances most enjoyable and relaxing. the following week, i undertook the same route on my campag equipped ritchey logic, returning to the croft with an average of 26.6kph. once again, hardly the sort of speed that would give tony martin cause of concern, but tautologically, almost 2kph faster than the specialized.

in which case, i would be more than interested to hear the reasoning of the european legislators who saw fit to make electric bicycle owners liable to insurance, a licensing and compulsory helmet wearing should they desire their electrons to be capable of more than the stated 25kph. though i have clearly stated on more than one occasion that i think all cyclists ought to have at least third party insurance for their own peace of mind, leaving me free to plough my own, faster furrow doesn't actually make any logical sense.

but there are several ways of applying logic and i'm not entirely sure that scott snaith of 50 cycles is fulfilling the word's definition when he calls for the eu to increase the speed of pedal-assisted e-bikes on the basis that it will make them "safer on the roads". his justification for so doing is to allow that extra boost of power to speed the cyclist out of harm's way in town or city traffic. and even though he credits 32kph (20mph) as likely a sufficient top speed, i'm not entirely sure his argument is based on sound reasoning.

granted, i am not one who has any need to circumnavigate busy rush hour traffic, so i might be well wide of the mark on this one. i do agree with him that the top speed of e-bikes ought to be raised, but predominantly on the reason pointed out above, that a standard, non-electric bicycle is capable of considerably higher speeds than its electric counterpart, yet remains free of legislatory restriction. how many serious motor accidents occur at low speeds? so how would making e-bikes faster make them safer?

answers on a postcard please and sent to brussels.

tuesday 12 june 2018

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