thewashingmachinepost




..........................................................................................................................................................................................................

long distance runaround

road signs

very much to the surprise of yours truly and my physics teacher, i achieved a surprisingly high mark in my physics higher exam. to say it was unexpected would be to seriously minimise the truth. however, i am still convinced to this day, that something was missing from that educational triumph.

on an almost daily basis, i wear a pair of vans shoes, very much not for their apparent fashionable popularity, but definitely for their comfort factor and, lazily, for the fact that they appear not to require too much in the way of grooming. they may sport a pair of the allegedly famous waffle soles, possibly offering better grip along the recently tarmac'd pavement in bowmore main street, but for me, little of that matters.

however, both pairs of vans that i own, along with a robust pair of hi-tec walking shoes that take me out every weekday morning, are lace-ups. and no matter for how long i have been tying laces, all three of the above have a tendency to loosen even when i'm sitting still. i can scarcely recount the number of times i have arrived at the office, sat in my computer chair for anything up to two hours, but then standing to discover at least one of the laces is undone. how can that happen when there has been no movement to cause the misdemeanour?

was there a physics class that i may have missed? one that might explain the laces phenomenon?

this unaccountable feeling that a piece of the jigsaw is missing has recently returned to haunt me, but this time, it has nothing to do with tying laces. recent papers featured in the university of westminster's active travel academy (who knew that existed?) magazine, have queried the future of longer distance cycling in the age of the e-bike. you see, my problem surrounds the possibility that, despite attempting to keep myself as well-informed on velocipedinal matters as i can, there is now a nagging feeling that i missed something glaringly obvious.

that said, it's possible that my (and by implication, your) comprehension of what constitutes long-distance cycling varies somewhat from that apparently in vogue at the university of westminster's active travel academy. the author of one paper, nicholas scott, is quoted as saying "You can go out 14 miles away with the knowledge that you've got the battery to help you back if you need it!" hands up all those who consider 14 miles to equate to a 'long distance'? i'm not sure i'd bother to take the bicycle from the bike shed.

however, iniquities such as the above notwithstanding, that's not actually the bit i fear i may have missed. every year, islay features the 'ride of the falling rain', a 100 mile ride around the principality, which, pre-covid, was in the habit of attracting sixty or seventy participants. i realise that such numbers are but a drop in the ocean compared with almost all of the world's sportive rides, but the distance is key in this discussion. for at rotfr and most other sportive rides, the distance is often the main attraction, something against which one might measure one's mettle. but doing so on the existing road network.

and what of the average and not so average touring cyclist, setting out to ride great distances over the course of a week or two, aboard regular bicycles festooned with either panniers or bikepacking luggage. folks have been undertaking the latter almost since the safety bicycle was first invented. so the concept that it is now the ideal time to invest in long-distance cycle routes simply because we can purchase bicycles with batteries attached, seems, to me at least, distinctly odd. and makes me think that i may have missed the bit that has made this seem an apparently normal request.

having reviewed a specialized turbo vado a few years past, i had derived that, if i left the power-assist at its lowest setting, the bicycle would probably achieve around 100km. depending on how your travel mode works out, that would either allow a bike ride of 50km distance, leaving sufficient battery power to return, or 100km distance before desperately needing to find a charging point. the majority of regular touring cyclists are in the habit of planning their trips to make use of the road less travelled. when cyclinguk was still known as the ctc, i cannot recall ever reading demands for curated long-distance cycle routes within the pages of their quarterly magazine.

so why is it that, along comes the now ubiquitous e-bike, reputedly the saviour of the velocipedinal world, and no sooner do sales start to widen the market, than demands for special consideration start to appear. obviously enough, were these demands to be fulfilled, any routes would be rideable on analogue bikes too. but considering the safety bicycle was invented well over a century past, why now?

mistake me not; should such routes, hopefully of greater length than 14 miles, come to fruition, i will help string out the bunting. but the aforementioned possibility that i may have missed an important twist or turn in the cycling firmament, is only undermined by a statement by the journal's editor, tom cohen. when asked what he believed would count as 'long distance cycling', he responded, "I don't think we were too categorical. In fact, I think we just take it as meaning that if you think of a journey as being longer distance, then that probably qualifies."

the man would make an excellent politician.

saturday 28 may 2022

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