Summer will come again will come again. It will! It will!

Photos by my pedalpal Helen Lane.

Andre Jute is a novelist and painter — and a cyclist — who lives in West Cork.


The Puffball Ride in West Cork

A cool, overcast day, just right for a ride in the green and beloved isle. Check out these giant puffballs between the road and the river. They’re fully twelve inches across. Edible.

One of the party came back for these puffballs in his car.

This is our destination, Kilmacsimon Quay, a village of a handful of houses, a pub and a boatyard on the estuary of the River Bandon.

The green tower is the proverbial widow’s house, from which she would look out fearfully for the return of her sea-captain.

Andre Jute is a novelist and painter who cycles around his home on the River Bandon in West Cork.

Cycling the lacework of lanes in West Cork, discovering Red Spider Mites

After more than a quarter century cycling the lacework of lanes around my house in West Cork, I still don’t know them all, or even the majority. Here’s a lane my pedalpal Philip remembers from the days when GPs still made house calls, on which we cycled for the first time today, looking for a shortcut from the pub at Newcestown to Baxter’s Bridge so we could come home via the Golf Club. Not all of this lane is this civilized; parts of it are decidedly rough and overgrown. You’re not lost if you can follow the telephone poles!


You can also get a whole education in the flora and fauna in the lanes, simply by keeping your eyes open. These tiny Red Spider Mites are too small to see from a moving bike, less than a millimeter across. This photo is probably 60x or 70x life-size.

Andre Jute is a novelist and painter who cycles around his home on the River Bandon in West Cork.

Your lifespan: Would you pay $1268 for an extra year of life?

andre_jute_seven_headsA cost-benefit analysis of new bike lanes in New York concludes that “over the lifetime of all people in NYC, bike lane construction produces additional costs of $2.79 and gain of 0.0022 quality-adjusted life years (QALYs) per person.” Let’s see what that means in actual lifespan.

That comes to 0.803 quality-adjusted days or about 20 hours of extra life.

Since life is the ultimate benefit, 2.79USD for an additional 20 hours of a high quality life like mine or yours seems a bargain, annualizing to 1268USD for a year of extra life.

My physician and cardiologist have long been on this case, saying that cycling so regularly for the last quarter-century saved my life, and that continuing to cycle continues to contribute to the quality of my life.

it_s_the_economy__stupid_v2_cover_800ph_123kbOf course, if you were a sourpuss econometrist, you might argue that the hours spent on the bike to receive the benefit must be subtracted, and so inflate the annual cost by perhaps as much 10 per cent (if you spent around 2 hours a day on the bike). I wearily wave off such accounting hairsplitting: who wouldn’t pay even double the simple calculated base cost, $2536, for an extra year of life?

andre_jute_blueAndre Jute is a motivational psychologist and economist who spent his early career in advertising and is now a prizewinning, best-selling novelist. He is also the author of IT’S THE ECONOMY STUPID, a Rhodes Scholar Education in One Hour.

Cycling in Bandon: The International Expert Report

This is not even an attempt at humor. This is dead serious.
And if you don’t take it seriously, you could die.


An international traffic consultancy, which had better remain anonymous, wonders why children don’t cycle to school in my home town. In the next pigeonhole of their report they show this photograph of North Main Street. Behind the photographer, up further, steeper, busier hills, there are four schools… On the other end of this road, the only road across the only bridge, there are four more schools… These international consultants tell us they made “a site visit”, that is, they came to look. (That must be their helicopter top right, giving a new meaning to “a flying visit”.) Still they wonder why children don’t cycle to school! cycling_in_bandon

You don’t have to be an idiot to be an “international consultant”, but it certainly helps!

Andre Jute is a novelist and painter — and a cyclist — who lives in West Cork.

Downsides of the fascist compulsion urge shared by too many bicyclists

One Frank Krygowski wrote on the cycling newsgroup
> …a bigger problem is that Stevenage did nothing to actively
> discourage car use. By contrast, Dutch cities tend to make car parking
> rare and super-expensive, and they close direct routes to cars so car
> trips take longer than bike trips, etc. etc.
> It seems that as long as it’s easier to get into a car and turn the key,
> almost everyone will prefer to drive.

This is my reply:

Let’s forget for the moment that from close acquaintance we are unfortunately burdened with the sure knowledge that Frank Krygowski is a fascist asshole in each and every way imaginable, and on all observed occasions. For once read what Krygowski says carefully, don’t just dismiss it as “Oh, more Kreepy Krygo Krap, same-old, same-old”, because here Franki-boy is at last what he always wanted to be, a “spokesman for bicycles”.


If you close your eyes and you try hard to ignore Krygowski’s bullying breath on the back of your neck, you can hear those words coming from the mouths of so many cyclists, albeit more insidiously stated, it is almost a generic mantra.

It shouts, “Compulsion, compulsion, compulsion.” It raises its voice insistently, “I know what is best for you, and if you don’t do as I say, you will be forced to do as I say.” It grates, “You will conform to my worldview, or suffer the consequences.” All three of these are fundamental fascist attitudes.

It’s one reason people who could cycle if they wished to don’t want to, and instead drive their cars. Some of us believe that this offensive, self-assumed, unwarranted, fascist “superiority” of the “cycling cause”, as it is perceived, does more damage to the future of cycling than anything else.

Yes, I know, most cyclists don’t even notice because, in general, they’re environmentalists and other classes of those “liberals” whose intolerance of dissent, reason, debate and liberty are a sickening byword among intelligent people, and a huge part of the cycling community isn’t very bright, nor sensitive enough to observe how offensive their attitudes are to those with better manners and more tolerance. Instead they think motorists are out to get them. Paranoia comes with fascism, chaps.

It goes without saying that threats of compulsion won’t achieve the cycling nirvana. Persuasion and education was never even tried, and it is now too late to try them while the memory cone of the nastiness of Frank Krygowski and his like persists. It’ll be ten or fifteen years down the line—if no single cyclist spouts this nastiness in public during that time—before we get another chance. It takes that long to clear the air,

Today is a good day to start. Why am I not holding my breath?


Yes, I know, I’m speaking about a minority of abrasive cyclists. I appreciate the majority of cyclists who’re nice people. But I have news for you: you influence the perception of cyling among non-cyclists much, much less than the nasty minority. That’s just the way of the world.

Andre Jute is a writer and painter.
Andre also keeps a cycling page for his rare and wonderful bicycles.

High noon in Bandon. At least no snow in Ireland.


High noon in Bandon.
At least there is no snow.
Cycled around the town just to get out.
Andre Jute is a writer and painter.

Photos celebrating the life of cyclist, Porsche engineer and bicycling innovator Jobst Brandt 1935-2015


jobst_brandt_1935-2014Jobst Brand in the Alps.
See an inspiring celebration of his life in photos.

Now let us praise famous men: Tom Ritchey’s rides in the mountains with Jobst Brandt

silverfallsj1988800Tom Ritchey, for the innocent and the new bicyclists, is a famous and exceedingly influential designer of bicycles and components who played a major part in the development of the mountain bike. But in his fond and illuminating obituary of Jobst Brandt, a major influence on him as on so many designers and components and riding styles, Ritchey lifts the curtain on the days before mountain bikes when these hard men rode the Northern Californian mountains on narrow-tyred road bikes, setting a meme that still survives today in America, for instance in the insistence of many Americans on commuting on road (racing) bikes. For more click here or on the photo.

The illustration is from Richey’s obituary of Jobst Brand, where all the photos are © Jobst Brandt and Ray Hosler.

Andre Jute is a novelist and painter who also keeps a bicycling page.

Gorse on the Left, Gorse on Right. Into the Moat of Thorns Rides the Cyclist.


Andre Jute: Dawn on the Ruined Castle at the Ford of Innishannon
Oil on canvas, 8x6in, 2015
Click the photo to see a larger version.

Gorse on the Left,
Gorse on Right.
Into the Moat of Thorns
Rides the Cyclist.
(with apologies to Alfred, Lord Tennyson)

Andre Jute is a novelist and painter who also keeps a bicycling page.

Today’s ride to Kilmacsimon Quay along the River Bandon

Today’s ride: 21km across the hills nestling in a loop of the river between where I live on the River Bandon and Kilmacsimon Quay at the tip of the upper estuary.


The photo is of a restful lane providing a shortcut home via Ballylangley, from nearer Innishannon, also on the river.

You can’t ride home along the river because right by Innishannon there is a short section of narrow road without hard shoulders and very fast, impatient commuter traffic.

More about my bicycles and adventures on them.


I came to cycling too late in life to learn cadence control, so my cadence is fixed between about forty and sixty revolutions a minute, depending on which side of the bed I got out of that morning. That has turned out to be a really good thing, because from the beginning it forced me to control my exertion by my respiration rate rather than by my speed or whatever the gearing of my bike demanded or even by the terrain. From that follows the gearing specification of my bikes, for fifteen years or so now with internal hub gearboxes, currently Rohloff Speed 14.


812lf1lEueL._SL1500_In 25 years of cycling, a fair number of heart rate monitors (henceforth HRM) have been through my hands. Let’s leave aside cheap supermarket crap I bought to have another HRM on standby; they all broke too soon to justify their cost. Let’s also leave aside a Medisana Polar H7 copy, bought at Lidl, which did everything right with every software package I tried it with, except the last step: it wouldn’t put my heart rate on the display page, making it useless; returned for a refund. Let’s leave aside Chinese ripoffs of the Polar H7; none of them worked as expected.


BICYCLE-HAC4-on-wristThe Ciclosport HAC 4 PLUS was a superb HRM. with all the bells and buttons you could wish for. So it should have, at 300 Euro. For that price I expected it to last at least 10 years. It broke on the day after the three-year guarantee ran out. I didn’t buy another because I don’t like planned obsolescence! Also, as watch, it looked cheap on the arm. Note that the head unit, left on the bike when you remove the watch part, is vulnerable to theft; there is a thriving trade in these units on Ebay…

Sigma PC9 Heart Rate MonitorThe Sigma PC9 was altogether at the other end of the scale. It cost 40 Euro, had all the functions Iactually used on the Ciclosport HAC 4 (except altitude) and then some, was much more elegant as a watch, and still works after about ten years; it was replaced simply to save some space on my handlebars by combining various bits of kit/functions/displays into my iPhone. I’m a big fan of Sigma, and also use their bicycle computers; their stuff is very fairly priced, especially for top quality German goods, and lasts forever.

An iPhone or other smartphone with Bluetooth 4 (a low energy transmission protocol that saves battery use) with appropriate software, much of it free, is already an HRM. All the hardware you need to add is sensor/sender belt to fit around your chest. I’ve tried quite a few and the only one that is truly an allrounder (works with everything I tried it with) is the Polar H7, which cost STG 47.15 delivered in Ireland from Amazon UK. Mine was returned inoperative to the manufacturer shortly after arrival, fixed, and returned to me in a couple of weeks. It has worked well since.


I put the iPhone in a waterproof bag on the handlebars where I can see it, but I could keep it in a pocket because Polar’s own programme, which I use, reports every kilometer or mile, to choice, in a loud woman’s voice the elapsed time or average speed, and heart rate. If you need to control your heart rate closer than that, you need to cycle with your physician or a trained nurse. (My pedal pals include both.) With the phone on the handlebars you can control your exertion very closely to your chosen or permitted maximum respiration rate. (Here’s a tip: the physio will normally set a lower max heart rate than your physician or a cardiologist will. Get an opinion from all three, if you can.) I also have a motor on my bike, and when my respiration rate hits max, I keep up with the group by cutting in the motor.


The smartphone/BT4 belt setup has an advantage over all dedicated HRM. Your dedicated HRM is set up so that a bunch of roadies riding in a peloton don’t have HRM interfering with each other, so the range is at most 18in. This is a stupid irritation for a utility cyclist or a tourer who sits upright and usually has 24in or more between the sender on his chest and the reporter unit on the handlebars or even on his wrist if he’s being energetic. Any BT4 band though has a 10m/33ft sender radius, so there is no interruption in the flow of information if you step away from you bike. This can be important, because if you really need an HRM, the second most important thing you do with it is check your respiration recovery rate R^3: the faster your respiration settles, the fitter you are.

Polar’s H7 has the fastest latch onto a heart signal of any belt that I’ve ever tried; about a third of all the belts I’ve tried failed altogether to detect a signal. This is important especially when it is cold and your skin is not naturally moist.



If you’re a luddite or poor or a multi-gadgeteer, I recommend the Sigma PC9 (or its successor), which is easy to set up because it has very clear instructions, beautifully printed, and it just keeps working, and it is extremely reasonably priced, and goodlooking too.

I don’t recommend any Ciclosport because mine was ultimately unreliable, and they’re too expensive for what they offer.

If you have a smartphone with Bluetooth 4 already, I don’t see why you should want anything more than the Polar H7 belt, which lets you choose which software you want to use; I find Polar’s own free software quite good enough, and it has outstanding automatic record-keeping, useful when my cardiologist asks.

André Jute is a novelist and cyclist, and a teacher via his non-fiction textbooks of creative writing, engineering and reprographics.

Copyright © 2015 Andre Jute

CORDON BLEU FOR CAMPERS: “Skippy makes good BBQ”

Kanga against the sunset, photo credit  Lizzie Borden

Campers don’t have to eat rubbish at McDonald’s.

Croc eggs make a good omelette, you just have to keep the fellow who always expects you to fix his flats nearer the edge of the water than you to distract Mama Croc while you dig the eggs out of the sandbank. Better to dig up the eggs after you’ve crossed the river.

If you want ostrich egg, which makes a rich scramble, watch out for the six-inch forenail of Mama Ostrich. The tool of choice to separate that toenail from you is a thorn branch about six feet long, which you hold over her head to mesmerize her. She won’t kick if she can’t look down at her feet, for fear of kicking herself fatally instead of you.

If you’re Down Under, Skippy makes good BBQ. I’d explain how to get a joey to volunteer by jumping into the roasting bag and rolling himself up oven-ready but I suspect there are some bleeding hearts here.

© 2014 Andre Jute

Photo credit Lizzie Borden


Mishells in the morning

I ride here most days. Photo Andre Jute

I ride here most days. Photo Andre Jute