Summer will come again. It will! It will!
Photos by my pedalpal Helen Lane.
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.
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.
A 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.
Of 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 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.
This is not even an attempt at humor. This is dead serious.
And if you don’t take it seriously, you could die.
MY TOWN, MY TOWN
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!
You don’t have to be an idiot to be an “international consultant”, but it certainly helps!
One Frank Krygowski wrote on the cycling newsgroup rec.bicycles.tech:
> …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.
Jobst Brand in the Alps.
See an inspiring celebration of his life in photos.
Tom 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: 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)
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.
UNSATISFACTORY HEART RATE MONITORS (HRM) CAN SOON MOUNT UP TO REAL MONEY
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.
THREE HRM THAT LASTED MORE THAN A YEAR
The 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…
The 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 ADVANTAGE OF BLUETOOTH 4
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.
QUICK AND DIRTY RECOMMENDATIONS
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
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
Unlike most of the American cyclists, who hypocritically keep several automobiles, I don’t have a car at all; I gave up the car altogether in 1992.
But I have a definite use for parking lots. In my small town, I’m less than a kilometre in each direction from a good, smooth carpark, much better surfaced than the roads, where I can ride round and round when there is ice on my normal rides, or if I’m riding when the bars are emptying around midnight.
One parking lot on a hillside is particularly good. It’s quite small but it is laid out as a reversed Q, with the short section flat and long section uphill and fat with a garden strip down the middle; there is also a steep but short rise from the flat bar to the circular slope. The flat bit is big enough to make a large figure of eight at speed even when frosty.
This lot is behind a closed gate from 6pm, but I can get in via a pedestrian entrance which is not gated, and I have an arrangement with the security guys that if their alarm goes off they call the manned gate at the factory across the road and if it’s just a lone or a few cyclists the gateman can see on the hill opposite, they don’t come out.
I ride intervals on this lot for an hour, slow at first, then faster and faster, then a conscious warm down. This, I feel, does me more good as an hour or even two of gentle riding in the lanes and on the lesser hills, or an hour on one of my exercise machines. Because of my peculiar circumstances in my formative years (where I grew up and went to college rugby was compulsory, and I hated the entire oppressive apparat), I know next to nothing about the physiology of exercise. But you don’t need to know much to observe that you feel less tired and sleep better after one kind of exercise than another.
I vote for interval training, varied with whatever else you like, of course.
• Andre Jute’s sports are cycling, rugby, racing in all its forms (automobiles, offshore powerboats, transocean yachts), polo, tennis and golf. He is the author of IDITAROD a novel The Greatest Race on Earth, about the perilous 1000 mile sled dog race across Alaska, the modern equivalent of the Marathon of the Ancients. He keeps a bicycling netsite.
• Copyright ©2013 Andre Jute. This article, as long as it is used complete including this notice, may be freely reprinted on not-for-profit sites. No commercial use without permission.
THE DOPING DILEMMA
LANCE ARMSTRONG HAS DROPPED TOP LEVEL SPORTS INTO
by Andre Jute
You don’t need to be Carl Jung to know that most people find it easier to conform, to go along.
There is no evidence that Lance Armstrong was the primary or even a main instigator of doping in top-level cycle racing. There is every evidence that he arrived in a sport where doping was already the norm — and went along with what was expected of him. Demonizing Armstrong will not change the facts.
I don’t feel sorry for Armstrong. He’ll be touring the talk shows, building his brand, which may now become Repentance and Redemption.
I see that picking on Armstrong and, even worse, waiting to do it until his career was definitely over, is symptomatic of collusion and incompetence and hypocrisy throughout the sport.
I feel sorrier for the fans, not Armstrong’s fans in particular, but the fans of top-level cycle-racing. It seems to me unlikely that any result of the last 20 or 30 years — and stretching much deeper than the podium — is now above suspicion. That the UCI are not awarding Armstrong’s wins to the second-place man is their admission that they know it.
As for the UCI, it is so contaminated and tarnished, it should be closed down. It’s officials should be prosecuted. It is impossible to believe that they didn’t know what was going on in their sport. Once that is agreed, it is impossible to believe that they didn’t collude. Now, immorally, they’re embarking on retrospective witch hunts, applying twenty-twenty hindsight, claiming to be whiter than white. It’s immoral, disgraceful, and disgusting, the nadir of blazers covering their slack asses when the manure hits the spreader, and at the same time trying to put themselves forwards for new careers as drugs busters, the very activity at which they have already failed so ignominiously. We should start afresh with a new control body with new people, probably brought in from junior team sports, maybe girls’ soccer, guaranteed to be clean because there’s no money in it.
Turning now to drugs testing. I was vastly irritated during the Olympics, what I caught of it, by the constant advertising of the drugs testing laboratory, to the point where it seemed the Olympics was not so much a contest of athlete against athlete but against doping. Anti-doping has become the new Global Warming, with the same hysterical mob reaction to it.
The problem is clearly that effective drugs testing is less a science than an art, a matter of opinion, at the margins a toss of the coin. Putting a bunch of chemists in ultimate charge of our iconic sports isn’t the answer either. We have already seen how politically committed “scientists” trashed long-range climate forecasting by concerted, consistent lying and thuggery to protect an ideal that shone only to them. They were supported every step of the way by the mob, as the chemists will be if my bleak scenario is enacted.
What we have already seen in sports where they control doping better, as in the better regulated Olympic sports, is that witch hunts lead to false accusations, people’s careers ruined for taking a cough medicine prescribed by their physician for a slight cold. That’s nonsense too, and the drugs laboratories and officials should be sued for consequential damages and penalties. Let’s be clear on this: I would rather a hundred dopers escape punishment than that one innocent is falsely shamed. That is the only proper interpretation of the law and any regulation applied by anyone whosoever; to compromise on that principle is to betray human rights.
These facts together may make control of doping impossible. We may be heading for a Rollerball future in which athletes are a separate class of humanity, bred and doped from birth for extraordinary athletic feats.
• Andre Jute’s sports are cycling, rugby, racing in all its forms (automobiles, offshore powerboats, transocean yachts), polo, tennis and golf. He is the author of IDITAROD a novel The Greatest Race on Earth, about the perilous 1000 mile sled dog race across Alaska, perhaps the only race in the world which is guaranteed to be drug-free. He’s wondering if he should remove all reference to Armstrong from his bicycling netsite before the politically correct get the wrong idea!
• Copyright ©2013 Andre Jute. This article, as long as it is used complete including this notice, may be freely reprinted on not-for-profit sites. No commercial use without permission.
The 29er is a modern incarnation of the beach cruiser of the 1950s. By definition it has wide, low pressure tyres, of the type called “balloons” in more spacious times.
Today your pure 29er is an MTB with a fork and a rear triangle big enough to take a balloon tyre of at least 57.5mm wide on a 622 rim. (The math: 29in is 737mm. (737-622)/2 = 57.5). In practice this usually means that a 29er should take a 60×622 Big Apple with a circumference of 745mm, and fork axle to crown distance is generally somewhere around 420-440mm to allow fitting a mudguard as well. Some forks are even taller to compensate for replacing long-travel suspended forks. A solid fork, especially one made of chromium molybdenum steel, chromoly in the vernacular, is feasible because the fat low pressure tyre is for practical purposes as good as mechanical suspension struts.
Conventional tyre/rim wisdom is that a tyre 1.5 to 2.5 times the inner width of the rim, across the retainer beads, may be fitted. Thus a 60mm tyre requires a rim with a minimum inner width of 24mm and maximum of 40mm. The wider the rim, the less air pressure needs to be put into the tyre, and the more successfully it works as suspension. I’ve had 60×622 Big Apple tyres on rims of 15 and 17 and 25mm internal width. The only ones that work as the tyres are intended to is the 25mm internal width rim (Exal XL25, nominal external width 31mm). Other knowledgeable cyclists prefer an even wider rim to permit even lower pressures in the iconic Big Apples.
Let’s be clear. A bicycle with tyres of less than 57.5mm nominal width is not a 29er. A bicycle with rims so narrow that any tyres, including nominal balloons, have to be pumped up to high pressures to stay on the rim and not to be dangerous at speed, is not a balloon bike, and therefore not a 29er.
Enter the wishful thinkers from the marketing departments of bike manufacturers everywhere. A genuine twenty-niner is an expensive thing to build, requiring a much wider fork and rear triangle than normal even on big touring MTBs, and taller too. And frame, fork and components must all be first class, because substantial rotating weight and thus forces are involved. Even the ultra-light extra-cost folding version of the Big Apple 60×622 weighs into same class as the superb but hefty Marathon Plus in the 37/38mm size, generally thought of as the furthest extent of tyre weight serious cyclists (year round commuters and tourers) should consider.
But the marketers wanted the trendy 29er appellation without spending the money on putting in the special frame and the good components, and thereby pricing their bikes out of competition. First they persuaded ERTTRO to permit balloon tyres to be fitted to ever narrower rims, which of course meant that the balloons had to be over-inflated and thus were no longer balloons, defeating the purpose of making a 29er. Never mind, they didn’t really want a 29er, they just wanted to call it a 29er, to catch a few suckers with money in their pockets but without the brains to ask what a 29er actually is, and does.
Now, admittedly, none of this matters to me. I can afford to order a custom bike, designed from the ground up around balloon tyres, built to match my every desire by Germans with components tested to destruction not once, not twice, but three times (by the German government, by the German bicycle manufacturers’ trade body, by the obsessives building my bike). I did order such a bike. I’m deliriously happy with it. BMW money? So what? I don’t keep a car, haven’t for twenty years. I go everywhere on my pushbike, put more miles on it every year than I ever did on a car. In the opinion of my physicians, I’m alive because of all that cycling. Incidentally, even without the cushy ride of the low pressure balloons on my bike measured on my bum, so to speak, I’d gleefully pay for the entire setup because it has also removed microvibrations from my hands and wrists. (This may be difficult for some to understand, but to me it is very, very important. You see, a writer is essentially a manual worker, in that he operates a keyboard for twelve or fourteen hours a day, and if his hobby or exercise already causes his hands and wrists to hurt or tingle or vibrate, work can become a chore for years on end.)
But someone else who buys a socalled “29er” off the shelf for still substantial money gets ripped when he has to pressure the tyres to be as hard as rocks because the manufacturer fitted rims too narrow for the tyres. The poor punter gets the “29er” name and the appearance of big tyres, but he doesn’t get the 29er performance he was promised and paid for because, to compensate for the manufacturer skimping on rim width, he has to inflate the tyres to a level where their great advantage is lost. He has in fact bought a more expensive touring bike with high pressure tyres, and one which won’t work as efficiently or economically or pleasingly as the real thing. It’s a mishmash that’s neither fish nor fowl, and tastes foul.
A by-effect of these cheapskate manufacturing policies irritates. I bought an electric conversion kit to try the pedelec craze. I want to build it into a rim like the ones already on my bike, which are Exal XL25. This is a high quality rim designed (by my custom bike makers) specifically for use with Big Apple 60mm balloons, my fave tyre, and made by a fine Belgian firm of rim specialists. Except that dealers don’t stock it any more. Manufacturers have been so successful in the penny-pinching venture of trimming the rim width of socalled “29er” rims that most of the rims now offered as so-called “29ers” are 19 or 20 or at most 21mm wide across the beads, absolutely worthless for the self-described purpose of a “balloon” bike with a 60mm wide tyre. In short, “29er” has been reduced — from a bike that worked distinctively differently — to a meaningless, empty marketing nomenclature.
Sure, there’s a solution. There always is, if you look hard enough. Unicycle 29er rims are still the real thing, wider across the beads in fact than my Exals, and strong with it, because on a unicycle only one wheel must support the mass and resolve all the stresses and strains that on a bicycle are shared between two wheels.
But I wouldn’t have had to apply lateral thinking to acquiring common parts if bike manufacturers weren’t so greedy and their marketing departments staffed with such liars. Shame on them.