Archives for January 2014

Previously: Be Thankful~That’s OK, It’s Only Awful~Harrumph

It’s easy to be insufficiently thankful for a bike when it’s working, as I was thinking after riding in the mud last year. And the true is the same for you body. Perhaps it wasn’t quite as bad as now, but the floods were very real last year too – and as misrepresented as ever. New shoots pushing up from bulbs on verges failed to cheer me up. It could be far more grim: this week in 2012 the weather had taken a turn for the snow-and-ice-bound worse, and I wasn’t riding at all. Hey ho – nothing’s new – that’s just as this week (2014) is turning out.

Week 5, 2013: Be Thankful
Week 5, 2013: That’s OK, It’s Only Awful
Week 5, 2013: Harrumph

Previously: Life And Death~Pleasure~Green And Unpleasant ~Blues ~Idiots ~Addiction

This week 2013 there was snow, there were birds fighting for survival – and I was watching life and death struggles with impunity. I was also revelling in the simple pleasure of being able to get outside after too long on turbo-trainers. A year further back and the state of ‘Royal Berkshire’ said to me that you have to recognize a problem if you’re going to fix it; the stereotypical ‘all kitted out’ road rider hacked me off – as did BMW drviers who think their skills are a match for ‘ultimate driving machines’; and a token ride made me wonder if I’m hooked on cycling.

Week 4, 2013: Watching Life And Death
Week 4, 2013: Unalloyed Pleasure
Week 4, 2012: First Recognise The Problem
Week 4, 2012: The January Blues
Week 4, 2012: Not Even Antepenultimate
Week 4, 2012: Some Kind Of Addiction

Built On Sand?

If – like me today – you ride through pretty well anywhere there are shops, you’ll find boarded-up premises. That’s around Berkshire and South Oxfordshire, in this relatively affluent region. There are plenty of places where it’s far more common.

Austerity, crisis, downturn and recession aside, an underlying reality is that a lot of high street retailers are unable to compete with the dominance of the supermarkets and their localized not so super versions. Colin’s corner store ain’t got a chance against Tesco, whether it’s the superstore-sized one a few minutes’ drive away, or its little brother just up the road – little in size but still getting all the benefits of scale so that Colin’s crushed. For numerous other local shops that aren’t in supermarket territory, the big online shopping ‘destinations’ – the Amazons and eBays of this world – will do for them just as effectively.

Leaving aside the rights and wrongs of all that, if there’s one thing it surely means is that there’s going to be a decreasing demand for online advertising. Tesco doesn’t need to advertise when it’s your only choice …

If you’re a niche retailer outside of the ambit of the big boys then you’ll not need to advertise (much) either, precisely because you’re in a niche: if you’re so small and specialist that Amazon/Tesco et al can’t swamp you, then you’ll be easily ‘find-able’ in any search engine anyway – or known-to or find-able-by your audience through other channels.

Perhaps I’m being too simplistic with that analysis, but every time I read about yet another online business that’s going to fund itself from advertising, I can’t help but think that’s a business model built on sand. Even if the status quo persisted, I doubt that as of now there are enough advertisers out there to sustain everyone who thinks they’re going to be raking it in from happy entrepreneurs with shiny products and services to show off. And if the number is actually declining …

And if this current era of (largely) free online content is built on advertising, expect some big shifts there too. “There’s no such thing as a free lunch” may be a knackered old cliché, but it’s also true.

Whether that’s all good, or bad, or merely change, I don’t know.

Good Rubber (Just For Cyclists)

A South Oxon ride on Monday was reasonable for the most part, but part-blighted by two punctures – both caused by shards of flint. They used to make tools out of flint for a reason, sure, but I’ve had a very bad run of various Schwalbe tyres getting badly cut and often puncturing in the last few weeks – far more than I’d expect, even given the appalling weather and appalling roads.

So, since then I’ve re-shod my ‘workhorse’ Bianchi Nerone with some Michelin Pro4 Endurance tyres that I had in the garage.

(As for why they were in my garage: the saga is related here.)

Today it was a case of a ride on much the same lanes as Monday – and not only did I not pick up a puncture, the tyres aren’t even showing a cut.

I know that’s not scientific, I know there are any number of small variations between today’s ride and Monday’s. However, that’s as close a direct comparison as an ordinary user can make; it bears out my earlier experience with the Pro4’s predecessor, the Krylions … and all I can say is that I feel a fool for not putting them on the bike earlier. If you’re on a road bike and you’re puncturing a lot, you might find it worth your while trying them.

Up Towards Ewelme (With Route)(Just For Cyclists)

If you’re in the Reading area and stuck for a route that avoids floods, this loop up towards Ewelme proved quite reasonable: plenty of pot-holes and filthy roads, but nothing too waterlogged. (At least it was OK when I rode it on Monday.) I went counter-clockwise, out to Sonning Common and on from there, back via Ipsden etc. It’s easy to extend it if you want to. The climb up to the back of Woodcote is my preferred option for getting up that particular ridge of hills, especially when the roads are bad.

View Route Map
Link To GPX File.
About The Route Mapping

Previously: Vernalization~Moods~Squaring Circles~Digital Ubiquity

Last year during this week it was too cold to risk riding and falling off so it was back on the cursed turbo trainer, and vernalization was little compensation. This week in 2012 saw – for the time of year – good riding weather. I wasn’t in the mood to appreciate it and found myself wondering about moods. A couple of days later I was thinking about fig leaves, white lies and the tension between what we know and what we pretend. The day after that it was the ubiquity of digital photography that was on my mind.

Week 3, 2013: Vernalization As Sufficient Justification
Week 3, 2012: Measuring Moods
Week 3, 2012: Squaring Circles
Week 3, 2012: Digital Ubiquity