Life from an outsider's perspective…

FOR SALE: HED TT / triathlon time trial aerobar

Here it is folks, only a couple of days until the auction ends:

Has the bike industry gone astray?

As you probably know I previously owned a business renting out top-quality bikes in Tenerife, Canary Isands [unfortunately that is no longer operational, but the website still works]. And I also sell the world’s best cable housing for bicycles. So I am still directly involved with the bike industry, and I have been an avid cyclist for at least 20 years.

But the trouble with the bicycle industry today is that all of these hybrid composite materials cannot be easily recycled, recovered or reused. It wouldn’t be quite so bad except new standards are introduced at such a rate, they drive frames and components obsolete within only a few short years. What is the expected lifespan of a frame today? It used to be ten years or more.

The reason I first rode a bike to school (almost 25 years ago now) was not just for enjoyment and practicality, but also for the environment. I think the bike industry is falling behind in that respect… way, way behind. The industry is all too keen to introduce new wheel sizes, new bearings, new fangled ways of attaching seatposts, new axle widths. I’m still waiting for the humble pedal thread to get superceded. It’s… it’s… it’s an entire industry.

And most bike magazine reviewers certainly don’t help the matter either. Why? Because they encourage people to buy ever more shit that they really don’t need. Why? Well, because if they don’t, they’d be out of a job, that’s why. What makes me say that? Because they get a lot of revenue for bike component advertising. And no component manufacturer in their right mind would advertise with a company that promotes minimalism, would they?

One of the very attractions of bicycles is that they are supposed to be “eco friendly”. When frames only last a few years because of the introduction of new standards, I think adults are forgetting why they started buying quality things to begin with. I think we’re forgetting why we all got into cycling in the first place!

One of my most memorable rides of all time was riding around Bora Bora on an old French steel bike. The thing only had one speed, but I enjoyed that ride more than all of the others I can remember. So we don’t always have the most fun or even the best experiencex on the most advanced bicycles.

I actually think bicycle companies should be more like Calfee Designs. If I could have my time in Tenerife again, those are the bikes I would buy today. Take a look:

Main site back online…

Last week I accidently updated wordpress without thinking and it automatically wrote over the top of some of my cutomised theme files.
In addition, I don’t think the newest version of wordpress was compatible with the old version of the theme I had, which dates back to 2009.
I guess I’ve been spoilt by my other much newer sites & wordpress installations that tend to see to themselves.

It’s been a few years since I updated the site, so basically the whole website went down, displaying some cooky error message like this:

Fatal error: Call to a member function hook() on a non-object

It takes a lot of work to be a website administrator. When things go wrong, they can really go very wrong.
Quite frankly, because is not my main priority at the moment, I just left it that way for about a week until I could find the time to investigate the cause.

The good news is that I finally have it back up and running again! Yay!
The bad news is that some of the custom style changes I made are gone.

It sucks because right around that time, someone was interested in buying the website off me. So I don’t know if the site going down had anything to do with it, but I never heard from them again…

I will need to reupload some from backups, but I am getting tired after working on this problem for about 2 straight hours.
So I will hack the code back to the way it was over the next few days… and it should be restored pretty much as it was.

20% off all Vertebrae products throughout August, 2016!

Please enter the coupon “20eco” at the checkout, and a 20% discount will automatically be applied to your order.

Bike stuff for sale!

I have a few bike bits for sale here:

My message to the bicycle industry.

I’ve had this post sitting in draft format for almost two years. It’s not an easy subject to write about. You see, earlier this year, I read the book “cradle to cradle; remaking the way we make things”. It’s essentially a book about sustainable product design. I like to think of myself as an environmentalist. And I like to think of myself as a product designer too. So to me, this was one of those truly life-altering books.

I have always want to design and manufacture parts. Ever since high school, I can remember sketching time trial frames with aero cross sections. So reading this new book came as a bit of a shock to me. Because this was the first book that I read that questioned the status quo. It questioned the ‘sustainability’ of many of our current manufacturing processes. And the truth is, they are not very sustainable at all. I think we already knew that. But we don’t like hearing it. We block our ears or change the channel.

Previously, I used to only think about what things were made of. I would simply select the products that were made with the best materials (because I am a materials scientist). And that was it. I didn’t really question where all these materials even came from (although deep down I knew because I had studied it in subjects like “extractive metallurgy”).

Basically, we have got a big problem, because we are operating like there is no tomorrow. And it’s not good for the environment. Not good for the environment at all. Eventually, I think we’re going to reach a peak production volume. After that, I believe we must begin to produce less. Not just with bike products, but with everything. I predict that our entire global economy will be forced to sell more ‘services’ in lieu of ‘products’.

And I think the bicycle industry needs to look at itself very hard. Because it is making products and components that are bad for the environment. Aren’t bikes supposed to be good for the environment? Isn’t that why we all got into bikes in the first place?

With road bikes: How is hydraulic fluid good for the environment? What happens to all those disc brake pads when they are worn out? How is electronic shifting good for the environment? Indeed, how is carbon fibre as a material good for the environment?

I’d rather not be the one to tell you this, but carbon fibre composites are actually terrible for the environment. When you think about it, carbon fibres are not easy to make, are they? And the more forming processes they go through, the worse it is for the environment. There is more pollution. There is more energy required. More machinery is required. And what about the matrix, epoxy resin? That’s another nasty material. And these two phases, the matrix and the fibres cannot be readily separated for recycling when their life is over. Can they?

And what about bike frames? When a carbon frame cracks in two (and yes I have seen it happen), do we really repair it? Or do we simply throw it in the bin? I didn’t know what to do with my last pair of carbon tubulars when they wore out, so eventually I decided to cut them up into quarters and sold as “ultra-lightweight coathangars” (I have always tried to be zero waste). Yes, really! Someone out there now has a cupboard with a set of very expensive zipp 303 coat hangars!

So where do all of these carbon fibre parts normally end up? Land fill. That’s hardly what I’d call an advanced civilisation, making millions of things that make a one way trip to the bin.

With mountainbikes: How is continually developing new products year after year after year good for the environment? How about longer product cycles and real improvements please?

This is something I saw first hand renting bikes on Tenerife. The wastage was multiplied by a factor of 10x or 20x (or more) over a single rider. It’s not something you normally think about. And quite frankly I got tired of seeing it. One bottom bracket standard after another. It just makes it so much harder to keep spare parts… and more ends up in the bin, which is not good.

I think people must eventually come to realise that metals, ceramics and polymers must all come from somewhere. And where do they come from you ask? Well, they come from mines, that’s where. So every time you buy something new, you are destroying a part of the world. That is literally no exaggeration. It certainly doesn’t do the environment any good. Even when you buy an ecological vehicle, the raw materials must first be mined. So ultimately, buying nothing is almost always the best option.

The introduction of 29″ wheels was really one of the last straws as far as I was concerned… how are they any good for the smallest riders? And then as if to really fuck everone over good and proper, along came 27.5″ wheels. So these days I am just completely over it. I am happy with the bikes I’ve got and no one is going to convince me otherwise.

Now, I understand things must move forward and improve, but are these new inventions really ‘proven’ before they see the light of day? Or are they just design fads? I think product designers these days face a real challenge, and that is to make products that not only function well, look good and are reasonably priced, but ones that don’t harm the environment either. We are at the stage now, where that has to be considered. It just has to.

Half the problem lies with magazine editors. Yes, magazine editors. Because they often talk you into buying stuff that is simply not necessary. They do this because if they didn’t, they wouldn’t get as much advertising revenue, would they? There is a fundamental rule in many industries (not just the bicycle industry): you cannot speak ill of a manufacturer if they are paying your wages. It is like biting the hand that feeds you.

Not only does all of these mostly bullshit new products make your old ones go obsolete faster, but their manufacture taxes the environment more and more and more. So for every new carbon fibre part that is produced, new moulds must also be produced. The new moulds then have to be designed and fabricated. And those moulds must also be transported, too. And the transportation is happening with unsustainable transport methods, isn’t it? Right? That’s why I say the world today has got itself a massive problem. And I think it is one reason why so many people are depressed. It also explains why so many people in the manufacturing industry are climate change deniers, because if they admitted to it, then they would have to face a real dilemma that they are contributing to a worser future this Earth.

SO if you haven’t guessed already, one of my goals or aims in life is “to have a minimum impact on the environment”. And I have an interesting story little about how I figured that out as well —I went on this horrible blind date and it turns out to be more like a job interview. You know, with fifty or more questions. And one of the questions was: “what is your aim or goal in life?” I was a bit taken back that someone would actually ask me that on a first date. Anyway, after a lot of thinking, we honed in on my life goal together. Well at least I got something out of it I suppose. LOL.

So I have an announcement: last year I started a new blog, called vida enigmática: “who speaks for Earth?”. I hope to influence and inspire more people over there. Hopefully a whole generation, young and old, will tune in and take notice. I personally hope that it starts a revolutionary new way of thinking, so I hope to see you there.

I might as well add this here now, because I don’t update this blog much anymore. So the other site I have been working on is this one: my illustration and photography website.

Cycling West of Puerto de la Cruz.

This is the way to go if you’re heading over to Masca by bike. These days I actually suggest renting a car and starting around Garachico. But some people feel that is cheating, so maybe this post will interest you. There are a few ways out depending on where you are based in El Puerto. If you’re in the La Paz or Botannico district, the best way is something like this:

If you’re downtown near Plaza Charco, Playa Jardín, Parque Taoro, the best way is via El Toscal / La Romantica, like this:

Or via the coast, like this:

You can also get up onto the upper mountain road from around here. It’s a hard going getting up through Los Realjeos. The views from Icod El Alto are totally worth the effort though!

How to save money in cycling

DSC_2210_DxO3I’ve decided to update the blog and publish some of the articles I’ve had sitting in draft format. Over the years, we’ve had to dramatically cut costs in order to survive. So I’m now going to share with you some cheapskate ways to save money.

  • The first area you can save a lot of money is nutrition. The cost of powerbars, powergels and sports drinks really starts to add up when you’re doing lots of miles. If you must buy these things, buy them in bulk. There are also plenty of ways to make your own products.
  • I personally use water now instead of power drinks. Otherwise you’re literally pissing that money away.
  • Chain oil. Yes that’s right, chain oil. What did I use for my rental bikes? Plain old everyday engine oil. I used the lightest oil I could find. In fact it offered way better performance for MTBs (because volcanic dust dries out wax-based lubes). The only difference I find is that wax-based lubes don’t stain your calves quite so much.
  • Repair inner tubes. I used to do this and got really good at it until people started compaining that “it wasn’t safe”. The fact is, if you do it right, it is safe.
  • If you have to read about cycling, don’t buy magazines – read books instead! Magazines are filled with ads. Books are not. Magazines will tempt you to get stuff when you don’t really need it. Books will tend to get you out on the bike more, be more motivated, not less.
  • Buy 105, Ultegra, Deore, SLX, and XT. Beyond that and you’re really not getting a good cost-benefit ratio. Of course, you probably knew this already.
  • If you do want to save up for a bike, buy a good frame. Focus on the frame, as a good frame can easily last you 5 or 10 years. Components on the other hand will wear out and need to be replaced. So invest in a good frame, make the frame the priority and then worry about the rest of the component spec. Buying a good frame will save you money in the long run.
  • Insurance. Do you really need to insure that bicycle? Almost every average car in Spain for example is only insured for 3rd party damage (which is compulsory). Almost no one pays the small premium for fully comprehesive. Because quite frankly it’s a waste of money (except of coure if you have a lot at stake like repaying a mortgage / owning your own home). This is the main reason why poor people are uninsured — they know it’s not a fundamental need and one of the first places to cut costs.

Pro Bike Hire for sale!

Dress for success cartoonPro Bike Hire is a well established business based in Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain. We have a proven track record of success which can be verified on paper. We have a large base of satisfied repeat customers and have created a very strong brand identity.

The main reason for the sale is that I am now living permanently in Australia. I’d like to finalise the sale of the business before the end of September. That would give adequate time for you to prepare for the next high season which starts around mid-October.

Our most recent offer is fast bottoming out at only €28,500!! Considering that we get daily bookings & enquiries for bike rentals and the van and bikes are included, I think this is an extremely good price… (more…)

Main website is down

404 web computer error cartoonWell it appears the main website has gone down. This is a server/database issue. It’s probably going to take another 24-48 hours to fix. I will use this opportunity to get this blog to appear under the url without the “/Tenerife-News-Cycling-Blog/ which is essentially just keyword spam.

So the new website, the one that went down, will appear on its own domain, (as it should because that’s what we call the business, the logos are all Pro Bike Hire, etc).

The forum is still ‘working’ (although hardly anyone contributes so I’ll probably be deleting it outright).

This blog still works, as does our Twitter account.


Road bike frame sale

frame-sale2We have some alloy road bike frames for sale at some pretty good prices.

These include carbon fork & headset. Complete bikes to follow shortly.

A few bike cleaning tips.

One of the more mundane things I’ve has to do lots of with is cleaning bikes, so I thought I’d share a few secrets on how to clean your bike fast -and more importantly- on the cheap. (more…)

Best way to get out of Puerto de la Cruz.

I’ve included a few maps of the tricker sections. After heaeding out the Botannico/Martianez exit, you go under the TF5 hihgway. Skip the first turn on your right to La Orotava as that is about 20% average gradient for about a kilometre. If you do do that, you’ll be quite tired before you’re even a quarter of the way up to Mt Teide. An easier/nicer way is to take the turn off to “Cuesta de la Villa”. Mt Teide will in fact be behind you at this point, but don’t worry.

After one or two kilometres of gentle climbing, you’ll come to a sharp intersection that can take you the nice way into La Orotava. Note the cosy restaurant called Bodeguita de Enfrente nestled between these two roads. You may want to come back here for a typical Spanish dinner. (on the other hand, don’t bother stopping at the cafeteria at Humbolt lookout itself because the coffee is terrible and so is the food)

If you’re heading East or over to the Anaga Mountains this is also the way, just continue straight instead of turning back on yourself…

A few more blog updates to come…

It’s been a while since I updated the website, mainly because I have been working on my new career move, especially over the last 2-3 months. Trying to juggle two things at once has been A LOT harder than I thought. It’s probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.

Anyway, in the mean time, I thought that it would be a good idea to use this site as a platform for doing what I now love most (writing, illustration, photography, and generally speaking, design).

Being taken for a ride

bicycle cartoonAs many of you already know, I’m in the business of renting out bikes here in Tenerife. I’ve been a part of the bike industry for the last eight years. I might not repeat this much so I’ll say it now: I am extremely grateful to have been able to do something that I enjoy all of that time. Above all, I thank my customers who have continue to support me over the years! Thanks so much – you’re the best!! 😀

[Apologies for the negative tone of the post. It’s pretty clear that I need a change of direction and all I can say is that I’m already working hard on it] (more…)

Expect cars & buildings in Tenerife!

DSC_1262_DxOI still get the odd complaint (or rather, observation) that there are a lot of cars on Tenerife. So in keeping with this being an information site, I’ll be totally honest and admit that, yes, there are a lot of cars on this island. I still feel a little responsible for this perception as I took all the photos on the website and being a photographer, I often wait until all the cars are out of a scene before taking any snaps. It doesn’t really make sense to promote a cycling website by including a load of ugly cars in the photos, does it? My point here is that you won’t see many cars or trucks on any tourism website cycling or otherwise.

Generally people used to cycling in city traffic will find local drivers are very polite towards cyclists here. If you live in the country though, it might not be for you. (more…)

Questions for the bike industry:

bike industry cartoonMore bikes = less time to ride?
I have 3 MTBs myself. A hardtail with slicks for commuting and easy straight up & straight back rides. A dual suspension “all mountain” with 140mm travel bike for most offroad rides. And a wicked downhill beast. I also have two road bikes. A top-specced one and a still-lovely backup one. But the more bikes I own, the more I have to work for them and the less time I have actually riding them.

Planned obsolescence:
Those in the industry tend to call this ‘progress’. (more…)

Our very own Outlet.

ebayGenerally in the Summer time we have bike bits and other components for sale. Sometimes they have been used, but we often sell brand new things at amazing prices on ebay – when we have too much stock of a particular item or if something was sent to us erroneously for example. Items that we know will be popular usually start with a listing price of only 1¢.

Complete bikes, frames, and wheelsets which are too bulky to post internationally from the Canary Islands are posted on our forum classifieds. The forum is a great place for locals to buy and sell bike parts in Tenerife free of charge (and it’s also a great place to chat about cycling Tenerife of course!).

Bradley Manning, an inspiration.

And my inspiration these last few days has been none other than Bradley Manning. Reading through the chat logs, it’s clear that he has some issues – yes I’ll certainly admit to that. Perhaps it is because he was basically a social outcast that he himself felt betrayed. The irony is that a man so small [physically] could do so much ‘damage’. If anyone, Lamo is the real traitor / liar here.

To me he is one heck of a courageous and empathic individual. I believe that yes he knew the shit would hit the fan, but he had the balls to do it anyway. He put himself in the place of those innocent men and children in Iraq and that my friends is highly commendable. It shows perspective. And perspective is what the US is in dire need of at the moment.

The terms ‘betrayal’ and ‘traitor’ should only be used if he attacked the US, which he did not. I mean, did he join the taliban, take a gun and start shooting at US soldiers? Did he sell weapons to them? I think not! So “aiding the innocent” is more like it…

Oh and why the heck were my wikipedia edits about Bradley Manning’s troublesome early life promptly removed? That does influence his actions as “experience affects behaviour”. Every socialogist knows that. There’s clearly a major coverup / conspiracy going on here. Why the heck is there no jury in this trial? Is it because they would be split? I think so. Seems to me that yes the US is involved in war crimes, yes they are breaching several of the Geneva Conventions. And no I won’t be visiting there again.

“They dehumanized the individuals they were engaging and seemd to not value human life … For me this seems similar to a child torturing ants with a magnifying glass.” Bradley Manning

Windsurfing big waves