The art of replacement; knowing when to throw.

Consumerism, marketing, contentment, happinessOne thing that I like about life here in Tenerife is that the people aren’t rich enough to take part in the consumer culture that is so rampant everywhere else. It’s been a while since I wrote anything for this section “Vida Enigmática”, so here’s my take on current consumerism:

Just a few decades ago, the reason we gave to buy something new was because what we had simply broke and could no longer be repaired. The art of repair seems to have been forgotten alright. Lost in fact. To the point where today, material goods are no longer repairable because to do so is uneconomical. Often, you replaced things with an identical unit. How many times does that happen today? Never. Why? Because even if we wanted to, the flux of change is so great, it is no longer possible to buy the same item even only 1 or 2 years later.

[

How much carbon dioxide is produced by driving a car on one tank of petrol?

How much CO2 is produced by burning 1 litre of petrol?Petrol is a mixture of several different organic carbon compounds. The most common molecules in petrol are the alkanes, consisting of straight or branched carbon chains with between 5-8 carbon atoms saturated with hydrogen molecules (pentane, hexane, heptane and octane).

The octane molecule, an alkane.

This is the chemical formula for the complete combustion of octane:

2 C8H18 + 25 O2 = 18 H2O + 16 CO2

As you can see from this simple equation, for every single octane molecule that is burned, 8 molecules of CO2 are produced. The standard unit measure of compounds is the mole. 1 mole of octane weighs 114 grams and contains avogadro’s number of molecules, 6.023 x 1023. 1 mole of CO2gas weighs 44 grams, but takes up much more volume. It’s important to remember from the ideal gas law that at standard laboratory conditions (25°C and 1 atmosphere pressure) one mole of gas at occupies 24.5 litres. One litre of petrol contains ~737.22 grams of liquid (or ~6.47 moles). Therefore, when one litre of petrol is burned, 2.28kg of CO2 are produced, equivalent to 1268 litres of of CO2 gas!! Every single 50 litre tank full of petrol will produce over 63,400 litres of CO2 gas (63.4 m3), or a volume equivalent to an imaginary cube with sides 4 metres long.

I find it interesting that people talk in terms of kilograms of CO2 because it really underestimates the quantity of gas we’re dealing with. Gases weigh hardly anything! In fact, 1kg of  CO2 equals 557 litres! Why don’t we learn to quote the data figures of  CO2 in litres instead? How much petrol must be burned to get 1kg of CO2 gas? The answer is that only 324 grams of petrol will yield 1 kg of CO2. [Read more →]

New optimised pricing structure…

New optimised pricing structure.As of the 15th of April, we will be reducing prices for renting 4 or more bikes! To make it fairer for everyone, we also need to optimise our existing pricing structure for renting 2 or 3 road racing / mountain bikes. What this means in real terms is that for the most part, the prices for renting 2 or 3 bicycles will increase slightly (since they were overly discounted to begin with). To clarify, all the current bike rental prices for single bikes will either remain the same or reduce.

Furthermore, the current pricing structure will be honoured for all bookings made before this time. The new rental prices for groups hiring 4 or more bicycles will come into effect immediately. Please email me for a quote. So if you’re thinking about coming to Tenerife for that well earned cycling holiday vacation, this is one more incentive to reserve the best bikes at the best prices!

Flags of the Canary Islands.

La Orotava Coat of Arms Flag.Today, I thought I’d share with my readers this fantastic old link to the many flags of the Canary Islands! It is a comprehensive site (dating back to at least before 1999) with all the islands represented, and many municipalities within each island. It includes a brief history section of each region, flag descriptions and important dates. Further descriptions about the History of the Canarian flag and its coat of arms make interesting reading.

Puerto de La Cruz Coat of Arms / Flag.I’m pleased to discover that the author, José Manuel Erbez, is now promoting a new site based on the content of of the old site with a blog layout, Symbols of the Canary Islands, although it currently doesn’t have all the flags of the old site uploaded. Like the old site, the new site is also available in three languages: Spanish, English and German.

Sarah Ulmer, an individual pursuit track cyclist legend from New Zealand.

Sarah Ulmer, an individual pursuit track cyclist legend from New Zealand.People often ask questions like: “Who is your idol?”. I don’t have any true idols, but yes I do find inspiration in some people. Sarah Ulmer is one such person. A New Zealand track cyclist legend, Sarah Ulmer broke the world record in the qualifying event for the women’s 3km pursuit time trial competition. She then came back to smash the world record during the race. Announcing her retirement from professional cycling in November 2007, Sarah Ulmer now focuses on her own online business, after launching sarahulmerbrand. This is a very comprehensive website with its own line of clothing plus lots of other quality content for cyclists.

Her achievements are many; here are a list of accomplishments (Source: famous New Zealanders): [Read more →]

Widespread Shimano Pedal Confusion.

One of the major tasks here at is swapping pedals. There are more pedal systems out there than CO2 molecules at the moment, and I know people are finding it all a bit too confusing. Judging by the perplexed customer responses as they inevitably bend down and spin another hitherto unknown pedal on its axis and say “they’re the wrong pedals!”, by far the biggest misunderstanding lies with the Shimano Pedalling Dynamics (SPD) system. [Read more →]

Downhill trail

Observed trials bike riding originated in Spain.

The aim of trials riding is to jump over obstacles (either natural or artificial) with only the bikes’ tyres touching the ground. Think of it like those dog trials you sometimes see on television, except with humans on bikes! Points are deducted if any part of your body or the bike touch the ground. Some competitions allow the underside of the bike and pedals to touch the ground. During observed trials, each rider attempts the set course with . The duration of each event is usually around 180 seconds; points are also deducted for going over that time limit. The winner is the rider who has the least number of accumulated points at the end of the competition.

Bicycle trials riding originated in Spain in the 1980s. The modified class of trials riding uses a special-purpose single-speed bicycle, built with small 20″ wheels and extremely low gearing, no saddle, no seatpost, and little else. The frame itself is built with a long wheelbase while the wheels utilise a high number of spokes and fat tyres. Trust me, these guys make it look easy – it takes HOURS of practise to reach this level of skill and ability:

[

Have your say!

A survey about hire bikes and bicycle tours.I’d really appreciate it if a few of you cyclists could take the time to fill in this brief one-page survey. It will only take 3-5 minutes of your time, and will help us improve our bicycle hire & tours service. We don’t ask for any personal information & your answers are kept strictly confidential.

The aim of the survey is to:

1. Receive feedback about future potential hire bikes + rental equipment and the level of quality that customers expect or desire.
2. Evaluate the website’s effectiveness in displaying information
3. Find ways to improve the website.
4. Devise ways to significantly increase our web traffic and hence our exposure by effective marketing.
5. To acertain your future level of interest with regards to cycling and training events in Tenerife.

Here’s your chance to have your say!  :)
The management.

Surfing extreme waves?

New blog features:

Blogging about nothingOver the last few weeks I have been adding a few new features to the blog & I’ve also refined the style of theme I have been using. Here’s a list of what’s recently been added or changed:

  • Google adwords have now been placed on this blog, to recoup some of the costs of running a high-profile website. When I started the blog, my plan was never to “sell-out”. But these days, some people ( are using my RSS feed contributions on their site to generate revenue! Cheeky bastards! When I saw that, I suppose it was kind of the final straw. The remaining top-level domain pages will of course remain ad-free.
  • You may have already noticed that a new feature called “snapshots” has also been added. These provide a quick preview of an externally-linked website. They also allow youtube text links to be played without leaving the page you’re currently viewing. If these bother you, they can be turned off or the preferences changed. Just adjust the settings in the top right corner of the snapshot preview window.
  • Many new local cycling blogs & local cycling clubs in the Canary Islands have been added to the blog roll. I believe this is now the most comprehensive list cycling links in the Canary Islands.
  • After some serious effort working on my current theme & the CSS styles it was using, the text now automatically wraps around the thumbnail images, leaving a nice margin around the picture. Previously when I tried to wrap text around a picture in the WYSIWYG editor, when the article was published online, the text jutted up against the picture leaving absolutely no space around it. That’s the reason I placed the thumbnails above and away from the paragraph text. However, it was one aspect that I never liked about the old design & knowing how to fix it has bugged me for some time. So I’m very pleased to announce that it’s now finally fixed!
  • Borders around linked pictures are no longer blue, they’re gold-yellow.
  • The borders around linked images now change to the colour red when you hover the mouse over them.
  • The search box has been placed at the top of the sidebar. Unlike before where it was restricted to searching the blog, it now searches the entire internet database including the forum. It actually works quite well, so please feel free to use it!
  • The RSS feed subscription icon has now been delegated to the bottom of the sidebar. Who uses RSS feeds anyway? Not me.
  • The calender has also been shoved down the sidebar quite a bit. Of course the idea behind all this was to improve the exposure to the ads, because they’re no use to anyone at the very bottom of the page.
  • Categories have been renamed thusly:

Customer service etiquette (for the customers, not the business owners!)

Customer service etiquette (for the customers, not the business)You hear so many people talking about how business owners should treat their customers, that “the customer is always right”. We’ll I’ve had one or two irritable customers so I’ve written this article with something different in mind: Tips on how to be a polite customer! 😛

[

Recognising the sounds of another spoken language.

Recognising the sounds of a spoken language. Speech patterns & voice recognition.As far as most people are concerned, all foreign speech sounds more or less the same. When you are first learning another language, you can soon expect to identify people only by hearing their voice. In my experience, this important listening skill takes place within a matter of weeks or months, depending on the amount of exposure you’ve received.

This is because everyone has a unique voice, just like their fingerprints, retina/iris; all three can be used for biometric recognition scans:

I was exceptionally good at identifying actors in different roles by their voice patterns, especially when wearing some sort of disguise. Just recently, I identified [Read more →]

Cycle training in Tenerife

Tenerife North airport will get a new control tower, more than 30 years after world’s biggest air disaster.

With an height of 41.3 metres the new tower will stand almost double the height of the current tower at TFN airport. Costing an estimated 7.3 million euros, construction is already underway. This is part of a 77 million euro plan to upgrade TFN airport before 2010. The planned completion date of the new control tower in Tenerife is at the end of 2008.

It appears that Tenerife North airport (TFN) will get a new control tower, more than 30 years after the world’s biggest air disaster took place there. While the existing control tower is only one of three to be fitted with sophisiticated surface or ground radar equipment in Spain, it’s the second oldest air traffic control tower in the country, apparantly dating back to 1965.

With an height of 41.3 metres the new tower will stand almost double the height of the current tower at TFN airport. Costing an estimated 7.3 million euros, construction is already underway. This is part of a 77 million euro plan to upgrade TFN airport before 2010. The planned completion date of the new control tower in Tenerife is at the end of 2008. The building proposal shown above is part of a project to upgrade the air traffic control tower, dating back to 2002. It certainly looks to be taking the same shape.

Tenerife aiport (TFN) is well known among aircraft enthusiasts as the site for the world’s biggest air disaster. This occurred on March 27, 1977. A total of 583 passengers & crew were killed; only 56 people aboard the Pan Am jet survived the tradgedy. [Read more →]

Spoiled for choice: bicycle disc brakes rotors available in five sizes: 5.5″, 6″, 7″, 8″ & 9″

Little known consequences of a brake failure.

If you have a bicycle with disc brakes, you’ll soon find there are many possible choices for the rotor sizes. From a tiny 5″ all the way to a whopping 9″! The next time you need to replace a rotor, consider the following points.

Advantages of bigger disc rotors:

  • Larger disc rotors obviously give much more power than smaller rotors.
  • For the same braking effort, larger rotors will run cooler than smaller rotors, reducing the phenomenon known as brake fade.
  • Larger rotors will last longer than smaller rotors, as there is more metal present in the brake track circumference.
  • In my experience with steep descents here in Tenerife, where brake overheating is a real problem, larger rotors will also improve the wear life of the pads themselves (especially organic pads), as they don’t tend to overheat as much.

Disadvantages of bigger disc rotors:

  • Each time you step up the size of the rotor, you add a considerable amount of rotational weight to your bike.
  • Another down side of big rotors is that they tend to be a bit ‘grabby’ (meaning on-off-on-off braking performance)
  • Contrary to what you might think, large disc brake rotors are more prone to warping than small rotors.
  • The bigger disc rotors are therefore harder to keep centred & hence can become quite noisy even when pedaling along without applying the brakes. [Read more →]

Suggested Spanish TV programs…

Watching Spanish television. Some reccommendations.

Here in the north of Tenerife, we have about 15 free Spanish TV channels and zero english ones. Spanish television can be an enjoyable experience. First I reccommend reading this article about spanish television customs in preparation, and only watch the suggested TV shows described briefly below.

Spanish Comedies- If you have an advanced understanding of Spanish, the sitcom Aida is very funny. The characters are all very unique and the acting is excellent. My favourite character is Chema. currently it is aired on Sundays on channel tele5. Aqui no hay quien viva is also a very famous Spanish sitcom.

[

A glimpse of future motoring…

Aptera 100% Electric Car Typ-1 Type 1

Aptera Typ-1 Logo Electric Hybrid Car Vehicle Logotipo

It’s a new 100% electric car which is very inspiring indeed! I think this is the way of the future. The aptera type 1 100% electric vehicle will hit the market in 2009, at an expected market price of only US$30,000. I would however like to see Aptera annouce a solar-powered recharging module that could be installed on the roof of your home.

Of course some will say that we’re moving the pollution from the car to the source of the electricity (power stations). But in the future, we can always choose where our electric energy comes from. If we can reduce the number of vehicles which rely on fossil fuels, it will also substantially cut down on the cost of transportation of petroleum associated with their use. I imagine that there are much fewer losses in transferring electricity throughout national electricity grids than the energy required to transport petrol for cars. While we stick with vehicles that use fossil fuels, we’re never going to make any real progress.

Some poeple have already commented that it looks like something straight out of the Jetsons. But if you’re a fan of Space Quest, you’ll aready know that the Aptera TYP-1 electric vehicle introduced in late 2007 shows an uncanny resemblance to the Timebuster 2000 SUX time machine as reviewed in Space Piston Magazine (pictured below).

The time machine from Space Quest 4, Timebuster 2000 SUX. As reviewed in “Space Piston” magazine.

[

The benefits of travelling light.

Advice on travelling light. Check in vs carry on baggage. Travelling with a backpack vs suitcase.

This is a dual-part article on the how and why of travelling light. This part inlcudes some pertinent facts about travelling light which you might not have thought of. Part 1 offers some very sage advice. [Read more →]

“The only baggage you can bring is all that you can’t leave behind” -U2

The ultimate guide to travelling light. Learn to pack your bags right!

Between 1999 and 2005, I was fortunate enough to travel to many foreign countries. In the year 2000 I bought a round the world ticket offered by Oneworld visiting more than 10 countries throughout my journey. In 2005, I went and did it again. This time there were 21 different countries on my itinery and I visited continents in both Winter and Summer.

Yet each time, I was able to travel with only a 23L backpack! I chose to use the Berghaus Freeflow 23L model. This weighed between 5-7kg, so I never checked in any luggage either. Many people I met were amazed at how I was able to manage this feat. Check-in staff were especially in awe when they inevitably saw all the places I was going. Some others thought I was just plain crazy. How is it possible? Well it’s suprisingly easy, if you know how and are prepared to make a few sacrifices… [Read more →]