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 I’m still waiting for the humble pedal thread to get superceded.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:

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

Inspirational big wave surfing.

Well this certainly makes my hair stand on end.

It’s not often Les gets inspired by something. This month it is this track. I realise I may be two months behind the times… sorry I was on a vacation in outback Western Australia. Hehehe

Website translations in progress

language translationYou may have noticed that we are currently adding some translations to the main website in Spanish, Russian and Finnish. Next to follow will be German. We’ll do our best to finish translating the site as accurately as possible. If you should notice any mistakes or things that don’t work as exptected, we’d be grateful if you let us know of any problems you encounter. Thank you!

Top 10 places to eat in Tenerife

Recommended restaurantes in the North of TenerifeWe mostly dine in the North of Tenerife, so this list is somewhat biased. I’m sure there are loads of recommendations for restaurants in the South of Tenerife. If you have any helpful suggestions or referrals, please post them in the comments below!

  1. “La Bodegita de en Frente”, Cuesta de la Villa. This has a cosy atmosphere and everyone is greeted with a welcoming handshake.
  2. “Pizzeria Bacco”, Garachico. This is a small quality Italian restaurant only open on weekends. “Rugantino Pizzeria” also in Garachico and “La Rucula” located in Puerto de la Cruz are also owned by the same family. They all cook to a fantastic standard.
  3. “Indian Palace”, Puerto de la Cruz. Wonderful Indian food. Actually more like amazing.
  4. “El Valle”, La Orotava. This cosy little place serves mostly brushchetta-style Spanish tapas. El valle is actually a taverna specialising in traditional spanish tapas, local cheeses & wine with some other alcoholic beverages available. You can also ask them to cook you a small meal also. It’s my favourite bar.
  5. “The noodle and sushi bar”, Centro Comercial Gran Sur, Torviscas Alto. (I’m yet to try the famed Japanese restaurant in Abama, so until then, this remains my favourite Japanese spot)
  6. “Tito’s Bodeguita”, Puerto de la Cruz.
  7. “Ali Baba Kebab”, La Laguna
  8. There are many, many”Guachinches” here in Tenerife. They serve cheap, local Canarian food in a simple setting. We don’t tend to go to them as much as other poeple as we can cook some of this type of food at home… a good example of one is called “Tasca El Parralito” in La Corujera (Santa Ursula).
  9. La Azzurra, La Orotava
  10. Timanfaya Kebabs, Puerto de la Cruz

Also worth mentioning:

El Monasterio has traditionally been one of the most visited restaurants by tourists. It’s worth a visit but while I’ve found the surroundings to be very inviting, I’ve never found the food itself to be spot on.

Here’s a map I put together highlighting the different zones for bars & restaurants in Puerto de la Cruz.

Where can I get a massage in Tenerife?

Best massage in TenerifeThere was an important quote by Lance Armstrong regarding chefs, masseurs and chiropractors, but I thought in light of recent events I’d skip over it. Let’s just say that massage has become an intrinsic part of multi-stage races. Not only does it hasten muscle recovery but it also relaxes the riders. And we all know that this world is ever-more stressful.

I had a great, authentic Thai massage yesteray as a gift for my 35th birthday. I came out feeling 5 years younger and about 5cm taller.

First a note about Thai massages. They are given while you are fully clothed, long pants and long shirt. Just so we know, I’m into innocent relaxing massages, not of the erotic variety. There’s nothing to be ashamed of here.

The hour long massage was nothing short of amazing. It’s as if the masseur worships your body. It’s very hard to describe their technique, but I’ll try. The scientist in me is compelled to say that “pressure comes in the form of carefully modulated, overlapping waves”. [Read more →]

Cog – Are You Interested?

My favourite band the past year or so is without a doubt Cog, an Australian alternative rock band originating from Bondi, Australia. As soon as I heard the track “sharing space”, I was instantly hooked on their entire album. It varies, but my favourite song this past month has been the fast-paced “Town of Lincoln”. Other awesome tracks are “Bird of Feather”, “No Other Way” (especially the first and last thirds of the song), the slower track entitled “Bitter Pills” and “Problem Reaction Solution” (which is one of those progressive long tracks at 9:16, but it grows on you. I especially like the part from 6:10 – 7:00).

Probably one of their better videos however is this one, entitled “Are You Interested?”

By the way, all these tracks are from the same album, sharing space. Worth paying for (and I did).

Karnivool – Deadman

Order of Voices – Don’t Falter

[Read more →]

My favourite Spanish commerical right now

Here’s the original ad:
(if you love dogs, and especially grehounds, you need to see this!)

And here’s a cool ‘making of video’, how managed to film it all:
(with english subitles)

Cafe de Innovation

Turisfera. “Somos el Cluster de Innovación Turística de Tenerife, espacio relacional entre empresarios que fomenta la creación de proyectos innovadores en la isla.”Yesterday I attended a brief seminar entitled “nuevos desafíos en la comercialización turí­stica” which translates as “new challenges in tourist commercialisation”. It was held in Casa Lercaro, La Orotava, Tenerife, orginised by Turisfera and made aware to be via Turismo Tenerife. I found the first two talks to be of great interest, but I found the one on mobile commerce to be of particular interest & will no doubt apply some of the things I learned there. Thanks to everyone who organised this event!

Off the grid.

It all started when I was in the local hardware store (Leroy Merlin) the other day, feeling rather bored. I love walking in there as it opens up so many possibilities for new projects. I’m the type of guy that always has to be occupied doing something, be it maintaining, modifiying existing components so they perform better than they did in their original state, or inventing something completely new.

Anyway, I walked down a new aisle called “alternative energy”. I was quickly impressed by how easy it looked to hook up all the energy & controller modules. I soon walked out of there with a 2W “solar battery charger” – better than nothing I thought, while I do some research on the other systems offered. I got home, promptly connected the solar charger to my motorcycle’s flat battery. My 8 year old neice in law had no idea what this new device was, further solidifying my belief that it was good to be emitting these new green vibes. I had it sitting there in the late afternoon for a few hours and it had still not generated enough juice to start the motor! Just a few turns of the starter motor was all I got. Somewhat disappointed, but thinking: for €24.95, what did I really expect? That’s a pretty lame foray into the world of solar.

Somewhat miffed, I just reminded myself that “more power” is the obvious way to go with solar panels. So I went back to Leroy Merlin the next day and sized up the different options. There were solar panels of all sizes, rigid, flexible, long and short. Even though there wasn’t much there to choose from, I walked away, scared by it all. Not just because of the initial cost, but the stigma attached to it all. Mulling it all over, I wondered: what are people going to think of someone who is paying €360 for a pair of 14W photovoltaic arrays? Aren’t I going to look like a dickhead, when a lot of the appliances I use are well over 500W? I hesitated and procrastinated so much, the security guys were starting to take notice! I looped around the store and got a basket and some other things first.

Then I noticed people wandering around, half of them lost, the remainder buying up all this stuff (with some restraint due to the financial crisis here in Spain). Who knows whether they really needed it or not. Meanwhile, I was facing some kind of reality shock. See, when I was in my early twenties, I decided my goal in life was to have a “minimum impact on the environment”. And here I am, a decade later, not doing anything even remotely green. Okay, for sure I turn off all the lights whenever possible (and there are no tungsten bulbs anywhere in my house or car), but so what? That’s the least you can do. Otherwise, you’re a bit of a moron, right?

My aim for this project was to light the back of my new van so that when I deliver a bike in the dark, there is ample light to do any adjustments, change pedals, etc. Street light is pretty feeble and it just doesn’t look like a very professional setup when you can’t even show people the best bike routes on a map because it’s too dark. The plan is to install some flexible solar panels on van’s roof, where there’s plenty of stray light already going to waste (reflections, heat and whatnot). I am also planning to at least recharge my mobile phone, laptop, credit card reader and possibly a few other devices like my cordless drill, etc. At least it’s a start. Because it’s modular, I can always add to the system – I’ve calculated that the roof of the Renault Trafic will fit up to 6 solar panels, giving a total power generation of 84W. That’s something to look forward to. If it all goes well, eventually we’ll get the desktop computer off the grid too.

"In just one hour, 
the Sun transmits more energy
to the surface of the Earth 
than what humanity consumes in one year"

This was my moment of self truth. A little fatter now than I used to be and about to commit to this new diesel van for work purposes, I felt environmentally obliged to invest in something good for the planet for once. Like someone was watching over me, something akin to the Truman show (how long does it take this member of society to buck the trend; we’ve made it so accesible for him?). Can I really afford four or five hundred Euros? Not really. Can I afford not to do it? No freakin’ way! [Read more →]

Top ten villas / apartments in Tenerife

Top 10 villas / apartments in TenerifeThere are many apartments and villas in Tenerife – needless to say- but not all of them are what they say they are. So after 5 years of delivering bikes all over Tenerife and having seen a lot of different properties ourselves in the flesh, we decided to write this list of what we consider as the best apartments, rural houses & private villas. We’ve included links as some of these places are not easy to find online otherwise. Here’s the link to the top ten hotels in Tenerife.

  1. Villa Preciosa
  2. This is without a doubt one of the most exclusive villas in Tenerife and also has a long heritage. Villa Preciosa has recently been totally renovated and the attention to detail is amazing. Here you can relax in your very own private bar, pool (heated if you desire), and surrounds. Even the bathrooms exude luxury!

  3. Casa La Abejera
  4. The owner is your typical Mr Fixit, so everything works. It’s a very cute little house which has a charming rustic theme. Worth mentioning that the owners are into recycling & ecological gardening.

  5. Casablanca Apartments
  6. consistently has the highest tripadvisor ratings of any property in Tenerife, regardless of location or status. It’s also the only place I know of with dedicated locked bicycle storage room, meaning no ‘normal’ luggage is allowed! Well done!!

  7. Jardin de la Paz
  8. This place probably has the best vantage point on the island, located atop a true 300m cliff with views out over neighbouring island La Palma and the Atlantic ocean.

  9. Aparthotel Riu Adeje Although it seems a little fake, it’s still one of the best apartments in Las Americas (it’s usually resort hotel accommodation in Las Americas) – NOTE: now called “Family Isabel”
  10. Playa de las Roques
  11. Located in a very secluded spot in La Romantica, Los Relejos; nevertheless, it’s right on the coast and is a great place to stay if you’re looking for peace and quiet.

  12. Villa Caya An authentic rural house located in an ideal spot for cycle-training in the North of Tenerife.
  13. Hollywood Mirage
  14. Located in Los Cristianos, it’s just like the website shows…

  15. Apartamentos Villa Mandi
  16. Also located in Los Cristianos, it is clean and well-maintained.

Technology powered by alternate energy.

Wind EnergyThis is just a quick note to say that apart from other green measures we are taking, it’s worth noting that the Tenerife Training website is also hosted by a green server. What the hell does that mean? Well, it means that the people who host all our files use wind energy instead of energy derived from oil or nuclear sources. In simple terms, it means that when other people see our website, the information that we provide 24 hours a day to the world is accessed through the use of green energy.

Tú eliges. Tú decides. Cómo ayudar a un proyecto social

These are the three projects we have chosen to support with CajaCanarias:

An island with 100% renewable energy

el-hierro-100-percent-reneweable-energy-resoruces-canarias.gifWith 276 km² and more than 10000 inhabitants, El Hierro is the smallest island of the Canary archipelago ( Spain ). The island has its own electricity grid; it is totally isolated as the significant sea depths make any interconnection impossible. Till a little time ago , the electricity demand, which accounts for about 65% of the internal energy consumption, was mainly covered by a conventional thermal power station (10MW diesel-fired system). The contribution of renewable energies to the electricity grid was
less than 5% and came from two wind turbines installed close to the main town (100 kW and 180 kW).

El Hierro, the smallest island of the Canaries, is staging one of the most ambitious island projects regarding energy self-sufficiency through the use of renewable energies. In a few years, El Hierro will become one of the first islands in the world to meet its energy demand using RES (Renewable Energy Sources). Considered as one of the most audacious actions of the strategy established in the European Commission White Paper on Renewable Energies, the project is already a reference for other islands, such as Crete and Madeira…

Tenerife and the environment. Greening Tenerife

wind-power-generation-tenerife-iter.jpgMore than a year ago, a topic about Tenerife and the environment came up on the Sun4Free forum. I’ve had this article lying around as draft version, so I thought rather than delete it, I’d publish “as is”.

Lets assume that you’re absolutely correct in your statements. What do you suggest that we do to stop the emissions of CO2 in Tenerife? Stop encouraging visitors to the Island? Ban all tourism? BIG savings on emissions with no aircraft coming in. Stop all unnecessary activity on the Island? No pleasure trips by car, bus motorcycle or bicycle?

Here’s what I managed to dig up:

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates aviation contributes just 3% to total global emissions of CO2, compared with the 25% pumped out by power stations.

So since I was asked directly, here is what I would introduce:

In the short term (6 – 18 months)

    • Firstly introduce a new green Tenerife website outlining all of the measures that are going on.
    • Give each resort hotel a “green energy rating” based on their use of electricty, ability to reuse and recycle, etc.
    • Introduce transit lanes on the highways
    • Make all the coaches use biodiesel if they aren’t already and equip them with bicycle racks
    • Target vehicles causing excessive pollution.
    • Run several prizes for the most environmentally friendly small businesses within several different categories … ensure they get more exposure through the media.

offer small loans & grants

  • Provide small loans & grants for the most environmentally friendly new business ideas
  • Educate people via the media about how to recycle and why it is worth the effort

In the medium term (2 – 3 years)

  • Introduce a Solar Panel rebate scheme for small businesses…
  • Introduce 20¢ tax on each passenger flight. Use this money to plant trees for each flight elsewhere, not necessarily in Tenerife (each tree will save ~1 tonne of CO2 in it’s lifetime)
  • Promote the use of scooters as a more economical & environmentally friendly form of transport.
  • Encourage carbon-offset websites like this one www.greenfleet.com.au

In the long term (5 years +)

  • Prioritise the construction of the North-South train link.
  • Phase out petrol hire cars and phase in hybrid vehicles such as the smart car

Bike rental cancellation | Change of plans

Hi Leslie!

We aro so sorry
We should put off our arrival till summer because its a crisis here
my friend lost work
so…its changed all our plans
but i hope we will do smth to change the situation and make it better for ourselves
thanks a lot for your efforts
and hope to visit Tenerife in summer or next year!

Hello,

Don’t worry – there is a crisis all over the world … it’s global … for example one of the weeks in January I had just one bicycle rented! Normally I have 5-10 or more bikes rented then, if not more. Luckily last month [February] was okay.

My Spanish partner also worked for Iberia and her work contract expired early and is now unemployed. Unfortunately she isn’t entitled to unemployment benefits because she hasn’t worked more than 365 days… incredible! Where I am from -Australia- the goverment automatically helps us when we don’t have enough work.

Anyway, that’s one of the reasons I sent the last newsletter – it’s times like these that we have to work harder than ever, especially if individuals & businesses want to survive. Instead of complaining about the crisis and wondering about why the economic situation is the way it is, I always try to maintain a positive, optimistic attitude for the future and keep working to find new clients. I’ve found that it certainly helps if you have clearly identifiable and reachable goal.

Thanks for your email & hope to see you one day in the future training in Tenerife!

-Leslie