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.

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… [Read more →]

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] [Read 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’. [Read more →]

Doc brown joins Linked In

Linkedin logoSo this has been a week of getting our social media back on track! Just click the LinkedIn logo to the left to see my professional profile. You can see a little more about my background and expertise. A great site for networking.

Temporary closure in June 2013

on-vacation-closed-signWinter has been very busy & it’s that time of year again (Spring) when we need to disconnect and go on a holiday ourselves! This is actually a honeymoon vacation and we’ll be visiting Western Australia, South Australia and Victoria as well as New South Wales. As always, looking forward to starting work feeling refreshed. We plan to be back in Tenerife by July 5th, 2013. We’ll still have internet / email access so feel free to submit your bike reservations during this time… Thank you, Leslie.

If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.

twitter-tweet-little-birdSome of you might like to know that we just opened up a Twitter account. I used to make fun of Twitter, but I’ve slowly come to realise that it has become a great (fast) way of providing up-to-the-minute info. So there you have it. Only time will tell if it works for us or not…

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!

Cycling links updated!

New cycling links!Nobody linkes old links because, well, they’re not very helpful. They’re more like a waste of time because you have to sift through all the bad links in order to find a good one. Due to the new webpage which should be ready in a few days’ time, I have taken this opportunity to refresh and reorganise all existing links. Some of the blog links in particular were getting quite old, so only recent blogs will be linked to.

New delivery van for 2012!

Renault Trafic 2900 dci 150 long wheelbase L2H2I’m pleased to announce that we have a new delivery van this season. It’s a Renault Trafic 2900 dci 150, long wheelbase version with 150 horsepower. These are photos of our new van with the Pro Bike Hire logos superimposed. We’re currently about half way through applying the actual vinyl decals. The final result is almost identical to the cgi mockup.

Renault Trafic 2900 dci 150 L2H2.For those interested, it’s much more comfortable than the small Ford Transit connect that it replaces. It has ample space & power. The only two gripes are that the lower panoramic mirrors aren’t adjustable and that the steering wheel isn’t adjustable for height either (only reach). Despite this, I come home feeling refreshed even if I’ve driven for more than 4-6 hours per day. Insurance premiums actually went down for this van.

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!

Easy ways YOU can help

Asking for help.

  1. If you have your own blog or website, providing any incoming links is always an enormously big help. Links to the homepage are preffered.
  2. Give us feedback by completing this online survey.
  3. Make a comment anywhere on this blog.
  4. Sign up to the Cycling in the Canary Islands Forum and discuss anything about cycling.
  5. Watch my cycling in Tenerife videos & share them among your cycling buddies. 
  6. Subscribe to my newsletter here!
  7. Add any of these pages to your list of favourites (internet browser, technorati, etc)
  8. Your suggestions are welcomed, and your support is much appreciated.
  9. If you value our bike hire service & webpage, simply tell other people about us! Word of mouth is probably the most important way of promoting a healthy business.

When is the right time to go solar?

Alternative energy cartoon. Solar or thermal powerGetting into alternative energy these days has become more feasible than ever before. By that I mean that it is both more affordable (cheaper), you get more value (performance per dollar) and it’s easier to set up (modular construction). Not just have solar cells improved in their efficiency, but there are a whole host of low-power devices (LED lighting the first one that comes to mind) to get the most out of this technology. Of course, photovoltaic cells are improving of all the time by increasing their efficiency – even so, that thought alone shouldn’t postpone you from investing in this wonderful technology now. [Read more →]

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 →]

Bike hire service will be closed this June/July (08/06/2011 to 18/07/2011)

Businesses that never loseWith just over 2 months notice, I’d like to annouce that we’ll be closed from 08/06/2011 to 18/07/2011. This means bike hire and guided rides won’t be possible during that time. Of course the website will continue to function and I’ll administer it while I’m away. Throughout the June July period we’ll also still be able to answer emails and take advanced bike reservations for the 2011 Summer & Autumn seasons. All current bookings for this period will be respected (currently there’s only one so Chiqui will take care of that).

The pro bike hire service will resume as normal after that date. We are of course happy to take bookings now for the remainder of July, as well as August, September, October, November and December 2011.

Happy cycling!

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.

Engine swap operation successful! After six weeks in the mechanics, Molly is finally back on the road.

2004 Ford Transit connect, with a 1.8L turbo diesel engine delivering 75ps.We’ve become quite fond of our our official delivery van since getting it late last year. It’s a 2004 Ford Transit connect, with a 1.8L turbo diesel engine delivering 75ps. This is an ex-rental van from Molina rentacar. We have since fixed up the interior a bit and added the Pro Bike Hire signwriting and then not long after, the name “Molly” stuck. We’ve tried out a number of similar small vans like the Citroen berlingo and VW caddy, but they are just not as practical as the transit connect.

Unfortunately, about six weeks ago, Molly’s engine exploded. Here’s basically what happened: The day before, we heard an unusual sound coming from the engine bay. We stopped as soon as we could and checked the engine temperature & oil level, both seemingly ok, but the sound grew worse as we came home. The very next day, we had another delivery to do in the South of Tenerife. In hindsight, we shouldn’t have taken the van that day, we should’ve taken it straight to the mechanics. But we assumed it was the fanbelt and that another hundred kilometres or so wouldn’t be detrimental. [Read more →]