Tag Archives: rapha

2014. A biased and subjective review.

I thought it would be good to look at 2014…  About 2 weeks ago, I started this article and then flu (mine and other people’s) and all that Christmas stuff got in the way.  And now, it’s 2015 and everything feels new and fresh so I’m not sure I want to harp on about the past but still, 2014 deserves a mention.  It was HUGE.  So here we go, this is what I wanted to say.

2014.  What a year.  There will be a million reviews out there of all the stuff that happened in internet-land, so I’m sticking to looking at my own year professionally and personally.  And actually, they are pretty much one and the same because they’re not that easy to keep separate (although when it comes to being a parent I do my best.)

Here we go.  5 things that made a big difference to me this year (in no particular order, the big things are sometimes the little things and the little things are sometimes the big things):

1. Going to San Francisco

Thanks to a bit of luck I was selected for the incredible Special Edition of the Cross Creative training programme run by TRC in Glasgow.  We did 8 months of training sessions here and then flew out to San Francisco which totally blew my mind.

It blew my mind in two ways.

One was personal. I’m half American but I’ve never really explored that part of my identity.  But my experience of America and Americans in SF was fab.  I wanted to be part of it.  I couldn’t help telling people that I was really half American.  But they liked the Scottish part better because that’s more interesting to them.

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The other was work.  I wanted to move over there and work there immediately.  Drop everything and join the feeling that you were really part of something amazing that was happening.  But when I reflected on it, after I’d been back in flipping Glasgow for a couple of weeks I thought it would be way cooler to do something amazing here.  Perhaps because the summer of 2014 in Glasgow was completely amazing, it felt like we were at the centre of the universe here for a change.  There are fantastic things happening in Glasgow, we just have to be better at telling people about them.

2. Politics

We need more confidence about our own abilities and we need to move faster to make the world a better place, to progress rather than hark back to a past that discriminated against most people.  The referendum in Scotland showed that there is a sizeable number of people in Scotland who want to do things differently – just it’d be good if we could combine that desire for change with a bit more action and less talking maybe?  I don’t know.  I loved the power we felt we had during the referendum campaign and how social media allowed us to share information*, and feel like part of a movement, like we had a voice.  Our votes counted in 2014.  2015 is going to see some huge political shifts – hopefully positive ones.

3. The Rapha Women’s 100

On July 20th I got on my bike and then a train (then jumped off the train and ran back to Starbucks where I’d left my purse, then ran back and only just caught the train) to catch a boat to cycle round Arran and do 100K at the same time as thousands of other women.  The Rapha Women’s 100 is a virtual event, made possible by how connected we all are through social media.  So although I was solo, I knew I was not alone.

Arran is pretty tough to cycle round.  I felt that doing it on my own was a pretty significant achievement.  Thinking back on how I was screaming inside by the last 10K but still made the 16.40 ferry home helps me when I need to muster up a bit more determination to get through whatever I’m struggling with.  Cycling’s like that.  A lot of it’s horrible and painful but the buzz you get afterwards is like nothing else.

4. Building a team

In 2014 our strategy team grew bigger by about 200% and we are now developing new skills and specialisms to add more value to the services we offer our clients at Equator.  I’m really excited about the things we’re going to do in 2015.  Watch this space!

5. The changing nature of what we do

One of the reasons for the growth of our team, in size and skillsets, was because what we do is changing.  We are adapting to the changing needs of our clients and the market – breaking down silos and  coming up with better, stronger strategies and ideas.  Again, watch this space!

6. Small blogging achievements

And finally, I recently found that my post on assimilation was listed by @misentropy – so that’s really inspiring me to write more.  More about what I do as a strategist than this kind of personal stuff, which is not so easy to write about, I guess because it’s more for my benefit than for anyone else.  So – hopefully you’ll hear from me a bit more this year.


Social media more influential information source

Scottish independence: how Facebook could change it all

What impact could social media have?



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Training for the Rapha Women’s 100 (1)

So, as I said the other day, I’m planning to cycle 100K on July 7th. I’m going to have to be fit enough to do that so I’m following a diet and fitness regime that so far has involved no cycling, and eating rather a lot of chocolate.

However, the weather has been frightful so I’ve not actually been able to go out for fear of falling off my bike. It’s very slippy out there.

(That’s my excuse at least. I did break my elbow falling off my bike a couple of years ago and I’d hate that to happen again.)

Instead, I am getting fit, strong and flexible by doing gyrotonics and also Bikram yoga.

Gyro is an exercise system that is taught one to one and involves lots of stretching and stuff attached to pulleys and weights. It’s based on ballet, pilates, swimming and yoga. I’m finding it really good for my alignment (getting rid of a dodgy hip in the process) and also building core strength.

Bikram yoga is something I did as a bit of a dare but have got hooked on. It’s a series of 26 yoga postures, done twice each. In a room heated to 40-odd degrees. It sounds mental and it isn’t the easiest class to get through but I strongly recommend it.

A Bikram studio opened near me and recently did a 20 days for 20 quid offer. My friend (who had a baby on the same day as me) persuaded me to go. Now we’re both addicted, we’ve been going for about 6 weeks and are about a stone lighter each and bendy as fuck.

I also make myself cycle over University Avenue when I go to Bikram. It’s a fairly steep hill (albeit short) so I do feel like I’m getting a bit of practice for my 100K route (tbc).

So whilst I’m not actually cycling much I do feel like I’m doing a bit of work to prepare myself for the challenge. I’m hoping April will be more clement weather-wise and I’ll get out on The Bike of Discovery at least once a week for some proper rides.


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Rapha Women’s 100

I’ve decided to do the Rapha Women’s 100 on the 7th of July.

It’s a virtual event. There’s no ‘thing’ to register for, nowhere set that you have to go. The only organised aspect of it is knowing that other women will be riding 100 kilometres at the same time as you.

It’s therefore a social event. Participants are encouraged to tweet, Instagram, Facebook and blog about what they are doing on the day and during the run up to it.

I’ll do it because I would be anyway. I’m slowly getting my fitness and my body back after having a baby and I reckon I will be fit enough by the beginning of July. It’s good to have a target to train for.

It’s an interesting one because I think it will be quite popular despite it being something people just have to do themselves. There are a few sponsored participants who are blogging about it but on the whole it’s down to us to talk about it and feel part of it.

I like it because I wonder whether there could be many other ‘events’ like this that could work quite so well. Would it work as well, for example, if July 7th was ‘Go for a Run Day?’ Would runners run if it wasn’t a race? If the only challenge was the day and the distance? And choosing the route?

I like it that there’s no registration pack. No race number. No sponsorship money to collect, no Justgiving page. Just me, my bike and some friends. And the knowledge that out there, somewhere, other women will be doing the same.


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Rules are important, even when there aren’t any

I wrote about rules a while back and how I find they can offer a wee window into a subculture, and give us some insight into the people who follow them (and make them and break them.)

My esteemed associate Sidepipe brought this Rapha article about rules to my attention.  It takes a stand against rules, suggesting that having a long list of rules indicates a lack of confidence more than anything else, and then suggests 3 pretty cute alternative rules for cycling involving sandwiches and friends.

I think this observation about confidence is very important.  Rules help you fit in, in the beginning, and then later when you feel like you’re part of something you can play about, push the boundaries.  In the same way as artists learn techniques before they can really effectively express themselves on paper, the moment you stop saying you follow the rules is as important as the rules themselves.

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Brackets, and going up the Tak Me Doon

I was going to write about a really interesting conversation with a strategist I’m having across the pond but it’s a bank holiday and I am chilling out so I’m going to write about bikes instead.

On Saturday we did this ride, although we did it the other way round, and started near Kilsyth rather than Torrance.  It was the hardest ride I have been on.  There were two big hills, one called Tak Me Doon and the other one called the Crow Road.  They are quite famous in these parts, and popular routes for cyclists and lycra perverts alike.

Here we are after getting to the top of Tak Me Doon Hill.

I was trying to show the full pain of it there.  My chain fell off on the way up, my gears wanted to give up the ghost.  As you will see from the map, however, that was very early on.  After that, we went through beautiful scenery, mist and sunshine and rain.  Got so much fresh air we thought our lungs were going to collapse.  Felt amazing and dead at the same time.

It was ace.  We came home and spent a shitload on stuff from Wiggle and Rapha.  I’m getting another jersey with ARMWARMERS and some SPDS.  I’m turning roadie!

In other news, yesterday we (I say ‘we’ but in reality ‘he’) replaced the bottom bracket on the Bike Of Joy.

Replacing the bottom bracket is a total faff.  Taking the cranks off was OK.

But even that was quite difficult.  When it came to taking the bracket out we had a nightmare.  All the water gets into the bracket and it gets a bit rusty and really tightly stuck in.  The bracket removing tool got bent in the process, so we ran down to Gear to see if they could help.  The guy there was amazingly helpful and we got the bracket out.

Big thanks to everyone involved, the Bike of Joy is back!

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You can wear ordinary clothes to cycle in

Levi’s are apparently getting into the bikewear game – starting with adapted versions of their skinny 511 jeans.  Adapted so that there’s a nice slotty thing in the waistband for your Kryptolok and also reflective seams so that when you roll your jeans up they look good and keep you visible.

None of this is new, of course, Swrve and Rapha and Howies and a host of other niche brands have been doing this kind of thing for the urban cyclist in countries where cyclists are generally seen as sad or mad for a while now.  Cyclists who don’t drive places to ride their bikes but actually ride their bikes to get from A to B not because they don’t have a car but because they prefer riding their bikes.  They prefer cycling in cities to walking or driving or taking a bus in them.

Anyway, part of the reason that cycling doesn’t take of in countries like ours (besides the grossly inflated perception that cycling in cities is suicidal) is the weather and the myth that you have to wear special lycra clothes to ride your bike in.  I recently bought some padded shorts after a ride round Arran on my fixie made me realise what they are for.  (The weather in Arran was lovely and I wore a dress the whole time.)  But for riding in the city – even in the rain – you’re not going far, so jeans are perfect (although when it’s hot a skirt or shorts is a much better option).  In places where cycling isn’t seen as crazy people go even further than this and ride their bikes to special do’s wearing evening dress and suits and high heels and so on.  Amazing. I was blown away when I visited Amsterdam for the first time in April this year.

It’s what all these cycle chic websites are for.  Americans and British people marvel at these Continentals who wear whatever the hell they want to ride their bikes.  There’s an emerging movement against lycra and the tyranny of organised rides in these sites, campaigning for the right to normalise bikes whatever, whenever, however you like.

Anyway, the point is that if big mainstream brands like Levi’s are getting into urban bikewear then we’re maybe beginning to enter the next phase of the cycle revolution.  There must be money in it, if they are investing in it.  Perhaps urban cycling is where skateboarding was in the eighties and nineties when brands like Nike were making their first experimental moves, having the confidence that a bit of trial and error with activity was worth it, eventually settling on a successful business model after 20 years.

Hmm, this was meant to be a ‘play’ article but it all comes back to what I do for a living…

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