Currently, besides EURO 2020 and Wimbledon, the biggest thing in sports is Tour de France. This is the 108th edition of this monumental event, and we are currently in the middle of the same.
The race started on June 26th, which is why we are free to say that the competition is underway for a solid period of time. There have been numerous exciting events, surprises, both positive and negative (the biggest being Primoz Roglic's withdrawal), but overall, this year's Tour met the expectations for now. Some aren't thrilled with the fact that Tadej Pogacar's win is already apparent, but that is what it is. All the bookmakers and their cycling betting odds suggest that the Slovenian is way ahead of the competition.
Pogacar's victory is currently priced at 1/11, meaning that you'll need to invest 11 units in winning one. It might not be what most punters desire, but that is the case for now. Richard Carapaz is second at 13/1, and Ben O'Connor comes third at 18/1, even though he wears the yellow jersey right now. The biggest tests are yet to come, and that is when Pogacar turns up the pace. Rigoberto Uran is 25/1, and Jonas Vingegaard sits at 33/1.
As said, the battle for the Tour de France winner this year is not that interesting, but that is solely because we have a very dominant rider, much, much better than the rest of the competition. Judging by the way he develops and his age, Pogacar might be the next big thing in the history of this sport. Let us remind you that he has only 22 years.
The path towards a win is clear now, with his biggest rival, Primoz Roglic, abandoning the race. The crashes he endured in the early stages of the race were too much for the older Slovenian, and he decided to quit before the 10th stage. This is a gift, Pogacar won't skip.
However, the other competitions will be very interesting.
King of the Mountain title will be hard to reach, even for Pogacar. Right now, the top favorite for this one is Nairo Quintana, 6/4, who is ahead of Pogacar, 9/2. The Colombian won this honor in 2013, while the Slovenian is the last year's winner. Wouter Poels waits his chance from the dark, 13/1, and is slightly better positioned than Michael Woods 7/1. The next batch of riders is led by Miguel Angel Lopez, Mattia Cattaneo, and Sergio Higuita, all 25/1 to win.
When talking about the Points Classification, the undisputed Peter Sagan, who didn't win just twice since 2012, is not almighty as before. With 13/2 for another eighth green jersey, he is in the second echelon of the candidates for that title.
The No.1 favorite is the British veteran and the 2010 winner, Mark Cavendish, 10/11. Second on the list is Sonny Colbrelli at 7/1, and then comes Nacer Bouhanni at 11/1. With 13/2 besides Sagan are Michael Matthews and Jasper Philipsen, while Wout Van Aert is far behind at 14/1.
There isn't too much excitement in the remaining two competitions for the Young Rider and the Team Classification. Pogacar will win his second straight award for the best youngster, and the bookmakers see that as an inevitable outcome, 1/20.
As for the team's competition, Bahrain Merida created a gap that is probably too big for all others to cover. Their win is priced at 4/6, and the closest rivals are Ineos Grenafiers with 11/4. Ag2r is 14/1, Astana 15/1, while Jumbo Visma and EF Education-Nippo have the same odds, 18/1.
We have almost two more weeks until the end, with the last stage taking place on 18th July. It shall start at Chatou and finish at Champs-Elysees.
The Union Canal path is one of Edinburgh's primary traffic-free cycle routes. It can be the ideal way to reach various parts of the city whilst avoiding motor traffic. However, I don't always use it because of a number of issues that I will discuss in this blog. These issues highlight why the Union Canal cannot always be a part of the solution to providing segregated cycling infrastructure for everyday journeys.
In a previous blog I wrote about my cycle commute using Colinton Road. The Union Canal path follows much of this road and it provides a traffic-free alternative, but I don't always find that it works for me and this is why:
1. Poor access onto the canal
If you are lucky enough to live right next to, or very close to the canal path then its easy to get on it. My closest access point is via the disused railway path that travels through the famous Colinton Tunnel. This railway path goes through Colinton Dell, alongside the Water of Leith and is a beautiful place for a leisure bike ride. However, for most of the winter months it is a muddy mess that is difficult and inconvenient to cycle through, particularly if you need to get somewhere in good time and you really do not want your bike to be messed up by all that mud.
I can use another access point just off Craiglockhart Road North and this avoids the muddy path. However, to get to Craiglockhart Road North you need to cycle on Colinton Road, which can be busy with traffic. You can avoid some of Colinton Road by taking the quieter roads through the housing streets of Craiglockhart, but it is convoluted, takes longer and it involves trying to cross over the busy Craiglockhart Avenue. Once you reach the canal access point you will find that there are steps. That's okay for some, but not everyone will manage to get their bike down these steps.
2. Slateford Viaduct
If I do access the canal from the disused railway path I will come across one of the canal's main pinch points, the Slateford Viaduct. This has an extremely narrow cobblestone path. The signage here states that you should not cycle on it and walk across with your bike, although some people do cycle it. It is too narrow for people travelling in opposite directions to pass each other without one person coming to a complete stop and pulling right into the edge. There is always a feeling that someone is going to fall into the water. Crossing the viaduct a few times a year for a leisure trip along the canal can be a novelty, but for everyday cycling for commuting or other purposes it is inconvenient and slows down the journey time.
3. Blind spots when cycling under bridges
When cycling on the Union Canal there are a large number of bridges that the path passes beneath. Many of these are pinch points with a blind spot that means you cannot see if there is another person approaching in the opposite direction. A collision is likely without the use of a bicycle bell. Not every person that uses the canal has a bell on their bike and some people might not hear it if they are listening to music. I slow right down at these bridges because of the risk of a collision, but I have seen many people on bicycles going too fast. The path under some of these bridges narrows and some have cobblestones which adds to the challenge of clearing these bridges safely.
4. The volume of people using the Canal path
The closer you are to the city centre the busier the path can be. It is extremely popular with joggers, dog walkers, other bike riders, families and anybody who fancies getting out and about for fresh air. The path is very narrow in places and this can make it a challenge to get anywhere quickly on a bicycle. The right thing to do is to slow down on this path and respect the other users. The huge number of people that enjoy this space and the large number of people using it for cycling is a clear message that the city needs more spaces like this. Everyone is cramming onto the few traffic-free green spaces that we have in the city.
5. The fast cyclists
I notice that there are some people using bicycles on the canal path that are in a rush and rarely slow down for anything. I guess they are using it for their commute and want to be able to go as fast as they would on a road. They will ring their bell and expect everyone else to move out of their path. If someone like this is behind me and I am taking precautions like slowing down at the bridges or slowing down for pedestrians I always feel that they are getting impatient. And if someone like this is travelling in the opposite direction I fear the possibility of a collision, particularly at the narrowest parts of the path.
These are the reasons that I do not always use the canal path for my everyday journeys. I think it largely depends on where you live and where you are travelling to as to how useful and convenient the canal path is, and if you mind dealing with things like the bridges and cobbles.
The Union Canal opened in 1822 and the purpose of the path was to allow horses to pull the boats along. It was never designed with cycle commuting in mind. It is wonderful to be able to travel by bicycle along this canal and I highly recommend it for leisure cycling. I feel fortunate to have the canal path as an outdoor space in my city. However, it cannot be depended upon as part of the plan to provide segregated cycling infrastructure for efficient, everyday journeys.
How about you? Do you use the canal path for your everyday bicycle journeys? Leave me a comment below.
Guest post by Trevor Fenner, founder and owner of Electric Bike Paradise.
Staying indoors, playing with your PlayStation, or watching TV could be a decent way to spend the day, but it can also get boring. At some point, you have to pick yourself up and just go outside. Explore the outdoors and appreciate the scenery! However, getting around with only your feet can only go so far. Likewise, with a private car or a motorcycle, you’ll end up consuming too much fossil fuel in that probably long journey, not to mention the costs.
The outside world has so much to offer! From the beach to the mountains, cities, and suburbs, roads and trails never seem to end. These picturesque destinations are waiting for you. All you need is a reliable ride to make you appreciate all that there is around you. And what better way to explore the great outdoors than with a bicycle (or perhaps an electric-powered one.)
“But why electric bikes?” you ask. While there are many options to choose from, e-bikes seem to be the perfect buddy to accompany you on your trip! Not only because electric bicycles are more environmentally friendly than cars or buses, they too provide countless health benefits. And while we’re at it, here are five main reasons why you should choose a bicycle when exploring the outdoors.
Top 5 Reasons Why You Should Use a Bicycle
We all know leg days are important, but it is always something we try to avoid. Well, it doesn’t always have to be so scary. Cycling, especially with an electric bike, can make lower body exercises something to look forward to. (Ask the cyclers, even!) To top that off, with cycling, you not only give yourself a leg day, but you also work different areas in your body: cycling requires the coordination of your arms to your core to your legs! It’s a great form of aerobic exercise that can pump up your heart rate and encourage blood circulation.
Giving your body the movement it needs to be coupled with changing scenery allows you to take care of your physical and mental well-being! As your brain enjoys blood circulation, it experiences the promotion of a cognitive mind, the stimulation of happy hormones like endorphins! With research even stating it to be a great way to reduce vulnerability to anxiety, cycling has made a healthy mind just in reach.
With the ever-advancing technology, there is more significant emission of carbon gases experienced. But does that need to be the case? Electric bikes brought us a step closer to being the best caterer on the Earth by providing us with zero-emission modes of transport. That means that along with your body, the planet also enjoys the many benefits of your choice. By padding on, one less person contributes to the increasing temperature of the Earth, the pollution in the air we breathe, and more!
Unlike cars or motorcycles, cycling with e-bikes uses renewable energy—a sustainable choice for today and tomorrow. It utilizes energy most efficiently, allowing up to a whopping 100 miles of travel before the battery empties. Ultimately, an electric bike proved itself worthy of our attention and investment. Down from the source of its energy to the emissions (which is none, by the way), you are sure to be doing this planet an excellent service by using an electric bike!
Now you might be concerned about putting in that initial upfront cost but know that when you look into it closely, you'll find that you'll be saving a whole lot of money instead. First off, it's nothing compared to purchasing a car or a motorcycle—even considering only the down payment for the latter said vehicles, the disparity is massive. Maintenance, too, is another story. With cars, it's usually that expense that eats up your income. Electric bicycles don't also require gas as it only needs recharging. And of course, this just altogether reduces your cost of transportation, allowing you to save up in the long run. Aside from costs that you may incur now: living a healthy lifestyle is the most cost-saving practice you could do. Imagine the vile of hospitalization expenses. You don't want to get your hands on that! As you can see, the overall economic considerations of getting an electric bike are just too good.
More Fun to Use
Riding a conventional bicycle can get a little exhausting at some point. Your legs can't sustain the same level of effort and energy on pedaling all the time, so when the time comes you're too tired to pedal, an extra boost or assistance is extremely helpful. With an electric bike, you can easily switch between pedal-only mode, pedal-assist, and throttle mode.
Speaking of added boost and strength, remember that problematic bike trail you couldn't pass through last summer? Well, with an electric bike (especially the electric mountain bike type), there will be no more untackled path.
Most electric bikes' main features include the display systems that let you see the speed, trip distance, and battery level. Some also come with a USB port where you can charge your portable electronic device. But most of all, electric bikes feature assisted pedaling, so you won't have to spend most of your energy pedaling so you can focus more on what really matters, the lovely scenery.
There’s always an e-bike for you!
Since electric bikes became a trend, countless types of e-bikes started to develop. The e-bike industry adapted to the latest technology and made breakthroughs to cater to the specific needs of the people. We know you're wondering which one suits you best, but worry not because we've listed some of the best e-bike types:
As we have come to notice, there are numerous advantages in getting yourself an electric bike. These come in the number of benefits: from yourself, to your wallet, and even to the environment.
Often, we think we need to do something big or extravagant to take care of ourselves and our space, but it is in the small consistencies where we can create healthy and sustainable environments for ourselves and others.
If you’re having doubts now, know that as we’ve uncovered, choosing this eco-friendly vehicle is something you can guarantee yourself for the long haul. It is something you can conveniently use to step out (literally) into the world and out of your comfort zone.
An electric bike is an inclusive instrument you can use to get yourself going into a healthier and Earth-friendly lifestyle. There really is no reason to hesitate as the pros far outweigh the cons. Get one for yourself and get moving now!
About the author:
Trevor Fenner is the founder and owner of Electric Bike Paradise, a one-stop-shop for all your electric bicycle needs. He has been selling bicycles, electric bikes, and electric scooters online since 2010 and eventually established Electric Bike Paradise in late 2013 when he happened to meet a seller from Craiglist that introduced him to electric bikes. Ever since Trevor spent time searching for electric bikes online but couldn’t find a single website that offers a wide selection of bikes and informational articles. That is why he decided to start a website where everyone can shop conveniently, browse buying guides, and read educational posts. The website is called Electric Bike Paradise.
My name is Colin Baird and I want to see all of Scotland by bicycle.