Rachel’s Bike

Rachel used to hang around with us at AT’s. She also moderated the blog for a while. She runs a blog in which she talks about her life in Scotland, with a focus on living a low-carbon life, especially biking and plant-based diets. Follows an edited transcript of the last time we touched base. Rachel’s text is in roman, mine is in italic.

ok, great. I’m here
I’m writing a post for the Aberdeen Cycle Forum

how’s it going

Good! I got some funding – £6,500 from LUSH (a chain of shops that make soap). I spent it on some 3D visualisations of bike paths. One of them I’m about to release today. Do you want to see?

What Aberdeen could Be

i’ve stumbled upon something related
about a city in Austria:

Aspern isn’t just about families. It was deliberately planned with a brand identity, one that might elsewhere be considered political: all the streets and public spaces are named for women.


Yes, I saw that but forgot to read it. Thanks!

i bet it would be cool to have a more humane city center
more so for a city that is centered around fossil fuels

I don’t know whether I’ll ever see it happen but I will keep trying until it does happen or I die.

you don’t take no as an answer, do you


if only we were all like you
so you went to the parliament

I organised it 🙂

i see that

There’s just no-one else here to do it

the photo reveals your movement is now part of the yellow vests

No, don’t say that. I don’t want to be aligned with them because they started by protesting a tax on fuel but I’m totally in favour of taxing fuel as are most cyclists.

you’re right, sorry

So do you have climate questions you want to ask?

well, yes, i do, but the interview is about you

Yes, I saw one of them. Is this the interview now?

yes, it’s just an edited chat

ok, well what do you want to know?

we usually have space for a few questions
well, first of all
how does it feel to have left climateball
(asking for a friend)

Have I left?
I still see the denial and hear it
I just actively ignore it now
I also think that group is getting smaller and will eventually wither away to nothing. Is that just my imagination, do you think?

i think the more we hear about contrarians, the more we hear the same contrarians
it’s easy to spot those who are just trying to push talking points
there is a death thread on twitter where all the contrarians come and go
it’s so big the twitter engine wrecks it
so i think many contrarians are caught in their own matrix

Are they all on Twitter now? I guess WUWT is still active but I never read it.

the thread has been going on since at least june 2017

The same thread?

more or less, it’s complex, as one can only have 50 interlocutors at the same time
but yeah

That’s crazy. Why don’t they start a new one?

twitter also changed its system to accomodate that kind of thing
the thread has been restarted many times, but it’s like a magnet

I won’t ask for a link
Is more happening on Twitter now than on blogs?

you’re better placed than me to say – you worked for wordpress
aren’t blogs dying

I hope not. I want to keep blogging. Twitter can’t replace that.

personal blogs are small, the tool is great, i have yet to find something better

I do notice that businesses are starting to create Facebook pages as their only online presence and I think that’s a terrible mistake.

i do too
my only activity on fb is to push newsies about how awful fb is

I just read local news headlines on FB now and keep it for messenger with my friends and family

when did you quit wp

Over a year ago.
March 2018 was my last month

do you miss working there

Sometimes. I’m still a very loyal blogger on wpcom and will never give that up. But I needed more of a challenge work-wise and I’ve got that now.

i thought you were bored by your new job

I was until I got promoted.

good thing you got bored
i should get bored more often

I’m now transitioning into a product manager role. My company is sending me on a product manager course starting next week.

what’s that

This is the course
As a product manager I’ll be steering the direction of development of our product.
I will decide what gets implemented next and why.
I’m really lucky to get this opportunity.It’s a bit daunting in many ways.

you’ll have a team working for you

Not exactly. We’ve already got a team of developers so I’ll be working closely with them. But I’ll also be working with our commercial team to learn what prospective clients want and I’ll continue to work closely with support to understand the needs of our current user-base. I’ll be in the middle linking all the different teams.

should we plug the company, or you prefer not to

Sure! It’s Award Force. We make software for managing awards, competition, grants, scholarships and stuff like that. We facilitate the submission and managing of entries and the full judging process. It’s a feel-good industry because it’s all about recognising human achievement.


It’s a nice field to be in and the company is fully carbon neutral.

how so

We’re not certified or anything but we calculated all our emissions and offset them with tree planting. We also make regular donations to Sea Shepherd Conservation.

george may have a point in saying that we may need to stop eating fish for a while
i have become a part-time vegetarian

That’s great! What is part-time though? If it’s just veggie one day per week then that’s really not part-time. Did you see my family was on BBC news recently as a low carbon family?

Meet the Martins, living a low-carbon lifestyle in Aberdeen.


no i did not

I do some voluntary work for Aberdeen Climate Action and the BBC contacted them looking for a low carbon family and they put them in contact with us.

better than climateball

What is?

voluntary work, biking for climate and for biking, having a low carbon lifestyle

You wanted to ask about my cargo bike?

yes, you switched to electric

yes, I have an electric cargo trike
It’s great! It gives me confidence on the roads because it has a throttle which gives you a boost to get started.
Cargo bikes are the future for last mile deliveries.
Just getting some rocket from my garden

so you still rent cars for your holyday trips
if only cars were like cargo bikes

Yes, we either rent a car or use the car-club car. We’re members of a car club here. I do wish you could pedal in cars. It would give you something to do on a long journey.

still more sensible than owning one, and refutes the dilemma

Way cheaper too

you still have that book on your website?

How not to die cookbook?
Yes, I cook mostly recipes from that except on burger or haggis night.
The How not to die cookbook has a great vegan recipe for Mac and cheese.

will try it
i think if we allow for some meat, say each month, vitaminic needs can be met

you’ll change your mind

you know me, i will
what’s your most favorite easy recipe that could change the world

um, maybe what I ate tonight? Veggie burgers? They’re so yummy. I could eat them every night. Healthy too and low environmental impact and so easy to make. I guess it depends what type of burgers you buy. I don’t get the fake meat ones.

i’ve heard they’re good
i have many versions, one i like is with mushrooms

Mushrooms are good

they may outlive us


so, christchurch, any news from your family over what happened

We definitely talked about it although none of our family live there
We were all horrified
We used to live not far from one of the mosques
There are so many shootings in America now that I don’t think they’re even reported on the news any longer

at least they stopped advertising the names

that’s good

how do you live brexit

I hope it doesn’t happen but if it does there’ll likely be another Scottish independence referendum and then Scotland will probably become a separate country and rejoin the EU

will the brexit thing be a problem to stay in scotland for your family

no, it doesn’t affect us in that way because we’re not European

god that’s silly, lol

We’re not allowed to live and work here without a visa anyway
European citizens can move around and work anywhere in the EU but that doesn’t apply to us
If Scotland becomes independent it might become easier
It would be interesting to have another referendum to see whether people have changed their minds about Brexit. I think a lot of people have.
Most people in Scotland want to stay in the EU
It was something like 60% in the referendum

it’s less divisive than the separation, then


overall you seem happy

Very. Things are good for me. I’m happy where I’m living, I’ve got a lovely family, and work is pretty good. Just as long as we don’t have leave Scotland I’m happy.

you would?

No, I don’t want to. I love it here.

so, all this happiness
and you left climateball
there are no coincidences

I just got busy
I don’t have time to follow all the online climate discussions

looks like it
you haven’t missed anything

Still the same conversations over and over again?

it’s just one big exchange, with some fixed points, yes
it evolved a bit, as contrarians have become more isolated
they said their piece
their best concerns have been integrated
time to move on
perhaps they got busy too

i doubt it
they know they’ve lost. we’ve all lost.
they don’t realize how much it will all cost us

it’s like not flossing for years
except it’s collective teeth

good analogy

any music you’d like to share

Beethoven’s 9th Symphony is one of my favourite

ode to joy, of course

I love that piece of music
It’s the 3rd movement in the 9th

prfct, lady
you made it

thank you, Rachel

About Willard

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27 Responses to Rachel’s Bike

  1. A seasoning of venison & salmon recipes might help, as Aberdeen rivals Calgary in fossil fuel enthusiasm.
    Were the blue skies photoshopped , or have they taken up geoengineering in Perthshire?

  2. As Willard mentioned at the top of the post, Rachel used to hang around here. Rachel wrote a number of post, but also helped a lot with moderation, on occasion having to call me out when what I had said maybe wasn’t optimal. If you regard this blog as having a decent tone, and the comment threads as being quite reasonable, that’s in big part because of Rachel’s positive influence.

  3. verytallguy says:

    All power to you!

    Nice sunny cycle to work here this morning for the first time in weeks.

    Can we have a pic of the electric trike please?

  4. Majura Wombat says:

    Beethoven’s 9th has four movements and the choral bit comes into the 4th not the 3rd movement. So you see I read the whole post and am a nitpicker.

  5. verytallguy says:

    Thinks… “That’s a bike Willard. ”

    Digs… This is her trike:

    From https://rachel.blog/2018/11/30/in-praise-of-my-electric-cargo-trike/

    I prefer the bike, personally.

  6. Rachel M says:

    Yeah, that’s my electric trike, VTG. His name is Hoss. I have a regular bike too and ride that when I’m not carrying any cargo. You can never have too many bikes.

  7. You can never have too many bikes.

    That’s not what my wife says 🙂

  8. verytallguy says:

    It is indeed quite impossible to own too many bikes, and I confess to more than one.

    But here’s my favourite, and it may even help AT convince his wife too? (!)

  9. vtg,
    I have a sneaky suspicion that one’s not going to work.

  10. Willard, that’s a nice transportation energetics graph, but i just tweeted its author thus :
    Replying to @anderspreben @bikenewyork and 11 others

    I recently sailed a five masted ship of 4,500 tonne mass 200 kilometers at an energy cost of ~ 1.8 megajoules ( the winch power to set the sails and reef them on arrival.)

    That’s ~5 x ten to the minus 7 cal/gram per kilometer, a factor of a million better than a bicycle !

  11. Russell Seitz says:

    It takes two dozen half horsepower motors less than five minutes to do the roller reefing job:


  12. Joshua says:

    Hi Rachel.

  13. Willard says:

    > That’s a bike

    Tomato, tomacco. TBH, I had no idea what was a “trike.” Here’s one around here:

    If someone knows who makes them, a friend would like to know.


    > I recently sailed a five masted ship



    > the choral bit comes into the 4th not the 3rd movement.

    My mistake. Here was Rachel’s video:

    I picked one that echoed the first theme of the chat without rechecking.

  14. Willard, wind power & bike advocates shouldn’t call sailors names.The permanent magnet motor-gererators in modern wind turbines can generate power through a tall ship’s propeller as well as automating sail handling- the big tradtional sall training ships take hundreds of hungry hands to operate, but the next generation need just a few per mast-

    OTOH, the inefficiency of pedal paddleboats explains why fish don’t need bicycles.

  15. Willard says:

    > wind power & bike advocates shouldn’t call sailors names.

    How about those who are just bike advocates?

    The Internet tells me that professional downhill skiers can reach 150 mph. This should beat everything.

    Just teasing. Sailing is great.

  16. Snape says:

    How about a trike powered by a sail?

  17. Snape says:

    [Fixed. -W]

  18. Willard says:

    > How about a trike powered by a sail?

    Why stick to wheels:

    Modern designs of iceboats are very efficient, utilizing aerodynamic designs and low friction, and can achieve speeds as high as ten times the wind speed in good conditions. International DN iceboats often achieve speeds of 48 knots (89 km/h; 55 mph) while racing, and speeds as high as 59 knots (109 km/h; 68 mph) have been recorded.[3] Skeeters and older large stern-steerer iceboats can exceed 90 knots (170 km/h; 100 mph). The rumored, but unconfirmed, top speed of an iceboat is over 130 knots (240 km/h; 150 mph). One reference to a timed run on Lake Geneva, Wisconsin reported an “E-Skeeter” as having reached 137 knots (254 km/h; 158 mph). The same reference reported clocking a DN 60 iceboat on a closed course over black ice on Green Bay, Wisconsin at 94 knots (174 km/h; 108 mph). The stern-steerer Debutaunte, recently rebuilt, was timed over a measured mile at 124 knots (230 km/h; 143 mph) on the ice of Lake Winnebago, Wisconsin in 1938.


  19. Snape says:

    That’s amazing. I’ve never understood how a sailboat, or iceboat, can go faster than the wind that’s pushing it. Something to read about when I can’t sleep.

  20. The apparent wind speed over its sails increases as a vessel accelerates into the wind, increasing the airfoil lift to windward , further increasing speed The high drag of a displacement hull limits the terminal speed of monohulls to 50 knots. The calmer the water the faster the V max-I’ve been to 2.2 V in light air in America’s Cup trials with real hulls, and the postmodern AC hydrofoils get well past 3.

    But they’re not rally sailboats when they do that- more like iceboats with wet feet.

  21. Tht should read the monohull maximum speed is ~1.8 V, and the { unlimited design ) sailing speed record is > 50 knots.

  22. Willard says:

  23. David B. Benson says:

    aTTP, time for a new post?

  24. Just finished one. Struggling a bit for inspiration 🙂

  25. Pingback: 2019: A year in review | …and Then There's Physics

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