Mar 062014
Mathias Jung 2014

John McInnes – Silver kumite

By Charlie Abel.

Aberdeen’s own National Karate Federation have done it again.

They represented NKF Scotland on the world stage during the open World Karate Confederation (WKC) Championships held in Munich, Germany on 24th and 25th January.

While many of us folks back home were tucking into their traditional Burns haggis, the Aberdonian athletes were burning off the calories and fighting their way through some really tough competition.

Facing over 400 competitors from 14 countries the self-funded NKF had some great results, against giant competition from the USA (who had some 400,000 karate students and government funding to draw from) and Russia who even had members of their military taking part.

Participants travelled from Norway, Lithuania, Northern Ireland, Italy, Serbia, Germany, France and many more. Team coach and chief NKF instructor Ronnie Watt 8th Dan (O.B.E. & order of the rising sun) said:

“The team were outstanding. I’m absolutely delighted! It’s one of the best results we ever had. All the team have been training really hard, some since the age of 7. To get so many medals against such fierce and overwhelming competition from around the world is remarkable. We were vastly outnumbered but these results show we were not out-classed. For such a small club from a small country we proved we have big hearts, brave hearts and dedication to our Karate.”

 Invitations for the NKF squad to perform and teach Karate have been coming in from around the world. 25 MSP’s at the Scottish Parliament have signed a motion to formally thank the NKF. Many letters of congratulations from politicians and diplomats have been arriving on Ronnie’s door step.


Mathias Jung 2014

Nissara Kirk – Bronze kumite

Aberdeen based NKF managed to bag an incredible 16 medals for Scotland.

John McInnes (18) won silver in male Kumite (sparring) narrowly missing out on a gold due to being forced by judges to withdraw during the fight due to the blood flowing from his brow after a punch struck him, needing several stitches.

Three sisters from Inverurie, Sara, Chloe and Lisa Calder took home an incredible 8 medals between them.

Their father Jock Calder, (Senior NKF squad coach, 5th Dan) is very proud of them and after their hard training they have now taken a total of 18 medals at world championships, one being a Gold for Lisa Calder in 2006.

Sara (14) won a bronze medal in the kumite (sparring). Chloe (18) reached the finals for Kata winning a bronze medal and faced the Serbian champion in kumite where she won Silver. Lisa (21) reached fourth place in the seniors kata and faced the Lithuanian WKC world champion in the final and won silver.

The two older sisters also took part in the team event for Kata along with Nissara Kirk, the team winning bronze in the kata and silver in the kumite.

Hamish Barclay, John Willis, Mike Smialowski and Kai Thompson all performed well reaching the semi-finals in the individuals and fourth in the team events.

In the examinations section, congratulations to Paddy Jamieson who was promoted to senior referee, Chris Davidson to Judge, Jock Calder 5th Dan and Roxy Watt 4th Dan who were promoted to senior coach.

The NKF squad are back in training now and are aiming for success at the next festival. One which they will host themselves in Aberdeen in May. The International Karate Festival.

Anyone interested in training Karate should call Aberdeen 734607 for more information. The club meet in Aberdeen, Cults, Kintore and Inverurie.

Ronnie Watt adds:

“ We are always keen to attract new members of all ages.”

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Dec 062013

Karate Parachutists - Credit: Julie ThompsonBy Charlie Abel.

Aberdeen’s National Karate Federation (NKF) will compete in the International Open World Karate Confederation (WKC) Championships in Munich in January, and two members of the squad will take part in a daring fundraising event to help the club to pay for flights and accommodation.

Kai Thomson and John Willis (pictured right) will jump out of a perfectly good airplane at 10,000 feet wearing only Kamikaze Bandanas… and jump suits!

Aberdeen is famous for many things. The first thing that springs to mind is usually the Oil Industry. Add to that CAT scans, the development of insulin, the invention of partition chromatography, The Dons, Denis Law, Mary Slessor, the list goes on.

Relatively few, however, are aware that Aberdeen is world famous for Karate and has produced its very own 8th Dan master, Ronnie Watt.

Under Ronnie’s guidance and instruction, the NKF Elite squad from Aberdeen, and the surrounding area, have been training hard in preparation for this prestigious Karate competition and will do Aberdeen and Scotland proud.

The NKF are no strangers to the International Karate community. They have won medals in the past and in 2000 they hosted the WKC world championships in Aberdeen at the Beach Ballroom, bringing thousands of visitors, competitors and their families to the City.

Karate Training 181 - Credit: Julie ThompsonBeing a private organisation receiving no funding from any government source, the success of the club shows great testament to the leadership of the NKF and the canny resolve and determination of its Aberdonian Karate-ka.

The flights, accommodation, entry fees and extra equipment are all paid for by its members, and flying a squad over to Germany for the competition is no easy task, which is why Kai and John have volunteered to raise funds by way of a sponsored parachute jump.

Asked if he had ever done a parachute jump before, Kai replied:

“No, Never. But I’m prepared to take one for the team’

John added:

“It’s a crazy thing to do but I like it.”

The daring spectacle will take place in Errol, on Saturday the 18th of January 2014, where the two Kamikaze Aberdonian parachutists are hoping to raise £5000.

Any offers of sponsorship or donations from members of the public would be very welcome.

Donations can be made via our PayPal account, or by cash or cheque ( made payable to NKF ) sent to:

Ronnie Watt OBE,
Order of the Rising Sun; 8th Dan.
Hadley House, Culter House Road,
Milltimber, Aberdeen, AB13 0EN

Tel: 01224 734607
Mobile: 07511 406556

All donations will be entered into a free prize draw. The winner may choose from either an exclusive self defence lesson with Ronnie Watt…

Or… a special bespoke black NKF jacket, worn only by Black Belt NKF squad members with very special embroidered writing with their name on it and a special message.

As one of the world’s highest awarded Karate teachers Ronnie is widely respected for his expertise in the Karate-do discipline and its way of life having trained Karate almost every day for nearly 50 years.

Ronnie Watt ( Third from left ) at Norway Karate Festival, Nov 2013

Ronnie Watt ( Third from left ) at Norway Karate Festival, Nov 2013

Still training hard at 66, he is an inspiration to all who train Karate with him.

Ronnie is one of only a handful of Scottish people ever to be awarded the ‘Order of the Rising Sun’ by the Japanese government since Thomas Blake Glover. This is an award which is seldom given to people outside Japan. The award was quickly followed by an OBE from the Queen.

There is a high demand for Ronnie’s Karate experience and he is often seen on the top billing of many Karate courses worldwide.

Anyone wishing to train Karate with Ronnie at the National Karate Institute can call 01224 734607 or visit the website for more information.

Further Info:

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Aug 302013

The latest online bulletin from Aberdeen Cycle Forum (hey, we’re friends, let’s call it ACF) carries items of interest to anyone who’s taken advantage of the warm summer we’ve just enjoyed, to commute, exercise or just trundle a unicycle for leisure through Duthie Park. As their message says, ‘It seems like autumn may be sneaking up on us’. Thanks to ACF.

tourdeeside1 bicyclesAberdeen City Council has succeeded in persuading Pedal for Scotland to bring one of its rides to the city on Sunday 15 September.

It’s a short ride of about four miles around the Beach, and it will be motor traffic-free.

It’s specifically aimed at families or occasional cyclists and there’s a small cost to enter

If Aberdeen and the NE’s cyclists turn out in numbers, there’s every chance that we might see bigger and better Pedal for Scotland events offered here in the future.

The council’s also supporting In Town Without My Car on Sunday 22 September as part of European Mobility Week. ACF will be among several cyclist-interest groups at the event and will have a stall there on the day.  If you’re interested in coming along to help out, and to talk to your fellow Aberdonians on the delights of pedal-powered transportation, you can contact ACF at  We’ll carry the start time in Voice when it’s been confirmed.

There’s welcome news for those city centre two-wheelers, or unicyclists indeed, who stoically suffer jarred wrists and pain to their more delicate parts. The resurfacing of Union Street near Belmont Street, to replace the badly broken-up tarmac, is imminent. The Council has let ACF know that the smooth surface will be extended westwards over Union Bridge.

However, during the resurfacing, planned to take place between 9 and 27 September, the current cycle parking in the area is going to be replaced. New cycle stands have been ordered but may not be in place until mid to late October.  ACF’s website will keep interested cyclists updated.

ACF has been working to identify potential Quality Cycle Corridors for Aberdeen and make them available on the Forum website. The first of these is the Westhill route, in the form of a .PDF outline suggesting what needs to be done to raise standards for cyclists along this major commuter corridor. Comments are invited from anyone interested.

Finally, Facebook users, asks ACF, don’t forget to follow the ACF page. It’s growing fast from a slow start and there are more than 100 Facebookers who now like ACF and get automatic updates as they are posted. One recent post was viewed by over 700 people. There’s also been a significant number of new sign-ups to the Forum mailing list, probably connected to ACF’s increased visibility.

So, goes the plea, ‘Like, share, re-post or whatever, and we will slowly but surely raise the profile of cycling issues in Aberdeen’.

The next ACF monthly meeting is on Tuesday 27 August at 1930 in the Town House on Broad St. New faces are always welcome.

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May 312013

With thanks to Jon Ruszka, press officer, National Karate Federation.

The Aberdeen based National Karate Federation (NKF) of Scotland are preparing to attend the World Karate Championships being held this May in Australia, followed by the Children’s World Championships in Argentina in 2014.

In addition, preparations are well underway for the now annual International Karate Festival being held on 8th and 9th June, 2013, at the International School of Aberdeen.

Five karate masters Ronnie Watt OBE, 8th Dan (Scotland), Alain Verbeek, 6th Dan (France), Dr Fritz Wendland, WKC Founding President (Germany), Paul Kee, 7th Dan (Sweden) and Alf Ronny Fagerland, 6th Dan (Norway) will attend with their national squads.

These masters will assist all attendees on their technique, from beginners to black belt 5th Dans.

The course will culminate in an International Festival of Karate which will be attended by a number of VIPs that will include Mr Masataka Tarahara, the Japanese Consul General in Edinburgh, and Lord Charles Bruce.

The Aberdeen based NKF of Scotland is an internationally recognised karate institute dedicated to the tuition, practice and advancement of traditional Karate-do.

The NKF President is Aberdeen born, 8th Dan Karate Master, Ronnie Watt OBE who was recently awarded the Order of the Rising Sun by the Emperor of Japan and the OBE by HM Queen for services to international karate.

With over 47 years of experience under his belt, Ronnie (65) assisted by senior instructors, teaches karate in Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire and further afield.

Of the International festival, Ronnie said:

“We’ve been very busy introducing karate to youngsters across Aberdeen and preparing the squad for international tournaments.

“Compared to many National Federations across the world, we’re a small self-funded organisation representing Scotland on the international stage.

“The International Festival will be a fantastic event for all taking part. 

“ I’m truly honoured that such esteemed masters, squads, and guests will travelling to Aberdeen to join us.”

Recent NKF activities have included helping over 1,000 local youngsters to experience, for the first time, the discipline and fitness which traditional karate brings to people’s lives.

These efforts have been recognised in a personal letter from Shona Robison MSP, the Minister for Commonwealth Games and Sport.

So, if you are looking for something special in your life, why not take up one on the finest Japanese disciplines?

There is nothing better than Karate-do for fitness, health, self-confidence and self-defence.

Anyone interested in taking up Karate-do, please call us for details on 01224 734607

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Jan 112013

Bokwa – the brand new approach to exercise that is taking the world by storm, has arrived in Aberdeen. With thanks to Dave Macdermid.

The brainchild of dancer and fitness instructor Paul Mavi, Bokwa takes its name from BO – light boxing, and KWA – which symbolises the traditional dance Kwaito. Bokwa is not really a dance workout – there is no choreography or counting steps and participants draw letters and numbers with their feet, while moving together to chart music in free form rhythm.

Under the supervision of qualified instructor Jodie Macdermid, Ferryhill Community Centre will host an hour long session on Wednesday evenings from 6.15 pm, at a cost of only £4 per lesson.

As Jodie says:

“If you can move and you can spell, you can do Bokwa.

“From 4 year old kids, to men and women in their seventies, to guys with ‘2 left feet,’ to world champion dancers – Bokwa engages participants of all ages in the same class and to the same music.

“Given you can burn off more than a thousand calories in a one hour session, demand is likely to be substantial, particularly at this time of year.”

Bookings can be made in advance by calling 07517 054125, emailing Jodie at or by logging on to www.facebook/BokwaZumbawithJodie

Further information on Bokwa can be found at

Dec 142012

Whilst the headlines have been grabbed by the magnificent Wiggo, the delightful Laura Trott, Sir Chris Hoy and our old Paralympic gold medallist Neil Fachie in a vintage year for two-wheeled endeavour, little publicity has been afforded another Aberdeen Cycling Champion, Ross Thomson, Conservative Councillor for Hazlehead, Ashley and Queens Cross and occupant of that Council role.
David Innes freewheeled alongside Ross over Town House coffee.

How did the role of Cycling Champion come about?

It’s something the Aberdeen Cycle Forum included in their manifesto, a list of things they wanted to see after the local elections. The Forum’s view is they wanted someone within the council to promote the views of cyclists. They felt there had been a barrier to them getting a voice, but now I’m working quite closely with the Forum. As an administration, we know the benefits of cycling, so wanted to promote it. It’s a role I was quite keen to take on. I’m surprised this wasn’t given prominence before, given the issues of pollution and cycling’s health benefits.

What about the specific role?

There was nothing set down, so I’m kind of writing my own job description! I discussed all the issues that concerned the Cycle Forum in numerous meetings and found out what they’d like to see happen in the city. I sat down with council officers, too. I found it surprising there was no one person responsible for cycling, that it was broken up between different services. I found myself going from pillar to post trying to get something done, whether it was about bike stands, or issues about a particular road junction

So, one commonsense thing I thought needed sorting out was communication, a frustration for the Forum too, so I’ve set up a meeting with all relevant players. This first proper meeting will be in January and will include people from Planning, Traffic Management and the Forum. This will mean that if the Forum has issues to raise with Planning about cycling, for example, on a new development, they can raise them directly with planners before and during the development, rather than comment on them afterwards.

On matters of junctions and the city cycle network, they can talk directly with staff from the Traffic Management team. The Forum now copies me in any correspondence they have with departments which will lessen the frustration the Forum has felt about not always getting responses. This will mean we can actually get things done!

Already there’s a review of junctions going on and the delay in installing cycle stands at Marischal College is being attended to. This is very much the beginning, but as long as there’s a voice in the council, in committee, including Education, we’ll start to see something positive come from the role, although we’re still defining it.

Getting cycling on to the agenda, then?

That’s the best way to put it. I’m not the expert. Derek from the Forum is very good in terms of keeping us up to date with Scottish Government regulations and is a fount of knowledge. I’m in a position to take that information to officers and exert a bit of influence.

How can individual cyclists with issues to raise get in touch and begin to influence what the council does?

I would actively encourage them to get in touch with me by e-mail. Some people have already been in touch about the inadequacy of the route connecting to the new development at Kingswells. The Cycling Champion role hasn’t been well-publicised, with just one mention in the Evening Express, I think, when the role was announced.

Send us your press releases!

We certainly will. We will look at getting something on the council website, a dedicated page maybe, as I want to be accessible. It’s a frustration for many of us in the council that initiatives don’t tend to get the publicity we feel they deserve.

In straitened economic times, is there a specific budget for the work you need to get done, and how best would you see that being best used?

In Planning, Enterprise and Infrastructure, one of the main departments I deal with, there is a team that deals with cycling but the resources are eaten up by many other issues too – pedestrian safety is an example. Funding comes from the PE&I Committee. There is specific ring-fenced funding for cycling from the Scottish Government.

We need to ensure that’s effectively used and we need to make sure we bid for resources when they’re made available. We’re trying to encourage more schools to provide Bikeability, a new form of Cycling Proficiency, and the Scottish Government has just launched a scheme to help provide for that and our officers will be bidding for funds.

You might be surprised to know that most schools aren’t doing it. I’ve persuaded the Director of Education to write to schools asking them what they need to encourage this – what are the obstacles and so on?

It took me a while to find out who was responsible. I eventually got a meeting with the City Wardens (who are), the Cycling Forum, some people from EP&I, and the education convenor. We all agreed we wanted Bikeability promoted in our schools. Some of the guys from the Cycling Forum volunteered to help with that and the City Wardens said they wanted to commit more resources to it. So, we’re engaging with schools now and once we get the responses we can get resources out there. It’s so important.

There are some things that don’t cost an awful lot. I did a cycle tour of the city centre which was great, and I found out where investment has been made and has paid off. Re-prioritising some of the routes, for example allowing cyclists exemptions on some one-way streets could make the network so much more permeable and easier for cyclists to negotiate and make it safer in some ways.

Safety-wise, Anderson Drive is a huge concern. There’s been a recent tragedy there and we need to get congestion out of the city to make it safer, easier and more enjoyable for cyclists. In the Planning department, there are pictures of Aberdeen from the 1920s and ‘30s with pedestrians walking about, crossing roads with no fear.

I think the Western Peripheral Route will take traffic away from the city centre and if Union Street isn’t so clogged up it will encourage people who don’t cycle at the moment to take it up. When I did it for the very first time I had people with me, which helped, as they knew what they were doing.

How are you prioritising use of the funding you do have?

The meetings I’m planning will help set priorities. We need to build from the bottom up. An officer may have cycling as part of their brief, but that has never been prioritised. This role should help put cycling firmly on the agenda.

Sometimes, it’s the small things that make a big difference. Justice Mill Lane is currently under consideration and it’s proposed that it might be one-way and that right turns on to Holburn Street will be banned. The Cycle Forum feels that such a ban might deter people from cycling, so I’ll be trying to have that exempted for cyclists and EP&I will be looking at that, by engaging with the Cycle Forum.

It’s the same with the ban on traffic going straight ahead into Guild Street from Virginia Street. This has been criticised as it puts cyclists on to the Market Street dual carriageway with its narrow cycle lanes, heavy traffic and large vehicles. We’ve managed to get that made only temporary so the impact can be assessed. There will be a report on the findings at the next committee meeting, including usage by cyclists. They also need to consult the Forum about it. These are baby steps, but it’s improving consultation.

Does the council insist on cycling-friendly measures when discussing plans and applications for new developments?

It’s council policy to cover this. For example, new-build flats should have bike stands provided, but I’ve found out this doesn’t always happen and it’s not always included in reports. Officers tell me the developers said this is something they might not be able to achieve due to other concessions they’ve had to make in the design.

Now they’ve got someone here to say, ‘Well, no. We have a policy in place, we should be abiding by it.’ It frustrates me but it happens all the time when there is clear guidance in black and white, yet it’s not always being followed. You look through reports and you wonder why, whether it’s affordable housing or for cyclists. Why have a policy if you’re not going to commit to it, or deliver on it?

The meetings will help, especially with planners attending, since they deal with all the new applications coming in. It frustrates the Forum and many others that developers should be contributing to the road infrastructure and the community in some shape or form.

Aberdeen’s been pretty bad in getting its share of planning gain and developers will argue on the basis of margins being so tight, the cost of land and construction so high, that they can’t afford to give anything extra towards planning gain, that these additional costs would put the whole development at risk.

It’s a bit of a balancing act. Some people would like to see planning gain from the Kingswells development to the cycle corridor as it is unfit for purpose – it becomes so narrow and the hedges are so overgrown that it becomes quite dangerous.

The meetings will allow the Forum to see what applications are coming forward and they’ll be able to challenge the planners there and then. They know the town and the routes where cyclists like to travel – and will be able to ask ‘can you try at least to put a case to the developer?’ to invest in the cycle network in the area where it can make a positive difference. We may not always be successful but we can make sure we’re always making a good case.

We need to keep an eye on new developments to ensure that cycling provision is delivered. There’s not much I can do about the cycling provision at the Triple Kirks development, where, as well as there being not enough bike stands, cyclists will be forced on to the Denburn dual carriageway to get access to the bottom level car park. Coming out of the car park will force them down the dual carriageway into the one way system around the railway station when there could be something at the front of the development. It shows how cyclists were an afterthought in that case.

Jun 142012

Well away from the main commercial centre of Aberdeen, nestled in a lane just off Old Aberdeen’s High Street on the University campus, is beCyCle, a low-key community project dedicated to encouraging citizens to cycle. Voice’s David Innes popped in for a look and chatted with Benedict Poetz of beCyCle.

Benedikt is a member of beCyCle but explains that there is little formality.

“I just came along, took a bike out, got interested and continued participating. Now I help out here as much as I can.

“For example I built the work benches as a project with some other people.

“As a volunteer, I help maintain the workshop and help people out with repairs. I also repair my own bike, a hand-built lightweight Carlton from the 1980s.

“We get some funding from the University and from the Student Association. We get donations, but the most important thing is that we get bikes to fix. Today, for example, we picked up thirteen bikes from Cults and someone came past and dropped off another five bikes.”

These are not sold off for beCyCle funds as you might expect.

“We rent them out, but for free. BeCyCle’s for everyone, but mostly it’s university students who’ll take out a bike for six months or a year against a deposit of £40 – £60 which is returned to them when we get the bike back. All our services are free.”

All types of bike?

“Yes, whatever is donated, but mostly they’re hybrid type mountain bikes.”

“The idea is that volunteers are here to help people fix their own bikes, giving advice and a bit of tuition. Volunteers provide the tools, knowledge and advice and encourage people to do repairs themselves. It’s free and open for everyone in the community, not only students. We don’t offer any services, we just provide the space and help for people working on bikes. All the volunteers have a bit of knowledge, so between us we always manage to repair them.

“We’re here because the University has given us the space, rent-free – or for the symbolic one pound rental – and some funding. It was an empty shell, so we built the benches and painted it. We pay our own electricity bills and so on, but we don’t need too much money. We have no commercial sponsors.”

Do you buy parts and sell them on cheaply or do people have to supply their own?

“We get spares donated quite often, but some parts like cables and stuff like WD40 we buy in bulk from the money the University donates to us.”

There were around a dozen young people coming and going during the visit, but does it get quieter during the holiday period?

“It’s the beginning of summer, so this is about it for the moment.”

There’s a tangible community ethos about beCyCle.

“It provides a space for people to repair their bikes and exchange bike ideas and knowledge. The lending scheme makes bikes freely available for the community, to encourage cycling. We’re trying to get the wider community involved by making it more open to everyone, even beyond Old Aberdeen. We’d like to have some joint programmes, for example bike maintenance projects, with local community centres and have open days to encourage such projects.”

How many bikes does beCyCle have and manage?

“We’re never quite sure. At the moment we have maybe 100 bikes here with perhaps another 100 or 200 on loan, so a rough estimate of 300-400 bikes in circulation. We try to keep track but it gets difficult, although we are now using a laptop, spreadsheet and pictures of the bikes to improve this.”

Cycling continues to gain popularity as a healthy, quick, cheap and planet-friendly mode of transport. BeCyCle’s efforts are to be applauded in encouraging would-be cyclists to try it out affordably. If you like the sound of that, they’ll be delighted to hear from you.

Thanks also to Ferdy Binacchi.

May 242012

True to its collective-based roots, the Edinburgh Bicycle Co-operative’s mission statement for its Revolution range is to make good quality bicycles more affordable. We like that. Thanks to Ged Holmyard and Sheila McLeod of EBC.

It’s hard to pick up a newspaper or magazine these days without being reminded of the health, fitness and money-saving benefits of taking up cycling. Whether it’s BMX star Shanaze Reade advertising bicycle-friendly budget hotels or pressure groups saddling up to ride on Parliament, cycling has never been so en vogue.

It’s enough to convince you to take up cycling, but knowing where to start can be confusing.

The Co-operative’s first advice is, ‘Beware of BSOs (bicycle-shaped objects)’. BSOs are sold as bicycles in supermarkets, general stores and in the back pages of magazines, sometimes for as little as fifty quid. To produce a bike this cheap, corners are cut. It’ll be heavy, the gears will most likely misfire and the brakes will barely work. Best of luck too, when you return the bike to the place of purchase, looking for a trained mechanic to put it right.

That’s why, if you’re looking for a bike, the firm recommendation is to visit a specialist bicycle shop.

But don’t specialist bikes cost a fortune? They can be expensive, but not necessarily.

The 2012 range of Revolution bicycles, exclusive to the UK’s original workers’ co-operative bicycle retailer, suggests that Co-op has achieved its laudable ambition with panache and style.

There’s a growing market for simple everyday inexpensive hybrid/commuter cycles that won’t let you down and the Revolution Trailfinder proves that you can still get a decent bike from an independent bicycle retailer for £250.

For the rugged of wrist and tough of tush who go off-road, a hardtail mountain bike with reliable disc brakes and suspension forks is a necessity and the Revolution Ascent XC Disc delivers, as does its sister bike, the women’s-specific Revolution Spur XC Disc for under £300.

The Revolution Courier is a fast single-speed flat-bar city bike at £289.99. Moving up the range smoothly and without dropping cadence, at the top is the Courier Hydro 27-speed, which comes in at £549.99. Competitive, given that it’s equipped with a carbon fork and hydraulic disc brakes.

Revolution bikes will probably pay for themselves within a few months with savings on fuel and fares. One of the Voice team has had a Revolution Streetfinder commuter two-wheeler – in the catalogue at about £275 – since January and is clocking up miles comfortably and in a gentlemanly upright pose with no visible Lycra, thankfully. He loves it.

More information about the 2012 Revolution bike range is in the Bike Co-op’s smart wee online sampler booklet, which can be quickly flicked through. EBC’s website reveals all if you’re looking for full details of the whole range or to order online.

If you want to see the Revolution range close up and test one out, they’re all in Edinburgh Bicycle Co-op’s shop at 458-464 George Street, Aberdeen. ‘The revolution will not be motorised’, they boast, and who could argue?

Apr 262012

With thanks to Dave Macdermid.

The world class facilities and services at Aberdeen Sports Village (ASV) have been given a big thumbs up by users.
Results from a recent survey of over 1,300 users have now been analysed, and the results are extremely positive for ASV, which since opening  in August 2009 has attracted over 1.5 million users.

The survey asked customers to rate their own individual experiences of ASV’s facilities and services, and the results are used to help develop products and services that will enhance the user experience.

ASV aims to provide all users with the highest quality of customer service, and 88% of respondents rated this as ‘excellent’ or ‘good’. The exercise class and fitness services offered were also rated as ‘excellent’ or ‘good’ by 82% of users, a massive 18 percentage point improvement since the last survey.

On the facilities front, the indoor pitch received a 100% rating and every ASV facility was rated as ‘excellent’ or ‘good’ by at least 8 out of 10 respondents.

Chief Executive David Beattie said:

 “To receive such excellent feedback from our users is testament to the passion and commitment of every member of staff, and further underlines the quality of facilities we have on offer to everyone in the local community. We will now use this valuable feedback to help shape our services going forward and identify any areas for improvement.”

ASV Chairman George Yule added that:

“The quality of facilities and services at ASV is not only being recognised locally, but we are now able to attract international sports stars with the  arrival of the Cameroon Olympic Team in July and the  Celtic Games International Athletics in August. The commencement of work on the aquatics centre, due to open in 2014, will give us the impetus to keep on improving on the high standards we have set ourselves.”

Aberdeen Sports Village (ASV) is a partnership between the University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen City Council and sportscotland and opened to the public in August 2009.

Apr 192012

Voice’s David Innes has been taking part in this 12-week programme designed to help men of more ample proportions become, shall we say, less ample and develop good eating and exercise habits.

As we completed a hugely enjoyable and informative programme of information and encouragement with a game of football played at a sedate pace, everyone who had participated agreed that it had been worthwhile.

Yet, as our diligent coaches Scott and Jason informed us, the hard work goes on.

Good practice learned on food intake and exercise will need to be continued if further weight loss and improved fitness are our goals. That will be all the tougher without the weekly session where mutual motivation, support and enjoyment have helped participants succeed to a great extent.

Although the numbers and results are confidential to each participant, here are the dull statistics from my own participation

  • Starting weight on 7 February 92.7kg.
  • Weight on 17 April 84.1kg.
  • A weight loss of 8.6kg, or in real money of nearly 19 pounds.
  • My average daily step count measured by pedometer over 11 weeks was 12167 steps.

I can cover a mile in roughly 2000 steps, so I’ve been walking around six miles per day average. The single most strenuous day saw me achieve 24600 steps, the least successful day – it was raining and I was metaphorically gaffa-taped to my desk, give a boy a break – had me walking for only 3068 steps. Overall, my boots hit the good hard earth 904687 times. I now read food labels.

I am no longer taken in by manufacturer claims of ‘healthy options’, ‘low-fat’, ‘reduced calorie’ and a raft of other marketing slogans, where the less-scrupulous have replaced something in unhealthy proportions with something else, equally unhealthy.

Walking, or cycling on days when the elements don’t conspire against it, is something I now enjoy. It has been fascinating seeing Spring emerge along the Don as I have trod its paths. Something doesn’t seem quite right if I haven’t covered 10000 steps in a day, so I’ll pull on my Keith FC toorie, set the iPod to ‘shuffle’ and pound the mean streets of the ‘hood.

Usually I manage to get home. I don’t even consider taking the bus into town any more. It’s less than four miles and I want to see the house martins return to the old Grandholm Mill as I amble through it.

My knowledge of local paths and shortcuts has improved no end and I can now stride confidently up inclines without getting out of breath or feeling as if someone is tightening a tourniquet around my calves.

No surprise when I’m no longer carrying 19 lb of fat that used to hold me back.

I feel better. My clothes fit better although, alas, they are no more fashionable than they were.

Striding out, with only Rory Gallagher for aural accompaniment, also allows time to contemplate the great imponderables of life – should Stillie push Stuart Walker into midfield for this week’s semi-final against Buckie Thistle? Who is that singing marvellous gospel harmonies behind Mick Jagger? (Merry Clayton, obviously). Will that bloody delivery come in tomorrow to get that customer off our backs? All resolved by the time I’m enjoying a post-exercise flapjack.

It is my intention to continue with this new lifestyle. Maybe I won’t lose more weight, perhaps I won’t make the squad for the Commonwealth Games two years hence, but I should be able to take on The Speyside Way this summer with confidence, cycle to work every day if I feel like it and continue to feel as healthy as I do now.

If you see me striding out through the northern banlieu or rocketing along King Street in 18th gear, say hello – if you still recognise me.