A Wee Ride with the Occasional Hill?

It was the club’s Sunday ride, up to the Humbie Hub, a delightful local cafe, post office, general store etc. I think 25 of us assembled beside the fountain with Samson, of biblical fame, on top. I had the day free of obligations so was determined to venture a bit further.

After stoking up on an egg roll, scone with jam and coffee, I set off with 3 companions with a vague route in mind, depending on how I felt. It was chilly (average 5°C), but I had just enough on to keep the chill away.

The colours were beautiful, a superb, sunny autumn day with the trees changing to brown and the odd carpet of leaves 🍁 🍁 🍁 to woosh through and scatter.

A few miles in, we went down to 3 of us and the first serious hill loomed into view – The Rigg. Luckily it was a northerly wind so we were ably assisted by the weather up to the moors!

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Up on the moors, East Lothian spread out below

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Terry arrives

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John makes it up

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The way forward, love the wee walker at the bottom of the signpost

At the top the others departed for a shorter route, I was feeling good and went onwards over the switchback hills bathed in sunshine and shadows into the Scottish Borders. I was warmed up on the ascents and then chilled on the speedy downhills, but still felt good. I reached the turning after 8 miles so onto a wee road across, a meeting with a couple of glorious brilliant looking peacocks and then some more steep ascents and descents. A quick dodge down the main road and then guess what?

Yes, more climbing and hurtling down with the pull of gravity, seems this was today’s theme. It was now into the wind as well, just to add to the determination.

This time nearing a summit I realised I had that empty feeling, I think this was about 40 miles in. So a stop, an Aldi paleo bar later and some slurps of water too, I was refreshed. I don’t feel the need to drink much water on rides, especially when it’s cold and I had drunk a large coffee at the Hub, so felt fine.

Another 20 miles on after bumpy back roads and many more ups & downs I was beginning to feel it a bit, but the sight of the sea and the feeling of getting near home territory, plus another slurp or two of water revived me for a good finish.

The North Sea

Looking down to the sea, Torness Nuclear Power Station mars the view

All in all, a glorious day’s cycling, grabbed from near the end of the October days.

Today was cold again, but a bracing walk in Dunbar cleared away the cobwebs.

Mirror light

An art installation at Dunbar Battery

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Sometimes . . . .

The other week I woke up, which is not a bad thing.

It was a nice morning.

I stayed in bed and read a wonderful book I had been gradually working my way through, as I kept dipping into it too late at night when I went to bed. It was ‘Day’ by A. L. Kennedy, which I think is superb, though not an easy read by any means.

Breakfast appeared and I was still encased in sheets and duvet with propped up pillows. Scrumptious, munching between turning pages.

Eventually I got to the last page then upped and dressed.

The weather had done a downer. So, an easy day for me.

I haven’t done this for ages and ages. It was a real joy and a wind down.

Now I’ll have to wait for another excellent tome and that utter luxurious feeling of just being locked away in my mind between the pages.

📖 📖 📖 📖

It seemed a good idea at the time?

My niece decided to do a challenge – the Dunwich Dynamo. This is a 110 mile ride with a difference. You set off from London at 8 pm and ride through the night to arrive at Dunwich at dawn.
I suggested that it would be a good idea if my nephew & I joined in and we all started together.
The weather had been very hot down south, but I managed to meet up with nieces, nephew, partners and children which was magic.
On the evening we set off from central London. The huge Pride march was on so the road was packed with folk we had to wend our way round on our way to the start.

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Pride comes through Piccadilly Circus

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Meeting up at London Fields

 

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The titanic trio?

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Some of the multitude of cyclists

This is the most laid back event I’ve been to. Everyone turns up on the park (maybe 3,500 or more of us). There’s no entry fee.
When they’re ready folk move off, and we stream off down the road.
At first we all stayed together, with the pace being very, very low with a lot of stops.
Finally we were clear of the city and things picked up.
My niece Rudy had not done as much as nephew, so after 20 or so miles we left her with her pal and scooted off. As the pace increased we found several groups to work with and sped off towards the night.
As usual we waited for each other when separated till at 60 miles in, not long after dark and after I’d been whizzing down a hill, I waited at the bottom for Robert. No sign of him. I waited for a while, no show. I cycled back a bit – nothing! So I pulled out my phone – no service. After a long wait with masses of cyclists passing I decided he must have passed me and cycled on, scanning those who had stopped at food stops etc. No sign, so I carried on thinking I might catch him. I didn’t.
I kept checking the phone but still no service.

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No sign of Rob

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Through the night

I carried on to Dunwich through the night. The night ride was a bit weird. I read later that they reckoned over 3,500 cyclists had taken part. As we all rode through the dark there was a long snaking line of red lights, some still, some flashing. When we met a hill the distant lights disappeared, then reappeared over to the horizon, creating a hypnotic effect. Some bikes had multi coloured strings of lights and others sound systems, altogether very strange. Folk were on folding bikes, racing bikes, city bikes, tandems and elliptigos (a sort of stand up on platforms and push to propel the wheels).
A few miles out from Dunwich, as the sun rose, the mist descended in a layer over the fields and the temperature plummeted. So another couple of layers and on to the beach and the finish to arrive in time for the sunrise.

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Sunrise

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I had a bite and some coffee, dozed for a bit and went out to watch the folk swimming (brrrrrr!), with some skinny dipping.

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Early arrivals

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The early arrivals

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Rob flakes out

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Robert arrived a couple of hours later and Rudy about four hours after him. We had a wee doze on the beach, then caught the coach back to London, while the bikes traveled back by lorry.
As we set off from the drop down point, something immediately felt no right. A flat tyre! So after a quick replacement tube we set off back. The end of a memorable journey with over 120 miles under the wheels.

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Restocking

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And what happened with Rob & I missing each other? Looking at the Strava fly-by later we realised we had been about 100 metres apart, both stopped. He had overtaken me on the hill and in the dark I hadn’t realised. By the time I continued on slowly he had gone to the loo, so with all the throng there was no chance of spotting his bike.
And my phone? Turned out the SIM card wasn’t connecting properly (maybe the damp?). This has happened once before a few years ago. I took it out, cleaned it, popped it back in and it’s been working fine ever since!
Was it worth doing? – most definitely YES!
Would I do it again? – most probably no, for me much better to cycle in daylight with more to see and away from the busy south.

A Right Royal Do

The invite arrived – we were invited along to the Queen’s Garden Party in Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh. We know not why or by whom, so maybe that mystery will be revealed sometime, though the nominators are not supposed to disclose the info. We, of course, were not alone, a few thousand others were there to have a neb & share the occasion.

The temperature dropped to about 11º, with a steady drizzle and a wind cooling us down even more. But as we entered the grounds of the palace it reduced to a fine smurr. The previous day had been warm, and now it’s warm again, so once again the Scottish climate had triumphed.

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Dressed half sensibly

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Outside the gates with our pals

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A couple of Royal Archers

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An older Royal Archer

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The sentry makes me feel ancient

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More Royal Archers

Folk were dressed in their Sunday best so the high heels digging into the grass and soil was a rare sight. Once again a triumph of fashion over common sense (and I don’t exclude myself). Some of my cycling or mountaineering gear might have been more appropriate.

We had lunch at the Scottish Parliament before we came across the road, but once in the palace grounds, we headed to the marquees for a top up. All the usual pomp and ceremony was going on, with the Royal Company of Archers (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Royal_Company_of_Archers) acting as a ceremonial  bodyguard, with lots of marching, lining up etc.IMG_4573

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Royal Archers doing their stuff

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Security up high

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Holyrood Abbey

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Not sure who these are!

After looking around the grounds the Queen & Prince Philip came out. Being an older sort of guy I was reflecting on how much things have changed, with the mobile phone cameras, selfie culture etc. rather than the reverence of yesteryear. No value judgement here, though no way could I be thought of as a Royalist.

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The Queen and Prince Philip emerge

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Prince Philip comes past

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Security again?

Eventually, Prince Philip came past while the Queen went a different route. Then back for another top up, a listen to the pipes & bands and back to the car before the shivering started.

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Different tartans for the pipers

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Watching the band

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And good they were too

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Classics ancient and modern

Altogether an interesting day & some great people watching time.

And then I got home for the drama of the 4th Stage of the Tour de France on the TV – all go?

Testing new club gear, dry roads then rain, wind, 9º, drenched by car & flooded roads, ah well

It’s been a bit of up-and-down recently. It’s supposed to be summer, but no one has told the weather goddesses! But cycling just has to carry on, doesn’t it? My poor old bike has been having problems, maybe it’s mourning me getting a newer model? Or just becoming a bit too old. The bottom bracket (the thing the pedal cranks go into) fits into some alloy cups that are epoxied into the frame. Unfortunately these have come adrift & have had it. Colin at the bike shop has tried hard to get something to fit, as Specialized won’t supply anything as the bike’s 2nd hand, so for the sake of a couple of bits of alloy the bike would have to be scrapped. Luckily, one of my biking pals works in an engineering place and offered to try to make replacements, so – fingers crossed 🤞🏻.

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Corroded cups, with the old bottom bracket bearings firmly stuck inside

Meantime my new Roubaix continues to delight, despite odd little things. Last week I extended the club cafe run a bit (OK then – quite a bit) and came home with 80 miles under my wheels, feeling energised and great despite strong winds out, but oh so quick returning, big smiles both ways too. We also had a club photoshoot for the Scottish stage of the Tour of Britain, all in our cycling finery.

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Posing for club photo

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Swollen head?

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The race is on

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Official Tour of Britain car

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Official British Cycling car

Then the weather went nuts. The temperature, after being in the 20s, plummeted down till today it was around 9°. So it’s been back to almost winter gear for now. Today it started off dry but then steadily deteriorated till I got back with squelchy shoes, top and breeks. But strangely enough despite the wind, wet and cold I still enjoyed the ride and the challenge.

The rivers are in flood and so are some of the roads, plus being drenched by passing cars going through huge puddles adds a certain ‘Je ne sais quois’ to the whole thing.

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Our local river, which has just been a trickle most of the year

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Scotch mist? Just down from Fenton Tower and it’s disappearing.

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My bike after ploughing through the glaur

Now, written two days later, some of the roads are still flooded, and there is loads of gravel, sand etc. washed down so despite a sunny (and very windy) ride my feet came back soaked after riding through the results of all that water.

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Over half way up the wheels in the middle – soaked feet!!

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Wet, wet, wet (very Scottish)

In just over a week’s time I’ve got an event down south I’ve signed up for. It’s the Dunwich Dynamo. It starts in London at 8 at night and finishes 120 miles up the NE coast. Why? you may ask. Well my niece let me know she was doing it, so I suggested my nephew & I come along for moral support to start with her. Hmmmmm! So there you are. I thought I would be immune to these challenges by now, but obviously not.

So the next time I post I should have a night adventure under my belt.

But before I go – please, please, please, if you are writing about the Tour de France don’t reveal results are names in the headlines. I, and I’m sure others too, watch the recording the next day and it really spoils the event if everything has already been disclosed.

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Handy for the Tour de France? Spotted in Dunfermline museum.

Quiet and Tears

Been involved in a lot locally recently.

We’ve had an exhibition of a local artist’s work Robert Noble, who died 100 years ago and is buried in the church yard. He deserves to be much better known. I’ve been helping in compiling slide shows and creating a large introduction board for the show and exhibition. The exhibition seems to be popular, and in the process there have been many paintings that have been discovered. I’ve managed to get to the exhibition a couple of times and it is lovely. Hopefully I’ll get back again before it ends.

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Robert Noble Exhibition – information

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Robert Noble Exhibition

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Another more serious event was our Drama Group’s moving production of “The Women of Lockerbie” by an American playwright Deborah Breevort. It tells the story seven years after the terrorist bombing of the Pan Am flight over Lockerbie. The women of the village tried to stop the clothes and artefacts of the victims from being destroyed so they could wash and return them to the families. They had been kept for that long as forensic evidence. The play is unusual as it is done like a Greek tragedy, with a chorus of women. I was in charge of the lighting for the show and on the last night we had a standing ovation, with many of the audience visibly moved to tears. It was a privilege to be part of it all.

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Women of Lockerbie – set

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Women of Lockerbie – the chorus

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Women of Lockerbie – confrontation

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Women of Lockerbie – the release

The cycling recently has been wonderful, though I find myself full of tears for a different reason. I need to wear specs so cannot wear sports glasses, so I find that at speed my eyes water a great deal. When I get back my eyes are slightly crusted with salt, which isn’t too good. I’ve thought about various solutions – fur fabric round the sides & tops of my specs (may look slightly weird or Groucho Marx like), a visor, safety over specs etc. but haven’t come to any conclusion yet. But I am glad my tear ducts still work well. I’ve been racking up the miles and height this year and enjoying climbing the hills on the bike locally so much. One of the recent highlights was a 52 mile ride with over 6,000 feet of climbing after which I still felt great. I’m gearing up nicely for a much longer overnighter in just over a month’s time.

But there have been other moments too. The other week I had a time when I was going quickly with the wind behind. I reached that magic moment when, for just a wee while, I was going the same speed as the wind. Sitting in this bubble of air everything went quiet. No wind noise, no traffic noise, the hum of the pedals almost muted and smooth tarmac with the tyres smoothly rolling along. To me, on the rare occasions when all this comes together, it just seems a form of Nirvana – the soul seems at rest. As usual, a brief moment and then it’s away. Ah well, here’s to the next time.

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A steep one up ahead

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One of the many hills and a hairpin

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Sheep lie in the road up ahead

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Bog cotton on the tops

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A rare greyish day

Looks like our good weather is going to continue for a while yet, off and on, so it seems the legs will continue getting an airing.

Paparazzi

Just a few weeks back I was out on the Haddington Cycle Club ride. One of the magazines, Cycling Weekly, came out to join us, to do an article on the club. We gathered in the square, next to the fountain with the statue of Samson on a pillar. I had to borrow a club vest as I didn’t have any club kit. We had all been asked to put on a show & turn up. Over 30 of us gathered.

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The Gathering – Haddington

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Andy gets his first shots

Powerbar, who sponsor the shoot, had a lass handing out bars and gels. I took the former, but passed on the second. We were given instructions, such as “ignore the camera for a ‘realistic’ shot” etc. and split into two groups.

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Leaving Haddington

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Passing Berwick Law

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Trevor joins the gang

It was a bit chilly and cloudy at the start but gradually improved through the day. I took my camera with me and at one point pushed ahead a little to take a shot of the gang approaching. Unfortunately I hadn’t seen the cameraman, Andy, up ahead and was ushered back into the fold for a photo up.

As we headed up the coast towards the hills the sun made an appearance. Trevor, the journalist, rode with each of us gathering info for the article. He was impressed by the route and the countryside and said he’d be back in East Lothian some time to ride for himself.

We reached the cafe up in the hills, the Lanterne Rouge, resplendent in its Bianchi blue. The staff were brilliant managing to serve us all reasonably promptly, despite the numbers. As expected, there was loads of chat and Andy was busy circling round, camera at the ready. We all had to pose for a mug shot, complete with our names on paper napkins for later identification.IMG_4083IMG_4084IMG_4085

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Andy at work in ‘The Lanterne Rouge’

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Leaving ‘The Lanterne Rouge’ and Gifford

Finally we left the cafe and sauntered, sort of, back to Haddington for a farewell to the team of two. We now await the publication, which is due in early June.

I then rode on to enjoy a ride of 70+ miles in all, great fun! When the article was published, there I was – a white bearded fossil talking about his plans for a world record attempt, when (and if) he reaches his centenary – time will tell!!

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Near the end of the ride, rough-roading it

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Ducks in Tyne Bay, sifting mud

This was going to be it, but I never got round to publishing. Then a couple of weeks later – out went the call again.

This time Scottish cycling wanted some publicity shots for the Tour of Britain, coming through Haddington then up to a King of the Mountain climb nearby at Redstone Rigg. This time it was more static, with us posing & riding around by the river. Quite a giggle, but when the photos came out I was nicely hidden behind everyone! So much for my 15 minutes of fame!

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Posing for club photo

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The race is on

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Swollen head?

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Official Scottish Cycling car

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Official Tour of Britain car

I’ve signed up to be a marshal for the Redstone Rigg section of the Tour of Britain this year. Up there on Sunday. Team Skye caught me in a shot there last time so maybe we’ll have to fight the photographers off this year, who knows?