Monthly Archives: December 2014

2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Ah well, the random approach or just a scatterbrain – you be the judge? Thanks for everything since I started folks, hope I’ve given as much as I’ve received.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 560 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 9 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Advertisements

A Wee Seasonal Vid

On Tuesdays I usually go out with a bunch of mature folk such as myself. A couple of years back (or more) we were riding in the snow on our mountain bikes & I was filming. One of the guys shouted out something like ‘I bet you’ll put this on Youtube with the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies’. So how could I resist?

I filmed it with a Panasonic FZ18 hanging round my neck – interesting one handed shots and all done real time as it were.

A special for you all on this festive season.

Adventure – Thoughts on a Talk.

Soloing Mont Blanc a few years ago

Soloing Mont Blanc quite a few years ago

For the last couple of years I’ve been giving occasional talks to various groups and I’ve committed myself to another soon.
To me I’ve led what seemed to be a fairly normal life, but seeing things through the eyes of others it seems less so.
Previous offerings for talks have been a trip to Nepal, climbing & trekking, and another on ‘Hidden East Lothian’, showing all the odd places, objects, and wildlife in the area that folk normally don’t see or notice.
I was asked to do another one which is coming up soon. So what to talk about – I decided on ‘Adventures’

So, first look up Adventure, how is it defined?
1a : an undertaking usually involving danger and unknown risks
b : the encountering of risks
2: an exciting or remarkable experience
Origin of ADVENTURE
Middle English aventure, chance, risk, from Anglo-French, from Vulgar Latin *adventura, from Latin adventus, past participle of advenire to arrive, from ad- + venire to come — more at come
First Known Use: 14th century

Ah yes, done a bit of this!

Looking into Tibet from Yala Peak, Nepal

Looking into Tibet from Yala Peak, Nepal

Started early, with my Ma & Pa, trekking over the hills & Youth Hostelling before we were 10. Staying in odd locations around Britain and so on. By the age of 16, I’d been on a few multi day canoe/ camping trips with pals, including a canal trip with a total gale which blew canal boats out of the water, we managed to keep our tent down somehow. I’d also started climbing & mountaineering so used to hitchhike off to the hills. Me and my pals also from an earlier age used to go off on our bikes for the day & set up off road courses on old bomb sites in the city.

So when it came to a career, Outdoor Education was the thing, first as a schoolteacher, then into local authority centres. So adventure just became a normal part of life.

So now, retired I look back and realise that life has been a real adventure,

Singing & playing for the seals after a force 10 gale at sea, just below Loch Coruisk, Skye

Singing & playing for the seals after a force 10 gale at sea, just below Loch Coruisk, Skye

Square Rigger, Inca - The Clipper Challange 1982

Square Rigger, Inca – The Clipper Challange 1982

sailing in gales,

Canoeing the Falls on the River Tummel - I'm there somewhere.

Kayaking the Falls on the River Tummel – I’m in there somewhere.

The Grade III falls at Gradtully

The Grade III falls at Gradtully

white water, sea and loch canoeing trips,

Wandering up the Concordia Glacier in the Alps, this was a rock bridge over a deep crevasse

Wandering up the Concordia Glacier in the Alps, this was a rock bridge over a deep crevasse

Ski Mountaineering Scottish Highlands

Ski Mountaineering Scottish Highlands

Winter solo canoe camping & mountaineering

Winter solo canoe camping & mountaineering

mountaineering (summer, winter, on ski & foot), climbing, glacier wanders, bivvying on the ice,

Cyclist's road hazard on Mull, Scotland - a highland 'coo'

Cyclist’s road hazard on Mull, Scotland – a highland ‘coo’

cycle trips,

Cheatah

stroking cheatahs and so on. All not at a super high level, but generally just getting out into the wilds.

Now, as I get a wee bitty older, I maybe should slow down, but to hell with that. For my 60th I did a solo road trip round California and Nevada, sleeping in the car or woods,

Climbing in Yosemite, a few hundred feet up

Climbing in Yosemite, a few hundred feet up

climbing and rafting at Yosemite, skiing down the Palisades at Lake Tahoe & meeting many interesting folk.
Six years later, I’ve cycled more than ever over the last year and am hoping to do a few ski trips into the Scottish hills this winter and the rivers are up and calling.

So where did all this thirst for adventure come from? Well both grandads were in the Merchant Navy wandering all over the world. One of them was part of an Arctic expedition to the then relatively unknown Kara Sea.

My Grandad on the Kara Sea expedition, very early 1920s

My Grandad on the Kara Sea expedition, very early 1920s

As I said my mum & dad were into cycling & youth hostelling in a big way in their youth, so some of this has rubbed off too I reckon.
So for the next 66 years – well, life’s just an adventure isn’t it?

My senses hijacked

Foxlake Cyclocross - Just watch those juniors go!

Foxlake Cyclocross – Just watch those juniors go!

I was going to continue my ramblings about the senses, but my recent two rides have intervened.

It has been quite cold the last couple of days with snow on the local hills. I was tempted to liberate the skis & try to pootle over the hills, but never quite got it together and not sure if there’s enough cover yet.

So, looked out the window yesterday – it was dark, dark, dark, especially as it wasn’t that long after lunch. The thermometer & forecast were round about 2º and I was told “surely you’re not going to go out in that – it’s going to snow”. So only one thing for it – away. Donned double everything & quadruple up top. Hurrah for winter shoes and away we go. First the snow/ice was in the verges, so better to stay well out, just as usual anyway, and stick to the roads I thought would be gritted. The crows were around in the fields, picking a living. Further along a huge flock of rooks swung around the sky and a hare darted off across the field away from me. The hills came into view and looked just great and tempting in their winter whiteness. The it started to rain a wee bit. I suddenly realised I was roasty toasty, cheery and happy & bowling along with a grin all across my face, despite the chill headwind. I wandered up then down towards North Berwick, going for it when the wind finally hit my back. In the town I saw the postie, one of my cycling pals. She was just on her way home from work, so we had a wee chat & then I set of again. The rest of the ride continued with that feeling of joy when things are just right. My legs had been achingly sore 2 days before but seemed back to normal – a real bonus.

Today was a wee bit different, temperature down to 1º and slightly lighter with a hint of a touch of a sight of the sun and a bit less windy. Popped off up the local road, part of the Sustrans route near us. I had warned folk a couple of week ago that they had been cutting the hedges and that I had had a thorn branch stuck in the tyre, pulled it out and that hiss that followed that tells you everything. A friend had posted that the road was OK again if you stuck to the car tyre tracks. Alas I had to cross over to avoid ice. Guess what – yes again, followed by that hiss. !@£$%@:”?><)(!!. So much for puncture proof tyres. Ah well, at least it wasn’t dark. I removed the tube & made sure the tyre was free of stuff on the inside. As I put a brand new tube in the front wheel I noticed it didn’t pump up that well when I pre-inflated it. Damn there was a hole in it near the valve, hurrumph. Luckily I carry to spares. Put the other one in & away I went. All somewhat slowly because of the cold. But the views of the hills showed more snow on the ground.

Carried on & chose a steep ascent to go up as a warm up. Over a mile later at 6% average (rising up to 15% according to Strava) I was definitely warm. Then it was off back hame, chasing other cyclists en route. So all’s well . . . . . .

So 2 days and 2 very different rides with different challenges, but so glad to be able to get out. Tomorrow it is due to rise to a balmy 5-6º so with luck I’ll ride along with one of our local groups. Wonder how it will go?

Two Brill Days – St Andrew’s an’ all

‘Day 1

There was cyclocross on down the road & my mountain bike was ready, I’d not been on it for months and had put a new chain & cassette on and so – time to go. But I was a wee bit late for the off road route so it was down the cycle path into the misty, murky day. Might as well have been off road for all the gravel & stones on it, ah well, a bit of a disgrace for a national cycleway. On the way I passed the local ploughing match. Multitudes of tractors going up & down a wee patch of ground, tearing it up. Not my scene, but I’m sure they must enjoy it all.

Ploughing on a bit of a dreich day

Ploughing on a bit of a dreich day

So after a brief halt it was off down the road for the John Muir Winter Carnival. Not sure if John Muir would have approved, but then again?

There was masses going on, cross-country races, trail running, coastal rowers, wakeboarding, zorbing, crossfit, archery and more.

A wee video from youtube here (from the air):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xLZMIkQw3Lc and a couple of others  on youtube as well.

But I was there for the cyclocross. The youngsters race went first and they were brilliant, scooting up the hills (some of them) and revelling in the mud and glaur – it was more than a wee bit damp!

Junior Cyclocross

Junior Cyclocross

Junior Cyclocross

Junior Cyclocross

Junior Cyclocross

Junior Cyclocross

Junior Cyclocross

Junior Cyclocross

As I trotted round the woods on my old cheapo bike I realised the low chainring was slipping, so it looks like new chainrings are needed as well for steeper climbs. Then it was the turn of the seniors. I was off to Edinburgh to see a play later on (which was great!) so I only had time see the rowers and to watch the practise.

They normally race these boats on the sea

They normally race these boats on the sea

This was great to watch with the best riders zooming up the steep slopes like nobody’s business. Very gloomy though for action shots.

Senior Cyclocross practise

Senior Cyclocross practise

Senior Cyclocross practise

Senior Cyclocross practise

Senior Cyclocross practise

Senior Cyclocross practise

3 cycling buddies at the start line

3 cycling buddies at the start line

Unfortunately – time to go.

Day 2

St Andrew’s day dawned and the Saltire Festival awaited. The sun was out, hardly a breeze, stuff ready and time to go. Called in at a pal’s in Athelstaneford (the supposed birthplace of the Saltire – the Scottish Flag) and posed for a photo or ten.

Athelstaneford - birthplace of the Saltire

Athelstaneford – birthplace of the Saltire

The local pipe band was gearing up as I left. The flag’s journey was to start here & I would help it on its way 20 miles away later. So off I went to Prestonpans to await the rendezvous, with just road works, tractor, mud and  trains to hold me up.

Waiting for the train to pass

Waiting for the train to pass

Off to ‘The Pans’ to change into my kilt, meet the others, and pose for photies

With the Saltire

With the Saltire

‘The others’ were a mixed ability group on a tandem plus an adapted trailer on the back. We set off along the John Muir Way to Musselburgh, hauling the tandem along the sea wall to pass gates, through mud, gravel and all the stuff that makes it a bit iffy on a road bike. Then some more posing on the bridge over the River Esk to finally met the ‘Honest Lad & Lass’ on horseback plus another pipe band to hand over the Saltire. The folk on the tandem did brilliantly having cycled over from Haddington – all power to them. They were from a group called ‘Beyond Boundaries’.

The Handover of the Saltire to The Honest Lad & Lass

The Handover of the Saltire to The Honest Lad & Lass

The Beyond Boundaries crew - brilliant lads

The Beyond Boundaries crew – brilliant lads

The riders gather

The riders gather

Along with the Pipe Band

Along with the Pipe Band

Then it was ‘away hame’, with the sunset chasing up behind me, busy day & I had to be back. But time for a photo or two on the way.

Bike among the anti tank defences from World War II

Bike among the anti tank defences from World War II

Edinburgh from across the bay

Edinburgh from across the bay

A last look back

A last look back