Monthly Archives: August 2015

Time for Some Maintenance?

By the way, this blog is going to run for a few issues – you’ve been warned!
I have just worn my rear tyre down to the canvas (thought the ride was a bit bumpy!), so I began to think it was time to take all this maintenance a little more serious. So I reached for the bike catalogue I had in the house and perused what was available.
First of all, obviously, was the tyre. I came across one that seemed just the job. It fitted on almost any rim as well.

Fits almost any rim, exceptional merit - that'll do

Fits almost any rim, exceptional merit – that’ll do

Then I noticed the wheels and chain needed a bit of attention, found some tools that would be ideal.

Yes, a Special one.

Yes, a Special one.

Just the job, that's the tyres & chain sorted

Just the job, that’s the tyres & chain sorted

But after all this work my mits were mucky so a little something to clean me up.

Now, where's the nail file when I need it?

Now, where’s the nail file when I need it?

If only I’d looked a little further I could have got the whole caboodle in one though.

Now that's a set, shame it's not a Scottish one.

Now that’s a set, shame it’s not a Scottish one.

While I’m doing all this, I better start collecting some tools as well to help me in my tasks.

Great - handy spanners to fit everything on the bike.

Great – handy spanners to fit everything on the bike.

Oh dear, it doesn’t stop there, I’ll need some stuff for punctures, getting the tyre off and re-inflating it. Of course there’s something in the catalogue for me.

That'll do.

That’ll do.

And a most excellent pump

And a most excellent pump

And one of these for good measure

And one of these for good measure

Superior Tested Oil never goes astray

Superior Tested Oil never goes astray

The list goes on . . . .

The list goes on . . . .

and on . . . .

and on . . . .

and on . . . . .

and on . . . . .

And of course this!

And of course this!

Then I look at the date on the front of the catalogue and it all became clear.

I wonder if they are up to the 131st Edition now

I wonder if they are up to the 131st Edition now?

Ah well, looks like I’ve left it a wee bit late to order from this one. Maybe it’s time to upgrade the bike? Now where did I put that catalogue?

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Flying Sheep and Somersaults

I’ve been biking over our local hills a bit recently. Usually this entails some steep climbs and a minimum of 3,000 feet of climbing. It’s been magic but hard going, tempered by fabulous descents.

The roads are a bit rough and gravelly in places, so a bit of caution is required. The wildlife has been a bit manic as well, not sure if it’s the youngsters being a bit hung ho, or just that’s the way it is.

But there is a dangerous side to all this. A pal a wee while back had a pheasant try to run through his front wheel while on a group ride. He was barreling along downhill at over 35 mph when the bird ran out in front of the group, dashed back into the hedgerow then swung but out again. The bike stopped dead, Eric catapulted over the front and broke his hip and the bike’s forks were broken.

Then last week another pal was coming down off the hills, I would imagine going pretty fast. This time it was a sheep that dashed out. After his abrupt stop and sumersault he is now recovering from a broken elbow and arm, so a few weeks off the bike.

It’s dangerous in them there hills!

My encounters have been luckier. Some roe deer hopped out in front, but I managed to slow down and let them caper about for a while before they disappeared into the undergrowth. Various pheasant, grouse and partridge have threatened to try to bring their lives to an end, all thwarted by a bit of caution. The worst have been the sheep, running harum scarum all over the place.

I took a sports cam with me on one of our trips to make a wee vid of a journey over the hills. At the moment it is too long (15 minutes) and I haven’t done the music so it’s not ready to inflict it on you all yet.

One of the shots was a sheep running out in front of me on a fast downhill section. It looks incredibly close on the video, but I had seen it and it didn’t feel anything like as bad in reality. When I was editing that section of the video I noticed when I looked at the still, the sheep was levitating across the road, so maybe hover biking is the way to go?
Sheep1

Sheep2

Sheep3

Sheep4

Sheep5

Little Things Mean a Lot?

The song says it.

There I was, just over half way through a 25 mile ride. I’d decided it was to be a hill day so up and away. As I rode through the lovely old village full of old red sandstone houses, tucked in a fold in the landscape, I changed gear for the climb up the main street, or so I thought.

Houses at Garvald just before the break

Houses at Garvald just before the break

The Inn at Garvald

The Inn at Garvald

Ping went the gears of my heart, sort of. The cable had broken, no warning, no slight tension in changing, no missed gears, nothing, just Ping. Well, it was going to be top gear home all the way, or rather a choice of two with a double front ring, though the lower one scraped a bit, so best to avoid it if possible.

Look - no gear change!

Look – no gear change!

At the end of the village the road ramp up for a short, sharp hill with the gradient going over 10%. No way was this cycleable by me. A quick unclip, dismount and trundle up to the top, hop on, clip in and away again. Then, just a wee bit of time to visualise a suitable route home before I reach the junction. OK, decision made, turn left and up, maintaining speed, calves feeling it already. imageTurn right and more up and a glorious sweeping top gear descent awaits, just as well as I have no other option. A little later on after a few ups and downs I remember the steep hill to come. Luckily there’s a big descent before it, a sweeping bend and then up. I hurtle down, checking there’s nowt coming, whoosh round the bend, stand up near the top and creep over the crest and then away – phew. Then it’s just undulating along beside the River Tyne, well pleased, only one walk – hurrah.

I get home, look out my spare gear cables – all too short. Naughty words quickly follow this discovery.

Next day the local bike shop beckons. It’s mostly a gentle downhill plus a following wind with only one short real hill so I arrive in reasonable order, with only slightly aching calves. Stop at the door, it’s looking absolutely not right. No bikes stacked outside, no John Muir metal sculpture to welcome me. It’s a Saturday, Colin never closes on a Saturday, he’s always there on a Saturday!!!! But not this one, there’s a notice on the door – closed till Wednesday, oh dear.

Colin's John Muir statue, outside his bike shop

Colin’s John Muir statue, outside his bike shop on an ‘open day’

So, back home, pushing that top gear against a wild wind and slight rise. So far it has been almost 25 miles pushing hard on that big gear. on the way back I call in on a pal but he’s out of cables as well. Once home I give up, I cannot face the hills and wind up to one of the other bike shops, plus it’s my Tuesday ride with the gang coming up, so I submit to the car journey there and back.  No problem, three cables and nipples bought, one for the bike, one for a spare and one for my pal. The cable quickly fitted, the gears run smooth again and all is set fair again, ah the joys? So that little thing, a wee broken cable certainly meant a lot!

And – where’s the team car when it’s needed?

A wee addendum, had a bit of bother getting the old bit of cable out, gear lever wouldn’t move up, eventually turned the bike upside down – result!

Wee Adventures & Keeping Going

Wee Adventures

Chyrel from ‘Ride All the Way‘ commented that I don’t share personal stuff often, so maybe a little overdose now?

I blogged a while back that my granddaughter was coming over & adventure was to be the thing whenever we were together. So, what did we get up to? Well she’s nine, going on ten so any activity would have to be appropriate. Once she & her mum arrived it was down to the river to clamber around the rocks & see what was happening. In the big pool was a large salmon, past its best, but still quite a sight.

The 'Auld Brig over the Scottish River Tyne

The ‘Auld Brig over the Scottish River Tyne

Salmon in the Scottish River Tyne

Salmon in the Scottish River Tyne

Then it was off to the sea with more rock hopping and rock pool exploration. A pal had lent us her caravan so it was beach time for a while. While there the biggest thunderstorm we’ve had for years swept across the cove. It was amazing, with multiple strikes and thunderclaps going on for a long, long time. Shiona slept through it all, apparently they are very common in her part of South Africa.

Lightning over the North Sea

Lightning over the North Sea

Lightning over the North Sea

Lightning over the North Sea

Next up a visit to nearby Eyemouth harbour where you can feed fish to the resident seals. The seagulls are way to cheeky and one swooped down and took the bait out of her hand before she could lower it to the waiting seals, ah well, live and learn.

Seal at Eyemouth waiting patiently to be feed

Seal at Eyemouth waiting patiently to be feed

Then a bit more beach combing & rock hopping, with some amazing rocks, including one that was just like a flag. All different kinds of rocks here too, brought down from further inland by the glaciers from past ice ages.

A Flag Stone?

A Flag Stone?

A crag beside the sea

A crag beside the sea

Back home we managed a wee bike ride round our local park – lovely. Then came Jupiter Artland with some pals, an art in the environment project just west of Edinburgh, it includes art you can climb over, ‘The Light Pours Out of Me’ – a crystal lined grotto/ pit and many other strange things.

Jupiter Artland

Jupiter Artland

The quartz pit Jupiter Artland

The quartz pit Jupiter Artland

The lining of the quartz pit Jupiter Artland

The lining of the quartz pit Jupiter Artland

A couple of days later it was rock climbing, abseiling and rock scrambling on volcanic rock then up to the summit of North Berwick Law. There used to be real whale bones here from the town’s whaling past, but now decayed they’ve been replace by fibreglass.

Climbing the slab on Berwick Law

Climbing the slab on Berwick Law

Maybe slightly tilted?

Maybe slightly tilted?

The summit 'Whale Bones' on North Berwick Law

The summit ‘Whale Bones’ on North Berwick Law

This led us to Yellowcraigs for a spot of tree climbing and more rock pooling. The Scots pines here have been twisted by the winds into strange contorted shapes, great to play around on, if done gently.

Yellowcraigs - twisted pines

Yellowcraigs – twisted pines

So the end came at last with a visit to ruined Innerwick Castle, built on a sandstone outcrop and another victim of Oliver Cromwell’s army on their trip to Scotland. We clambered around the ruins and over the sandstone for a while before leaving for the nearby coast and the limestone outcrops of Skateraw. We managed to find several fossils in the limestone pavement.

Remains of the tower at Innerwick Castle

Remains of the tower at Innerwick Castle

The entrance to Innerwick Castle

The entrance to Innerwick Castle

Clambering over the sandstone at Innerwick Castle

Clambering over the sandstone at Innerwick Castle

Coming back from Innerwick Castle

Coming back from Innerwick Castle

Limestone pavement, Skateraw

Limestone pavement, Skateraw

Fossils at Skateraw

Fossils at Skateraw

Far to soon the skies beckoned and a sad farewell for another year.

Keeping Going

Once they had departed I had a bit more time for cycling again. For some reason I’ve been going strongly recently with some quick (for me) rides. Why I’m not sure. I don’t do specific training and I did have a couple of weeks off the bike with a bad cough, aches etc. But maybe time climbing steep hills in Herefordshire, cycling in Portugal and Majorca have given me a boost.One ride at 19 mph+ for 15+ miles and a few longer ones at over 18 mph. I’m supposed to get slower as I get older, luckily it doesn’t seem to be working that way for me. But more importantly I am still loving being out on the bike, slow or fast.

Yippee! AlastairIMG_0483 IMG_0484 IMG_0482