Author Archives: fossilcyclist

More Calamity

I’m back again.

Seems like I’ve got Monday bike.

This time it’s the gears again. Just after being on the longer ride I was luckily only a mile or so from home after 20 miles, when I just lost all forward motion. There was a big clunk and the whole crank arm flew off behind me snapped in two. I managed to coast home and inspected everything. When the crank arm broke off it had also smashed up the rear derailleur.

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The broken crank arm flies off

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Walking back

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Not a good trick

So, it was off to the bike shop yet again. All the bits were sent off to Shimano UK, and over four weeks later I’m still waiting for replacements. Unfortunately I had an event, the wonderful Tour of Tweeddale, so had to haul out my old specialised and trundle along the 90 plus miles of the event.  Luckily I had good pals along with me and we had a really good time although I did a bit wobbit in the last 10 miles or so. However the bottle of Tweeddale at the end perked me up when I thought of drinking it when I got home.

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The start of The Tour of Tweeddale – 93 miles to go

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We’re on the way

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Loch Talla with the sun starting to heat up

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The Wall of Talla at over 20% – the tandem riders had chain problems

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A quick stretch out

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Dave going well …

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… but cramp struck

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The reward for some hard miles

So far this year I’ve had to use the old Specialized for at almost half of my rides, so I’m feeling a bit world-weary with my newer Roubaix, although when it’s going it is fabulous.

Next came the Tour of Britain, which was reasonably near by in the Scottish Borders, coming up from Kelso. A group of us from the Haddington Cycle Club assembled half way up one of the steep hills and had a very social time chatting, before the Tour came through. After less that 2 minutes the riders sped past & we cycled back home over the hills.

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Cafe stop before the hills

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Some of the gang ready to go

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Up the hill before the Tour arrives

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Quite a few of these & some friendly waves

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Sorting out cameras

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Hope this wasn’t needed

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The breakaway …

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The peloton …

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We’ve had a few nights away recently in the Scottish borders in the shepherds hut, near Berwick on Tweed. There is so some lovely cycling round about, including the wonderful honey farm (and it’s so much more than that!!) and the heavy horse farm, which we went along too. We happened along on a lucky day as the farrier was in shoeing the horses and the vet was doing a bit of dentistry. It was amazing how docile these great big beasts were.


The Shepards Hut


The Farrier



This horse was sedated a wee bit though it may not look it!!



All together – ahhhhh


Quite a litter!!

A couple of weeks later Terry & I were off down to the Borders & Englandshire again. A mere 80+ miles this time, down against a strong headwind and back with some hefty climbs over the Lammermuirs, 5,000+ feet of ascent in all. We stopped at the Honey Farm for a bite, upstairs on the double decker bus.

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I rode this one

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Terry declined

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Th beer cafe in Ayton – a delightful reception, coffee & donuts too

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The Union Chain Bridge – England beckons

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Almost there

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Lunch at the honey farm just up the hill, much, much more than honey!!!

And today I was out and encountered a couple of cars stopped, with flashing lights, and the drivers flagging folk down. As I went past I saw that a large cygnet was on the side of the road, so doubled back to help. We managed to get it safely to the other side, where it promptly lay down. After motioning cars to slow down, one stopped & the driver came out. he obviously knew what he was up to and wheeked the swan up and took it over towards the nearby lake away from the traffic.

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What’s going on?

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I see

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Persuading it to safety

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Amazing the effect of a bike behind you

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Safely over

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Someone who knows what he’s doing

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The post’s passenger

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And a campavan in a campavan

So I still wait for the Shimano folk to get their finger out so I can get a few more miles on the good bike before the winter comes and the roads get slathered in chemicals, grit etc.



I am the Greatest Showman and Fashion?

When I retired I vowed I’d had enough of meetings and I wouldn’t serve on committees again. But, I’ve broken that rule consistently for almost 10 years. The group is a community cinema group – Pix in the Stix. The meetings are brilliant, always a total hoot, with various refreshments and we get things done. We run monthly films for children and adults and we’re open to new ideas. We’ve helped others to set up their own groups, down in England as well has it in Scotland.

We also raise money for charities and have run things like Pink Floyd night complete with its own wall showing ‘The Wall’ film plus a fantastic band.


Pix in the Stix, Pink Floyd Night

We had an Indian night with three different curries and showed the film ‘Lion’ and raised money for an Indian charity helping street kids in India. Our latest venture was an outdoor cinema event this was fabulous. It was in Dunbar and we showed The Greatest Showman. The venue was in the battery, which was made as a defence when attack was fired from during the American War of Independence. The weather goddesses were in our favour, skies were clear and the moon shone. We sold out for the event in three days and the audience just loved the show. Here are a few pictures from the event.


The Battery, Dunbar, ready for our film show

The audience arrives

Tha audience arrives

Ready and waiting

Just about to start

Me - doing the intro

Me – doing the intro

On the bike, it’s been an interesting time. I got a new bike cam cam and on the first try two minutes from home I had a car overtake me right next to the traffic island. I reported it to the police but unfortunately the footage wasn’t clear enough to make a prosecution case although although the officer said that they would contact the owner and give him or her a severe talking to.


Even the police do ‘close passes’ sometimes

I’ve been off the bike a few days recently as wild winds and rain swept through Scotland. But it’s quietened down and it’s been lovely being out with the autumn colours. Club brides have been really good with lots of lovely riders out.


A scene from “The Birds”?


Why I love East Lothian


More loveliness


A bit of fun, can be slidy though


About to be overtaken by friendly dogs, didn’t hear them till they came past on either side

I watched a programme on the Beeb (BBC) the other day about worldwide pollution. The research indicated, as I knew already, that coal is the biggest source of pollution in the world.

And what was the second biggest?

Much to my astonishment the answer was fashion!!!

So this led me to look at my use, or lack of use of stuff from the fashion industry.


Not exactly a fashion icon?

Being a child of the rationing period after the 2nd World War, I’ve embraced the ‘make & mend’ philosophy to some extent. So when the bottom bracket on my old Specialized bike went & I was told it couldn’t be replaced and needed a new frame, with the help of a pal, I managed to rejig a screw-in to fit. When my old cycling bib tights went I repaired them a few times before the material wore away. I prefer old clothes to new ones so can look a bit ‘individual at times. If older technology works for me, no upgrades are needed, though sometimes stuff just won’t work together as things progress. As with all of us I’m not perfect, but try my best.

Since I started this post a couple of months have departed and we’re into winter. So far it’s been relatively warm, with temperatures from -4° to 10°C. So, it’s not been too bad on the roads, with little salt or attendant chemicals. So well happed up and away out does the trick. The light has been great on some days, though a bit blinding at times, but also some misty times as well.

The longer range forecast has been for another ‘Beast from the East’ snowstorm but there’s no sign of it yet, but the skis, snow shovel and sledge are at hand anyway.

An early morning club ride

About time: Talla, Go East Lothian, Dugs, Indy and other miscellany

I’ve always blogged fairly intermittently – hoping each time to have something of interest. A new member joined my local club ride this weekend and told me he’d read my blog, so spurring me on to tap on the keyboard and throw around the mouse.

I completed the Tour of Tweeddale again this year, 93 miles and just under 6,000 feet of climbing. It was extremely wet and wild, wild winds. It included the notorious “Wall of Talla”, which though only 1.1 miles long at 8% as a steep first section. ramping up to 28% at one point according to Strava. Add to this the wind coming down the hill, it was fairly challenging – as usual a few doing the “Walk of Shame”. We went up it twice, the second time the wind and rain were even worse but I still managed to keep moving and grinning!! Here’s a video from the warmer 2015 event – Tour of Tweeddale 2015. When we reached the end a bottle of Tweed Ale welcomed us, then a leap into dry clothes. No photos or video this year as the weather goddesses were so unkind.

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on the Wall of Talla 2015

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Wall of Talla approaches – sunnier day 2015

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Tour of Tweeddale 2018 – slow in the wind & rain

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Route for Tour of Tweeddale 2018

The next event was the launch of publicity for Go East Lothian Backpacking. It was at the National Museum of flight near East Fortune. A historic Concord aircraft is housed here and the hospitalities took place next to the plane. As part of the publicity a short film has been published, showing the delights and glories of East Lothian and a family bikepacking through the landscape on a 2 day trip. It is a family of 5, the youngest being just 4 years old. The film is well worth a look at Go East Lothian Bikepacking and there’s more on the Bikepacking Scotland website Bikepacking Scotland – East Lothian


Photo from Markus Stitz, backpacking Scotland


Then came ‘the dugs’. I was cycling on a local cycle way when I passed some travellers’ caravans and vans. There seemed to be plenty of dogs (dugs in Scots) around and a couple of them ran up towards me wagging their tails. I thought no more of this, but when I got home I was told some dogs were missing in West Lothian. I had my bike cam on and viewing the footage we found that two matched the description. We contacted the owner, sent some stills – it was them. The dog warden was informed and went down to check, but was unable to verify, the police came later but by then there was no sign of the dogs. One was later released in West Lothian and returned to the owner, the other is still missing. Ah, the power of social media. The strange thing was the dogs were taken from Broxburn in West Lothian, but turned up at Broxburn in East Lothian.


The dogs

Then came the Independence Rally in Edinburgh. It was massive, with the consensus seeming to be that 70,000 – 80,000 people turned out. It was a glorious, enjoyable walk through the city with a mass of banners and cheery folk. I realised later that 1 in 70 or 80 people in Scotland had got off their backsides to join in, which I found quite impressive.


Independence Rally – at the start


Just about to go




Down the Royal Mile



Past the Scottish Parliament – banners on the cliff top too and Green for Go


Into Holyrood Park


Even a couple of hundred motorbikes joined in

Then it was back home for another wild and windy ride, as they seem to have been so much recently.


A friendly wave


Windfall apples carpeting the road

The Emperor’s Old Clothes?

It’s a funny old world and we’re some funny folk inside it.

Cycling is a part of this. A lot of it seems to be trying to get people to spend money, renewing kit, re-inventing more expensive shoes, jerseys, shorts etc. But I’ve always liked old stuff, and not just for cycling. Some of my stuff is probably 10 years old and still going strong. I turn up for club rides and a lot of the group are smartly dressed head to toe in club gear, while I’m usually in a mismatched hotpotch of clothing.


Haddington CC, mostly smart (though hell to keep clean!!)

If a piece of gear on the bikes fades a bit I usually try to coach it back into life if possible.

But when I need to replace something I usually research it thoroughly and eventually buy something I think will last. I’ll then wear it till it’s about to fall apart on me.

I got a new bike last year, after my old bike started foundering somewhat, I got the old one second hand 8 or 9 years ago. The new bike seemed to be my ideal bike, and in many ways it is. But things have failed on it over the year and a half that I wouldn’t have expected. It seems the Scottish winters are a bit too harsh for it. So my old bike will have to cope when the weather isn’t the best.

I nowdays do only a couple of events a year. It was the Tour of The Forth earlier on (complete with 3 punctures and slipping gears), but the next one is coming up at the end of August. It’s “The Tour of Tweeddale” in the beautiful Scottish Borders and this year is 93 miles (150 km) in length. However it is going up “The Wall of Talla” twice, “The Devil’s Beeftub” and finally “Paddy’s Slack”. So it will be fairly challenging. It’s run by the Peebles Cycling Club and is very friendly, informal and amazing value with great soup at the Gordon Arms food stop. I’ve done it for the last five years so it’s always great to roll up at the start line.

Lastly it’s been an amazing summer here, plenty of good, dry weather, not too many bugs and some lovely rides in the warmth. Made a real change from the harsh winter we had, though a bit dry for the fields and gardens.


Keeping the bugs at bay

And then there’s the raspberries and strawberries picked from the garden plus visits from friends a relatives. Just excellent so far.

And now a selection of sartorial inelegance from the last few years:


A work day for a school’s challenge


Up in the highlands, that jacket had been with me in the Himalayas as well


Almost co-ordinated


Not co-ordinated


Up on the moors again


Winter on the moors with pretty pink overshoes


B-Spokes, design by committee, threadbare but still in action


Climbing in the French Alps


The Monster Challenge


A wee ride round the park with my step daughter


Patriotic get-up


Descending from Galibier – who are you calling a striped bum?


Monster Challenge again


First Bike? Better dressed then too?

Ageing Disgracefully and Strange Encounters


Now I am 6?

A couple of quotes to kick off:

“You are old, Father William,” the young man said,

“And your hair has become very white;

And yet you incessantly stand on your head—

Do you think, at your age, it is right?”

Lewis Carroll

“But now I am Six,

I’m as clever as clever,

So I think I’ll be six now for ever and ever.”

A A Milne

Now I’m tucking into my 71st year on the planet (that I know of), I am ruminating a little more on life, the universe and everything.

So to kick off, a few downsides for me of the processes of getting old:

My little toenails – they’ve grown thick and distorted and so grow hard to clip and unsightly. As those who know me will let you know, I’m not generally a vain person but this one part of my body morphing into another state irks me a wee bit. The rest of my toes are just fine.


That toenail!

My fingers are increasingly susceptible to the cold, making the most of any opportunity to turn into blocks of yellow numb woodenness. Luckily I’m aware of this tendency, so often I’ll overdress on the bike, wearing double gloves even in summer sometimes.

Forgetfulness – not because it happens, but is it a warning of dementia setting in? I think all this health publicity is getting to me.

Death – so many friends or folk I know seem to be getting life threatening illnesses or succumbing to them. I know this is bound to happen, but I seem to become more emotional as I age.

As a cyclist in Britain, this is probably inevitable – driving that endangers others or is just plain inconsiderate. My plan is to try for the cycling hour record for a 100 year old. I’ve got 30 years to go, providing I can stay alive and healthy. So if I’m knocked off my bike and injured or killed, that might well put paid to my plan, especially the latter. While cycling in Spain I was amazed at how wonderful the drivers were with cyclists, how can the common spitters of hate or disdain in the country be persuaded to think otherwise and respect others?

As a quick finale to this section, the tendency of some more youthful than I to ignore me or my opinions because I am older, a wee bit irritating  at times.

Oh, and I forgot – football, but that’s been an annoyance all my life.

And the benefits of growing older – loads and loads and loads, the joy of living, growing old disgracefully with other friends, not giving too much of a hoot about what others think and delighting in life. Also being grateful for still being able to do all the things I’m able to do.


A recent moon


Down at Dunbar Battery


Flowers in the Battery


Yes – another sunset

And now for:

Strange Encounters of the 3rd Kind?

I’ve had many odd encounters on my travels, white albino squirrels bouncing through the trees above me, running with a deer, a fox leading me up an alpine trail, another across the mountain tops across the winter snows.

Yesterday on a longer cycling trip, going slightly uphill under the trees, I felt something like a bundle of leaves with thorns in them drop down onto my neck. I looked back and a young buzzard was rising off my shoulders, much to my surprise. I could feel that the talons had penetrated. When I got back I realised it wasn’t too deep, but bathed & put stuff on. Not sure why? Probably guarding a nest?


Crowded roads? – A distant cyclist ahead


Before the bird – Borthwick Castle


Before the bird – Chrichton Castle


Talon marks

They say things come in threes? Well, the last one was cycling up a local steep hill when a van came round the corner at the top and drove onto the wrong side of the road and down towards me. I was looking at any way I could bail out when a car came up behind me. The van then went back to it’s own side of the road. I had my sports cam on and when I looked at the footage the van had no number plate, so the police couldn’t trace it. I posted the incident on youtube:


Coming over to my side of the road



Getting closer – agh!


Where could I have gone?


Then a week late, we had a table sale and heard a humming noise, looked up and a swarm of bees had arrived. Luckily they settled down above us. After and hour they flew off towards the river, came back for another hour then departed again.


The bees arrive



The swifts have a meal laid on


Settling in

Life is never dull, hey?

A week mainly in Spain

Was in Portugal and Spain last week for a ‘wee'(?) cycle tour with a pal, Eric.Spain with Eric 2018


My old bike packed and ready to go

We travelled lightly to Faro, sharing rooms en route. The weather was considerably warmer than Scotland when we landed and cycled over to the ferry to cross into Spain. En route we managed to detour into some majorly rough country roads, with 2 portuguese punctures and bumpy roads. Changing countries by ferry always seems romantic to  me, especially as continental Europe generally has no barriers between countries. This day was no exception.


Waiting for the ferry



Crossing the Border


Eric surveys the Spanish landing

 After landing in Ayamonte it was a steep ascent up into the town, then a quick descent to pick up our road out. The Spanish roads were so much better, with an introduction to the courteous and considerate Spanish drivers, especially those driving lorries – great all the way through the trip. The smells & views of the vegetation were varied and great. Eventually, after just over 66 miles we arrived at our first destination Punta Umbría, where we met up with our other pals who were based there for a week. Once there we wolfed into a huge meal, showered and enjoyed, after a fashion, a hilarious Spanish karaoke.

Next morning we piled into breakfast, fueling up well for the miles ahead. Then farewells to all and off to the local bike shop for a couple of tubes, finally pointing our wheels northwards. Every so often we stopped for a coffee, lunch or just to explore a town, gradually heading onwards and upwards into the hills.


Lunch at Beas


Art Nouveau detail

Some of the architecture was gorgeous with art nouveaux details and buildings and other older Spanish cultures evident.


Jabugo and its pigs

In another smallish town, Jabugo, the street was full of pork butchers, seemingly every second shop (not to good for a non meat eater) as it was a specialism of the district. As the day went on the temperature rose up to 29ºC, a foretaste of what was to come. I’m not too good at these temperatures and Eric steamed up the hills ahead of me. Luckily I’m OK descending so it we played cat & mouse most of the day. Eventually after 85 miles we arrived at Galaroza, a delightful town with steep cobbled street, fountains and churches.


First Spanish Hostal at Galaroza

We had located a Hostal, and booked ourselves in for a meal. After freshening up we had a dusk saunter round the place, returning for a delightful meal, with refreshing cervezza (beer).


Just up from the Hostal


A famous fountain with 10 taps

Next morning a reasonably early start, we filled our water bottles from the fountain and set off with the temperature a chilly seeming 12ºC. Still heading north it was a series of climbs and exhilarating descents, with the usual stops along the way.


Fregnal de la Sierra, a cooling trough


lunch at the centre


Looking back

This time the heat went up to 38ºC, so plenty of extra water, fresh orange & coffee stops along the way.


Jerez de Los Caballeros


Making pals?

After 89 miles we arrived at Badajoz, found ourselves a hostal for the night and after the usual shower and washing cycling gear, roamed out in search of dinner. I found out one thing with today’s temperatures. I had to  fit a screw together bottom bracket as Specialised would not dell me the original cups used for the bearings. A friend had skimmed it a bit to fit. In Scotland it worked fine, and in the mornings in Spain it was also good, but come midday it had been creaking and groaning. I also realised that with the heat it was expanding and not quite as tight a fit as it needed to be. Unfortunately we weren’t near any bike shops at a convenient time, so I learned to just live with the post lunch complaining. Back again and it’s fine again.




Outside the music school



Confirmation Day?



A mathematician’s dream building


On the way out



Looking back

Next morning was a reasonable 14ºC, though it gradually climbed up to 35º. This time we crossed the Spanish plains, into a strong headwind. It was quite morale sapping, similar vistas for miles and often head down to maintain progress. We stopped for quite a while in Mérida, a bonny city with loads of old or unusual buildings and Roman ruins (felt a bit like one myself!)


The Roman aqueduct at Merida



Diana’s Temple



The Chinese Palace


A Roman arch


Basilica a Santa Eulalia


City Walls

I just wished it had been a bit cooler, but counted myself lucky to be able to see such sights and sites. After an 86 mile day we reached Zafra. I went in to the hotel and asked for the toilet. Unfortunately it was down a dark passage, I still had my shades on and blundered into a heavy glass table with metal edges. So with me blooded and bruised we checked in. We settled in for the night after a wander round the town and a meal.


After dinner in Zafra


And another trough

So our 5th day dawned and this time a welcome 11ºC start. After noon up it went again to 33º, a bit wearing.


Medina de Las Torres



Beside the motorway . . .


. . . which takes a short cut

IMG_6432After the usual visits & stops we completed 97 miles, with me a bit frazzled, but still basically OK. We had to ring to get someone to open up the hotel at Pilas, but as usual wheeled the bikes in and settled down to our usual washing cycle gear to get rid of the salt & sweat.


A pleasant hotel room for the bikes

Then round the town, settle for dinner & sleep. They usually start dinner about 9 pm, so we were seldom settled till late on.

Once again an earlyish start, 11º and a meandering course towards Ayamonte. But . . . . it was cooler – strange as we were right down in the south, with North Africa not too far to the south.


Horse sculptures on the roundabouts and real horses in the town – Almonte



Busy streets?


Crossing the Rio Odiel


An industrial past remembered?

Once at Ayamonte we had ice creams.




Gutting fish


My poor creaky bike, but a lovely bench

Then caught the ferry across to Portugal and Vila Real de San Antonio and found a tiny room to squeeze into for the night with amazing bedspreads.


A ‘different’ translation


Back to Portugal

The place was really quirky but interesting. So, our last wander round the town, somehow different from the Spanish ones, a gorgeous meal in a pleasant restaurant and back for a night’s kip.


Room with a view


Decorated benches


The bedspread

Next day was a leisurely ride back to Faro as it wasn’t too far at just over 40 miles. We stopped at a lovely town, Tavira, en route. There was a craft type market, a walking event to encourage folk to do some exercise and an excellent local band playing.




The champion arrives?




Fabby Band


Faro harbour


Faro old town



Turtles in the pool and strange statues

IMG_6510I had another Portuguese puncture though it was soon mended. But eventually  we had to leave for the airport, pack our bikes and catch the flight home.

Despite the afternoon temperatures it was a good trip, with lots of interesting towns and sights and the joy of such excellent driving around us. We had averaged over 80 miles a day till the last day, which was way beyond what I had expected. We’d had some interesting and challenging roads and some lovely landscapes. I can see why Eric likes cycling in mainland Spain so much and will probably be back to try another area.


A Wintery Spring

At last my coughs and feeling of uchhhiness have departed, so I’m looking forward to popping off to Spain near the end of the month. I’m away with a pal to Faro in Portugal, we’re cycling over the border into Spain and then up country for a week’s meandering seeing how far we get and what we can see. The first day should include a wee ferry trip so already it seems like it’ll be interesting and fun.

This Spring has been a bit miserable most of the time with cold, wind & rain, sleet & snow. But despite this I’ve managed to get out quite a bit, though a shortened ride at times.


One of the nasty dayssnaw Fresh snow againstanes Rough stuff after the second snow melt

potholelevel crossing


Sunnyside, but cold still


Frozen at the edges


I had to wait an extra week before doing my birthday miles as the weather was so rubbish. I try to cover the miles in my age as soon after my birthday as possible  so this year it had to be at least 70.

The last Sunday of the month is usually a club cafe run with the Haddington Cycle Club so it was away up for a welcome bite and a big coffee at the delightful Humbie Hub, up in the hills. A couple of pals Ronnie & Craig (Hi Craig!!) joined me for my attempt. The temperature was forecast to rise to the dizzy heights of 14º and it did! We wooshed down to the coast and headed along with sunshine and a following wind. After a few miles the others were passing their homes so peeled off, thankful for their support. After plenty more quick miles I was near home, but realised I would have to do something to up the mileage a bit so turned east and headed down towards Dunbar, zoomed round the roundabout and headed home. I then realised that I needed a few extra miles so pottered on, on a loop through the village, did a wee dogleg on the way back and managed 70.30 miles. Yippee!!!

Humbie Hub

Sitting in the sun before the descent to the coast

Birthday Miles

Funny game this cycling lark.

My rides have been entertaining as usual, I rarely go out without some sort of wildlife encounter. Deer, pheasant, hares, rabbit and even the occasional crow seem intent on dashing across the road just in front of my wheels, luckily, so far, they have all been just distant enough not to cause harm to themselves or me.


A daring crow


An even more daring pheasant

I’ve also had a few close encounters of the upsetting kind. The last one was on a sunset ride, just pottering along a back road through one of our local coastal towns, North Berwick. A red sporty car suddenly shot out into the road, blasting his motor. At the last moment he spotted I was there and swerved slightly with what little room there was, his face aghast. I swerved away from him, managed to stay upright and he swept past. My heart was thumping in my chest. A pal pointed out that he had spotted exactly where it was on my route as my heart rate had shot up to a 175 bpm peak and then gone done again. Hopefully this will be the last for a while.


Spot the Spike

So as it is cold, windy & rainy, sleety & snowy outside I am hoping that the weather improvement happens so I can stay fit enough for a good number of miles (kilometres?) on our trip away.


A useful stop? – Old school