Author Archives: fossilcyclist

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.

img_2778

Pride comes through Piccadilly Circus

img_2733

Meeting up at London Fields

 

img_2789

The titanic trio?

img_2793

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.

img_2763

No sign of Rob

img_2770

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.

img_2742img_2740

img_2760

Sunrise

img_2739img_2730
I had a bite and some coffee, dozed for a bit and went out to watch the folk swimming (brrrrrr!), with some skinny dipping.

img_2772

Early arrivals

img_2795

The early arrivals

img_2792

img_2796

Rob flakes out

img_2788
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.

img_2765

Restocking

img_2797
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.

Advertisements

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.

P1190148

Dressed half sensibly

P1190149

Outside the gates with our pals

P1190138

A couple of Royal Archers

P1190136

An older Royal Archer

P1190145

The sentry makes me feel ancient

P1190141

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

IMG_4571

Royal Archers doing their stuff

IMG_4570

IMG_4580

Security up high

IMG_4566

Holyrood Abbey

IMG_4569

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.

IMG_4582

The Queen and Prince Philip emerge

IMG_4593

Prince Philip comes past

IMG_4595

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.

IMG_4564

Different tartans for the pipers

IMG_4574

Watching the band

IMG_4623

And good they were too

IMG_4627

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 🤞🏻.

IMG_4505

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.

IMG_4455

Posing for club photo

IMG_4448

Swollen head?

IMG_4483

The race is on

IMG_4497

Official Tour of Britain car

IMG_4496

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.

IMG_4525

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

IMG_4539

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

IMG_4506

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.

IMG_4543

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

IMG_4545

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.

IMG_4419

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.

RNobleWee

Robert Noble Exhibition – information

P1180564

Robert Noble Exhibition

P1180562

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.

P1180577

Women of Lockerbie – set

P1180592

Women of Lockerbie – the chorus

P1180623

Women of Lockerbie – confrontation

P1180646

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.

IMG_4241

A steep one up ahead

IMG_4239

One of the many hills and a hairpin

IMG_4235

Sheep lie in the road up ahead

IMG_4234

Bog cotton on the tops

IMG_4227

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.

IMG_4076

The Gathering – Haddington

IMG_4077IMG_4078

IMG_4079

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.

IMG_4080

Leaving Haddington

IMG_4082

Passing Berwick Law

IMG_4081

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

IMG_4086

Andy at work in ‘The Lanterne Rouge’

IMG_4087

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!!

IMG_4088

Near the end of the ride, rough-roading it

IMG_4089

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!

IMG_4455

Posing for club photo

IMG_4483

The race is on

IMG_4448

Swollen head?

IMG_4496

Official Scottish Cycling car

IMG_4497

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?

Pedal in, Pedal on Parliament and Pedal Back

Yesterday we were outside a local bookmakers trying to inform folk of the fate of greyhounds, once their racing days are done, or if they don’t make the grade. There are plans to open a new as fair wheeching greyhound stadium in our region so try to persuade folk it’s not a good idea. Lots of information online and it’s not for the squeamish. Makes me realise how horrible some people can be.

IMG_4026

Going to the Dogs?

Today felt more positive. It was POP day. Pedal on Parliament is a demo keep up the pressure to improve sustainable transport with making roads safer for cyclists, better and more bike paths and many other issues to do with cycling and walking.

Many pals were away doing the Tour de Lauder, but I hadn’t signed up this year.

So I set off for Edinburgh. Despite a chilly northerly wind I weeching along, averaging almost 18mph for the first 15 miles, then traffic lights, junctions, back roads and the odd bad turn or two slowed me down. When I arrived at the Meadows, quite a few folk had turned up already. I chatted with a few folk I knew, or just met.P1250079

As the crowds grew, crossing over the Meadows and then round the corner and along the way, it felt great to be part of this movement. The assortment of bikes was amazing. Big, big ones, wee ones, balance bikes, cargo bikes, racers, single speed, tatty auld yins, trailers, tagalongs, recumbents, hand pedalled  etc., etc. – wonderful.IMG_4036IMG_4031IMG_4037IMG_4039P1250081IMG_4038

The participants were also a mixed bunch, from the very young to the old and from all over the world it seemed too.P1250068P1250090P1250088P1250091P1250089P1250092

After riding in hard I started to chill down, but eventually we set off. It was wonderful to see so many cyclists unified and moving together. I was with a couple of guys hand pedalling their way along and it was nice to chat. Lots of support from passers by too. When we stopped at traffic lights or for emergency vehicles it was a chance to have a wee chat to pedestrians going past and explain what it was all about.P1250095IMG_4040P1250097P1250098P1250100

When we arrived at the Scottish Parliament there were to be speeches etc., but I was too chilly to stay. An acquaintance I met asked me if I was cold, when I asked how he knew he said my lips were purple!!P1250104

So I set off home, with a climb over Arthur’s Seat to help warm me up, as well as trying to cycle hard and get some feeling back to my fingers. With stops for  traffic lights, the odd wrong way and a ‘comfort’ break behind a big tree. I mainly sped back, and even warmed up.

IMG_4034After a great day’s adventure, including a fast off-road route for a few miles – it’s great having a road back with suspension – I was back home. After I stopped some other cyclists arrived in The Square and stopped for a break, so I pottered over for a wee chat. All in all, despite the chill I wouldn’t have missed it, and it’s another drip that might help wear away the status quo?IMG_8723

Another Month Gone By

What an amazing year so far, not even the end of March and I’m almost up to 2,000 miles of mainly joyous cycling, plus a new bike to play with.

IMG_3668

Showing off again? Fat & mountain bike together.

IMG_3687

Above the estuary

IMG_3708

He’s behind you, somewhere

The last few days have been splendid, with that evil wind finally decreasing and the sun coming out to play more. I’ve even been cycling in shorts again, lounging in the outside chairs at the cafe stop and overheating some of the time!

IMG_3884

Cafe stops & bare legs in March!

IMG_3872

Mainly blue skies and sunshine as well

As usual, shortly after my birthday I cycled my birthday miles – 69. It was wild and windy, but I managed to find some shelter in the bunch for part of the time on the upwind section. Back down out of the hills and along the coast we flew and quite near home I had averaged 16.5 mph, but was still 10 miles short. So on down to Dunbar and then a wrong decision, back home via the hills and into the wind again solo, oh how the average plummeted! Ah well!

IMG_8654

Into my 70th year on earth

IMG_8628

Some of the gang

IMG_3847

The new machine

There’s been some great rides too, both solo and with companions.

IMG_3727

Climbing one of the steep ones

IMG_3876

The hill fort caption board (see photo above for a view from above)

IMG_3885

Over the tops

IMG_3875

The road is there somewhere

P1180280

An adder escaping into the heather

I bought a new bike for my birthday, as my other one was wearing out after much use & abuse over the last 9 years. I went over to Fife to collect it, planning to cycle home via the Forth Road Bridge and Edinburgh. The ride up to the bridge was pretty desperate, with wild, wild winds and gusts. When I got to the bridge it was closed to lorries, pedestrians and cyclists, so back into Inverkeithing, onto the train station and as I wheeled the bike onto the platform the train was pulling in, yippee. I secured my less new looking bike & settled down for a short journey over the Forth rail bridge to Dalmeny on the other side. Whilst purchasing a ticket I was told that the train didn’t stop there, so my cycle journey was shortened by getting off at the outskirts of Edinburgh.

IMG_3772

The new road bridge over the Forth, from the train, on the way out

IMG_3802

Forth Road Bridge closed because of the gale

IMG_3803

An unexpected train journey for the new bike

IMG_3760

Looking out to the Forth Estuary

IMG_8642

Whoops – discovered this fault when I got home, no wonder the front gear change was clunky!!

I went right through the centre of the city, dodging cars, buses, taxis and trams etc. Once back into East Lothian I flew along in a little calm bubble as I was going the same speed as the wind.

And how has the bike been? Magicke. It has front suspension, which is great on our dodgy roads, the handling is superb, the disc brakes brilliant and all the hidden cables etc. make it a joy to keep clean. I’ve had it now for over 300 miles and the only change was putting on my old Brookes saddle, I just didn’t get on with the Specialized one, despite tinkering with the adjustment. The suspension is sometimes a bit clunky at times but works well and makes a difference to my tender ageing parts.

On foot, there have been some gorgeous days walking as well, though we missed seeing a kingfisher by a minute or so the other day. Plenty of other flora and fauna to entertain though.

P1180273

Seen on our walks . . . .

P1180275P1180259P1180288P1180289P1180293IMG_8673P1180286IMG_8666IMG_3888

Another recent highlight was going to a talk by Grame Obree, former hour world champion amongst many other achievements. He was ‘pure brilliant’, outlining his background, successes, downsides and personal philosophy with humour and truthfulness. It was a very enlightening evening, enjoyed by everyone I spoke to.

IMG_1198

Examining “The Beastie” at Graeme Obree’s talk

IMG_8657

At Graeme Obree’s talk ‘The Beastie’, how he fits in I’ve little idea

So, now Spring is rize, hopefully fewer layers and some good longish rides await.

Since I wrote this (tempting fate?) I’ve been off the bike for a week, but the cough, stiffness and aches are diminishing so should be out soon.