Category Archives: age

5 Weeks, 5 Bikes – Hills – and Dangerous Things

An interesting 5 weeks, first in Portugal, back home, next in Majorca, then back home & off the bike for 2 weeks coughing, then back riding, including a demo bike. My own bike is a Specialised Roubaix Compact, heavier by modern standards, but I got it on ebay and it is so comfy with it’s built in micro suspension, especially on the rough roads we have round here. I ride it summer and winter and it has gone through several reincarnations in the last few years. I could get a lighter bike, but not being in the first flush of youth I feel it would make little difference to my performance. As if to reinforce this view I have been lucky enough to get away a bit recently. Rather than the faff & worry of taking my bike away, for just a wee bit more than the cost of to fly it over I have hired bikes. When I got back the bottom bracket had gone on my own bike, so Colin at Belhaven Bikes at Dunbar lent me a demo to try out. None of these were super high spec, but it was interesting to try them out.

Jorbi Mountain Bike

Jorbi Mountain Bike

Portugal: a Jorbi 29er MTB for 4 days. I really liked this, it was quick, responsive and several steps up from my old alloy cheapo MTB – great fun. The tyres rolled really well, the wee lever to click off the suspension for climbing worked well and it was fun blasting down loose gravel tracks. Only downsides were the clunky feeling gears, but I suppose that might mean they last longer or are more sturdy, also the handlebars made me ache after an hour or so in the saddle, but I get this on my own as well. This may be the width of the bars? The bike had only been out once and was immaculate.

Jorbi road bike

Jorbi road bike

Portugal: a brand new Jorbi road bike which was light, responsive with internal cabling. The gears were Campags, which I found clunky and awkward, I think I’m just to used too my Shimano. I found the high ratios a bit of a trial on the steeper sections, but it was great on the curvy downhills. The saddle was not to my posterior’s liking either. Both bikes were from Tomás Swift Metcalfe of, he’s a pro rider and was great apart from a wee blip at the start. Full of good tales, advice and with superb bikes.

Trek Madonne - the one behind

Trek Madonne – the one behind

Next hire was in Majorca. This time a Trek Madonne III. I took my own saddle (a Brookes Cambian C17) this time! It was a nice bike but sort of flopped into corners which I found disconcerting at first, but once I got used to it I found it cornered very well. Most of the roads in Majorca are nothing short of superb, but on some of the rougher back roads I found the vibration a bit hard. I had asked them to put on an 11-32 cassette which helped on the longer climbs, but meant the gear change was maybe not as smooth as normal. Overall a good bike for the week.

Dawes Giro Alto photo from the Dawes website

Dawes Giro Alto photo from the Dawes website

Last bike was the Dawes Giro Alto Demo bike from Colin. I thought this was the nicest of the alternatives. Not hugely high spec, but a good spec, reasonably light and very stiff. Cornering and downhill was fabby, but on the rougher roads round here there was too much vibration for me, but I think I’m spoilt.

My Specialized Roubaix recently

My Specialized Roubaix recently

Then back on my own bike – bliss!!! Okay, it’s not as light, it’s a bit battered. I probably carry too much but it’s comfortable, predictable and I just love it. The 11-34 cassette really helps round here as well!

Ronnie following me up the

Ronnie following me up the “Wall of Talla” in the Scottish Borders

So – Hills – bgddyjim had an interesting post on hills recently. I enjoy climbing hills. I love the physicality of pushing yourself, the tactics for arriving at the top in some sort of reasonable shape and the variety. The south of Scotland is not renowned for hills but we have some real challenges round here. The hills to the south rear up a steep escarpment so getting on up is always a challenge, especially if the wind is blowing a hooley into your face. So I thought I’d look at a few.Kippielaw Kippielaw, just outside our village, only (?) 10% and short but gets my heart and lungs going every time. With the steep bit at just under 13% maybe I try too hard?Beil Biel Climb, again close by, not steep except for the deceptive looking last bit – that 15% feels like it!Spott Spott Hill, known locally as Starvation Brae, this ramps up to just over 14%, relents for a moment & then hits you again – a local classic.Brunt Brunt west to east, another short sharp climb, with a few steep ramps, one over 17%Woodhall Woodhall Farm Cottages Climb – a real test piece of the district, starts off at 15%+ steadily climbs at 6-9% before hitting you with a 20% rise. Bad enough normally, but with a good westerly wind – more than interesting.Rigg And finally Redstone Rigg – Rigg 17% section “Going up the Rigg” is a favourite expression for locals, just a short climb at 11% (part of a larger ascent), but Strava reckons it is 22%+ at it’s steepest. I just know it has me puffin’ and the legs know they’re there. So just a few delights of our part of ‘Lowland’ Scotland.

Now for the ‘dangerous’ bit: a great talk on TED:, only thing I disagree with shouldn’t the cars be bikes?

What do you feel? The second bit.

I wrote the first bit over 2 1/2 years ago and have finally got round to finishing it as I wait for the frost to melt on the roads.

‘Last time it was the physical side, the heat, the cold, the discomfort and the times when everything just felt good.

This time it’s what’s going on in the brain.

The pure joy that just flows through you when all is right in your cycling world. Singing along to yourself, not caring if the world thinks you’re totally mad. Smiling at cows as you pass them, or speaking gently to dogs that pop out to say hello. That grin as you ease yourself off the front of the group to drift back and slot into the rear after a hard go into the wind. These times are precious and I feel I’m lucky to have them on a reasonably regular basis. There’s also that satisfaction when all your physical bits are just working together in harmony.

November 2016  - Out with the gang

November 2016 – Out with the gang

November 2016  - Autumn decline?

November 2016 – Autumn decline?

November 2016  - gorgeous Autumn hedges

November 2016 – gorgeous Autumn hedges

But (and why is there always a but?) the downside is the those days when you just feel rubbish, at least for some of the ride.  Those aching legs, arms, torso, head throat, feet etc (just choose what’s appropriate) cause you to grit your teeth and brings out the patience to continue knowing that good times will surely come again. Early on in the winter I had some sort of virus which I thought had gone. It’s effects seemed to remain for a couple of months, make me feel like I was really ageing. I was a bit down, but kept going through the gloomy times hoping it would improve. Even then it was not constant. Some days better than others, but not as good as usual. Out with various groups I cycle with I’d be struggling to keep up, feeling down with the effort involved. Then one day I just flew, for no reason. I didn’t even think I was going that fast but just felt good again. Thoughts of age were dropped again and I felt a wash of pleasure run over me.’

November 2016  - A rare pic of me, dressed for winter

November 2016 – A rare pic of me, dressed for winter

November 2016  - The colours of Autumn

November 2016 – The colours of Autumn

November 2016  - biking sunset

November 2016 – biking sunset

November 2016  - night cycling, my favourite Art Nouveaux gravestone locally

November 2016 – night cycling, my favourite Art Nouveaux gravestone locally

So – many miles and experiences more and where am I? Still loving being out, come rain, sun, snow, wind or calm. Still loving being turning the pedals, short rides or long. Still enjoying strilingual for Strava PRs some days, others just meandering. Still having good times with the groups I cycle with or my solo ventures. Can’t be bad.

November 2016  - a vandalised cycleway sign in Edinburgh

November 2016 – a vandalised cycleway sign in Edinburgh

November 2016  - the ooper super dooper moon?

November 2016 – the ooper super dooper moon?

November 2016  - the day after the supermoon

November 2016 – the day after the supermoon

November 2016  - night cycling

November 2016 – night cycling


November 2016  – One of our local castles at Kingston

And mostly much healthier, so many compensations in this journey through life.’

November 2016 flats again, thorns from hedge cutting

November 2016 – flats again, thorns from hedge cutting

107.2 km – it’s only going to get harder as the years go by?

Harbingers of Spring

Harbingers of Spring

Well spring appears to be sprung. it’s suddenly warmed up (for now), there’s a vast snow melt & floods up north and the season’s flowers are emerging.

Plus I get to be a little older in birthdays in a few days time.

So what am I planning if the weather allows? I should be taking the train up to Stirling and cycling home. It’s just 107.2 kilometres and on reasonably flat terrain, compared to here.

Why 107.2, well it’s 67 miles and that’s the birthday I’m hoping to celebrate. I think this is maybe a bad precedent to set? Next year it may have to be 108.8 km, the year after 110.4 and in 33 years time 160 km. I think I’ve maybe made a rod for my own back?

Maybe I should have made the challenge 67 km, but where’s the fun in that?

And just for your enjoyment a wee neighbour just up the river a couple of days ago.

A Dipper keeping an eye open beside the Scottish Tyne

A Dipper keeping an eye open beside the Scottish Tyne

ps Apologies – I just can’t resist – it’s the mathematician in me!!