Category Archives: cycle

Ageing Disgracefully and Strange Encounters

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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.

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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.

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A recent moon

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Down at Dunbar Battery

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Flowers in the Battery

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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?

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Crowded roads? – A distant cyclist ahead

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Before the bird – Borthwick Castle

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Before the bird – Chrichton Castle

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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: https://youtu.be/PPVjYPPtS9k

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Coming over to my side of the road

 

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Getting closer – agh!

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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.

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The bees arrive

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The swifts have a meal laid on

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Settling in

Life is never dull, hey?

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Trust, Squirt and Beauty

My 100th post apparently, not bad for an occasional blog I suppose?

It may sound a bit of a dubious title, but bear with me.

Trust in this instance is not believing in something or someone, but an anti-oderant which I have used for years. I don’t like having smelly armpits when working hard on the bike so this is a product that really works for me. It allows you to sweat, works for several days and has no aluminium or other harmful ingrediants. Only drawback is when it fades there is little warning. But I am sure my fellow cyclists and other humans appreciate the effect. It comes in a tiny, tiny jar which seems ultra expensive till, after use, you realise it lasts for months.

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Trust – doesn’t seem much but . . . .

Squirt I have written about before. It’s a special dry lube.Our roads are $%£!@(!! round here. They are full of potholes, gravel, mud, puddles, salt in winter etc. etc. So it gives the bike and its components a hard time.

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The road out of our village 2 days ago

Chains usually last about 3,000 mile if I’m lucky. Cassettes and chainrings get a bit of a battering too. For over a year now I’ve been using special dry lube called Squirt. I’ve found it excellent, even in these conditions. I recently changed my chain and found it had done 5,000 miles and wasn’t even fully stretched. No need to change the cassette or chainring either, so it’s win, win. One of the other things is cleaning – just a quick hose down and all the gubbins is washed away, a quick dry off and a lube and that’s it! Means the cassette, stays, derailleurs clean off easy as well. And finally, there’s the smoothness. The chain just seems to run quieter and feel better. So definitely works for me.

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Squirt, works well for me.

Now for the best – beauty. This is supposedly in the eye of the beholder, if so, as I’ve said before, there is so much for to gaze on round here that it becomes a feast. The scenery, the animals, plants & birds, the skyscapes, the weather effects and some of the human structures are there for the joy of the beholder. But enough of waxing lyrical, I’ll leave you with the second hand experience of a selection of photos.

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Amazing clouds at North Berwick

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East Linton sunset

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A curlew

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A patriotic tower, Belhaven

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Looking over Dunbar harbour – not exactly native species!!

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Now a house, used to be an airfield control tower

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Deer in the afternoon

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A wonderful sculpture celebrating the Eyemouth disaster. The figures are tiny.

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A Gardiner Malloy statue in Dunbar, two men to load, one fishwife to carry!

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A ribbon of light along the Biel Burn, flowing under ‘The Bridge to Nowhere’

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Sun and shadows at sunset

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Tree at sunset, up from the village of Spott.

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Dunbar harbour, with a rare Icelandic gull somewhere there.

Version 2

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Mist pouring over Traprain Law

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I didn’t cycle this one up to Lawhead

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Remains of a bike left in the tree for decades as a memorial, there’s a stone nearby

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Cycling past & through brussel sprout leaves

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Another sunset ride – Aberlady church

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Coastguard on the lookout, North Berwick

Failure will become a Success

Saturday was fun. The cafe at Gifford closed a few months ago, but is starting to be renovated by a new owner. It was a real cyclist hub too. It will be called the Lanterne Rouge, which might be quite appropriate for me at times (for those who don’t know the association “The Lanterne Rouge“). It won’t open till May as they are totally redoing the place, but as the Gifford road race was on they were giving out coffee & cakes and raising money for the local hospice. The helpers and owner were lovely and the cakes superb. Hey had made a special energy bar/ flap jack which was wonderful. I had thought the racing was over, but when I came up the hill to Gifford, the motorbike cavalcade came down the road towards me, lights blazing, then the leaders shot past, followed by the 2nd group and then the peloton. They did a circuit and came past the cafe. I managed to munch and drink and headed off to the finish  to see then come blasting over the line – great.

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The marshals waiting for the next lap

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The breakaway comes through

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Back together the leader crosses the line

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Tired!!

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The pack comes through

Last year I decided to ride my birthday at least. I was 67 so planned a 67 mile route. One of my cycling buddies chummed me and we had a wonderful, but chilly day biking out to Stirling, getting the train back to Edinburgh and then cycling back home. The 67 miles turned, somehow magically, into 95. So a birthday ride+. Yesterday was another year on. Fortunately I don’t set the birthday ride to be on my birthday as the March weather here is fickle, to say the least.

This year my cracked rib has intervened as well. I’m back on the bike and slowly ramping up the miles again, though sore a wee bit, as it’s only a couple of weeks since the accident (“Only when I laugh” as the old joke goes).

So I cycled up to join the gang for the Sunday ride, ready to push the mileage if I was up to it. The first 35 miles were super, I was in shorts for the 2nd day running (and this is March in Scotland), just 2 layers on top, felt good & had excellent company. I took it relatively easy up the hills so as not to do too much energetic breathing and stopped in one of the towns to meet some folk, one of whom had an amazing looking tri bike. It was much heavier than I thought it would be too.

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Then down from the foothills and a fast cruise along the coast. Just Craig & I now, barrelling along together.

Then I realised that my 68 possible target wasn’t on that day. My chest was grumbling gently at me – there’s always another day sire!

So Craig pottered off, right on his target for the day, while I peeled off, heading for home. But 40+ miles was OK and proved I’m on the way to my birthday ride in the next couple of weeks.

My evening celebration was an a visit to Dunbar to see a lovely Science Festival Light Show projected on to the Town House, with the statue of John Muir (who was born here) being lit up as well, followed by an Italian meal – loverly.

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John Muir as a boy

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(2 days later) A few rides later into the hills & I’m ready for tomorrow. Forecast is good, no winds and not desperately cold. Wish me luck.

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A suspicious looking ‘Heavy’ horse

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It’s mucky in them thare hills!!

The Bad, the Good and the Don’t Understand

‘The Bad’: When I first started this, it felt so good. It was almost balmy at 6°C after -2°C for a wee while, down to 3 layers and beard not freezing. But it just hasn’t been so fine for the last few weeks and it’s been blowing a hooley for the last few days with storms Gertrude & Henry making themselves known and keeping me off the roads with violent winds. I missed the one quiet day in the middle as I’ve been doing the intros & lighting for our local pantomime, ‘Beauty and the Beast’. De-rigging the lights happened on the same day as the calm so ah well!

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Lighting the Pantomime Dame

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Doing my bit of introduction

Freezing weather with dicy roads, ice, snow, gravel, melt water, mud etc. I think you’ll get the idea.

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Roads a bit uneven!!!

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Snowy hills to be skied up later, roads damp here but not icy

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The Ninja outfit

New brake blocks first, pedal bearing collapsed, back wheel bearings went, replaced chain but one of the rivets came adrift and the chain plate bent back on itself causing a sudden halt but all is sort of back to peace and serenity again. Colin of Belhaven Bikes was superb, went into the shop to see about getting the wheel bearings replaced and he did it just about on the spot, brilliant service. The rest I did myself.

‘The Good’ is I have very much enjoyed my rides recently despite the conditions plus the snow allowed me to get out on skis locally for a couple of hours up in the hills.

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Skiing up – conditions better than it looks

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Wonderful stuff snow.

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Looking towards home, variable under ski

Even this wasn’t without a wee bit of grief though. First of all my collapsible poles decided to collapse when they shouldn’t (new ones have now arrived), then one of the skins on the skis used for climbing uphill decided that the glue holding it on to the ski was a bit old and parted ways a few times. More curses of an inventive nature. Just as well no one else was on the hill with me!! Had a good run down, though the snow was very variable with deep banks of soft stuff, delightful nevee and some solid ice to make life interesting! It was gorgeous scooting along on the lower stretch in the sun with fabby views and the coos keeping their distance.

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After the gate, tractor tracks

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Ready for gliding down

Now the ‘Don’t Understand’ part. Americans on guns, I just  don’t get it! In Britain we have some of the strictest gun laws in the world. Seems to work on some level as we also have some of the lowest gun crime/ murder rate in the world and the majority of our police are not armed. The majority of murders in the USA according to the FBI are by someone know to the victim. Why does an amendment made in the time of flintlock rifles need to apply to a modern situation? What need does a citizen have of semi automatic or worse weapons? Maybe the right to bear arms should apply only to flintlocks? Though it’s probably way too late for that now. I also don’t understand how the American Rifle Association with only just over 3 million members can seem, from my perspective, to dictate to the whole huge population of the States.IMG_3515

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Figures from the FBI, looks like you’re more likely to be murdered by family or someone you know.

Now I don’t think I want answers to these thoughts, it’s just a highlight of how different two nations can be. Our UK world history has been pretty horrific at times, but I feel we seem to have a better balance these days on the whole. I have travelled in various places around the world and I must admit the country that gave me the most unease was America.

Just don’t get me started on Trump though!

Enough of philosophising, I maybe should have just kept to the biking?

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Our local river in flood, though not too bad this time

 

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The storms bring good sunsets, but turn 90º and it’s all black clouds

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Skis showing the skins attached to the bottom of the skis for climbing up snow slopes plus the ‘freeheel’ bindings. Very marginal snow conditions here though!

Once in a while

Every so often I manage a photo that satisfies me. Technically I’m sure this is wrong on so many counts. Taken into the sun, hazy, blotchy etc. But I was pleased with it.

This is on Sunday’s ride, billed as ‘The Kippielaw Extravaganza’, we all met from various localities, climbed a few of the wee steep ascents and after 25 miles landed up here at Kippielaw (law is the Scots word for a hill). I was trying to get my sportscam working, was delayed, looked up and grabbed my old camera slung around my neck.

So glad I did.

Why I don’t upgrade, a target plus winter is here!

I like old, worn-in stuff, though it is pleasant to get new gear, usually out of necessity. The same applies to my bike. I got it 2nd hand off eBay after much research several years back. It’s a Specialized Roubaix compact, that has undergone a few transformations since I got it.

Why the Roubaix? Comfort!

For those who don’t know it was designed for rough, cobbled road sections in France & Belgium. We have rough, though only a tiny, tiny minute cobbled bit locally. They designed the geometry to be forgiving, put ‘Zetrz’ inserts in the frame and seatpost and gel wrapping on the bars, all to dampen vibration. And it does. As we fly down roads locally I can hear the other bikes clatter and chatter, while mine appears to me to run quieter. The rest complain of jarred arms, while I try not to appear too smug at my comfort.IMG_3433

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The other addition to comfort has been my Brookes Cambrian saddle. It was comfortable for me from the moment I sat on it, and has now done quite a bit of mileage, still a delight to use – I usually forget about it, which must be good?IMG_3432

During this time others have got upgrades, lighter, flashier bikes and delight in them. That’s great, but do I need to climb hills 10 seconds faster? Do I need to be more aerodynamic to gain another 24.34567 seconds advantage? And do I need to up my fashionista cred? I think not!

But, onto my target – I’ve been increasing my mileage year on year, so I made up a target for the year, and I’m now just over 120 99 miles from it. It’s a wee bit hilly round these here parts so I’ve also racked up a bit of height climbed as well. All I have to do now is to hope that December doesn’t become intolerable with the weather, though it should OK if it carries on as it is. And the goal I’m aiming for – you’ll just have to wait and see.

So on to the final bit, Winter has most definitely arrived. A storm is raging outside, though I’m toasty enough inside. The snow on the hills has come and gone and come and gone and come again. It has been raining, flooding, dry, snowing, sun shining, cold, warm, freezing, blowing hard, still etc. So a typical Scottish time of year then, but still cycleable as long as I’m happed up well, though even the shorts have been on at times. Most of all it is absolutely not boring!

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Snow just visible in the far hills - the Lammermuirs

Snow just visible in the far hills – the Lammermuirs

Took 4 tubes to sort this one - 1 faulty valve, 1 blow out, 1 faulty and it was cold & windy of course

Took 4 tubes to sort this one – 1 faulty valve, 1 blow out, 1 faulty crease with a hole and it was cold & windy of course, Kevin not a happy bunny!

Taken today - another day & night of rain, but warmer

Taken today – another day & night of rain, but warmer

How much is too much, or too little?

Or is enough, enough?

I’m not very good at posting these days and I’ve been finding it hard to keep up with everyone’s posts. So what’s the solution, if any is required?

Skim reading is OK but then I have to go back and re-read things I know I have overlooked. I usually like pics in posts, but don’t wish to neglect the text. Just going by titles doesn’t always help much either. So I find myself binging on catchups, commenting on stuff that’s a bit out of date. Ah well.

As for my own posts, I like to act on ideas I have, rather than just feeling I have to churn out another post as I haven’t done one for ages. And I usually take a wee bit of time, either on or off the bike. Ah well again!

So just to finish a few pics to give a bit of lightness for the article from some recent rides.


Coming down from the hills & dodging sheep

Autumn leaves

Waiting for the flood?


Lovely local roads


Sun power?


Glorious shafts

  The Haddington Cycle Club head off from the Humbie Hub
Catchup time

  
Away from the rain

All together again