Category Archives: deer

6 climbs and a few more

 When I wrote about 6 steep climbs round about here,  Jean (https://cyclewriteblog.wordpress.com/) suggested that some photos would have enhanced the blog. At the same time I was trying out an app called footpath, which is great for working out routes for cycling. I decided that I would link them together in a cycle/ photo bonanza. So I managed it, though some of the photos are a bit dodgy as they were taken on the move with the camera slung around my neck.  The weather was ideal, warm enough for shorts & short sleeve top, cool enough to not become dehydrated easily. What a ride, some of my favourite climbs here, and when the gradient was less than 10% it was a real bonus. First of all the boring bits for some, the route & profile:

   Over 110 feet climbed for every mile

  Quite a few ups and downs?

   

 Hill no. 1: Kippielaw
The first hill, not even a mile away, this is short but with a real lurch into the sky at the end. The hill in the distance is Traprain Law with the remains of an Iron Age fort on the top, complete with hut circles and a magnificent view over the Firth of Forth, north up to the Highland and south to the lowland hills.

   
 Hill no. 2: Up into the Beil Estate

After a fabulous colonnade of yew trees you cycle past rhododendrons till another wee steep ramp leads up to the top. Just after this a deer stopped in the road and gazed at my approach for a while before it sauntered off into the woods 

 Then on and up another a couple of ascents before reaching Pitcox, another good climb (though not one of the chosen) past the water bottling plant. Pitcox is a tiny place, but a couple of 100 years ago it had a religious house where monks from the refectory in Melrose who had misbehaved were sent. 

 The climb up from Pitcox past Findlay’s Water

Then it was past the Witch’s Stone at Spott, which often has coins left on it. I tried to take a photo but had nudged the dial of the camera on to the wrong setting. Just before this a fox had sauntered across the road in front of me, my day for wildlife? 

 Hill no.3: Starvation Brae – a local test piece 

 Then came the climb out of Spott – Starvation Brae, not sure why it is called this though. This one is hard – gradually steepens, then has 3 steep bits to the top. A real heavy breathing one by the top.

Onwards and downwards and upwards and downwards . . . . . . . . 

   
Hill no. 4: The Brunt – east side

Then it was across the ford, luckily dry but the road is a mess, then up The Brunt, another climb leaving you puffing at the top. 

 One of my favourite sections, a gorgeous half mile through a wooded dell, dappled in the sunshine. Then came the big one, over a mile long with an average gradient of 9%+ and several steep ramps double that.

   
  Hill no. 5: Elmscleugh, the first ramp  Hill no. 5: Elmscleugh, looking up to the second steep ramp, climbing at 5-8% here
  Hill no. 5: Elmscleugh, a sight I saw a few times  Hill no. 5: Elmscleugh, getting near the summit
 Hill no. 5: Elmscleugh, the cattle grid at the top usually a good descent now!Hurrah, a lovely swoop back down the other side to look forward to, but:

Roadworks slowed progress, looks like they are putting in a new track for the wind turbines.
   
Some climb? 

Then it was down for a while, this time slowed by gates. After the valley in the distance it would be another undulating climb back over the distant hills.  Up beside Whitadder reservoir dam

I was now on the section of the road that the Tour of Britain will come down in September. should be fun!  

Whitadder Reservoir, not too many cheering crowds this day.

 
  Another great section with lots of undulations over the moors, I would do this section a couple of times this trip. Many sheep, birds including oyster catchers some way from the sea and cows.
  Approaching Redstone Rigg  Hill no. 6: Redstone Rigg, another local test piece
So the last of the 6 hills loomed up. This is one spoken of in awe locally, though Elmscleugh is far harder, but being further away from Edinburgh is cycled less. I’ve already booked my place here for the Tour of Britain, fantastic views of the riders coming up from miles away, unfortunately it will probably be mobbed with other cycling fans.

Bog cotton and a butt for grouse shooting at the top of ‘The Rigg’   

The wonderful descent with Whiteadder Reservoir in the distance. I went down here at 46 mph, but on a good day have manage 55 so what will the Tour riders be doing? They will have to watch out on the cattle grid in the middle of the descent .
  Iron Age Green Castle Fort, with its 3 ring defence
So back down & up & down & up till home, passing a dead badger on the way. Well pleased and satisfied. And for those who still think Central Scotland is flat?

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Shouldn’t do this to a Road Bike? John Muir might approve!

At last, the cough is retreating and I am starting to advance.

I’ve always been adventurous I think.

First Bike?

First Bike?

Trying to set fire to my infant school allegedly, though I’m sure I would have just been trying out how matches worked? I was hillwalking & youth hosteling with the family before I was ten and used to play around with my mates on our second hand (if we were lucky) bikes on the bomb sites nearby-ish. By 16 I had been doing canoe/camping expeditions over the Pennines & in Wales, and hitchhiking off to go climbing.

Into motorbikes

Into motorbikes

At university most of my mates took the ‘hippie trail’ to India, while I hitchhiked up to the Arctic circle with a friend & we kept leapfrogging each other on the way and occasionally meeting up. Sailing gave more adventures, with night dinghy cruises down the Clyde and some ‘interesting’ trips on the west coast of Scotland.

So much fun!

So much fun!

White water open boating

White water open boating

Another trip with a former student saw me camping on the glaciers in the Alps and climbing a multitude of peaks, with what I would look on now as a paucity of equipment.

Soloing Mont Blanc

Soloing Mont Blanc

Cairngorm Expedition

Cairngorm Expedition

And so on . . . . .

I might have thought I’d grow out of this nonsense, but I’m still up for a challenge, or something out of the ordinary. So I just set off on my road bike for the second time after finally feeling like riding again. I knew  was going to be even slower than normal so as I cycled up to Whitekirk (though the kirk {church} is red nowadays, not white) I realised it had been dry for a while. Just beyond the church the John Muir Way goes along Becky’s Strip. It’s supposed to be a cycle route, but there is only a rough, bumpy, grassy track, great for a mountain or cyclocross bike, but rubbish for a road bike. But, I couldn’t resist. I walloped along, passing a fairly surprised group of mountain bikers coming up the other way, and managing not to come a cropper en-route. Hurrah for the Specialized Roubaix zertz inserts, padded handlebars and 25 mm tyres – who needs cobbles?

After a couple of miles I reached tarmac again, but just along the road diverted off through a country estate. While meandering through I forgot about the gutter that cuts across the path at one point, lucky though, no snake bite punctures.

Then a very brief road section and back on to a path, part of the John Muir Way, which is also good for off-road biking. So shot off again – I love this bit, though usually on a mountain bike. Suddenly, CRUNCH, CRUnch, Crunch. Looked down & found a stick had caught in the front wheel, before flying off. I forgot to mention my road bike still had the ancient Crud road racer mudguards on. I don’t like a mucky bum and as we have our fair share of wet days I tend to leave them on till later. I noticed that the mudguard had broken, as it is designed to do, and the stay had wound its way round to the front of the wheel.

Whoops - it shouldn't look like that?

Whoops – it shouldn’t look like that?

After a quick check nothing rubbing too much & unlikely to cause any more damage so off again. Despite all this drama I still managed to get a 5th place cup for the segment, so much for feeling rubbish?

Great track on the John Muir Way - even on a road bike!

Great track on the John Muir Way – even on a road bike!

John Muir Way

John Muir Way

At the end of this a wee bit more tarmac and the down to East Fortune, trying to keep on the grassy middle section of a stoney track.

Track to East Fortune

Track to East Fortune

The motorcycle racing was on there so I took advantage of my senior citizen free entry status and cycled round the paddock. Some brilliant machines there, including sidecars and racing scooters, plus some lovely old racing bikes.

East Fortune motorcycle paddock

East Fortune motorcycle paddock

East Fortune motorcycle paddock - my favourite

East Fortune motorcycle paddock – my favourite

East Fortune motorcycle paddock

East Fortune motorcycle paddock

East Fortune motorcycle paddock

East Fortune motorcycle paddock

After a while it was off, with a flying visit to a friend, a bump along the sand track beside their field and onto the tarmac again. I had been carrying my camera over my shoulder again and managed to get some shots off of a deer leaping across the fields away from me as I pedalled along.

Roe deer leaping

Roe deer leaping

Finally it was down past the old mill (another stoney track), with a heron beside me at the river and then back home.

Heron on the Scottish River Tyne

Heron on the Scottish River Tyne

So shouldn’t do this to a road bike – definitely should!! My bike is made for biking and what fun.

Alas the bottom bracket has gone (I knew this before the ride), so I took the bike in to the shop. Colin said the bearing might take a day or two to arrive, so gave me a demo Dawes Giro Alto bike to have a try. Unfortunately it is raining hard (maybe why I’m writing this?) so this is one that will have to wait till it clears up a bit. It’ll be the 5th bike in as many weeks, my own, 2 hire bikes in Portugal (mtb & road Jorbi) plus a Trek Madonne III in Majorca and now the Dawes. Variety is the spice of life? But I still love my own poor battered beast.