Category Archives: Scotland

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.

img_3503

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.

img_3497

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.

img_3502

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.

img_8235

Amazing clouds at North Berwick

img_8238

East Linton sunset

img_8578

A curlew

p1180191

A patriotic tower, Belhaven

img_3492

Looking over Dunbar harbour – not exactly native species!!

img_8579

Now a house, used to be an airfield control tower

img_8577

Deer in the afternoon

img_8576

img_3500

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

img_3501img_3498

img_3494

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

img_3493

img_3484

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

img_3469

Sun and shadows at sunset

img_3480

Tree at sunset, up from the village of Spott.

img_3491

Dunbar harbour, with a rare Icelandic gull somewhere there.

Version 2

img_3464

Mist pouring over Traprain Law

img_3451

I didn’t cycle this one up to Lawhead

img_3424

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

img_3421img_3420img_3419

img_3379

Cycling past & through brussel sprout leaves

img_3377

Another sunset ride – Aberlady church

img_3376

Coastguard on the lookout, North Berwick

Advertisements

A Wee Bit of a Ride

Early September – it was time for the Tour of Tweeddale again.

Tweeddale is in the Scottish Borders and is a fabulous venue for cycling of all sorts. I’ve done this event for the last five years, since it started. The distance in the past has varied from 85 to 99 miles but this time it was just over the 100 mile mark.

So having done what I hoped was sufficient training, I met up with some cycling pals ready for the off from Peebles. Another couple joined us on the line so a nice group of five were ready to go. I had stayed in the town the night before so had till 7.30 to wake up and get ready. In previous years, it was over an hour to drive down, so usually up at 5.30 to 6 am and I’m not good at mornings.

It was a chilly start, but not desperate and we were soon away and getting warmed up. The first section headed eastwards down beside the River Tweed on the back roads of the Tweed  Way. It was gorgeous, zooming up and mainly down with the wind behind and good views as we sped along. After the first 20 miles we left the Tweed Valley and climbed up and over to descend towards Selkirk.

We bypassed the town and headed for The Swire, otherwise know as the Witchy Knowe, the first real and steepest climb of the day.

img_8036

First food stop, bottom of ‘The Swire’

A quick food stop and then on up.

img_8035

Ronnie replenishing

img_8040

Theo at the bottom of the Swire

A lovely climb, reasonably steep but at a fairly constant gradient, and the countryside looked fabulous in the sun.

img_8038

Heading up the Swire from the north

Up and over the cattle grid and a swoop down to the next valley.

img_8039

Top of the Witchy Knowe

img_8040

Bottom of the Swire

In a wee while came Berrybush, another lovely climb, less steep but extensive forestry at the top.

img_8033

A wee break before the climb – the bottom of Berrybush

We hurtled back down and arrived at the Gordon Arms for the next food stop. Ah, the soup – just brilliant. The volunteers were great, the food stops full of lovely stuff and some chat with other riders in the sun, bliss or what.

img_8034

The Gordon Arms, 2nd food stop

Then back on the bikes to trundle down to Moffat, except for one thing. The wind was head on and mush stronger than expected, having been forecast to come up later. So it was a bit of a gruelling ride down with us swapping leads while the others sheltered behind. But, as compensation, the scenery was fabulous, with the gentle border hills vivid green in the sun, St. Marys Loch glinting and outlining the sailing boats busy out racing and the occasional bursts of chat when a lull in the wind allowed.

We rattled through Moffat, just stopping at road junctions, before heading for the last real climb of the day – The Devil’s Beeftub. This was the long one, 6 1/2 miles of climbing ascending just over 1000 feet, but not too steep and highly enjoyable, especially with the wind behind us now. After the climb it was a rapid descent for over 25 miles back to Peebles, going so well we even ignored the food stop on the way.

So at the end of the trip a great ride together.

ps. I am working on the video – you have been warned!!

Funny old Spring and bum cream

It’s been a pretty weird Spring this year, hot, cold, windy, still, rain, sun, snow. As I tap the rain is pelting down outside, but the sun is due late on today.

P1150983

Hairy gorse out for Spring

P1150813

Tulips in the sun

I was cycling up on the hills two days ago with snow around and the week before I was back in shorts a few times. But then variety is the spice of life?

IMG_1059

A 50 miler 2 weeks ago

IMG_1085

Johnny trying not to run me over (me lying on the road!)

P1250035

Climbing up Redstone Rigg 2 days ago

My ribs have mostly healed but a couple of weeks ago I forgot I was recovering. I’m involved with the local community cinema (Pix in the Stix). We were putting on ‘Bill’ for the kids film, a comedy about William Shakespeare – great if you haven’t seen it. The adult film was ‘The Lady in the Van’, another terrific one. While setting up for the shows I lifted over the speakers, fairly light and easy. Then I hoiked up the amp in its flight case. Big mistake, I felt something in my ribcage tug and knew I should not have done that! So I was set back a wee bit, but still out on the bike. It was the 25th anniversary of Pink Floyd’s ‘The Wall’, so we decided to put on the film of Roger Waters, from the band, reflecting on this. He visited his grandfather’s grave from the first world war, and his father’s grave from the second world war, as well as giving a huge performance of The Wall. We also had a band playing, a younger member of Pix played some background music and I sang some old blues numbers. A brilliant night indeed, held in the old village hall at Tyninghame, which at one time was a bakehouse.

P1150872

Sound checks

P1150844

Setting up Pix in the Stix

P1150907

The band before ‘The Wall’

P1150857

Special cakes for the Pink Floyd night

P1150845

Aghghghghgh

I’ve had some good rides, as usual. I’m lucky as I relish variety in conditions. I’ve been up and down our local hills quite a bit. As regular followers know it’s steep round here, so I’ve needed to take it easyish as standing up peddling has caused discomfort or pain, till the last week or so. I look forward to going out with the groups I ride with, keeps me going pushing with folk a few decades younger than me. And there is good banter along the way or at the cafe too.

One of my favourite cafés is re-opening soon under new management. It’s going to be called The Lanterne Rouge, so it’s obviously going to give a huge welcome to cyclists. For those who are not into racing, the Lanterne Rouge was awarded to the rider who finishes the Tour de France in last place.

IMG_3910

Un Lanterne Rouge

Now the final bit, bum cream. As with all cycling things, eating, drinking, equipment, training etc. there are masses of opinions on what we should be doing and how, where, why etc. One of these is the more delicate parts of our anatomy which connect with the saddle. I am fairly scrupulous about spreading ‘chamois cream’ on my susceptable parts before a longer ride, but recently I forgot (or couldn’t be bothered – for want of a more appropriate word). One of these was an 85 mile jaunt to test bikes. Surprisingly I find few bad effects, so I’ve been experimenting a bit and it sometimes it makes a difference, others not. So I’ve reached totally no conclusion, not for the first time either.

So as ever a few extra pics for your delectation or otherwise:

IMG_3912

Up by the monument looking north to N Berwick Law and the Paps o’ Fife

IMG_3908

Subtle overshoes?

P1150827

Deep Spring ploughing locally

P1250027

Spring snow in the hills

P1250032

The climb ahead up to the tops, a mere 17%er

P1250041

At the top of ‘The Rigg’, warmer than it looks!

P1250038

Looking back over the Firth of Forth and the hills up north

P1250037

The Bass Rock below with the northern mountains behind

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.

IMG_0958

The marshals waiting for the next lap

IMG_0959

The breakaway comes through

IMG_0963

Back together the leader crosses the line

IMG_0965

Tired!!

IMG_0964

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.

IMG_0969

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.

DunbarScience00003DunbarScience00007

John Muir as a boy

DunbarScience00011DunbarScience00012DunbarScience00014

(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.

IMG_0970

A suspicious looking ‘Heavy’ horse

IMG_0972

It’s mucky in them thare hills!!

‘Go gently into that dark night’

Was late at night, the buzz of a message. “It’s on tonight, are you up for it?” then “Half an hour OK? Meet you at the door”

Finished the stuff I was doing, I’d just had a bath so shrugged off the dressing gown and layered on the clothes, grabbing all the essentials and then headed for the door.

Off we went, up with all the gear, just a mile from the village. As we climbed up the hill we could see the glow. It was going to be a good yin!

Stopped, open the doors and saw the gentle pulsating – YES!!!

It’s not so often this happens in Scotland, but it was a gorgeous, cold, clear night and it was here.

Gloves & hats on first then we quickly set up the gear, tripods, cameras ready.

Yes it was worth getting happen up for, worth being out, surrounded, worth the cold, worth the wooden fingers.

Then just on the stroke of midnight back home, with everything fading – glorious.

AuroraTraprain-01AuroraTraprain-02AuroraTraprain-03AuroraTraprain-04AuroraTraprain-05AuroraTraprain-06AuroraTraprain-07AuroraTraprain-08AuroraTraprain-09AuroraTraprain-10AuroraTraprain-11AuroraTraprain-12AuroraTraprain-13AuroraTraprain-14AuroraTraprain-15AuroraTraprain-16AuroraTraprain-17AuroraTraprain-18AuroraTraprain-19AuroraTraprain-20

Bike or Ski?

There’s snow on our local hills, so the dilemma arises. I often manage a wee ski trip or two when conditions are right.

I had already managed one very small one this year so yesterday was a bonus. Snow, sunshine, no wind and the hills had looked good on the bike ride the day before. There was no real choice! I had some of the afternoon free so just had to go. And it was glorious. The snow lower down was perfect, though it turned a bit softer higher up.

A quick drive up (it’s only 10 – 15 minutes away), skins on the skis, heel lifts fitted, hop over the gate, say hello to the sheep and away. Got into a loverly rythym going up with occasional brief pauses for photos. Met the secondd gate and managed to hop(?) over it fairly disgracefully, then the undulating climb upwards to the top of the hill. The views on the way up and at the top were wonderful. Above me was Lammerlaw, but not enough time and the snow was getting too soft for the return journey. So, off with the skins and away. Gliding along the ridge and then the speedier descents. The wax on the skis worked well gripping on the flatter sections and gliding nicely on the faster downhill sections.

Lower down the snow was perfect for telemarking and the turns felt good. Though I was back down I was high as a kite. Glorious!!!!!!

For those who don’t know the terminology, skins are attached to the bottom of the skis with releasable glue. The nap of the fabric (it used to be seal skins in the old days) faces backwards and enables the skier to climb up hills. The heel lifts up the heel of the ski boot, this makes the boot level & puts less strain on your leg muscles. The wax, applied to the bottom of the ski, grips when you put pressure on it to go forward, but glides when there’s no pressure. You need different grades of wax for different temperatures – a real black art! A telemark turn is one where one leg slides backwards behind the other and the two skis form effectively one long one.You can only do this on freewheel skis. I also use telescopic poles, adjusted to be longer for pushing uphill but shorter for the downhills to help with the turns.So there you go, a wonderful pursuit when conditions are right.

There’s worse to come though, a cheesy video is in production!

Lammermuirs Feb 2016-04

Almost ready

Lammermuirs Feb 2016-05

Gorgeous snow conditions lower down

Lammermuirs Feb 2016-06

Have to wait for the descent

Lammermuirs Feb 2016-12

More fence icicles

Lammermuirs Feb 2016-11

Strange icicles growing vertically

Lammermuirs Feb 2016-10

Looking east

Lammermuirs Feb 2016-08

Hare and fox tracks

Lammermuirs Feb 2016-18

Over to Fife and the Firth of Forth

Lammermuirs Feb 2016-16

A gulley to the east over the valley

Lammermuirs Feb 2016-15

Another gully to the east

Lammermuirs Feb 2016-07

Follow the hare in reverse

Lammermuirs Feb 2016-09

Gate number 3

Lammermuirs Feb 2016-13

Sun, sun, sun

Lammermuirs Feb 2016-02

Lammerlaw ahead, waits for another day

Lammermuirs Feb 2016-17

As far as I go, skins off & ready to go

Lammermuirs Feb 2016-19

Haddington, down low

Lammermuirs Feb 2016-14

Time to head down

Lammermuirs Feb 2016-20

Starting the ski back

Lammermuirs Feb 2016-21

These specs were clear when I left the car

Lammermuirs Feb 2016-30

Oh so elegant!!

Lammermuirs Feb 2016-23

Ski tips lead the way down

Lammermuirs Feb 2016-01

Trapain Law and the Bass Rock

Lammermuirs Feb 2016-28

Quad bike & ski tracks up

Lammermuirs Feb 2016-22

Gate number 2

Lammermuirs Feb 2016-25

turns in the snow

 

Lammermuirs Feb 2016-26

The car waits at the bottom

Lammermuirs Feb 2016-24

Ski track up and down, put delight

Lammermuirs Feb 2016-27quad bike, ski and sheep tracks

Lammermuirs Feb 2016-03

The sheep & hill at the finish

Lammermuirs Track

The Strava trace of the ski track up & down

Lammermuirs Feb 2016-29

The road home

Lethargy and other musings

Some days I’m just content to do very little. Reading, messing around on my iPad or computer or just day dreaming. This morning has been one of those times.
In my early mountaineering days (now over half a century away) we called it festering. Sitting in or out of the tent or bothy, chatting, reading or just absorbing things around us. Sometimes because of the snow, winds or rain, sometimes just too knackered to be bothered.

It’s nowadays a time to contemplate. Think over things that have been, cook up plans for the future that may or may not happen or just meander through my mind, hopefully the better bits of it!

It’s also sometimes good to look over the huge amount of photographs I’ve accumulated, some scanned in, others taken digitally. It’s always good for a giggle or a memory or a touch of sadness.

This afternoon I’ll be busy again. Our community cinema is on so I’ve been tweeting it and will go down to help set up in a wee while.

So where has it all got me? No idea, except for this blog!!

But here’s a few of my memories to invade your life with.
   
Yesterday, cycling below the snowline 

 

The sheep say hi, lined up for my inspection 
  
Near the top of the road

   
Started young! No beard either.


Only 16, just before the beard growth 

    
Winter mountaineering in the Cairngorms- 1970s

 
Soloing Mont Blanc

   
Blasting in blo-karts

  Festering in the French Alps

  
Trapezing on the Forth

 
Dame Rosy Glow – aren’t pantomimes wonderful (oh yes they are, oh no they’re not etc)

   
A wee rescue on the River Tay

 

In the Falls at the Linn of Tummel



   

Telemarking, Glenshee



 

Swiss Alps, Lagginhorn I think

   

Rescue duty, the chimneys were blown up last year

 Local winter cycling 
   

Climbing in Yosemite, a small route, only 600 feet high


  Festering in my bivvied bag on the glacier 

More adventures to come I hope, and lethargy!