Category Archives: Tour of Tweeddale

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.

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First food stop, bottom of ‘The Swire’

A quick food stop and then on up.

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Ronnie replenishing

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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.

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Heading up the Swire from the north

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

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Top of the Witchy Knowe

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Bottom of the Swire

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

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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.

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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!!

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Squeaks, creaks, tweaks and Tweeddale

Beware, acute visual boredom may result from this post if you follow the links.

First – the squeaks and creaks – apart from me bones. I noticed a sort of squeaky, creaky sound whenever I changed the rear gear. It was hard to locate  the source while out, so I thought the noise was coming from the rear and the derailleur and cable needed some lubrication. A dose of white lightning later on and I was on my way again on the next ride. Goodness me, it was still there. I tried just pushing the lever without changing gear and sure enough the creak and squeak was still the same, though possibly louder. Got back, put the bike on the stand and pushed gently on the lever again. Aha, found it – seemed to come from near the gear lever. So – it must be the cable going – so obvious. Slipped the cable out of the adjusters and then the frame brackets, no problem, just a quick look at the cable end. Pushed the lever to the side – nothing obvious, pushed the cable nipple through so I could see it, nothing. So, one more thing eliminated. Everything put back together and no noise. Aha!! Sorted!!

Out on the bike next time and back it came again – this was not good, as well as being irritating. After the ride I was determined. My ear travelled up and down the frame as I carefully tweaked the gear lever. This time, this time!!

It appeared to come from the bottom bracket, what? Then it struck me, I  turned the bike over and yes – the noise was coming from the cable guides at the bottom of the frame. Right then, I was going to be that squeak’s nemesis. The tweak was set in motion. First clean out the guides from whatever gunk was there, didn’t appear to be hardly any. Next white lightning oil liberally applied over the cable and guides. Next turn bike over and cross fingers. The evil seemed to be gone, so turn over and repeat process to be sure.

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First check out the rear deraillier

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Second look for a cable breaking up

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Finally – the cable guides – the culprit!

Next day out again and a quiet gentle gear change, but something felt not right with the pedal action. A sort of gentle clunk on the downstroke. I guessed what this one might be.

Back home, up on the stand, rock the pedal – yes, right this time, the bottom bracket bearings were away. So a quick order in for a replacement and I await the posties knock at the door, while hoping the one in the frame lasts for another couple of days. Fingers crossed again. It seems there’s always something.

Meantime, I did a Sportive down in the Scottish Borders last September, with some pals. I took my sportscam along and managed to get some not-too-bad footage and have finally finished editing. The Sportive is The Tour of Tweeddale, a superb event which I have done since it started 4 years ago. Last year it was 82 miles this year it’s 102 so should be interesting(?). I discovered that the Garmin VIRB app for the mac will allow me to superimpose stats onto the video so for a stats freak like me that’s no’ bad as we say. So for your delight if you wish you can follow the link, to get to the slightly better bits skip to 0:25 and 5:30

Tweeddale and The Wall of Talla: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dow_0wd58zs

Gore, Guts and Glory

It’s been an interesting(?) couple of weeks for me. Started off just over 2 weeks ago.

I had been looking forward to doing the 80 mile ‘Tour of Tweeddale’ Sportive in the Scottish Borders, one I’ve managed every year since it started 4 years ago.

But, on the Sunday before, I was out with the local Haddington Club. Going up hill I suddenly thought, back off, I’m getting too close. Next moment I touched tyres with Terry in front, wobbled to the left, straightened up thinking I’d got away with it. Terry slowed down and I came back into his wheel from the other side – tarmac crunching time. He said later he had slowed down to look how the back of the group was doing, ah well.

I got up a bit shook up, assessed the damage to me and the bike, got back on and completed the run.

My knee looked a mess & a scraped shoulder didn’t help, but it was all superficial. The painful damage was a staved finger which made changing gear and braking awkward. But it looked like I’d be OK for the next week’s event.

Ouch!

Ouch!

Ouch Again!

Ouch Again!

So, after a week of healing I was at the start line again. 82 miles and over 4,000 feet of climbing to go. The three desperadoes had teamed up again. It was cold at the beginning, 3°, but rose up to a lovely 20° with hardly a cloud as the day slipped past. Ronnie had a puncture before we began then 15 miles out another. Once mended we set off again and another flat. This one was sorted and we headed for “The Wall of Talla”, a local test piece. Ramping over 20% it wasn’t too bad this year as a tail wind helped us over, or maybe I was fitter (or had lost weight gouging lumps out of my knee?).

Approaching the 'Wall of Talla'

Approaching the ‘Wall of Talla’

The 20% section

The 20% section

Another ramp up

Another ramp up

Then it was over and onwards, seeming to stop at every temporary road works traffic light on the way.

The soup awaits!

The soup awaits!

Yet another of the road works

Yet another of the road works

We reached the River Tweed and started up the last 10 miles into a crazy head wind. But we were stopped again, this time by the police as 150 horses were coming down the road. The Selkirk Riding was holding a charity event so we were held up for a wee while, then continued, dodging horse poo, wide horse boxes on a narrow road and tractors blocking the road when pulling out from fields. So it was a gentle procession to the finish. Despite having a reasonable moving time, our overall was an hour slower, with only one planned short stop. Still a great event with the usual sun and some familiar faces and good chat with others.

Then 3 days later the Tour of Britain came through the area, with a King of the Mountains section on one of our local ascents. So we had to be there. Up early to get a good spot, packed 2 cameras, tripod and a sportscam and lots of warm clothes too. Hard work getting up the steep bit of the climb at 17% with all the gear though.

Adder by the roadside on the way up

Adder by the roadside on the way up

Got my site, but there was a chill wind blowing down the hill. Cycling buddies started to arrive and we all gradually chilled down, me too despite a down jacket, gloves, arm warmers, leg warmers etc.

Cycling buddies turn up

Cycling buddies turn up

Cycling buddies turn up

Cycling buddies turn up

Cycling buddies turn up

Cycling buddies turn up

Cycling buddies turn up

Cycling buddies turn up

The hill filled up with folk and I set up my tripod with the sportscam low down on the far side of the road and then took pics of the various folk coming up the hill.

Youngsters put us to shame

Youngsters put us to shame

Youngsters put us to shame

Youngsters put us to shame

Youngsters put us to shame

Youngsters put us to shame

The crowds gather

The crowds gather

Cycling buddies turn up

Cycling buddies turn up

The crowds gather

The crowds gather

The police motorbikes and official race cars arrived, zooming at what seemed crazy speeds up the hill through the crowds. A real buzz was in the air.

Roaring up

Roaring up

Roaring up

Roaring up

Then way off down the hill an armada of cars & motorbikes with lights blazing were to be seen in the distance. The race was for the King of the Mountains was on its way. A small breakaway group hove into view, with still a bit to go to reach us.

The leaders appear

The leaders appear

Quite a bit further back was the peloton.

The peloton in the distance

The peloton in the distance

TofB00020

Then the leaders were rounding the bend below us. What a noise from the crowd. The riders were up on the pedals and going for it, with still quite a bit of the hill above us still to climb.

The leaders come through

The leaders come through

The watchers became a bit quieter, wait for the main bunch. Suddenly a roar went up from below and round the bend they came, powering up the hill.

The leaders arriveThe peloton arrives

PowerPower

The Peleton arrives

The Peleton climbing hard

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Cav comes through

Cav comes through

Sir Brad in the pack

Sir Brad in the pack

After a crescendo of noise, including a barking dog, the peloton were past us and away.
I wasn’t sure if I’d got any good photos as my fingers were like wooden sausages with no feeling at all, time would tell.
All the multitude of team cars, motorbikes etc. came streaming past, followed by an Asda van, which almost got the loudest cheer of the day.
Gradually the crowd dispersed and the event was over for us. I decided to continue over the hills, the long way home. It took me at least 5 miles of enthusiastic peddling before I had warmed up enough to cast off some layers.
Later that night I watched the round up of the event, and there I was a crouching gnomic figure watching the riders pass through.Spot the Gnome!Spot the Gnome!
So that was it, but for one last thing.
I was out with the North Berwick crew on Sunday, but just Johnny & I turned up. We decided to climb local hills as he is doing one of the biggest bike climbs in the world. It’s in Columbia, 50 miles long and over 10,000 feet of ascent. On the way round he was behind me, touched my wheel but I accelerated off and all was OK luckily. Then right near the end we came to a junction. I stopped, but Johnny’s concentration had lapsed. He braked hard, hit me on the bum and somersaulted over the handlebars beside me, landing in the road ahead but managing not to get flattened by a passing car. He picked himself up gingerly, but was basically OK apart from the odd scraps and minor bleeding. He’s a doctor though so he could heal himself I suppose?

Anyway out of my circle of cycling pals four of us have come to grief in the last 3 weeks, so go carefully out there, we’ll try to do the same!