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Painful meander – 2 falls and a submission

Not quite sunset yet

Not quite sunset yet

I usually try to limit me posts to one a week at most, but . . . . .

It was my second ride after 2 weeks of coughing, spluttering and all sorts of things I wouldn’t inflict on my readers. Spent part of the morning fitting new tyres for the winter – Vredestein Fortezza Senso All Weather Anth/Red 700x25mm. The bike was clean, all the oily bits were attended to, cold weather clothing on & camera strung round my neck. So I was ready to go.

First, up into the foothills, with a few nice climbs as a warm up. I approached Starvation Brae, a steep climb near Spott, but didn’t feel up to it having been up a 17%+ slope (according to Strava) already. So I decided to potter on down the hill & take a meander east of Dunbar. On the way I saw a pal, caught up with her on her lovely pink bike & we  pottered on together, gossiping, to the coast. I left her to meet her man there & carried on to the lighthouse, intending to maybe carry on along the coast.

At the lighthouse I negotiated my way on the narrow trail past a rock and at about 0.005 mph got it wrong, stopped & with feet firmly in cleats crashed to the grassy ground. Oh %$£@*&%?/$$!!. I was shaken and stirred quite a bit, but retrieved myself & the bike for a breather.

The bike recovering from the trauma!

The bike recovering from the trauma!

So along the coast I went, but it was too rough for a road bike (and me) so I turned back & set off for Dunbar. The sun was getting lower & it was getting a wee bit colder, but the sea looked great, so I headed round the harbour, up the wee twisty path round the swimming pool, and then along the cliff top path – not a good place to slide!

A dodgy ride?

A dodgy ride?

So easy back then? Down the hill and along the fairly newish cycle/walk way to the Sea Road. A couple of guys were ahead looking out to sea with binoculars, maybe studying the birds? I decided I would take to the grass to ride past them. It was wet & as I remounted the path I caught the wooden rail at the edge, got caught in it as in a tram line and made an undignified crunching fall onto the tarmac. The guys rushed up, but nothing was hurt much, just pride, ripped winter tights, bloody knee & bloody elbow plus the odd scrape elsewhere. It was a definite reminder of my human vulnerability. So apologies for interrupting their walk in such a fashion and a sore ride the few miles back home.

Luckily it is very, very, very rare that this sort of thing happens – but twice in one ride, a bit much?

The remains of Dunbar Castle and Harbour - look carefully you can see the saltire flying.

The remains of Dunbar Castle and the Harbour – look carefully you can see the saltire flying.

Tiny, tiny, tiny things

November, riding past a plastic sea covering the fields, North Berwick Law behind

November, riding past a plastic sea covering the fields, North Berwick Law behind

No I’m not writing about the effects of the seasonal cold on the ageing (or not so ageing) male’s parts, but bugs. Not the computery type of bugs, but germs, viruses etc., so small that they are quite invisible without resorting to the wonders of optics. Such a small, microscopic thing, but what a powerful influence on our lives at times.

I’ve been off the bike for almost two weeks, aching in body & head, sweating so much, coughing, bringing up phlegm (a great word if ever there was) and just generally fed up. Strangely enough, despite not riding or feeling up to doing much and still eating reasonably well I’ve lost weight – must be the body harnessing everything for the fight against illness.

So, I’ve been watching the fine autumn days go by, as well as the rainy, blowy ones. I’ve been unusually attentive to everyone’s blogs, so had some great reading. I’ve been looking at friends’ and contacts’ Strava recorded rides, noting their PRs, giving kudos and missing out on a few group rides.

At last I slept all night & am feeling the possibility of a wee daunder on two wheels again. The bike has been cleaned & is waiting. New 700×25 tyres have been ordered, new cheap Chinese powerful lights have arrived for occasional night rides and I’m starting to improve in health, if not in vitality.

So what will my first ride be? Who knows, certainly not I? It will depend on the weather, the wind, how strong I’m feeling (or how weak) and who I’m with that trip.

All I know is I’m looking forward to ridding myself of those tiny, tiny, tiny things and being back out on that road again despite the autumn chills. And it’s back above 5 degrees again.

Le Tour de Farce – 1st Edition


Brilliant!! Hope you like the not-a-go-pro hanging round my neck!

Last year was the 100th edition of Le Tour de France, so a group of localish riders decided to head out to Alpes d’Huez for this historic event + 5ish days cycling, especially as the Tour was coming up the hill twice. We named our group Le Tour de Farce, and Tour de Farce it was in some ways.

Edinburgh airport, we were all assembled for our flight, bikes at the ready, the queue kept building up, nothing was moving. Finally they came to tell us all the ticketing computers had gone down. Aghghgh, slight panic – cars to collect at the other end. After 2 1/2 hours things were sorted (manually) and we left the ground.

Arrived at Geneva, got bike off the carousel, wandered through customs & passport checks to wait for the others. No-one at first, then some came out – 2 bikes had gone astray and 1 set of luggage, complete with biking gear. Aghghghgh – more slight panic. Decision time, some of us were sent off in one car, while the rest stayed in to see if things could be retrieved.

A few hours later in Alpes d’Huez, we went for a bite, a pizza – darkness coming, so too late for that first evening cycle. Apparently after midnight the rest of the gang arrived having achieved not much.

Next day the bikes were loaned out, but I was left with mine. The gang decided to go down the hill & then pootle back up (if that’s the right word for a 3,00 foot, 21 hairpin climb averaging too many %)

So I got on my bike & climbed up to the twin lakes a mere 1,100 feet above. I had had a break in my riding as my granddaughter had come over from S Africa for a month and we spent so much time together, so I knew this trip would be a struggle – but slowly, slowly . . . . . .

Possibly the best descent of the trip.

Possibly the best descent of the trip from Le Col de Sarenne

The after noon arrived and the 2nd group set off with me in tow to climb over the Col de Sarenne & then Alpes d’Huez. Fabulous weather but hot, hot, hot. On the way up to the Col we had to take to grass riding/ pushing to bypass the folk laying down fresh tarmac for the Tour coming through in 2 days time. We paused at the top and I stayed behind to take photos & videos of the team tentatively going down, then wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!!! A fantastic descent for the fools like me and with the temperature at 90 degrees + (32+C) a lovely cooling off period. I managed to overtake everyone on the descent so not bad for an old fool.

The it was into Le Bourg d’Oisans at the foot of the big one for a well earned drink & pâtisserie. Then off to climb ‘The Hill’. I set off a tiny bit before the others, but most had passed me by about the 7th bend. Masses and masses of cyclist were toiling upwards. I then suddenly realised I was totally out of it, I was meandering all over the road & with not much between me and the drop beside me I decide recuperation was the order of the day. I later realised the temperature had reached 102 degrees (39C). So I hid under a bush for 20 mins, with a butterfly to keep me company. Once I continued I drank even more & doused myself with water under the roadside waterfalls. I’m from Scotland – we don’t do this sort of heat! But eventually made it back.

Then off for a pizza, now when in France I love to eat nice French food, in a lovely restaurant, but ‘the gang’ had other ideas. Not sure about the general Europop around the village either, but hey?

Breakfast at Boirg d'Oisans, French style

Breakfast at Boirg d’Oisans, French style

Next day the delayed bikes had arrived & it was the big one. The Col de Galibier beckoned. This time a mere 7,000 ft of ascent. At least the start was a a blast down from Huez and a lovely French breakfast in the village below.

At 13% a real sting in the tail

The team arrive up the final slope, at 13% a real sting in the tail

Several hours, 26.7 miles and 6144 feet later we were at the top, feeling fabulous.

La Meije, my acquaintance from 30+ years ago.

La Meije, my acquaintance from 30+ years ago.

Descending from La Meije Oriental summit 1985, maybe looking ovet to Galibier?

Descending from La Meije Oriental summit, 1985, maybe looking over to Galibier on the left?

On the way up we had views of the Meije Oriental, which I had climbed nearly 30 years ago. Then it was wooshing away back down. We stopped at La Grave for a late lunch and as we finished a huge downpour started. But, it was warm, so we set off anyway splashing our way down. I wimped out of the Huez climb again having already 70 miles and a car being available, but the others were braver than I. That night pizzas (though I opted for Lasagne), beer and Europop – no comment.

Next day, the great day arrived. Whizz, down to the bottom, breakfast at the cafe then the ascent before the Tour arrived. There were probably 20,000 or so of us peddling up those hairpins and 250,00 of spectators on the slopes. With my white beard & Scottish flag flying from the back of the bike I was greeted with cries of Ah, Le Diablo Ecosse (after an eccentric Italian who follows the Tour every year nicknamed Le Diablo). Loads of bravos, cheers, europop blaring out, manic Dutch corner, wee pushes and a wee diversion near the top away from the final finish. A really great but bizarre experience.

Alpes d'Huez - the leaders arrive first time round

Alpes d’Huez – the leaders arrive first time round

Alpes d'Huez, arrival of le peleton

Alpes d’Huez, arrival of le peleton

A quick sandwich & the down to the village to see Le Tour come through, accompanied by Europop, cheers that drowned out the music(?) and a fantastic atmosphere.

Le Pelton coming through Alpes d'Huez 2nd time round

Le Pelton coming through Alpes d’Huez 2nd time round

Then up to our apartments to watch progress on the TV & Le Tour coming through a second time beneath out balcony.

Then later, back down to the village for more beer and? (I’m sure you can guess by now)

Next day, up too late for a final ride, bikes dismantled the night before, then smooth progress back to Scotland.

An amazing if strange experience, would I do it again? Well this year it was the Giro d’Italia starting off in Dublin & I declined, But I’m glad I experience Le Farce & I’d try to be fitter next time.

A Rose by Any Other Name . . . . . . . . .

Up in the Lammermuirs, Scotland

Up in the Lammermuirs, Scotland

What’s in a name?

I’m not sure, but I do enjoy giving my rides a special name rather than ‘Tuesday ride’ or ‘Morning ride”. Sometimes the name is descriptive, sometimes a little poetic and sometimes just plain daft. Not sure if my cycling friends enjoy them (though some do), but it is a wee bit of fun. A local friend who I cycle with has started naming his rides after the shape of the ride on the map, this also leads to a bit of entertainment and banter.

So what are these names? Here’s a wee selection from recent ones, earlier ones first:

‘ Wi’ the B-Spokes – coffee & scones, but still no sprinkles’

‘The best laid lack of plans’

‘Enough gravel for 1,000,000 grouse gizzards’

‘Wild Dunbar & Mike’

‘B-Spokes Tuesday & Jelly Legs’

‘Talks wi ‘pals + thorn and shrew’

‘1/2 century difference and wet, wet, wet’

‘Deluge & 1/2 naked lady’

‘Oer the Hill wi’ Nicky’

‘Blown over the hill – sort of’

So, are you the ‘morning ride’ variety or do you spice up life a little?

Wedding Roses

Wedding Roses