Tag Archives: fossil

A wee Contretemps or not?

A lovely day for a ride? It was, went over my little local hill, my ‘personal challenge’, then was going to head east for. 20 – 25 mile loop. Coming back down to the main road you go under the by-pass road through a wide bridge that feels like a tunnel.

  
The route shown actually goes under the road, not over it.

I signalled that I was going to turn right and started to move out when the ‘Chelsea Tractor’ behind me pulled out and started overtaking. Muttering somewhat I pulled back in and waited till it was clear before signalling clearly again and moving out. Ahead of me the offending car pulled over to the left and signalled a left turn. As he/ she/ it swung to the left I slowed right down and moved to the centre of the road. I drew forward to get a clearer view before turning right, but went slightly over the white line ahead of me at the junction.

  

As I slowed (doing less than 4 mph) I saw this red car, cutting the corner towards me. I instinctively veered left away from it, but was caught by the wing mirror and flung to the ground. I felt a huge blow to my chest and lay there for a wee bit gasping for breath. Eventually I calmed down and started getting up. The bike was a mess, I think the back wheel had been run over and was certainly a curious shape. The front wheel was turning, but rubbing and the handlebars and levers twisted round, plus the a pain in my chest. Ah well!

Folk came running up and a woman from the car behind me kept saying “you were over the white line. Then an older lady, who it turned out had been driving the car that hit me, came back and was asking worriedly how I was. There were offers to run me home, but as it was just at the end of the village I told them I was OK to get myself back, loosened off the brakes and set off home, drama over.

The damage? A suspected broken rib, the back wheel needed rebuilding, the front wheel straightening, new handlebars and pride mending. And I’ll not be riding till things clear up a bit.

So, who’s to blame I keep getting asked, or did you ask for her insurance etc. Well I think it was a bit of fault on both sides, I was too far over or out, she was clipping the turn. Both of us should hopefully learn from it. Ah well again!!

  
May be a while before I’m up here again.

   
A happier ride the day before

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A sunset ride the day before

 

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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!

Wee Adventures & Keeping Going

Wee Adventures

Chyrel from ‘Ride All the Way‘ commented that I don’t share personal stuff often, so maybe a little overdose now?

I blogged a while back that my granddaughter was coming over & adventure was to be the thing whenever we were together. So, what did we get up to? Well she’s nine, going on ten so any activity would have to be appropriate. Once she & her mum arrived it was down to the river to clamber around the rocks & see what was happening. In the big pool was a large salmon, past its best, but still quite a sight.

The 'Auld Brig over the Scottish River Tyne

The ‘Auld Brig over the Scottish River Tyne

Salmon in the Scottish River Tyne

Salmon in the Scottish River Tyne

Then it was off to the sea with more rock hopping and rock pool exploration. A pal had lent us her caravan so it was beach time for a while. While there the biggest thunderstorm we’ve had for years swept across the cove. It was amazing, with multiple strikes and thunderclaps going on for a long, long time. Shiona slept through it all, apparently they are very common in her part of South Africa.

Lightning over the North Sea

Lightning over the North Sea

Lightning over the North Sea

Lightning over the North Sea

Next up a visit to nearby Eyemouth harbour where you can feed fish to the resident seals. The seagulls are way to cheeky and one swooped down and took the bait out of her hand before she could lower it to the waiting seals, ah well, live and learn.

Seal at Eyemouth waiting patiently to be feed

Seal at Eyemouth waiting patiently to be feed

Then a bit more beach combing & rock hopping, with some amazing rocks, including one that was just like a flag. All different kinds of rocks here too, brought down from further inland by the glaciers from past ice ages.

A Flag Stone?

A Flag Stone?

A crag beside the sea

A crag beside the sea

Back home we managed a wee bike ride round our local park – lovely. Then came Jupiter Artland with some pals, an art in the environment project just west of Edinburgh, it includes art you can climb over, ‘The Light Pours Out of Me’ – a crystal lined grotto/ pit and many other strange things.

Jupiter Artland

Jupiter Artland

The quartz pit Jupiter Artland

The quartz pit Jupiter Artland

The lining of the quartz pit Jupiter Artland

The lining of the quartz pit Jupiter Artland

A couple of days later it was rock climbing, abseiling and rock scrambling on volcanic rock then up to the summit of North Berwick Law. There used to be real whale bones here from the town’s whaling past, but now decayed they’ve been replace by fibreglass.

Climbing the slab on Berwick Law

Climbing the slab on Berwick Law

Maybe slightly tilted?

Maybe slightly tilted?

The summit 'Whale Bones' on North Berwick Law

The summit ‘Whale Bones’ on North Berwick Law

This led us to Yellowcraigs for a spot of tree climbing and more rock pooling. The Scots pines here have been twisted by the winds into strange contorted shapes, great to play around on, if done gently.

Yellowcraigs - twisted pines

Yellowcraigs – twisted pines

So the end came at last with a visit to ruined Innerwick Castle, built on a sandstone outcrop and another victim of Oliver Cromwell’s army on their trip to Scotland. We clambered around the ruins and over the sandstone for a while before leaving for the nearby coast and the limestone outcrops of Skateraw. We managed to find several fossils in the limestone pavement.

Remains of the tower at Innerwick Castle

Remains of the tower at Innerwick Castle

The entrance to Innerwick Castle

The entrance to Innerwick Castle

Clambering over the sandstone at Innerwick Castle

Clambering over the sandstone at Innerwick Castle

Coming back from Innerwick Castle

Coming back from Innerwick Castle

Limestone pavement, Skateraw

Limestone pavement, Skateraw

Fossils at Skateraw

Fossils at Skateraw

Far to soon the skies beckoned and a sad farewell for another year.

Keeping Going

Once they had departed I had a bit more time for cycling again. For some reason I’ve been going strongly recently with some quick (for me) rides. Why I’m not sure. I don’t do specific training and I did have a couple of weeks off the bike with a bad cough, aches etc. But maybe time climbing steep hills in Herefordshire, cycling in Portugal and Majorca have given me a boost.One ride at 19 mph+ for 15+ miles and a few longer ones at over 18 mph. I’m supposed to get slower as I get older, luckily it doesn’t seem to be working that way for me. But more importantly I am still loving being out on the bike, slow or fast.

Yippee! AlastairIMG_0483 IMG_0484 IMG_0482

My Nemesis and The Walk of Shame

It started with my nephew’s bike. It’s a touring bike with a good selection of gears, straight bars, slightly heavy and upright and also a bit too big.

We were all staying at his aunt’s in the wilds of Herefordshire. The house is up on a ridge in a countryside full of narrow  back lanes, muddy, damp and pot holed. But, a bike is a bike and I was grateful for the loan of it.

I discovered that starting near the top of a hill is a drawback as there’s always that climb up at the end of the day. Also, the area is fully of steep hills, often ramping up to well over 15%, often with a wee section of 20%+. So it is all quite challenging.

On one of my rides I discovered Mill Lane. Aghghghghghghgh – and I’ll tell you why later. 2/3rds of the way up I was struggling and staggered off and started walking, slowly, very slowly. But the challenge had been set. Next day, a short ride and I was back. This time, heart pounding, lungs gasping, legs aching I was up without a dismount. Yippee.

When I got home and uploaded my stats I discovered, much to my amazement, I had become King of that particular mountain.

So, 8 months later, I was back, relegated to a lowly 2nd place on my nemesis.

What every cyclist should wear?

What every cyclist should wear?

This time I was with my trusty steed ready for “That Hill” This time we were cat and house sitting.

The cat being sat

The cat being sat

By this time you might be thinking, “What is it with this guy and this hill?” or maybe not.

Well now, the hill starts right after you’ve passed what looks like an old mill house, then cycled down the stream to emerge at the slope ahead. You then know you’ve only got half a mile to the top.

First you cycle down the stream!!

First you cycle down the stream!! The hill rises up to the top right.

Straight away it ramps up to over 20%, take it easy, take it slow, take it easy take it slow, then a wee rest at 15%. Oh no off again, another 22%+ ramp, then another ‘flat’ bit at only 10%. Onward and upward, wheel spin on the gravel as the next 20% section is underneath the bike, then a turn round the bend at a mere 17% before the final kick up at over 22% till it eases off with an almost downhill feeling 3% (OK well not quite, but it certainly feels easier).

So, take it slow at first, up out the saddle by the third ramp and gasping and spluttering as I reach the top of the fourth steepest ramp. Then ahead of me a car looking abandoned across the road with its passenger door wide open, almost blocking the path ahead. I manage to crawl past the driver’s door, gasping something to the woman putting up a notice beside me. I recover enough to get to the top. Done it!!!

Later, when I look at the result I see I’ve just exactly equaled the time on my last attempt. See that car!!

So next day I know that !@£$%^&?|>!! hill has still got my name on it.

So, three days later, after being penned in by the weather, rested and recuperated, I’m ready. A quick 5 mile warm up and I’m at the bottom again, cycling down the stream. Scooting up the first bit – easy, then it bites back. I’ve gone too fast. By the fourth steep section I’m puggled. I’m sure I can taste blood in my mouth, I’ve just overdone it my breathing and heart rate seem to have gone ballistic, should I do this to myself? It’s the walk of shame again. I push the bike up that last steep section, hop on and try to cycle quickly up the last section. Ah well, not to worry, won’t be down this way for a while so maybe next time and it’s off for another 20 miles of ups and downs.

An amazing collection of old items

An amazing collection of old items

The ride is excellent, though clarty, passing buzzards, ducks, cows, tractors, the amazing house shown above and the army base where the SAS are rumoured to train. We watched a dismantled Boeing 747 swathed in white plastic on three huge trailers negotiating the narrow lanes on its way to the base the day before. Presumably to be used for training.

Got home and loaded up the stats much later. Wow! Even with walking it was my fastest time up that hill, well I never!

And who was the person with the KOM? It turned out to be a pro rider from Texas on a 100 mile jaunt, so a different league altogether.

But if I’m back later in the year . . . . . . .

Ringing the Changes?

Too icy for cycling?

Too icy for cycling?

Like a lot of the time recently it’s been hovering around 0ºC, so off for a walk together. I think the road up proved it.

Hi coos

Hi coos

Passed the Highland Coos on the way, they didn’t respond much to my cheery hello though. Good coats for this time of year too.

The Distant Hills

The Distant Hills

After a stroll round the wee partially frozen lake it was off to the delightful cafe for lunch, on the way back I spotted the snow on the nearby hills – so the afternoon was decided on. A wee ski trip beckoned.

Looking back

Looking back

A bit later on I had skinned up the hills, a bit dubious how the descent would be as the snow cover seemed quite thin. So . . . . .

About to strip the skins

About to strip the skins

Stopped to take the skins off for the descent and aimed for the whiter bits.

Just enough snow

Just enough snow

Despite misgivings the ski down proved delightful, with a soft powder on a harder base. It was great for doing my first telemark turns of the season. Not a long ski, but a great way to end the afternoon as it got dark.

A Quick Ski

A Quick Ski

The next day it was on the bike again, then I planned a rest. However a pal emailed so it was out again on the bike. A beautiful day with views way up to the snowy Southern Cairngorms. Then a day off and a trip to the cinema. And tomorrow – looks like the snow may be calling again?

Screeching Monkeys – disintegration

Top of the climb

Looking back, the hill up going south from Garvald, East Lothian

I was heading south to the Lammermuirs, hoping for a good climbing day.

Then I heard it, luckily just before I started the bigger ascents. A quiet screeching noise coming from the bottom bracket.

So, do I keep going?, do I do the sensible thing & turn back? At least I stopped & had a look & a wiggle of the cranks – a wee bit of play, but the bearings only done just over 2,500 miles. Decided to keep going on for a whiile. The screeching suddenly become loud and tortuous, what were all those monkeys playing at down there? So headed for home. On the way back the rain came down in absolute torrents & the bike went quiet. Made it back & squelched into the house.

Next day a friend helped me to dismantle the bottom bracket. As we took out the crank there was the sound of clattering bits of metal falling on to the concrete slabs. Tiny ball bearings & odd shaped pieces of disintegrated bearing cage rolled & bounced around. The seal had gone on the one side, probably some time back & everything on that side was totally dry. Strange thing was there was little notice of this failure, which with the lack of phone reception on our deserted moor roads & huge rainfall that day could have lead to an interesting situation. Later on checked the pedals, which I knew had some play, undid them and the bearings were totally shot. I had got some replacements ready.

A couple of days later all the bad bits replaced, and the bike is smooth again & a delight over the heights.

Conclusion, maybe I should check things a bit better, my summer bike is my winter bike & in Scotland this is a rough deal for any machine. Also, my last bottom bracket lasted from new (6 years) so maybe they don’t make ’em like they used to? But hey, the joy is worth the travails.

Another thing brought home how good even my old bike is, went out on my old hybrid and what unjoy it seemed to be to ride it. It’s not about the bike?

Alastair