Tag Archives: Scotland

Pedal in, Pedal on Parliament and Pedal Back

Yesterday we were outside a local bookmakers trying to inform folk of the fate of greyhounds, once their racing days are done, or if they don’t make the grade. There are plans to open a new as fair wheeching greyhound stadium in our region so try to persuade folk it’s not a good idea. Lots of information online and it’s not for the squeamish. Makes me realise how horrible some people can be.

IMG_4026

Going to the Dogs?

Today felt more positive. It was POP day. Pedal on Parliament is a demo keep up the pressure to improve sustainable transport with making roads safer for cyclists, better and more bike paths and many other issues to do with cycling and walking.

Many pals were away doing the Tour de Lauder, but I hadn’t signed up this year.

So I set off for Edinburgh. Despite a chilly northerly wind I weeching along, averaging almost 18mph for the first 15 miles, then traffic lights, junctions, back roads and the odd bad turn or two slowed me down. When I arrived at the Meadows, quite a few folk had turned up already. I chatted with a few folk I knew, or just met.P1250079

As the crowds grew, crossing over the Meadows and then round the corner and along the way, it felt great to be part of this movement. The assortment of bikes was amazing. Big, big ones, wee ones, balance bikes, cargo bikes, racers, single speed, tatty auld yins, trailers, tagalongs, recumbents, hand pedalled  etc., etc. – wonderful.IMG_4036IMG_4031IMG_4037IMG_4039P1250081IMG_4038

The participants were also a mixed bunch, from the very young to the old and from all over the world it seemed too.P1250068P1250090P1250088P1250091P1250089P1250092

After riding in hard I started to chill down, but eventually we set off. It was wonderful to see so many cyclists unified and moving together. I was with a couple of guys hand pedalling their way along and it was nice to chat. Lots of support from passers by too. When we stopped at traffic lights or for emergency vehicles it was a chance to have a wee chat to pedestrians going past and explain what it was all about.P1250095IMG_4040P1250097P1250098P1250100

When we arrived at the Scottish Parliament there were to be speeches etc., but I was too chilly to stay. An acquaintance I met asked me if I was cold, when I asked how he knew he said my lips were purple!!P1250104

So I set off home, with a climb over Arthur’s Seat to help warm me up, as well as trying to cycle hard and get some feeling back to my fingers. With stops for  traffic lights, the odd wrong way and a ‘comfort’ break behind a big tree. I mainly sped back, and even warmed up.

IMG_4034After a great day’s adventure, including a fast off-road route for a few miles – it’s great having a road back with suspension – I was back home. After I stopped some other cyclists arrived in The Square and stopped for a break, so I pottered over for a wee chat. All in all, despite the chill I wouldn’t have missed it, and it’s another drip that might help wear away the status quo?IMG_8723

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

Why I love my Village

I love living here, despite being a newcomer of only 15 or 16 years.

We are near enough from Edinburgh to be able to get in OK if needed, but far enough away to have loads of things happening.

So what does go on then?

First of all, a quick visit to the shops just down the street can result in a 20 minute or so expedition, chatting to folk on the way, going off to the deli or home with someone you meet, helping out a stranger with something and so on.

The Sweetie Shop

The Chemists

The village is expanding as quantities of new houses have been built and more are being planned, but the village has always been growing. What I dislike is the uniformity of the new houses being built. As the village formed it grew up all higgidly piggildy as there were no planning regulations. Folk added a porch on, an extra floor and another as the fancy took them. In many ways the regulations make things safer, more efficient and environmentally friendly but at the same time the designers/ architects can’t get their heads around the creativity for new buildings that will also fit in an older setting with an acceptable profit margin.

Rant over (for now).

The Flying Scotsman whooshes past the former station

Some of the older houses

The High Street

You can tell the new folk to the village, you meet them, say “Hi, how are you doing” and they give you a look of what appears to be mistrust. Hopefully this will change as they grow into life here.

So what makes it so good? Of course – the folk who live and/ or work here. They keep an eye out for each other but will leave each other alone if needed. When something goes wrong a pot of soup will land on your doorstep, or maybe a jar of jam, dangling in its bag from the door handle, or maybe a book.

The community joins in a lot, old and young. We have a very vital Community Hall, well booked for most of the week. We have a Gala which is well attended, the community choir, a community cinema, Christmas market, scouts, guides, brownies etc., horticultural societies who plant boxes around the village and encourage others to do the same.

Filming at the old mill for Outlander

Building a set for the Drama Group

The VR stands for Queen Victoria (Victoria Regina) so wasn’t fitted yesterday

A cargo bike outside the Community Hall
We also have a good variety of shops, a couple of inns, all sorts of trades folks and so on.

Volunteers run a Christmas Market and this year we (the community cinema group Pix in the Stix) put up an open air screen and showed a couple of films and a show of snowy/ icy photos from her to the Alps and Himalayas. Luckily the weather goddesses were kind. It was above freezing and hardly a breath of wind.

The community choir sings at the Christmas Market

Our Community Cinema puts on some films and a snowy/ icy photo show for the market

The last thing to mention here are the surroundings. We have a river (the Tyne) running through the village, the beach and sea just 10 minutes away by bike, woods, hills and moors, castles, old churches and historic sites and buildings all within easy reach, the joys (mostly) of the weather always changing and a fascinating geology.

All this helps foster a good outdoor community, be it the football team, tennis players or the walkers, runners, canoeists, sailors, skiers and cyclists (like myself).

Phantassie Doocot (a Doo is Scottish for a pigeon)

One of the old gravestones in the graveyard

Giant leeks and onions at the show

A local heron at the Linn (the waterfall)

So if you asked me where I would choose to live if I could stay anywhere – the answer, as you might guess is – here!!

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!!

Lang Time Away

It’s been quite a while since I posted. An event happened that has thrown me for a while. I’ve also been away to weddings, visits, swimming with newts, cycling etc.

The event that upset me was the death of a former colleague and sometime partner in skiing, mountaineering, climbing, canoeing etc. over the years.

He fell off a descending a 4,000 metre peak in the Alps, which I had also climbed some years back.  He was a well respected mountaineer, known over the world and was usually a very safe pair of hands in the hills. We taught Outdoor Education in similar schools in Edinburgh in areas of multiple deprivation so had much in common in our outlook on life and education.

His commemoration was packed, with folk outside, me included, listening on a loudspeaker relay.  It was very, very moving.

There was an irony which he would have loved. Des was a keen cyclist and the family had asked for a cortège to accompany him on his final journey. About 40 of us gathered at the undertakers, along with a police escort. The wickerwork coffin was to be carried on a cycle tandem with a side car type arrangement. When it was placed on top the tyre was flat. The undertakers didn’t have a pump. They asked us for one and out of all of us only two of us had one. As the undertakers finished pumping up the tyre, one of Edinburgh’s tourist buses stopped opposite with the banner Majestic Tours on the side. All in all a real send-off which Des would have really chuckled at.

I was very much affected by his death and miss seeing his posts of adventures round the world, online banter and very occasional meetings.

Life goes on – I think I’m getting to the age where folk will pass away more often but it doesn’t make it any easier.

Coming up at the weekend is the Tour of Tweeddale sportive. This is a lovely, laid back event in the Scottish Borders which I’ve taken part in for the last 5 years. The long route, which I’m doing is just over 100 miles this year, the forecast so far is reasonable, there are some some good hills and I’ll be together with some good companions. It looks like the usual superb day out, if a longish one.

Finally, as usual, some recent pics from our part of the country.

img_2229

Harvest time around the village

img_2245

The London train passes the former station

img_2262

Up in the hills, the coos & sheep

img_2264

One of our rougher hill roads, this is one of the better sections

img_2267

Up high in the Scottish Borders

img_2268

After the deluge – heading for Sunny Dunny (Dunbar)

img_8021

A wee coo at peace with the world, ignoring the cyclist passing

img_2179

On a local walk

img_2186

Fa’side Castle, a great sight on a ride

img_2228

Mending our old bridge, been there several hundred years already

The 30 minute job and smelly me

The cranks felt like they had a bit of a clunk on the downstroke, just not quite right. Had a check, yes the bottom bracket was on the way out. No problem- order a new one, undo the cranks, then unscrew the old one, reassemble with the new one and go, go, go.
That was the theory anyway.

So waited for the order to arrive, meantime hoping the old one wouldn’t disintegrate. It didn’t. Next free day, down to work. Out with the allen keys, pop off the first crank. Unscrew the second, but no go, bit more force – still no, gentle taps with soft mallet. Then !?{}#%!#%{[}¥, the allen key was just turning round. So off to Chris at the garage, an amazing cyclist, after messing around with various cludges a nicely hammered in tork did the trick. Back home, screw out one side of the bottom bracket, then screw out the other – oh no, more !?{}#%!#%{[}¥. The whole casing, with the bottom bracket part firmly inside, came away from the frame. Not good, to say the least!

So, tried to unscrew it, no go. Needed a bit more oomph. Time to phone a friend. Eventually got hold of pal Gus, popped over and with a mole wrench, bench vice and metre long metal pipe somehow got the thing apart, without damaging the casing.

Back home, lots of reassembling with adhesive and grease, each in the right areas and wait till morning to see if it all worked. Unfortunately the floating screw holding the cable guides in place had gone as well, so a bit more adhesive there as well.

BB

Underneath my poor muddy bike, showing the relevant bits

So wheeled the bike out for riding with the team, no problem. Smooth again, just have to check that everything stays firm. So that 30 minute job, which took 3 hours seems to have done the trick.

Next job, cassette and chain – now that should only take me . . . . . . . ?

Now for the smelly bit. Riding along yesterday was lovely as ever. Past the bluebell woods with a good wind pushing me on.

P1160062

Bluebell woods with late daffodils clinging on

A newly surfaced road up in the nearby foothills was an absolute joy. Then a bit later on going past Frizells Wood I smelt a strong odour. I’m usually pretty good at keeping clean and using antioderant, but this was pervasive. Then it hit me, the wild garlic flowers were out with their pungent scent, not altogether unpleasant. By the way, who was Frizell? No idea, and I haven’t been able to find out.

IMG_1141

Wild garlic (ramsons), pretty but pungent

ps. Chain broke at the end of a ride today, luckily near the top of the hill beside the village. New chain & cassette went on a treat.

And a final recent photo

picofweek

The Flying Scotsman steams through the village past the old station on its way to Edinburgh

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.

IMG_4004

First check out the rear deraillier

IMG_4003

Second look for a cable breaking up

IMG_4005

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