Tag Archives: Scottish Borders

Septuagerianism & The Beast from the East

But I’ll start with the beast as it arrived first. It was forecast for snow and boy, the forecast didn’t lie. Usually by March in Central Scotland it is rare to have any snow at all, but this time it piled in, driven by big winds, so we stayed put for a couple of days till it blew out.

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The front door

Then it was digging out The Square with our friends & neighbours and getting out the skies again. A couple of lovely wee tours on the boards.

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Out on the boards, heading for the hills

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Just a wee bit o’ snaw!

Then the temperature went up a bit and the roads cleared enough to be out on the bike again. So away off, so happy, despite the gunge, snow melt, gravel, potholes, cough etc.

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The long road up Redstone Rigg with John & Mike ahead.

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Redstone Rigg summit with Mike, I’ve not put on weight – gloves and hat tucked in!

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A rapid down in the Lammermuirs

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Getting the miles in, nearly home

Then my 70th loomed. We booked an away trip to Peebles, in the Scottish Borders.

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On the way down to Peebles

I took my mountain bike too, as there is a renowned trail centre there at Glentress. As my 69th year departed I took the bike out, full of ambition and headed out and up the hill behind the hotel. A few miles in and a few hundred feet up, there came the snow banks. Unfortunately it was fairly soft so I eventually gave up & slid/ cycled back down. Only just over 5 miles in just under the hour, but still fun.

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Got a half a mile further

Then off to the swim, steam room & sauna and a well earned meal.

Next day dawned with me entering a new decade, funny how many cycling bits I got as presents?

So after breakfast off on the bike to Glentress to try my luck. My old steed was misbehaving so in to the bike shop at the foot of the trails to have it sorted. The front derailleur wasn’t selecting bottom gear – absolutely essential for the day’s outing. The managed to bodge it as a normal adjustment wasn’t working, so off I went.

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Glentress trails

On up the forestry roads, once again the drifts of soft snow impeded progress, so it was ride, slither, get off, push and repeat, and repeat . . . . . .

At one point a huge logging lorry came up behind. I stopped, got off and stepped to the side. Unfortunately the snow was softer and deeper than I thought so I went down on to my back, landed upside down with my feet and hands waving in the air, like tumbled over beetle, and my bike splayed out beside me. The driver stopped to ask if I was OK, but I was just lying there laughing at the situation – so I waved him on. I eventually untangled myself, decided enough was enough as the drifts were getting deeper & set off to find a blue trail back.

With some sort of dignity restored I found the trail and set off – guess what more ride, slither, get off, push and repeat, and repeat . . . . . .

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Selfie timelapse, phone resting on gloves

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Still smiling (or is it grimacing?)

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About to head off again

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Eventually I got to The Buzzard’s Nest, no chance of trying out the fun park today. A quick chat with some sensible fat bikers the off down. It was a brilliant descent swooping along, dodging the snow banks on the berms and over the wooden humpback bridge. Suddenly I thought, this seems another level up from the blue I’d been following. I had strayed onto the red/ black run. Ah well, just have to concentrate a bit harder and take care till the bottom.

Then it was back along the cycle path.

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Castle & brooding skies on the way back

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That castle again

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Subterranean cycling

This was followed by a repeat of swim, steam room & sauna. Altogether a slightly adventurous way of spending a birthday.

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And . . . . relax!!

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Peebles museum – hydro therapy as it used to be!

Next day back home and out on the road bike again. No snow on the roads, no falling over but not as much giggling and guffawing!!

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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!!

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