A last minute decision to go to Glentress on Friday night meant a rushed tea and much scrabbling around for all necessary gear as not only was it very dark it was also bl***y cold! We eventually got going up the trail at about 7.15 pm and YES... it was cold, -3.5 . True to form and maintaining my recent 100% record I managed an over the handlebars at one of the more technical bits. Apart from a throbbing heel (how that happened, God only knows) and a grazed knee I was otherwise none the worse but my rear brake decided to play up after that to make life just a bit more difficult! We finished at about 10.15 pm and met a couple of guys in the car park who were just finished as well and had the usual boring discussion about the merits of various lights! On another tack, my mobile beeped at 4.15 am this morning with a photo text from Clive, who's in Japan at the moment, with a picture of him at a kieran race. For the uninitiated that's the race where everyone races round at the back of the guy on the little motorbike. More about that later.
A quick blast over to Roslin tonight to test out the anti-puncture goo I treated the bike wheels to. Everything appears fine with them. though I suppose if the stuff works and I do pick up a thorn or a piece of glass I'll be none the wiser! The reason for this experiment was last nights' disastrous ride. I set off, and crossing the local park on my way to the cycle path I must have picked up a thorn from the hedge that had been recently trimmed. It was only a very slow puncture which cunningly waited till I was about two miles out before making its presence felt. Needless to say I'd forgotten to take either a pump or a spare tube so a two mile walk home was the result. Now I don't mind walking, and I don't mind biking. but walking with a bike just seems so pointless...........
Clive, who incidentally is in Japan on business, left me his spare bike that he cycles to work on, (not to Japan by the way) as the headset had a fairish bit of play in it. He knows that I like nothing better than pottering about in the garage, or Dodgy Bikes GHQ as we call it. Anyway the upshot was the top bearing was well and truly minced and the correct procedure was to replace it with a new one. However being a one time farmer has made me into a miserable sod when it comes to spending money and I always attempt something else first! A quick rummage around in the spares department, or clapped out junk as some would call it, revealed a somewhat grotty looking integrated bearing that looked like it would do the trick. A poke or two with a small screwdriver got the seal out and a blast or two of brake cleaner got rid of the gunge that was all that remained of erstwhile grease! A quick clean up with some soft paper, some fresh grease and into the old bearing shell it went. Probably not quite as good as new but damn near it! In view of the state of the country's economy at present, I should probably have gone to Halfords and bought a new one, but once a miserable old git..... always a miserable old git........
The bike will see him through to the Spring now, and if this weather keeps up I dont think there'll be too much cycling to work anyway!
Mishaps aplenty today at Glentress. We started off at the ungodly hour of 5.30 am , it was snowing but not heavily and as we neared Peebles it actually got less, which is unusual!
The lights were all fixed to the bikes, just Baz and me as Clive was off on a business trip to Japan, don't know why he preferred that to Glentress, but for reasons known only to himself he did!
After about 4 miles climbing I had to remove the light rain jacket I was wearing, I felt like I was in a sauna. Today was the furthest we've been before the lights were no longer needed,about 7 miles, it really was quite a dark morning.
We reached the mast at the top of the black route which is about 2000 feet and stopped there so I could put the jacket back on for the descent. we soon scooted back down the forest track to Spooky Wood which is the top of the red route and stopped there for a quick energy bar and some liquid.
The first mishap occurred near the end of the Pie Run, a section that is very rooty and reasonably technical when I misjudged a sharp corner and did a spectacular over the handlebars, at low speed I might add. I remember thinking to myself as I viewed mother earth upside down, "hope my lights don't get damaged", luckily they weren't and neither was myself , apart from personal pride.
Further on going over the logs, a pile of logs which today were wet and slippy, my back wheel slipped and I whacked myself on the back of the leg with a pedal, much to Baz's amusement.
The biggest mishap was yet to come though, Baz, in an attempt at humour said " where's your helmet light?" I put my hand to my helmet and to my relief it was still attached, "where's yours?" I said, sadly his had disappeared! There followed much retracing of steps where we thought the most likely place would have been that it was lost, but to no avail. As a last resort Baz went back down Andys flume, a section we did earlier, and I went back down the Pie Run.
I looked everywhere I thought it might have come off his helmet, but nothing. Eventually we met up again and there he was, beaming from ear to ear, the lucky sod had found it, talk about a needle in a haystack!!
Anyway everything ended well even if we ended up doing about 5 more miles than we'd planned!
Since the blog is adventures and mishaps it seems only right to include a few of the mishaps. For a while we considered a season ticket to the Borders General Hospital at Galashiels as we seemed to be frequenting the place quite a bit. Excellent service , by the way, but of late we've managed to keep clear of anything major. Excuse me a moment as I rush outside to clutch something wooden!
They can even tell just about what section of Innerleithen or Glentress that you came to grief on, goes to show how much business they get from the mountain bikers!
Led bike light mania has arrived! Clive phoned last night to say he'd been putting the news about at his work to fellow bikers about the success of the lights we'd bought. Holy moly we've got an order all together for :- 10 lights, 20 rechargeable batteries and 4 battery chargers, could I come over,(I live next door) and help with administration (my words not his!). After a bit of Internet faffing around we eventually got the order together but the site would not accept his credit card. After about six attempts he eventually called the credit card company who had blocked payment in case of fraud, I suppose 10 lights, 20 batteries and 4 chargers did have a hint of suspicion about it. Anyway all was cleared up and the transaction went ahead, I only hope everyone wants their lights now or our bikes are gonna be a bit front heavy and Glentress Forest is gonna be lit up like Blackpool Illuminations !
A few piccies taken when we were "younger and more innocent"and didn't realise that lycra and full suspension bikes were an essential part of mountain biking!! Actually, the weather looks better as well in those bygone days............
The highlight of today's ride (rather sad really!!) was the bodging that is now very noticeable on both our bikes and apparel! Having spent a fairish bit on various devices in an attempt to ensure his bike and new light remained joined together, and with very little success I might add, Baz concocted a device made up of 2 jubilee clips. the piece de resistance was the top clip which had a butterfly handle on it, to enable quick removal of said torch! He was not amused when I said it reminded me of a sardine tin. However it worked admirably.
Clive's rough and ready handiwork consisted of ensuring that his cycling overshoes remained attached to his legs via several yards of bright yellow insulating tape. It would appear that the roughness that is apparent in most of my own bits and pieces has influenced the two of them in various ways!
Everything worked though, so as I used to say about my own bodge jobs "CBE" ............... crude but effective!
This is the sad way we spent Friday evening, preparing Clive's helmet light for Sunday's early morning ride. Women just don't seem to appreciate the finer points of helmet light fixing and alingment. Clive's kitchen table made an admirable work bench and the light was temporalily fixed on, then cycled round the garden to ensure the beam was angled correctly. (I'm sure the neighbours think there's a few screws missing between us!) The light was then finally secured with some o-rings made up with the trusty o-ring kit, somehow or other we managed not to super glue our fingers together! Roll on Sunday morning........................................
This video clip was taken at Newcastleton Mountain Bike Track skills area in the Scottish Borders which we visited about 2 years ago. The wind was a near gale , which made riding the logs quite difficult. Luckily no-one was videoing me when I did an "over the handlebars" when I came off!!
A few pictures taken a year or two back when we seemed to have had a better summer than this year. These pictures were taken at various events we took part in , ranging from the Welsh/English border up to Selkirk. I would gladly have swapped my bike for one of the ponies the day that piccie was taken , if I remember correctly it was a scorcher!
Starting at 6am it was pitch black and b##### cold when we set off from the car park at the bottom of Glentress! After all Baz's boasting about the lumen power of his lights, he suddenly remembered he'd forgotten to change the batteries since the last ride, much chuckling from myself! However the lights were good enough to last till daylight at last arrived so no harm done. We were nearly 7 miles up the black route this morning before the lights could be safely switched off, still another 6 or 7 weeks till the shortest day, so fully charged batteries will be needed from now on. I had found a pair of goggles last week, abandoned at the side of the trail, and decided to wear them this week for what I foolishly thought was a rather racy look, that look didn't really come off , though the goggles did keep my eyes dirt free on the descents so they might become a fixture! We usually have about 3 stops for an energy bar and a drink on the ride, by the end a bacon roll is all I can usually think about as I'm generally starving.
The bottom photo shows Baz negotiating the notorious roots and stepdown on Andys Flume, a section that's quite technical and has been known to have me and the bike part company more than once, but happily today I managed to keep on the saddle........... well nearly all the time.
Apart from one puncture today's ride was incident free and next week with the lights and our own batteries fully charged we'll be ready for another challenge. Temperatures today varied from plus 4 Celsius to zero, with ice forming on the puddles higher up the tracks.
After last nights ride with the new helmet light a few fine adjustments were required to get the correct alignment. This is right up my street as I,m renowned as a bit of a tight wad where buying equipment is concerned so the chance of a home made effort appealed to me greatly. To cushion the light several layers of spongy double sided tape were fixed to the helmet to give as near perfect positioning as possible. Then I made up an O ring with an O ring kit that I had so that the light was held firm. I also made another small O ring to fit to the lens of the light to alter the beam from a spot to a wider spread. Talk about a bodge job!!
But it works, so now for Sunday morning to try it all out!
This was to be Baz and myselfs second night ride at Glentress and the only mishap was Baz over tightening his new front light mount which promptly broke under the force inflicted on it, to the amusement of myself, and some rude words from him. However as usual we did a bodge up with some insulation tape and a selection of rubber bands cut from an old inner tube and everything was hunky dory. The new light I had on my helmet worked really well and lasted the hour and three quarters we were out riding with still plenty left at the end. 13 miles were covered all relatively uneventful at an average speed of 8mph which isn't far off daytime speed, so the lights have been voted a hit. What was surprising was the number of other riders we encountered out on the track, quite weird seeing the lights glinting up the forest, disappearing then reappearing again through the trees. Got home at the back of 10pm, to the usual female cry of " you must be mad, how can you enjoy that!" Probably we are..............
Set off this morning at 5.30am, Baz, Clive and myself, jeepers was it chilly or what! On the way down to Glentress the temperature dropped to -2 Celsius and when we were nearly at Peebles we ran into freezing fog which tends to lie down the tweed valley. Five minutes or so were spent getting lights fixed up and then the compulsory visit to the loos, you don't want to be caught short in sub zero temperatures, (unfortunately Baz, was much to Clive and my amusement). After about the first mile of climbing we emerged from the fog and the views were spectacular, not really done justice on my camera phone, the hills in the distance were capped in snow and the fog twisted its way down the path of the river Tweed. Continuing to cycle up the black route we eventually encountered our first snow of the winter and patches of pretty tricky ice.The higher we went, the more snow there was and eventually it was impossible to cycle on it because of the ruts so we walked the most of the final half mile to the mast at Dunsire Heights which stands at about 2000 feet. The descending was hairy to start with because of the ice but as we got lower the track became safer and the speeds increased. Twenty miles were covered at an average speed of 7.5 mph which considering the conditions was no mean feat. There were the usual minor mishaps but nothing serious and the day ended when Trevor, a biker we met at The Hairy Coo, saw us at the finish and had a chat with us. I still think this Global Warming nonsense has a bit to go before it reaches chilly Scotland!!