Saturday, 31 January 2009

Another trip over the Pentlands

The road and the miles to Balerno
Preparing to ford the raging torrent

Which way?

I struggled to cycle over this
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Another trip over the Pentlands today, and completely different weather from last weeks trip. Today the weather was a fairly (for biking) pleasant 10 degrees and sunny as well. This was reflected in our time which was 30 minutes faster than last week when it was icy and snowing at times. We've still a section to sort out yet where we seem to leave the main track but today we reckon we've seen where we're going wrong, so next time we might just get it right. Only mishap today was Clive, who foolishly attended a leaving work party last night and over indulged in the beer and had to call off! He's been given a formal warning as to his future conduct!!!
On the plus side of things I found a rather nifty pair of riding specs in the heather!

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Getting away from bikes for a minute or two.......

Shuggy's wee racer!!

One of my customers, Shuggy,is currently Scottish Grass Track racing champion and is constantly foiled on his various sorties into England by one of his rivals down south. So whats the solution? Yip you're right, buy his machine, and that's what Shuggy did! And like any good self respecting Scotsman he hasn't told his wife about his latest purchase yet! He's already got another two of these things but has conceded he'll have to sell at least one of them! The little beauty in the picture apparently is capable of 200 mph and has a tendency to rear up on the back wheels if accelerated too swiftly, not a problem I've ever experienced with my bike!

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Sunday, 25 January 2009

Over the Pentlands (and back again)

Baz and I set off just after 5.30 am this morning armed with a map of the tracks over the Pentland Hills, (courtesy of Clive), and not the slightest idea if we would find our way in the dark. It was also snowing just to add to the fun. We eventually reached the village of Carlops and began the search for the beginning of the track we wanted. Our first foray up what we thought was the track ended by being surrounded by a herd (?) of Icelandic horses and the thought that someone would think we were rustlers and take a potshot at us. A hurried retreat from there and a reappraisal of the situation saw us ride back the road a couple of hundred yards and discover the opening we were looking for. The climb up into the hills wasn't actually too steep though it continued to snow but not too heavily. At some point we became separated from the main track and seemed to be riding on what can only be described as sheep tracks, through the occasional bog, but at least going in the right direction and at last we joined up with the track again. The ride down to Balerno was quite exciting as parts of the track were run ice and there were a few hairy moments.
After we reached Balerno we were faced with a 3 mile climb up to the track back through the Pentlands to Flotterstone, but with the assistance of a banana and an energy bar this was achieved reasonably quickly. The descent back down to Flotterstone is a cracker but the ice again kept our speed down.
Only mishap today was about 4 miles from home when we were coming down the road to Roslin Glen , we hit ice and Baz did a rather spectacular imitation of a speedway rider as he broadsided down the road for about 20 yards!
We rode 41 miles today in roughly 5 hours , a combination of road and cross country , and if we do it again in the spring in better weather I think we could knock 45 minutes off our time.

Saturday, 24 January 2009

Clive's mudguards (cheap at half the price!!)

Clive has decided that his ride to work bike needs a bit of mud protection , or to be more precise, he needs a bit of mud protection. So onto the net and before you could say "muddy heck" (or similar), he'd bought himself front and rear guards for the princely sum of 14 quid. They look a bit girly pink in the pictures but that's down to the poor quality of my mobiles picture quality, they're actually a very manly red!!!
As usual they were put together on his kitchen table with the usual accompaniment of quiet cursing which always seems to help when small nuts and bolts don't behave.
The finished article makes his bike look like a mini motor-cross type thingy, but if it keeps the
mud at bay I may be tempted to invest in
some myself.

The rear set up

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

The last word on the Strathpuffer,(for the moment anyway)

Baz decided a massage was just the job to ease the aching limbs, or so he said......

Bike mechanic, Scottish Highlands style, he kept going for the full 24 hours too!

Some of the clart (Scots for muck) that had to be negotiated.

A worn out competitor near the end of the night!
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Tuesday, 20 January 2009

More Strathpuffer photos

Baz trying to look relaxed before the start!

Smoking logs to help keep warm at the start/finish as darkness falls

Posted by PicasaHow to keep warm in between rides

Monday, 19 January 2009

Some dogs spotted at the Strathpuffer

this one was well spotted!

Frank by name, dont know about his nature!

All the way from Newfoundland, no wonder he's a bit blurry!

"The Dark Destroyers"
(after it was all over!)

More Strathpuffer ramblings

The Strathpuffer Challenge itself began at 10 am on Saturday with a Le Mans style running start to the bikes. The weather through the day was actually pretty good and Baz took first turn for his team, "The Dark Destroyers", fondly so named with the thought in mind that they would destroy the opposition in the hours of darkness!
Darkness itself started to arrive soon after 3.30 pm and about 7 pm the weather began to deteriorate with the wind rising and rain beginning to fall. Baz's first lap was slightly disastrous as he took a wrong turning and ended up on the local golf course! However he made up for this with the fastest lap of their total next time out. Through the day they were lapping the 6.5 mile course in times of 45 to 50 minutes but as darkness fell and the weather got worse the lap times dropped to nearer 60 minutes. The decision was taken that from roughly midnight they would do 2 laps each to enable the rest of the team to get some sleep when they were off, the Strathpuffer obviously got word of this and decided everyone had had it too easy! The wind got up to gale force on the exposed stretches and it started to snow for good measure which had a marked effect on the lap times, they dropped to 60 minutes plus! But to their credit the team carried on through the night with only one of them being forced to cut short a lap with a bout of sickness. With the return of daylight the wind dropped and the sun came out again and before we knew it the last lap was being done. The team completed 25 laps in the 24 hours of nonstop riding and actually looked good for a few more!

Sunday, 18 January 2009

The Strathpuffer Challenge, 24 hour madness!

The Strathpuffer Challenge has come and gone. The event which has developed into a sort of cult status with mountain bikers in Britain is the most extreme 24 hour mountain biking event held in Britain, being for a start held in the far north of Scotland and also in the dead of winter when the weather is probably at its most unpredictable. Baz and I set off on Friday night and reached Strathpeffer about 10 pm to book into the Ben Wyvis Hotel for the cheapest room available, we are Scottish after all, and were surprised to discover the hotel was massive and looked quite magnificent! The whole of Strathpeffer in fact seems to be made up of hotels of grand proportions, apparently in Victorian times it was famous as a spa and was visited by the great and the good in large numbers, now unfortunately it seems to be mainly mountain bikers!
Next morning we had breakfast in a dining room you could have played tennis in, such was its size, and then it was off to the village of Contin just along the road where the event was being held.

Thursday, 15 January 2009

Next stop "The Strathpuffer"

The bags are packed, the tools are laid out ready to be loaded and everything but the proverbial kitchen sink is waiting to take off for Strathpeffer and the infamous Strathpuffer Challenge 24 hour race. Baz is in a team of four who'll take it in turns to ride the roughly 9 mile lap from 10 am on Saturday until 10 am on Sunday. I'm going as chief bottle washer and bike mechanic as the course can play havoc with the bikes, and some nutter has to be there to attempt to rectify any damage caused either by the elements or rider fatigue (or both!).
Previous years have seen a mixture of conditions, from 12 inches of mud to 12 inches of snow and ice while at the same time being so far north there's about 17 hours of darkness,it should be quite an experience.
I hope to get a few photos, if conditions (and participants) allow. I,m especially looking forward to the picture of them all on Sunday morning at 10 am !!

Sunday, 11 January 2009

The Pentland Hills circumnavigated (well sort of)

First mishap today was Baz sleeping in. I had to phone him when he hadn't arrived at his usual ungodly hour only to be answered by an obviously still in bed biker! However to his credit he arrived in half an hour and we set off at just after 6am to try a new course for us, a mixture of road and cross country, cycling by road to Flotterstone and then up the track by the reservoirs to finally follow the footpath over the Pentland Hills to Balerno. Second mishap was my sense of direction when I led us all astray by about 2 miles! However we eventually got to Flotterstone and started the long haul into the gale force wind up into the Pentlands. At one point all three of us were blown of the track by the force of the wind which seemed to blow into our faces no matter which way we were going.Eventually we reached the top and it was some relief to get the downhill road to Balerno where we got onto the Water of Leith cycleway to keep us of the main road.We got back to base at about 9.30am to be greeted with calls of "what are you doing back already?". Some folk are never pleased..... The trip including the wayward part was just over 30 miles, not bad for a January morning as most of my neighbours were still in bed when we returned!

Strong winds over Edinburgh!

Baz and Clive struggle to stand in the wind near the end of the ride

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Thursday, 8 January 2009

Good job done with full 5 minute guarantee

Clive's old Giant Xtc which he uses to cycle to work when the weather allows was getting slightly the worse for wear so a refurbish was required. Onto the Internet, a quick search and soon the credit card was being abused again! The parts arrived within 2 days, and the past 2 nights my garage has been a hive of activity as we replaced the headset bearings, the bottom bracket, the cassette and chain and re greased everything that moved! The warranty expires the minute the bike crosses the garage door on the way out but I'm confident he'll get through the summer, if it ever comes this year, with no problems at all. If he does have any I'll plead the fifth amendment (whatever that means!)

The finished machine with new chain rings and cranks, new bottom bracket, new cassette,new chain and new headset bearings.

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Clives Giant XTC rides again!

Clive hard at work in amongst the clutter!

The new rear cassette

Posted by PicasaThe new front chain rings and cranks

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

I know the picture's crap!!

Posted by PicasaThe picture's poor but the conditions were pretty awful when I took it, it was about 8pm. It was heavy snow and it was about halfway up Glentress Red route. Baz had phoned me about 3 pm to say did I fancy a trip to Glentress at night, as if I would turn down the chance, so we set off at 6.30 pm with the odd small snowflake here and there. Halfway down and the temperature dropped to zero and it started snowing in earnest. By the time we reached Glentress there would be an inch and a half of snow at the bottom car park where we parked. We decided against the Black route (a wise choice as it turned out) and stuck to the Red, but the higher we went the deeper the snow became until it was almost impossible to cycle in it. Only other mountain bikers will know how much fun this is (I think!!), I know my sanity is frequently called into question. Anyway, good training for Baz and good acclimatisation for the Strathpuffer Challenge!!

Sunday, 4 January 2009

Posted by PicasaMy two desperado companions on our 25 miler this morning

Feeling slightly knackered

Thank goodness it's back to work tomorrow, all this festive eating and drinking has taken its toll on me. I've never done so much exercising over the Christmas holiday period in the belief that I could then eat (and drink) to my hearts content. My weight has fluctuated up and down by a few pounds from day to day, but appears to have stabilised around what I normally weigh. This last week has seen a fair bit of biking with around 120 miles from Sunday to Sunday, with around 75 miles off road (hence the knackered feeling). Two weeks till the Strathpuffer challenge and Baz has stepped up his training a bit, should be a good weekend then!