Wednesday, 31 December 2008

A long, long day

After a 4am rise to attend a funeral in the north of Scotland which entailed a round trip of well over 300 miles I could be forgiven for taking it easy when I got back home, but Baz had other ideas! With the threat that he would go on his own (he knew I would fall for that one) he said it would be an ideal night for a Glentress ride. The temperature fell to -5.5 on the drive down and the old nose must have resembled Rudolph the reindeer's when we set off on the bikes. It turned out to be a terrific night time ride though, something quite magical about sweeping down a twisty path through the trees on a still frosty night. Absolutely no mishaps whatsoever, which makes a change, and I eventually got back home at 11.40 pm. A perfect end to a long day.
A happy New Year to anyone who happens to read this!

Monday, 29 December 2008

The case of the freezing freewheel hub

Clive and I went out for a hopeful 12 or 14 miler on the back roads tonight but had to cut it short as the frosty conditions kept freezing up Clive's freewheel hub. At 4.5 miles out we decided to head back home as the alternative was the chance of a long hike pushing his bike. Strangely enough, squirting some diluted orange drink from his bottle managed to get the ruddy thing working twice, and to say we limped home would be an understatement! I know the accepted method is to urinate on the frozen part, but not only was it freezing cold, neither of us could conjure up the need for a pee!!
Anyway we made it home, removed the wheel and lay it on its side, cassette side up, and dribbled lubricant down into the offending bit. If it's left like this for a couple of days it might drive the moisture out which causes the freezing, that's the theory at least!

Sunday, 28 December 2008

Right round the Black Route

Watch your back Clive!!

Baz has cramp (or so he says!)


Back to 5.30am starts with Baz back from his holiday, so we set off from the bottom car park after the usual visit to the loos! I was outvoted today as to the route we'd do so we ended up doing the full Black which involves the notorious 2 mile climb known as Redemption back up to the hut in the picture where the weary legs can take a welcome break. Today's mishaps were a puncture for Clive on the climb back to the Buzzard car park and a touch of cramp for Baz which he was mercilessly baited about, (he is the youngest after all!).

Baz's brakes started playing up towards the end of the run but a quick bleed of the system when we got home appears to have sorted out that problem. How the hell air manages to find its way into a closed hydraulic system is beyond me, perhaps someone can explain...............

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Saturday, 27 December 2008

Peebles in the winter sunshine

Went for a walk round Peebles today, which is only about a mile from our usual riding haunt of Glentress. It was a cracking day, bright winter sunshine but quite cold at the same time. One thing I did notice was that nearly everybody who was out walking by the River Tweed had a dog. Where were all the other non dog owners like myself, stretched out in front of the telly? The morale seems to be; if you want some exercise, get a dog................or a bike!

The ducks on the Tweed

I like this church spire

The old Peebles bridge, must have seen many a flood.
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Monday, 22 December 2008

Man versus nature!

This short clip may give some indication of the wind strength yesterday as Clive wavered his way ever higher! As we got closer to the mast it sounded like a jet plane as the wind howled through it.

Global warming returned yesterday!

After the Artic conditions of the past month or so, yesterday saw temperatures in double figures centigrade. How on earth are you supposed to dress for biking when one week it's minus 6 degrees and the next its plus 13 degrees? Mind you the wind was verging on a hurricane at the top of the black run, one gust in particular blew Clive off the track and into the heather!
The forlorn figure that can just be spotted in the early morning gloom is Clive battling his way through the wind up to the mast which is the top of the black run.
We have our own names for various sections of the ride, this particular section is known as "Brass Monkey Moor", mainly because it's quite exposed and in the winter any brass monkey venturing up there would have to be very, very careful!
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Sunday, 21 December 2008

Rupert the biking Labrador

This is Rupert the biking Labrador (the small black one in the middle obviously) whom we meet fairly regularly on our Sunday morning rides round Glentress. He must be the fittest dog I've seen since the Border Collies I owned when I was younger that would run at the back of a tractor all day chasing the seagulls that followed the plough. I even had one once that ended up with a mouthful of tail feathers.
Rupert, I'm assured by his owner, is a pure Labrador even though his legs seem a bit on the short side. Personally I think it's because he runs so much that like a rabbits teeth, his legs just keep on wearing down! (Or maybe not).
Anyway it's always a pleasure to see him and he never gets in the way of the bikes.
A few mishaps today to report, mainly by Clive, who for some reason found himself unable to take corners at low speed, after haring down quite technical descents like a bat out of hell he would come off on some simple corners much to my amusement.
Baz is off to Lanzarote for a week (no not for winter training) though he really should as he's entered the Strathpuffer Challenge which takes place at Strathpeffer in the dark and distant north. Its a 24 hour race, he's a member of a four man team, and it's in the middle of January so there's roughly 17 hours of darkness. The man's a fool!!!! (I'm going as his mobile mechanic!).
More of that later.............
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Saturday, 20 December 2008

Disaster strikes Clive's helmet!

Extremely crude but fairly effective!

Emergency call from Clive at 8.30 pm,. The o-rings we made to secure his light to his helmet had bust. A rapid bit of dubious bodging was required, so in keeping with the crudeness that accompanies all my handiwork a couple of bits of old inner tube were cut and used to keep said light firmly attached to the helmet.

The finished article certainly lives up to the low standards I set myself, in fact I'm rather proud of it!!Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

The local bike ride

The bike ride we often do at night locally takes us from Loanhead along an old railway line which is now a walking/cycle path to the village of Roslin. Apparently in bygone days Roslin was a very important place in the Lothians but its best known now for the Rosslyn Chapel, made famous by author Dan Brown's book The Da Vinci Code.
On the way to Roslin we cross the River Esk on an old railway bridge several hundred feet above the river, quite a spectacular view.
Also just outside Roslin is the laboratory where Dolly the Sheep was cloned, there are dark rumours that they are trying to clone some local mountain bikers for posterity's sake.........

Posted by PicasaWhere Dolly the Sheep was conceived!

The old railway viaduct

View of the River Esk through the lattice on the bridge

Signs along the cycle path

Posted by PicasaThe sign to the Rosslyn Chapel

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Under the flyover

This is the new flyover being built at Glentress where the climb from the bottom crosses under the final descent. Baz decided to pose as the riders do on the front of the mountain bike magazines, out of the saddle and leaning slightly to one side!!Posted by Picasa

Monday, 15 December 2008

Biking up a snowy mountain!

This may give some indication of the conditions we faced on Sunday morning at Glentress. The time was about 7.30 am and it was damned cold!!!
Now known as "Jeeks Jump" I fondly thought I got about 4 feet off the ground!! In reality its more like 12 inches!! Well they do say its all in the mind anyway. (They do don't they or am I imagining that as well?)

I rather like the triumphal shout though!

Sunday, 14 December 2008

More snow at Glentress

Baz arrived even earlier than usual this morning, 10 past 5 am , luckily I was up but not in complete control of all my faculties! We set off from the bottom of Glentress at 6.15 am and were a fair bit up before we ran into snow but it got steadily deeper all the way up to the top of the black run. There must have been another couple of inches last night on top of some from last week with the odd bit of ice thrown in just to catch us out. (Which it did occasionally!)

We came back down the red route which was equally tricky at the top end of the run but as we got lower the snow just disappeared.

Today's average speed must have been the slowest for some time but we'll put that down to conditions and not our fitness!

At the finish my bike computer read 21.5 miles and Baz's heart monitor gave a reading of over 3000 calories burned so that cream and jam pancake I had yesterday was well and truly burnt off!!

Some of the pictures below give an idea of the conditions today.....

Hard going in the snow!

Bike riding Yeti!

Snowy table

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Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Wednesday night blues

The blues by the way are the colour of my nose and fingers after being out for a quick blast tonight. It was cold enough to make a brass monkey cautious along the cycle path to Roslin, which was an old railway line , so there's a deep cutting at one point which seems to hold the cold air. A part of the ride was off road up a little path round the side of Roslin, and here the sun had never reached , which meant several icy stretches that had to be treated with a bit of caution.
However no mishaps tonight (for a change) and the lights are terrific which was the main reason for going out anyway! (That and there's sod all on the telly!!)

Sunday, 7 December 2008

The conditions beat us, the latest pictures!

Oops I've lost control!

This looks dodgy!Posted by Picasa

Too icy today!!

The blunt truth is........ today was just too icy for comfort. We tried to make a go of Glentress today but the elements won hands down! It was -4 when we started at the bottom and the icicle which formed on my nose remained there for the nine and a half miles we managed to struggle round. At one point both Baz and myself were lying in a heap together, victims of yet another icy corner.
We decided to concede defeat to Mother Nature, who seems determined to prove the global warming theorists completely wrong this year. No photos today yet as I've still to get to grips with the technology of my new camera phone, but there should be a good one of Baz entangled under his bike when I master it!
The plus side was we got back early and were able to do some much needed maintenance work on the bikes.

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

More Japan by Clive

This is the Shinkansen (Bullet) train. It is futuristic and concorde like. I later found out that this is old hat and will be decomissioned later this year. There are 3 newer versions which cut the 2.5 h 800 mile journey from Tokyo to Osaka by 20 minutes!

Chris Hoy - do these legs match yours?

And they're off

Prize giving Japanese style:- checking the form books and watching the dancing girls.

Clive in Japan (on business allegedly)!!

Posted by PicasaOver to you Clive

This is the Keirin Race (Chris Hoy is the World & Olympic Champion) at Yokohama near Tokyo. The race is very different to the Olympics - the main difference is that the motor bike at the front is replaced by a cyclist, but the race is otherwise the same. The spectators are big time gamblers. This clip gives a feel of the atmosphere. There is a lot of swearing and some cheering - reminiscent of a day at the dogs. After each race, a team of workers clean the track. The next racers parade in the style of race horses in the padock, the punters then study the form book (and legs) and head off to the betting machines. Meanwhile you can eat, drink and be entertained by dancing girls whilst watching the winner take his prize on a large TV screen. Then the action starts all over again!!!

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

The Falkirk Wheel

One of the highlights of the summer was a cycle run along the Union Canal towpath from just east of Linlithgow along to the very impressive Falkirk Wheel which can lift barges from the Forth and Clyde Canal up to the Union Canal, doing away with the need for locks.
A few miles before the Wheel the canal goes through a tunnel of 630 metres which is dripping wet and quite poorly lit, quite an experience!