What a drag!

The group assembled, the dog lept out of Si’s car and made a bee line for my house. The house was locked up as it occupants were still in their scratchers. A disappointed dog lurched back into the car having checked that no other doors in the street were open to her. 

The usual debate of “what to wear” started, Si capitulated and went knees out like the rest of us. 

We set off, with me telling myself not to be daft and contest any of the 30’s. Si claimed the village ones. Campmuir came and went as did Kettins. Rolling on at a pace I am just not used to, we hit Newtyle. Just as we approach Scareytown, I realise that Si has taken his eye off the ball, he reaches for his bottle, and I go. I claim the 30, with Dave half a bike length behind. Yes yes yes, I know I said I wasn’t going to contest any 30’s. Through Scareytown now and we jink left at the school to see the Guinea foul. Crossing the main road, we head bump for the bump eight mile bump road. Who the hell thought that those road/drain repairs were done properly. On the approach to the eight mile road, I use my fatmentum to go past Si. He sees this and decides there has to be a 30, so takes off… there is no 30. Eight mile road now, just rolls past. 

On to Kirriemuir now, is a long old drag to the junction. Quarter of a mile of flat and we are climbing again. Si’s drag race. 

Oops we miss the turn for Alyth. I do a u-ee, Dave turns round and Si, I never saw how he came to face the correct direction. Rolling on past the iron age settlement we head for the 5 ways.

Roundabout negotiated, I am in full saunter mode, while the other two are giving it a few more beans than me. 

We arrive at Flour, order and wait at out bench outside. The chocolate sugar hit is very welcome. 

Setting off we head past the Templar Hall. (who knew Meigle had such a thing). 

We roll back towards Ardler. I go a fraction early for the 30,Si is again caught napping in the wrong gear. And Dave chases me down. No I am not contesting any 30’s…lol.

Kettins is again uncontested, Dave steals the Campmuir one. And as we descend towards the Smiths Garage, I have yet again engaged fatmentum. Si misinterprets this as a challenge for the Woodside 30. 

Going up the main road, I just knew that of the two ahead, one would go left at the green to take a 30 and the other would take the 30 at the butchers… some way back, I go right at the green and take my own 30.

Back at base camp and the dog is reunited with Si. 

This was my first “fast” group ride in a very long time. I have to say I am tired but quite happy with my showing. 

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Sunday 12th Sept

08.30 from in the village near the ex T&P garage

Then Campmuir, Newtyle, Eassie, Kirrie, Loch Kinnordy, Den of Airlie, The Standing stone that if you blink you’ve missed it, 5 ways roundabout then Meigle for cake! After that it’s back via the Ardler 20 zone!

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BREWDOG Independent Pedal Association

Brewdog! This was the first Saturday run for the Perth Chain Gang (it’s going to be renamed and relaunched). Anyway, some of the group were cycling in from home (an extra 12 miles or so). I have driven, as I have two bikes to bring. My phone goes off its one the merry band “have you left yet?”… I was already in Perth. He had forgotten his car keys for getting home. There ensued a panic of who else could get the keys. Iain to the rescue!

Gathering now outside the Brewdog Perth pub, we waited, for all the people who had signed up. The three from South America, were guaranteed to be a no show, but, the one from Scotland we gave a few minutes grace and then set off. 

We collected another of our number at the North Inch as we trundled towards Luncarty. 

Luncarty achieved, we regrouped. One of the guys had decided he wasn’t feeling great and baled out. We play follow the leader under the rail arches and on to the first bit of new cycle path. We cruise along, the chatter is light. On reaching what I will call the Tullybelton flyover, another of our number bales, muttering something about a BBQ. 

The rest press on towards Stewart Towers. We leave the tarmac behind and start climbing a farm track (whos ultimate end is the Bankfoot Junction). Now at the top of the climb, we reach a core path. The look on the faces of the assembled group is priceless. Yes up that tiny groove in the grass. I give a brief description and set each person off with a suitable gap between then, you know just in case anybody has an issue. At the end of this path there is a crossroads of tracks. Left we go as right is into the five mile wood. 

The track is in reasonably good nick and soon we reach the Bankfoot to Airntully Road. Up a bit now, an we stop for Icecream at Stewart Towers. This is the second first. We have never had a refreshment break on  a Brewdog ride before. Ice cream guzzled, we set off for Airntully and ultimately Stanley. Stanley now and its a quick right and back past the five mile wood’s other end, on on to the cycle track again. This path I feel is a bit exposed to the traffic on the A9. 

In Luncarty and I scoot to the front, to lead the group a different way back through the village. This teeny tiny route variation continues as we approach the North Inch and again as we cross roads to the concert hall. 

Back at the Brewdog pub now, we track and trace, and order pizza. Not the highlight of the run, more of a crowning glory. 

The beer flows and the pizzas arrive. Silence descends as we all hungrily consume the food. 

There is a brief discussion on when the next one would be. Aye the nights are fair drawing in! 

Till next time… 

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Tour de Forth

Thoughts of cycling across the Forth Road Bridge with views of the Historic Forth Rail Bridge and then cycling through picturesque Culross and Linlithgow with new roads was the attraction of this ride.

Preparation for the ride got off to a bad start. I couldn’t find my Gilet, last seen when i stuffed it into my pocket post accident help at Loch Ness. Not happy. Oh well the old red one had to be brought out of retirement. Anyway it wasn’t meant to be bad weather and given the sun of Sunday we could be in for a reasonable day!

6am pick up and the weather is fine and mild but closer to Edinburgh there are the odd spots of drizzle but just spots. Parked up at the event Hub (some parking skills were nonexistent) registered and then wait. They asked that we register by 7 to be ready for the start, but then we didn’t set off until after 8!! It was getting a bit chilly, but still dry standing around. We passed the time checking out the gear on display. Saw a nice Bianchi, more of this one later.

And we were off! Jeez the road surfaces were hellish. In the briefing before we started there was mention of the state of the roads and a warning of a particular pothole near Wychburgh. But these roads around Ratho were something else. Down to Newbridge and past the car dealerships and into Kirkliston. I remember the COOP from Glasgow to Edinburgh in 2010!(Sad I know). Through Dalmeny and under the bridge and we keep going into the grounds of Hopetoun house. Simon comments that Annie has family near here and he should have messaged and got them out to cheer us. More of them later! I’d plugged the route into my Garmin and it had told me there were 9 climbs on the route and the Hopetoun one was number 2! We soon found the Garmin to be telling porkies as we changed down into Granny gear on “not a climb” according to Garmin ClimbPro! Must look at the settings! We should have been seeing the magnificent spires of the bridge by now but they were shrouded in mist and we were getting more damp due to the mizzle.

Over the bridge with scenic views of the dockyard and then skirt through Rosyth. It was about now we had our first taste of Fife Pave. We were glad to be going straight up on the wet cobbles. On to main A985 for a bit with Simons radar keeping us alerted to the vehicles behind. Down into Limekilns and on to the cycle path. Back onto the Main road then off again to Culross and more Fife Pave. Past the fog shrouded Longgannet power station and Simon remarks about how wet his feet are! This weather was not expected! The gramin informed that we had deviated off the track, Joys of following others but we were back on the course shortly and over the Kincardine Bridge. Thankfully the weather had dried but there were ominous looking black clouds ahead. Thankfully they didnt amount to anything!

Through Skinflats and onto Grangemouth. Some nice big houses not what I was expecting. Ineos were sponsoring and the water stop was at their offices but we kept going. Now it was time for climb 7 according to the Garmin, we’d lost count of real climbs. We catch Bianchi lady from the start. It’s only now that I clock that this fancy blue bike is an e-bike! She pulls away from me slightly but Simon is not to be beaten and catches her. There is apparently a conversation about heavy breathing!

Yet more climbs this time though countryside and on towards Linlithgow. Other the canal and unfortunate timing of traffic lights on a incline and clipping in wasn’t graceful! Then it’s Garmin Climb 8. Manse Road with the Marshall saying to to look up!! Too later I’d checked it on google street view! Over the canal and up past the houses and parked cars. It was fine. Then off out into the hills again.

Now back to Annies family. Simon things the roads here look familair and assumes the village they live in must be near and behind us. 2 minutes later and we are approaching the end of their road. So a quick detour to say hello and then off off again, this time heading for the old Slag heaps between Broxburn and Wynchburgh. Oh Wynchburgh, that means it’s time to watch out for the big hole. But not before remarking on the juxtiposition of Niddry Castle and the Slag Heap behind it. Yup there was a really big hole or three right in the middle of the road under the railway bridge! It would have been a wheel and skin breaker if you’d hit it!

Up on to the main A89 and heading for the New Bridge Car Dealerships to complete the circuit. We watch as one of the other entrants try’s a track stand behind a but but as usuall happens foot down just as the lights change. They don’t stay green for long! Just Garmin climb 9 remains. Simon asks where this is just as the Garmin pings “climb start”. Back onto the rough as anything roads around Ratho and head to the finish, But not before we pass the e-bike again. Our blast to the finish is paused by a red light then its on into RBS and it’s over.

I’m sure there are roads and routes that the local cyclists use that do not always go through the built up and industrial areas but this route made me think of how lucky we are living where we do for the quiet roads we have to cycle on.

Been there done it bought the t-shirt, Cant see me doing it again! Oh I may not complain as much about our road surfaces either!!

Must go investigate the Garmin Climbpro settings and see what it lied about the number of climbs. The total elevation was only 100 feet less then Loch Ness!

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Etape Loch Ness – with added excitement

Registration on Saturday meant get my number and timing chip and some swag. But also to go collect my new ELN Jersey. However the list for jerseys to be collected had me down for 2! I had ordered one then emailed to change the size which was all acknowledged and I have the order up date but it seems the collection list wasn’t connected. I was honest and only collected the one from the updated order. Then check into my hotel and grab some dinner and a couple of pints 🙂

4.45am is not a great time for waking up even to go cycling. Neither is 5 am to receive a call from Simon, As I pick up the phone it’s what has happened thought that is in my mind. Turns out Graham realised late that he had left his cycling hoes 160 miles away and Simon was wondering if I had a spare pair. Nope so Graham was to do the event in his trainers

We meet at Eden Court and a very cheery and enthusiastic marshal points us towards the start. The start line has moved around the corner since last I did this but it was still the familiar shuffling along until it was out 1 minute warning and then we were off.

This was Lucys first event so plenty of checking she was still with us. It was a misty start but dry but that made us still be cautious crossing white lines.

Memory fails me but it seemed like only 10 or 15 miles in before we came on a casualty being attended to on the road.

On towards Invermorriston and we wait for Simon and Lucy to get back to us. This section rolls with some climbs that begin to string everyone out. Plenty of Bike Porn to be checked and it was about here that we saw one rider who appeared to be wearing jeans! They certainly weren’t normal cycling trousers. We passed a ride on an e-bike which must have topped out on its assist help but we were able to be faster at this stage.

Just before Fort Augustus the rider in front of Graham and I drifts off the edge of the road and clips the soft verge and is thrown to the ground. We pull over to help and he is out cold. Graham check on the rider and I start to warn the approaching masses. I knew there was a reason for wearing my Yellow arm warmers! 2 riders stop to help they are paramedics. Mobile not working to call 999 but Simon Rolls up and calls relaying the update from the Paramedics One holding the riders head still. By now he had some around and was able to answer questions. 15 – 20 min and a Motor bike Marshall arrives with news that the Ambulance is behind him It’s the fast response car and it’s paramedic gets an update and takes over. We meet one of the initial Paramedics at the end and she says that the rider got taken in the ambulance and reckons he shoulder was broken too. While we were helping Lucy cycled past so no it was time to catch Lucy!

Over the canal at Fort Augustus and onto THE CLIMB. Graham goes at his own pace and Simon Rides with Me. On my previous two occasions doing this event I had to walk parts of the climb. Not today! I wont say I sailed up it and at times i could feel my face getting hotter so much so I must have started to look like Violet Beauregarde. Past Loch Tarf and the Macmillan team and then it’s the sharp start of the final stage. Simon takes off only to admit later that what he thought was the summit was a false one and he had sprinted too early. Still no Lucy, but she had phoned earlier to say she had passed the summit. I did feel happy reaching the summit today as this was 3rd time lucky. The previous two ascents had required periods of walking, so well happy. The three of us regrouped at the summit, then it was time to engage launch mode for hyper drive and take off down hill. It was BRAW! Pedaling hard and fast to Foyers where we regroup and still no sign of Lucy. Each white Gilet we see we wonder is that her!

A couple of wee climbs on this section with one final climb after Dores to contend with. Each rise knocked some of my pace but Simon paced me back up tp Graham. It was on this section that I spied the cycle jersey I aspire to have. Across the back it had “Pedaling Pensioner”!

For a man cycling in trainer on top of SPD pedals Graham was powering on. He could have been unstoppable with his proper shoes and cleated in but we tried to stick together as much as possible.

Coming out of Dores another white Gilet is spotted. This time it is Lucy! She had managed up the Big Climb and kept going. With 7 miles to go it was now head down to the finish. Simon cycled with Lucy wile Graham and I opened a small gap on them. Pushing on through Scaniport ( must look up the origin of its name) and then it’s the Tesco Roundabout. This is police managed to allow shoppers in and out and then we are on to single lane closure. There is an extra obstacle in our way. Due to road works they have put a BMX ramp style over some road furniture.

Still pushing on like a man on a mission it’s down past the castle and over the river. Ever Cautious of the turn on to the cobble at the finish straight and then sprint.

Off into the Highland Gathering Park to get our goodie bags and by the time we have those we already have a text with our chip times. Simon and Lucy arrive a couple of minutes later. We stand around and chat for a bit with some competitive banter from Simon of next year being every man and women for themselves to see what time they could race too. For her first even Lucy enjoyed the event and route. Then its time for Simon to check if he got a parking ticket. He had been jammy and got a space in the council car park right outside the Event hub.

Early on in the event we passed a girl on an e-mtb. The sped restrictions meant we sailed passed her. After her crash stop she caught up with us on the big climb and sailed past us with many cyclists calling out for a tow. Then after the hill due to the speed limiter we again caught and passed her on the down hill.

Back to the hotel for a quick shower and down the road. As I neared the turn off for Carrbridge I see a cyclist on the A9, no not Simon, but as I go past I see that they have their number on their bike from the Etape. So not being content with the 65 miles they have cycled into and then home after the event!

Having the even in August I feel benefited me as it gave me longer to rack up miles in my legs compared to trying to find opportunities in the winter to get out or to suffer for shorter rides in the garage.

Oh yes interest is registered for next year.

ps. My legs are not enjoying the stairs this morning!

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Does that go to Glen Corb?

It’s sometime before 8:30, the temp is in single figures. It really makes no difference to what I wear on the bike. I arrive at Chez Beange, and begin the phaff that is getting ready. Oh and the delivery of some Biscoff Rocky Road.

Enough of this, we set off, for Necessity Brae. It’s a long time since I have been on this road David is chatting to me all the way up. A pattern that would be repeated throughout this ride. Approaching Dunning, we turn off – first bit of off high lighter. The pace is to my liking. We’re their 30s going in to Dunning, I don’t know, I was distracted by two things, a jacked up Lamborgini and my clocking up the century for this week. There were many runners out today, and almost all of them had blonde pony tails.

This run is punctuated by a fair few short sharp inclines, all announced by my local guide in advance. The local guide pointed out a quite spectacular house I think the road that looks like it leads there is also to road that I came out of Corb Glen on (the in was up the Dunning Glen Road) Auchterarder now, and a teeny tiny detour which is off highlighter. Kinkell Bridge looms large, and I remember the climb. David, yet again chats to me all the way up. I realise how annoying this must have been for others as I used to do just this in my fitter days… I can only apologise. I will not apologise for the “born again Christian” joke.

On the home straight now, we stop for a small refreshment at Tibbermore, or as it will be known wasp heaven.

OK, now on the home straight, a wicked sounding lotus goes past, and a vintage motor cycle sits behind us at the Struans lights. When is finally putt putts past, I see its a rather sweet ducati.

Up West mains and back to the start.

In all a good ride for me, bit more distance than I am used to. But thoroughly enjoyed.

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Hills miles Interception and a tumble

The loose plan was to leave from up the Glen and meet Andrew in Meigle for coffee after he took a more direct route.

The perception of Kilry hill as I drove up the Glen was that it was a nasty climb that we were about to come back over. After an enthusiastic welcome from Tess and the usual discussion of how many layers to wear we headed off up the hill. The perception of the climb from behind the steering wheel did not match the reality and the climb was nice and steady but not as bad as first thought. It was then over the Bamff road to Alyth Den. A road not travelled since before strava became a thing. Down past Strathmore golf course and the race to Meigle was on. Andrew was sitting on the wall at flour and let us know that it didn’t open for another 15 min. Oh well off to the Joinery for coffee and cake outside and a good old natter.

Heading back with Andrew Ardler was looming and the sprint happened. I think Simon just got it by a wheel width. Woodside approaches and we head one way and Andrew the other.

The long drag to Blairgowrie is further than I recall. Then it’s through Blair and just avoid getting cleanly through but get stopped by a small child at the pedestrian crossing. Then it’s onto the Balmoral Rd and head for Vom Hill. I’m happy to see the large strawberry shaped hut is still near cargills leap. Another climb not attempted for many a year but it’s now just a steady slow climb as opposed to a struggle. The road surface to Bridge of Cally has never improved and is rough as a rough thing. Onwards to Kirkmichael and discussion of 2nd coffee or not. Time is catching up and so no coffee and head back to the start. But which way round Mount Blair. The way that gives us 55 miles or the near 60 mile route. 60 miles wins so up the A93 with some nippy ramps before turning off at Cray. It wishing to risk a hand of the bars and to take a drink while on the main road means a large gulp or two are now inhaled.

Another climb and then it’s up and past Forter Castle. Nearly back to Tess and we still just at 59 miles. So it’s back onto the Kilry hill road then attempt a U turn at the Blacklunans road end. Slow speed bike handling skills are lacking and I suffer a loss of balance and suffer a topple too the ground. No actual damage to me only a knock to left calf which is still tender and just a minor tear on the bar tape was all there was to show for my lack of skills. Back on the bike and a wee skid on the loose gravel just to cap things and check my handling skills. Then it’s another leg back towards Forter before the final turn. The bonus so this being another run on smooth tarmac. Just a shame a tracked vehicle has already churned up part of the surface.

60 miles achieved and probably the final ride before Nessie. Despite the single digit temperature to start things warmed up and it was a pleasant day for a pedal. Oh and not forgetting another enthusiastic greeting from Tess and her willingness to help me strap the bike onto the bike rack.

I’m sure that there are other bits I could have commented on like the tandem couple that Andrew accosted or the tourist cyclists and the lack of grumpy car drivers. Oh and the 4 cattle grids too

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Interception Meigle

Two Start & End Points. 1 interception point!

Start point 1 – Tess’s house 9/9.15

Start Point 2 – Octavia Cottage 9.15/9.30

Coffee Stop – Flour in Meigle at 10.15

Choose your start point and then preferred route to be at Flour for coffee and Scones.

After coffee head back towards Octavia Cottage then it’s on to Blair, Bridge of Cally, Kirkmichael, & Blacklunans. Or which ever route the local guide suggests 🙂

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Van Pelt Toot Toot

The weather forecast was for sunshine later in the day. However for now it was a bit grey and even mizzly. Jackets on for the start.

Off from ER up Pitlochry high street then sixth sense makes me check my jersey pocket and realise no inhaler. Now it’s mostly never needed but like Linus van Pelt from the Peanuts cartoons it’s my security blanket. So quick shout out to Simon and back down the high street to retrieve my security blanket. Then back up the High Street. There was quite a number of other cyclists getting ready at the same time as us so we anticipated being swept up by a chain gang but it never happened.

Queens view warms us up. We roll along chatting about live and the universe. Since I last cycled this way there has been loads of trees cleared opening up previously hidden views of the Loch and beyond. Into Tummel Bridge and the jackets are off in readiness for the Trinafour climb. I’ve been down the hill from Trinafour but never up. Down into granny gear and make steady pace up the climb the lower section is the worst but eases off around bohespic before dropping down to Trinafour. At this stage we could have done with spectators handing us newspapers as insulation against the downhill chill. Down onto the main road and keeping an eye out for the Gigantor wagon. Simon claims to Kinloch Rannoch village sign. Sits up and I suggest that I, waiting my moment to pounce. It comes quicker than expected and I take the KR 30.

We tried to stop for refuel at the Riverbank cafe but it’s busy with a long queue so it’s round to the village shop for a cornetto. It’s then the Schiehallion climb. Again it’s granny gear and a slow climb. The sharp climbing bend never seems to get easier. Thankfully there is nothing coming the other way so we can go wide on the bend avoiding the steep inner bend. Simon pulls ahead and further on at the Etape Caledonia KOM end I catch up to him as he is topping up on the suntan lotion. It could be that this is just a marginal gain to make him more slippery for the soon to come downhill. The Schiehallion car park is full with an attendant moving folks along to the new over flow car park further along which is also looking full. Over to the Lime Kilns and free fall downhill to Foss.

As with Loch earn last week we find many who can’t read or understand the clear way signs and no parking. It yet there are many abandoned cars and wild campers. Plenty of cars waiting to get past us patiently and we let the, through. There is even one car that keeps stopping and letting us past just to overtake us again. I think they did that 4 times. Then there is Mr Blue Audi who decided that using his horn was the correct way to get past us. He eventually comes past me but as it’s on a climb and on the narrow road down the quiet side of Tummel the opportunities to pass Simon as scarce. It that doesn’t stop the toot toot Audi. The passenger window was down so we expected a mouthful but once the road was wider the Audi flew past and the passenger gave a polite wave. We thing the driver had been told to calm down.

The clunie dam climb is nippy as feck with granny being used again. At he top of the rise we pull over to let cars past and get a cheery “Thanks Guys” from one driver.

Down towards Pitlochry and the mental sums begin as to how close to 50 miles we will be. We reckon an trip up and back down the high street will suffice. But not before a driver opens their door with out looking and nearly clocking Simon. A check of Tess and no RSPCA surrounding the car for dog neglect and we head up the high street and back down again. ER is mobbed so no post ride coffee and cake today.

A cracking much needed hilly 50 miles.

Now where to next time and just how wet will it be.

Oh and the security blanket inhaler as expected wasn’t needed but Sod’s law if it wasn’t in my pocket I would have.

Cyclist 101, Don’t try a freebie energy drink late in the ride that you’ve never tried before. I swing and that was enough to tell Simon he didn’t like his. The content got poured away!

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Sunday 25/07 – Up over and Up again

Continuing last weeks vague Loch theme into this weeks ride.

Start ER in Pitlochry 9/9.15. Then the Quite side of Loch Tummel, and down into Tummel Bridge before up towards Trinafour and a possible sighting of Loch Erochty.

Once over here it’s down into Kinloch Rannoch and Loch Rannoch for an ice cream before up and over the Braes of Foss to Loch Kinardochy and the Lime Kilns.

Then it’s back down to Foss and returning along Loch Tummel to ER for recovery coffee and cake.

Start time may vary slightly but will be pinged out.

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