Fresh Air Sunday

Woooooo Made it out for second real Sunday ride of 2021! Unfortunately solo due to the times we still in.

No Ordie and using Simon to fill in the potholes this year.

I was a bit unsure of the snow melt on the route so drove it on Saturday and all was good. So Sunday after a coffee or two and spectating as Mrs B continued her tour of Watopia I headed out at a sensible time.

Necessity Brae is just not fun straight out the gate. Never has been never will be. Today wasn’t about setting times just about getting out for a time. The low sun made for some blinding moments but still the world swathed in white did look spectacular.

Approaching the level crossing the lights come on and the barrier descends. On through Forteviot and the Kildinny sisters. So far only 2 other cyclists have been spotted.There is a new build house in Forgandenny just completed in the Autumn, the snow has brought down their gutters. OOOOPS Mr Builder!

I was warm as I cycled along, possibly dawdled would be a more accurate description, but if I had been any more active and chasing other cyclists or climbing any hills I would have been melting quick than the snow.

There must have been a light tail wind as the road from Bridge of Earn past quickly. Then it was Friarton and the months of easy zwifting have not helped with any times the road goes up!

All in a pleasant dawdle in the fresh air.

Management had finished their trip around Watopia, deciding that she prefers there or London over any of the other routes. Now the mission is to find her a smart trainer of her own to save me sharing and having to reconfigure for different wheel sizes each time.

Earn Bridge heading towards the Level Crossing
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Well, happy New Year.

I thought that I would do a wee… reflection on last year as I will not be back on the bike… until the air and road temperatures get up quite significantly.

It was certainly a year of spills, and solo cycling. January was eventful, Knapp and worse at Ordie.

The rest of the year was mostly solo. My favourite run I think was through the grounds of Dunkeld House, new tarmac and scenery. I still have a little burbing to do in Perth… The Wedge mostly and then some tidying up including the new schemes up by Necessity Brae. The burbing is a time filler waiting for children to do their sporting activities.

Goals for 2021, do more than I did in 2020, climb higher, fill in more of the heat map and get back to enjoying cycling.

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Fresh air and drizzle

The temperature was on the fresh side at 3 degrees a second my fingers took their time to warm up. Some of the puddles were glistening with ice so route change and keeping to lower levels was the new order.

The drizzle started about Gloagburn and lasted until Clathy.

A couple of drivers were unaware of the width of their cars as the squeezed past me and the oncoming cars.

The Balgown to Clathy climb was straight into the low winter sun. The climb was not as bad as my memory had been telling me. My memory did have issues after the climb. I blame the cold as I was spinning along the straight Roman Road wondering what the rattle was then realised I hadn’t changed up to the big ring after the climb. Progress was much better after I was in the correct gear.

Two cyclists crossed Kinkell bridge as I approached and headed up to St David’s. I did think about chasing them but instead explores St David’s instead. I met a cyclist at Balgown who I had met earlier at Clathy.

The Garmin was now dropping charge very quickly and I was on a mission to get to Huntingtower before it died. Gloagburn seemed quiet today. Huntingtower reached with the Garmin now in battery save mode. Thankfully it still had enough juice to properly save the ride. The remainder was recorded on the phone as the my gps watch was also low on juice.

All 30’s were mine including the new St David’s one. West Mains came and went. Home coffee inhaled and bike washed ready for another week on the turbo.

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Type 2 Fun

The forecast said it would be mainly dry this morning. They lied!!

The start was slightly delayed as Simon was slower down from the Glen due to his dodgy car brakes. Anyway of we set off in the dry through the ghettos of Perth and out to The Brig of Earn where Simon took the first 30 of the day. Into the village 20 zone and Simon switched off. He didn’t spot the return to 30 mid village so I just had to take it.

Up through the Glen towards Glenfarg and the rain gets much heavier such that by the time we get to the Mawcarse Junction it’s raining hard. We debate a loop straight home but decide to press on to Kinross and around Loch Leven. We shall gloss over the next few 30’s for now until the final two as Simon claimed everything. The block paving in Kinross was gleaming like ice and slippy and therefore was taken with caution.

The rain kept coming and coming down hard. Loads of big puddles but we managed not to get drowned by the passing cars. Or for that matter it was the choice between cycling close to the other guy for the tow or if you did you they drowned from his wheel spray.

By now we both realised that our gloves were not waterproof and our overshoes weren’t much better. The free fall back down the Glen didn’t help our core temperatures. Si was aching a bit from his tumble yesterday and the lure of coffee and fresh scones were what was keeping us going. But not before we had a nice cavalcade of vehicles stuck behind us unable to pass 😁. Back into The Brig and Si was wary of any attempts of mine to sneak a 30. New tactics were required.

As we got closer to the 30 Simon was out front and kept looking over his shoulder to make sure I wasn’t trying for the 30. But each time he turned back to the front I put the power down then as soon as he turned back to check on me I eased off and looked to be coasting then when Si turned again I put the power down until the final time I managed to put the power down enough and sneak ahead of Si and claim the 30. 😷 The best spot of despicable behaviour I’ve ever managed.

Simon was demonstrating how soaked his gloves were by clenching his fist and showing the water coming out. My inner gloves were able to be wrung out when we stopped at the coffee shop. My actual gloves were sodden. The Earn coffee shop was thankfully open and let two soggy cyclists in. The coffee and scones were nearly as welcome as the hot air dryer in the toilets that warmed Simon’s hands and dried his gloves.

We left a large puddle in the coffee shop and ventured back out into the rain. It was a bit chilly and we were both close to teeth chattering. It didn’t stop the sprint at the Edinburgh Rd 30. I did try to do the Wilson Street burst but was in totally the wrong gear and stalled to a halt while Simon zipped past.

Despite the rain it was a great dose of fresh soggy air and 45 miles. However, the two of us are now on the look out for better gloves and overshoes and I’m after a long sleeved warmer jersey.

It was good to be out of the garage.

As much “fun” as the two of us had today it would have been more fun with others along for the ride. But the facts of life these days means we couldn’t have stopped for a coffee. Due to spacing the number of seats in the coffee shop were reduced and we got 2 in tow corner so not even options for socially distant pairs at different tables!

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Technology is Great, But fresh air cycling is better.

All dressed and ready to go and Simons Garmin is screeching an alarm! No amount of button prodding switched it off it even asked for a passcode which Si had no clues about. Quick dive into the house for the glasses and iPad and then it’s into the Garmin app on Si’s phone and the alarm is off. No idea how it got activated but it’s apparently and anti theft alarm.

Now ready to set off and it’s raining so we both change into waterproof jackets and eventually get on our way. If it hadn’t been for the alarm delay we may have been on our way and got wet.

Reaching the top of Necessity we hear the drone of pipes. It was my neighbour at his usual Sunday morning practise spot.

Down Dupplin and out to Dunning into the headwind. A few cyclists passed and met coming the other way but why did none have any kinda of be seen lights on such a grey grizzly day!

Left to Duchally and the colours on the trees were stunning enhanced by my “happy” orange lenses. The road were however slippery with wet leaves. Blustery at the turn to Gleneagles.

On to Muthill with thoughts of an “off highlighter” stretch back to Kinkell Bridge but we carried onto Crieff in search of coffee. No coffee our planned stop is now closed on a Sunday and only other one spied was full. Plan B Gloagburn. Rolling along nicely with the tailwind and it was an easy Trundle. Plan B was a fail too. Gloagburn queued out the door and no where safe to rack the bikes and keep the insight due to their tattie box wall and Shed coffee huts. We couldn’t think of anywhere else so it was time to head for home.

Leaving Gloagburn Simon has his second issue. The battery for Electronic gearshift dies and he is stuck spinning faster than Chris’s Froome! A short time later and much shifter prodding he gets it shifted into a higher gear but that’s it no more life. Being stuck in the high gear did make setting off from junctions and traffic lights an effort.

Miracle a couple of gear changes work just ready for West Mains which Simon still managed to ease.

End of the ride and another tech moment for Simon. His Garmin decided he had crashed and sent a message to his emergency contact! A quick call to Lucy to reassure her he was fine was needed.

44 miles of fun, it was great to be rolling along and staying upright over the leaves. Next time we will need Plans B C & D for coffee stops.

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RIP Strava Flyby

It would seem that Strava have been getting complaints about privacy intrusion due to “creeps and stalkers” using the flybys for means they weren’t intended for.

So In the same manner as Computer software is updated first and then publicised second regarding bugs. Strava did the same and set everyone’s flyby privacy setting to off around then 12th of October. If you want to appear on flybys you need to go into your privacy settings and reactivate.

So no more checking out to see who the fit person was that you cycled past (as if!) and probably no more kudos from strange unknowns in foreign lands.

During these covid days of travel restrictions it would seem some were also using Strava to check how far from home and out with the prescribed travel limit people strayed!

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It’s all gone quiet.

With the rugby season started, I have a time boxed run in Perth each week. What to do in that fixed allocation of time?

The answer, ride every street in Perth, section by section.I started in “the Glen’s”, moving to Craigie, then Oakbank, Burghmuir, Letham, Tulloch, and Hunters.

Progress is surprisingly slow and missed street, well there are a few to be done in a mop up session.

I had hoped that the rugby training would move in the winter months to the all weather facilities, as the Western Edge is just on the limits of distance from the grass pitches. Sadly the club are not going to use 7Acres this year. Which I suppose means that the “Wedge” will be traversed on an even more random peacemeal fashion.

It has to be said, that as you pass pedestrians several times on a single journey, they do start to notice you and occasionally speak. Mostly they just look at you like you are lost or barking. Still waiting for somebody to call the police and report the cyclist scoping out their neighbourhood.

I will update this entry with a screenshot of the completed map.

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Tumbling Belle

A chilly start in Dunkeld for us but toasty by the end. Big surprise at the start was no Tess.

The tone of the day was set early as Simon sprinted away from the bridge roadworks and claimed the Birnam 30. We then encountered an obstacle on the underpass. Small dog with over ambitious sized stick.

Up the Glen at a decent but not landspeed pace. There was brief chat about detouring via Glen Quaich but dodgy knees and lack of other hills and we decided to leave it until there were others with us to enjoy the diversion. It’s a steady pull all the way to the wind farms and Loch with the temperature rising.

The descent to Aberfeldy was free flowing and swift but I let Simon pull ahead. A considerate Merc driver wanted to get up close and personal not leaving me much elbow room. The Birks traffic lights stopped him and I was on his tail. I didn’t share any pieces of my mind. Simon was waiting just around the bend. Across the Tay and down through Strathtay. For a change there were actual golfers playing the Strathtay course today.

For a change there was no blast to Logierait but instead a detour down the B898 on the other side of the river. Down to Balnaguard and my only 30 of the day. A quick splash’n dash and photo stop and off. At the next 30 my brain said go my legs said no so another for Si. Then it was off piste and instead of dicing with death on the A9 we took the pavement which then doubled back onto a cycle path along the river banks and through a small gorge to emerge in the grounds of the Dunkeld Hilton. It meant a few pleasant “excuse me” to get past people and a slower pace to end the ride back into Dunkeld.

Bypassing the cars it was onto Birnam Arts for coffee and cake and the days entertainment. Sitting outside enjoying the sun and watching the many cyclists arrive there was a large clatter as one of the group unclipped and fell against a parked car. An spd issue of unclipping one foot and leaning the other way. Nothing was damaged. The car belonged to the tumbling cyclist. The entertainment had been provided by a member of the “Belles on Bikes” brigade who had returned from their 35 km ride. The arts centre does an ish cappuccino but great flap jack and Si can recommend the gateaux.

Great 40 miler now where next.

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The Return of The Clinic

Bank Holiday Monday, we gather, suitably distanced, for the first run out since we locked down. I squeezed into my lycra (the covid stone doing lots of resisting), got the clippy shoes on and fettled the bike. The rest of the guys arrived in cars and pulled their steeds from the boots. We set off, a social cycle, bit of chat, bit of distraction and we are clocking up the miles.

I get first blood stealing the 30’s at Ashley Wood. I have taken advantage of a recuperating knee and local knowledge. (it used to be a 40 😁)

We roll through Newtyle and head for Scareytown. Si is focused on the Glamis 30’s. I burst from our we group and take the second 30. This is a mistake, my legs now feel quite tired. I have poked the hornets nest… Oops.

We approach the A94 crossing, it always looks like there is no crossing. Si rolls on a bit, then starts to pick up the pace, David chases. Si wins.

The eight mile road is next, it still feels longer. The pace is good and we arrive in Meigle ready for our coffees and scones. Its closed! Its never opened on a Monday… Who knew! Grumbling, we set off heading for home. David, sends Tony through from the back to run interference as we approach the Ardler 30…David, thinks we are suitably distracted and makes his move. Si responds, it is the hardest fought 30….that gammy knee is clearly improving. Ah ha The Tav… Si knows the people that own/run it. Si goes in first, buff pulled over his face, to check the whole coffee situation. We get our beverages and shortbread. Tony, the new recruit to this ramshackle band, pays… Thanks Tony.

Setting off from the Tav the pace is slow… Our legs are heavy from the exertion and the overly long stop. We are approaching the Berry fields now. A freaking wasp flies into my mouth and then stings my lip on its way out. It died in my gloved hand.

I am too far back to see who got the Woodside 30.

Home now, we pack our bikes away and part company. Unfairly, I get accused of taking advantage in the early 30’s. Despicable thing to say 😁😁… Until the next time.

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Killin it

A bucket list item has now been ticked off by cycling the round trip between Callander and Killin along NCN7 and the Glen Ogle Viaduct.

From planning to inception our group size halved, but not thwarted Stewart and I parked up at the Meadows in Callander and set off on schedule by 10. The early start time was a wise move as by the time we returned at 3 the car park was full and the town heaving.

A dead Garmin nearly ensured that there was no proof of the ride happening but backup watch stepped up to the challenge. Quiet and smooth tracks got us out of Callander. Along the route the surface ranged from smooth tarmac, rough tarmac gravel mud and forest track. Not far from Callander the track cuts trough a car park for those heading to Ben Ledi, a considerate driver had parked their car over the path end making for a narrow squeeze with the bike between cars. Somebody before us had placed a parking cone in the car bonnet. When we passed through heading back the car was gone and the cone was marking the do not park here space.

When researching the route the track condition and maintenance due to lack of COVID induced activity was a concern and before Strathyre we found it. The Strathyre ZigZags, A narrow mud and gravel nippy climb through overgrown ferns and prickly bushes. We had a clear plod to the top with nobody descending. The group ahead of us were at the top heavy breathing and between breathes asked if we were using e-bikes to get up there. We surely didn’t look as puggled as them. Heading down the road into Strathyre we had to test our brakes as the bin lorry came belting up the hill and round the blind bend towards us. No issues thankfully. Through Strathyre and now onto a very smooth stretch of pristine path and towards Loch Earnhead. Here was another zig zag climb up this time all on smooth resin bond surface and up onto the old railway line. Most of this route is old an old rail route. Great views of Loch Earn from half way up to zig.

Next photo stop is the Glen Ogle Viaduct and more great views. Certainly glad we are up here and not cycling up the road particulate with the volume of traffic and the traffic lights due to a landslide.

At the top of the Glen you have to cross the A84 for the last 5 km through the forest to Killin. However you need to pass the pitch for a popular burger van. We didn’t stop to try but several had including the owner of a silver Audi who parked in a considerate manner across the path entrance such that Stewart didn’t spot the bollard and collided with it ending up in the deck in front of burger eaters and probably the Audi owner. We now had a nice smooth tarmac downhill with “Slow” painted on the surface and more bollards to narrow the track and reduce speed. We were passed by a solo rider not long after the burger van but now on the lower forest tracks we caught up with him puncture repairing. We stopped to ask if he was ok or needed a hand then had a chat discovering he was up from Motherwell to do the same as us C2K and back. Down to Killin and yet more cars across the track end. I’ll let this group off, slightly, as their occupants were across at the war memorial for VJ Day. C2K done now for coffee. Bacon and egg roll for Me and square sausage and tattle scone with brown sauce for Stewart. Track and Trace completed then it was photos at the Falls of Dochart before back on the track to Callander.

The climb up through the trees past several piles of old railway sleepers wasn’t too bad, but then it kicked up for the climb to the Glen summit and the burger van. Before we get there we passed again a memorial too an RAF Tornado crew who crashed and were killed near this spot in 1994.

The silver Audi is gone and replaced by a load of bikers. A shout and several bell rings were needed to get us through this throng.

The Granny in a group we passed made a comment about it being easier going down and she wasn’t wrong. Compared to the morning the track was much busier and our bells, an essential piece of kit, were used more often on this leg to get the walkers to clear and let us through. No stopping on the viaduct but we did on the Loch Earnhead zigzags for some more photos. On down to Strathyre and a decision made to come back with others and repeat this route but next time add in the Balquhidder loop. Through Strathyre and into the top of the narrow zigzags. These are much more interesting going down particularly as there were others walking up. They nicely move to the side as did the red faced cyclist pushing his bike up. Into the flat lower section and we pull over to let those coming towards us past. Unfortunately Stewart takes another tumble. He had unclipped one foot while coming down the zigs and thought it was still unclipped. It wasn’t and he tumbled over. He had a softish landing and avoided the nettles.

The Ben Ledi car park and Forest holiday chalets section were busier and more bell ringing was required to clear our way. By now my right foot which gave my grief last year was aching due to this being the furthest I’ve ridden on flat pedals and trainer type shoes and Stewarts calf was niggling. Only just over a mile to Callander now and after can day free of mechanical issues, my chain comes off. Oily gloves now but the meadows are in sight.

A cracking ride. A very mixed set of road surfaces which should really be more consistent for it being a National Cycle Route. Some sections would be no problem on a skinny tyre 100psi road bike but on others like the Strathyre zig zag no chance. and something with wider and more definite tread is required, we reckon on a 55/45 split on the good/rough surfaces. You really do need a bell to help clear the way and setting off early in the morning is best giving quieter tracks. We spotted a couple of fires at wild camps and met or passed several riders all panniered up for touring. Oh not forgetting the family groups out for a stroll of the more serious looking hikers including one with strapping on both knees. All of the route was away from the main road primarily on dedicated track or with an occasional small section on back road.

Definitely want to do it again and also explore other sections such as the one to Aberfoyle.

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