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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Out the Glen and down the hill

Chilly start freewheeling downhill starting the ride never gets the temperature up quickly.

Out the Tibbermore road and up Mosside into Methven. Only two other cyclist so far heading the opposite way. Not out to break any land speed records so it was a gentle trundle up cogbrae whose name still makes me smile each time I pass.

Glenalmond and Buchanty are uneventful apart from the Grandfather / Grandson and dog combo walking along across the whole width of the road just before Buchanty. They soon moved as I peched loudly on my approach.

Photo opportunity at the Sma Glen junction and I get passed by another cyclist then a group of 10 others come up the hill and regroup. The dilemma now is draft the solo rider or breeze past him. Pre-Covid there would have been a short exchange of nice day where you heading / been etc before somebody carried on at your own pace. But not now it’s just a cheery morning and wave as you pass.

The blast down to Gilmerton was swift just not kamikaze Andrew style 😀.

The rest of the cycle back to town was into a headwind but no idiot drivers today. I spied the earlier Methven couple who were now heading back out the Tibbermore road.

I did try and stretch the legs on West Mains and have a wee test on the climb. No new PR but got close. Next time.

All in a pleasant trundle just no no natter or despicable behaviour.

Tech Tip. While I was swapping my rear derailleur recently I discovered that the two little Allen screws holding my derailleur hanger to the frame were very very loose. Something I’ve never thought to previously check so just a suggestion. Go check yours before your derailleur comes off as you are flying down a hill!

The two screws.
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The sky was a uniform grey, the ever present threat of rain determinimg my choice of boil in the bag jacket. The jacket has the advantage of a large pocket to keep my Bam, lock and mask in.

I set off not really sure if I was going to go all the way to Portsoy. Once you have climbed out of Drybridge and are crossing Hill of Maud the mood changes, this is what it’s about, the quiet (you learn to filter out the rasping breath and thumping heart sounds) and the views. Back on the road heading round the Binn, I see the most perfectly parked loader blocking a farm entrance. At the T-junction there is your typical old farmer complete with flat cap and long walking stick. He spoke first asking which way I was going and did my bike have one of those electric engines. They were herding cattle – that explains the blocked entrances. I am going in the same direction, the cattle are behind me. Freckle avoidance.

Hill of Maud looking towards Lossiemouth

Battering on, I am going to Fordyce, oops I have arrived in Lintmill. A short but weirdly signposted jaunt to Fordyce… Longest 4 miles. Even coming out of Fordyce It said Portsoy 1.5 miles then about a mile up the road it said it again, then a mile or so later it said 1 mile… This would be on the A98… Must have missed the turn to allow me to avoid. As it turns out where I saw the second 1.5 mile sign, I should have gone left.

I clatter in to Portsoy, it has lots of those road narrowing islands. A golf estate does that stupid squeeze past thing, and turns of 50m later. Now I was not following him. But he too was headed to the 17th century harbour. He was looking distinctly nervous as I tailed him. He pulled over, with fear in his eyes as I came along side. And with my best Paddington stare behind tinted glasses I went straight past and down to the harbour.

The pull up from the harbour is a lung buster… Thankfully I have really low gears on the mtb. Ah, the ice cream shop, a double scoop of vanilla ordered, directions acquired as to how to avoid the A98. I step outside to find a huge seagull sitting on my crossbar (I would have been cross too if that giant webfooted winged rat was gripping me) with a typical squawk of distain it flew off to the other side of the road to glower at me. There was a young gull there too eating an apple (no glasses, that’s that it looked like) as it turns out, the fruit and veg table my bike was leaning against was the gulls buffet.

The shop girls directions were spot on. If her hill description a bit off… I kept waiting for the big hill. I ended up on the beach at Sandend. A gentle average damaging walk. Crossing two raging torrents. Well the would have been if we had had any rain.


Another lungburster out of Sandend and back to Lintmill. Onwards to Cullen and the op for more ice cream. I didn’t. On to the vaiduct, I set off on the last leg.

Cullen disused viaduct

The run back to buckie is largely traffic free, but omg the crisps and dogs… No it is not right to bag your dog poo and leave it on the track. On the final approach to Buckie, a crisp with a ferocious dog on an extending lead comes into view. Fag and phone in one hand and lead in the other… Closer. The ferocious pug goes for me. She drops her fag and meekly apologises… Let’s face it the pug was going to come off worse in a range with a spikey pedal. The farm is just about in sight now as I skirt buckie.

Up the last potholed track… Really they should scrape out the bits that separate the holes and make it a smooth track.

Back at the farm now, and I check my phone, 20+WhatsApp messages a couple of missed calls and some normal texts… Looks like I missed out on going for lunch… 32miles… Tired but happy 😊

Ah the title.. . Portsoy is famous for its marble… Apparently😁

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The Despicable return (minus 1)

Minus 1 – no not the early morning temperature but no Andrew as he is still crocked from watering flowers. A dangerous activity I believe.

After introducing herself to Alfie, Tess stayed behind for a snooze and to guard the car while Simon and I headed out of town. A quick reminder to Simon that we turned off the main road ahead of the Methven 30’s so not to get too excited as he saw the 300 to go count down.

Off out past Glenalmond with a few months of chat to catch up on. As usual once on to the A822 Sma Glen Road (I wonder where the Big Glen is) the usual Sunday Motorbike streams appeared in both directions. Cracking views and Simon had never done the road this direction. We commented that we are usually chin on the bars flying downhill and concentrating on the road rather than the scenery. I’d been this way last month so knew what was coming after then bend over the bridge and off up the hill we went. Is later confessed that the hadn’t planned to go for it but once on the climb decided what the heck, but got caught out by Amulree being further away that he reckoned. I’d previously warned him that the segment end was the other side of the Quaich turn off so as not to pull up short. The gap between us had opened and I scampered up the hillas best I could knocking 1 minute off my time of last month, but by the time I got to the Glen Quaich junction there was no sign of a resting Simon. On a bit further and he was rolling back towards me arm warmers rolled down cooling off having overshot to make sure he had hit the segment end. Quick photo and pee stop and down the hill.

Chatting as you pedal distracts you from the pace and we clattered along nicely. The Trochry trees giving a sudden drop in temperature.

I’m first to the A9 and spot a gap and cross. Then I spy Simon talking a faster line across but by the time my brain clicked as to his motive his arm was already in the air having got the Birnam 30!

Chattan tearoom was the target but it was closed but we had spotted folks having a coffee outside the Birnam Arts Centre so doubled back to it. New must have cycling accessory was used. Face Mask for going into buy the coffees. Thankfully removed before attempting to consume. About 6 other cyclists from Dundee Wheelers had the same idea. Rocky Road, Malteser back and cappuccinos were inhaled.

How many layers to remove was the question. Simon removed gillet and arm warmers I went just arm warmers but by the time to were at the Murthly Sawmill junction it was gillet off. More clattering along and then the 300 to go sign for the Bankfoot 30 was spied. The pace starts to increase but nothing too manic just yet. I have the inside on the left hand bend and hold my line as the race hots up and keeps getting hotter. A spirited fight but Simon gets it by half a bike or there about.

The Bankfoot to Pitcairngreen section is a nippy wee road with twists and sharp climbs which just sapped my legs. But not enough that I wasn’t able to use local knowledge to get the 30 at Moneydie. It was help by Simon being on the wrong side of the road onto a blind corner and not wishing his headstone to read “Died while chasing the 30′ so he backed off. But in my book a 30 is a 30 🙂

Loads of cyclist loitering around the Green at Pitcairngreen enjoying the sunny Sunday and plenty more enjoying a pint at the pub. Bike geek spying that many were on e-bikes.

The traffic lights at Tescos changed to green and we both seemed to pick up the speed off the line Simon ahead as we reach the roundabout ready for the 30 which is right at the pedestrian crossing. The crossing is at Red! Simon just managed to squeeze far enough ahead to claim the final 30 of the day.

The usual west mains delight to end the day.

An excellent way to spend a Sunday morning.

The talk is that next weekend with be a Pitlochry based outing! Dull and Boring!

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Virtual Doddie Cycle

With the Real Doddie cycle joining the Covid event wipe out the organisers set up a virtual event on Zwift over a 25 mile circuit.

My brain started thinking I’ve done 20 miles previous on the trainer 25 will be fine on the Saturday and then go out IRL on Sunday. But the weather had other plans and the Sunday forecast for wet and windy got me thinking and looking at the suggestion that we should do 2 circuits and do 50 miles to mark Doddie Weirs 50th birthday on event day. I’ve done 50 mile cycles before out and about I could do 50 on Zwift couldn’t I? Oooops guess who didn’t fully check the route profile!

Garage all set up with bike, PC snacks and water bottles ready to go on the start line down near the Tower of London and with 90 seconds to the off as I was seeing all the participants join with 176 including Will Carling , Peter Winterbottom and Gregor Townsend then my set up crashed. IT support crew helped with the reboot and I got going and rejoined the event trying to make up the lost minutes. Usual Zwift fun mixing it up and cycling with a group from around the UK and South Africa around the streets of London. Harrods, Sloane Sq, Buck Palace, Trafalgar sq all went past and a sprint on The Mall. Over Lambeth bridge and into a station along the boarded over tracks and next we pop out in deepest Surrey. By now we were all well strung out. Next up was the climb of Leith hill which features on Ride London its gradient Max’d at 14% so as usual my climbing speed was slow and laboured. I did go up with the event organiser but at the top he blasted off. (I did pass and leave him behind later ). On across Surrey to the next London area cycling landmark of Box Hill. A nice steady climb and if the virtual world is an indication it must have stinging views in real life. Down the hill back to the station and we then cross the Thames via Tower bridge and that is lap 1 done.

My support team brought refreshed water bottles and a double espresso. It was a solo event by now. The participant numbers started to drop. For most of lap 1 I ran in 98th place but suddenly I was 43rd and those doing 1 lap dropped out. Off around central London solo marking off the streets knowing the Station was coming. It reminded me of the changing room I’m Mr Benn where you have no idea where you will come out to on the other side. A spot of geographic poetic licence.

The Support team was now the cheerleader as Leith Hill ramped up and my knees hurt and speed dropped to the point that I’m sure snails were passing me. The cheerleader conjured up a treat of emergency jelly beans. 3 for me 1 for her 😁. They were also my biggest fan keeping me cooler. Although she did have to open the garage door as apparently the garage was smelling a bit like a sweaty changing room. I was nose blind 😁 As an indication of how the numbers had dropped and those of us remaining had got strung out the leader board showed me 2 places behind Gregor Townsend. But looking closer those 2 places were separated by 13km!! It was not long after this that I got lapped by former Scotland player Rob Wainwright who was already on his 3rd lap! Box hill was a struggle but elation cresting it and knowing that it was down hill to the station. The final kick was, as everyone who has used the London Underground knows that the escalators between the Platforms and ground level are steep. So we had the steep climb off the tracks back to street level. But then it was across Tower Bridge around the Tower of London and watch the final metres drop off and the do a little bit more to ensure the 50 miles was actually done.

Happy to have done it but jeez 50 miles of constant pedalling on the trainer with no freewheeling or junction stops is tough going. I’d rather do 50 and more out in real life than on a trainer again. Bit of a pain face at the end and today my legs just above both knees are aching showing I was struggling and pushing hard on the pedals rather than spinning smoothly. But a good shower and I was good to go quickly after. Knees still a bit sore today and the under carriage is feeling a tad tender 🤢

Mentally the second time up the Leith Hill section was the toughest. I could easily have stepped off at the 3/4 point. But that was when the jelly beans got brought out and the cheerleader started doing the countdown and relating that to local roads down to 800m to go as that’s coming past the school and nearly insight of home.

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