June 23rd

Anyone for a pedal?

With the last of manumonia (chest cold) being shaken off my lungs aren’t in the mood for loads of climbs. So thinking of Glenalmond Crieff Auchterarder / Gleneagles Dunning.

8.30 ish Perth Start.

Despicable behaviour encouraged!

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Some time ago i sowed the seed in a few pals minds to join me in doing the Short, 30 miler Cairn O’Mount challenge. They had all started doing some cycling and I figured this would be a target to go for. Only a pal called Tony bit and signed up.

Tony did the training, me too and with one week to go had done a flat 30 miler so the only variable was now the Angus hills and Tony remembering to lay of the dodgy tins of curry the day before.

After much rain and weather watching the day was dry but with a brisk westerly wind which would be our headwind to start.

Registration done and bog visited to lesson Tony’s nervousness we got the start briefing and headed off. The first few miles were slow into the wind. saw one stranded cyclist and offered assistance but he was just adjusting his saddle and was tooled for the job. Onwards following the pink signs. We pass two ladies walking with their bikes but all is ok just a pothole had lost them their momentum. Me leading the way looking round checking I hadn’t dropped Tony or just cycling side by side gassing. Past the baby Christmas trees Tony catches sight of the road to the final climb but that is for later. Downhill now and enjoying the break from the headwind. Bit of the route coming back to me from 3 years previous.

Our tour of Angus continues to the most westerly point and my WLR earworm begins as does the foothills of Glen Ogil! Pit stop approaches bang on half way and a jelly baby refuel is in order 2 solo cyclist blast past and then a couple on a tandem pull in to stop.

I had faint hopes of getting a photo of Tony on the Glen Ogil climb but by the time i stopped i forgot. It turns out i also stopped just before the end of a strava segment! Tony has found is climbing mojo of standing up rather then seated climbing and we find fresh tarmac too. WLR is still ringing in my ear. The wind has now dropped and this second half of the route is by far the most enjoyable even with a long muddy section which had even been noted in our start briefing. Some r a f tarmac and we are back the the Christmas tree section ready for the final 8 miles. Tony had been having some gear issues but found if was down to too much chain cross from little to little stopping changing into big chain ring so that improved matters and pace. Quite a steep decent came upon us and we both thought the tandem stoker must have needed trust to blindly go down. Top dressed tarmac by the castle made for an interesting final section but the Edzell 30 soon approached. I’m not overly competitive but as Tony had caught me napping earlier in the day and got a 30 no way was he getting this one 🙂

Good fun all round and a mid table finish time and WLR has stopped. Tony i believe enjoyed it more relief at the end that the hills hadn’t been as bad was he had expected.

I did spy Simon hunting for a parking space as we were getting ready to start and he was off on the 80 miler.

PS. WLR – The AC/DC song Whole Lotta Rosie where the audience chant Angus!

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Dot to Dot – Buckie to Newtonmore

I awoke to the sound of rain. Not really what I wanted to hear in this first hour after sunrise. So, got up sorted my cycling gear, scoffed some breakfast and went out in to what was quite a strong wind with a light drizzle being blown through.

Setting off from the Farm I went to Clochan and headed for Fochabers. Between Clochan and Fochabers the debate in my head was Dipple or Ordiequish. Dipple put me on to the main road too soon and Ordiequish had the mother of all climbs (It had beaten me in the past). In Fochabers now and Ordiequish is the order of the day. The climb has a hairpin bend at the bottom of the valley, no momentum to help even a little bit. I start the climb and push the pedals hard,  two thirds of the way up, my legs are wanting to stop, I keep going, I am getting that odd metallic taste in my mouth, the top is in sight, I round the corner at “the top” to discover a lesser gradient, but it still climbs on. This would turn out to be the worst climb of the day.

Rolling on my next target is Rothes – it was the amazing smell of animal feed production that filled my nostils (made from the waste from the distilleries that are dotted all over this Spey Valley). Rothes comes and goes, the weather is improving all the time.  Archiestown is the next target.

Off the main road now, I note its 24 miles to Grantown. The climb starts and goes on more or less for 4 miles to “The planned town of Archiestown”. I surmise this was the old “main” road, until I realise the number of Distilleries I will go past. Knockando (Upper) is very much a ribbon development, quite pretty in its own way. The road climbs and dips and enters The Cairngorm National Park. I have seen two moving vehicles on this road today. Given the infrequency of traffic, I feel sorry for the giant flying insect that clearly got out of its larval stage on the wrong side. It stotted off my helmet with a fair thud.  I stop a bit up the road to check in with “the broom wagon”. Nobody is up!

At Grantown on Spey (to give it its Sunday title) now, and I go down the imaginatively name Grant Street. I think I should have turned left at the lights, I didn’t and end up on a more major bit of road than planned. Not to worry, when I see the planned route, it looks as rough as a boars arse.  I turn off on to another quiet wee road  4 miles to Nethy Bridge. This is undulating but surprisingly more down than up… result. At Nethy Bridge, I check in again, all is well with me, radio silence from the Broom Wagon is a concern. As I am checking in, two cyclists breeze past, with no acknowledgement. I head for “The Boat”, not that I am going there, Coylumbridge is my next target (there are lots of bridges on this route) I pass the two cyclist as seen in Nethy Bridge, stopped at the side of the road, I ask if they are ok, but don’t stop. A couple of miles later they have hunted me down. There is a headwind for the first time, it feels brutal, I draft them for a bit, but don’t like the spray in my face, so drop off.   A Renault Megane in a burnt red colour goes past. At Coylumbridge now, and I get to roll down the hill to Inverdruie, where I stop again to check in. Still no response from the Broom Wagon.  I pass the entrance to Loch An eilan and about a mile up the road a Renault Megane in a burnt red colour goes past. Feshiebridge is next. The headwind feels stronger than ever. I debate (sometimes outloud) Insh Water Sports for a coffee or press on. I press on. A Renault Megan in a burnt red colour goes past. I glimpse Ruthven Barracks (ruin) in the distance. Not far to Kingussie now, as I pass the Barracks, I spy the Megane.  In Kingussie, I scour the length of the main street for somewhere to have a coffee or in this case soup. The Sugar Bowl is open. As I sit in the window watching the world go by – not much happens in Kingussie, but then the Renault Megane in a burnt red colour goes past.

Fed now, with something warming, that headwind has really taken its toll, I head for Newtonmore. In the days prior to this run, I am sure I said, Kingussie and Newtonmore would be too far.

I go through Newtonmore and head out the Ralia road, nah, I turn back and go out the Laggan road, again my heart is just not in it so I begin my quest to find somewhere to rest and stay warm. The now responding Broom Wagon (currently at Aberlour) finds me. I sit in The Wild Flour Café, drink tea and eat a fruit scone. 20mins. The broom wagon has burst into life. The occupants of the wagon come in for coffee too. I load the bike and we are off home.

At Blairatholl, we stop to do a tyre pressure check on the wagon, and this guy with his son who are doing LEJOG ask if I have a spare tyre. I take the wornout tyre off my bike and give it to them… their one has a tear in the side wall. I have new tyres at home that I had just not got around to fitting… good deed done!

Next week its a loop from Blair Atholl 8:30am Castle Gates!


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Moister than a moist thing.

Setting off from the North Inch in what was just a light drizzle, a drizzle that you knew would penetrate the waterproof and chill you to the bone, all was well. The North inch was quiet as all the sane sport pursuing people had probably made the right decision to stay home and watch the football. Me, I had an hour and a half to kill while my son played rugby.

The route took me along the rivers Tay and Almond ( I swear I could have been in the rivers). Enough of this rain talk! I cross the Almond and head up to Bertha Park, the new school and housing development, forgetting that it is not a made road once you get past the farm. The road bike survived. Piling down the new tarmac beyond the school and back over the Almond, I head for Hunting tower and up the hill to the Tibbermore road. At Tibbermore I take a left, knowing full well that at the end of this road was the A9 dual carriageway. Up the hill now, it climbs more than I had thought. The A9 appears, so I about turn and cruise happily back to Tibbermore and then cross the Tibbermore Road heading for the A85. I have about a mile on the A85, this was much more river like. Into Almondbank and up the hill to Pitcairngreen, the rain is proper now, none of the lightweight drizzle – ENOUGH OF THE RAIN TALK! I am on the return to the car now just the A9 flyover to Luncarty and I will be back on traffic free routes.

Back at the Inch, I wipe the moisture from my Garmin with newly rung out glove, to discover that I am 3 miles short of my target for the day. I cross Perth on Tay Street to the South Inch then back through the near deserted town and back to the North Inch. Arrgh, still half a mile short! I quick loop of the Inch and to the car.

At the car, I have a problem, all this moisture and most of it absorbed by my clothes. I have the wrong car, the other car has the plastic seat covers (the ones the garages use when they service your car). I peel of my jacket and hang it over the door – a vanity curtain if you will. In the back of the car, sitting on a “bag for life” plastic bag I squirm out of my wet gear, and without a towel try to get into dry clothes – easier said than done. Once dressed I take the plastic bag and fill it with the wet clothes – my plan to keep the car dry has failed … the water has run off the sides of the bag and the back seat is a wee bit damp!

Next week it is Buckie to Aviemore!(and beyond) How far beyond, before the broom wagon sweeps me up is anybodies guess.

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Sunday 26th. Loch Leven

Spot of Strava hunting you have been warned.

Perth start @ 8.30

Then around Rhynd Dron(ish) out the Glen through Kinross around the Loch and back to Milnathort ensuring the “Full” Loch Leven segment is done and then back down the glen returning to our start.

Start point notifies once usual suspects have responded. You know who you are 😎

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Ochil Hills Sportive 2019

The promise was of 70% of the route being on new “off highlighter” to me new roads and a few others being ridden in the opposite direction to before.

The day got off to a slower than anticipated start. Simons navigator took him the wrong way to a closed entrance to Lochore Meadow and then just on the start line I discovered my bars had got knocked and the brake hoods were pointing to the ground!!! Simon heard the start line briefing 3 times while I frantically found allen keys and got the bars adjusted. But as it turned out later not properly.

Anyway, off we went in the sunshine heading first for Auchmuirbridge. On the way Simon started shouting to a woman we were about to pass. Turns out it was a friend (thankfully) on the same event and whose husband had scooted up the road leaving her. Then at Auchmuirbridge junction Simon diced with the oncoming cars to make the turn and survived and then caught up with the aforementioned husband.

Talking of cars, there were a number throughout the day that as they passed us either gave unhappy blasts of their horns of the passenger was shouting out of their window! Many unaware of the Highway Code, let alone the current publicity around giving cyclists 1.5 metre of clearance as you pass. The start line briefing even reminded us to obey the highway code and not cycle more than 2 abreats!! Ahead of the event i saw a Facebook group called Fife Jammers where there was a post about the event and many many grumpy posts about cyclists staying off the roads. One even commented on the fact that Fife Cycle park had been built so cyclist should stay in there. Is that the same as saying cars should stay in the Cowdenbeath racewall or at Knockhill!!!

The climb up into Leslie was Nippy and we passed 3 wheelchair cyclists. Much Respect to them. The junction signage in Leslie wasn’t the best and relied on a Motorcyclist directing us down a lane with no warning signs in advance of the turn coming up.

This is where we find that there is a Ballo reservoir near Leslie but there is a nasty climb to get up to it. It must be something about the Ballo name! Down into Falkland and my bars are not right and I have no confidence on getting proper grip of the brakes and go down more gingerly than Simon. So much so he wonders if I’ve had an Incident. (more about incidents shortly) Emergency repair time in Falkland and bars are rotated to a proper position and all 4 stem bolts properly tightened! Now I’m in a much more confident and in the usual riding position.

Dodging the Outlander tourists, the route goes to Strathmiglo where Simon gives route guidance to two other cyclists but they are not on our event and ignore him. The path to Glenlommod Village climbs more that I realised from coming along in the other direction.

Now the Incident. Stopping for an energy bite my garmin and phone begin to chirp saying an Incident was detected and my emergency contact was being notified. I only fully realise this later as I wasn’t wearing reading glasses so just hit buttons until the noise stopped and then carried on cycling to the Kinross Feed station where I get a call from my frantic wife wondering what was up as she had got an mail saying I was in an incident and she should call me or alert emergency services and gave my GPS location! I assured her I was ok and carried on sampling the cakes.

Cleish! Yup it went up. Nasty steep start but then once you got going it was fine. But what stunning views there were as you went up. It was also on this climb that the event photographer had set up so there could be some interesting shots!!!

As Is tradition 30’s were contested. I think I gifted them all to Simon 😊

Barrelling down in to Kelty a kind hearted pedestrian hit the button on a crossing causing Simon to stop and letting me catch up. She got some light hearted abuse from Simon 😊

The return along past vane farm saw me holding on to Simons wheel and him pacing me. I must admit I had to dig in, but it was still a cracking pace then it was on the rolling lumpy finish dodging the traffic calming past Balingry and Lochore to the finish!

Cracking day cracking roads and Even better company. Thanks Simon.

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It’s Scone time

For those of you doing the Tayside, this is a wind down 19 mile Sunday run on a bike with dirt track capable tyres. Obviously, a run out to Meigle from the village green at 10am could be done all on road, but where is the fun in that?

For those not doing the Tayside (like me) it’s a purely social ride, with minimal 30 racing and all the despicable behaviour you can muster😁.

Recap, Sunday 10am village green, track capable tyres.

See you then!

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