Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Commuter rage...

I've been out on the bike a bit more now that the weather has finally started to ease up. I managed a 25 mile loop round by Farr and Ruthven on Saturday although there was still a heck of a lot of grit and detritus on the roads from when they were gritted. There's still loads of snow up there and it was gently thawing and draining on to the roads, so while it was all clear blue skies and no wind there was still an awful lot of water on the road. By the time I got back it looked like I'd been mountain biking not road biking!

Aaaaanyway. I've decided to commute to work to get a wee bit more training in. We've not long moved house and it's a bit closer to work and R's school. Today would be day 3 of commuting.

Day 1: Leaving work and someone decides that he's going to pull out and sideswipe me, fortunately he misses. Cue much swearing on my part.

Day 2: I'm about to turn right. I position myself on the road to get ready to turn off, I signal, I'm wearing a bit orange jacket, I'm 5'11", I am on the largish side, I have both volume and mass. So WHY does the silly cow in the blue VW Beetle waiting at the junction to turn right decide that regardless of this, she will pull out and drive right at me forcing me to swerve back left into oncoming traffic and nearly getting myself flattened in the process?!! Cue swearing gesticulating and general irritation on my part. Does she even acknowledge my presence? Does she 'eck.

Day 3: No incidents to report but I've just been given a free place on the Etape Caledonia sportive! Result! So it balances out in the end.

It seems even in Inverness cycle commuting is fraught with danger. Someone recently advised that one way to get motorists to 'see' you is to make direct eye contact with them. That way they can't come out with the old 'but I didn't see you mate' chestnut while you try and figure out why you've become embedded headfirst into the grill of a BMW X5.

Friday, 19 February 2010


A couple of posts ago I mentioned that I’d been having trouble getting a start date for the CAR due to a few issues with the University getting a placement sorted for my wife. It’s now looking unlikely that she’ll start anything before March which means she’ll be on placement and trying to juggle childcare while I’m away. The financial costs of the trip are becoming  too hard to justify when there is only one of us earning money. When I factor in the amount of food I’ll need to consume to keep me going, the cost of spare parts for the bike and any repair costs, it starts to look very tight.  There is also the matter of school holidays to contend with.  She was originally due to finish placement before I left meaning that I’d be good to go with a clear conscience.

So I’ve taken a very long hard look at the plans and have reluctantly decided to postpone the trip.

Some of you have already donated money to the GDBA and this is weighing heavily with me. Rest assured I will be doing the trip but it’s most likely going to be in the Spring of 2011. However in the meantime I will be embarking on a series of mini challenges to justify the money folk have donated. These will be done over weekends and the occasional long weekend.

So far I’ve come up with the following.

Cycle Around Skye and Cycle Home - I’ll get the train to Kyle of Lochalsh and spend a day touring round Skye before cycling home to Inverness the next day.

Cycle Around Arran - does what it says on the tin! Circular route around Arran with time to hopefully sneak in a bit of cragging on Goatfell

Cycle Hebridies(ish) - A cycle trip from Inverness to Ullapool, ferry to Stornoway and then down through Lewis and Harris, ferry to Uig, through Skye and back home.

Cycle Northern Isles - I’ve never been to Orkney and Shetland before so quite fancy cycling there, Fair Isle could be nice too!

Any other suggestions? I’m hopefully getting a Mountain bike soon, so long off road cycles through the Glens could be good. As always you’re more than welcome to come along for any of these trips.

I’m feeling pretty deflated at the moment. I hate starting something that I can’t finish, but I need to put my family (not to mention my finances!) first. Thanks to everyone that’s offered support, hopefully I’ll be able to take you up on it next year. The blog will continue on its Scottish Cycling related theme and my other blog where I talk about other nonsense can be found at

On a plus side it means I’ll be mega fit for it next year and will have absolutely no excuses!

If I’ve let anyone down  please accept my heartfelt apologies. The trip WILL go ahead, just a bit later than originally planned.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

What kind of Cyclist are you?

I've been blog browsing and spotted this one written by an endurance cyclist  called Jill a few years ago. She's based in Alaska and cycles in some truly awe inspiring settings, her blog is well worth reading.

I'll copy the post here, hopefully she'll be happy for me to do so! I'll email her just to be on the safe side. Are you a Sheepdog, Husky, Greyhound, Labrador or St Bernard? :-)

"... See, cyclists are a lot like dogs. No, not because they eat protein snacks and bark at cars. To most, a cyclist is a cyclist - but that doesn't stop the proliferation of a startling variety of breeds.

First there are commuters. Commuters are the Labrador retrievers of the pack. Throw them a good bicycle route, and they'll keep coming back. They love a good game of "catch"- that is, sprinting to catch green lights. They're highly sociable, largely domesticated and don't mind being leashed to the same roads day after day.

Then there are the recreational riders, the toy poodles. They're mostly out for show. They often have the best bikes on the block, as shiny as the day they were purchased - and often as unused. They coast gingerly along smooth payment, chrome sparkling in the sunlight, all while smiling dreamily to grab the attention of passers by.

In contrast, there are the extreme mountain bikers, the huskies, pulling their powerful bodies over terrain that nature never intended them to cross. Their bikes show the marks of a life fully lived, coated in mud and marred by deep scars. They live on the cusp of tame and wild, fully prepared for the roughest conditions. They work well in groups but their minds are fiercely independent, and they're never fully content when they come down from the mountain.

Recreational mountain bikers are golden retrievers. Like their husky brothers, they love going on long rides in the mountains, jumping in the mud and summoning their maximum energy level whenever they go out. However, they're also just as happy to curl up on the couch when the weather forecast calls for rain.

There are club riders, the Shetland sheepdogs, who are happiest in herds. They're always nipping at the heels of other riders to keep a good drafting speed as they move in formation along the road. Separation from the herd is a mark of shame.

Road racers, on the other hand, break out of the pack when it really matters. Like greyhounds, they move in graceful unity until the time comes to rush forward in a stunning burst of speed. Their sleek, lycra-clad bodies were built for speed and speed alone. They can be a delicate breed, prone to freezing in the winter and unable to carry the weight of life's necessities on their ultra-light bikes.

That's where cycle tourists are different. Tourists are the St. Bernards trailing behind the pack - big, bulky, slow, but built to last, built to withstand the rain and snow and ice and wind that gets in the way during the long haul. Tourists are well adept to carrying large loads on their bikes, pulling them when necessary, moving at a steady speed until they reach their final destination, whether it's 5 or 5,000 miles away ..."

Sunday, 31 January 2010

The right bike for the trip.

I think this could be the bike I'll use for the trip. It's a Ridgeback horizon with a carbon fork and Shimano Sora gears. I'd like a slightly higher specced bike with 105 or SRAM Rival but the budget doesn't quite reach that far. I'll be able to get it on the bike to work scheme and it'll leave me about £200 to get the inevitable 'extras'. The combination of a steel frame and carbon fork should hopefully mean the miles will get soaked up with ease.... I hope!

The guys at Square Wheels were, as ever, extremely helpful and gave me plenty of advice so I'll be purchasing the bike through them. The good thing is that it'll double as a winter hack and commuting bike. Getting it this month will mean that I'll have plenty of time to train with it and get used to hauling kit about in panniers, something I've not really done before.

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

A quick update

I've set up a twitter feed, facebook group and work are helping out by publishing details in the company magazine and on our intranet.

I've also set a provisional date of ......

...20th June. It's getting later and later but we're still second guessing what's happening with my wifes Uni course. She was supposed to start a placement at the beginning of January and due to finish at the beginning of June but this is now looking increasingly unlikely seeing as she hasn't started yet!

We've decided to sod the University and just go for it. It'll work out in the end ... I hope!

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Changing Plans - Thanks Stirling University

Well it seems that I'm having to review my plans for next years Cycle Around Scotland AGAIN. It's going to be June at the earliest, late June at that.

My wife studies at Stirling University and due to gross negligence, extreme incompetence and lack of anything that might resemble forward planning they cocked up her final placement. She should have been on placement since June and would have finished last week. However this didn't happen and she has been left high and dry since then. Fortunately they've managed to reschedule things for her and she'll commence her placement in January and should get to graduate on time. This means we'll have to micro manage our family time and I really can't justify swanning off round the country while she's trying to finish a placement. It wouldn't be fair of me at all.

It just means I'll miss what is usually a fairly settled period of weather in Scotland. Mind you if Dave Gorman can complete a marathon cycle around the UK in September then I really shouldn't moan about having to do it in June!

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Map My Ride - a wee test.

I've just registered with Map My Ride

Mondays Route:

That seems to work quite nicely!