Base miles.

29 03 2016

There came a point, 60 odd miles into yesterdays ride, where I ran out of curse words. For people who know me well, that might raise an eyebrow. The head wind at times was demoralising and demeaning.

Those are the times when to not yield is to gain. Gain strength. Gain confidence. Gain endurance. Strengthen resolve and temper perseverance.

It all started with a lassitude, of sorts. I knew I just needed to tap out some miles. the weather was reasonable if I didn’t venture high and I had no desire to make a journey to make a journey, so I rode from the front door, so to speak, and dodged the early season walkers on the West Highland Way until I could climb over towards Aberfoyle and the Queen Elizabeth Forest Park. After a couple hours, my legs were feeling strong and a decision had to be made whether to bite off a second loop. Once committed, the die would be cast.

A slight hesitation betrayed my ongoing questioning of my physical resilience but there is only one way if you want achieve something worthwhile: you have to strive. So I took a left turn and kept peddling.

Fighting into the wind, a few flurries of hail nipped at the small patches of my exposed flesh and led me to bury my head, knowing there was nothing tricky about the route I was taking.

After turning at Stronachlachar, the wind moved to my tail making the ride down the north side of Loch Katrine easy. I then ducked into the forest, enjoying the trails around the fast flowing and beautiful Achray Water before emerging on the Duke’s pass. From here, I had decided to head east past Loch Achray to Loch Venacher, under the watchful eye of Ben Ledi and climb out and over to Aberfoyle before taking the cycle path from there back to rejoin the West Highland Way and home.

I haven’t looked at the gpx yet, but I would estimate 75-80 miles which took 7.15 hours. The efforts against the wind on the way home have left me feeling pretty torn up, but I’m getting there. I can’t help but feel I need to do some kettle bell work and get my hams and quads working a bit better. It really is a hole to dig out of: I took it all for granted this last few years.



Bikes & tool chests.

27 03 2016

A good few years ago now, I started a flickr group: Bikes & tool chests. I would say it is getting pretty good now. Have a look, if you have a spare few minutes.

bikes & tool chests

I would like to thank all the contributors who agree to have their pictures added.

One hundred miles.

26 03 2016

This summer, I intend to take part in one of the NUE (National Ultra Endurance Series) races in the USA.

not my picture, but I cannot remember who took it…

I have done a few in the past, but not for a long time. The first one was the Wilderness 101, followed later by the Shenandoah 100.

These back country loops on the East Coast of the ‘States, organised by Chris Scott, represent some of the best races I have ever tried. The terrain is often technical, the support crew’s efforts incredible and the whole experience redefines your riding.

After a few years away from doing anything remotely competitive, it is time to try and get back to it. This last couple weeks have provided some consistently dry trails and I have endeavoured to up the intensity of my efforts for the short rides I have managed.

F.B.R.O.T.Y ’16: ‘Hammer to Fall’.

6 03 2016


Coffee. Fill a bottle and the Camelbak bladder. Grab B.A and hit the trail.

It is 7am, more or less and it takes 10 minutes before I realise I have left my bottle on the kitchen table. I break the cold, early morning silence to curse, turn around and speed back to pick it up. Frustrated, I get back on the pedals. I need to get going. I need to get to Balmaha. There I will meet the team for the First Big Ride Of The Year: 2016 version.

Rolling out the West Highland Way, an old Queen song is going round and round in my mind. It is so peaceful, I can’t help but sing out loud. It was with joy though, not a reflection of the subject material of the song – living in the shadow of the atom bomb.

Take a minute to bask in the glory of the ebullient frontman’s showmanship, then read on.

It was possible that I had not dressed warm enough for a the ambient temperature. My legs were stiff and relatively unresponsive even an hour in. I still had a good bit to go to meet the crew in Balmaha, the traditional start of F.B.R.O.T.Y, but I was making good time.

Joining darkmarquis, naegears, davechopoptions and garethmichaeljones we set out to hump our way up Conic hill. The view was spectacular over the highland fault islands in the Loch.

On the way down, the cold Nor’easterly made it’s presence felt – one and all being blown around on the rock step jumps. Sketchy to say the least.

We wound out the miles through Queen Elizabeth Forest Park and were thankful to ‘turn the corner’ at Stronachlachar and get out of the headwind. Dropping to Inversnaid, we were full of mirth as we refuelled on ginger cake that looked more like meatloaf, or maybe bear crap, and hot choc served in a teapot. It is a strange place, that is for sure.

With tried legs we hit the jewel of the ride: Loch Lomond Side. The narrow gauge trail, dappled in sunshine and with a few tech features gave focus and opportunity to session some of the trickier steam crossings. The traditional (ish) stop to make fire after the two harder-than-they-should-be climbs in the middle of the route warmed us slightly and we continued on to regroup at Rowardennan and tackle the rest of this beast.

With the tanks beginning to empty, the roller climbs sapped the legs, but that didn’t stop garethmichaeljones hucking to flat off a fairly high bridge and then some swoopy, woodland, ripping singletrack fun.

After re-entry at Balmaha, I took off along the road, before re-joining the Westie fuelled entirely by Mike n’ Ikes. ¬†Sluggishly, I climb back up and through Mugdock just as the sun set, 11 hours after I started.

A good F.B.R.O.T.Y indeed.