Monday, April 8, 2019

Hebridean Way, the rest


The title only makes sense if you've read the first post about my (our) adventures on the Hebridean Way last year. You don't have to read the first one for the body of this one to make sense though, you just have to understand I'd ridden the first 24 miles or so of the Hebridean Way on the tandem the day before the first ride here.

Early Start

I asked the staff at the hotel the night before if I could get an early breakfast. "How early?" they said. "Just after 4 a.m." I said. They looked a little shocked. And even more so when I told them why. The plan was to ride from the hotel in Daliburgh to the Butt of Lewis. The rest of the Heb Way. Clearly I was the only person that didn't think 160 miles in a day on a bicycle is a crazy thing to contemplate. However, they were most accommodating and told me where the milk was so I could get my cereal! "Just help yourself". I did. And having done so, I got the bike off the car, sorted it out, and set off in the dark up the roads of South Uist.
The reason for leaving so early was to make sure I made the mid morning ferry from Berneray to Harris. This would allow me to get up to the top of Lewis reasonably early. Otherwise it would be a mid afternoon start to the Harris and Lewis leg which would, in turn, lead to a late finish. With The Stoker in the car providing support none of us wanted that!

The Uists and Benbecula

The forecast had been none to pleasant. Very windy and very wet. The latter especially true in the morning. Thankfully the wind had done its job early and the rain appeared to have been driven through. It was breezy though and from what I could see as I set off the clouds were low again. The advantage of the wind was that it was mostly helping and with this part of the ride being flat (1600 feet in 65 miles is flat...) I got a good start to the day.
Being May, even at 5 a.m. it wasn't really dark and soon I was riding in what could be described as the gloaming. The one thing I wasn't used to at all was the quietness. For the first hour or so I saw nothing at all on the road or any other sign of life. Eventually there was a lorry and then some red deer sauntered across the road on their way up to higher ground. My assumption is that they came down the hill at night and then went back up in the morning. I may very well be wrong. But they were nice to see.
On South Uist the route mostly followed the main road with one notable exception. And it was on the section that is much closer to the sea that I saw what I assume were coastal defences with some very big boulders lying on the ground behind them. Again, I'm assuming the sea washed onto the land here at some point and deposited said rocks causing the defences to be built. I certainly hope these bits of stone weren't thrown over the defences. The noise the wind and the sea were making though it might very well have been possible.
The road crosses from island to island and across watery patches using a number of causeways. These are fun to cross from the novelty point of view but are exposed. Watch the wind on a breezy day! They do provide a much easier crossing than having to wait for ferries. And it was the second of these bridges that took me on to Benbecula.
The weather wasn't great here, smirry rain, low cloud and a slight depression around me. I had really hoped that the weather was just going to keep getting better after the dry start but no. On went the flappy jacket and I settled in to grinding out the miles. The route here leaves the direct path and goes around the coast ending up navigating round the airport. No beaches for runways here! A much more traditional installation with big wire fences. But it did increase the interest factor on a mostly dull section.
The Hebridean Way claims to cycle through 10 islands but I found it hard to count Grimsay as I reckon the whole experience takes up at most 1.5 miles. It was more of a bit of solid ground between two causeways. So, off Benbecula, touch Grimsay and into North Uist! I see from the map that there is more to Grimsay than this so maybe when I go back I'll have a better look.
The weather had taken a turn for the better again here which was nice but the wind was now a side wind which made things more interesting. I was halfway to the ferry and in good time. I was back beside the coast and, once again, the road took me past lots of isolated houses strung out along its length. The postman must have fun delivering letters.
The road surface was great until I took the official route on a little diversion away from the main track. I can see why the route goes this way. There's a nice looking camp site and a little beach but I'm not sure it added much to the actual route. The views were visible from where I turned off and it did involve a little height loss and the inevitable requirement to make it back up again. For me though the killer was a little unavoidable patch of gravel and flints. With my tyres being damp it was that much easier for something to get in and that's exactly what happened. I turned back on to the nice surface of the main drag, said thanks to the cycling gods for not giving me a puncture and my back wheel went flat. Then it started to rain.
There was no point crying over spilt milk and I settled down beside the wall to replace the inner tube. I did that but then spent the rest of the ride to Berneray worrying about whether I had got enough air in the wheel to stop another puncture. Still, I didn't have too far to go.
The worst bit of this ride was to come though. The route bends round a little bay near Malacleit and here I was hit by a very nasty headwind. Combined with a road surface covered in mud and rubbish from recent tree felling it made for a horrible couple of miles. The same wind made its presence felt again at the next bay before I made it to the junction that would take me on the road to Berneray.
The weather was definitely getting a little better now and, as I had time, I stopped to take a couple of photos. Until then the all pervasive greyness had kept the phone in my pocket.
The first decent view on the ride through the Uists
But not the brightest of days


The amount of cycling on Berneray is even less than that on Grimsay! I did spend more time here as I had beaten The Stoker and the car up and I had a good long time to wait for the morning ferry. 65 miles done and all good. I did get rather cold waiting for the ferry despite the building at the terminus. If you are doing this trip make sure you have warm clothes for hanging about in. Or time it better than I did. Eventually (probably 10 minutes later) The Stoker arrived and got in the queue for the boat. They were booked on the lunchtime one (in case of emergencies) but when it came to it there was no trouble transferring and we were able to share the journey. Again, there were a number of cyclists on the ferry; all taking their time.

Harris and Lewis

I did, eventually, remember to pump the rear tyre up. Now that would have been truly stupid.
After the flat trip across 4 islands Harris was a bit of a wake up call. It wasn't that I didn't know it was coming, I do know how to read a profile, but I still wasn't quite prepared for the initial slopes from Leverburgh. As ever, though, I settled into the new ride.
Along with the feel of the roads being different, so was the scenery. Hills, beaches and sea. All very picturesque and much more my kind of thing. The riding, of course, is harder. And, I should add, the road surfaces were not as good on Lewis and Harris as they had been in the morning. And despite the weather picking up, the wind was also increasing and was not helping in making things more fun.
My first task I knew was to get through Harris. And that means taking on two climbs; one either side of Tarbert. Getting to the first one took several ups and downs along the coast before turning inland at a very attractive bay and beach.
Unfortunately this turn also removed any help from the wind. It wasn't in my face precisely but it wasn't helping either. I remember the start of the climb being pretty steep and I passed a couple of touring cyclists, loaded up and struggling. Once again, I was more than happy to be riding my way. The climb goes up in a series of steps, some steep, some not so. The terrain looked very different to the Uists; this was all rock. Very barren but very impressive. It's a sneaky climb and I thought I'd finished it only to come around a corner to see the last section a little in the distance. Annoyingly this was not only steep but the road changed back to single track. Luckily I did not have to stop.
The descent down to Tarbert was quick with a couple of little rises to contend with. It did however give me an inkling of what was to come with some nasty swirling winds catching the bike a couple of times.
The route passes by Tarbert by and large and the road climbs up and round the corner to the biggest climb on the whole route. I met the Stoker just before this climb and we agreed a strategy for the next meet point. At this point I was approaching 90 miles for the day and the legs were beginning to feel the effect of the day before. One big effort I told myself before dropping down to the beginning of the climb.
Make no mistake this climb is imposing. The road rises up from the corner of a bay towards some pretty big hills and is cut through some rock. The cutting didn't seem to make it any less steep though and the next half a mile or so was hard. I was definitely in the lowest gear and grind mode up here. It did relent eventually and the section in the pass was spectacular before the road tipped up again to get through this part. Sadly, it was not quite done and after a lovely descent the tarmac pitched up once again. There was a lay-by here and the chance for a bike and scenery photo. On a day of not many photos I decided that this was an opportunity too good to miss.
The bike was having a rest

The scenery in Harris was spectacular
Getting started again was entertaining as I was in too high a gear and the gravel of the lay-by did not help. I'm sure I amused the people in the car as I struggled to get going. How embarrassing! Once I got riding it wasn't long before the descent started. I had been looking forward to this as I like pointing a bike downhill and letting it run. However, it was the scariest time I've ever had on a bike without traffic involved. The wind was picking up and with it coming through various hill passes it was intense and swirling about. Twice it threatened to pick me and the bike up and throw us around. I ended up feeling like I was crawling down the hill. Very, very unpleasant.
Back down to what felt like terra-firma I dusted myself down, cycled on and soon came into Lewis, the last island on the ride. 60 miles to go! I was feeling ok and a mile or so on I passed The Stoker and the car, parked up just where we'd planned. I gestured I was going to carry on. They knew the next meet point. It was just after this that I had one of the most enjoyable single miles of cycling ever. The same wind that had given me such trouble was now behind me and a slight downhill section gave me easy speed for virtually no effort. Fantastic.
Sadly, it didn't last. This part of the road isn't hilly per se it just rolls up and down. It twists and turns, or at least it seemed to. For one reason or another I was not enjoying it. Two pleasant incidents remain with me. As I plodded up another slope (not a hill just one of what were becoming infernal obstacles) I passed some local youths hanging about at a building. I don't know why but I thought I might get some abuse. I was most surprised, therefore, when one of them said "Good luck". Maybe he surmised that a lycra-clad cyclist on a road bike was targeting the top of the island as his end point of the day. Still, it cheered me up a little. And the second was a really nice piece of driving from a bus driver. He waited very patiently as I ground up yet another obstacle. As soon as I could I moved as far left as I could (into a sort of hard shoulder) to let him past. He went and then almost immediately had to stop at a bus stop. I think we were both a little amused as I had to overtake him. Luckily the next time was much easier for him but he did give me a decent amount of space which was very nice.
This section of road has a huge amount of riding beside or near water. Both open sea lochs and small pools in the landscape. And it was by one of these little ponds that I saw my only roadie of the day. It was nice to see a cyclist. Since the climb over to Tarbert I hadn't seen another. Then, in the way of things, I came up behind a touring bike. We were both making the climb up to the fork in the road at Leurbost. The main road carries on to Stornaway but the Hebridean Way takes the road to the west side of the island past Callanish. I did catch him but it took a long time and given I was on a skinny bike and he was heavily laden I was beginning to doubt my ability to finish this one off.
I thought I was supposed to meeting the car at, or just after, the turn off but there was no sign. I phoned. "Up near the next junction". Sigh. "Are you ok"? Yes, I'll make it there. Two and a bit miles. Into the wind, and overall slightly uphill. Virtually no speed at all and no go in the legs. I saw the car. I parked up, had a sandwich and, very reluctantly, binned the ride. The next section headed west to Callanish and I just couldn't face the wind again. I was gutted then and I'm still gutted now. One bonus of stopping was getting my brain in gear again a little and taking this photo of the view from the road.
You just can't see the wind...

Really the rest

"And", you might say. And you'd be correct. The next day was truly hideous and it was tourist time. The Callanish stones are impressive and the cafe was good. I felt for some cyclists we saw there; wet tired and generally not having a good time. Still, it gave my legs a wee chance to recover. And the day after that The Stoker dropped me and the bike at the place I got off.
It was still windy; probably about the same strength as when I'd abandoned two days earlier. But I was more prepared this time and happier to try my luck. And having been a tourist in between I'd seen some of the road. That always helps. It places little markers in your mind to help you out. The run down to Callanish was just about as tough as I'd thought it would be. And me and the biker were moved around a fair bit on this section. Luckily cars round there seem to anticipate it and give plenty of space otherwise it could have been nasty.
I passed the car at one of the other Callanish stone rings (look it up; there are lots...). I felt fine now, and I knew that the wind was probably going to help most of the time now. My Strava notes say that from there to Port of Ness was a real blast. And that's my memory of it. The Stoker decided to wait to overtake when they came up behind me because I was going pretty fast...
For anyone reading this to try and glean information about the Hebridean Way, I'd like to point out that this section is not flat either. It rolls up and down. If you are lucky like me then the wind will be coming from the south west and it will push you all the way to Port of Ness. Remember that, unless you are being picked up like me, you will need to cycle back the way into the wind. And I'm not sure I'd fancy that. I met a tandem on their way back from the lighthouse and I flagged them down. We'd seen them once or twice while we were on the islands and I wanted to say well done. They told me they'd been blown clean across the road the day before (when I was cowering from the weather) which had damaged both tyres. Luckily a local had picked them up, taken them to Stornaway where they'd got replacements and brought them back to the bike. How good is that?
The ride wasn't without it's concerns. There were big black clouds about and eventually I caught just the very edge of one. Just as I took the small road from Port of Ness to the Butt of Lewis. It's easy to miss and even though I knew this, I still managed it. I passed some other cyclists on this section of road, again laden as I was not. And the wind was making its presence known. The rain went as quickly as it had come and the end came quickly enough, on the rougher lighthouse road, and suddenly I was there. So was the car and The Stoker who, by some miracle, had found take-away coffee in Port of Ness. Glorious.
It was here, as we looked around, that I found the end of the Heb Way marker which made me think there should be one at the beginning. I'll have to go back.....

Happy enough - even if I was two days late!

The Butt of Lewis is an amazing place. The wind was whipping up the sea.

The rides

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Hebridean Way, Vatersay and Barra (2018 Memories Part 1)


I'm planning to write a small collection of posts about the rides from 2018; a year where I completely fell off the blogging bandwagon! Here is the first of these; a day spent riding the tandem on the southern part of the Hebridean Way.

The Day

I had become aware of the Hebridean Way and fancied cycling it. Ideally I would like to try the thing end-to-end as a single ride but doubts over terrain and ferries made me want to ride it slightly differently on first acquaintance. And so The Stoker and I took Tanny the tandem and the old faithful road bike to the Outer Hebrides in early May. We arrived on a day when you couldn't see anything thanks to the drizzle and low cloud and the next day dawned grey but with the promise of better to come. With that in mind we headed off from the hotel on South Uist towards the ferry to Barra.
We decided to stick to the main road on the way there and come back on the Hebridean Way itself as a way of having a ride that was as much of a loop as possible. And there was a wee headwind so we didn't want to run the risk of missing the ferry. The Uists are fairly flat and some nice cycling brought us easily to the causeway to the small island of Eriskay where we would get the ferry.
Eriskay introduced some slopes in the road; quite steep ones at that. The drop into the ferry terminus left me with a little concern as to our ability to get up it again when we came back at the other end of the day. We waited in the gloom for the ferry to arrive and we crossed the water to Barra with no views to speak of. At least the crossing was calm.

The view from the ferry terminus on Eriskay
It was still quite dull when we arrived at Barra and we set off with the lights on. The Hebridean Way travels down the west side of Barra but there is a road on the east side so we took that; again looking to make as much of a loop as possible. This was also the advice of the ferryman; a clockwise circuit.  The road rose up and dipped down along the rocky coastline with its little inlets. With the weather grey it was forbidding place although I suspect in the sunshine it would look very different.
The last climb before Castlebay was a very steep pull up from the coast and had us working quite hard. Unfortunately we were overtaken by a car right at the top and I spent the descent into the main town on the brakes and using quite colourful language about drivers who don't understand the power of tandems when they go downhill! The cloud was just beginning to rise by now and views were becoming more plentiful. And the castle in the bay looked very impressive.

It really was quite dull. And chilly!
We rode on to Vatersay and the beginning of the cycle route. Out of Castlebay the road headed south and, once again, pitched upwards. This took us up to the Barra war memorial remembering the dead and missing from WWI and WWII. We passed a couple of tourists on hire bikes; they did not look happy. After another speedy descent (and a mental note that we'd have to re-climb this) we rounded the coast to find the causeway to Vatersay.
The fourth island of the day had flatter roads but they still managed to roll gently up and down testing the legs. Presently we came to the settlement at the end of the road. There are two small branches of tarmac here and I picked the one to the left as a place to turn the bike. I hadn't done my research well enough as the start marker for the Hebridean Way was down the other one. Still, that gives me a reason to return.
We turned the bike and started on our journey home. This stretch of road is beside a glorious beach. If beaches are your thing you won't be disappointed here! We are more inclined towards cafes (especially on riding days) and we popped into one conveniently placed at the other end of said beach. There were a few other bikes there but mostly of the touring variety with many panniers. I would not fancy doing some of the climbs with a heavily laden bike. I'm coming round to the idea that I like riding long distances with as little baggage as possible.
After a nice coffee and cake we were back on the road. As we were doing a round about tour I was concerned about making the afternoon ferry, especially with unknown roads and ones that seemed to be presenting hilly surprises. So we got back to it.
The south side of the big hill back to Castlebay wasn't so bad (or maybe it was the injection of cake) and we then turned onto more new road and the western side of Barra. It couldn't be much more different to the eastern side if it tried! It's much softer and the beaches looked fantastic once again.

It was definitely brightening up
There was more sand here than rock (or so it appeared - the picture doesn't show it) and we really enjoyed the ride around. The roads felt flatter too and with the sun firmly out and blue sky above we had a lot of fun. Before we knew it we were back at the turning for the ferry with way too much time on our hands so I suggested travelling on a little way and visiting Barra airport. This may seem a little odd but the runway on Barra is the beach! So it is definitely worth a visit. The Stoker agreed and we headed on. As we turned the corner I saw the beach and then, looking up slightly, I saw a plane coming into land. It was a strange sight. Stranger was the sight of the passengers disembarking and trudging over the sand to the airport building.

A plane on a beach. Whatever next?
The place is definitely a tourist attraction and there were plenty of others doing what we were; gawking! After some further excitement watching the plane take off again (through the puddles in the sand) we got back on Tanny and headed for the ferry pier.
Waiting for the ferry. Tanny doesn't like standing about much.
We were rather early so enjoyed waiting in the sun for the boat to arrive. The oddest thing here was the number of other cyclists waiting for the same thing. I think we almost out-numbered the cars and vans. The trip back to Eriskay was very different from the morning's sailing and we saw all the little islands and rocks we had missed in the morning. Again, thankfully, the sea was calm and the crossing occurred without any incident.
Once we were off the ferry we were left looking at the climb back out. It didn't look any better in the sunshine than it had in the mist. However, our legs were obviously all right and we made it up and over easily enough. For a few miles we were just reversing our outward ride; this time I spotted the Otter Crossing sign on the causeway though.
Eventually we came to the turning and headed down closer to the coast. We were back in the flat lands, windswept and grassy. You don't really see the sea here; you just know that it is over there. The roads were good and we passed a number of houses down here. For such a barren place it seemed odd to see so much habitation. The hotel was not far away and we made it home with ease.
It was a great day out. Three rides, punctuated by ferry trips and other hanging about. For a day that had started so gloomily it turned out to be fabulous. And the roads, in the main, were fine. I think there has been some investment into the Hebridean Way here and it made all the difference.
The question was; what would the next day bring? I had big plans but the weather forecast was not encouraging. To find out you'll have to wait. Hopefully it won't be long before I post the next one!


Thursday, February 8, 2018

The Twelve 100km Rides of 2017

As the weather has been so abysmal in 2018 so far I thought I'd (finally) do a round up of last year's silly challenge. I mentioned in my last post (August last year, that's truly terrible) that last year I settled on riding at least one 100 km (or more) ride every month. As much as anything the reason for that challenge was that I knew work was going to be demanding and that anything else (longer, faster etc) might be beyond me. But I also knew that I needed something. And, as I said way back in August, it was a particularly silly challenge given I work in miles. Really, it was a challenge to do at least one 62.2 mile ride per month.
I managed it, as the title suggests, so the purpose of this post is just to pull them all together in one place. Mostly as a reminder to me and possibly as a warning to others silly enough to challenge themselves to something that sounds reasonable but is calendar based.
Without more ado, here are the rides.


It was already late into January before I even managed to kick the challenge off. Even then I had to take a morning off work to get it done. A ride enlivened by the happenstance of meeting a pal on his way to work. We met on the busy A92 just after I had experienced another poor overtake. Unfortunately for me having company was all too short as I suffered on this ride any time the road headed up a hill. However, once it was done, it was one down and 11 to go.


Despite this one being done in the middle of the month I remember feeling some pressure to get it done; I didn't want the challenge to land on its backside so early in the year. I looked at the forecast and it seemed reasonable so I took the morning off work and went for it. The only issue was a deep frost. I'm not comfortable on cold roads and I spent the first 20 or so miles tip-toeing about on the main road to Ceres before going to take a look at the descent of Nydie, chickening out, coming back to town and then finally going down the hill. A wee loop round Tarvit, a stop in The Villager cafe and then a final boot loop got the miles done in a remarkably local way. I had intended to do 3 boot loops but it didn't quite work that way. By the time I got home it was quite warm!

A wintery look to one of my favourite cycling views 


This was the first of three of the rides that were done on the tandem. And while you might argue that the effort was therefore shared, I'm still going to count them. If I hadn't been on the tandem I might have been on the solo bike and, anyway, I reckon the tandem is more of a workout for me than the solo; mostly because of the increased demands on the upper body.
We went to Perth for this one and enjoyed the Stoker enjoyed lots of new roads and I got to add a few miles to my heat map too. We had a wee scary moment near the Glenturret distillery when we met a tour bus coming round the corner a bit too much on our side of the road but all in all we had a lovely day. A stop at Synergy Cycles in Autcherarder was also enjoyed. Both for the sustenance and the fantastic bikes on display. Not sure what they thought of the touring tandem!

This is how the tandem travels to rides


Another tandem effort and a very sociable ride it was too. Two coffee stops and company for a good part of the day. I note from my description of the ride I felt like we should be able to do an imperial century on the tandem; sadly that didn't materialise in 2017. I have it on my list for this year.


Although I had the Cairn O'Mount Challenge (an excellent sportive if you ever get the chance) in the diary for the the last weekend in May it was nice to get the 100km ride done the weekend before and on the tandem again. One of our friends wanted to meet for coffee at Loch Leven Larder which by the shortest route is about a 60 mile round trip. The obvious thing was to lengthen it a little and enjoy a loop. Once again we had company from Ceres and back; and that was lovely. One wee bit of fun on the way home when said company, Scott, had a puncture coming down Dryside. The Stoker got to see some new roads and despite playing with closed roads and a little rain coming out of Strathmiglo we had an excellent day.
At this point I thought I might end up with about half of the rides completed on the tandem but, for one reason and another, this was the last one. The rest were done on the road bike. A pity really.


I had 4 hours give or take about 10 minutes. I was well into the second half of the month and the ride was yet to be done. So, taking the opportunity afforded to me by my early exit from the 3rd class Club Championship at the golf club, I used my Thursday afternoon off to get it done. I tried to pick a route to suit the weather, which was pleasant but with an easterly breeze. As the forecast suggested though it was a sea breeze which was fighting with a westerly inland. The cunning plan was to ride into the sea breeze for a while, use it to go inland, pick up the westerly until Blebo and then use gravity to neutralise the sea breeze. It worked a treat, although I'm not going to say it was easy, and with only a quick comfort stop this was my quickest 100km in terms of average speed. It was also the shortest.
I got home, cleaned up and made tea with a friend at the Golf Club at the appointed time. A very successful afternoon, even it was a little tiring.


The summer riding was interfered with last year by work, big time and I had to pick my moments when and where I could get them. I was running out of days in July and eventually I had to pick a day and go. I didn't pick a good one. I was very glad of the lights I'd put on my bike for safety. It was a day on which I felt cold and not full of beans and I was extremely glad of the coffee and bacon roll at the Villager.
It was a shame as the route was one I'd planned for a while, three loops of similar distance. Ideally I'd have come right into town near the end of the second one but I didn't need any extra distance and on such a yucky day I thought I'd keep the effort to the minimum. After all I did have to go to work in the afternoon!
Still, I was now over halfway in the challenge. And with work getting a little easier I thought the challenge might get a bit easier.


Another ride with less than stellar weather. Looking back there seems to be a theme, one I was not so aware of during the year. I did, at least, get the ride done in the first half of the month this time. It was also conceived and scheduled as a quick test for the Tour O'the Borders Sportive in September. From that point of view it was highly successful and gave me confidence that the sportive would be fine. The most memorable part of the day was the two herds of cows mooing at each other across the dividing fence on the way from Luthrie to Hazelton Walls. It was something I'd never heard or seen before and I don't think it came from distress, they just seemed to be communicating with each other.


As long as Tour O'the Borders went to plan September was always going to be an easy month to get the ride in. And so it proved. By the end of the third day in September I only had 3 monthly 100 km rides to do. This ride was dominated by a case of what I call "sportive head", which encourages me to ride harder and faster than I usually do. In this case I also wanted to beat 2016's time and this meant not stopping at the feed stops. I did stop for a quick comfort break just after the second feed zone (unfortunately the organisers had not repeated the trick of putting a portable loo in the un-timed descent of Talla) but that was it.
I still am not entirely happy with the behaviour of some of the other participants in the event; not saying hello when tagging onto my wheel, riding too close to unknown riders (to me, that is), abruptly stopping on Talla when in the fast lane, etc but it still is a great event. And good to test myself sometimes too. Best bits: coming down after Whitchyknowe with no one around me and the "racing" for the last 10 km or so. Then surprising everyone back in Peebles because I got back so quickly... A good day and I'm already entered for next year. Can I beat 4 1/2 hours?

One day I'll get the helmet on straight!


The title of October's effort probably says it all. Mud! Being an afternoon ride I picked a different cafe stop which did require some effort to get to so that I might have a little time to enjoy the cup of coffee. The effort probably cost me later in the ride but I was still happy to get it done. I just didn't enjoy the mucky looking bike once I'd finished.


I just love this view


The weather played its part again with this ride. I had intended to ride it the other way around, more or less. But with cold overnight temperatures and frosty looking roads I stuck to the coast and the lower level roads to begin with. This meant that the middle section over the ridge and back towards Cupar was done into the wind which made it hard. And, once back down to lower levels I decided to stay warm and just get the ride done. A shame because coffee stops are always nice, especially at the Villager.
The oddest thing about this ride was the complete absence of other cyclists. Which was slightly bemusing given that it was a Saturday. I fully understood that there might not be many out when I set off but later I thought I was bound to see some. I did see plenty of birds though and, despite the cold and wind, I enjoyed the morning and getting closer to completing the challenge.


Getting the last ride in became a real issue. One way and another the weather just did not want to play ball. And with Christmas coming up I was getting a little jumpy about finishing it off. Finally, I took a day off and managed to get out. The great pleasure was that one of my cycling pals agreed to come too. It was another manky day, which made the company especially welcome, with fog around Loch Leven and a wee icy patch that spooked me and made me change the route; beginning and ending the ride on the low road between St Andrews and Pitscottie. The cake stop was at the reliable Pillars of Hercules. Although not my favourite stopping place the cake was lovely and it was in the correct spot at just before the 50 mile mark.
The nice run along the Cults after that and then the fast way home topped off a ride worthy of completing the challenge. And it made me realise how nice it is to have company. On the tandem I can't really do anything else but have company but I am often on my own when I'm out on the road bike. I was so glad that this was not one of those times.


It was a bit of a mad challenge. Seemingly easy but things conspired to make it not quite as easy as it should have been. However, it pushed me out of the door on days when I might have just stayed in, or gone out later for a shorter spin. It gave some of my rides a purpose, which was singularly lacking in my cycling last year; other than this and the yearly mileage target (a story for another time).
You might be forgiven for thinking from the short descriptions above that this was a real trial, some kind of masochistic adventure but it really wasn't. I can't say that I enjoyed it all but it was far from a hateful or damaging experience (or experiences, if you prefer). I'd go as far as to say it was mostly enjoyable and that's the point. I'm a cyclist and, therefore, cycling should be fun. There's always something slightly magical around the corner, a view, some wildlife or the pure fun of letting your bike creep up to 30+mph down a big hill. That's the thing that keeps me rolling the bike(s) out of the garage. The challenge is just a motivation.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Challenges make us do silly things

In my opinion there's nothing quite as silly as a self-imposed challenge. You can make it less silly by raising money for a worthwhile cause but I've been there and done that so for now, at least, the challenges are set by me for me. It won't stop me writing about them, or their consequences, occasionally though. Every now and again they do encourage a little silliness.
This year's challenge is relatively simple; to ride at least one, one hundred kilometre ride per calendar month. It's a bit of a silly challenge really because I'm a cyclist that works in miles day to day but I knew this year it wasn't going to be possible for me to go for twelve 100 mile rides. So metric centuries seemed like a more realistic proposition. It also has allowed me to do a few of them on the tandem which is a great way to share the challenge with The Stoker. And, before there's any objection to that, it's my challenge and I have decided that tandem rides count. So there. I've had some adventures on the way but so far so good, and I now have just 4 to go.
However, I wanted to make mention of last Saturday's ride as it provides the reason for the title of this piece. I had decided that August's 100 km effort would take place on said Saturday which left me with a small time window in which to get it done, especially as I wanted to add some hills in as a wee test before this year's Tour of the Borders event. And it was this time limitation that made the ride a little less sensible than usual.
All week the weather forecast had been pretty good. That was until Friday, when suddenly it looked like it might be a little wet early on. Damp but not bad. On the Friday night The Stoker suggested that I might like to charge some lights. Surely not, but I did so, just in case. And how right they were. In the morning I got up to the expected grey and thought, "oh good, the rain has already gone through". Wrong! It started come down a little more aggressively just as I set off. And by the time I was up beside the camp site at Nydie I needed to cower under a tree to put my jacket on. It stayed on for the next couple of hours. Lovely....
And once it came off I still needed to find some heat. Then I was glad of my arm warmers and I continued to be glad of them all the way to my cafe stop a good while later. It was at this cafe stop that I realised how strange I must look. By this time the weather was better and the roads had started to dry up. Anyone going out now would be having a lovely ride. Looking at me, though, they would think I'd been dragging my bike through the fields of Fife. I had tan lines of mud from my socks to the bottom of my bib shorts. And, as I discovered later, all the way up to the back of my helmet. I also left a damp stain on the wooden chair I selected in the cafe and I had to apologise to the owner. "No problem" they said. I still felt guilty.
And it's exactly this that I wanted to raise as the silliness of this ride. If I'd been at all sensible I'd have adjusted my plans and gone out that couple of hours later and had a lovely, mostly mud free ride. But, no, that little challenge picked away at me and ensured that I went out early. I can't even say that it's ok, I enjoyed the ride despite the rain because the reality of it is that riding in the rain on roads with big puddles and nasty gradients isn't particularly pleasant, especially on your own. Even the descents had to be ridden carefully as the road surfaces were definitely a little sketchy. I do take pleasure in the fact that I did it despite the elements and I loved the scone at the cafe. Not all bad. And the ride indicates that I should be able to survive this year's ToB, even if it rains there.
The worst bit about the whole thing was getting the brand new chain I'd just put on the bike all dirty. Don't you just hate that? And the best bit (apart from the cafe stop)? Getting home in the dry. There's absolutely nothing worse than starting wet, drying up and then getting wet again. It's even worse than staying wet, or starting dry and ending up wet.

The Ride


It wasn't a nice afternoon at all really; lots of showers kept running through so, in the end, I hadn't missed out on a better part of the day. But I decided on that when I got in and before I'd had to scrub both me and the bike clean.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Skye Rides

Another trip to Skye gave me the opportunity to ride some very different roads even if they are known to me. Mostly on the tandem with The Stoker although I did snatch one ride on the half bike. Here's a small description of them all.

Ride 1 - To Dunvegan

We had cycling friends with us on this holiday and our first day gave us an opportunity to show them that the roads on Skye aren't flat. For this ride we popped up to the cafe at Dunvegan Castle hopine that the forecast rain didn't come in early.
It's a nice run even with the wind that hurt us on the normally quick descents on the way home. Even with that we chose to overshoot the driveway to the cottages, just so I didn't have to waste brake pads. A nice short run,  marred slightly when one of our companions managed to crash on the gravel when turning into the driveway. Luckily there was no damage done.
As part of our holiday we all went to the Fairy Pools in the evening, which was a spectacular place to be as the sun dipped towards the horizon. We drove there but riding there might be the better option as it is always busy. We were eaten alive by midges at the car park when we returned to the car. Yuck!
The Cuillin at the top of the Fairy Pools

Ride 2 - Early on the single bike

With the forecast looking poor I decided to get up early and do a ride before breakfast. Much like being at home! Again I had the wind into my face on the way back and I could also see the rain creeping in from the north. Luckily I just had one short shower and then I was back. The roads have never looked so quiet as on this ride. Especially nice was the wee thumbs up I got from a van driver.
Benefit of the day was spotting the new coffee place opposite the Talisker distillery in Carbost. Our friends tried it later in the week and declared it "good"!

Ride 3 - Central loop

The simplest long trip for us on Skye with no driving to the start. The majority of the roads in this are fine but the Sligachan to Portree section always sees some inappropriate overtaking and, sadly, this day was no exception. However we survived and made a beeline for the Aros centre for the first of two coffee stops.
Coming out of Portree also used to be nasty as we would follow the Uig road but we've now hit on the wicked wheeze of using the lower section of the hill road to Struan instead before taking the road back down to Uigshader and picking up the Dunvegan road at the end of it. It makes for a less stressful ride even if the descent is a little gravelly.
Doing the loop this way round did mean climbing the hill out of Edinbane but it was just a question of popping the tandem into a gear and riding slowly up it. Especially in the upper half where I thought it was never going to end. Having gone up, though, we got the lovely run into Dunvegan where a scone and caramel slice helped power us back home. Our friends decided to take in the views on the way home which on such a nice day was right and proper. We made an unscheduled stop too but that was because the pilot needed some help from our old friend Vaseline!
The Cuillin from the Vaseline stop!

Ride 4 - Back roads

As we were showing the island (or at least some of it) to our friends we had saved the little back road loops towards Dunvegan as a treat for our final day. These roads take the path less travelled and have great views whilst maintaining decent surfaces. Being single track slightly more care is required but they are still great to ride. And mostly the traffic is fine on them. The locals seem to deal with cyclists better than the tourists.
After the excitement of the little loopy bits we headed up the Dunvegan bypass road, over to the Fairy Bridge and on to Trumpan. We had to break our outward journey at the Skye Skyns coffee and tea yurt. The accompanying cheese scones were delicious. When we went to head away we met a couple from way down south that we'd met on the golf course the day before. It was great to meet them again and prove we really did have a tandem.
Excellent coffee stop 
Suitably refuelled we headed up to the end of the road and the ruined church at Trumpan. By then it was extremely windy and we all took shelter behind various walls. As we came aaay from here we got talking to a couple of Dutch motorcyclists who had been doing the NC500. They had had a great week of weather for it but we're heading back home, via London. Our friends must think we talk to everyone!
Trumpan churchyard 
The view west from Trumpan.

Luckily the wind was now in our favour and we headed back to Dunvegan for our second stop. We went to the bakery cafe; we'd never been. I think we will go back as the food was delicious.  Although they did seem to view some of our requests (a tuna toastie and brown bread) as slightly odd. Why?!
We took the direct way home while our pals did one more back road.  This time the little loop to Ullinish for more photos. After our usual refusal to brake at the cottages we actually pedalled on to the viewpoint so the Pilot could get a photo of the ever faithful tandem. From there a mostly downhill ride saw us back to the cottages and then end of our cycling adventures on Skye for this trip.
The tandem and the view. 

The Cuillin from the viewpoint

The view most people stop for. 


Skye us an odd place to cycle. Lovely views but with roads that are (for us at least) quite hilly and the choice is often limited. You can go for main roads and suffer the traffic or smaller roads and suffer the surfaces and the requirement to stop in passing places occasionally. I don't want to put you off but you should know what it's like before you come!

Monday, May 29, 2017

Lots to drink - none of it alcoholic

Gosh, it's been too long between posts. In an attempt to kick start this again, here's a little write up on one of my favourite sportives; the Cairn O'Mount Challenge. One of the reasons I like this event is the obvious dedication of the organisers to their charity. A large percentage of the entry fee goes towards it unlike some other events I might mention. And the enthusiasm that the event is run with speaks volumes about them too.

The Event

This year's ride can be summed up in one word: Hot! Perhaps not the best conditions to be taking on a ride that will probably be the hilliest I do all year. But there we go. We also had an interesting weather forecast, rain and potential thunderstorms were suggested for the early afternoon. No way did I want to get caught up in them!
Because of that, and wanting to get up the Cairn as early as possible I left in the second group. So did my colleague and Strava pal, Spin Diesel. More on his ride later. I was quickly off the back of the group, only to tag on for a second as they were stopped by roadwork traffic lights. Without more of those every half a mile or so I even more quickly lost them again. It was of no consequence as I had a little mantra going on in my head "don't overheat, don't work too hard".
For the ride to the bottom of Cairn O'Mount I was joined by a friendly local who looked like a real climber. Older than me, but he had the manner of a lightweight and strong climber. Nice to have a wee chat though and, as expected, he pulled away on the little ramp out of Fettercairn. I didn't chase and he was just a little up the road when we reached the bottom of the major challenge of the day.
I was already in my lowest gear, in preparation, when we turned the corner. "Sow and easy, slow easy" I said. It might have been slow but it wasn't easy. I did however go past my early companion and I focused on the hill ahead. I past a chap from the lead group, doing well but going slowly. Then a few folk past me; no surprise there. The road continued up.
Just before the final and steepest bit I found myself going past another slower rider. We passed comment on the heat and rode our own way up. I saw my heart rate touch 184 - that's about my limit, and thought maybe I should get off. Nope. Not this time. And then it was all over and the crazy descent started. Nice and cool as the speed built up. Zip up the jersey, remind myself to take it easy. It's so tempting to put it in a big gear and spin the legs but the advantage gained is so small it's not worth it.
At the wee sting in the tail (a nasty steep ramp in the middle of the descent) the corner was full of grit and gravel thanks to roadworks. Nasty! I hope no one came off as it would not be nice. I crawl upwards again to gain the prize of another nice descent. This pattern continues for quite a while now, down, up, down up etc until a final down brought me out at the bottom of the Slug Road.
My friend Spin reckons this should be called Slog Road and maybe he was right this year because as well as the heat we were into a little headwind here. But, at the top, a feed station and a chance to refill the water bottles. The volunteers were great, all we had to do was stick out an open bottle and they were topped up as if by magic. I like my coffee stops but these instant refills do just nicely.
And off again. This time a nice long smooth descent on the main road before turning off onto the back roads once again. And the up down nature reasserted itself. Here though the main thrust is downward towards the coast and the edge of Stonehaven. I was just thinking about timings and beating the rain when I saw a fellow participant by the side of the road; rear wheel out of the frame and a deflated tyre.
Whilst she had all the right stuff her CO2 had failed to inflate the inner and we resorted to the pump. The problem was that the valve stem was only just long enough for the rim and attaching the hose proved awkward. I'm pretty sure that's what had happened to the CO2 as well. All was fine until she unscrewed the hose. And with it came the valve core. Grrr. I lent her one of my tubes with the core held firmly in with Loctite. It's happened too many times to me in the garage. In it went and with it properly inflated (or at least enough we hoped) I left her to tidy up and travelled on. She passed me a couple of miles down the road (as she had already done) and I'm glad to report that she made it to the end without further mishap.
However, this had led to me dropping 14 minutes of my already tight schedule. On the plus side the heat, even with much, much more drinking than normal, was reducing my need for comfort stops so I was winning there. The coastal run was enlivened by the presence of other riders but few wanting to chat which was a shame. I did wonder about those doing the event on their own like me. Why would you not want to chat along the way. One even had headphones in.
Riding along, in and out of company however silent, made for a quick-ish run. To be honest I probably pushed a little harder along here just because the other riders were there and I wanted to see how I fared. It isn't a race but it is nice to ride along with others just as a benchmark. Most were faster than me by a bit and I was just holding on, often enough.
Somewhere down here there was an incident involving a quick descent, a runaway dog, cyclists and the dog's owner. The least said the better. And no one was hurt, so it was just fine.
The second feed stop arrived and, once again, I got excellent service. This time, with the bottles filled, it was time for a cheese savoury roll and some sugary EPO in the form of a slice of caramel shortbread. Mmmm. All too soon, especially with my quick feed stop mentality, it was time to be back on the road. "Stay safe" called the marshals, concerned for all of us. And again, once we were off the main road, the traffic became much less of an issue and it was back to the work of getting home without over doing it.
I reeled in one of my feed stop companions but he didn't seem to want to converse so I inched away from him and focused on the road and another rider in front. This chap must have been in my sights for about 11 miles as he had left the feed stop just that little bit earlier than me. "I've had enough" he says before asking my how bad the final climb is. "Hard" I say, not sugar-coating it at all. And I didn't sugar coat the run in either as it still has some nasty little slopes in it to catch the unwary. We chatted for a little while before I rode off, leaving us both to work on our own. Again, he made it, unscathed. Well done.
What followed was the run down to Brechin, the turn towards Edzell followed by the horrible turn away from Edzell where we met the even more horrible long stretch of temporary road surface. 70 miles in and my hands were now more than a little unhappy. Buzz, buzz went the handlebars as I rode over the very fine gravel.
The end of the temporary surface happened at the bottom of the kick in the teeth climb of Catertun. Steep and not as short as you'd like this is a real test of resolve on a hot day. I had been passed on the rough stuff by a couple of quicker riders and I could see them, seemingly close, working their way up through the turns. I could also see a couple of guys that seemed to be walking. No disgrace I can tell you. I reached the guy in the blue jersey (I'd been calling him that since the beginning of the day) and he was suffering with cramp. Nothing I could for him despite my offering and I left him to walk to the summit.
The descent that follows this climb is quick, steep, twist and a little gravelly. Not my favourite. Disk brakes would be a boon. At the bottom I thought there was something wrong with my back brake and though the inspection showed it to be ok, the rim was hot! "Mr blue jersey" caught me up here but had to stop almost immediately again as I'd stopped at the start of a small rise that caught his cramp again. He made it back eventually but it can't have been any fun.
I decided that some fun needed to be had and with it almost done and my legs feeling ok I wound it up a little. Maybe I could make it under 6 hours? I tried, honest I did, but the computers at the end said 6 hours and 33 seconds. My course record of 5 hours and 48 minutes stayed intact. I was hot, slightly unsatisfied but I had done what I came to do and we didn't get wet. I'll call that a good day.
My initial companion rolled in sometime later. His legs had just failed he said, as early as Cairn O'Mount so it was good effort to get round at all. The others I'd passed on the COM climb all made it in and all looked pleased to get round. It's not the easiest of days in the saddle and it wasn't the easiest of days to be trying it. There was much talk of heat.
As a final footnote to the day I must mention The Stoker who came to the event with me. Not so we could ride it on the tandem (neither of us fancy the two big climbs, yet alone some of the others) but just to be with me on the journey there and back, and to be there when I finished. Thanks, as ever.

Spin Diesel

Spin is in a different class. With a time of 4 hours and 25 minutes and 22 seconds he was the second fastest on the day. As I said, it's not a race, but what a fantastic achievement that is. If you don't believe me, bring a bike to Edzell next year and see what you can do.

The Ride

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Out on two feet, instead of two wheels

There I was again, near the bottom of a scrambling route in the Cuillin finding it hard. I'd already asked Paddy for the rope but it hadn't made climbing the little groove thing any easier apart from the feeling that I should have been safe had I slipped. Not that I wanted to test that theory out.
Maybe I should back up a bit. That might have helped in the groove too. I was on holiday on Skye and had booked a day out with Paddy McGuire for some scrambling "fun" in the hills. I'd say it is an annual thing but in this case I hadn't been out for 2 years. The weather also wasn't helping. I had also been totally unprepared for the glorious weather. The forecast had not been favourable; the best thing had been the suggestion that the wind wouldn't be bad but it had mentioned rain pretty much all day. So you can imagine my surprise when I turned the corner on the road to see all the Cuillin out in front of me, pretty as a picture. I didn't have much of a clue of things to suggest to do as I had been concentrating on bad weather concepts. I was also aware that it had been horribly wet, not even 24 hours before, so some things were likely to still be wet. Paddy suggested the north west ridge of Sgurr a Mhadaidh and I'd agreed. The route should be pleasant and short, good if the weather turned for the worse.
Waterfall on the way into the ridge
Having driven down Glen Brittle and geared up, a walk up through Coire a Ghreadaidh saw us both decide we had the wrong clothes on as we got uncomfortably warm in the sun. I think we must have been motoring as we overtook one party, older, and stayed in front of another, younger and more determined looking. In what seemed like good time we were putting on harnesses and helmets right underneath the face of Mhadaidh. Getting on to the ridge looked like it might be interesting but, in fact when we moved off, a little ledge (somewhat like Collies ledge) took us easily to the crest. Then after a couple of minutes along a pleasant ridge we came to the groove.
Taken from the walk in, our objective was the little ridge above the waterfall on the skyline
Paddy took his time up it but still made it look easy. Getting into the bottom of it I instantly realised I was back to square one as far as dealing with the exposure. I was all too aware of the space behind me. This was where I asked for the security of the rope. Bouyed by the connection to Paddy I started to climb. I could feel that the slabby walls forming groove were still damp from the rain the day before. No great encouragement there then. I inched my way up, not finding the holds that Paddy had used or, at least, not trusting them the way he did. The groove had a nasty end. It was topped with some rocks making difficult to exit. Eventually, with a little natty rope work to allow me to move to the right, I got my feet high enough to work my way around one of the restricting rocks and back onto the crest of the ridge.
That success gave me some confidence and although we used the easier line until the next unavoidable step in the ridge I began to feel better about scrambling again. Drying rock also helped. At the next difficulty Paddy went ahead again with the rope and I waited until he said I was safe to climb. And this time I made a much better fist of it. I even enjoyed it. And it was just a little later on that I noticed we weren't taking in a little bit of ridge which would involve some more technical scrambling. I suggested we might. And, even though Paddy asked me to put the rope on again (quite rightly - it was no place to fall), I enjoyed the wee slab to conquer this part. The drops were now considerable on one side and no less intimidating on the other. However, it was just a few short steps to the junction of face and ridge which marked the end of the difficulties.
I'm happy now. Good photo by Paddy.
Paddy wrapped the rope around him in case I needed it later and we scrambled our way to the summit of the Cuillin's lowest Munro, Sgurr a Mhadaidh. I had asked Paddy if we could also take in Sgurr a Ghreadaidh as it seemed a shame to put in the effort and not do it, given the weather. So we descended to An Dorus from where I was talked up the first few feet of the north ridge of Ghreadaidh, where the main problem lies.  It's easy really but you have to make a coming move from a small foothold that's difficult to see once you have secured your hands to make the step up. As ever, it's good to have the reassurance that climbing with a guide gives.
The ridge up from here was not much more of a walk and we chatted our way up the slabs and boulders. Chatting is the main thing that occurs when I'm out with Paddy; fitness from cycling helps here as I'm rarely so badly out of breath that I can't talk. The main cause of energy burn on these days is from my nerves. Whilst I love these days there's a fair amount of trepidation involved and I don't find it an easy experience. Climbing past The Wart (a surreal feature on the ridge) brought us, in fairly quick time, close to the summit of the hill. As the summit was small and fairly crowded we sat just down from it for a very welcome lunch. Paddy was not impressed with the idea of a Marmite, cheese, salami and jam sandwich and although I wasn't actually having one, they are very nice.
The views from our lunch spot were great. Down over Loch Coruisk and onward to Blabheinn; the day was glorious. The sun had teased some moisture from the hills creating curtains of clouds hanging on one side of the ridge or the other creating an other worldly look to some of the hills. Soon enough, though, it was time to move on.
In hindsight I should probably have accepted that this was the end of the day and we should have gone down by the same route to an Dorus  followed by the scree shoot down and back to the coire that we had come up. But I was hungry for more and so I said yes to the offer of pushing on along the ridge to Sgurr na Banachdich.
Loch Coruisk
I wasn't to realise this until later though so, for the moment, I revelled in the scramble along to Ghreadaidh's south top often, but mistakenly, thought to look higher than the main peak. My very first time out with Paddy had seen us do this route the other way around, from Banachdich to Mhadaidh (without the tricky ridge we'd come up) but we'd missed out the south top so this was a lovely addition. On the scramble down from this we saw the remains of a volcanic vent with all the little bits of rock jammed together showing a cracked surface. The rocks of the Cuillin are fascinating.
The view south from Ghreadaidh 
The last scrambling of the day came as we climbed, and descended, the three teeth and the peak of Sgurr Thormaid before ascending the scree to the shoulder before the top of Sgurr na Banachdich. It was here that I began to worry. My legs were starting to feel tired and the muscles starting to ache, just a little. Signs of things to come I thought.
Thormaid and the Teeth 
We dropped our sacks and made the 5 minute journey to the summit of our third Munro of the day. Once again the views were tremendous. It's an odd top, the summit of Banachdich. It's a relatively easy walk to get there although it is over punishing steep scree (more of which later) but the top sits right on the edge of the precipitously steep East face. It is wise not to run up to the summit cairn!
All too soon we left the cairn and headed down to our sacks and on to the descent. We met some people still making the ascent and I tried to be encouraging. We were now following the younger group from the moning's coire tramp as they had used the An Dorus approach which is quicker and easier than our route. I had hoped we might catch and overtake them. Paddy would have, with ease, but it was on this steep and, seemingly, never ending scree that my legs pretty much gave way. The problem with hillwalking is that the only exercise that gets you fit for it is hillwalking. And I hadn't done this kind of walking for 2 years. So despite being fit and cycling strong my legs were not happy. Particularly, my over used and abused quads. For a wee while all I could do was stumble down a few yards, catch myself and then repeat the exercise. I'm sure Paddy noticed as I'm sure I went quiet, not a usual state of affairs. However it was better, if not good, once we finally made it to the lush grass and then the main path. And, at last, we made it back to the van. I have to say that climbing in, and out, of the van was not easy.
Just before the road this waterfall caught my eye. I may have needed a sit down.
It was still a great day and made so by the great company, patience and professionalism that Paddy brings to his job. So thanks, again, to him.


It took my legs a good while to recover, but a day off, some golf and then some tandem riding did the trick.