Monday, 29 December 2008

last days of the orange bike

i really like how this thing rides and i like the teeny tiny frame that lets my knees knock together, but there are two things that have sealed it's fate.

a) those fucking sliding fucking dropouts.
b) it's not easy to shoulder on the inevitable portage sections.

(available for purchase btw, make me an offer - dropouts aren't that bad, i'm just a klutz)

new bike is already here, just waiting for a respray. should it be:

a) jobbie brown
b) olive drab
c) tip-top blue
d) another colour

votes via comments. thankyoukindly.

Friday, 26 December 2008


yo! i be on twitter.

join me. you knows you wants to.

UPDATE: but mebbe not for long. seems updating by SMS is kinda expensive on three. who'd have thunk the isle of man is "international" from here? bah!

Thursday, 25 December 2008


so. finished my shopping early yesterday and headed off to the cameo for a panini, a pint of go-slow-juice and gonzo: the life and work of dr hunter s. thompson.

do i have to explain about HST? really? thought not.

a film well worth seeing, but watch the bbc omnibus show fear and loathing in gonzovision too. remember when bbc2 used to have interesting stuff on it? this is one of those shows. fuckcelebritycomefuckingdancing or somescotchhistoryshowwiththatlonghairedwanker.

anyhoo. it was this in mind that i approached christmas day in B to the I. there was booze, there was metal, there was a missed soup course. god fucking dammit.

then i did the dishes. but not with a gun or anything. hmmm, need to work on that a bitty more.

don't we all...

Monday, 22 December 2008

bug in my bassbin

very little riding for me over the past couple of weeks. picked up a throat infection which kicked in the night before the scottish cx champs. bag was packed , extra chilli flakes put in embrocation and "recovery" drinks chilling in fridge. bah!

few days off work and an early decision not to pack a bike for mull. still had a great time. two days of watching racing, mucking about with friends and a leetle nonsense. more weekends like this in 2009 please. just with a little less rum and a lot less spew (not mine...).

managed to get out for a ride last thursday. a windy, rainy, muddy squirt along the coastal path to the concrete beach and back. felt good. damn good.

back to commuterbike today. hoping for a tailwind...

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

poond premes

the tspc poond premes are back.

big money to be won.

you'd better try hard this weekend athletes.



Saturday, 6 December 2008

goatee of filth

Sunday 12th April 2009. burntisland-kincardine-rumbling bridge-burntisland, then paris-roubaix on telly. at least two off tarmac sections and some pave. bring extra thick tyres.

Sunday, 30 November 2008

happy / sad / happy / sad / happy

away this weekend with friends from CVDG to mark the demise of the trailbuilding project.

happy - that a bunch of volunteers managed to deliver £120k+ of trails
sad - that a few misbehaving civil servants can derail a project and ultimately destroy a partnership that could have delivered so much
happy - that the trails are well used and in great nick, despite heavy use and little maintenance
sad - that no-one seems to give a fuck. even Ministers.
happy - that the group have remained friends and we had a great time over the weekend.

awesome weekend to be out and about in highland perthshire - very cold, a bit snowy.

met with pam/niall/daveL/carol/daveR/lisa for a bit of a wander before dinner. original plan was to get as far up schiehallion as we could before it got dark and then back down again. some late arrivals and spotting some folks on the slopes of craig varr above kinloch rannoch meant for a change of plan.

eight hardy souls set out in sub-zero temperatures and headed in the vague direction of where we thought that path was. slight fotwear issues meant that lisa and then daveR turned back. on and up. still not on a path. chasing deer (not in a bad way). quick stop for some champagne. carol, pam and sue turn back leaving daveL, niall and i to press on.

we attain the summit not long after the sun sets. a bit more champagne, breathing in the ciew, posing, down the other side and off the hill just as it gets dark. magic.

back to the hotel for a fine dinner, a few light refreshements, some idle chit-chat and before you know it, it is time for a cracking breakfast. we' head off to visit family in crieff on another unbelievably beautiful day.

viva CVDG!

more photos here.

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Saturday, 15 November 2008

time to buy a new board?

or just get sue to book me a bed in a&e?

sk8 or die in B to the I
[link back!]

Monday, 10 November 2008

over and out

with a skoosh of noxzema (sensitive, natch) and a few swipes of a derby extra in a merkur hd it was gone. gone. washed away down the drain by tears of shame.

not really. glad to see the back of the wee fucker.

yes to beards. no to moustaches.

Saturday, 8 November 2008

moustache level=torrance

think i've achieved critical mousmass

Thursday, 6 November 2008

good choice

i'm probably not alone in the tightknit group of european wishy-washy liberals in thinking america has done a good job in electing obama.

it's pretty fucking rad!

original photo from a nice collection at

Wednesday, 5 November 2008


back on it. making progress.

Sunday, 2 November 2008

hill of god

no cross race this weekend, so with a favourable forecast we were up early-ish and off on the way to take a wander up ben ledi, north of callendar. not the biggest of mountains (879m), it falls into the corbett category of scottish hills. it's position at the very southern end of the highlands means that it can be seen from all over the place - on a nice evening i can even see it as i ride home over the forth road bridge.

park car, boot up and we're on the way. it might not be that big, but it's a steep old start. up we wind through the forestry and out onto the open hill. sue was feeling the pace and after a while decided to descend back to the car. i press on and up.

it's warm work:
gloves off.
hat off.
fleece off.
sweat out.

above the snow line there's a chance to take in the vista which encompases a huge swathe of central scotland. bee-yoo-ti-ful.

up and on past the harry lawrie memorial - sgt lawrie was member of the killin mrt who was sadly killed whilst on duty in 1987 - and on to the summit. few photos and i'm heading down. skipping past folks on the steeper slopes. moving fast feels good.

had decided not to take the path off the north of the summit to stank glen and back down and just as well. sue's stubborn streak kicked in about a minute after we left each other and she'd followed me up, we meet at about 700m contour, so it's back up again past the folks i'd overtaken. "forgotten something?" they ask.

another few more summit shots, a helping of homemade peanut brittle and down again.

cycling legs are good for climbing hills, but the muscles seem ill suited for descending. a previous trip to ben ledi saw/heard me involuntary groan and grunt my way down as quads spasmed and cramped on the steeper bit. fuck knows what the group of walkers in front of us thought...

before too long we're back at the car and stripping off sweaty gear and dreaming of a late lunch. back into callendar and a quick stop at mhor fish, formerly the ben ledi cafe. the cafe is a grade a chippy and has long been a favourite stop on long and winding a84 trips. this visit doesn't disappoint and we enjoy a well earned cod supper for our efforts.

grand day out and very proud of sue for TTFUing and making the trip to the top.

more days like this please.

next up - ben vrackie?


you like carrot. you like sweet potato. you like soup. how about carrot and sweet potato soup?

onion - chopped
500g sweet potato - chopped
500g carrots - chopped
750 ml veggie stock
1 tsp ground cumin
2 tbsp curry powder

fry onions in a little oil until soft. add cumin and curry powder, continue to fry and stir for another minute or so. add carrots and sweet potato, stir a bit more to mix it all up. add stock. bring to boil, simmer for 20 minutes.

whizz, season, serve.

quite a lot of blonde

i'm really not sure i can see this through...

UPDATE: watching smokey and the bandit. all is well again, good buddies.

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

no longer a game

last shave saturday evening.

stuffed up with the lower handlebars, so creepy it is...

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

soup it and see

1 onion - chopped
3 garlic cloves - crushed
1 red pepper - deseeded and chopped
1 green pepper - deseeded and chopped
150g mushrooms - chopped
1 1/2 tsp dried chilli
1 tsp ground cumin
2 x400g cans of beans (whatever you fancy) - drained and rinsed
1 litre tomato passata
300ml veggie stock
handful coriander - roughly chopped

fry the onions, garlic and peppers in a little oil until they start to soften. add cumin, chilli and 'shrooms and continue to fry for another minute or so. add beans, passata, stock and coriander. bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer for 20 minutes. season. serve.

Thursday, 23 October 2008


autumn means cyclocross and soup making. we're three races in and this is my first new soup of the season. i have some catching up to do.

2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp + dried chilli - chopped
750g carrots - diced
150g red lentils
100 ml milk
1250ml vegetable stock
wee drop of olive oil

heat a big pan and quickly (dry) fry the cumin seeds and chilli for a minute or so. add rest of ingredients. bring to a boil, then simmer for 15 minutes.

whizz with a hand blender and serve toot sweet.

Monday, 20 October 2008

champs challenge

moustache time.

best mouser grown by the champs in dundee wins.

no trimming back, no goatees. just moustache.

gentlemen, start your follicles.

Sunday, 19 October 2008


sunday is a busy day. up early (for a sunday) to go cyclocross racing at auchentoshan, soup and cakes in the west end, then through to edinburgh for the closing night of the mountain film festival.

am soooo looking forward to the EMFF. it will see the premiere of dave macleod's new film echo wall (trailer below) and a lecture by chris bonnington. guess for people of my age, chris was probably the first mountaineer we'd have heard of through appearances on blue peter and the like. as a member and leader of some of the great UK expeditions to big mountain ranges which included climbers such as Haston, Scott and Whillans i'm sure it'll be fascinating.

Thursday, 9 October 2008


manuva for us at the liquid room tonight. very good work rodney and chums, but lay off the "we love you, er, springfield stuff". unless you were taking the piss. :)

first time i've been to the liquid rooms since c. 1992 when they used to host a soul club called Beats (flyer in form of Boots the chemist logo) on a Saturday night. We had to leave early as my friend Tim thought the Hibs casuals were after him for some forgotten reason.

Thursday, 2 October 2008

freedom of information ii

some of y'all might have read an earlier blog post on a freedom of information request that was working it's way through the system.

well lookee here -the Scottish Information Commissioner has reached a decision and found in my favour. unless the decision is appealed by the other side, i'll finally get to see what Forestry Commission Scotland did to try and wreck the opening day of the Carron Valley mountain bike trails.

i'd like to thank the commissioner and my case officer for their help. chapeau!

if you'd like to know more about how a government department went out of it's way to destroy the work of a bunch of eager volunteers then get in touch.

Sunday, 28 September 2008


the fife coastal path in 1 day has been on the to-complete list since an attempt by chris and i in march07 was cut short just shy of kirkcaldy. i suffered a two bru bonk as we hit the climb out of dysart and had to pull the ejector handle and bail to the train (for the 6 mile journey back to B to the I). chris managed it with dan a wee while later, but it took an age for the planets to realign to let me go for it.

the trip started on the 0816 from burntisland to kirkcaldy to pick up the dundee train. a quick coffee in the station and a gentle roll across to the tay bridge to start properly.

into the lift and i cinch my sidis up to tight+1.


the doors open and we're off at 0930ish.

turn left at the end of the bridge and head east with a lovely tailwind which whips me along the banks of the silvery tay and on towards tayport. past the WORST BMX TRACK EVER and i'm soon into tentsmuir forest. no time to visit the seals or seek out bits of singletrack, i've got a long journey ahead of me and some demons to lay to rest.

quick stop in st andrews to pick up a map, 1/2 a pb&j sarnie and out past the ruined cathedral onto the first of the tougher bits along a rugged bit of north sea coastline.

lots of steps
caravan park
bit of scrambling
golf course
caravan park
golf course

and on via some lovely riverside singletrack and a fair bit of pushing along empty, sandy beaches. i stop at a lovely plaice (sorry) to for another bite to eat and watch gannets dive bombing a shoal of fish a hundred or so metres offshore.

more sandy pushing and we're at fife ness where the path turns west and i start to hit the picturesque east neuk fishing villages - crail, enster (am becoming fifer), pitenweem, st monans and elie. all pass in a blur of slightly sore arse, hastily grabbed snacks and the odd wait whilst a group of walkers clears a narrow section. up the cliff path which avoids the elie chain walks and a slight detour to avoid a long push along the beach to lower largo. chris had suggested this diversion and it was a godsend. what had been a long trudge through the dunes and then the beach turned out to be a quick spin along an old railway track.

the only downside was that the heavens opened and it tipped it down for a bit. for a bit, read all the way to methil. a shithole at the best of times, pissing rain does nothing to improve it.

onto east wemyss-west wemyss-dysart and the bonk point. i'm feeling chipper and know that i can do this now. off comes the waterproof, in goes a pb&j, on goes the headlight and out comes a pleasant, pinky sunset.

through kirkcaldy and it's properly dark now. duck onto the path to kinghorn and scare a couple of dog walkers.

home stretch

manage a magnificent 12mph through the speed sign at the east end of burntisland and stop briefly outside the hoose to phone susan, wave and take a photo. this is an unsupported trip, so i'm not going in - even for the pee i desperately need.

big smiles as i head along by the railway towards aberdour - mainly the result of the sugar kick of a last lap gel. resist the temptation to take the heughs path.just as well. things are still really overgrown and i'm rewarded with nettle stings to both calves and my face. why don't dock leaves grow that high?

no time to play at braefoot, so it's on to dalgety bay (or "The Bay" as some woman with too much time on her hands calls it on radio scotland's daily phone-in show). through inverkeithing at a rate of knots and past the quarry and the scrapyard to pick up the very last bit of fcp before passing under the forth bridge at 2110.

11 hours 40 minutes.

quick pedal up to the station and a long cold 30 minutes before the train arrives to take me home.

very done.

photos here.

Friday, 19 September 2008

lucha liberace

we're back. it was braw. more soon.

Friday, 15 August 2008



Friday, 8 August 2008

Sunday, 3 August 2008

first blood

purdey is a rescue cat, a timid wee rescue cat.

we've had her for eight years now and the SSPCA reckon she was two when we got her. for six years we lived in a 2nd floor flat and it's taken us two years to have sash and case windows installed in our new house to allow the wee monster direct access to the back garden.

the garden is visited by three cats. two have been vanquished, the third put up more of a fight and tried to chase purdey back into the flat. following that set back it's taken a few days for her to venture back out.

tonight saw her first rodent catch - a tiny wee mouse. susan heard a squeak, spotted the capture and bravely squealed and ran away when the cat headed back inside with the mooses tail sticking out of her mouth. i HTFUd and got her to drop it and flicked it back out of the window.

all highly amusing. time to get a killing brick?

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

snot rockets of doom

first day back on the bike after 10@K and a mucky ear/throat/nose thing which lingered.

legs felt great, lungs nae bad. but the snot. ohmygod the snot.

too heavy to shift properly, even with a finger closing the other nostril (i normally favour the double barrelled clearance) i still struggled to clear my cheeks.

more riding tomorrow and friday - maybe a bit of the old in/out. been a while since i've ridden to/from work. need the miles.

next week - mtb tt at innerleithen and a breakfast ride. definitely a breakfast ride.

Friday, 18 July 2008

boo-bam-boo, baby

off tomorrow for a night in newcastle for the opening of bambuco's bridge over the river tyne.

been a while since i last visited. suspect it's changed a fair bit since i was there for three years as a student. will be seeking out a chip stottie at breadcrumbs and a pint or two at the trent house...

Thursday, 17 July 2008

dopers suck

fuck. here we go again.

Monday, 14 July 2008


still here. more soon.

Thursday, 3 July 2008


tonight should have been a long-ish post-ride work over the granites with jac (the new scottish singlespeed champ).

the plan was work-hillend-roslin-roswell-temple-gorebridge-edinburgh. the actuality was work-wester hailes-colinton-dreghorn-bigglassgougeoutof1weekoldtyre-psssssssst.


jac rode on for 40 more. i minced my way down to the bicycle works with a decidedly ugly looking bulge in the tyre.

new tyre+a couple of new tubes. retire outside to fix tube, only to discover the one i'd put in had succumbed to the gouge on the way to the shop.


fit new tube. cack handed tyre levering introduces a hole to a brand new new tube.


another new tube. more care. A-OK. ride home.

track standing at the lights at the end of chester street and a guy in a car filtering left winds his window down and says (i'm pretty sure) with a smile - "bloody trackies".


20 uneventful miles later and i'm back in B to the I, wondering if i should sprint the last few hundred metres to the roundabout at the top of the street and some stupid fucking wifey pulls straight out in front of me when i'm doing 25mph+. co-driver spots me first and the car stops with a foot or so to spare. no acknowledgement, no apology. no fucking nothing.

fucks sake.


the ride arrived today - very, very nice. smells good too.

p.s. no breakast ride this week. next week fer shure. trails+nettle stings+coffee+bacon+breakfast views=:)

Monday, 30 June 2008

week in review

fairly quiet week. fair bit of work. riding limited to a couple of commutes, a good ride out to cairnpapple and back with jac after work and crieff to burntisland via the dunning and cleish climbs yesterday. feeling fairly strong, hit my mileage target for the month, could do with losing some weight (2kg down since 10UTB).

today saw the wanga re-tyred (kenda dred treads), re-forked (fox forx) and chain tensioned (again). good to do

this week - going to try and fit in a breakfast ride one morning and some solid miles. 10@K just round the corner...

other than that - we've just had our windows and doors replaced (it's only taken two years...), so the cat now has direct access to the back garden and is offski as soon as the window opens.

Saturday, 21 June 2008

this is not a bike review

my experience with FS bikes is limited. very limited. the only ones i've spent more than a couple of minutes on were proper DH bikes on a couple of uplift days at innerleithen a few years back. so this isn't a review of the whyte E120, kindly lent by alpine bikes to recent visitor matt, just a chance to ride the sort of bike that people seem to want these days. i risked the 'merican brakes to take it out for a quick spin on weel kent trails this morning to broaden my horizons a little - both in terms of brakes and gears (this was also the first mtb that i've ridden 'properly' with gears for 8 years or so). clearly i'm not the right sort of rider to fully review a bike which shouty reckons is up there as an 'ultimate trail bike', i've nothing to compare it against.

out the door, onto the coastal path and then a carry up to the heughs. so far, so good. both ends locked out and on the big ring all the way (have gears always been this low?). surprisingly easy to heave up to the heughs - which is very overgrown at the moment (legs still tingling from nettle stings 12 hours later). however, even when locked-out the thing feels sluggish - seems to take an enormous effort to get the fucker wound up and moving fast - a lag between putting the hammer down (ahem) and getting the reward.

it's not until braefoot that i get the chance to unleash the beast and point it steeply downhill. it's here i can see the point (a bit). the tricky bits can be ridden without thinking. even the bit above the gun emplacements that i normally have a wee think over are rolled effortlessly. real point and shoot stuff. didn't attempt any of the proper jumpy stuff along there, couldn't find the skilll compensator++ setting...

the gear were a major pain in the ass. they were set up just fine, but so fucking


not sure what the granny was for? catching the chain after a mis-shift?

bit disappointed not to like it, thought it'd be more fun. will continue to flick past reviews in the mags.

Friday, 20 June 2008

new friends, old friends, new trails, old trails

spent a couple of days showing Bend resident Matt (a fair swap for AndyW?) around some local(ish) trails on his short UK trip. the ubiquitous glentress on tuesday and the ever stunning N3 on wednesday with Andy and Dave.

thanks to Dave for the loan of a bike, slightly (ahem) scuffed chainring now replaced. would take the boingy thing out for a ride, but MattAlpine kindly swapped the brakes over to US and i doubt i'm capable of remembering...

Monday, 16 June 2008

enduro girl is GO! sort of.

Originally uploaded by martysavalas
endurance stalwart jenn hopkins is currently riding the canadian section of the GDMBR from banff down to the 'merican border as a warm up to the GDR which starts proper on friday. a truly epic adventure, it's a self-supported race from the canadian/american border to the american/mexican one. 2,500ish miles and 200,000ft of climbing. oh, and you have to finish in 24 days for it to count.

keep an eye on the GDR website for updates.


Sunday, 15 June 2008

EBFF iii

third film of the bike fest for me and it's the best so far - 24-solo. a documentary on the 2006 24 hour solo worlds and the epic tale of chris eatough vs craig gordon vs themselves, which leaves one in tears and the other on a dialysis machine.

almost enough to make me miss 24 hour (team) racing. then i remember Mounting Mayhem last year and recall why i stopped enjoying them.

few beers and some nachos (finally, dammit) with folks in the bar and i squint out into the daylight and ride out to my cramond on a very unhappy sounding fixie (suspect the gxp bb).

a walk of the dog, a nice tea and we're back to work already. fuck.

Saturday, 14 June 2008


a scant few hours since i scampered from the filmhouse, i'm back again for a showing of klunkerz at the edinburgh bike film festival. no time for nachos, but plenty for a beer or two with anna, gary, peter, shearer and su.

a slightly sugary documentary on the early days of mtbing in marin county, it's an interesting enough, but you get the impression the real story is in what isn't said...

q&a with jacquie afterwards is entertaining, particularly the q for a youngster in front of us who asks whether jacquie has been to that modern day mtb mecca, glentress.

couple of beers afterwards at the excellent chopchop in haymarket (in the presence of one of the standing start directors nae less) and we fifers are on the dundee train and heading home for a *very* quiet saturday.

tomorrow brings a tspc outing to see 24-solo, a few hours at work and tea at my maw's.

a week of campiones

it's been a very cycling-y week.

last weekend saw us hitting an gearasdan on saturday and sunday for the UCI mtb world cup. world champs, world cup winners, national champs, midges. much, much better than i thought it'd be. too scared to heckle, we mainly concentrated on shouting encouragement. an alien concept...

later in the week, film fest with mr obree and ms phelan in attendance and then a bike breakfast with a challenge against mr hoy. theboyhoy=1800 watts, me=700watts. still, i was settling down for a 10 hour effort when i got kicked off.


Thursday, 12 June 2008


the edinburgh bike film festival is now in it's third year, but this was the first time that i've managed to remember it was on. good mix of stuff on show - heavy on mtb, light on worthy/overly arty crap.

opening night was track films.

battle of the bikes - obree vs boardman c. 1993.
just a minute - chris hoy's attempt at the kilo record.
standing start - a short on craig maclean.

battle of the bikes (a channel 4 documentary (remember when they did them?) from the makers of the high life) was new to me, a cracking insight into two characters who led the world for a while and approached the sport from very different angles. just a minute i'd caught on telly, so no surprises and although i'd also seen standing start before, it was good to see it and catch all the wee bits i'd missed the first time round.

the films were followed by a q&a sessions with obree, richard moore and the directors of two of the films.

good night out - only wish i'd had time for a beer and a chat with folks at the end. back tomorrow for more - klunkerz - and this time there's a couple of beers and a plate of filmhouse nachos with my name on them fer shure

Saturday, 7 June 2008


picked up Jacquie at her digs (at 10UTB champion Helen's hoose) in early evening for a tour of the classic west Edinburgh suburban spots. stoorie brae, cammo, stinkytip, almonds, barn ton, davie dodds, hairy bumskin woods. then tea, jaffa cakes and plaid scavenging. ace.

sorry no photos, having too much fun riding my bike.

tomorrow brings an edinburgh westside ride with JP - is Stoorie Brae the Scottish Mt Tam? hear it here first...
subject not explained/broached. but "better than marin". :)

no sleep 'til the early hours thanks to a myriad nettles. mmmm, stings like summer.

up in 7 hours to head to an gearasdan. EXCITED!

Thursday, 5 June 2008

10UTB and all that

you can catch up on my exploits at 10UTB on the velo club moulin blog. tall racing tales will be over there from now on. general crap over here.

tomorrow brings an edinburgh westside ride with JP - is Stoorie Brae the Scottish Mt Tam? hear it here first...

this weekend - more mtb, more camping, much more heckling! it's the UCI coupe de monde in an gearasdan. mucho thanks to singletrack for tix. woulda made the XC races at the bigworlds last year, but for the intervention of a kidney stone. an early morning dash to A&E in inversneck meant i not only missed goodbyes to the last of the SSWCers, but also the chance to catch an awesome event. the worst thing? pain eased off, just as we completed the 30 mile dash, so the junior doctor put pain down to constipation, rather than the 6mm(!) stone which clearly hid in the x-rays. no morphine? no thanks.

Thursday, 29 May 2008

NH 455 583 (expansion)

a lazy morning sorting crap out. tent, sleeping bag, camping mat, cooking kit (msr pocket rocket, lighter, optimus terra solo, msr mugmate), spork, riceforteainapacket, bottleofwineinacamelbottle, coffee, camera, wee bike fixing kit, book (wh murray: mountaineering in scotland), ipod, headtorch, os26 and some clothes crammed into a 25l sac. plus a pile of other stuff for later in the weekend rammed into a nf duffle and courier bag.

off up the a9 as far as pitlochry to see the new DS. CD is busy on the wheels of steel, so i have a superfine cup of joe in Kev's shop and finger the merch to let my hr drop back to acceptable levels. they were gearing up for the fun bit of their open day with slabs of booze arriving by the minute. before hitting the a9 again i dropped in to the shop next door to pick up a wee camping knife.

more north - over the kessock bridge (my grandad's least favourite bridge) and we're in easter ross. get changed into riding kit and dump the car outside square wheels in strathpeffer. sac on, saddle up and start climbing.

i'd decided on the campsite before leaving home - in the trees by loch an crann, just off the contin xc/strathpuffer course. eventually found a flat (enough) spot by the boathouse and set up camp.

once the wine was cooling in the loch, i set off on the bike for a lap or so of the race course. quite a few changes from the last time i was round, but all good. dropped down to the bogs at torrachilty for a pre-emptive jobbie and a refill of bottles, then back up and over to the campsite to fix my quickening puncture and a bite to eat.

pinto bean chilli rice was disappointing - you could count the pinto beans on the tines of the spork. noodles next time.


was surprised and a wee bit (ed: a big bit) spooked by the activity in the forest later on. cars, trail bikes and a strange rhythmic drumming which i eventually worked out was a pipe band somewhere below. various things went splash, thump and squeak in the night. fresh tracks in mud showed that some deer had passed close by too.

up fresh and breezy in the morning for a breakfast of pre-prepared melon and a good strong cup of coffee ahead of a hard day's commissairing. broke camp and rode back to the car, spotting a couple of interesting bits of trail on the way (bah!). quick attempt to shake the public toilet doors open, then off in the direction of dingwall to find bogs (twitch). a 24 hour tesco that opens at 9am was a worrying start. fortunately the public bogs are open, so it's all systems go and a quick armpit freshen to boot.

pitch up at the race site to find all on the go. bit of a worry about how many laps to set, but stuck with the original plan of 5 laps for elite men (despite some start line porkies from racers who should know better...). a cracking course by all accounts and top classes well won with impressive displays by Ross and Ruth.

back in car and a hour south to aviemore to meet chris and chipps at the lovely rothiemurchus campsite. curry and a bottle of wine in the majority of the pubs and we're wobbling off up the road to tents.

chris heads off to pick up jac and emily after their epic adventure, chipps and i head to the mountain cafe for an extended breakfast. we eventually peel ourselves away to go for a scoot - steam train to boat of garten, then a ride back to the cake stop at Inchriach and a gentle loop back by loch an eilean to the cars. the others head off for pizza and i boot down the road to pick up new team kit from the DS.

just yer average weekend really...

this weekend - 10 under the ben.

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

NH 455 583

camping survived
midges suffered
racing dusty
sun burned
wine drunk
trails ridden
cakes eaten
fences climbed
tick removed

Saturday, 24 May 2008

quick one


the holiday which started with a bike caught in a broken u-lock, continued to wind it's rather odd course yesterday. my boss got bulleted in a re-structure in the current work style - come to a meeting, bring yer jaiket... saw dave today, seems to be remarkably chipper for a man that's had 20-ish years of career ripped from beneath him.

so, change of boss and some homework for tuesday - hope it's not a prelude to too much pish. my team is a weird bunch of mavericks (i've pretty much been in teams like that since i moved to our planning and research team in '97), but secretly it's quite a good place to be - fucking hard work at times (without much recognition), but always a bit of a laugh. if redundancy calls, can it come early, so i can do a bit of riding please?

plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose...


good ride with Dave at N3 last night* and the weekend brings more camping and riding.

strathpeffer-ish testing my rough camping skillz tomorrow, chief comm at SXC on sunday, stay in aviemore on sunday evening and a bit of riding on monday.


Thursday, 22 May 2008

power tools rock

the u-lock situation (see below) resulted in the purchase of an angle grinder and some cutting discs at the weekend. just a cheapy, but fuck me, it's a proper mantool. 11k rpm of bucking bronco - sparks, smoke & raar!

u-lock sliced in seconds and welded on cleats removed from two pairs of shoes. slight sole melting problems, but hey-ho...

glad to pack it back into the box without inflicting a major injury on myself (other than to my ears).

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

avie more please

couple of nice days camping up in rothiemurchus for the first two of four nights camping in a week offa work.

the usual haunts haunted (mountain cafe, old bridge inn, outdoor shops), bikes ridden, kayaks paddled, ospreys spotted and bites scratched. a chilly 3degC in the tent on sunday made for a shivery, sleepness night, but it was a balmy 8degC last night, so a good bit more comfortable.




few days pottering about the house coming up before another trip north over the weekend. more on that later.

Sunday, 18 May 2008

freedom of information?

those that know me will have been sick of the death of me dribbling on about the carron valley trails project over the past few years.

without going into the full details, when we opened the £100k of mtb trails (that a voluntary group that had masterminded and raised funds for) in early 2006, we had hoped that the then minister for sport would perform the opening ceremony. the event was due on a monday and until late on the friday afternoon the minister was still coming (and her staff were talking to members of the group about arrangements). late on the friday, it would appear that some terrifying information about the event or project was passed to the minister by forestry commission scotland (those great friends of mtbing) and she cancelled. the local MSP, cathie craigie, who has been a great supporter of the project (and who had invited the minister for sport on our behalf) stepped in and performed the "unofficial opening" (sic) ceremony.

when the project went tits up last summer, thanks to the devious behavour of forestry commission scotland, i decided to request the advice given to the minister for sport to see what had caused her to cancel an official engagement with only a couple of (working) hours notice.

the request has dragged on for months (both the scottish government and forestry commission scotland have attempted to suppress the information and an appeal is currently with the scottish information commissioner. although i have stepped down from my position with CVDG, i want to pursue this matter through to it's natural conclusion.

imagine my surprise when i received a letter from the scottish government yesterday with some of the email correspondence that i'd requested - one of the four emails that the scottish government confirmed exists on the subject. make sure to read the letter first...

this fucking stinks. what are they hiding?

Friday, 16 May 2008

the life expectancy of a kryptonite u-lock?

would appear to be just under 19 years. bought with my first
mountainbike from Wullies in late 1989, it's seen me through the last
years of school, uni and into work.

today was it's last day protecting bikes for me - seems to have
suffered a catastrophic failure and won't unlock.

unfortunately, my bike is still in it, locked to a stand in the car
park at work.

currently waiting for a rescuer with hacksaw...

UPDATE: my rescuer mightn't know her hacksaws from her bow saws, but fortunately she does know what the large adjustable spanner looks like. out with the bolts holding down the bike rack and we're offski. now to get an angle grinder.

for future reference, the bike racks at work will undo with a jethro tule - quite fancy rob's bmc pro...

Thursday, 15 May 2008

quick quiz

you're driving your car.
you've just left a petrol station.
you're about to reach a T junction.
a car is stationary in your lane, blocking it off.
a cyclist is coming the other way and has right of way.

do you:

a) slow down slightly, let the cyclist past, it's only going to cost you a second or two.
b) parp your horn at the driver of the other car for blocking your lane
c) just drive at the cyclist, he'll get out of your way. make some rude gestures as you pass. once past sound your horn, turn around and gesture out of the window. the fuckers don't pay road taxes you know...

Wednesday, 7 May 2008


back to gears for the first time in a little over 6 months. given my paltry mileage last year, the road bike only needed a wee bit of attention to get it ship shape again. i remember when i used to replace a worn drivetrain every spring...

train in to work, then the hilly way home - up the chapelberg, down oneswitchback hill, over to the col de montquey and a scream back down to B to the I. not a great deal more miles, but a fair bit more climbing.

tomorrow - ride in and out or train in and fifeclimbyrandom home.

white bar tape rocks.

Monday, 5 May 2008


another cracking SSUK down at drumlanrig this weekend past. some new faces amongst the grizzled and grizzly veterans. plenty of rank chat, boozing and bacon. fine racing on rocky, muddy, twisty, rooty trails. my bike got well hidden and i found it just in time to join a queue of about 250 riders on the first climb out of the arena. ach, weel. mebbe next year... ;)

mad props to anja and phil. fine champs.

thanks to julie, kenny, rik, sam and tom (and their helpers) for all the hard work.

who's going to take it on next year? the middle bit that they claim is the north? the south coasters?

photo by mr makin

and congratulations to ali and pete who now have eifa, a wee sister for ione!

Friday, 25 April 2008

beer me

sierra nevada beers finally seems to be getting easier to find around here. once hidden away in speciality offies, you can regularly find their pale ale and celebration in the local supermarket.

a speculative drop in to oddbins last week found two new treats:

esb - an early spring beer
bigfoot - a barleywine style ale

the esb is bee-yoo-tiful. hoppy, but not too hoppy. like pale ale ++

was a bit wary of the bigfoot (as you should be) and i left it in the fridge overnight 'til sunday to work myself up to it. malty, hoppy and strong at 9.6% - a little ott for me.

mondays are meant for hangovers.

Monday, 21 April 2008

cook like an egyptian

kushari for tea tonight - an egyptian staple of rice, lentils, onions and a spicy tomato sauce.

simmer lentils in water until al dente
fry a few garlic cloves oil until garlic goes nice and brown - discard garlic
add rice to the garlic-y oil and briefly fry until you get a bit of colour in the rice
add veg stock with a wee bit of ground cinnamon and nutmeg to pan and cook rice through
fry onions until brown
layer the cooked lentils/rice/onions in a bowl - save some onions to garnish

for the sauce, chuck into a pan:
can tomatoes (strain a bit of the liquid off first)
2 x chillies
some garlic
a wee dod of ground cumin
few tablespoons of vinegar
some water
bring to boil, then simmer for 20 minutes

add sauce to lentils/rice/onions and garnish with a few more onions.


Sunday, 20 April 2008


a lazy start meant we were too late to head to pitlochry for a wander up ben vrackie, so we stayed local and headed up west lomond from craigmead instead.

lovely in the lee of the hill, loads of skylarks out doing what they do best. looking out to snow covered hills to the north and right along the ochils - bit hazy, view on a clear day must be spectacular.

few folks out on mtbs, including a singlespeeder. must head up for a wee evening ride soon.

stepping up and stepping down and stepping up

last night (well friday) i gave my kind-of-best-man's speech to about 100 guests at gordon and susan's wedding celebration in edinburgh. seemed to go fine, even though I had a wee wobbly bit in the middle.

tonight (just now) i've just sent an email stepping down from a trail building group that i've helped out with for the past few years. the deceitful acts of certain individuals within Forestry Commission Scotland mean that I can no longer justify throwing my time away - their most senior management and political overlords seem uninterested in calling those responsible to task. I wish CVDG all the best in the future.

tomorrow - think we'll go for a wander up a hill somewhere. most likely ben vrackie, a wee hill we last climbed in winter 2003, with friday's bride and groom Susan and Gordon (in the background of the bottom photo).

Wednesday, 16 April 2008


seem my desire for dragging myself out of bed for a long commute gone for ride out it's own. i've not commuted by bike since mid-February. there wasn't a single commute in 30from30.

in 10 years of bike commuting i've not enjoyed being:
deliberately driven at
accidentally driven at
forced off the road
nearly taken out by vans/trucks/buses
spat at
the target for bottles/can/snowball throwers & cigarette flickers
screamed/shouted at by drivers and passengers
taken out by a pothole
blown over
stopping every 250 meters to clear my glasses with the undercrackers du

i have enjoyed:
going the long way in
going the long way home
blowing kisses at those trapped in traffic
shouting and swearing at drivers that don't give a toss
deliberately clipping a wing mirror or two
helping folks with punctures
snot rocketing on the boss's bonnet
flicking the vees
getting fitter
losing weight
arriving at work with wobbly legs
arriving at work with a smile

a house move a couple of years ago pushed up my bike commute to nearly 18 miles e/w (from 14). 14 was a nice number of miles. a good length of time to be on the bike. east in the morning, west at night, pretty much a straight line from linlithgow to the office. in summer with the prevailing wind and a sea breeze, i could do it in under 1h20m - there and back. the "new" commute is a wonky U shaped ride. 10 miles east to the forth road bridge, over the bridge and a zig-zag journey on the south side of the forth estuary to a business park on the western edge of edinburgh - an hour e/w in the summer, an hour and a bit in winter.

what to do? for the last couple of days caught the train in, then ridden home.

it's commuting, but only just.

[edit]passed 1000 mile mark for the year on the way home tonight[/edit]

Sunday, 13 April 2008


i have a lot of writing to do today.

* a best-man-ish speech for a wedding-ish on friday
* a note to the scottish information commissioner on why the scottish government should reveal the advice given to the previous minister for sport
* some views on the sxc last sunday

and what have i achieved?

* the washing has been sorted and put away
* dinner has been decided and a shopping list written
* couple of podcasts searched out and downloaded
* written this

back in a while - still have to do the ironing, read the paper, hang up the washing, put on a new load, watch paris-roubaix, find the blank CDs, wash the mtb, cut the grass and have lunch.

then i'll get started...

Wednesday, 9 April 2008


not really been on a bike much since 30from30 - couple of laps of the laggan xc course on sunday, rollers for a wee while on monday and a quick road spin tonight.

saturday was a guid meal out with deano and most of tspc. most wasapeas and later trains please.

sunday was commissairing at laggan. up at 6, very scary drive up a snowy a9 (clearing the way for the snowplows) and then a bit of a nightmare day. new administrators and new start times meant that things were a bit of a shambles. still, at least my jinx of sending two folks to A&E per race seems to have ended and the course was great - a short lap with one big forest road climb and a rocky, singletrack descent - views of big snowy peaks all around from the top of the course. added to the list of SXC races worth doing.

Friday, 4 April 2008

stoorie brae

the spiritual home of tspc
the proving ground of old
place of much fun and mischief
and grand views.

smell of zebras
and of occasionally brewing beer
big red
oor wullie, soapy soutar, fat boab and wee eck.

Sunday, 30 March 2008

dat is dat

rides 30 (March 2007 10, March 2006 13)
miles 493 (March 2007 333, March 2006 359)
hours 1d22h10m (March 2007 1d0h07m, March 2006 0d21h22m)

road 4
mtb 16
rollaz 10
commutes 0

rides with friends 3
rides where i've seen deer 3

what i've learned
* i heart cycling
* nowhere near as tough as i'd thought it'd be
* i've become too hung up on commuting as my source of cycling miles
* i have some great trails right from my front door
* exploring rocks
* i rider faster on rollers with the lights off and a dvd on - and faster during scottish films compared to french ones
* bribing myself with my own beer works
* rest days? pfft!
* taking a different photo every day for 30 was harder than the cycling
* don't get too excited about a wee dry spell early in the year
* when checking a tyre for glass/thorns always wear gloves
* riding every day generates a lot of laundry

thanks to susan for being putting up with me and the rest of the 30from30ers for doing/documenting it.

day 30


30from30 rounded off with a fine ride in the borders with adrian, dave and jon. started with rocky (sloppy) horror and the old dh trails before heading round the traquair xc. nothing in legs at all - as soon as the trail went upwards, i went backwards. absolutely broken by plora craig which made the last few sections a bit sketchy.

Saturday, 29 March 2008


a road ride today. burntisland-crossgates-kelty-kinross-round loch leven-the coalfield shitholes of fife-cowdenbeath-home.

realised at the far end that i hadn't got there superquick due to increased fitness, but with the aid of a healthy tailwind. like a golfer chucking wee pinches of grass up, cyclists should keep an eye on where their snot rockets get blown...


congratulations to chris hoy on winning the world sprint championships. two teary nights in a row. come on the keirin.

i'll be gunning for him at the bike week challenge this year. raar!

Friday, 28 March 2008


rollers tonight. la haine on the dvd.

hot and sweaty in the banlieue.

Thursday, 27 March 2008

i cried at aye

su and i headed west tonight to meet trina and jon at "aye - an affirmation of martyn bennett" a concert celebrating the life and work of martyn bennett. martyn was a richly talented scottish musician who was taken from us in his prime, following a long struggle with cancer.

some lovely music and very glad to hear it played live by mr mcfalls chamber with the help of fraser fifield, tom bancroft and james mackintosh. fiddles and pipes rock! as do violas, cellos, pianos, basses and twin percussionists. i shed a few tears in martyn's memory.

check out some of the media and downloads on the martyn bennett website. those new to his music might to try move first - a flash video for a track from his stunning final album, grit.


off to a gig in glasgow tonight straight from work, so up early and onto the rollers. one hour and fifteen seconds on tired legs, yawns and rapidly awakening bowel. just made it.

weather for tomorrow and saturday looks grim, so i'd better look out some dvds. hopefully round off 30from30 in the great non-indoors on sunday.

Wednesday, 26 March 2008


buff be gone. the unwelcome return of rain to the south fife coast tonight after a couple of pretty dry weeks. paths returning to mush as i type. pish.

off along the coastal path to have a wee scout round downans plantation by aberdour. bit disappointing, no sign of anything particularly interesting and a bit mangled by recent tree thinning work.

heading out towards braefoot and i catch a bit of movement just on the edge of my headlight. a commotion off to my right and a blur as a red deer hind passes about six feet in front of me. more crashing about to my right - there's more in the bushes. close my eyes and hope for the best. fortunately the others decide not to follow through me.

wobble on to the point to watch a tanker pull up to the terminal and a gentle pootle round. then home into a cold, rainy headwind.

Tuesday, 25 March 2008


a classic west edinburgh ride with jac and chris this evening. stoorie brae-edge of the hood-river almond-cammo-edge of the hood-davie mains park-hairy bumskins.

trails are in amazing condition for march - positively buff / barely any mud - just like summer, but with a lack of stingy and buzzy things. the river was in top-top shape - super smooth and fastfastfast all the way to the bridge at the end of the runway.

buttered ginger loaf as a post ride treat. magic.

Monday, 24 March 2008


cracking ride today showing city slickers round some local trails. up the binn and along via the haughs to braefoot for a play. sun, wind and bit of snow.

realised that i've spent nearly a day and half in the saddle so far during 30from30. neat-o.

Sunday, 23 March 2008


trail pruning trip along the heughs today. maybe more gardening than riding, but brambles and most of the obstructions cleared all the way along to the lookoutlog. need to head back with a bowsaw and clear some fallen trees - a project for spring.

the brambles get their own back and i find that my slow puncture has speeded up a little. just about get to the front door before rim hits tarmac. receive a warm welcome from purdey, who is clearly pleased to see me home.

Saturday, 22 March 2008


rollers of convenience today. just me, the hum of the rollers, the
fighting talk podcast and the gentle drip of sweat on topcap.

off to edinburgh too see the ansel adams exhibition and mebbe a film.

Friday, 21 March 2008


a figure of eight route today to mark eight consecutive days of mtbing. up out of town on the road and on to kirkcaldy by the drinkbetween track. back along to kinghorn by the coastal path. up through the golf course and a long drag and a push up the binn.

most of the ride had been fairly sheltered, but it was blowing hoolie up on the binn. riding it e>w means you get a nice steep descent off the top, but it was just unrideable today - even pushing down was tricky with the wind trying to drag the bike off into the forth...

home, shower, lunch.

Thursday, 20 March 2008

the clown and the wolfman


se7en mtb rides in a row, didn't figure on that when we started this...

coastal path and the heughs to aberdour and on to braefoot. wheens of wee, sleekit, cowrin, tim'rous beasties* scattering in front of my wheels on the heuch, no known victims.

riding like a fanny. still dog tired after last weekend. jumping at the flapping of (equally) startled birds and trapped plastic bags. scared by the shadows cast by the braefoot buildings.

a lie in and rollaz tomorrow.

* big shout out to all of the heughs massif - this one is for youse.

To a Mouse by Rabbie Burns

Wee sleekit, cow'rin, tim'rous beastie,
O, what a panic's in thy breastie!
Thou need na start awa sae hasty,
Wi bickering brattle!
I wad be laith to rin an chase thee,
Wi murdering pattle!

I'm truly sorry man's dominion
Has broken Nature's social union,
An justifies that ill opinion,
Which makes thee startle
At me, thy poor, earth-born companion.
An fellow mortal!

I doubt na, whyles, but thou may thieve:
What then? poor beastie, thou maun live!
A daimen icker in a thrave
'S a sma request;
I'll get a blessin wi the lave,
An never miss't!

Thy wee-bit housie, too, in ruin!
Its silly wa's the win's are strewin!
An naething, now, to big a new ane,
O foggage green!
An bleak December's win's ensuin.
Baith snell an keen!

Thou saw the fields laid bare an waste,
An weary winter comin fast.
An cozie here, beneath the blast,
Thou thought to dwell,
Till crash! the cruel coulter past
Out thro thy cell.

That wee bit heap o leaves an stibble,
Has cost thee monie a weary nibble!
Now thou's turn'd out, for a' thy trouble.
But house or hald,
To thole the winter's sleety dribble,
An cranreuch cauld!

But Mousie, thou art no thy lane,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best-laid schemes o mice an men
Gang aft agley,
An lea'e us nought but grief an pain,
For promis'd joy!

Still thou art blest, compar'd wi me!
The present only toucheth thee:
But och! I backward cast my e'e,
On prospects drear!
An forward, tho I canna see,
I guess an fear!

Wednesday, 19 March 2008


not quite as planned (left work late, phantom's cleugh sodden, puncture), but gotta love a ride which includes a tear down poet's glen.

6 days of mtbing on the trot. braw.