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!