The greatest physical challenge of my life


Yesterday I took part in the Kinross Sportiv Black run.  88 miles (my clock read 91) and 6561 feet of climbing (1.5 x the height of Ben Nevis).

See those red boxes?  They’re the hills and they are very cleverly spaced out so as to just about allow you to recover from one before you hit the next.

Of course some are worse than others.  Just like waterboarding is worse than the rack or having fingernails extracted.

But you think the ascents are bad?  Well, on three of them, having reached the peak you see this.


And those signs are there for a reason.

I had ho’d and hummed a lot the night before about whether to put the new brake blocks I’d just bought onto my (not very) trusty Willier and eventually decided, after removing them and scraping them, that they’d suffice.

Well, they did.  Just.  But that was after recording my top speed, so far, on a bike (38mph) on a not dangerous descent.

Going down those bad ones was a test of nerve – and one that I abjectly failed because my arms ached at the bottom of each of them with the sheer effort of clamping those 2cm blocks of rubber to the rims of my wheels.  At times I simply had no idea if the brakes would last out.  Feathering them was rarely an option as the descents were so brutal, the second you let go the bike would just leap forward at horrendous speed.  Clamping was the key. So, the next time you watch a descent on the Tour de France consider the risks these guys are taking.

Towards the end of my six and a bit hours in the saddle (we had three stops for punctures and two for food on top of that) I was in a state of complete exhaustion.

Maybe it was the half pint of Guinness that we had in Dunning that did me in.  As the barmaid said “Oh, you’re the first cyclists we’ve had in three years that had a drink!”  But it certainly helped us up the 900ft climb, that is Dunning Common,  that we faced the second we got back on the bike.

As I sit at my computer at 9.30 the next day I feel fine.  Had I done an equivalent feat by running I’d have been in agony for at least three days.

So, vive le cycling.


Cyclo aquaplaning

Bradley Gormo

I went out for my last “big run” of the year to unwelcoming grey skies.  Eight of us made it up for the 9:01 ride from Dalmeny to Torphicen (in the hills above Linlithgow) All went well to our half way coffee and bacon roll stop but as we sat espousing the virtues of Sir Wiggo the rain started.

By the time we re-strode our carbon shafts to cries of “Oooohhh I really SHOULD have go that seat cover for Christmas” the downpour was becoming a deluge and the 17 miles home took on ferocious natural challenges.  We’d already taken on a 20mph headwind so at least we were helped home but the puddles became deeper and deeper, browner and browner.  I nearly missed a corner at the hump back bridge just outside Linlithgow and was chatting to Roddy about whether or not you could “aquaplane on a bike” when I aquaplaned on a bike.

Well, fuck me if that wasn’t scary.

I was belting it down a downwardish slope doing at least 25mph (that’s about 45kph for you cyclists out there) when I hit a brown puddle at the side of a field that covered 3/4 of the road and was at least 6″ deep.  To say the bike veered as the change in speed coupled with 20mph gusts of side on wind impacted on my forward trajectory would be an underestimate.  The wheel certainly lost contact with the road but I stayed on board and disaster was averted.

Bring on next week!

king of the mountains?

I had an afternoon off and I had some stuff to pick up in Edinburgh so, between rain showers (well, when I say SHOWERS…), I jumped on the old bike to do a training run for the Pedal For Scotland ride that’s now only 8 weeks away. You can register here…

So, I cycled into Edinburgh (11 miles ) and then did two circuits of Arthur’s Seat (my second volcanic circumnavigation in a week given that I’d done Vesuvius last week).

The trip round Arthur’s Seat is 3.3 miles and I clocked 14 minutes or so both times.  My memories of the ascent (just under a mile) to Dunsapie Loch were far more onerous than the reality.

After that a cycle back to South Queensferry and all 32 miles done and dusted in about 2hrs 15 minutes.

Cream crackered now like.

Good drivers will love this ad…

I’m indebted to a great advertising website for revealing this ad to me. Scamp is written by a creative guy at BBH and it’s festooned with advertising creativity, with some crossover to my own ramblings. I know little of the background to this ad but it appears to have been a little controversial.

Anyway, once you’ve had a look I’ll tell you what I think…

It’s verging on genius I’d say. A brilliant observation about non-observation. Although the strategy is to raise people’s awareness of cyclists whilst driving I’m more inclined to think it’s just a general ad about being a better all round driver. The number of idiots that can’t see past the car in front bemuses me and this takes one right back to one’s driving lessons where it was drummed into me to look way ahead, as far as you can see in fact, and be ready to take evasive action should incidents present themselves.

A brilliant ad, it really is.

And its predecessor is equally brilliant.

Hoy you lot.

The rest of the world must be rubbing its eyes in disbelief as Hoy and co have put the Great back into Great Britain.  These Olympics have been startling.

Excuse me.  Is this table upside down?

Excuse me. Is this table upside down?

Hoy is now a national hero (frankly he was anyway) and Scotland can take its place at the top table with pride.  (Scotland on its own would be well inside the top 20.)

Well Done Chris and everyone else.  You have made Britishness desireable once again.

Putting the Great into Great Britain.

Putting the Great into Great Britain.

Interesting but flawed

I rather like this ad to encourage kids to cycle to school.  It made me laugh out loud when I saw it.

The target audience, of course, will hate it because they won’t empathise with the geek in the shot.

I think the research was a bit misplaced too because we all know that green and yellow are Catholic School colours (indeed this was my school uniform at Holy Cross) and the ginger hair of the wee lad also has massive catholic symbolism.

Not smart.