Friday, December 26, 2014

The shortest day and the wettest night....

The best laid plans of mice and men.....

A few months back, vague talk emerged of riding on the shortest day, 21st of December, from Dawn until dusk, various plans were discussed - the Leadhills, West highland way... But we decided to just ride locally, on the river Ayr way, as it's possible to ride a long way on a variety of trails without too much climbing and is pretty sheltered for lots of the route.

So, with sunrise (aye right) at 8.44, we were off, myself, Robin and Stuart - who hadn't ridden for 3 months (which was good, as it meant robin and I could drop him on the climbs, something that doesn't happen too often!) after a few miles, I had to go back and switch bikes, due to a wee mechanical issue, not the best of starts.

Anyway, onward and upward, we made decent time to get back up to the river trails at Auchincruive, and on through the pyramid wood to stair, failford and then into slightly unchartered territory for me, barskimming estate. Obviously plenty of cash here, and from what I hear, unfriendly owners too, so we boosted up the hill into mauchline, pretty wet and cold by this point as it was about the grimmest morning we'd had this winter.

How lucky were we, finding a wee greasy spoon that didn't mind 3 manky bikers, so nice were they in fact, that they didn't mind the east coaster eating his own pasta. He was welcome to it though, I had a very welcome haggis and cheese panini instead.

Back on our way, it was a wet, cold and horrible wee 3 miles straight into a westerly to get back to failford, and into the shelter of the trails beyond. After negotiating the landslip before stair (that's 3 years now south ayrshire council, get yer finger out) we managed a quick coffee in the stair inn before making the break for home and rolling into prestwick at 4pm, in darkness, wet but happy. Stuart headed back up the road in the van, whilst Robins good lady joined us for dinner and a nice Sunday evening. Sweet. Just under 60K in total, at a sociable pace, which was great.

Another hatched plan, was a Christmas nightride and a spot of food/beer at the village inn, fairlie. Much talk as usual, but the only hardy souls braving the nightride was yours truly and robin. Can ye see a pattern forming here?!.

It was actually a very still, calm night, perfect for nightriding, but the trails were as wet as I've ever seen them, due to the last few weeks deluge. Not a long ride, 19k from Dalry up and over the moor road, and onto the trails, but nice to finish at the inn (there WAS room!) and meet Julie, Stuart and Gavin for a bite to eat and a few beers, before Julie kindly gave me a lift home, avoiding the joys of the Glasgow train at this time of year.

Merry Xmas and a happy new year.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

It's been a while.....

Lots of things has happened since my last post really, Mainly starting a new job has been the biggest change, especially as for the first time in over 16 years, I work 'normal' hours as opposed to shifts. When I worked at GE, I was only about a mile from there, and sometimes it seemed more hassle getting the bike out to get there than it was worth. GSK is 8.5 miles away, a far more worthy commute, and a great way to get extra miles in, particularly in the winter months, as when I get home from work, the fire is lit and forcing yourself outside again for a nightride is hard to do.

I'm also back doing spin classes again, which also supplements the lack of night riding at the moment, and is a far better workout, especially as one class is fast paced and quick changing, whereas the second class is a longer, endurance based affair. It's only 4 months til we go riding in Spain, so all this riding will be worth it!.

I have been doing some MTBing, just the usual haunts, River trails, Fairlie, Dumyat with Aron and Charlie, nothing too far as I can't be bothered with 2 hour drives to the the likes of the tweed valley at this time of short daylight.

Robin and I had a nice spin on the fat bikes yesterday too, parking at Balmaha at the SE end of Loch Lomond, and following the WHW as far as Rowardennan YH before turning back and riding the trails in reverse. Was pretty cold, damp and frosty under tyres too, but a good wee ride in decent enough surroundings. The fat bike is brilliant for rides like this, great for covering distance on a variety of trails, Though the lack of a dropper post hold you a bit on techy, steep sections, but that kind of riding is few and far between on rides like this anyway.

We've got a Winter solstice ride planned next sunday, to ride the shortest day from sunrise to sunset, plan is to ride as far as we dare up the river - River Ayr way is 44 miles long - then turn and come back in time for a nice rewarding tea. Should be good, and good training for Robin in his puffer build up.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Perthshire delights...

The Fab Four of Klaus, Robin, Des and yours truly had a rare day out riding today, opting to head north to the short but very sweet man made stuff at Comrie croft near Crieff.

A hideous morning meant a wee coffee was required in the cafe at the trail head was required to get both the legs and the mojo going. It's a fantastic wee set up, pretty compact, but also pretty techy, with no shortage of rock features, mud, roots and gravity too. The last blue descent is one of the best man made flowy, swoopy trails anywhere in the country, a real hoot to ride, and they also managed to eke every bit of fun out of the hill.

There's also plenty of activity on thd trail building front, which is totally at odds with every other trail centre in Scotland.

Safe to say, we'll be back soon.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Definitely the final scent of summer....


How lucky are we?.

Promises from weather forecasters of an ‘Indian summer’ every year never materialise, but 2014 has been a fantastic exception, this has possibly been the best September I can recall.

Even the grim reality of the immediate future in Tory hands couldn’t dampen my enthusiasm for a wee Lake district adventure the day after the Referendum, indeed, it helped take my mind off it. So, off I headed to Ambleside to meet the Sauchie massive – Aron and Charlie, and my mate Graham from the club. The plan had been to ride Grizedale and Walna scar on the Saturday, but Klaus had been down with Des the week before and had said that the descent down into Torver from Walna is still gash due to the resurfacing a couple of years back.

Plans were changed, and I suggested a ride straight from the front door of the YH, a familiar one as I’d did most of it twice already this year, but the guys hadn’t ridden any of it, so were keen. The Kentmere horseshoe and Nan Bield is a smashing high level route, with quite a bit of hike-a-bike in the first half, but some fantastic riding from the top of Nan Bield, and also adding in Staveley head fell and the short, yet grin inducing joys of Jenkins Crag, made for a cracking day.

It was after 5pm by the time we rolled back into Ambleside, showered, and headed for the best Pizza in the lakes, at Dodds.

Next day, we changed our plans somewhat, from the longer route that takes in Great Dodd, Helvellyn and down off Dollywaggon Pike, instead opting for the straight up option of Keppel Cove, well that was the plan!  :-0

What seemed like a nice gesture by some friendly walkers, holding a gate open for us at the start of the off road climb up past the Helvellyn YH, ended up with us taking entirely the wrong route up. We never really realised this until the path levelled just before the scramble up Swirrel edge became visible. Nearly at the summit anyway, and after I’d got the usual ribbing for my guiding failure, we despatched lunch, turned round and descended the way we’d came. It actually turned out to be a really good trail, followed by another wee diversion along a footpath, and a cracking drop down onto the back of Glenridding. Real chips and sunshine to follow, brilliant stuff.

More pics to follow, as they're on my phone.

Mountain goat!

Warmer than it looks.
The way we should have gone up!

The way we did...

Forty dollars? Buy Buy!!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Last thin sliver of summer....

As we career toward september, the need to squeeze all that is left out of the summer is almost as pressing as thoughts of lighting the woodburner. However, this time of year, along with the fresh, dry days of march are amongst my favourite times of the year, so a free saturday on such a day is not to be taken for granted.

My usual riding buddies were all up to other things, So I turned to the Sauchie massive for some more cracking riding in their back yard. We met at Comrie croft, a relatively new trail centre to the west of Perth, and had about 90 minutes of eye opening steep, rocky action. I had this place down as a pretty tame,almost Drumlanrig type place, short and for beginners. How wrong I was. It is short, but it's a rocky tech fest, and an absolute joy. I'll be back, and soon too.

After some really good coffee and Carrot cake from heaven itself, We headed off along the road for a bit, before turning north and climbing for a fair while to Loch  Turret. Nothing techy up there, but amazing views and good crack with the boys, and girl!. It was bloody cold at the loch itself, so we never hung about for long, but instead opted for a fast blast back to the road, before tackling a nasty headwind and towing everyone back into Comrie. I felt really fresh today, perhaps down to having a bit of a week off, but quite pleased anyway. I'll need to be stronger for the 'Puffer this year, so this is a good base to start training I reckon.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Dumyat and Mine Woods on a fine evening

Pretty self explanatory really, Des, his mate Dan and myself headed up to Stirling last night to get Dumyat in the dry, due to the awesome weather that this summer has provided. We met our buddies from just along the road, Aron and Charlie who know all the best bits in the area.

Awesome nights biking, Well worth the short drive.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Basking in summer dust....

What a fantastic week to be off work. I had worked my week off a couple of weeks before, and this week was to be payback, and what payback this weather has been!. Enjoyrideress was working the first three days of the week, so little Enjoyriderette and I spent a lovely few days together, with her getting her new bike out every day too. It's amazing to watch her discovering the freedom that cycling gives, and she seems pretty good when a hill comes along too, who knows where she inherited that from.

Then thursday at the beach avec BBQ and sausages set me up for a day in the hills on friday. Des, Stu, Julie and I met at Killin for a day I had been looking at doing for a while - Ben Lawers and Beinn Ghlas. We had planned to add in another two munro's to the north west too, but to be honest, it was too hot and I realised early on that these two were better left to a cooler day and an earlier start.

The route starts at Ben Lawers Car park, about 5 miles east of Killin, and goes pretty much straight up to the first munro - Beinn Ghlas. A lot of it is actually pedallable, but the temperature played a big part in forcing us off our bikes early on, which has it's own advantages as it allows some idle chat on the way up. Once up onto Ghlas, there is a really nice techy descent for a bit before heading skyward again onto Ben Lawers. Next time I think I'd just head down the bypass path from here, and wouldn't bother with Lawers itself, as it's just borderline too techy in the most part, but it was such a nice day that the views across the country made it well worth it.

The descent down the bypass path starts off a bit stop-start, but soon after becomes an absolute corker, the only thing slowing you down is waterbars, but pretty much every one of these is rideable, all the way down to the gate near the start. I'll definitely do this one again.

I'm now looking forward to getting over to Arran with the family for a week, along with a bike, possibly ;-) although, a wee night ride this coming week around Stirling looks a possibility too.

Oh, nearly forgot - The aforementioned sausages on the beach!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Like riding abroad....

Sometimes, usually during the worst of the winter bog marches that we seem to find ourselves on, the thought 'why?' emerges into your head, and my usual subconscious retort is that we'll get some kind of karma payback in the summer - dusty trails, rocky ribbons of swooping perfection, laughs with riding mates, ice cream, beer.....

Well, last weekend was it for me.

Robin and I took the longish drive down to the Peak district, primarily to meet up with old friends that we had met on a foreign sojourn, Rik and Adele, but also to ride trails that we often read about online and in the magazines. Des was coming too, but had an appointment with the postman, or the paperboy or something....

Arriving on the Lancashire side of the peak, Rik had given us a route to ride as we were going to be there long before our hosts finished work. Setting off from the lovely wee village of Hayfield, we did a 'reet nice figure of 8, with two testy climbs and also two nice descents, one swoopy, the other more peak like - rocky and fast. Nice days riding, and in really great weather too.

After a wee refreshing drop in the local beer garden, we drove over snake pass to Sheffield, and on to meet our buddies, and the lure of the local pub and curry house!. Great stuff.

Next morning, slightly fuzzy headed, Rik sorted us out with a cracking brekkie before we drove off to Hope valley and had another sun drenched corker of a ride. I won't try to describe the route, as being expertly guided, you don't really have to know where you are, all I know is that we took in some cracking peak descents, and we climbed a lot!. If I remember correctly, we did Cavedale, Hollins cross, Potato alley, Hagg farm and then finished on the roman road. My favourite was Hagg farm, although it is pretty short, followed closely by Cavedale, for sheer ballsy rockiness.

Fish and chips and a quiet night followed, with legs wearying, and thoughts of another days riding to come....

Another cracking brekkie, and the best days riding yet!. We parked at Ladybower reservoir, of dambusters fame, and basically rode out the whole length of the famous Cut gate route and back. That doesnt sound much, but it was unbelievably good, I thought the descent out toward Langsett was good, but the descent back just ripped the legs off of it. Even though it was busy, it was an absolute joy of a descent, rocky, rutted, big steppy drop offs.... Tremendous.

And ice cream to finish. What a great weekend, thanks so much to Rik and Adele, for going out their way for a whole weekend, feeding and guiding us, great company as ever folks!. Not quite as big as the thanks deserved by Mrs Enjoyrider, for being so cool with me disappearing away for a weekend of doing what I love. Xxx.

Now, the Yeti has taken a bit of a battering, time for some TLC....

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Stolen weekday in the lakes...


Ill bell from froswick, with Windermere glistening to the south

We had a wee bit of a plan to go and ride Ben Lomond on Friday, but the usual scots weather put the brakes on that, with heavy rain predicted for the Lomond national park, so instead, Robin and I headed south with a few route options in mind. I was quite keen to ride nan bield again, and as Robin likes riding somewhere new, that's where we went.

Parking at the south end of Dubbs road, we followed almost the exact route I had ridden myself four weeks ago, and I have to say, it was far better riding in company than riding alone. I rode way more than I had whilst on my tod. Fantastic days riding, perfect weather, not a breath of wind to be felt. Then fish and chips to finish.

Robin dropping off of froswick



Saturday, June 7, 2014

Friday night fever

On Friday night I finally got out with Klaus again, the first time in a long time due to shifts and family stuff. The two of us, along with Colin, Klaus' mate headed from chez Schlesiger along the south and north beaches to seamill, portencross, past the hunterston behemoth and onto fairlie.
Then round the usual trails, in glorious sunshine complete with gorgeous clear views over the firth and beyond. Quick pint of harviestouns finest, then back home for not far short of midnight. It was a tired blogger that was awoken at 6am with the work alarm on Saturday...

Always worth it though, canny beat a summer evening ride.

Saturday, May 31, 2014


No biking this weekend, as Maz is working, but as it's been a gorgeous day, got the BBQ out and tried something I've been thinking of for a while, pizza. A revelation!. I'll be doing this again!.



Monday, May 19, 2014

Racing the storm!

A wee pre-nightshift spin tonight, with no jacket or anything....

Which was fine until I got to the viewpoint atop carrick hill, and saw the storm moving in from the north, very fast, and complete with biblical thunder and lightning. Crikey.

I never managed to beat it...

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Midweek Lakeland escape...


As it has become evident that my shift pattern is changing, after 16 years of having a week off every month, I decided that I'm going to use the last remaining ones to best effect. So a wee plan was hatched, friends were invited, but I knew they were all working, so off on my tod I went to the Lakes.

After a reasonably early start, and a quiet 3 hour drive south, I pitched up at a lay by just outside of Glenridding, next to the mirror like ullswater. First up was a long farm track which terminated with the rocky climb up toward grisedale tarn, and then on up the steep pitching steps to dollywaggon pike.



This part of the trail is pretty busy, as it's part of the coast to coast route through the area, from grasmere over to patterdale, so there were lots of incredulous looks at a big sweaty scot carrying a bike up a mountain, all cheerful though!. Once up on the plateau, and heading over nethermost pike toward helvellyn itself, the views were absolutely astounding all around, from high street in the east, scafell pike in the west, Skiddaw and blencathra to the north, and even Blackpool tower and heysham nuclear power station to the south!.


Looking west over the langdale pikes


Path up Ill bell

As I was on my own, I had made the decision to ride at maybe 70%, to avoid a tumble on what can be very exposed and rocky terrain! but to be honest! I wouldn't do this again. The lakes cannot be ridden at 70%, full concentration! commitment and a bit of speed is required. Lesson learned. Once up onto the summit, the views were even better.

Ullswater from helvellyn


Striding edge


And again...


Descent off helvellyn..

All that was left was the descent down sticks pass, and as I said earlier, I took it too easy going down there too.

Sticks pass

20 minutes after getting to the car, I was in Ambleside YHA, for a bath, change and then a well earned bite and beer, before retiring early due to a bigger day the next day.

A quick bite for brekkie, and I parked the car at the bottom of dubbs road for a wee cheeky assault on some footpaths above kentmere!. The plan was to climb garburn, but instead of descending down the usual route into kentmere, carry on up Yoke, over Ill bell, froswick and thornthwaite crag, before turning west over Mardale Ill bell, and descending the famous Nan Bield bridleway, then taking the high Borrans route back to the car. Cracking day, I'd definitely do that again.

Leaving garburn pass


And off up onto Yoke


A wee pal...


Windermere to the south


Path up into ill bell


Ill bell summit


Nan bield switchbacks in the centre of picture


Ill bell from thornthwaite crag


Western fells


Harter fell down to nan bield


The lakes in one picture. Sweet.

As everyone I know knows by now, I love the Lake District. Haste ye back...