Sunday, 29 December 2013

On One Fatty Beach Ride

The weather over the last couple of weeks has been very windy. An extraordinarily low pressure system rolled off the Atlantic on Christmas eve and it seems that the winds have been gusting to 60mph, and a lot more, since.

Saturday was a bit brighter although the bitter wind continued. I didn't fancy fighting my way along the road on the Long Haul Trucker so I took the Fatty for a beach ride instead.

The above photo shows one of the grin inducing features of a fat bike. It still gets me every time I cycle off a firm surface onto soft sand. The front wheel should tuck in and I should be over the bars but the fat tyres just float and I can't help smiling.

Fly wasn't smiling though, as the wind whipped up a stinging blasts of sand.

The observant will notice that the Fatty is in the second lowest gear of the 10 speed cassette. To be honest there were a few times when I was trying to down change a lot further. My legs were taking a pounding just trying to spin away into the wind and I would have liked an extra couple of cogs for climbing the dunes and rocks.

It was still great just to power up the dunes and freewheel down in big arcs. Some places the storms have cut away a lot of the dunes but the beach is always changing and the sand will soon build up somewhere else.

There were a couple trying for sea bass but otherwise the beaches were empty. I cycled as far as I could toward the rock arches but it was getting cold in the shadow of the cliffs and the photos were too dark to use.

An hour or so of playing and I stopped for coffee in the shelter of the marram grass. I needed the hood up on the smock to try to stop the worst of the blown sand. A hard pedal, but good exercise and plenty of smiles.

And on an entirely different matter, my orchid at work has finally bloomed! I have been nurturing this one for about three years. It was close to blooming on Christmas eve and then when I went back into work on Friday it had opened.

Friday, 20 December 2013

Old boats and grey days

It's nearly a fortnight since my last post. Last Christmas my father died quite suddenly and sadly my mum passed away last week. It wasn't unexpected, but it has still been very difficult. I haven't really had the time or inclination for a cycle. 

The funeral is over and the most immediate of affairs are tided so I thought I should get back out there with at least a little post.

I took Fly for a good wander around town and then down to the Cromwell Harbour. I'm always interested in what's happening with the boats and there is loads for Fly to sniff and investigate.

Despite being named the Cromwell Harbour, there are records of a wood and stone pier dating back to the 1570's

There were a couple of creel boats coming in. In times past the fishing boats of the east coast were predominantly Herring Drifters, close in design to Bob's lovely old Fife the "Mareen". In those days, there were no diesel engines and they relied on the wind to chase the fish.

It's not so practical to rely on sail power in harbour so there are several pawls to warp boats around. This huge old tree trunk shows it's wear from years of ropes rubbing.

These two palls are supposed to be made from old gun barrels set in concrete but I'm not so sure.

 Someone's up to something. (this caption can be applied to the photo above or below,)

That's what a Scottish east coast fishing town looks like on a December day. I'll try to get back to regular posting soon.

Saturday, 7 December 2013

Global Fat Bike Day - On One Fatty - Dunbar

Saturday morning and it was Global Fat Bike Day.


Realistically I think the passing of Nelson Mandella or the commemoration of the attack on Pearl Harbour means more to the population of the world than the bumblings of balloon tyred bicycles. But I made the effort and went for a pedal on a dreich winter morning.

Coastkid had been rounding up the troops for a beach ride at North Berwick which sounded good, but unfortunately I had other commitments. Instead, I had my own little fat bike outing along the east beach at Dunbar.

First stop was to check the wooden chocks under the Heron. The tidal surge was pretty high on Thursday and the coast took a real battering. Fortunately, everything seems secure, so it was on through the winding streets to the beach.

The red sandstone of the pends and closes is typical of the old buildings of Dunbar.

Coffee time.

I picked a route through the rock and seaweed out onto the sands near the golf course. This sort of riding takes a fair bit of concentration, and effort. There was lots of slow, standing up, half pedal work. Mostly I just concentrated on keeping my balance with the background noise of the last of the week's storm spending itself on the shore. There was the occasional dog walker but mostly the coast seemed empty.

There was plenty bid life though. Rock Pipits and Pied Wagtails searched through the storm washed kelp for sand hoppers and Red Shanks scurried back and forth between the crash of the waves.

Fly kept busy collecting pieces of kelp.

I set out pedalling before 9am as I knew I had to be home by 11am. I only just made it. It is so easy to lose myself on the Fatty, just playing around, finding routes, straining muscles I had forgotten I had. The fun of owning one of these bikes is like being a kid again, and that's no bad thing.  Despite the suggestions on the Fat Bike Forums, I didn't find today "insane". Maybe that was because I was out riding and not sitting in front of a computer dreaming. Forums- pah.

Sunday, 1 December 2013

On One Fatty in the woods.

Saturday morning and it's a cold damp start to the weekend. Days like this, it can be hard to go for a longer cycle, so this is exactly the sort of weather I built the fatbike for. I loaded Fly and the Fatty into the back of the car and headed south to Penmanshiel woods.

Despite being the route of the Southern Upland Way long distance path, this is a quiet area and its rare to see anyone else there. That means it's ideal for cycling along without having to keep too close an eye on Fly.

The overcast sky and the close cover of the trees meant the camera struggled to capture the full colours of the autumn leaves. You'll have to take my word that the woods were a lot more varied than these pics suggest. I stopped to look, but mostly just puffed away in low gears, playing around on the bumps and drops whilst Fly amused herself with some high quality sticks.

A happy wee dog showing a defenseless stick who is the boss.

In the occasional glimpses of sunlight there were loads of finches singing and hunting for food amongst the trees.

If you've got a fat bike, you know the feeling. I'm far too old for this sort of thing.

A cold morning but I went home warm. 

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Cycling, woods, swans, coffee.

There's been a frost most mornings this week, but thankfully a cloud cover came in on Friday night, and Saturday morning was a little warmer. This made for a much more pleasant cycle, not that it was particularly warm, rather, I didn't have to worry about ice.

I headed west over Pencraig hill, past Haddington, then down through the Letham Holdings.

Much as I enjoy the coast, I also take great pleasure from inland woods. The relative silence of the trucker allowed me to see so much wildlife now the vegetation has died back.

I saw deer, a sparrowhawk feeding and two male greater spotted woodpeckers fighting. When I got to Westfield I took a coffee break and watched a family of swans preening.

A pretty fine place to enjoy a flask of coffee.

On my way back through Haddington I turned into town at the Poldrate Mill to buy some new brake blocks from Mike's Bikes, LBS, then headed East again to Dunbar.

I had sort of planned this route as a standard 50km that I could use regularly throughout the winter. I was spoilt today with beautiful crisp, clear views and an abundance of wildlife. I'll be lucky to get a cycle like this again but I suppose I'll keep trying.