Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Dreich Places

An open assignment was sent by Pondero recently to post a little photo essay of a ride to a favourite place. I had hoped to get out over the weekend but a journey to Fife to try to sort out some family business put an end to my plans. 

Tuesday lunchtime and the wind had died down so I grabbed the chance for a cycle down to Barns Ness lighthouse. This isn't far, just one of those little hour or so rides that is easy to fit into life and provides some welcome peace.

The snow has melted and the ice is gone from the verges. Unfortunately however, the settled spell of cold weather has been replaced by high winds and driving rain. 

The road is quickly replaced by a shared walking/cycling trail. There was a cold rain blowing so I turned off the track at the old campsite. The limestone quarry is expanding nearby but in the meantime the disused paths provided an easy route to a place to shelter.

I hid from the rain under a pine tree and soaked up the view out over a cold looking North Sea. A rabbit came tearing along a track in the grass in front of me, closely followed by a murderous wee stoat. They disappeared into the longer grass so I don't know the outcome. The rabbit would most likely get away in the open.

A flask of hot coffee, some shelter form the wind and rain and time to just sit and watch. 

Back on the trail and home to a dreich Dunbar.

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Ice Road Trucker*

*I know it's a predictable header, but I couldn't help myself.

I spent a long time thinking about going out for a cycle today. As I sat with a coffee looking out the window the snow was falling and a cold easterly wind was whipping flurries across the roof tops. Cranking up the heating and staying in watching nonsense on television seemed an appealing option. It took until mid-afternoon before I got my act together and wobbled out on the 'trucker and headed to the hills.

The skies were heavy with snow so the pictures are a bit dark. It was also a bit nippy as I climbed up past Bowerhouse.

I may look like a reject from the cycle battalion of the Mujahideen, but I was warm.

These ladies were scratching around without much luck. They were also quite silent. None of the usual clucking and muttering that happy hens make. 

Onward and upward. Pitcox was a lovely winter scene. The trees provided some much appreciated shelter from the wind. All around was silence, just the vvrruuup-whish of my tyres cutting through the snow. You might just be able to make out some other tyre tracks. There is a set that looks suspiciously like a 'fat bike'. They had a square tread so they might be 'Nates'. Not many of them around.

I went back on to roads that had been ploughed and started back towards home.

As I set off back downhill the snow started again. Anything over twenty mph was like needles hitting exposed skin.

I was fast running out of daylight and my feet were getting cold, so time to get the head down and get back indoors. The temperature hovered around freezing while the sun was up. Food is short and I saw quite a lot of wildlife, grey squirrels, swans, snow buntings and long tail tits. Only an hour and a half (11miles), but a great cycle. If only I had gone out earlier.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Snow birds

This morning the snow was falling in that thick silent way that bodes for beautiful winter scenes but is a nightmare to drive in. The temperature picked up a bit and a thaw set in as the day went on.
I don't know who formed this little snow bird, but it cheered me up on my journeys.

It's back below freezing again this evening and I doubt I'll go out for a cycle tomorrow. I kind of like keeping my bones in the order they are supposed to be. Old age!

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Saturday winter miles

I had things to do in Haddington today but as there was no particular time constraints I decided to head along on the trucker and take some pleasure from the trip.

The day had started with frosty pavements and ice in the fields. The peely wally winter sun tried it's best to bring some warmth but it was still baltic, although the roads at least were free of ice. The first six miles are quite flat until the climb starts past East Linton, over the river Tyne and on up Pencraig.

The gap on the tree line on the very far horizon is where I was roughly heading. It's a mile of steady climbing; I kept a slow pace today and I was soon up there looking back across the soggy fields towards the coast.

Dunbar on the horizon and the Edinburgh bus labouring up the hill.

After Pencraig there is an easy descent for half a mile or so and then I got into a steady pace along past Beanston for the next five miles to Haddington. This is where the trucker comes into it's own. Just eating up the miles but perfectly able to soak up the bumps and roadside detritus.

Business taken care of in Haddington, I went for a wee pedal around the town but the shadows were getting longer and there was a glint of frost creeping onto the verges.

I got the head down on the way back but the sun sets quickly at this time of year. Coming back into Dunbar and  the Chinese 'magic shine' light was doing it's job, lighting the way for me, and blinding oncoming cars.

Twenty five wintery miles. The temp was about 2 C but the 'feels like' temp was showing -2C (28f). I was fine with two skinny base layers, Altura jacket, buff and polartec gloves. My feet were cold but that's what I get for wearing lightweight shoes. Still better than being stuck indoors.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Mid week cycle 9th January

It was cold, it was dark, but it was great. I've been procrastinating when it comes to mid week cycles but the weather was calm this evening and the warmish daytime temp' means the frost won't start until tomorrow morning. So no excuses and off I went for an hour on the 'trucker.

My cheap wee Pentax compact isn't much use for low light shots as these noisy pics show. Also there was not that much to see! Most of the time I was quite content in my little bubble of light wandering along in the dark of the countryside.

Back home to the bright lights of Dunbar. The flag flying to the right of the street light is the Stars and Stripes. The building is where John Muir was born. It's good wee museum with various displays and some stuff sent over from California by that famous 'American', Arnold Schwarzenegger.

11 miles, 3 degrees C and SW 12mph.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Another Easy Sunday Cycle

A couple of easy hours on the 'trucker today. I just pedaled along little roads and tracks, taking it easy and following whichever path took my fancy. The sky was overcast so there wasn't much scope for pictures. Despite the dull weather, the car park at John Muir Country Park was busy with lots of folk out with dogs or horses.  There's still plenty of space for everyone. 

Back onto the road and I headed out in a loop by East Linton. This little memorial at Phantassie is dedicated to John Rennie who was born here and studied at Dunbar and Edinburgh before becoming a highly respected engineer. The list of canals, bridges and other civil works he designed is pretty extensive. In the foreground of the pic is the top of a baluster from Waterloo bridge which Rennie designed. Guess there must be a gap on the bridge.

The sky may have been cloudy but this meant that the temperature was up at 7 degrees C (44F) and the rain stayed away! The wind was also a light south westerly. A very relaxed 20 miles.

Update to this post!
As well as the baluster being used as a memorial at Phantassie, stone from Rennie's Waterloo bridge was shipped all over the world when it was demolished in the 1920's. Some ended up in Wellington, New Zealand where it was used to build a drinking fountain and dog bowl to commemorate 'Paddy the wanderer dog'. Paddy lived around the wharves and docks of Wellington during the Great Depression. He was friends with everyone except 'pirates, smugglers and rodents' whom he was employed to chase. Unfortunately he passed away on 17th July 1939. Apparently the whole city came to a standstill for his funeral!

Aye, you can learn some nonsense on the internet.

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Things that go beep on the bike

Quick post today. I enjoy being outdoors, cycling, sailing, walking or just nosing around. I also like to try to stay active. In the past I used a heart rate monitor to get my jogging up to 10 miles without collapsing in a sweating heap. The was done through LSD, that's Long Slow Distance and nothing to do with Greatful Dead albums. With cycling I am happy to hop on the trucker and head out for up to 25 miles without really thinking about it. After around the 30 mile mark I tend to grow weary, struggle on hills and try hard to eat. Sounds like I need to improve my endurance; LSD time! I have never tried proper training on a bike so today's experiments with a polar F2 heart rate monitor were a bit of a surprise. 

I set a target zone of 65-75% maximum heart rate and then headed out for an hour to get an idea of what level of effort that was when cycling. Jings! I had to go slowly. I went down to Belhaven bay which looked lovely in the late afternoon winter sun. (oh for a fat bike). Once warmed up I pedaled along to East Linton. This is a flat route and I would normally expect to sit around 15mph and feel a bit of lactic acid in my legs at Tynefield and then it ease off as I got to East Linton and turned around to blast the 6 miles back. 

Today I had the heart rate monitor beeping whenever I exceeded or dropped out of the training zone. This meant sitting at a gentle 10mph and sometimes less. It felt wrong but, 'trust your kit'. I'll aim for 1x1 hour and 1x2 hour cycle in this training zone each week. I'll keep a record here of any great improvements over the next 6 weeks. If nothing happens, then I'll have had a good number of relaxing cycles and there will be a heart rate monitor for sale, cheap, little used!

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Cycling for soup

The second of January is a public holiday in Scotland and for a change the weather wasn't too bad. The rain had been lashing off the windows at 7am but by 11 the sun had popped above the horizon for a quick look around, the rain had stopped and the wind had dropped. I grabbed the Trucker and some supplies and went east to Pease Bay.

There wasn't anything going on at Pease bay apart from the ford in the road being impassable after all the heavy rain. I turned around and headed back up this lovely road. I got off to push for the first bit up from the stream. It was quicker than trying to cycle.

Back at the top of the hill I turned off to follow the southern upland way to Cove. The track was really wet and got muddier as it descended. It would have been a lot easier on a mtb or even a fat bike. The trucker managed though.

When the sun came back out I took the chance to take a break on a sheltered bit of the cliff path. No flask this week. Instead I brought along my wee gas stove. Hot soup, a bit of sunshine and miles of views. I'm easily pleased.

In the pic is my new Giro helmet. I still look like a mushroom wearing it but for the sake of marital harmony I'll wear it more often.

Heading home and the wind started to pick up. The cloud cover broke up and the sun shone.

 All quiet at the quarry and cement works today.

A good twenty three miles, not too far, but enough to loosen up and lose myself in the ride. Back to work again tomorrow but only for a couple of days then hopefully the weather will stay fine for the weekend.