Saturday, 27 July 2013

Saturday doorstep ride

Maybe it's too much of le tour on la tele, maybe it's LeMond with his often quoted "It never gets easier, you just go faster", but the last four weekends have included travelling to rides, working out nutrition and a minimum of a metric century. I've been pushing it. The Surly Long Haul Trucker is just designed for this. If you are a "leisure rider" and want to soak up the experience of the ride, then I heartily recommend the LHT.  But.. after 500KM of hard riding on new routes in the last month, there is part of me that starts to crave something carbon, light, fast and expensive.

I must be getting tired. A carbon frame may be a thing of wonder and beauty but so is the world around us.  I'll stick with a steel frame, fat tyres, and rack that carries a flask of coffee.

This morning was a quick ride before breakfast so as to leave the rest of Saturday free to sort out all the little chores I have neglected over the last month.
06:30 and the tide is close to high springs at Dunbar. The above photo is taken at the Glebe, only three minutes walk from my front door.  The blur on the horizon is the Fife coast, between the rocks is about 10 degrees N. If you set sail on that bearing, you might see a few oil rigs but the next point when you would have to stop would be the pack ice of the North Pole.

That wonderful fresh morning air that you can almost touch had me pushing hard before the heat of the day started. I felt the sun building on my back along past the golf course, then it was down the short drop to Belhaven Bay with the aroma of honeysuckle and clematis sweeping past in the welcome shadow of the overhanging Sycamores.

From the bay I went around town, and then eight miles later came back here. This time there were a few dog walkers about, so off to East Linton and back around Dunbar and inevitably past here again. More dog walkers and a few family groups.

The spirit and the legs were still willing, so around again to make an enthusiastic 50km. Back home for a hot shower, a hot coffee and the illicit pleasure of a second breakfast.
You don't have go to far for adventures when you remember how to appreciate what is on your doorstep.

Saturday, 20 July 2013

A Miller's Tale (and a bit of cycling)

The cold I had last weekend hit me hard through the week which made working in the hot hot weather even more unpleasant. Fortunately it cleared up by Friday, so off I went for a pedal this morning. I kind of said that I would keep my journeying to around 30 miles and therefore not be away all day again....Aye.

First it was along to East Linton before a sair pech up Pencraig. The sweat was dripping from my brow onto the bars but there's not really much else to do other than keep spinning upwards.

I cut down through Haddington and went along the local river Tyne.

Seventy psi in the tyres and setts (cobbles) makes for googly eyeballs on the way to the Nungate bridge.

Before the bridge was built, which is a long time ago, this was a ford in the river. It was also a popular place for the old Romany travelling people and their horses. A lot of their language still exists in Hadddington, although like many old ways, it is slowly dying out.
The church in the picture is St Mary's. It took an awful pounding from English forces in the 13th Century. It would have originally have had a crown spire like St Giles in Edinburgh. The east aisle, left side in this pic, didn't have a roof for hundreds of years. It was eventually rebuilt in the 1970s after herculean fund raising by the Lamp of Lothian Trust

One of the leading lights was Yehudi Menuhin who used to come along and perform violin concerts to raise funds. He was handy with the fiddle old Yehudi.

This little bridge crosses the mill lade which runs in a narrow channel parallel with the river but was used to power the grinding and spinning mills of the town.

The falls at the West Mill are nearly dry this year. I can remember them drying completely in the late 1970s, I'm getting old.

Above the falls the river is locally known as 'the tubby'. Generations of local children, myself included, learned to swim here. Just to the right of this picture used to be a tree stump with a diving platform crudely nailed on. The water was deep then and was known as 'the millers hole'.
Local legend told of a miller driving his cart along the track when the whinnying horse reared and bolted.  He fought frantically to hold the horse but all was lost as they plunged into the water and drowned. As kids we would sit on the river bank daring each other to dive deeper to see if the ghostly figure of the drowned miller was still there. Mouth open with sightless eyes reaching hopelessly for the light on the distant surface.
We never did see him, and kids don't swim there anymore, so I guess he's at peace now.

After Haddington I went along the old railway line to Longniddry. The blaze track is getting really sandy with all the hot dry weather. Last year the council had to dig the drain on the left side of the track to deal with all the rain we were having.

Along the coast and past the lagoons at Musselburgh where the swans were gathering for some unseen food.

Portobello promenade is in the distance on the right of this photo. It was absolutely packed and it was great to see so many people enjoying an old fashioned day at the beach. I didn't take any photo's because you just don't nowadays. The cycle computer was saying thirty two miles so I figured it was time for lunch and then to turn around and start for home.

The route back was pretty much the same as the route out but the sea breeze that had got up made the going a bit tougher. I just took my time and enjoyed the sun.

Back inland and the last climb was back over Pencraig with Traprain in the distance.

It was as good a place as any to lie back and enjoy the day before the last push home. Sixty three miles in total and next weekend will have to be a shorter cycle.

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Border Raid into Northumberland

The cracking weather continues and despite developing a bit of a cold I grabbed the day and drove down the coast to Berwick.

There are a few national cycle routes pass through Berwick and I had a plan to link up various bits into a day out. Unfortunately I didn't have a map but I thought I would be able to find my way somehow.

I started out cycling west following the route of the river Tweed and the border between England and Scotland. This photo is taken in England. Just ahead in the dip, and you're in Scotland.
The forecast had been for some cloud cover and lower temperatures. No chance, It was roasting and I was enjoying every minute of it.

I can think of a certain little dog who would love to attend the above production.

After about eight miles the road dropped and crossed the Tweed for the first of many times today. The Union Suspension Bridge dates back to 1820 when it was the longest suspension bridge in the world.

Captain Samuel Brown, who designed it, pioneered the concept of using iron rods instead of cable. Its still holding firm although it is only rated for two tonnes gross weight.

Into England again and it was a steep old climb back up from the bridge, past the honey farm, and back onto the main road.

On and on, in the stifling heat. There wasn't even much bird life around. Everything was taking it easy apart from a fool on a LHT. Norham Castle is a great old ruin. It dates back to the 12th century and changed hands numerous times during the wars between England and Scotland.

It's a steep descent into Norham village and then the inevitable climb back out before following miles of empty roads stretching out through the fields of barley.

Eventually I picked up the track beside the River Tilt. It was slow going at the start with roots and rocks making for a bumpy ride, but once into the blessed shade of the trees the track settled to packed gravel.

Beautiful trail with lush greenery and the gentle murmur of the river.

I could have cycled along here all day. Every lazy meander of the river brought even more stunning views.

I took the chance to stop at a little bench, have a banana, more water, and just soak up the sunshine and the view of the river. The board in the pic is a guide to the local wildlife. It is wonderfully illustrated by local primary school children. It was a pleasant distraction trying to figure out what all the animals were. The drawing of an otter appeared to be sporting a particularly fine moustache!

Up from the river and past Etal Castle.

The village of Etal was picture perfect and just to remind me that I was definitely in England, there was a game of cricket taking place on the village green.

Everything was becoming just a bit too twee so onward past Ford,

 and on to a long hot stretch, following lanes and unmade roads through the fields.

I thought fortune was smiling on me when I came across this ice cream stall but there was no-one there!

There was no choice but to keep on pedaling towards the Cheviot hills in the distance and the town of Wooler.

Wooler church has an exhibition about the battle of Flodden Field (in case you hadn't guessed). Its the 500th anniversary of the decimation of the Scottish Nobility and the death of King James IV. It was a tragedy for Scotland and the afternoon of the 9th September 1513 shaped the future of the land.
I had something to eat in Wooler then basically started back roughly following the outward route. I took a diversion by Ancroft to look for the Roman Road and paid for it with a lot of climbing.

When I finally got back to Berwick the long awaited cloud had rolled in and the pictures were quite dull. It was another long hard sixty plus miles, but I kept the fluid levels up this week and managed to eat a bit more. I also bought a decent OS map for Northumberland on my way home. There will be plenty of evenings spent plotting routes for my next visit.


Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Mid Week Cycle 10 July

After the big miles of the last couple of weekends I went for a shorter cycle this evening. Out around town and then up hill to Spott. It has also been a bit cooler today which was a relief after a sweltering couple of days at work.

The hills on this route aren't too hard, but I was pleasantly surprised to find myself climbing strongly with a reasonable heart rate. The hours on the bike certainly seem to be making a difference to my overall fitness.

Lovely empty roads in the evening sun.

All around the hedges were full of finches, while above was the trilling of skylarks.

Then after all the climbing there is the pleasure of the fast descent home.

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Sunday Sail

After all the exertion of yesterday's ride I took an easier option this afternoon and went for a sail on the Heron, my little Alacrity 19 sailboat.

Out of the harbour under foresail and then off around the rocks towards the other yachts that were gathering for the start of a race. I didn't really fancy having to sail hard so I just pottered around and put out a fishing line.

I soon caught a skinny wee mackeral and popped it back in to try and grow a bit bigger. I rigged a tiny bit of sail and put the tiller down. This achieved a slow drift and I sat back, soaked up the sun and gently rocked on the slight swell.

When it got too hot I sat down below eating a cheese roll and watching the sea. There was just the usual boat sounds of creaks and bumps with the tink, tink of rigging on the mast.

A couple of hours relaxing on the sea and I headed back into harbour.
A peaceful way to spend a Sunday afternoon.