Friday, 28 February 2014

Along the coast from Edinburgh on the Long Haul Trucker

I finally managed to get some time for myself today. So off to Edinburgh for a nose around and a leisurely cycle home along the coast.

The weather was fantastic for February. The day started with a sharp frost but this soon cleared and the sun shone in crisp clear skies.

The memorial is to Sir Walter Scott. I can remember most of the sandstone in Edinburgh being dark and stained before there was a big effort to blast it all clean. I think this started in the late 1980s. I don't know why the Scott Monument was left, although the dark towering spires are quite iconic and would look odd now if it was back to clean stone.

Aye, tram tracks, but no trams, although I read in the paper a couple of days ago that Edinburgh Council are looking for guinea pig passengers to finally try out the new trams. We'll see.

From Princes Street I flew through the traffic and headed down Leith walk, then off into the docks. The Port of Leith pub was still closed as I passed, probably just as well.

These cranes are silent now. It's all container transport and cruise ships.

Portobello beach was a typical seaside in winter. Just dog walkers and a few hardy pensioners sitting with their wee tartan rugs, staring out to sea.

I stopped too, had a coffee, and stared out to sea as well. I don't know what we were all expecting, maybe something will sail over the horizon one day and the perishing pensioners will rejoice.

The pillars were rescued from the nearby Argyle house and now stand in the community garden. Really intricate stone carving, and the restoration team have done a great job restoring them.

Through Fisherrow and I spotted this black headed gull in it's summer breeding plumage. It's companions were all in winter guise, he must feel a little overdressed, the wee poseur.

By chance, I met coastkid and we bleathered for a while. Then I headed inland a bit at Aberlady and had to take a photo of the wall of potato boxes at Lufness.

I began to regret not eating enough, but with no shops around, I just carried on enjoying the winter sun and empty roads.

Fenton Tower standing proud on the hill. If you click the link you can read about it's history. It was only restored recently, and if you really want, you can get married there.

On and on, feeling a bit tired but  still comfy on the trucker. I stopped at Whitekirk for a couple of photos and the last of the coffee from my flask.

  Some more stone carving in the vestibule ceiling.

Home in sight and the sound of the wading birds ringing across the bay.

I somehow managed to be out on the bike for six hours, a great day and good to have some time off just to spend pedaling along in the sunshine.

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Craigmillar.. the castle, not the scheme.

There's no cycling or sailing in this post, sorry, but yet again family, work, and life in general is just taking up all my time; and rightly so. 

However, there's always a spare moment if you are prepared to take it. So if you are stuck in the south of Edinburgh, on a very windy Sunday, with a bored looking Border Collie in the back of the car, why not visit Craigmillar Castle. The view above is Arthurs Seat, the extinct volcanoe that dominates the east of Edinburgh. The tower blocks are Craigmillar Castle Gardens. I wouldn't leave the car there. The easiest way to explain the neighbourhood is the tourist scene in the film Trainspotting. I can't find a link to it but if you don't know it, have a search on YouTube or take my word that it's full of gratuitous violence.

Fly shows her Collie instinct and is naturally wary.

On the subject of violence, the castle has seen its fair share. It dates back the 13th Century, although what you see today is mostly medieval. It's worth a visit, although you have to pay to get in despite funding it's upkeep through your taxes..pah! Mary, Queen of Scots, stayed here for a while after the birth of her son James VI, or I, depending on which side of the border you are from. She left around 1566 and unbeknownst to her, political shenanigans had taken place which would ultimately lead to the death of her husband Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley. I've mentioned him before.

As I was only having a quick visit, I wasn't too keen on paying the entry fee, so resorted to my usual tactic of sneeking around the outside and taking a couple of photos. Seriously though, if you want to see a what a 500 year old castle looks like, it's worth the visit. Just don't leave any valuables on view in your car.

Just a quick escape, brisk walk for Fly, flask of coffee and bran scone looking over the view of Edinburgh. Hopefully I'll get a bit of time off for a proper post later this week.

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Finally I get back out on the LHT

It was a strange old sort of a ride today. The rain had been replaced with some very welcome sunshine but the brisk westerly winds continued. I haven't been for a decent ride on the Long Haul Trucker for a month and I wasn't sure how I would manage, the muscle strain in my back is a lot better but there is still a niggling pain in my left shoulder blade. Before any medically minded folk start to catastrophise, I've had it checked and it's most likely a compensatory injury from the original strain. I took a while to get motivated but eventually I headed out around lunchtime.

The road along to East Linton was a real slog into the wind. The effort seemed compounded by a steady stream of road bikes powering past in the opposite direction with the wind behind them. My cheery hellos were met with blank stares at best. I haven't bothered to look it up but there must have been a club outing or some sort of sportive.

Fighting the wind was becoming trying so I turned off at East Linton and headed to the hills figuring that if I wasn't going far today I would at least get a couple of good climbs under my belt.

Much puffing later and came back through Pitcox with the woods full of snowdrops, then on past the old farm cottages where a clutch of hens were muttering to themselves as they scraped and scratched. 

 From Pitcox I  pushed hard on the climb up by Little Spott and then there was bitterly cold descent as I started back down towards Dunbar.

I stopped in the shelter of a wall as another group of roadies flew past, still no acknowledgement, and poured a coffee from my latest flask.

Out of the cold wind and I soon warmed up in the sunshine. The views were tremendous today. You can't really see it in the photo but there was a faint glimmer of snow on the mountains away to the north.

As I sat having my coffee a couple of roadies asked if I was ok? but again the majority just blasted past. I still didn't give up saying hello.

Back into Dunbar and past the parish church with beautiful blues skies. Like I said, it was a strange old ride. I was a little disconcerted by the plethora of cyclists with so little acknowledgement. It didn't spoil the ride, I still relaxed, pedaled, looked at all sorts of things. I suppose their priorities were all about getting through the countryside as quickly as they could. I don't think I'm suited for racing.

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Back cycling..on the Fatty.

Although my flu has cleared, I'm still feeling exhausted and to add to my woe's, I've pulled a lumber muscle in my back. I was walking like a very grumpy and very decrepit John Wayne for the most of the last week.
The weather was also trying it's best to discourage me with winds gusting to 45mph but I had to get out for a cycle. I built the On-One Fatty for days like this.

I find a lot of solace from life's little tribulations in a long day on the Long Haul Trucker, but when the weather is inclement, it's great to grab the simplicity of the Fatty and go for a blast through the woods. A well lubed and tightly adjusted 1x9 gearing makes for simple cycling.

I just look far enough forward and, as long as I'm pedaling, the Fatty floats over everything. So off into John Muir Country Park with brown bracken against the grey sky and  pine trees providing a welcome belt of green and some much needed shelter from the biting wind.

Fly ran alongside and whenever I stopped to take a photo, she took the opportunity to find a fetch-able stick.

And as much as I enjoy fleeing through the woods, bouncing over lumps and roots and floating across ground that would capsize anything other than a fat bike; It's just as important to stop for a few minutes and soak up the peace of the ebbing tide in the estuary.

A couple of hours of play and I returned to the car with a tired dog and a mucky bike.

Plant sprayer to get rid of the worst of the grit and slime, then a quick spray with cheap silicone furniture polish to displace the water and the Fatty is clean enough to load up and head home.

I stopped at the sailing club to put another coat of paint on the Heron's rudder and grab a beer with Stuart. I also had to take a picture of the barometer,...If you sail, you will know that a reading like this thankfully only comes along very rarely.
...the glass is falling, batten the hatches.