Stepping up the miles

I have been doing more miles on the bike this year than i normally do

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I am nearly 1000km up on where i was at this time last year. I also have been a bit more focused on riding rather than my other loves of kitesurfing, swimming and running.

The end result is that I am doing between 1 and 2  100km rides a week and they are beginning to feel easy.

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This morning I headed west into a 15mph wind on a gravel towpath and then around an exposed headland with nary a thought about the wind. Sure I felt it but i just thought ‘more resistance then’ which I think is a positive.

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It wasnt the hilliest route but even after 80km I was tootling along then came home to discover i had knocked off an impressive 56 Strava trophies – most of them PR’s for sections as well as a mysterious top 10 placing and all this with an average Heart Rate of 121bpm (in my fat burn / low cardio zone)

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So then i thought i really should be cycling either quicker or longer or BOTH. So my next challenge …….

There comes a time for most road riders and this includes me, where you focus on the 100-mile (160.93km) target. This can be in the shape of a sportive, club ride or a personal challenge, alone or with a group.

For some, 100 miles is no big deal, just something they do every Sunday. For others it can be the single biggest physical challenge they will ever undertake on a bike. For me it is something I have never done but feel that i am nearly ready to do it. The precursor to this is the eTape Caledonia in a fortnight,  an 82 mile ride sportive done at a much higher pace with no stopping.

From Cycling Weekly – Many cyclists, however, fall somewhere between the two and may already be comfortable with 50-60 mile rides but are eyeing the triple-figured milestone for their next achievement.

Just how big is the jump from 60 to 100 miles? How will you know if it’ll be a cakewalk or a frustrating grovel ending in a miserable train journey back home?

Let’s take a look at the factors that come into play with the extended mileage and see how best to prepare for 100 miles so you can undertake that distance with a realistic chance of it being an enjoyable and achievable target.

We’ve split it up into five sections, which we think need to be nailed in order to smash the 100-mile barrier. So let’s start with the biggie: training.

Pondering the big one? Start training today!

1 – Train!

The physical aspect of training is usually the most common focus for people with a new goal or challenge, and many folks will think that riding as much as possible in the two weeks leading up to the big ride is sufficient. This isn’t the best approach though, and what we need to do is ‘train smarter’.

This doesn’t mean we are striving for marginal gains like the GB squad; it means that we should be looking to maximise our training so that we are doing the right things at the right times.

Cycling Weekly Box Hill sportive 2014


If you are regularly riding 50-60 miles then that is already a great start; you could probably get through a century ride without too much bother, although you could be far better prepared if you have gradually increased your riding time and distance on your training rides.

Remember, to do the 100, you don’t need to be training by doing 100 miles all the time — 75-80 per cent is ample preparation without adding excessive volume.

  • Your physical training should take into account the following points:
    Specificity: Is your 100-mile ride going to be hilly? Then ride hills on your 60-milers! Some riders really struggle on the climbs. If you are one of them then make sure you are addressing them in your training. In many cases, 100 flat miles can seem very easy and very different when compared to a hilly 60 or 70.
  • Saddle time: Try and focus more on the time in the saddle without stopping, rather than miles covered on your training rides. Try riding at a lower intensity and see if you can stick it out for longer. If your average speed over three hours is 15mph, do you think you can hold it for over six hours? If you can comfortably ride your bike for 4-4.5 hours, then you are in a good place to think about the century.
  • Rest: This is so important. Include active recovery in your training weeks and make sure you are resting properly. Keep the legs turning in the week leading up to the big ride, but don’t do anything that will make you excessively tired.


2 – Effort levels

Whether you are riding an individual pursuit over 4km or a whole Grand Tour, pacing your effort will be of maximum importance.

For 100 miles, you will want to make sure you don’t use up all your energy too early and struggle badly in the last third of the ride. You can use a simple speedometer to gauge an average speed which you know you are comfortable with, or a heart rate monitor to keep around a particular BPM, or even old-fashioned perceived exertion — simply going by feel.

>>> Build your strength and big gear efforts

However you pace yourself, it’s a good idea to also have a psychological pacing strategy, such as waypoints you think you should be at during particular times. For example: “I should be at the sharp climb at 40 miles in 150 minutes.” You can adjust your effort to ensure that you avoid blowing up too early, but that you also aren’t dawdling unnecessarily and missing out on a faster time.


3 – Getting in the zone

We all know how powerful the mind can be, and how it can affect performance both positively and negatively. If you are riding 100 miles alone, the mind can be a helpful ally, or a destructive pest. We want to enjoy our ride, so learning during training how to disassociate ourselves from feelings of discomfort is a useful skill.

Try to focus on other things, like the scenery, your pedalling technique, or holding an aerodynamic position. The small ‘process goals’ of each waypoint within your pacing strategy will also help to break down the ride in your head into more manageable sections.

Remember, no matter how demoralising the weather, the hills or the headwinds might be, think about how amazing you will feel at the end of the ride, and always look ahead, up the road to where things will be changing.


4 – Fuelling

How you approach your nutrition both before and during the ride can be the difference between a great performance and a trip to A&E.

How you refuel afterwards can also be a factor, which will have a huge influence on your general health and your future riding plans.

Nutrition tips
Before: The day before your 100-miler needs to be seriously considered — this is where the ride actually starts. You may have heard of ‘carb loading’ but the simplest advice here is to make sure you take on a healthy, balanced meal with fresh vegetables and low glycaemic index carbs. It’s also worth considering a bowl of cereal two hours before bed as a booster.

Leave off the alcohol or fizzy pop, and drink plenty of water. In the morning, go for the cereal and fruit, and drink at least 500ml of water before you set out.

During: Avoid taking on a whole bunch of energy gels; these are mostly designed to help riders through the last few demanding kilometres of a road race.

You might want to take along something with caffeine and sugar just in case, but don’t be tempted to break into this unless you are getting really fatigued and have already covered a good distance. All you really need is adequate carbohydrate to fuel from. An average sized cereal bar of about 30 grams for every 45-60 minutes of riding is ideal. Take along some bananas too.

Don’t forget to keep eating! A critical stumbling point for many riders is the inability to fuel while riding, so make sure you are able to take a drink from a bottle whenever you need to.

When drinking, tilt the bottle up and to the side to avoid tilting your head (so you can still look where you’re going) and keep your food to hand in jersey pockets. You will need around 500ml of water per hour (more if it’s very hot and you are losing it through sweat). And to help replenish the lost minerals, your second bottle should contain a small amount of an additive which contains electrolytes. Go for the powders that are aimed at hydration rather than energy. Don’t try anything you haven’t already used and are happy with — the big ride isn’t the one for experimenting with nutrition and hydration.

>>> Six steps for healthier eating

After: Your muscles need glycogen now, so this is the time for fruit juice or a purpose made recovery shake. Get those sugars in within 20 minutes —even ‘bad’ sugars like fizzy drinks and sweets (in moderation) can help at this point. Remember to keep hydrating and sit down to a decent meal containing some good protein within about an hour.

Bike fit

5 – Bike fit

When you are on the bike for several hours, little imperfections in position or fit can evolve into very major issues. If you have any niggles or particular localised discomfort during your normal rides, then it pays to get these seen to before the century ride.

A professional bike-fit can improve comfort and performance, while reducing fatigue and the risk of injury. It’s not just how the bike fits you though — how you fit yourself to the bike also matters.

What we are talking about here is your ability to hold your position, your pedalling efficiency and flexibility.

>>> Cleats explained: how to set them up correctly

Check out the pros with their slightly bent elbows and stable upper body, their flat backs and aerodynamic positions. OK, you might not be able to emulate them immediately, but you will probably be able to improve your current position with a few tweaks and off-bike exercises and stretches.

Get advice from a physio if needed, and make sure that you don’t attempt the big ride without properly testing new positions or bike parts beforehand.

reblog: You do strava? You probably do some (all?) of these

ORIGINAL The proliferation of GPS bike computers and online ride sharing sites like Strava has seen our cycling habits change a little bit in the past few years.
Instead of carrying an Ordinance Survey map in your back pocket and working out your route like the olden days, we can now get all the information we need delivered right to our face.
That means that sites like Strava are havens for stat fiends, but there are always the same kind of rides on there. They may be from all over the world, but virtually all of them share the characteristics of the examples below.
The club ride
Check your Strava feed on Saturday or Sunday morning and you’ll invariably see that many of your friends have ridden between 35 and 60 miles with likeminded individuals at an average speed that is favourable to everyone.

Club rides are an important part of cycling – they make you feel welcome, they give you something to do at the weekend and they can form the basis of many people’s enjoyment of cycling.
The massive ride
Normally you stick to rides of around 40 miles, but every now and again you’ll post a ride well exceeding 100 miles to the shock of your friends.
As such, the kudos will fly in from all angles, mostly from people who didn’t think you had it in you to be able to ride such a distance without dropping dead.
The ridiculously short ride
For every massive ride there is a ride so short that you might as well not have bothered recording it on Strava. Popping to the shops, or commuting approximately 1600m to work each day would fall into this category.
The out and back
Rather than bothering to work out a nice loop to do you just pick a point and ride there, returning by the exact same roads because it would be too much hassle to find alternative roads in that area.
The same ride as last week
Everyone has their preferred training route and there are many riders who don’t like to change it up at all. It’s not the same as doing a club run, as many clubs tend to mix up four or five different routes in the area.

Instead you simply find a route that provides you a series of different challenges and allows you to get some fresh air. These routes are particularly good if you just fancy a spin without having to stop every mile to look at the map.
The turbo ride
Love it or hate it, the turbo is a great training tool. So much so that Strava now accepts stationary training as a ride option. Set your GPS computer going on your ride and you’ll sometimes finish to find the Strava ‘route’ shows you having moved violently across your living room.
If the GPS doesn’t kick in, Strava just shows that you rode in the middle of the Arctic Ocean, making some people wonder if you’ve popped away on holiday.
The abandoned ride
Ever looked at someone’s Strava ride and seen that they finished absolutely miles away from where they started? They got to the out point, but on their way back it just looks like they packed it in halfway?
It’s something that cyclists dread – getting stranded in the middle of nowhere having run out of inner tubes after puncturing three times on the first three-quarters of your ride.
A quick call to your partner/mate/mum/mate’s mum and you’re whisked off in the broom wagon. Thankfully the excuses are clear for everyone to see in the ride title.
The ride that inexplicably gets mountains of kudos
Remember that 30-miler you did last weekend? Well 40 people gave you a thumbs up for it. You didn’t break any records; you didn’t even cycle particularly fast, but for some reason everybody is loving your work.
Whenever you see this phenomenon it generally means someone has about a billion followers, hands out kudos willy-nilly themselves so everyone feels the need to give it back to them.
The balls-to-the-wall ride
These rides generally occur on the ‘same route as last week’ rides, because sometimes you want to ride your normal route as fast as you can.
You may have limited time to ride, or you may want to try and set a few Strava KOMs – whatever the reason, you decide to go full throttle and set yourself a little challenge rather than just pootling like normal.

Radavist Calendar Pic – NOVEMBER


you are thinking ‘that looks gnarly/fun/stupid/scary’ did they land smoothly – what is with the front wheel angle?

That’s when this happened. Bummer.

Falling on a tandem isn’t fun. It’s also not fun to watch. Luckily no one was severely hurt. Kyle and Robert could both get back and ride without major issue. It was once we stopped moving that joints began to seize up and expectations for me to wrap up the photostory ended.

But hey, you take what you can and tell the story.


Peach autumn days

it was one of those magical days. I dropped my car off this morning for its first service and cycled back along the canals on the Brompton …. The sun was out with hardly any clouds so I thought that work could wait and I would head out on the bike. I didn’t fancy a Lycra clad road pelt out on normal routes so I got the Steel Mercian touring bike out and headed for the canals.


Popped in to friends studio but he was down in London so phoned the gf and met her for lunch at the Beeb

Canal loop is nice through older parts on the g with the sport of old – pigeon racing still practiced as evidenced by all the dovecotes. 

30 miles all in – nice

the eTape Caledonia 2015

What a day – the forecast was grim but the weather was grimmer. Registered the day before Saturday and it was pretty niceetape 2015 -2 Went to friends 40min away to stay the night, had a nice meal a glass or two of red and then bed by 10:30am. Alarm at 4:40am shower quick bite then drive back to Pitlochry and the start. etape 2015 -5 a train of cars arriving with bikes to park and this was at 5:45am – the last starts were at 8am. On the bike £2 in my hand to buy a quick coffee. Bumped into 2 friends as my wave was called – they were also starting but are so quick I knew i wouldn’t see them again – and I didn’t until after the finish. Boom off went – the weather was grim and I think that after 10 miles my hands and feet were frozen – and least I wouldn’t feel their complaints of ache although it made trying to drink water or eat quite difficult. Screenshot 2015-05-11 10.14.33 I worked in with a large group and it all went well – the KOM climb split the group and I found myself at the top of the mountain cycling into a 20knot head wind and rain by myself unable to catch the faster group in front.

a photo of some grimness

Eventually 6 of us got together and worked until we caught back up at the bottom of the climb. (the sticky out bit bottom left on map) then the turn home. 2 abreast down single track roads and everyone cautious in the wet and rain. I had to stow the glasses as I couldn’t see through them which meant that my face was showered by rain spray and grit from the road. Road widen and group relaxes and Bammm the crunch of carbon as 5 or 6 riders fall. I get hemmed in behind – everyone alright apart form bruised egos … but the group is gone and again there are 8 of us playing catch up although the others are bust so just 3 of us taking turns to drag. Get to the last wee hill and kick and look at my time 3h45min – I could break 4 hours I reckon. So pedal harder and realise my right shifter has actually worked loose but my hands have been so cold I hadn’t realised it … this last section has a lot of wee rises so working the gears more with loose shifter …. last corner and finish line in sight. Over the line celebrate ease forward and realise my gps still running 4H01 but did I take it. Get back to car and official eTap text arrives congrats 2015-05-11 10.30.32 Hooray only 1min 40sec slower than last year and that was in good weather. etape 2015 -7the Bike as ever was flawless

A pile of bling
A pile of bling

Saturday Ride – or why I didn’t leave the flat today.

yesterday decided to go down and get the ferry across to the Isle of Arran and do the circle route around it. Looked at the weather and initially it seems to show the weather as being fine with 5 degrees C temp. But this being Scotland you have to be prepared so I had rain cape in my jersey pocket and velcro bootie covers on.

on the ferry I checked the weather again and it said the wind was up to 20mph from the north west so decided a anti-clockwise route was on the cards – that way I would have the wind on my quarter for the west side of the island.

stormy 'changeable' weather
stormy ‘changeable’ weather

Straight off the ferry and the wind came up and the ice and sleet descended. Sheltered behind a rock for a while – luckily the weather arrived horizontally and I stayed pretty dry PRETTYDRYno1

2015-02-21 11.17.34 2015-02-21 11.18.06

then up the road to Loch Ranza – but I had to stop to take some photos of Goatfell and the other hills still beautifully snowcapped.

selfie wrapped up
selfie wrapped up
panorama – click to see larger
that road in detail - sweet
that road in detail – sweet

The descent to Lochranza was a bit cautious as the road was pretty wet still. The west side of the island was then baked in sun but the wind had swung more west so no tailwind for me.

Stopped at the great Machrie tea room (this place is mobbed by cyclists on nice summer days) for a bowl of soup as a toast. Missed squall 2 here PRETTYDRYno2. Today there was only two of us cyclists in  – an older lady from the ferry on a touring bike that was doing a shorter jaunt.

post soup  yumm
post soup yumm

Then further down to Blackwaterfoot – but by now there were squalls crossing the sea every 15min and bringing with them sleet,snow,driving rain and wind.

here comes another squall
here comes another squall

Luckily I made it to Blackwaterfoot just as one hit and took shelter in a bus station – no the chair wasn’t mine – just something a kind local had left in there. PRETTYDRYno3

waiting it out
waiting it out

Then with 11 miles to Brodick and time running out before the ferry I decided to cross the centre of the island up the String road. About 1/3rd of the way i was trying hard to stay ahead of the next squall and as i hit the most desolate section armageddon arrived. I kept going as the thin trees wouldn’t give any shelter. The descent was icy hands blurred vision and failing light.

Arrived in Brodick drenched brushing bits of ice off me.

Quick change – warmed up then got the ferry back to the mainland – and oh how the beer tasted good.

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On strava I seem to have some best sections for 2015 and that includes stopping – not because I was fast rather because the season has yet to start properly.

strava summary
strava summary

Sunday Ride – Meetup Group Glasgow

A large group of us set out – I was joining for the first group ride in months as had new wheels and new Ultregra groupset fitted and wanted to give them an airing … but the ride was a bit chaotic – no cohesion no working together and we seemed to stop every 5km to regroup ….

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But still a fun burn to an area SE of the city that i have never ridden through before. Stopping for soup at a local cafe too – and the weather was pleasant at 6 degrees.

2015-02-15 17.12.06

Chaos obvious to everyone


Loch Lomond ride

Ortlieb Front, Axiom Rear, Arkel Handlebar
Ortlieb Front, Axiom Rear, Arkel Handlebar

Took the touring bike with loaded panniers for a test ride (for future touring)

Nice ride down the canals


Then wee stop at Loch Lomond for a sandwich and flask of coffee. This is the benefit of having 4 panniers on the bike – loads of space.

duck pond infinity pool
duck pond infinity pool


my feathered friends
my feathered friends

5 reasons we don’t ride at night

From single track


According to our survey data, 55% of mountain bikers have tried night riding. That means that 45% of mountain bikers haven’t even tried it, and of that 55%, I’d be willing to bet the number of riders that strap a light to their bike at least once per week is much, much less.

As I thought about it, I realized that lately I haven’t been night riding nearly as much as I have in past years. Here are 5 things, based on my personal experience and my conversations with others, that might keep you from riding at night… and reasons why they shouldn’t hold you back:

1. It’s expensive.

The number one excuse I hear from mountain bikers who don’t even want to dabble in night riding is, “Lights are so expensive! I can’t afford one of those!” Yes, there are expensive lights out there on the market. But if you took a look at our light buyer’s guide, you’ll realize that there are plenty of lights right around the $100 price point. And if you shop eBay, there are even no-name bike lights on sale for much cheaper than that.

My first night ride of the season. Pictured here is the Fenix BT20, which is a good-quality light set that can be purchased for about $150.
My first night ride of the season. Pictured here is the Fenix BT20, which is a good-quality light set that can be purchased for about $150.

In my opinion, buying a light is the #1 thing you can do to extend the amount of time you can ride your mountain bike in the fall and spring. Even if you have a lower-end bike, chances are your bike is worth at least $1,000. What good is a $1,000 (or a $10,000) bike if you can’t ride it during the week? Drop a hundred bucks on a light, and keep on pedaling!

2. It’s dangerous.

There seems to be this pervasive opinion among night riding n00bs that riding at night is dangerous. But the reality is, it’s no more dangerous than riding during the daytime. With even low-priced bike lights pushing 750-1000 lumens, and some lights boasting a whopping 6000 lumens, these lights can illuminate the trail as brilliantly as the sun.

3. It’s cold at night.

This one really depends on the time of year and the location, and in the northern reaches of the continent during the middle of the winter it can get really frigging cold at night! Honestly, sometimes this is a really good reason to stay indoors. However, with the advent of fat bikes, clothing manufacturers have made huge strides in recent years in producing lightweight, low-profile bike clothing that is surprisingly warm. With the right layers and preparation, you can easily mountain bike comfortably in zero degree (F) weather… or colder.

4. There’s no one else to ride with.

While at times it can be daunting to night ride alone, I’ve found that night riding solo is the most peaceful mountain bike experience ever. There’s usually no one else on the trails, and the quiet and solitude can’t be matched! Of course, if that makes you uncomfortable, it’s pretty easy to find people to ride with. Many shops conduct night rides all year long, as do mountain bike clubs and individuals. There are tons of people who night ride, and many of them will be willing to show you the ropes!

5. It’s hard to get motivated when it’s dark outside.

If we’re honest with ourselves, many of us already know the points and counterpoints listed above. But really, most of the time it’s just hard to get motivated to wrangle all of your bike gear, and pedal your bike in the pitch black of night. However, there are some steps you can take to make it easier.

The first step is to find a regular night ride to be a part of. I touched on this above, but there’s nothing more motivating than knowing a group of your friends will be riding at the same time, on the same day, every week.

The second step is almost just as important, and that’s to keep your gear ready to go, all the time:

When you get back from a ride, toss your battery on the charger so it’s ready to go at a moment’s notice. (Some higher-end lights feature charging stations that you can leave your battery on, ensuring your battery is always topped off.)
Wash your clothes quickly, and keep your warm winter riding clothes in a dedicated pile, ready to be donned in minutes.
Keep your hydration pack full of all the gear and layers you might need, so all you have to do is fill your water reservoir.
If you run a bike-mounted light, keep it mounted on your bike at all times so you don’t have to take it on and off.
And if you’re partial to a helmet-mounted light, dedicate one helmet to night riding alone, and leave your mount attached so you’re not constantly putting it on and taking it off when switching from night to day.
While at first blush going out for a night ride can be a daunting task, the right mindset and the proper preparation can make it a true joy and an utterly unique experience!


The Birthday Ride

So tuesday was my Birthday – 45 (I know what you are thinking …. ‘old feck’ OR ‘young pup still’)

Well I digress … it was a nice day so after dropping the girls to school I decided to head out for a ride. I had been grumpy last week after not been outside to ride and Saturday dawned and I was ready for my 100 miler (or 100km’er). I lifted my arm dressing and pow – my neck spasmed and i was left turning like a robot all day. I had spent the whole day before painting floors so can only think this must have strained something. But a pinched nerve was quite literally a pain in the neck so I went down to the gym 3 days in a row and sat in the turkish suite letting the steam and heat do its work. Not that i didn’t guilt my partner into multiple neck and shoulder massages … ‘and its nearly my birthday’

So tuesday dropped the girls noticing the new signs going up in the park …. small steps are still steps.


travel in terms of walking speed or bike.

Then out on the bike and up the Crow road – my staple ride.

bike stop and the crow road climbing the Campsies behind
bike stop and the crow road climbing the Campsies behind

as you can see from the pic I have my Flash and Flare lights on when i ride. So sick of hearing stories about car drivers killing cyclists and saying ‘the sun was too bright and low and in my eyes and the road was glaring’ LIKE THIS MISCARRIAGE OF JUSTICE

I just hope the odd twinkle will allow them to see me. As i climbed the crow I caught up with a guy dressed all in black and I only saw him really when 150m behind. I am sure my bright yellow vest can be seen from much further back.

Anyway great ride but not feeling very fit at the moment so must exercise more.

Screenshot 2014-11-20 12.35.00

The First Ride (or) where did that Nuclear Wind come from

Now before i set off i knew that the forecast was for a strongish wind picking up as the day went on … I didn’t know that 40km/h was going to feel so strong when venturi’d across a moor. Top that with a bike with front handlebar bar and panniers as well as a route with a long incline and we can safely say it was a bit of a slog (but then no rain either)

Started off great and wandered up through Pollock park taking a pic or two at the house.

first touring bike ride-2 first touring bike ride-3

Then out to Eaglesham and then across the moor. My legs were screaming and I had to use the triple chainring on the grandad setting. I was crawling up the road at 10km/h. Past the wind turbines WHITELEE WIND FARM – my there are a LOT of turbines …. then into the relative sanctuary offered by a pine plantation near the end of the moor.

first touring bike ride-4
windfarm – turbine tastic

At the junction where i could have looped up i chose to head back to Glasgow and with the wind on my back and a steady decline I was hitting 40km/h with nearly no effort … and no apparent wind on my face either.

look at the wind roughing up the puddle
look at the wind roughing up the puddle

How much wind …? well listen here

Route is HERE

Screen Shot 2014-03-19 at 22.20.39

First Ride – Cathkin Braes MTB course (review)

it’s been a few years since the Cathkin Braes course was opened and MTB’s were asked to use the course in order to bed in the track. It will be used for the MTB race in the Commonwealth Games of 2014 in Glasgow, Scotland. It was only the other week over dinner with friends when they asked if I had ridden the course – I had but that was before the bulldozers were there or any tracks so the real answer was err …. no

Here is a description of the course

So I travelled down there on Monday for a wee ride. the course is just over 5.5km long and is a figure of 8 course … a wee tunnel prevents you shooting the gap during the crossover.

Screen Shot 2013-10-02 at 22.25.37

It is a great course – not overly technical but difficult enough to make you concentrate on your line in places.

2013-09-30 12.56.37

If you are stood in the main car-park looking at this sign The track heads off to the RIGHT!!!! as it seems that a fair few folk are getting it wrong. I came across two very confused people who couldn’t see the little no entry signs a an indication they were going the wrong way.

The next section you will come to is The first Listed feature on the Trail map Named Propeller Point. There is a red and Blue line down this … the red has two drops on it …This section most riders will have no problems getting through.

Further on you will next come to a trail crossing where you can loop down through a tunnel although I didn’t see it first time and went over the top which is  nice technical drop.

Again this is a section that most rider will breeze through with ease and now the fun begins as you pick up speed through a sharp few corners in to a short rock section that the 29er just flows through.

Just after this you pop out the trees in to a sharp left and start descending across the hill,

That done there is a short steep climb up to the start of the Double Dare (Dual) Section a 200m section of trail made up of a series of seven corners. I preferred the right hand line but dual boys might prefer the slightly trickier left line.

At the bottom of this run you crest a wee bump and have a climb back up (Clyde Climb)

Once you have got to the top of this climb you cycle across the open(Rest and be thankful) and in to the Feature Three line Corner.

3 lines but much more bedded in now since this was taken
3 lines but much more bedded in now since this was taken

First the inside line with the rock drops. The middle line with one rock drop. And the outside line with no drop.

then it is a loop through a flowy bit and around and up a small climb to the Forest and along the bedrock (Broken Biscuits) section. Back across the tunnel intersection and through a section of small swooping berms (The Jock) with some small rock sections and Tree stump features that can be easily rid over or round.

You then roll in to the (Brig O’doom) This section is a tight twisty trail that run’s along side a 2 meter high natural  rock ledge.

Then over a burn and up a very steep short climb. (i didnt make it the first 2 times but was ready the third time and ground up it …. JUST)

Then through the stream

Out of the trees and over the (Boulder Dash)

Then onward up the last few baby rock climbs to the finish.

Once back at the car-park you have completed the 5.5k 2014  Commonwealth Games Cross Country Mountain Bike  Track. Give yourself a big pat on the back and get a few more laps in! Getting faster and fitter with every lap. So do it – dry course drains great – easy for all levels Green Blue and Red runs … kid friendly too and lots of spectator space for the Games ….

2013-09-30 15.04.44 2013-09-30 15.04.37 2013-09-30 15.05.50

what the course looks like on Strava ….

the 3 laps i did before i had some lunch
the 3 laps i did before i had some lunch

here rab wardell that can do the course in 13m57s as opposed to my 20m31s talks to us about the course and the games ….

and another

What I did today – Graeme Obree Sportive 2013

Brilliant but you cant fool your legs if they dont have the miles in them


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Join Graeme Obree on this friendly sportive weekend that is becoming a firm favourite of cycling enthusiasts across Scotland. The sportive course was chosen by Graeme and travels through a selection of roads which inspired him to get on his bike as a youth. There is a 10 mile family cycle on Saturday 3rd August with 48 and 68 mile sportive on Sunday 4th August.


The Graeme Obree Ayrshire Sportive Event Information

This will be the third year of the event and hopefully we can continue to grow the sportive and enable more cyclists to enjoy the spectacular, cycling friendly roads of Ayrshire. The Graeme Obree Ayrshire Sportive has established a reputation as a high quality event for cyclists looking to enjoy a challenging sportive event. The Graeme Obree Sportive is held some of Ayrshire’s rugged and beautiful countryside and benefits from sections run on the rural road network with light traffic. The course was chosen by Graeme and travels through a selection of roads which inspired him to get on his bike as a youth, a journey which eventually saw his rise to fame when he claimed the UCI World Hour record. Starting and finishing at Auchincruive SAC, the sportive infrastructure is comprehensive with full event signage, marshals, motorcycle escorts and police employed to assist the crossings at busy roads. Once the routes travel into the more remote locations the traffic is normally pretty light allowing cyclist to make the most and take the most from their sportive experience.

Date: Sunday 4th August 2013
Event location: Start & Finish at Auchincruive SAC, Ayr, KA6 5HW


48 mile route

Starting at Auchincruive the route heads south then south east looping out via Crosshill to Straiton. At Straition the route heads up over the Ayrshire moorland towards Dalmellington before routing back to Auchincruive SAC . This route has over 3000 feet of climbing across undulating terrain.

Click to view the 48 mile route:

68 mile route

Starting at Auchincruive and a challenge for the strongest riders with undulating, energy sapping roads and in excess of 5000 ft of climbing. Heading south via Crosshill, before tackling the climb of the Nick O’ The Balloch, followed by a long descent into Straiton. The route rejoins with the 48 mile route here going to Dalmellington, before turning north west and back towards Ayr.

Click to view the 68 mile route:

The Graeme Obree 2013 Ayrshire Sportive: General Information

  • 48 & 68 mile route options
  • Event H/Q with parking, toilets and showers
  • Electronic timing
  • Comprehensive route signage and marshals on all main junctions
  • NEG Motorcycle outriders
  • First aid support
  • Bike mechanics at Event HQ
  • Police assistance at main junctions (A70 & A713)
  • Food stations
  • Broom wagon

A sunday MTB ride on old trails and noticing changes

Since moving 3 years ago across the city I have only managed to head west and go on my old trails a handful of time and i think that in the last year i havent done one ride on my old regular. This morning i headed off early and headed along the canals then up the kelvin river walkway and then on road to Milngavie. The West Highland Way is a famous walking trail in the west of Scotland (here comes a description)

The 154Km (96miles) Route starts at Milngaviepasses through Mugdock Country Park, follows the shores of Loch Lomond, passing Ben Lomond, through Glen Falloch and Strathfillan, crossingRannoch Moor, past Buachaille Etive Mor to the head of Glencoe, climbing the Devil’s Staircase, descending to sea level to cross the River Leven at the head of Loch Leven before entering Lairigmorand Glen Nevis and finishes at Gordon Square inFort William. 

The terrain ranges from lowland moors, dense woodland and rolling hills, to high mountainousregions in the Scottish Highlands. These environments provide habitats for a diverse range ofwildlife species, both flora and fauna 


Like is says my start is Mugdock where there are many trails cutting across the park – what i noticed this ride is how wet all the trails were despite the fact that there has been little rain these past 2 weeks … it goes to show more how wet the summer has been. None of the streams have the typical low summer flow and the trails still have water running across them that is slowly draining out of the hills. Needless to say i was soon caked in mud.

There is nice rock and roots section quite early on to get your singletrack technical head in gear … then a haul along to Carbeth Loch then through a gate and a steep technical climb (Rosies Gate to treeline)  – I seem to remember there was always a risk of spinning out in the past and the effort to get up without falling off was always a challenge but today i had no issues and Strava said i had a PR but i know there are about 100 tracks from the past that i haven’t uploaded so i am sure i have done it better in the past …

elevation profile – nothing too steep or scary

After Rosies there is now a more level graded road as the forestry workers are in cutting down some sections of the forest … as i was hammering along I glanced a new trail heading off to the right so went for an explore. Someone has been trailbuilding as there are sections of wooden ladderwork over some muddy sections but not all the mud is covered as i discovered when coming off the trail and sinking the front 29er wheel nearly up to the hub in the mud. The sections under the trees were completely muddy and the Racing Ralph on the rear was soon a mud didc happily spinning and sliding and occasionally biting into the trail … I think it may be time to get some better traction all round tyres (this is Scotland after all)

some better roads to help lose some of my tyre mud collection

Back home and a quick shower for the bike and then for me …. now time to start cooking the roast Sunday Lamb (organic Shetland Lamb as well YUMMMM)

Sunday’s ride and we skipped the rain

On Sunday morning metup with Paul to go on a bike ride. He is a new member of the Meetup Group. It was an amazing day and great to be out on the roads and pedalling towards the hills. the weather was surprisingly good considering the forecast predicted torrential rain. It stayed dry for the 3 hours that we were out. Paul is a reborn cyclist only going back to the bike after a 15 year lay off. He drives a bus and is a smoker so even his 3 mile commutes on the bike to work were difficult. Coming out for a 60+km ride shows great determination I think.

I had listed the ride as a hard ride hoping to average 27-29kmh including the hills – but as there were only 2 of us and paul wasnt used to hugging the back wheel so it was slow. Anytime the road headed up he dropped back. I was freewheeling anytime the road was flat allowing him to catch up and stay with me. Even putting in two fast hill climbs then heading back down to rejoin him on the climb my average HR was only 116.

Still a good ride – I got to look around more than normal and chatted a lot more to encourage Paul.
At the end coming back into town we bombed down a descent. I pulled over to wait and Paul obviously knew a shortcut home so he had turned off without saying goodbye …. I thought there might be a problem so I reclimbed the hill to the top where we started from – pulled over and left a message on his phone then headed back down again. Maybe there is a lesson in ride etiquette there to learn as well.

Came home showered then went off to my father in laws to help rebuild a stone lintel wall ….. 1,2,3 …… LIFFFTTTTTTT

Did you have a good weekend?

Software for your Heart Rate Monitor and GPS

To some of us geeky MAMILS (middle aged men in Lycra), one of the biggest pleasures, next to the ride or run itself, is quantifying the vast amount of data available to us about our performance.  The prevalence of GPS based and downloadable cycling computers, combined with various websites and programs have made it possible to catalog, view and analyze mountains of data; metrics from average pace to peak wattage vs. peak heart rate are now at your fingertips.  Here’s a quick overview of a couple of the more common sites and programs out there.



my new favourite after a while playing with Endo … (see next) is the relative new kid on the block in terms of ride analysis.  Offering both free and frankly too expensive subscription services ($6 per month or $59 per year) will allow riders to directly upload rides from their GPS devices and track their performance.  Displaying a GPS track of the route you rode, along with an elevation profile and metrics such as distance, elevation gain, moving time, speed (max and average), average speed, average cadence and average power, you get a mass of information to sift through and analyse.

The coolest thing about Strava and it is something that Endomondo also does is social connection ….  You can link Strava to your Facebook page and twitter account and you can even challenge friends (or strangers for that matter) to competitions.  Strava has a unique feature that allows you to designate segments of your ride and run (climbs, TTs, crazy descents) that you can measure against every other person on Strava that has covered that route (or just a section) before and uploaded their ride.  It’s an excellent idea that promotes competition and growth amongst different riders all riding in the same area.

Here is a section of the Arran ride that someone has made into sections … woo hoo I did well without even knowing it.

For example, imagine your club has a friendly “climbing competition” up a particularly long, steep, or otherwise nasty climb.  Anyone who is a member of Strava who uploads a ride containing that climb will be ranked based upon speed, power, time and VAM (Vertical Ascent Meters) along with everyone else who has ridden that climb.  The best part of the whole thing is that once the climb is designated on Strava, the site software automatically finds that segment of your ride and analyzes it, compares it to everyone else, and posts it in ranking of fastest to slowest.  It’s an excellent tool to use to compare both your form compared to others around you, and to chart your own progress by comparing to your previous attempts.

PROS: Great community based concepts.  ”Segments” option for competing with your friends.  Excellent data presentation and layout. Standalone free iPhone app if you don’t have a dedicated gps hrm

CONS: Pay site is yet another expense (free site only 5 rides/month allowance)


My old favourite social exercise site – allowed you to see your friends workouts and comment on them. Again it allows analysis of the ride or run and also keep a note of your PB’s.

The social interaction may be slightly better on Endo although I prefer the slightly better analysis on Strava …. Again there is a dedicated app for iPhone so you can use that on commutes when your gps or hem is at home. Both these sites are better with Garmin products and that is more to do with the disinterest on the part of Polar and suunto more than the development of either of these two platforms. At the moment I import the gpx track from file although this loses the hrm info from the exercise. At the moment you can import the average and max readings into the endo workout but it is not a true graph.

Alternatives for Me

Movescount for Suunto users

Good analysis but lacking social connections as there is no app and your friends can’t compare to you.

Polar Personal Trainer for Polar HRM users

Better analysis but even less social connections.

MTB riding in Orkney

Despite having my road bike and my MTB up in Orkney i knew that roadie stuff would probably be better … Orkney is not known for it’s mtb trails with no dedicated trails like you find further south like Wolftraxx, dalbeatie, kirroughtree, 7 Staines and Selkirk … still Colin my cousin in law was keen for me to bing the mtb up and go for a ride …. here is the ride on ridewithgps

neither steep or speedy

So on Wednesday we headed west into the dark mass of pissing rain that threatened to ruin the ride … luckily the rain stopped after 20 mins. I put the GoPro HD onto a bar mount to test it out for bigger days as well as wearing the chest harness to see how it would look with mtb’ing. have some video footage I will try put together at some point …. bar i think worked better as I am too over the bars with the chest mount meaning most of the time it looks downwards – not great when with other bikes …. The best position is probably going to be around the seat post so you bike gives you a static reference point for scenery and for rider movement on the bike (as well as a bit protected from mud ….)

at the rocks with a nice view

The ride was fine – lots of fields and climbing over walls to get to the top point ….

Colin got two punctures on the ride – a rare dealing for me having run UST tyres since 2001 at least …. rode to the cairn then back across the mixed shale, slate, crazy paving, cairns, peat and bogs. Only 11km and yet took an hour and a half – but think Colin may have died if it was a very quick ride and i was told not to kill him ….

chambered cairn now disappearing into the sea - site of 2nd puncture

Nice to be on the Carver Ti96er again it really is a fantastic bike – it felt so squishy and soft after all the miles i have been doing on the road bike ….

Colin triumphant