Daily Archives: July 17, 2012

cyclists vs midges

Saturday 14th. Probably the last proper team training outing before the big day on the 27th. Start point was to be Callander. Big J and Sam were going to ride an extra 30 odd miles from John’s place, but Bryan had offered to give Mark and myself a lift to the start point. Turns out the drive over took a lot longer than anticipated, and the 12:30 start slipped about an hour. We got parked up, grabbed a quick bite and set off. I immediately regretted going single layer-short sleeve, as although the sun was sort of out, it was chilly on the bike. However, once the train got going at a solid pace I soon warmed up and we were making good time along the road. A minor collision with some on-road debris resulted in a possible puncture for Sam, so a brief stop to check it out was called. Re-inflating the tyre seemed to sort it out so we restarted.

The weather soon turned, and drizzle was upon us as we hit a slow climb out of Lochearnhead. The drizzle turned to rain, so a stop for jackets-on for yours truly was made (yeah, I still can’t put on a jacket in the saddle). The hill continued, the rain relenting as we reached the top, but Sam’s back tyre had deflated on the way up, so needed a new tube. We pulled over in a lay-by and he changed the tube. The rain had stopped, and the midges were out, thousands of ’em. I’m usually a prime target for these little beasties, and this time it was no different, swarming round me as I held Sam’s bike for him as he hurriedly worked the new tube onto his wheel. However, the sheer number of the wee beasties resulted in everyone getting chewed at, as we swatted and splatted them as best we could. Tube changed, back on bikes, escape the beasties down the hill!


the aftermath of cyclists vs midges


fold your arms, and no smiling!

On through Killin and to Glenlochay, with a brief stop at Big J’s in-law’s cottage for a quick photo session and chat about the hill to come – the road is a bit ‘rough’ and there are gates in the deer fence on the hill that need opened and closed to get through. There’s also a bit where you need to get off the bike… not liking the sound of that. We were soon at the foot of the hill, having already picked our way through some very pot-holed and gravel covered sections of road. The first gate lay ahead of us, Bryan in the lead opening it for us, but we all had to dismount to get by the cattle grid, Big J’s hope of just cycling through was not happening. Clipping-in on the slope was a challenge, and avoiding the numerous holes, rocks and gravel strewn over what was left of the tarmac was not making this climb any easier. Mark and Sam took to the front, I was in the middle followed up by Bryan and John, all of us picking our way carefully through the mess that was once a road, while working hard to get up the hill. Another gate and cattle grid lay between us and the top, this time we were able to slip through the ‘kissing gate’ at the side. Again, clipping in not easy on these kind of slopes, but everyone eventually got to the 500m high summit.


Bryan and Big J on one of the better bits of road

The downward section was not the normal relaxing descent, the road equally pitted and scattered with obstacles as the ascent. At the bottom we regrouped, Big J rolling to a stop, having picked up a front puncture somewhere on the last section of the descent.


help me Mavic Man!

Wheel off, tyre quickly checked for thorns, new tube in, inflated with the gas, when BANG! the tube exploded. Mark and John started to put in a second tube, taking their time to avoid another issue.  However, there was something up – the tube was starting to bulge out the wall of the tyre. An inch-long gash in the sidewall was responsible. Not looking good, but Sam produced his tyre patches and the tyre was fixed up, inflated as best we could without bursting the patch and we set off, John cautious at first to be sure the tyre was going to hold.

The road rolled on, the mostly downward section offering a welcome respite from the recent climb, but this was a short-lived 10 mile section before the long climb up the road of Ben Lawers. Five miles or so of steady uphill was before us, but not as harsh as the previous climb.


could that be a cakey shop ahead??

lochan at top of Ben Lawer

the top reached

We were soon cycling alongside the lochan at the summit, the flat soon becoming a steep descent, picking up speed as we headed down toward the A827 and the return section to Killin. The final short climb back up to the ‘midge’ spot and it was mostly flat or downhill all the way ‘home’, Bryan taking the front to ‘get some exercise’ for several miles, with the last 3 miles seeing a burst of speed to finish the day.

The final fun of they day – getting 5 men and 5 bicycles into one car. This involved various wheels being taken off and held on knees, but they were all squashed in somehow for the trip back to Glasgow, where a curry (plus unexpected karaoke) awaited us in Cambuslang.


Glen Lyon Ride

A scenic run set up for last Saturday’s group ride.  Start at Callander head to Killin and head up the valley and over to Glen Lyon.  Then head up the hill to hill to Ben Lawers and back down and round Loch Tay to end up back at Killin and onwards to Callander.  77 miles with some good climbing involved.

5 of the team were up for the route – only the G train and Young Davo missing.  A 12.30 start seemed to suit most people so there you go.  Of course, Sam then suggested cycling to Callendar as well.  I couldn’t say no could I?  So 77 miles becomes potentially 150.  Strangely, nobody but Sam and I were up for the 150.

Sam turned up in Renfrew only 15 minutes late – the earliest he’s been late in a long time, so we caught the intended Renfrew ferry boat ride to Yoker and headed on our way in earnest.  A fairly smart 35 miles later we were in Callendar with 20 minutes to spare over the rest of the chaps – time for a toastie in a wee cafe.

The rest of the gang rolled in for our 12.30 rendezvous at at 13.45 – the earliest Mark’s been late in a long time.  So we start the 115 mile route (everyone was going to cycle all the way back except perhaps Tub, the driver) at 2 in the afternoon.  Or is that the early evening.  No matter, let’s ride.

Some good bunch riding until Sammy got a flat.  He took 10 minutes to ‘fix’ it – turned out he just put some air in it because it was a slow puncture.  How long would he have taken to put a new tube in?  And how long till we stopped for another air top-up?  Memories of the Farce Whitton and Ian’s tyre troubles were fast being rekindled.

Onwards to Killin.  Ian called a stop to put jackets on.  “It’s not worth it – it’s going to go off in a minute”.  “Are you joking”?  So jackets duly put on and another wee stop 5 minutes later – to take jackets off.

Another stop at the Waddell family cottage up the valley in Killin – Dalgirdy.  No keys so can’t go in but at least mark has now clapped eyes on it, after claiming that he has never been invited to stay.

Continue up the valley and up the steep, knackered road leading to Glen Lyon.  Apparently, I overplayed the difficulty of this hill – 20% gradient is small potatoes to Sam.  Of course, every time the gradient was up you had to veer al over the road to avoid the multitude of potholes and loose rocks everywhere – can’t be good for tyres surely?

Down the hill and on to Glen Lyon – time to push the pace again, when boom – my tyre pretty much explodes going over a cattle grid.  A quick change of tube – and kaboom!  It positively explodes before putting it on the bike.  At this point we realise that the tyre is ripped.  We’re in doo-doo now.  Stuck in no man’s land with no phone signal and and a dud tyre. As I am team leader, Tubs knows that he must give up his wheel to me – aye right.  The best that happens is that Sam has a patch for tyre walls – does a reasonable job but a bit of a bulge is appearing so I’m restricted to approximately 20 psi instead of the usual 120.  I can feel the rim as we go over cattle grids – not pleasant.

No matter – it’s holding up so I gingerly make my way along the road and up the hill to Ben Lawers with my trusty domestique  Ian sitting beside me to make sure I’m ok.  The rest have sailed into the distance over the hill.  A slow descent from Ben Lawers and as we hit the road by Loch Tay I’m feeling a bit more confident to push the pace a little.  We’re going to have to – the 150 miler is never happening but the challenge now it so get back to Callendar and drive back to Cambuslang for a team meeting and curry sometime before midnight.

Tubby feels strong so takes the fron for the last number of miles and we belt into Callendar at top testosterone-driven speed.  However, the pace is a little too tidy for a weakening Sam.  Normally at this point he takes a header off the bike into the gutter.  This time he plays more safe and stops for a ‘puncture’.  I stop along with Mark but Tubs and Ian don’t heard the call to stop – or strangely see that we have stopped (Tubs has looked round at least 200  times in the last 5 miles.  Interesting).  Of course, it’s a phantom puncture.  So we try to get back up to pace and get some great drafting behind a motorhome, which unfortunately turns left a mile shy of where we need it.

Back in Callandar, 5 bikes in/on the car, various wheels in people’s laps, and home James.  Get into Cambuslang for a curry, Tubs sings Rhinestone Cowboy at the karaoke, the big meeting takes 5 seconds and back home.  happy days.