Author Archives: cush123

Dress Down for Dee

Where I work at Lloyds Banking Group we have a dress down day each Friday in our building to collect money for charity. The allocation of the days goes fast at the start of each year but I managed to secure the last Friday before school holidays which seemed like a good option. I persuaded a couple of my colleagues, Derek and Paula to help me rattle the tins at the front door. On top of this I had also arranged a few home bakers to produce some wares to be sold in the staff canteen at morning coffee time.

Derek and I with our collection buckets.

In total we collected a healthy £630 over the course of the day which I have split equally between the two charities. Derek and Paula have also agreed to use their LBG Matched Giving which will double the total raised to £1260.

The Baking Sale

Thanks to my collection team of Derek and Paula as well as the bakers; Julie Cush, Paula (again), Kate Ramsay (cupcake genius), Martin Donnelly (and wife) and Turbine.

 

Fast Fathers Day Fifty Six

I’ve been a bit quiet on the blog recently so decided to throw in a few words about Sunday’s fast run from the Clubhouse. It being Fathers Day we decided to go for an early start but after some discussion agreed 8am was civilised.

The usual four (myself, J, Tubs and Gio) headed off from Gio’s at a couple of minutes past 8 when a shout goes up that Young Dave had just pulled up. A quick about turn and a five minute wait til the wee fella got himself sorted and the train of five was off.

We headed off over the well cycled roads through Kirkie and Kilsyth making good time with an average of just over 19mph due to a slight tailwind. It’s a very strange feeling not to turn up the Takmadoon Road and our nemesis climb, and instead to carry on towards Banknock.

Onwards through Denny and into Stirling where we passed the start of the Trossachs Ton Sportive. As we left Stirling on The Carse road we could see some groups from the Sportive in the distance, heads down. The DIFD Train set of after them.

We passed fewer small groups before realising one group of three had tagged on to the back of our train for the ‘free speed’ a group provides. I got chatting to one of the guys for a few miles and it turned out they were from the registration team of the Sportive so set off last and enjoy doing the route reeling in the slower cyclists all the way round!

Only when we split with the Sportive route did we realise that Young Dave had dropped off the back. We waited a few seconds for him to arrive and headed off up the Kippen Hill towards Fintry, ignoring the signs warning of closed road ahead which wasn’t a great move. I decided to try the hills staying in the big ring at the front so kept a good speed up through the village. When we arrived at the road closed signs it looked ok to proceed as there was Tarmac there just not perfect. Further up even that disappeared and we ended up on the base of the road, which wasn’t doing the wheels and tyres any good. Soon we topped out and enjoyed the decent into Fintry on the uneven surface. Stirling Council take note!

A quick stop in Fintry to take on some food and drink, we discussed the possibility of adding a few miles via Milngavie but decided to head home and enjoy being spoiled! We headed off up The Crow with Tubs and I deciding to try the climb in the big ring whilst J and Gio trying to do a high cadence easy gear climb. The decent into the Lennoxtown was a bit hairy with about a dozen sheep loose on the road making it very stop/start after the car park.

On the road over to Torrance my Garmin battery died meaning I only got 51.8 miles registered rather than the full 56 but we managed to achieve the 19mph average for the full run. A smashing route, I must say. Apologies for the lack of photos!

Garmin output : http://connect.garmin.com/activity/190026982

Easter Challenge

I decided to take advantage of the two Bank Holidays at Easter and set myself a challenge of completing 300 miles on the bike over the four days. The aim was to take it as a shortened trial run and to see how I would cope with getting on the bike and doing decent miles for a few days in a row.

Friday was a late start as I had to do some IT work for one of the LEJOG sponsors, Adam Laurie Properties, so I set off  just after 2:30pm hoping to get some good miles in on familiar roads with some decent hills.  Things were going well as I headed through Bathgate, over the top of the “Bathgate Alps” into Linlithgow and onwards towards Winchburgh when the rain started. I ploughed on through Ratho and up into Balerno. At this point I turned into the strengthening breeze which was now carrying the rain, it was getting hard going.

Rain, rain go away . . .

I fought my way down the A70 almost to Carnwath before turning back for the final 15 miles, wind behind back to Livi. What a contrast to the battle outwards.

Day 1 : 65.36 miles; 4hrs:4mins:39secs; av speed 16.0mph. Garmin link

Saturday meant an early start as I had to be in Glasgow at a decent time as Julie and I were off to Big Al’s 40th party in the evening and I had some big miles planned. The morning was still as I headed off past my golf club, Harburn and out on to the A70 towards Carnwath (been here before?). I continued on past Carstairs towards Douglas. I was really enjoying the good quality road surfaces of South Lanarkshire but the legs were starting to grumble a bit on the uphill sections. As I passed under the M74 I joined what will be part of our LEJOG route (Day 6, Lockerbie to Balloch) which put a bit of life back in the weary legs and got me to thinking about just how big a challenge we are undertaking. Just after Muirkirk I turned off the A70 and on to the rolling B roads towards Galston. The ups were short and steep but the downs were great fun; fast and flowing making the miles fly past. After a short stop at an exotic lunch location in Galston (my Facebook friends will know what I mean) I headed through one of Scotland’s best know villages . . .

I'm in a hurry to keep cycling . . . so Moscow!

By this stage I was in North Ayrshire and cruising through some familiar towns and villages; Fenwick, Stewarton, Dunlop and Lugton. The road up to Barrhead was lovely (honest!) my speed was up and I was flying. A train passed on the line up from Kilmarnock with Celtic scarves hanging out of the windows and a loud rendition of Championeeeeees. I chuckled along and my inner song was set for the rest of the day! The roads down into Glasgow flashed by and before I knew it I was doing a quick round the block in Shawlands to tick over the 90 miles for the day.

Day 2 : 90.17 miles; 5hrs:40mins:19secs; av speed 15.9mph. Garmin link

I took it easy-ish on Saturday night at Al’s 40th in Bishopton. A few bottles of Magners but nothing significant . . honest!

Sunday morning was an even earlier start but meant some company for the day with a couple of my LEJOG chums, Big J and Turbine(?). I cycled the 6 miles to our Renfrew meet up and off we went on one of our familiar routes round Renfrewshire (and Ayrshire?). The wind was up and we headed out to Bishy; my legs were happy for me just to sit on the back of the line and let the two fresh boys take the strain. The first slight incline and I was dropped . . . the boys waited for me to trundle up the first couple of hills and we soon regrouped in Greenock. As we headed up the Old Largs Road I heard the dreaded sound . . . ppssssssssssssssssssssssssttttttttttttttt! A puncture up front and the lads headed back to help me repair it.

It was nice to have some chat while we cruised over the tops. As we descended into Largs the drizzle started, I was getting used to this. Next came the bit I had been dreading most, The Hairy Brae. How would my legs cope with this beast, 3 miles with the first mile and half of gradient 8-12%. Again the other two shot off and I settled into a nice rhythm but a lot slower than normal. Before i knew it I was arriving at the top . . no dramas. We settled into the train, 0.5 miles each at the front, wind behind . . . we were motoring. The last climb of the day out of Lochwinnoch soon arrived. Again, I trudged up; again the boys waited for me, this team thing is quite good, actually. The final 10 miles from Bridge of Weir were the highlight of the whole four days . . we hammered along in formation averaging 25mph swapping every 0.5. Back in the Frew . . I was done. A great team day out and I took an easy cruise back to my lovely Easter lunch courtesy of my Bro-in-Law, Brian and family.

Day 3 : 76.31 miles; 4hrs:44mins:19secs; av speed 16.1mph. Garmin link

Monday . . the final day . . back on my lonesome . . did I have motivation for this? I enjoyed a long lie after the late night finish of The Masters and a leisurely breakfast with Julie and Aiden whilst I mulled over a route for today. I needed roughly 70 miles to achieve my goal of the 300 total for 4 days. Where to go? I then remembered Big J talking about how nice the roads are in the Borders . . and quiet too. I thought back to the tough route of the Bethany Sportive  last June; I would muster something together from that.

So I’m on the M8 almost at Edinburgh . . . argh . .the Garmin is still attached to my PC at home. Doh! An even later start . .

I’m off and running with a couple of miles on the A7 to loosen the legs and it’s back into the wind as I head up the first climb; it’s long but only 3-4% and them I’m freewheelin’ into Innerleithen. Time is getting on so I decided to stop for a late lunch . . . toastie and a coffee . . . lovely. As soon as I step out of the cafe it start raining . . heavily. Again upwards and then downwards and upwards etc etc. Is there any flat on this route? I turned left on to one of my favourite climbs, The Swire. It’s a couple of miles, it’s steep but the scenery takes the mind off any pain.

View from The Swire

Top of The Swire.

The remainder of the route is VERY rolling. By this stage my legs are pretty done and I’m relying a lot of getting out of the saddle to get up the hills but I made it back to the car and the goal of 300 miles was in the bag!

Day 4 : 74.05 miles; 5hrs:3mins:31secs; av speed 14.6mph. Garmin link

All 4 days in numbers : 305.89 miles; 19hrs:32mins:49secs; av speed 15.6mph; elevation gain 5204m; calories burned 11,452.

All that is left for me to thank Julie and Aiden for their love, support and understanding whilst I went awol for 4 days over the Easter holidays! xx

My wind problem.

So here I am, sitting in front of a blank screen, thinking about writing my first ever blog post. Takes me back to writing an essay at school. I even have a teacher demanding that my essay is completed and handed in today. Yes, Mr McGivern. Sure thing!

Julie and I were heading out on Saturday night in Glasgow to celebrate my birthday, 41, who’d have known. I decided I was going to cycle to Strathblane where my Mum, Dad and Sara were going to look after Aiden while we galavanted. It seemed as good a time as any to get some time on the bike and cycle over to Strathblane from Livi. One phone call led to another and before I knew it some of the LEJOG lads were getting together and my route was taking a detour over the Campsies.

I awoke on Saturday morning and could hear the wind in the trees outside. I was already dreading it! It was only a 20mph Westerly gusting 40mph. What’s not to like?

I set off into the monster wind and within 6 miles I was in the bike shop in Bathgate getting some running repairs. The brake blocks were completely worn through. My first time at Hooked On Cycling; nice guys; I’ll be back there for further repairs methinks.

Anyway, after the short interlude I was off in earnest. Up out of Bathgate, through Torphichen and past our wee cottage. Who can believe it’s over 10 years since we lived there? Through the Avon Gorge just to get the legs working; I was up out of the seat on that one, I can tell you. Onwards through Brightons and past Polmont Young Offenders! Who came up with this route?

After what seemed like an eternity into the gale I met up with John, Mark and Gio on the road between Banknock and Kilsyth. We headed off to take on my nemesis, the Takmadoon Rd. This beast runs for 4km out of Kilsyth up into the Campsies and is regularly above a gradient of 10% maxing out at 19%. Cycling with three whippets is one way to improve your climbing but my 90kg lead weight soon had me out the back door of the peleton.

I plodded my way to the top managing to keep the guys in sight which I was pleased with but I’m sure they’ll tell you they weren’t out of second gear! After the short decent to the Carron Valley we turned into the ever increasing gale. We formed the formidable Egasa train and were pretty much stopped in our tracks. I have rarely encountered a wind so strong when on the bike. We trudged along taking 0.3 mile each on the front. Without embarassing anyone it’s fair to say that the lead rider speed was variable on this section. Some of us have some work to do on the base endurance quite clearly! 🙂

At Fintry we turned to tackle the Crow Road . . the wind was behind . . Alleluia!! Off we tootled with a spring in our pedals and again the three whippets shot off and left me on the steeper, lower slopes. I paced myself well, dear blog reader, and slowly started reeling them in. I picked off the weakest first and then Gio was in my sights. As the gradient eased near the top I put in a Cavendish like sprint to nick the second spot at the summit!

The decent to Lennoxtown was a joy. Wind behind and on the lovely, new surface they have laid I maxed out at just over 42mph without even trying. Even had time for a wee look over to take in the view of the magnificent Celtic training ground!

We regrouped in Lennoxtown before the guys headed off towards Bishopbriggs and I turned to take on the monster wind for the final 5 miles to Strathblane. The mushroom soup that awaited me was well worth the effort. Thanks Mum!

Total distance ridden 52.22 miles with a vertical ascent of 1255m. That’s almost the height of Ben Nevis you know. A pretty poor average speed but into that wind it was to be expected. The Garmin output is linked below for the geeks amongst you.

http://connect.garmin.com:80/activity/embed/140037381

All comments on my first ever blog more than welcome!