All’s Well That Ends Well!

Leading up to any event,  whether it’s one or one hundred miles,  whether it’s a run or bike ride or whatever your sport  is – there will always be niggles and doubts – have I trained enough;  have I done enough miles;  have I done enough hills;  should I have a day off;  should I squeeze in one more training session;  should I have had that pint of cider last night;  etc etc.   Last weekend I got in a 40 and 45 mile bike ride – had hoped to do more on the Saturday but tired legs from the previous days run and a strong headwind I decided to cut things short – on the Sunday I was faring not bad but not far from home Bertie decided he’d had enough!   And whether I wanted to or not there was going to be no mid week cycling this week!

Dr Nige was away for the weekend but I messaged to see if he could diagnose the problem and could he fix it?    Message went along lines of “chain looks fine; gears working fine but as soon as I stop pedalling chain feels as if it is jumping all over the place as if it’s going to come off”.   Message back – “aye – I can probably fix it”   Dr Nige didn’t get home until after 11pm on Monday night – a quick look at bike diagnosed a “rear freehub failure” – plan:  order one online asap so that bike can be fixed before I head North on Thursday but plan failed – there does not seem to be any stock except in Germany and they won’t arrive in time – plan 2:  take bike to local bike shop who confirm diagnosis but do not have a spare part and also can not get one in time – plan 3:  contact the bike shop in Dingwall where I will be spending the weekend – they are almost certain that they have the right part but someone has already opened the packet and they can’t be 100% sure until they see the bike – Bertie is pushed to the train station on Thursday night and we take the 3 trains from Stirling to Dingwall and we had a high speed run between platforms at Inverness so that we could make our connection – Friday morning bike is dropped off at Dryburgh Cyles in Dingwall – a phonecall mid afternoon confirrms that Bertie is all fixed and ready to go having had the rear freehub replaced and a new derailleur fitted – not able to collect Bertie until Saturday morning but a wee bike ride confirms that he is all ready for the Loch Ness Etape the following day (and hoping that I am as well).

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6.35am see’s me and a now fixed Bertie at the start line of the Loch Ness Etape – no expectations of time – I find it impossible to judge but reckon I should make it ok.   The first 33 miles lure you into a false sense of security – 33 miles of gently undulating terrain with beautiful scenery – the scenery continues but we hit the King of the Mountain section – I was expecting hills but not sure when or how much – sometimes it better not to know.   Oh my word the first one is a beast – a fair number of folks are having to push there bikes – I’m on a mission I’m determined that I won’t be one of the them – puff,  puff, f..k,  puff,  puff,  shit – I wasn’t the only one swearing under their breath on the way up – it was tough keeping the momentum;  trying to pass the slower cyclists and those pushing their steeds and at the same time trying not to get in the way of the faster riders – me and Bertie made it and relax on the other side but in quick succession came hills 2 and 3 – neither as long or as steep but still tough on legs that haven’t had time to recover – but a welcoming sound as the Piper plays to let us know we have conquered the King of the Mountain section – easier cycling now but I’m on a mission – still another 20 miles to go but I’m determined to maintain my pace and push myself on, barely stopping to eat or drink – I’m one of the few not on a road bike and I get a few (friendly) comments about my steed and why I’ve got a pannier – I had meant to leave the pannier behind but paranoia about not having enough food or extra layers I opted to take it – I should have left it behind.   Another pull about 10 miles before the homeward stretch and finish line and a well desreved (I think) “Harry Gow Dream Ring” doughnut – boy that went down well.

A big thank you to Team Support (aka Mum and Dad) for looking after me and driving me between Dingwall and Inverness and a huge thanks to Dryburgh Cycles for fixing Bertie at very late notice.

“Freehub” – the thingy in the middle of your back wheel that stops your chain spinning round – I now know a little more about bike maintenance!


Marathon Training

This mornings run went something like this-
10 and a bit miles – bugger is that all I’ve done.
12 miles – that’s a wee bit better
15 miles – I can do this – hopefully I’ll make it to 18
18 and a bit miles – I’m gubbed – hopefully it will be at 20 when I make it to the front door
19.2 miles – there’s the front door – another 0.8 will take me to 20 – round the block again
19.5 miles – strava must have stopped – it’s been at 19.5 for ages
19.7 miles – back at the front door – rain has started – that’s enough – where’s the Easter Egg my mate bought me.

Cutting Up Maps

Other half has been (and still is) trying to get me to rely on gadgetry for my navigation across America – and it does make sense in terms of minimising what I need to take with me and I do you use my phone for navigation at home – but I neither trust myself or the gadgetry enough to rely on it for 3 months (3 hours could be pushing it) – a lot could wrong – losing phone;  phone dying;  battery dying;  phone getting wet (paper maps getting wet isn’t good either of course) and then what if I press the wrong button and delete 3 months worth of maps – it is all possible!

So paper maps it is and except for one,  I think I now have a map for each state I will be cycling through.   I’ve been out with the highlighter marking my route – still got a lot to do – but now I think I need to starting cutting up the maps and getting rid of the bits I don’t need.   But ……………….. I’m struggling to get the scissors out of the kitchen drawer……………common sense is telling me it needs to be done but ……………it seems like complete destruction to start chopping up brand new maps though…………………what a dilemma.

Muck Spreading

Tonight’s initial plan was to get a bike ride in that included hills (for training purposes) and put my new Garmin (cycle computer) to the test.   However runny nose all day so opted for shorter bike ride and NO hills but still put the Garmin to the test.   Good wee 16 mile bike ride – strong headwind on the way out – really strong side winds at about the half way mark where I turned right – for those that are paying attention do you remember my analogy of side winds from a couple of days ago – strong winds / car with no shell,  etc – now add “muck spreading” into the equation – I’m travelling roughly North – the wind is blowing West to East,  and I’m struggling to keep from blowing to the middle of the road – there is a muck spreader in the field on my right (West of me) and the smell is driven right at me and oh my word what a smell – think my sinuses got a good (bad) clear out,  but I’ve still got a runny nose!

As to the Garmin – so far so good – recorded speed,  distance,  route,  etc.   Fun and games started when I got gadget geek other half to show me how to sync it to my phone,  etc – as with most people I learn best if I get my hands on something and somebody shows me what to do – most instruction manuals are designed for someone who already knows how to operate the dam thing in the first place – anyway frustration ensued;  Nige rapidly pressed lots of buttons but didn’t actually tell me what he was doing – Garmin now doing what I want it to do (I think) but I am still none the wiser if I ever need to reset it myself – fingers crossed I don’t.   I will take the Garmin (maybe I should give him name – Garry the Garmin??) for another test ride tomorrow.


Lightweight & (dis)Organised

Wanting to up the miles in terms of running and cycling and fit this round going to see Big Country on Friday night I had a plan!   It went something along the lines of run 17+ miles; pack pannier(s);  cycle to hostel in Glasgow;   go to gig and cycle home next day.

Ran just under 18 miles (√);  packed pannier – one change of clothes and shoes,  basic toiletries,  wee bit of food;  visa card and money(√):  cycle to Glasgow – wind had picked up – mix of head and side winds most of the way – hard work at times,  more so with the side winds (almost a √).   To my non cycling friends – imagine driving across the forth road bridge in the kind of weather that they close it to high sided vehicles (which they then ignore) – the kind of wind where you are having to hang on to your steering wheel as you feel your car being pulled from side to side – now imagine some has taken the protective shell of your car away and think what if feels like on a bike – well it wasn’t as windy as this but you get the idea!

Anyway I digress.   Almost a tick to Glasgow – I made it go Glasgow Cathedral and stopped to take a few photos and discovered that my phone had been gobbling up the battery at a rate of noughts – a few pictures later phone completely dead and no way of checking route to my final destination – the “Blue Sky Hostel” – I knew it was on a street parallel to the far end of Sauchiehall Street;  I knew it was near the Mitchell Library and I knew the street name started with “B” – I decided to head to the Tourist Information on George Square but this has moved (to where I do not know) – by some stroke of luck and the street maps on Sauchiehall street,  I made it to “Berkeley Street” and found the hostel – I now needed to persuade them that I was quite normal and not a threat to anybody and let me have a bed for the night!

As part of my going light I decided to leave my wallet at home – just taking the visa and a wee bit of money – bad move – no ID – and I now have to convince the staff to let me have a bed for the night and it just wasnae happening – Goldilocks and the 3 bears wouldn’t have got a look in – I even offered to leave them with my visa until I checked out in the morning but no,  evidence and picture as proof was needed – fair do’s.   Luckily the lassie at the desk had more sense than me – she let me charge my phone up and when I had enough charge I phoned home to Nige – once he stopped peeing himself laughing he managed to take a photo of my driving licence and email it to me – finally I had a bed for the night but now wondering if I struggle to do one night in Glasgow,  how the heck am I going to do 3 months in America – well just watch this space!

With phone and ID issues I left much later than planned to get to the gig but made it in plenty of time – fantastic gig – and I sang Big Country – In A Big Country most of the way home the next day – well only the chorus cause I canae sing and never remember the words to songs unless I hear them playing.


Up and away early the next morning – hazy but dry when I left Glasgow,  following the cycle route to Old Kilpatrick – from here I could continue to Bowling and head (very) roughly North East back to Stirling or take my chances with the weather;  cross over the Erskine Bridge;  head to Gourock and get on the ferry to Kilcreggan – I opted for the latter and got mostly lucky with the weather again – a few heavy showers but mostly beautiful sunshine.   The first shower coincided with being on the ferry – so at least I was sheltered but didn’t get the views across the Clyde I was hoping for – this also coincided with me discovering that I had carelessly lost a £20 note and had no money to pay for said ferry – I must have pulled it out of my drybag when I took my phone out to take some photos – hopefully someone has spent it and it’s not just ended up floating in the Clyde – luckily there is a bank at Kilcreggan and I was able to get money to pay for the crossing.   Sun out again and beautiful bike ride to Helensburgh – shame about the ugliness that is Faslane – don’t think I’ve ever seen so much barbed wire before – the colours of the Peace Camp made up for it though.   Rain back on and a very long pull up and out of Helensburgh – good hill practice – onto Loch Lomond,  Drymen and then the last stretch back to Stirling.   Cracking day out and a route I would do again. 

The Blue Sky Hostel is incredibly cheap,  a wee bit falling down but clean and friendly and in a good location – didn’t seem to be a lot of toilets and showers relative to the number of folks who could stay but I never had to queue so didn’t seem to be a problem.   Prices start at £10 pppn.