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Sunday, 30 October 2011

Hills and Traffic

Sunday the 30th of October may not mean much to the average Joe Bloggs or Ben Zini. But to Ewan and Duff it was a large step in the right direction. that direction being South and in particular Land's End (fingers crossed). The reason we have decided to do John O'Groats to Land's End and not the other way is because one way is clearly down hill - all the way down the world and Land's End to Scotland is clearly all the way up. So there we have it - a no brainer.

It had been 2 weeks since our last cycle which granted wasn't great considering our ambition and how much we need to train for it. Gregor had arranged to turn up at mine at 10.30am but in his own eager fitness first way he decided 9.45 would be better. It should be noted that this was not to do with the clocks changing. it was mainly down to an excellent sportsman's attitude.
Here we are setting out first thing full of the joys.

So this was our first cycle that involved distance and leaving straight from my house. I didn't let go to Duff too much about what lay ahead except that there would be a few hills.

Off we went free wheeling down the park along the road and up the Blair. Things were going swell although the hills were tough first thing in the morning. However, Gregor proclaimed that "it was a great way to learn how to use gears".

Early on we enjoyed the peaceful ambience of the Blair estate and it's surroundings. Saying "Hello" to several other cyclists and horsey people. We even saw what must have been an eagle. I used my cameraman skills to take this snap:

Impressive? I know. We continued to plod on uphill. Duff didn't seem to be aware of any downhill section. Although, it must surely have been 50/50.

As we reached our highest point Duff was behind me so i slowed down to let him catch up. As he approached he gave me the news that he would have to stop as he was going to spew. Six miles on a bike will do that to you. I hope this doesn't happen every six miles in the ubercycle. As we would have to stop 167 times by my calculations.

Anyway, his legs felt strong and after 5 minutes, no spewing, a seat on a fire hydrant and a drink of two week old water from the waterbottle he fought on. His spirits lifted quickly as he made zooming noises and sang "please release me" at volume coming down the Blair Road. As we approached the bottom of the Blair I noticed Duff's mood change slightly as we approached an uphill start and a right turn at a busy junction. Here I am working out my best plan of attack.
Worryingly, a kind man on the left waved us out as we were waiting to go so I went for it. Only to notice that a car was coming from our right. So I stood on the pedals and pressed forward shouting for the inexperienced Duff to follow. Bravely he took the bull by the horns and went for it. As we got over to the far side of the road. I could still hear Duff shouting "DANGER DANGER!". Afterwards, Duff commented that "even the hairs on the back of his back were standing up".

We headed home singing out loud and were happy with our feat. Eight point one miles doesn't seem a lot but it was how we tackled the hills and traffic that mattered.

Onwards and upwards

please note: The pictures used within this blog may not be originals.

Friday, 7 October 2011

Through the Mill(port)

For once we got a pleasant day for a ride and today we went to Millport. Scotlands Sicily is a beacon for tourists and the 10 mile circumference is enjoyed by cyclists all year round. To add to the glory and excitement we were joined by Dave! Dave is also mulling over joining the Uberchallenge, a welcome addition if he gives it the green light.

We headed towards Largs with Ewans Bike (which I ride) Ewans brother in laws (Russel 'The muscles' Hamilton) that Ewan rides and Andy Taits old bike that he borrowed from his neighbour when he was 13. This was the bicycle that Ewan had such difficulty with previously as the back wheel kind of comes off a bit or gets wedged to a halt. This would be Daves bike but we thought it wise to keep its chequered past under wraps.

So we got our tickets and climbed aboard, Ewan and myself getting harangued upstairs by a worker while hiding from Dave when he went to the toilet, and set sail.

Ticket office

When the boat comes in


Ewans Titanic moment

So when back on terra firma we set off, passing a couple of walkers on the way, we rode on. Catching up with me ewan decided to interview me for the blog, he's no Parkinson that's for sure. It was filmed sideyways but hopefully its changed now.

There was good feeling and spirits were high with the sun shining. Daves bold claims of "melting the tarmac" rang in our ears as we raced by each other a few times. Then disaster struck! Perhaps we should have mentioned to Dave that his bike had seen more roadworthy days. I heard a screech of tyres and turned to see Dave hit the deck, stifling my laughter I fained sympathy. Ewan once again repaired the bike before bravely swapping with Dave for the remainder of the trip while Dave regained some feeling in his right elbow.

We carried on and to Daves credit the injuries weren't mentioned again. It is quite a pleasant place but I think being about 10 miles around is enough, you wouldn't need any more. We stopped at a war memorial which seemed fitting as my chosen charity for the Uberchallenge is Erskine Hospital who care for ex service men and woman and who, it transpires, my Great Grandfather helped out as well.

Now my memory of youthful Millport visits always had a trip to the joke shop so how could we not? I picked up a delightful car sticker and porcelain Goose for Lauren. Coming in to the town we couldn't resist some nice tourist pictures seeing as how we had come all the way from the mainland.

All in all we clocked up around 12 miles including our cycle from the car to the ferry and back. apart from Daves capers it was a good solid ride that we can be proud of and was the first time I have negotiated real life roads with actual traffic. I will leave you with this picture of me taken by Ewan as we neared the ferry, how much does that rock look like a Lion!!!

Monday, 3 October 2011

The Training Begins In Earnest.

A cracking wee cycle tonight took us to Lochwinnoch and back. Distance wise the greatest achievement so far. Fighting against an all mighty headwind  and racing the darkening skies we now await our cooking sausages and Hot Tub Time Machine as way of reward.

After taking advantage of an Aldi deal we now have lights, a puncture repair kit and some snazzy cycling gloves to help us on our way. With that and the reflective "Be safe, be seen" badges that Lauren acquired for us we were ready, ready to roll.

We got going but Ewans recently repaired bicycle started to act up. Thankfully the puncture repair kit had a wee spanner in it and we hit the road again, ready to get the miles under our belt.

All in all we managed about 8 miles, reaching Lochwinnoch before cycling back. Again Ewan had some mechanical issues but the trusty repair kit was at hand allowing us to battle the head winds and head home before the night caught us.

Despite the glorious sunshine down south I can confirm it is somewhat chilly up here and I don't see it getting any warmer in the coming months. The gloves should prove to be a worthy purchase, they certainly rose to the task tonight.

So, you might be thinking that's it regarding the news but I saved the best for last. We can proudly announce the wonderful addition of our new Official Trip Advisor, the wonderfully named Mr Gregory Miller. A Captain of Industry, the Finnish based Gregory has experienced the rigours of cycling Europe. With his expertise, experience, support, Rock star looks and general awesomeness Gregory Miller is a glorious addition to the expedition. Mr Miller, we salute you...

Monday, 26 September 2011

Nice day for it?

An interesting week, joined the gym but was then felled by a bug so haven't really had the chance to work either the guns or the pistons yet. However both myself and Ewan braved the elements yesterday, Sunday the 25th of September and clocked up another 6 miles along Kilbirnie cycle path.
To be honest the weather was ridiculous, the entire ride was blighted by torrential downpours but we powered on. As soon as we started off though, we encountered our first hurdle, Ewan had a flat tyre.

Not so sure of how good a view you get in the video but it was not an easy ride for Mr Jamieson. We persevered and after each ride I am feeling more comfortable in the saddle. The one good thing about the bad weather is that not many people are stupid enough to be out in it, but we are.

After a while in this kind of weather you just accept your fate. You are soaked through and you cant get any wetter so you might as well enjoy yourself.

Hopefully the next time we go out the weather will be kinder but it definitely felt good to get back out there and I even conquered a hill that beat me last time we were out.

This week I will be trying to hit the gym as Ewan is away to Berlin. I really struggle in the gym due to the boredom of it all, that and the general public puffing and panting all around me, with their big fat sweaty red faces. I will struggle on though.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Not a bad first shot

Its Tuesday the 13th of September and yesterday I cycled a bicycle. That's right, I did it. After a challenging start involving WD-40and a stubborn bicycle seat, Ewan gallantly lent me his bicycle (seat suitably lowered) and so began the incredible journey.

 We started by attempting to roll down the hill outside Ewans house, after finding the comination of the high seat and my stumpy legs a stumbling block we swapped bicycles and before long the wind was flowing through my bald patches. I felt like I had E.T. in the basket infront, I felt like De Caprio and Winslet in Titanic, I believed I could fly.

With renewed vigour we relocated the training to Dalry Public Park. After rolling downhill again something happened, my feet seemed to find the pedals and I began to cycle, albeit wobbly and slowly, but I was cycling nonetheless. We regrouped behind the bowling club and set off on my first intentional cycle, all was going swimmingly until we encountered a bumpy puddle ridden section of footpath. As Ewan powered through with the ease and expertise only experience can give you I faltered and flapped. My first fall could have been worse, I wasn't flat on my face but my hands did find the muddiest part of the park, nothing a splash in a puddle couldn't wash off then back into the saddle.

We continuedand things were promising apart from a brief downhill adventure where I found myself ankle deep in a quagmire. I then completed my longest run to date tackling puddles along the way. Then came the challenge, go up a slope. Having known Ewan for the better part of 20 years he knows the motivation that will work. So with the promise of a small Donner Kebab (salad and sauce seperate) and chips, defeat was never an option. I powered through and over the incline and with the inspiriation coursing through my veins even tackled some speed bumps. The Kebab was mine.

Sitting here today on an arse that feels like its gone ten rounds with Mike Tyson (Prison years) I am proud and look forward to carrying on this journey. Looking back at the videos I can't believe it's me riding a bicycle and even though it may look like I have defecated in all the excitement I can confirm it was merely the spray from the tyres, the tyres I cycled on.


Monday, 12 September 2011

Pictures from the Maiden Voyage

This evening we set out on the first of many cycles. Our quest was to help Gregor achieve the outcome of cycling up a slope - a realistic achievement. Ewan had put the carrot of a free donner kebab and chips to help enthuse his couch potato friend. Will he manage....

The Terminator

Ready to Roll

 More ready to roll

 First fall, muddy paws

Buns o' steel

Out of puff

Conquered Dalry Public Park slopes and all a total mileage of 3.4 miles was accumulated. Chickachickyeah!

Ewan and Duff

The Uber Challenge

2 men, 2 bicycles, 1 Great Britain....this is Ewan and Duffs Uber Challenge Blog.

You might think 2 people cycling from John O'Groats to Lands End (or Lands End to John O'Groats depending on which one is in Scotland) for charity would be challenge enough. You might even want to call them heroes, and I would agree. But the real challenge hasn't even started yet.

The idea was put forth after a vigorous game of volleyball on the 1st of September 2011 by one Ewan Jamieson to myself Gregor 'Duff' Miller. Why not I thought, it seems like a good challenge and we could heckle some shekels out of family and friends for charity.

So here I find myself a week and a half later, the tail winds of hurricaine Katia whipping the west coast of Scotland and the plan to meet Ewan after his work to learn how to ride a bicycle. Yup, 30 years old and I can't go a bicycle. In fact I have a venomous hatred for bicycles and and indeed, their riders. Right from the ludicrous helmets and spandex onesies down to the fact that they are an inconvenience on the road that they don't even contribute taxes towards, I digress, my point is that this is MY Uber Challenge.

It could be argued though that the toughest challenge lays at the door of Ewan. Tasked with trying to teach me how to ride a bicycle it could be described as an uphill battle to say the least. I am grumpy, unmotivated, lazy...did I mention I hate bicycles? He did try a couple of years ago and I managed to roll 200 yards down a hill, but, unless we find a route the length of Britain with a gentle slope we may have to alter these tactics.

We will be updating you along the way so after (hopefully) mastering the ancient art of cycling with dark and broody skys looming over us, winds chasing our tails as if Aeolus himself had sent them and the rain lashing our brows we shall prevail like David against Goliath to continue this tale of heroism and bravery.