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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...