Tuesday, 31 May 2011

falling in love again

Not sure if Marlene Dietrich ever rode a bike but... 
It is surely an accepted truth that there are many emotional ups and downs in cycling.
Not least since we leave our bikes lying in the spare room or the garage, left because they need some time and maybe a spare part. All too often weeks and months go past our machines out of sight and out of mind.
Eventually we get round to repair or service and on that first run out everything that is beautiful about a smooth running shiny bike hits us and we fall in love with our bike all over again. We wonder how we could have been so neglectful and feel more than a shade of shame.
So it was that my Isaac had languished short of a drive train, rear mech hanger and some tender loving care. Yesterday even after what proved to be a windy and damp ride it still looks sparkling and beautiful. Swoon.

Oh my fickle heart....What am I to do?

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Etape Caledonia 15 May 2011

Sunday 15 May 2011
Etape Caledonian 81miles/130km

After much fretting about weather, start times and what to wear, we left Comrie a bit later than anticipated and hit a traffic jam coming off of the A9 and crawled to the car park. We had made arrangements to start together in group S at 7.21 but by the time we got to the High Street in Pitlochry group W were being ushered out somewhere around 7.30. It seems like a few other had been caught out in the jam and the start proved messy with some folk trying to get in their start pen while others tried to pass to get started. Craig and Lindsay made it away first with Peter bringing up the rear after being caught behind a knot of riders. (mental note: arrive earlier) Not as expected but we had made a contingency plan depending on how well we were going or in case we got split up.
Lindsay, well short of miles, thought it best to ease into the ride and confirmed as much when Peter caught him. We could see Craig’s distinctive Brooklyn jersey and Peter set of in pursuit of Craig and a sub 4.30 time. Fleeting glances of red and white could be seen through the trees tantalisingly out of reach. Craig got himself into a working group quickly with Peter scrambling through the trees and windy roads behind. After about 20km Peter caught a rider in a red and white checked jersey. Wrong design and with Craig gone it seemed like a good time to look for a group.

The course rolls up and down and groups began to form though it would have to be said not very well organised. We all found that a few made the effort to come through while others didn’t at all which to us seemed to reflect a lack of experience of riding in a group. None the less the company provided some cover from the blustery south westerly out towards Tummel Bridge and Loch Rannoch and at the turn with a tailwind we had an extra burst of speed towards the feed station then on to the climb.

Schiehallion ramps up at the beginning and the mountains classification was moved forward to take account. The road evened out fairly quickly with some fast parts on the mountain. A quick stop at the feed station and onto the descent and a reminder to take care as an ambulance took crashed riders off the top with, thankfully, no serious injuries.
Off the mountain and a right turn into the wind with groups more fragmented towards Fortingall as folk seem to be getting tired. Lindsay got a second wind at this point and picked up his effort. The turn beyond Fortingall took us back towards Weem through undulating forested road that is pretty classic rolling Scottish roads. We each realised that we are comfortable and motoring and begin to think of reasonable finish. Out onto the main road and the groups were fragmented with only one or two riders working at the front, the remainder tagging on. This is not fair and with no work being shared the groups disintegrate. A left turn at Logierait took us onto cycle route 7 and a scramble up some stepped ascents to Pitlochry. Another crowd had gathered at this corner and were as enthusiastic as all the people we had met en route. They were treated to some big efforts as we pushed up the gradient. Lindsay had warned us about this and we were glad to have saved a wee bit and some low gears to take us over. The last mile marker appeared to the skirl of some pipes though I would swear it is more than a mile before one last left turn and up the high street to the finish and a quick chat with Graeme Obree and a chance to reflect on a great day out.


Good stuff; stunning scenery, great course, organisation and support from local people out lining the route
Not so good; group riding on the road not very organised and lack of shared workload frustrating. Some riders used all of the road instead of staying to the left and moving out to overtake.

Monday, 23 May 2011

Bicycle bingo

I've been watching the superb eurosport coverage of the Giro D'Italia and Tour of California and taking note of a cycling glossary, a few always stick in the mind:

Chewing the handlebars
Pedalling squares 

However, my all time favourite is Phil Liggett's classic on the early days of Channel 4's coverage of the Tour De France

Dancing on the pedals....

I met Phil Leggett many years ago at the Tour of Britain, I asked for his autograph, only to realise that the rider standing next to him was Sean Kelly. I was somewhat embarrassed and then asked "Mr Kelly, can I please have your autograph?' He duly obliged and Phil gave Sean a dig. I've often had a giggle and wondered if Sean Kelly thought that this may have been the time to move into TV?



Sunday, 22 May 2011


Stuart Kerr; cyclist, designer, illustrator and all round good guy is exhibiting with Will Freeborn.

A collection of drawing and watercolours sketched in-situ around the city of Glasgow.

25th May - 16th June
944 Argyle Street

I didn't tell you this, but there's a preview on the 25th 6-8, coffee, chocolate and tea will be served.

More of stupots amazing work can be found at:


Comrie calling

The lovely ride to Comrie was embarked upon yesterday. All started well, a strong southerly was at my tail and showed no signs of loosing its vigour. The route chosen was different to the usual one up over Tak me Doon, Sherffmuir, drop in pass Tulibardine  (Distillery...) take the road heading to Braco and turn right at the junction and then over a gradual climb and a good descent to Comrie. 

This route has it all, fast rolling roads, 17% climbs, technical descents strewn with water, gravel and of course, potholes to keep you on your toes. The moor road after the main Sherrifmuir climbs is a favourite. The views over the west provide the visuals of where you are going, but its the hills the east that have me searching the OS map. There must be some cracking trails and roads in those there hills. 

So, with all this lovely scenery and inspiring landscape why choose a different route? To be honest, I was looking for a change. This time it was over the Crow Road, on towards Kippen. It has to be said at this point that the section of road from the base of the Crow to Fintry is awful, a real shocker and very dangerous.  Come on Stirling Council, sort it out before someone is seriously injured. From Kippen the road takes a series of fast straights and tight turns to Thornhill. It was on this road that the rain started, and boy did it start. I'd been keeping a close eye on the west and the black towers rolling in over the hills. They engulfed everything in their way and soon I was going to experience their plan. From this point the ride became a battle to keep warm and make myself more visible. The Thornhill to Deanston (see a pattern?) road is a wee gem, rolling, quiet and some nice views to boot. A quick dash through Doune, I really have to spend more time in Doune. There are loads of lovely wee shops and a scone league challenger (SLC) must surely be there. After Doune its the back road to Dunblane, again another lovely place with surely a few SLC. On towards Kinbuck, the old Mill is ripe for development, into Braco and then familiar roads to Comrie. 3hrs all in with a strong tail wind and a soaking of epic proportions I arrived at my folks caravan. A fab bowl of broth, good chat and a hot shower and then everything clicked. A bike ride is best served with a welcome at the end. Thanks Ma & Pa.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Frankie says....

The Tour of California is on and I can't help but think that Frankie Boyle sounds like Brian Smith. If anyone has a suggestion to who Sean Kelly sounds like you may win a prize.

Monday, 16 May 2011


Your esteemed friends at Cycles Guff would like to wholeheartedly recommend the pedal-pusher's podcast of choice by Velo Club Don Logan.

Hugely enjoyable cycling banter in a round table discussion about anything and everything related to cycling, including Pro racing, MTBing and kit. Well structured and never dull, miss this at your peril!


cyclesguff at etape caledonia

cyclesguff were at riding at Etape Caledonia yesterday, Sunday 15 May (full report to follow)

A fine ride by all those involved and fine support from people lining the route.
For reasons that remain unclear some local people object to this event and there are reported attempts to sabotage and put rider safety at risk using tacks on the road. Not sure what this is trying to achieve other than causing harm, injury and damage to bikes. There were a number of crashes yesterday and surely the objectors don't want to cause more problems in what can be a hazardous ride. The consequences seem only too obvious as this article attests.


Tuesday, 10 May 2011

A Sad Day

Wouter Weylandt, rider with Leopard Trek died after a crash on Stage 3 of the Giro d’Italia yesterday. Chastening, brings you up short and hard to put into words just what to say. RIP

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Sultan and Raisins

Anyone who pedals with me will know that I'm never that far away from a box of raisins. These wee gems have been known to keep the dreaded 'knock' at bay until more carbs can be sourced.

My two daughters have been spotted looking somewhat perplexed when they go for a snack only to find that the bag of raisins has been depleted. I've even discovered that their cereal and fruit bars pack a mean punch. The 'oaties' (or is is stoaties?) bars are also fab, but are impossible to eat when cycling. The 'character building' ride over the Duke's pass in the depths of winter provided a number of opportunities to stop and chew on an oatie. 

Well is just so happens that the raisins have a new ride to enjoy. The Turner Sultan(a) is now built and looking splendid in orange (room for more fruit gags), in fact it is almost the same tone as my 96' Lemond Alpe D'Huez. If the Turner provides half as much enjoyment as the Lemond I'm in for a treat. 

an apple a day

if you happen to be reading this blog in the Glasgow Apple store, hello!

Monday, 2 May 2011

ten from the toon'

A plan to host a bike film festival has been brewing for a number of months. Mugdock Country Park has a small film theatre and new restaurant called Charlie's. Charlie isn't the owner, if he was, the place would be a wreck. Charlie was famous for his large ears and long trunk, he arrived at the park after the Second World War and was a popular attraction at Craigend Zoo.

The films and documentaries are always a source for discussion and the latest plan to host a ten mile TT from Glasgow to Mugdock on the opening night would be a cracking way to start. Mugdock also has some of the best mtb trails in the area, so a small scurry through the woods could be just the tonic prior to the start of the muddy leg films.

Stay upright and keep smiling, the sun is with us!

another 80? No, I'll have a glass of Ventoux thanks

The 80 over new and familiar roads was indeed a treat and a good test for the etape caledonia. Whether the etape can provide the wonderful lunch, coffee and cake that Berits and Brown in Kippen (there is also one in Morzine!) offer will be answered soon. This wee cafe/deli has become a welcome rest for weary legs. The chat and service is as good as the food, excellent. The wine and beer selection is also worth a look. There is one small problem, the lack of scones. If cyclesguff is to start a scone league, an earlier start or pre-order will be required. Surely the lack of scones is a good sign...