Saturday, 28 April 2012

Many happy returns

An early start time was set, the forecast was for for blue skies, a moderate north easterly wind and Routemaster General had set a challenge of riding on favourite sections of roads. Now, it just so happens that those favourite sections of roads for the cyclesguff bunch include some pretty tough hills. 

Thanks to the North wind, the view looking out over the Campsies this morning provided a stunning sight with an incredibly clear blue sky. The wind had also brought some snow along for the ride. A quick recap and rush back to the kit drawer was required. Thankfully, the roads where mostly dry, but that wind was bitter. 

The ascent of the Crow Rd provided views out over snow capped mountains and as we climbed higher and hit the snow line, the temperature dropped. It was a special morning and the views just kept on coming. Being out early, with the countryside unfolding in front, in good company and a route that would see us return to wonderful ribbons of tarmac was a great start to the cyclesguff 1st birthday ride. Time to celebrate, cyclesguff turned 1 today!

Routemaster General had provided a birthday surprise with a new ascent to Sheriffmuir. With the memory of Amstel Gold in his legs, he had selected a ramp leaving Logie Kirk. This has to be one of the steepest ascents in the area, the inside of one hairpin in particular, looks like a wall that teenagers would sit on and hurl cheek at cyclists losing the battle against gravity. The route turned off before Sherrifmuir and then plummeted down to Dunblane.  A 'bit and bit' blast to Doune, past Deanston distillery (it couldn't be a celebration ride without passing a distillery) on to Thornhill and a well earned and very long lunch at Berits & Brown in Kippen, the dill and carrot soup was fab. 

hint and a challenge?

There was a plan to head out to the Duke's Pass, Gartmore and Drymen, sadly, time was against us, but at least the revised route would see us pass another distillery. This time Glengoyne and it looked splendid under a snow capped Dumgoyne Hill. A fitting end to a great day in the saddle and a wee tipple has just been poured.

Stay upright and thanks for visiting cyclesguff over the past year

Friday, 27 April 2012

Cycle Loopy

It easy to get in the habit of riding the same routes over and over without really thinking. Accordingly there is a supreme pleasure when with a little effort and imagination you chose to take a new turn just to see what's there. So it is with this looping run that heads for a cyclesguff staple of Gleniffer braes but with added deviantion. With minimal if circular tweaking we arrive at multiple and varied climbs rolling in the sinuous hills and valleys that head towards the coast. Having discovered these delights so close to hand we were not for leaving until we had skirted up and down each side skateboard pipe style. Proof it it were needed in the stats of 950m climbing in just 40 miles/64km the route includes a killer climb recently featured by John McKendrick A Cyclist's Guide to Hillclimbs on Scottish Lowlwand Roads and a number of chevrons on the OS maps and makes for a testing ride that rarely settles on flat.


uppies doonies

doonies uppies

you get the picture

Thursday, 19 April 2012

behind you!

Visitors to cyclesguff may recognise the pic below. This is a favourite spot for this guffer, and every time I pass, a pic is taken.

This got me thinking...visitors to this blog may like to see what's behind.

Stay upright

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Terminal velocity

Every now and again a chance for a spot of exploring comes along, this weekend was to be one of them. The 'classic' ride to meet the family in Comrie was on the cards, as was a wee ride on Sunday to free up the legs. 

The Saturday ride followed familiar roads and provided an ideal chance to test the fitness. Strava, once again, was on to keep me company and log the route. The post ride analysis showed that I'm not the only rider who has the the last 16k/10miles into Comrie as a target. My aim for a time under 30 minutes over rolling exposed moor roads may sound like an easy target for some, this guffer has only succeeded once! Saturday wasn't one of them, but a time in the mid(ish) 30's wasn't to be sniffed at, especially since the wind was being a pest and the road surface on the B827 towards Comrie is truly awful, a shocker and one of the worst examples of the state of Scottish roads. This got me thinking about, I'm not about to go on some political rant about council tax freezes, local councils' lack of funds and the responsible party that decided to specify one of the below to repair roads....

Oh, the irony
In theory, the kit above is good, but the experience of riding roads where it has been used is awful. The repair leaves a high spot, the aggregate emulsion mix doesn't adhere to the damaged section. And, what is left results in small stones littered across the road, not surprisingly, these are usually in breaking areas and corners. This guffer is aware of a number of riders (moto and velo) that have experienced close calls.  The larger sections of roads that have been repaired with this kit end up displaying very similar characteristics to a washboard. Whether this is due to breaking forces of vehicles, temperature extremes and poor application, it doesn't matter. It is not a long term repair and is classic example of a solution causing even more problems. As for the so called cost savings - don't get me started. 
Back to the ride. There is a little road that quietly calls me every time I pass. My ambition to beat 30, results in a subtle nod and next time glance. Sunday was to be that day. A fab little route of 40k was chosen for its mix of great views, straight as a die ascents and very fast country lane descents. 

One of which has an incredible transitions from ultra quick chute to a very steep and short hairpin climb. The map had been looked at and memory serving me well, I would be turning left very soon after Muthill and heading back towards the Drummond Estate. This little gem of a rolling road didn't disappoint and is one that fellow Guffers will hopefully experience on a training ride prior to Etapé Caledonia.

Stay upright

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

4 men and 23 gears

3 single speeds and a 2x10
This guffer's 'go to' bike for the last few months has been a Lemond Alpe D'Huez. Sunday's route was off road, so with a touch of fitness in the legs, super dry trails and a sunny outlook, the 29er SS was wheeled out. The pre-ride chat and mentions of unheard of trails proved without doubt that I'd been neglecting the knobbly tyres. That stream of consciousness became even more apparent when the hoops began to turn. 

My pace has been recorded in perpetuity by Strava. The route darted through woods of pines and canopies of oak, birch and elm all coming into bloom. It appears that Strava never dropped a signal and I now have a map of the route for future forays into the woods. My rustiness was recorded through scrapes, these are now acting as very persuasive prompts that I must venture out more into the woods. Thankfully those scrapes will heal, but what remains is the fact (for me anyway) that a base fitness for road riding is very different to the fitness and mindset required for the trails.

Sunday's experience of the local trails begged the question - with a few hours to spare, why go anywhere else? A fantastic combination of technical singletrack, 'chewing the handlebars' climbs and flowing descents that open out to some epic views are on the doorstep. Oh, and there is also the chat, encouragement and local trail building skills of a great bunch of riders.

Stay upright

Sunday, 1 April 2012


It won’t have escaped some of you that part of the guff ethos includes a certain eye for detail. Whether in bike design, publications, tasty kit or route profiles each of us brings our own subtle influence to bear.
It plays out in our choice of bike and equipment and we rarely ride the same components or kit. There is however one exception and that is our choice of Continental tyres.

We consider these tyres to be quality items that offer good puncture protection, grip and minimal rolling resistance. Perhaps in keeping with German precision engineering, there is a direction arrow on the tyres advising the user of the preferred direction of travel. This generous assistance has exposed a failure to follow instruction and compromised abilities in the guff camp.

In one of the final summer runs of 2011 a shameful truth was revealed when the direction arrow on a tyre was spotted pointing backwards. In a scandalous failure to follow manufacturer guidance the tyre had been fitted the wrong way. I am sure you will agree that this is not appropriate guff behaviour. It has far reaching consequences that have taken some time to realise.

the horror >
Just as the cyclesguff team bring different perspectives to bear on kit there are differences in our riding skills with a healthy mix of rouleur, baroudeur, puncheur, grimpeur, tester. Descending however remains the realm of one guffer in particular. Alas this is the same guffer that has shown an aversion to instruction manuals and his guff gaffe has now been exposed.

The milder weather allows rider and bike out of storage and testing on higher routes with longer climbs and descents. In the faltering spring sun there has been a great fall from grace. This once great descender is no more. Now that the tyres are pointing in the right direction, frankly, the poor chap cannot descend for toffee. Let that be a chastening lesson.