Friday, 30 March 2012

cyclesguff does enjoy a trip to Auld Reekie, especially if it involves a visit to the fab bike outfitters Ronde and a few drams on the Royal Mile.
From Ronde's facebook:
Only a few days to go....
Richard Mitchelson is coming to Ronde!
Date - 31st March at around 19.00 sees the opening night of Richs exhibition.
Meet Richard in person, come see Cycling Legends: 'Tete De la Course' and original story board series, 'Pantani: Giro 1994' and much more from various past issues of Rouleur....this is one not too be missed and a first for Scotland!
The guffers have a soft spot for Richard Mitchelson's work, so a wee visit to the exhibition is very likely. 
Stay upright

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

I wish....

The unseasonably hot weather in this fair land has been bliss and rapidly acclimatising to a change from 5Âșc to the low 20's has been fun. Bib tights, gore-tex jackets and winter gloves have been replaced by bib shorts, full zip tops and race mitts. The challenge now is to have the legs spinning like it's summer and ascending local hills at a chippy pace.

Stay upright

Sunday, 25 March 2012

A great day, abc easy as...

wee pink flying machine
Recent posts of been on the longish side, so this one is brief:

1. 5yr old daughter discovered the joy of riding her bike, absolute bliss!
2. A pedal this afternoon, great company and high teens, low twenties centigrade
3. The telly is good tonight, so time to chill and recover

The chat was good when I could stay on his wheel

Stay upright

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Katrina and the Waves

Loch Katrine
Visitors to cyclesguff may have read comments and thoughts on sportive events. Even though some of the feelings nod towards the critical end of the spectrum, we still sign up and join the bunch in pursuit of cycling bliss. This weekend is proof of that, three guffers are off to ride the Cheshire Cat, keep an eye out for a future post.

The cyclesguff inbox had a nice invite from Evans to cycle on some cracking local roads. However, they are planning to charge £5 for the fun. There was also another hook, the offer of hiring a Garmin unit to trial for 'FREE', oh and a High5 energy product. That amounts to a total saving of £7 over the normal entry fee. There are undoubtedly costs associated in planning, promoting and running a Sportive. Evans, cyclesguff salutes you for charging less than the rest and offering a test of some high end kit.........However, a word of warning, the Garmin won't be worth a wee coulter's candy - Evans are offering 'sportive rides darting past Loch Katrina in the heart of The Trossachs'. For those of you that don't know the local roads that cyclesguff pedal, Loch KATRINE is well worth a visit. In fact, Sir Walter Scott was so smitten he wrote a rather famous poem about it.

If you do sign up for the Evans event and you are new to the area, you are in for a treat. The Trossachs are a magical place, best enjoyed on a bicycle, on or off road it doesn't matter.

Another option is the recently announced Robert Millar Sportive. This event is set to take place on the 27th May.  If there was a guarantee to see Robert Millar tackle the 'Tak ma Doon', this guffer would happily pay the £35 entry fee. Then again, the fee also supports young racers.

Stay upright

ps sorry about the number of links in this post

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

If I had a cat....

Following on from an earlier post, the escape to the hills at the weekend didn't dissapoint. The training roads from back in the day still appeal and the range of routes on offer is a sure fire method of becoming lost in time. With memories intact and emotions set to overload, the Lemond is the trusty companion as we travel North. 

Sections of the chosen route provided ample opportunities to measure fitness levels for local clubs. Insights to fellow riders abilities would be gleaned and the all too often cyclist's phrase 'I've not been out much' would quickly demonstrate that rival teams and riders had been out, and many times at that. The sections in question from the route above are: Carrot Hill, Hard-On hill and Lumley Den. Hard-On hill was aptly titled due to it's sudden rise and frantic panting once at the top! According to strava, the climb tops out at 25%. This appears to be a bit optimistic, I was thinking more like 15% at the most. Anyway, it's a tough little kick, especially after riding into a fierce and unrelenting South Westerly. 

The route north is captivating due to the views that rush out ahead and beckon you to explore.  Little did I know, that many years after bombing along those roads, my two daughters would be named after favourite Angus Glens; Isla & Clova. The route wouldn't take me that far into the countryside, but I quickly rediscovered why this area has always been very special. It is fair to say that the Angus Glens don't have the drama and almost overpowering force of the Scottish Highlands. However, what they do have in abundance is fantastic light, quietness and a sense of warmth -  this is quite difficult to describe, but it is something that this guffer feels. I suppose many of us feel the same when we find ourselves back in the land of our youth.

The return to the scenic coastal village of Broughty Ferry is a sensory treat. This route offers a quick drop back to the coast from the wonderfully titled rural village of Kirkton of Monikie (great name for a cat). First of all the there is the sky, wow, what a sky.  Once again, the quality of light and brightness around this coastal region is incredible. Add to this, the constantly changing sky scape of rolling clouds and shafts of light picking out sections of countryside before 'warming' the River Tay and North Sea. 

There's a famous golf course over there...
Then there is the distinctive sweet smell of Gorse bushes. The many golfers who play on the sandy soils of Links courses in the East Coast of Scotland hate this stuff. If your ball ends up in a gorse bush, just take the penalty and play on. This guffer loves it. The final treat is arriving home to find a bowl of Scotch broth just being served - bliss.

Stay upright

Friday, 16 March 2012

Cycle from work

This guffer has been thinking more about bikes than riding them of late. The constant challenges of work-life balance has to be turned on its head and readjusted to the constant opportunities of a life-work balance. What does this mean? Well, for a cyclist it could mean commute to work by bike... I've done this in the past and to be honest, my concern is that it can turn a truly enjoyable pursuit into a chore. Those of us that commute to work by bike will recognise this somewhat negative list:

1. Other road users - sleepy, harassed, inconsiderate
2. Road surface - fuel spills, pot holes, stones, grit
3. Clothing - fine when you set out, but possibly damp when preparing for the return home
4. Showers at work, don't you just love them....
5. Bike security

There are of course many more that can be added to that list. I've decided to stop, because if I continue I may finally throw in the towel and decide to not bother riding to work again, period.

Thankfully, it is coming into the season when there are opportunities for 'cycle to family'. Weekends are indeed precious and riding bikes can become a selfish pursuit. Fellow bands of riders from across the globe head into the hills and beyond leaving partners and kids at home. How many times has a time been set for a return and it's been missed? Reasons can be: mechanical, fitness, wrong turn - again, so many can be added to that list. For the past few years the plan for this guffer has been to head out early and agree to meet with family at a destination. The challenge with this arrangement is that you are usually on your tod, so little chance for the social excuse of riding a bike or even 'measuring' fitness against fellow guffers. However, this type of ride does provide many opportunities for wonderful moments. A few highlights are riding towards the destination and discovering that the car about to pass is the family wagon, the windows are down and the kids are cheering. Arriving at the destination before the car, that is always a bonus and results in a smugness of the tallest order.

One of the routes that I take to a family destination covers an overall distance that is a snip under 60 miles, a couple of killer climbs and exposed moorland do their best to sap energy. The last 10 can be tough, but it is a rolling joy of a road. This is my measure point and cracking a time under 27mins is the target. 

This weekend provides the opportunity for a new cycle to a family destination. The excitement building this time is due to the hoops turning on old but familiar roads as a solo break to the Angus Glens beckons.

Stay upright

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Spring has Spun

Jetlag does have it's benefits, one of them is eating humble pie. This guffer is currently in Singapore dealing with work in two time zones and two eyes that have so much baggage, they might be checked in for the flight home. A post a few months back had a cheeky title and tongue in cheek comment about NAHBS. Well folks, if you have yet to point the cursor, head over here
I couldn't resist....
What comes next on your list of must haves after the dream bike build is finished? If your credit card hasn't melted and there is some cash left in the bank, would clothing be next on the list? Readers of this blog may sense of pattern that kit is a cyclesguff vice. Keep your eyes peeled for more washinglineposts in the near future.

The sheer number of companies trading and providing alternatives to the few key players of the past is staggering. Gone are the days when Descente, Assos, Santini and even Adidas ruled to road. There are of course many others to add to that list, but those names where frequently seen on the pros, and possibly the producers of the best team kit.

Has the growth in popularity of sportive events and riders not solely interested in competition provided the way for new kit challengers to make inroads? Has the consumer become more brand aware? Have greater levels of expectation that promotes a sense belonging to a particular producer become mainstream? There was a pattern like this a few years back in snowboarding. You would see riders on the slopes head to toe, their bindings and board all from one brand. The accounts of the pro-rider lifestyle, great advert shots and movies all providing the dream ticket to the weekend warrior, never mind the seasoner.  To a certain extent, cycling is following similar lines. The rise of design and lifestyle brands like Rapha has been incredible to watch. There is no doubt about it, their kit is well considered, combines great (and subtle) details, refreshing cuts/fit and a range of materials that offer a feel way beyond that of the all too commonly used polyester/lycra blend. On the subject of blends, those pushing sportwool - cyclesguff salute you!

The Rapha site is also a joy to visit and indulge. That team have a handle on what their customer is about and are frequently providing items (that are not always their own) to spend the hard earned cash on. The links with pro teams on the road and in the cyclocross world, don't you just love that kit, just add to the message.

This is all very well and good but there is a group that has been fighting back against the mainstream, couriers. The dreaded 'underground' mantle is used too frequently. We are also more than aware that the underground can quickly become the adopted norm. So where does that leave the couriers? Judging by new starts, such as Tokyo Fixed and the number of fixies on the road, is the look now mainstream?

There's a great wee shop in Glasgow called Rig, it's run by a courier with God only knows how many years of deliveries under his hoops and he's stocking the kind of kit that is not mainstream. Individuality is certainly at home in the shop, as is the great collection of components and kit, including local sourced gems.

One newer rider to the retail peleton and someone that cyclesguff has been looking to feature for sometime is Stuart McKirdy of SpunCaps. Stuart was mentioned all the way back in the heady days on the Redbull Minidrome. His cap was class and stood out against the old skool cinelli and campag offerings. Here's a few pics to tickle yer fancy. If you like what you see, drop Stu a line at If you happen to be in Glasgow, drop into Rig, 

some of Stu's caps are on special and the PK Ripper in the window may even take you back to the days of cobbled together half pipes and 'borrowing' ply from the joiners yard.

stay upright and trust your landing gear

doesn't look much

With the smell of spring in the air longer and more searching runs offer pleasure along with the usual endurances of the distance cyclist. Sunday proved to be just such a day. Sunny enough to bring some locals out in t shirts, though this guffer must confess to staying well wrapped up. Maybe just as well since the day offered up a couple of cold showers and wee extra pressie of a stinging hail storm amongst the bright sunshine.
 The route was straight out and back from Glasgow via Milngavie, Stockiemuir and a left at Croftamie on to much favoured roads towards Jamestown. The views over Ben Lomond and Arrochar Alps were a pleasant distraction though not to be lingered over since the less than perfect surface required some canny bike handling.

Glasgow to Alexandria, not as the crow flies

The turn came at the top of the Carman Hill that rises above Renton on the Cardross Road, conveniently marked on the map with a starting elevation of 15m topping out at 149m. At 2km long it looks fairly innocuous but the hill rises around 100m of the 134m in the first 1km. At the start the road slips under the main artery of the A82 then kicks into a incline of 18/19% that is sutained beyond two switchbacks before it straightens and eases a bit. Guts suitably wrenched the road hugs the reservoir giving time to get your breath back for a last dig to the top that is rewarded with more great views, this time, over the Clyde estuary.

OS leaves no doubt. Straddle those contours.

After a fallow 2011, cyclesguff will be represented at a few more events this year starting with the Cheshire Cat on 25 March 2012 when Mow Cop awaits. Not before we've tested ourselves on the likes of the Carman a few more times. Distance 88km, 1110m climbing, 25kph