Sunday, 23 September 2012

Just = night

The 'just because....' series tend to be pics and nothing more than a caption. And, we can't forget Routemaster General's French take from a few months back.

Yesterday was the first time out on the bike since the Graeme Obree sportive. A single speed 29er isn't the best option for weak legs and lungs, but the conditions where great and I can only go as fast as a 32x20 will allow on the flat stuff - there wasn't much flat stuff.

The day provided ample opportunities to experience the sheer amount of water that has recently fallen out of the sky and a tree felling operation of a huge scale around Mugdock and the West Highland way does beg the question - will the cleared sections of woodland ever recover, or will they become yet another area of tree stumps and bog? 

what's the name of that Orb song?
So, as night equals day, the dark hours where spent enjoying an Arran non chilled filtered 10yr old malt. A delightful flavorsome (almost toffee) malt that is a pleasant as the isle it came from. Cyclesguff are planning a wee trip to Arran and possibly Islay very soon....the nights are drawing in.

Stay upright

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Delica Daze

One of the most amusing tweets from this year’s tour was from David Millar:
Swept opening my curtains to find beautiful blue sky, and... The Deathstar. 
The days of pro-riders driving to races by their own means are well and truly over.  The tales recounted in Slayer the badger and Put me back on my bike offered an insight to the welcome escape from the peleton (and even team mates). The untimely death of Tom Simpson in 1967 resulted in him never collecting his Mercedez Benz 300sl Gullwing that was ordered just beofre the tour. There isn’t much room in that car, and how on earth he could fit a bike rack with gullwing doors is beyond me.  
I recently had the privilege of giving Graeme Obree a lift. Now, this may be a slight aberration for the Flying Scotman, after all the bicycle is his most frequent mode of travel. The reason was a request to help with transporting ‘the beastie’ for an initial speed run – more on that another day. One thing we did speak about during the short journey was kids and bikes, Graeme summed it up perfectly ‘kids and bikes are like fish’n’chips’.    
For me, putting bikes in a car/van etc paves the way for memories of adventures and hopefully new ones to recount. Ah, the onset of road trip fever. Some of the best road trips and memories where spent traveling across the UK and France. The vehicle of choice was owned by riding buddy and great friend, David. Other than his bikes, it was his pride and joy. The vehicle was a first series Mitsubushi Delica (aka Japanese passion wagon) or simply referred to as the van. We would push the van to ramming speed on long descents and David would cook its brakes chasing me and other Raid Pyrenean riders on the Col de Tourmalet descent to Sante Marie du Campan. The brakes were never quite the same and there was still a few days left of the raid and a trip to the French Alps via Mt Ventoux to contend with! As the support vehicle for the Raid Pyrenean it was a welcome sight parked up on a Col.   
who needs ac...

The huge tailgate would be open to provide shade and access to supplies of food and cool drinks. Tunes would normally be blasting out and on the dashboard, the bobbing Mr T would be keeping to the beat.  
You climbed what!? Yo crazie fool!
Morzine has been the mtb destination for the past five years and the van always cut the cloth in the town. Riders and locals would stop for a chat, it was the vehicle equivalent of a puppy. Maxine, the friendly owner of the Les Marmottes campsite would welcome us back in the summer and ‘Camp David’ would be erected. The van was a always a welcome sight after a day in the mountains and a few Mutzigs in Bar Robinson. The bbq would be lit, and with coolbox fan purring away in the background as a gentle reminder that the van’s battery had kept the beer cool. A perfect setting to kick back and reflect on a day in the mountains.  

David hit upon a major spot of bad luck in France during this summer's trip. The result, the van has been left to be crushed! I was gutted when he told me the news. Thankfully, David and the rest of the crew are all fine. As for the van, it will be replaced, but never forgotten. At least we the have memories of shredding the rad through the Alps, windows down and Booker T and the MGs drowning out the cowbells. 
This isn’t exactly a fitting end to this post, but this classic phrase from the ace BBC comedy - Still Game, always reminds me of the van and trips to Morzine   
‘Feel the burn Boaby, Feel the buuurrrn’  
The crazy Frenchies in a hot hatch pulling over and getting well out of the way of J189 NPR on it’s mission not to change down from 4th to 3rd certainly did.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

The Obree way

Not exactly a sportive geometry
A few weeks back, cyclesguff mentioned the kind invite to take part in the Graeme Obree Sportive. The invite came from none other than the man himself. The reason for the invite was down to the this guffer's involvement with 'the beastie'. Graham has been working with staff and students of Product Design Engineering (PDE) programme at the Glasgow School of Art and University of Glasgow. There is an additional and historical element to this collaboration. Graeme started studying PDE, in his own words 'for a matter of weeks'. Thankfully, the result of that early departure from his studies has resulted in one of the most inspiring and challenging stories. 

Whether you ride a bike or not, working with Graeme is an experience! The energy gained from his work ethic and approach is addictive. The next few weeks will see even more development and tweaking as the time to roll out 'the beastie' for the record attempt approaches. The excellent site humans invent has more details of development and the Obree way, so please point the cursor in that direction for more info.
Nick O Balloch
A post about the Graeme Obree sportive is well overdue.....the event takes place late July! Four guffers made the journey down to Ayrshire. The chat in the car centred around lack of time on the bike and what to wear. In other words, we where anxious. And as it turned out, the good old inclement Scottish weather decided to come along and keep us company on the ride. Charlie Milarvie (Maximise Sport and Graeme's agent) had mentioned that the 68.5mile route would feel more like 100. The 'heavy' undulating roads (over 1,100metres of climbing) and Nick O The Balloch climb around the 40 mile mark being the main test. The guffers only managed 2 miles before the first test. A mangled rear mech, and no means of repair forced Pete to abandon. We left with the first bunch and just had to watch them disappear as a dejected Pete walked like a duck back to the event start at Auchincruive. The remaining three tried to keep together, but a fluctuating pace saw a few smaller groups form from the second wave to depart. The guffers had the chance to regroup after the magic descent to Straiton Thankfully, the descent was the only major section of dry road we experienced.  After a short stop for water and grub the heavens opened and it was truly biblical. The last few miles saw the sun break through and warm our damp bodies as we confronted the last few ramps on the run back to the start.

The combination of quiet roads taking in some stunning views of the moorlands high above Ayrshire, fantastic marshaling, support of South Ayrshire Council and police stopping traffic at junctions created an atmosphere not too disimilar to a closed road event. The success of the event is a credit to the organisers and the following that Graeme has. It's also generating funds for the fantastic charity Combat Stress. The other draw was the number of riders. Smaller sizes (in my experience) results in groups willing to work and make the most of the day, this is something that mass start events, such as the Etapé Caledonia struggles with.

If you have ever considered riding the roads that Graeme trains on, stop considering and sign up for 2013.

Stay upright