Sunday, 28 March 2010

Forfar bike ride

28th March 2010

Route on Garmin Connect

Still feeling pretty ropey with a cold, but Ellie and I drove back to Blairgowrie and then cycled along quiet back roads to Forfar. Perfect countryside for cycling, but Forfar is a grey grim unwelcoming town in the Scottish tradition, with not an open café to be found. Eventually we had to make do with re-fuelling at Tesco in Forfar, which also didn't have a café, before heading back. After stopping we both got pretty cold, and it took a while to warm up again. The intial cycle out of Forfar on the Kirriemuir road was unpleasant with fast-moving traffic hurtling past, but things improved as soon as we hit the back road to Mains of Ballindarg, and we enjoyed quiet roads along the Vale of Strathmore for most of the return journey.

The total route was about 84 km or 52 miles.

Blairgowrie bike ride

27th March 2010

Route on Garmin Connect

I was feeling pretty ropey with a cold, but drove to Blairgowrie and then cycled to Alyth and up the hill to intercept our Westerlands club relay run around the 55-mile Cateran Trail. Once I found John Hamer I turned around and headed back to the Den of Alyth Car Park where are a crowd was waiting for the changeover. Ellie and I chased after Dave Calder up the hill to West Tullyfergus before dropping back to Blairgowrie. We then took a challenging route to Bridge of Cally by climbing up the hillside to skirt round the Hill of Drimmie. After Bridge of Cally the cycling was easier, but steadily uphill and into a headwind. At Enochdhu the runners headed over the hill back to Spittal of Glenshee, so Ellie and I put the bikes in the car drove to Gulabin Lodge where we all stayed the night. I think the whole route took about 8 hours 37 minutes for the fastest of 3 teams.

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Gourock bike ride


Went out for another bike ride today. Met Ellie and set off via Cycle Route 7 that heads out of south west Glasgow via Pollok Park to Paisley, crunching through broken glass.

Once the route crosses the Black Cart Water at Johnstone we picked up Route 75 to Gourock following the disused railway past Bridge of Weir and Kilmalcolm. At Port Glasgow there was too much broken glass to be able to use the cyclepath so we dropped down into Greenock and made our way through Battery Park to Gourock.

The original plan was to catch the ferry from Gourock to either Kilcreggan or Helensburgh, but we discovered that neither of these services run on a Sunday, so we hunkered down in a cafe on the seafront to decide what to do next.

Eventually we headed on and made our way around the coast as far as Inverkip, and had several false attempts before finding the correct road up the hill for Loch Thom. We saw the interesting features of the Greenock Cut and Kelly Cut before reaching the Cornalees car park beside Loch Thom. The next section was along rough forestry track past the Gryfe Reservoirs, before dropping down the hill and re-joining the cycle path back into Kilmalcolm, where we stopped briefly for Frijj milkshakes.

The next target was Bishopton, but we kept taking the wrong roads, so ended up doing a massive zigzag to finally reach the approach road to the Erskine Bridge. I've only lived in Glasgow for 20 years, and this was my first cycle over this impressive bridge, with an exciting steep descent towards Old Kilpatrick. From here we had a straightforward return journey along the Forth and Clyde canal towpath.

Total distance = 127 km or 79 miles.

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Carron Valley bike ride

It's 3 months today since I tore my right adductor at Mugdock and haven't been able to run since. And that was after about 6 weeks of illness with sinusitis from Nepal, so it's now getting on for 5 months since I was last running.

This morning I had a session at Achilles Heel on my adductor before going out for a pootle on my bike. I met up with Ellie and we headed out of Glasgow on the Forth and Clyde canal as far as the Falkirk Wheel.

After coffee and cake we headed back, but turned off at Banknock and cut over the hill to Carron Valley Reservoir. After Fintry we called in on Val and Rob to see Iona, who is now 7 days old. And then after more tea and cake cycled back to Strathblane and over the hill past Mugdock Village to drop down past Milngavie Reservoirs to see John & Fiona to discuss plans for next weekend's Cateran Trail Extravaganza.

The total distance of the route was 99km.

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Balloch to Clydebank Half Marathon

14th March 2010

Results | Race route

This morning I cycled up to Balloch to follow the half marathon back to Clydebank. The first few miles saw a lead pack of 10 runners working together. The lead group consisted of Matt Gillespie, Thomas Fay & Michael Deason of Glasgow Uni, Jethro Lennox, Allan Adams & Paul Sorrie of Shettleston, Kerry Liam Wilson & Robert Gilroy of Cambuslang, and Kenny Richmond & Matt Williamson of Bellahouston.

Between Renton and Dumbarton the field began to stretch out, and by Mile 5, 19-yr old Matt Gillespie of Glasgow Uni, running his first half marathon, had made his move and was off the front. By Mile 6 Matt's lead had increased. Between miles 9 and 11, Jethro appeared to be gaining some ground, but was never going to close the gap. So the finishing order was:
1. Matthew Gillespie, Glasgow Uni, 1:08:24
2. Jethro Lennox, Shettleston, 1:09:28
3. Allan Adams, Shettleston, 1:09:39
4. Kerry Liam Wilson, Cambuslang
5. Thomas Fay, Glasgow Uni
6. Kenny Richmond, Bellahouston RR
7. Robert Gilroy, Cambuslang
8. Paul Sorrie, Shettleston
9. Michael Deason, Glasgow Uni
10. Daniel Bradford, Glasgow Uni
11. Matt Williamson, Bellahouston RR
12. Joe McKnight, Garscube

Click image below for photo gallery:

Balloch to Clydebank Half Marathon

Saturday, 13 March 2010

GCO concert

Here's a plug for my Glasgow Chamber Orchestra concert tonight at the RSAMD.
The programme is:

Glasgow Parkrun No.64

Glasgow Parkrun website | Route on Garmin Connect

This morning I was thinking of cycling the Paisley and Clyde Coast Railway Path to Gourock when I found there are a whole bunch of route ideas listed on the Sustrans website. So anyhow, I followed the national cycle route 7/75 to Pollok Park (shown here on page 11), where it just so happened that the Parkrun was about to start, so I arrived on the startline around 9:27 just in time for Richard Leyton's pre-race spiel.

I set off as slowly as possible, on the first downhill stretch, then tried to ease into a rhythm on the flat section past the heilan coos. After 2 minutes I was wrecked and felt like dropping out during the first lap, but thought I might at least finish and try to get under 20 minutes. So I carried on plodding round, boosted by a shout from Grant Baillie at the end of Lap 1. During Lap 2 Toni McIntosh finally reeled me in just as I was trying to reel in Alan O'Rourke from Greenock Glenpark. I matched Toni for a bit and then let her go. But on the final hill I got a burst from somewhere and flew past her and Alan, and held them off to record 19:10 - a PW by almost a minute and half, but at least I got the heart and lungs working, and enjoyed the scone and cappuccino in the Burrell afterwards.

Friday, 12 March 2010

Falkirk Wheel

Route | Falkirk Wheel website

I've just cycled 74km to the Falkirk Wheel and back, along the Forth & Clyde Canal. It took 2 hours on the way out, and about 1h40m on the return fuelled by Mars bar crispie cake from the Falkirk Wheel cafe. On the way back, I bumped into the Rt Hon Big Al Campbell near Bishopbriggs, having trouble with his road bike clogging up on the muddy towpath.

The Falkirk Wheel is the only rotating boat lift in the world, and links the Forth & Clyde Canal with the Union Canal. The Falkirk Wheel replaces a series of 11 locks which lifted or dropped boats a height of 25 metres. This would to take the best part of a day to negotiate, but now the trip takes around 15 minutes. The locks were closed back in the 1930s.

Falkirk Wheel

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Great Himalayan Trail

Great Himalayan Trail website | Route map

I've been waiting for something like Robin Boustead's Great Himalayan Trail to come along, ever since the Crane brothers published their Running the Himalayas adventure of 1983.

The final route will be 4500km in length from Pakistan to Bhutan, but at present only the 1700km section running the length of Nepal has been completed (by one person!). This consists of 157 days, and is listed as a trek at World Expeditions at a cost of £20,490.

It looks like there's a guidebook covering the trail coming out later this year.

Guardian article | Nepali Times article | Facebook page | Australian article | Republica article

Here are a couple of my photos from Gokyo, November 2009 taken at around 5300 metres:

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Balloch Drymen bike ride

Glasgow-Balloch-Drymen Route

Since my car was badly vandalised last night, I decided to go for another bike ride after first driving the car to Springburn Autoglass to leave it to have 3 windows replaced, with bleeding hands after trying to clear some glass from the car.

For my bike ride, I headed out along the filthy broken glass strewn cyclepath past Scotstoun and Yoker to Clydebank. After Dalmuir things thankfully improve with a more scenic section of canal leading to Bowling. With perfect timing, my rear mudguard spontaneously fell off just before Magic Cycles, so blagged a locking nut from the same chap who sold me a bell yesterday, and continued cheered on by one small bit of good luck, and the weather steadily improving.

After an hour and a half I was at the end of the cyclepath in Balloch, but had already decided to continue towards Balmaha, with the idea of climbing Conic Hill.

When I reached Drymen, I stopped briefly to re-fuel on Gatorade and Rice Krispies marshmallow square and then headed on towards Balmaha. However it was now after 4pm, and I knew that carrying my bike over Conic Hill in deep snow would take a while, so I cut off at Milton of Buchanan into the Garadhban Forest, which was fun to start with but then became impossible to cycle. So I was reduced to walking pace with time ticking on.

As soon as I hit the Gartmore road I gave up with the West Highland Way and instead took the road back down to Drymen and since it was almost 5pm and I had no lights, I knew I would have to follow the main road back to Glasgow, which is not very pleasant. My original plan had been to stay on the West Highland Way, but this would have been far too slow, given that it gets dark just after 6pm.

So, other than a brief stop at the Anniesland chip shop, I had a pretty uneventful return journey, but was quite tired after being out for 4½ hours.

Monday, 1 March 2010

Video of Glasgow Parkrun No.62

Check out this video I created with Jethro Lennox leading the pack at Glasgow Parkrun No.62