SBT is go.

First of April 2016 is the official launch date of Scottish Bike Touring.  At last the first tour is planned and the first clients booked up!

Innocent railway and Pentlands on the 2nd April will be the first tour.  A nice easy 32 mile circuit taking in the Innocent tunnel, the canal and ending at the Canal Basin although an extension might be added!.

Launch deal: Book any 3 tours between 1st April and 1st July and get 20% off the third tour booked.  http://www.scottishbiketouring.com for a list of tour dates and prices.

Launch day 1st April

I have been seeing an advisor to help launch the business and on Friday we finally completed the business plan for submission to his boss.  The figures look really optimistic even with a lot of adjustment but I am hoping for the best and keeping everything crossed.

Friday the 1st of April is the date we have set for the launch of the company the first tour will be a trip from the Scottish Parliament to the Canal Basin via the Innocent Railway, Pentland hills and the Union Canal.  I have had it posted on the FB page and have 4 interested whether that turns into 4 clients or not I don’t know!

I never thought at 58 I would be launching a new venture like this.  Truly there is life in the auld dug yet.

The Kelpies, Falkirk wheel and Union Canal.

Sunday 20th March I got the train to Falkirk with my CX bike and headed out on a recce of my Kelpies route.  It was a great day with the sun shining and loads of people taking advantage of the weather.  I got off the train at Falkirk Grahamston and made my way to the Kelpies two enormous horses heads in the Helix park area.  

 After having a look around and taking some pics and video footage I headed for the Falkirk Wheel along the canal bank which leads you straight there.  Not pretty at times but the route is straightforward and mainly flat.  The canal bank was busy and a loose Spaniel caused a bit of consternation to a cyclist in front of me luckily it was under control by the time I reached it.

It’s approx 3 miles from the Kelpies to the Wheel and pretty soon it’s looming in front of you. 

   The Falkirk wheel is used to transport craft from the Forth and Clyde canal to the Union canal and an amazing piece of engineering it is.  It takes the  same amount of power to boil 66 kettles as it does to operate the Wheel!  After watching it in operation I headed through the  180 metre long tunnel leading to the wheel just as another craft came through.  

With the two major sights visited I headed East on the Union Canal path.  The CX bike has CX tyres on it and in general they handled the surface well.  It was obvious that improvements were and are being made to the surface.  The path and the canal were busy as walkers, cyclists, canoeists and sailors took advantage of the day.  The John Muir Way coast to coast walk and bike route uses the canal for some of its route with various detours into the villages near the canal.  However I stuck to the canal path until I reached the village of Old Philipstoun where I headed for South Queensferry and the Forth Road bridges!  The approach roads to the new bridge are under construction and it was heartening to see that cycle tracks are already marked out!

After crossing the bridge I headed down into North Queensferry and picked up the Fife Coastal Path it was here that I could have done with the suspension provided by my 29er not impossible on a CX bike just uncomfortable.  I made my way along the north coast of the Forth taking in the views along the coast and paused near Kirkcaldy to watch a few seals sunbathing on the rocks.

Another good day on the bike and part of a route recce’d.

A tale of two networks

Network one the easy to use cheap and almost efficient rail network we have in Scotland.  Does as this come as a surprise?  The only gripe is the number of bike spaces already too few which are going to be cut further on some services.  Cost really is down to being aware of how NOT to pay full price.  I have two rail cards a two together card when I travel with my SOSAD Carol which reduces the fares by 30% and an over 50 card for when I am travelling alone this reduces the fare by 20%.  None of those cards can be used during peak times but hey so what.   So we found ourselves using network one to take us to network two and out cycle for the day.  Read on………

Network two is the National Cycle Network we took the train to Dunfermline Queen Margaret and got onto NCN 764 the West Fife cycle route.   

 
We were travelling to Alloa to meet some ex colleagues of mine for some lunch then cycle back a round trip of 32 miles with  about 1200 ft of climb.  

The route follows an old rail line for most of the way and is well surfaced with several waymarked exits taking you to towns along the way.  It would be possible to do an almost circular route by heading south and along the Forth from Culross to North Queensferry and get the train back.  Today though was just an out and back with a break for food.  The ride out took us about 1:30 with some delay for a bit of route finding but in general it was well marked as evidenced on the way back when we managed back without a hitch.

Another good day on the Velo just a short (£3.20) train ride away.

If you enjoy this blog spread the word.  The website for Scottish bike touring is http://www.scottishbiketouring.com Join me for a tour.

SBT on the WWW

Unaccustomed as I am to web design and layout I am now fairly happy with the website.  I have tried to create a site that is easy to navigate, is pleasant on the eye and whilst answering most questions just encourages viewers to get in touch.

On the site at present are outlines of the standard tours and a calendar of potential dates.  The tours can however be booked at any time.  Tours are from half day to four day trips and I have tried to emphasise that they are not a dash here dash there affair rather if you want to stop and take THAT pic we will stop.  The tours are so people can see this great country not rush past everything just to get from A to B!

Please feel free to take a look at http://www.scottishbiketouring.com tell me what you thing.  Book a tour!  spread the word.

SBT at Scottish Cycling Running and Outdoor Pursuits show

SCROPS is at the SECC Glasgow and runs over three days.  I decided to take myself through on the Saturday.  So kitted out in the Company hoody and with a bag full of contact sheets I headed for Weegieland on the 9:14 from my home town of Kirkcaldy.  There is a station right a the SECC which is nice and handy and the journey from my home town takes just over two hours with two changes and a wee walk between Glasgow’s two mainline stations.  There were demonstrators outside the venue making a noise about fracking aimed at the SNP conference which was also on at the SECC.

I bought my ticket, £15 and made my way into hall 4 and a hubbub of noise.  As well as exhibitors and speakers there were a few activities and that was what was creating the noise.  There was an indoor running straight and two bike courses laid out as well as that various exhibitors had races or challenges on involving indoor exercise equipment.

My SBT hoody attracted a few comments and started some conversations which was exactly what I was hoping for.  I also distributed sheets with contact details around the hall which hopefully will generate some custom.  As normal with these types of exhibitions there were a load of freebies to grab and information leaflets to peruse.  I picked up a lot of both and also got a summer timetable for Calmac ferries.

I caught Mark Beaumonts talk and Q&A session which was very interesting. 

   A very enjoyable day out and if business picks up I would consider going there next year as an exhibitor.

John Muir Way Dunbar to Edinburgh

Friday 4th March I loaded my tourer up with some food a flask and extra clothes and headed down to the station to catch the train to Dunbar birthplace of John Muir.

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After a stop outside his birthplace I headed out on the JMW.   Traditionally cycled West to East to take advantage of the prevailing wind I had decided to begin in the East as that is where John Muirs story began.  The JMW is a purpose built C2C route suitable for walkers and cyclists the path occasionally splits and the walkers and cyclists take a different path.  Surprisingly the walking and cycling routes are the same distance despite the splits along the way.

It was a grey windy day and the sea was choppy it all added up to an atmospheric ride out of Dunbar. The route makes use of NCN 76 and further on towards Edinburgh NCN 1 it also utilises roads when it needs to. After Dunbar which is left on the A199 Whitekirk is the next village then onto North Berwick.  Berwick Law (613ft 187m) dominates the skyline and the route takes you around the bottom of the Law although you can make a slight detour and climb up the hill and examine the stone watchtower at the top of this ancient volcano.

After North Berwick Dirleton with it’s castle and Gullane with it’s golf courses follow in quick succession.   Next village is Aberlady and your first glance of the Forth bridges Aberlady bay at 20 miles is a nice place to stop for food and a comfort break.

Although on a busy road now you are following the coast along to Cockenzie and Port Seton you pass in front of the now abandoned Cockenzie powerstation and back onto a cycle path.   You are now nearing Edinburgh and Arthurs seat is visible in the distance.  Still hugging the coast you carry on through Prestonpans the site of the famous battle and home to a not so famous microbrewery.  At the edge of Musselburgh the path leaves the shore and heads up Brunstane Burn and into the first suburb of Scotland’s capital city.

Edinburgh is blessed with miles of cycle paths, mainly old railways, and this path leads you onto the Innocent Railway which was used to transport goods and people between Edinburgh and Dalkeith.  The innocent railway via the Innocent tunnel leads you towards Holyrood park  and the Scottish Parliament building.

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So endeth my ride for the day!

The verdict a great route with views and terrain to keep it interesting and enough cafes, castles and Kirks to satisfy anyone!