A ride on NCN 1

NCN 1 is a near 1700 mile cycle path from Dover to the Shetland Islands.  On a mix of traffic free paths and on road surfaces the signed route follows the East coast connecting the major towns and cities and passing through some stunning coastal scenery.

I took myself along to the train station and travelled to the ex RAF now Army base of Leuchars this is the station that serves St Andrews and is a busy little place especially this close to the Open Golf Champs.

Using quiet country roads I reached the Tay road bridge and started across the bridge on the elevated central carriageway.  A little unnerving with traffic whizzing by on both sides!

Dundee is a city that is undergoing a lot of change one of which is visible from the bridge the new V & A museum due to open later this year.

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There is a lift at the north end of the bridge large enough to easily accommodate 2 or 3 cycles.  The lift takes you down to ground level and the Quayside and NCN1.

The route is well signed and even with ongoing works and diversions was easy to follow.  The route takes you through the dock area with some staggered barriers and two security gates to negotiate.

Once through the dock area you are alongside the north side of the Tay, looking south you can see the north coast of Fife.

DSCF2350I was soon in Broughty Ferry “The Ferry” to locals and was passing by the impressive castle.  Completed in 1495 the Castle has had a long and colourful history and was being adapted even up to the second world war to defend the mouth of the Tay.

DSCF2351After The Ferry comes the village of Monifeith and then back onto dedicated cycle path to Carnoustie.  This was the site of several diversions due to the Open Golf but once past them its back onto dedicated cycle path again lovely smooth easy rolling tarmac a joy to cycle on.

Approaching the fishing village of East Haven  I decided to stop for a quick bite to eat and head back to Dundee on the A92 cycle path an undulating traffic free path alongside the A92. I used the path to avoid the diversions through Carnoustie on my return route.

Once back in Carnoustie I retraced my steps back to Leuchars and the end of an enjoyable outing on NCN1.

A total of 51 miles with 1700 feet of ascent a really enjoyable ride.

 

 

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A Mini Adventure (Thirty six hours with SBT.)

Due to a set of fortuitous circumstances I found myself with two totally free days and set out to make the best of them.

I set myself two major objectives 1.Climb a Munro (a Scottish mountain over 3000ft)

2. Cycle an iconic Scottish route.

I set off for the North west of Scotland at 0700 and although it was a working day for everyone else missed the majority of the rush hour traffic.  I was parked up at Coulags and ready to climb the munro by 1130.  The munro, Maol Chean-Dearg, looked amazing in the sunlight and was beset by other “baggers”.

 

A small munro at 3061 feet I had negotiated the easy lower slopes, the higher rock fields and made my way back to the car by 1730.

I was staying in a Youth Hostel in Applecross which meant a drive across the amazing Bealach na Ba.  To quote Wikipedia “Bealach na Bà is a winding, single track road through the mountains of the Applecross peninsula, in Wester Ross in the Scottish Highlands. The historic mountain pass was built in 1822 and is engineered similarly to roads through the great mountain passes in the Alps, with very tight hairpin bends that switch back and forth up the hillside and gradients that approach 20%. It boasts the steepest ascent of any road climb in the UK, rising from sea level at Applecross to 626 metres, and is the third highest road in Scotland. ”  You may have guessed by now that this was the second item on my list.

I had a good nights sleep in the hostel aided no doubt by the fact that none of us in room snored!

I planned on doing the Applecross loop 44 miles of single track tarmac with 4400 feet of ascent , 2000+ of which is the climb up from Applecross.  The road winds and undulates it’s way through amazing countryside with views of mountains, beaches and forests following you around all the way.  A very hot day was forecast so I rode my Ridley Orion Team with a small backpack and bladder.  The road rises even before you leave the village and basically does not stop going up until you reach the car park at the summit.  The road was not busy when I left, 0830, but as the day wore on the traffic became more frequent due in part to the Peninsula being part of the North Coast 500.

The ascent down the other side was exhilarating, scary, fast and ear popping.  Strava gave my top speed as 40mph!  20180530_103522

At the bottom I turned left and continued around the loop.  Although the Bealach is the biggy there are plenty other lumps along this road 2400 feet of them to be exact.  The route is what I call an OOOOO and AAAAA route every corner you turn there is a better view than the one you just went by.

 

The temperature was rising and the level in my camelback was falling when I happened upon this little oasis of rehydration and refuelery!  Oh and the Amazing flapjacks were!!

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The final ascent and approach to the hostel crowned a magnificent day.

A quick pit stop load the bike back on the car and I was off and heading for home.

I arrived at 1855 just less than 36 hours after I had left.

So the next time you have 36 hours what will you do………….

 

 

Talking Tandems group ride

Talking Tandems are ten years old this year.

Cycling really is simplicity itself.  You want to go out for a cycle you jump on your bike and head out.  Simple.

Now add into the mix several blind or partially sighted cyclists from Fife and Lothian, transport arrangements, pairing pilots with stokers on the correct sized pool tandem, exchanging pedals and finally each pair trying out the tandem they have been allocated!  A time consuming process.  That was what happened this morning at the Dalgety Bay base of Talking Tandems.DSCF2329

We finally got on out way but luck was not smiling on me.  Originally down as solo support I ended up pairing with a new stoker on a large tandem.  At 5 ft 5 in not an ideal size.  I was willing to give it a go so that the stoker could get out.   We left the car park and within 10 metres one of my pedals had fallen off!  A quick fix and Gavin, my stoker and I was off, almost 400 metres later and a gear cable snapped.  That finished Gavin off he decided that he would get picked up and head home.  We limped back to base and I got on board my solo steed and headed out to try and catch the others.

We headed across then under the eerily quiet Forth Road Bridge.  We then headed on country roads to Winchburgh and Linlithgow.  The turning point was just after Linlithgow and on the way we stopped for lunch at a handily placed garden centre.

The return route saw the group heading through the lovely Hopetoun estate and Port Edgar and heading, once more across the Forth Road Bridge and back to Dalgety Bay.

The route was 35 miles long

with 2100 feet of climbing.

TT are 10 years old this year and are a registered charity if you or your company would like to support TT please get in touch.

 

“Off” season at Scottish Bike Touring.

It has been a little while since I posted but that does not mean that I have not been busy.

All of my bikes got a good clean and going over at the end of November with my Ridley Orion road bike ending up on the turbo.  Happy to say that there were no problems with my bikes just another year of scrapes and bumps.

I decided that my website was looking a bit tired so decided to give that a makeover.  Not being used to sitting at a desk for hours on end I broke the work into manageable chunks stopping when required.  I have had good constructive feedback from some viewers so please feel free to log on to http://www.scottishbiketouring.com and give me more feedback.  The site is still undergoing some work but you should be able to navigate through it ok.

As well as the website I was going over the rides on offer and decided to revamp some of them and introduce some new ones.

Two new offers are city and off road bespoke tours in and around Edinburgh.  I was asked to do this last year by a client and it was a really good ride.  Built to the clients requirements this can be as long or short as the client requires and take in a lot of sights.

Another new tour is based totally in Fife.  The Outlander Fife locations tour.  I have been riding this during the holidays and watching the series for background.  This tour can be done in two ways either as a normal point to point tour or as a “Hub” tour returning to the same accommodation each day.

Hopefully it will not be so long before my next post.

 

TTFN

SBT does the Five Ferries

Start timeThe Five Ferries is an iconic Scottish road cycle on the west coast of Scotland.

Regarded by many as a one day challenge and indeed run as a challenge in one of it’s guises, the Five Ferries is a approx 100 miles long, you travel on Five Ferries, two islands and 3 peninsulas.

There are a number of ways to cycle this route my preference is to start at Ardrossan and get the ferry to Arran and head south around the bottom of the island.  Arran has a spectacular coastline and it is laid out before you as you head around the island.  This is the longest cycle leg with the most climb and is an ideal stopping point if you want to do the ride over 2 days rather than 1.Climb from Brodick

Ferry number 2 takes you from Arran to the Kintyre peninsula and a ride north to the village of Tarbert an ideal lunch stop.  You have cycled 50 miles by this point and climbed almost 4000 ft!  Alas if the group speed is not sufficient to build a cushion its no lunch and straight on Ferry No 3 to Portavadie and the Kyles of Bute.Tarbert

If you would like some luxury rooms for an overnight stay this is the place!  This is the third cycle leg and the scenery is just awesome.  You cycle round the Kyles of Bute to board ferry No 4 at Colintraive travelling to the Island of Bute.  A short fast 8 miles sees you in Rothesay for the final ferry to Wemyss Bay and the final ride to Ardrossan.

This is not an easy one day ride and the added pressure of ferries to catch with the chance that they might be cancelled for one reason or the other makes it an adrenalin raising ride!

There is plenty to see on this tour I would recommend that you take your time and take the two day tour and as I said there are a number of ways to do this ride it can be shortened reducing the 100 miles to something more like 80.

 

 

 

 

Cyclofun 2017

Cyclofun 2017 is an event organised by the NE Fife Rotary clubs.  It is centered around Tayport FC ground and is a family event with led rides, stalls, cycle obstacle course and kids races.

I took the train from Kirkcaldy to Leuchars the nearest station to St Andrews and home of an ex RAF station now occupied by the army.

It was a short cycle to Tayport on NCN 1 and quiet country roads.  The event started at 1100 and although some setting up was still being done it was busy when I arrived at 1120.  I spoke to the organiser and several of the stall holders and dropped some business cards off whilst I waited for others to arrive so I could assist with the kids races which were due off at 2pm.

We set a course up, just a short lap and started registering riders a small field for both races but the kids enjoyed it and who knows there might be a budding start or two in the field.

After the races were done and the course tidiedup I headed back to Kirkcaldy backtracking at first then heading out towards Ceres on my way to Leven to see Carol and then eventually home.  A good cycle just over 30 miles on the Tour de Fer.  Much better then driving it rally is #betterbybike.

 

Edinburgh Festival of Cycling update

The festival is rapidly approaching and is now only 11 days away.  I took the chance to have a final ride along one of the routes I shall be offering-The Waterways of Edinburgh.

I left Haymarket station and headed up to what is billed as Edinburgh’s best kept secret, the Canal basin.

After navigating some canal works, which will in all probability still be in place during the festival, I got back on the canal and headed for the Water of Leith visitors centre.  This is the first stop on the tour and riders can browse publications and have a snack if required.

I then headed down the WoL which meanders its way from the foot of the Pentland Hills to Leith and the Firth of Forth making its way through the city and past many attractions such as Dean Village, Murrayfield and Stockbridge.

 

Come and join me try some other event at EdFoC.