Tag Archives: edinburgh

Canal des 2 mers test trip.

On the weekend on 4th/5th June Carol and I boarded a train for Falkirk along with our bikes and 5 panniers for a weekend testing kit, bikes and bodies before our trip to France in July.

The kit being tested included my new bike the Genesis Tour de Fer 20, Carols saddle and v expensive Sweaty Betty cycling underwear and her new panniers.IMG_2613

We alighted the train at Falkirk and headed straight for the Union Canal then down to the Falkirk Wheel which Carol had not seen before.  An amazing piece of engineering that transports craft from the Firth and Clyde canal to the Union canal.25321299924_0e5f08625a_z

After some sightseeing and a cuppa we headed out on the Union Canal and the first leg of our journey to Dunbar.  This trip had been chosen to emulate our French trip with the canal being nice and flat and distances being approx the same as those we will travel daily in France.

We had been having some amazing weather and the sun continued shining on Saturday.  The canal and the canal path were both busy with boaters, canoeists, bikers, runners and dog walkers.  Things were going great till just outside Linlithgow when Carol got a puncture.  I had the wheel off in a jiffy and the spare tube out unfortunately I had not packed a pump just as well the path was busy we eventually managed to stop a cyclist with a pump and we were on our way again.  DSC02502

Alas it was not to last long and I found myself on the way to Elevation Cycles in Linlithgow to purchase spare tubes and a pump.  We were on our way again and this time our luck held and we were soon approaching the Canal Basin and food!

Carol had had the forethought to call our B & B and tell them we would be late so we made a little detour to the Filmhouse and had our lunch/tea/supper there!

We were booked in the Preistville near Duddingston chosen for its proximity to the cycle path for next mornings start.  It turned out to be a stunning old house and although it was clearly newly decorated the owners had not changed any of the original features.  We spent a good 30 mins looking at the wall decoration, pictures and letters from bygone days, very interesting.  The room was clean and comfortable with the best tea tray I have ever seen in a room!

After a good nights sleep and a hearty breakfast we were on our way once more heading for North Berwick and Dunbar following the John Muir Way.  This part of JMW is on a mix of surfaces with a lot of it on roads and whilst this is fine for cycling I wouldn’t like to walk it.  DSC02504The route takes you through Prestonpans with the street murals, Cockenzie with the remains of the power station still visible, Gullane famous for it’s golf courses and North Berwick dominated by Berwick Law and where we stopped for a spot of lunch.IMG_2624

After our lunch we got back on our steeds and began the climb out of N Berwick and headed for Carols friends at Canty Bay.  We had seats and bikes booked on the 1930 train from Dunbar so after a cuppa and some home baking we headed for the station.  Time flew by unfortunately we seemed to be getting slower. It was time for some head down and hard pedalling.  We rolled into the station with just under 10 mins to spare.  I checked with the station staff what coach the bikes would be on and was told coach D.

We headed down the platform and noticed another two bikes waiting by the coach D stop.  The train arrived and the other two cyclists got on first, the guard shouted down the platform as the train could only take 3 cycles we explained that we had reservations and the other two cyclists were asked to leave the train.  A bit unfair and the guard could have allowed them on but rules is rules and they left the train!

Totals for the weekend were 83 miles with 1700 feet of climbing.

How successful were we?   Well we (I) need to remember to pack a pump.  The Tour de Fer was great, Carol’s panniers passed the test although the jury is still out on the Sweaty Betty’s and the saddle!.  It is now less than 3 weeks till the Grand Depart and to say we are excited would be a major understatement!


A catch up

Been a while since I put a post up so what’s been happening?

Well today I finished my second week of training for the Jungfrau marathon.  Training is coming along slowly but well.  I have introduced intervals, marathon pace runs and am increasing the distance of my long runs.  All good basic stuff no magic bullets there consistent training is the key.  So what have my stats looked like over the last few weeks?

25/4 Runs:29 miles in 4h 52 with 1500 ft climbing.  Biking 47.5 miles in 4h 28 with 3000 ft climbing.

2/5 Runs 30.5 miles in 4h50 with 3500 climbing biking was 99 miles in 8h 18m with 3500 ft of climbing.

Two good weeks with everything on the up.

Programmes for the EdFoC have been distributed now and bookings have been coming in for my tours.  I even have a honeymooning couple interested!  With less than a month to go I am really looking forward to it.  Other cycling news is that I have finally made it to both Middleden helping with the youngsters and to Talking Tandems a local charity which helps visually impaired people to cycle by providing pilots for tandems.


Planning is finally finished for Carol and I’s trip from the Atlantic to the Med in July and we both can’t wait to start our trip.  We have planned a weekend trip to check all our kit and we have been buying stuff that we need to try out before we get to France.  Our pre trip trip is from Falkirk to Dunbar the first part to Edinburgh along the canal and the second part following the JMW.  Hopefully everything will go well but we will have nearly a month to make any final adjustments to our kit.

Apollo Duathlon week

An easy week for me this week with an off road duathlon at the end of it.

Total training for the week was 3 yoga classes, 2 weights sessions I ran 12.7 miles in 1h 50 with 881 ft of climbing and biked 46.5 miles in  5h25m with 2065ft of climbing.

The review of the race is on this site as is a blog on a trip to Edinburgh with Carol.

A wee Visit to Edinburgh

Sometimes the best rides are those that are a bit more off the cuff than planned turn by turn that was Wednesday’s ride with Carol.  With good weather forecast and an unfinished trundle around cycle paths in the capital still on our agenda we headed over to Auld Reekie by train with a couple of objectives but no fixed plan.

Carol wanted to visit Evans and Edinburgh Bike Co-op to take a look at panniers for our trip to France so with some sort of loose plan we headed for the train station and the 10:33 to South Gyle.  We headed along the path that you can see from the train when you come in from Fife to Edinburgh and cut off along the Water of Leith and the Union Canal to the Canal Basin at Fountainbridge. Once at the basin Evans is literally up the road about 200m.  We spent about 45 mins in the shop and Carol tried a set of panniers on her Pug whilst I queried the guy about a Tour de Fer 20.  We both left the shop empty handed and retraced our steps back to the canal basin for lunch in the sun.  A sharing platter of smorgasbord. 

Once we had eaten we mounted our trusty steeds again and pedalled off to the Meadows and Edinburgh Bike Co-op.  Once again Carol tried a set of panniers on her Pug, the shop’s own brand whereas the others had been Altura.   The Bike Co-op had a Tour de Fer 10 in but not a 20 so once again we left a bike shop empty handed!  After a bit of to and froing on the path and a 180 degree turn we headed in the direction of the Forth.

Our next stop was Go Outdoors which was the other side of the town and meant cycling thru the city centre with not only traffic to contend with but TRAM LINES!!! 

 It must be said we negotiated both obstacles safely and were soon whizzing down Scotland Street on our way to Leith and Go Outdoors.  It has been a while since I have been in the shop and it looks a great deal better than it used to with good prices on well known brands.  The Leith shop has a large selection of bikes from Orbea, Viking and some other brands it also does servicing.  After a quick look round we left and headed for a cafe.   It was approaching 5 by this time and although we had not done many miles it was great in the sun and good practice for pedalling down the canals in France although it might be slightly warmer there.  We stopped at a cafe just down from the Botanics and consumed a waffle each and a pot of Earl Grey.  The waffles were amazing and so light. 

Fed and watered we headed to Waverley station and the train home.  The station now has a bike lane going down into it this was news to us and whilst I managed to get onto it Carol couldn’t and proceeded to cycle down the pedestrian way.  At the bottom of the path she was approached by a man in blue and told to use the bike lane next time.  Fine officer but your van is parked right in the middle of it!  With 45 mins till the next train we decided to head outside and try and catch what was left of the sun in Princess Street Gardens.  Unfortunately they were being locked up so after a quick circuit of the gardens we headed back to the station and our train home.

So with 21 miles pedalled 800ft climbed 3 bike shops visited and more of the capital’s bike paths explored it was rather a good day!!

A Guid New Year.

I have never been much of a Xmas person and it was even more so this year, with tickets for Edinburgh’s Hogmanay Concert in the Garden on the pinboard I just wanted 31st December to appear.  The bridge closure put a damper on it booooooo but then the opening made everything good again yaaaaaaay.

Concert headliners were a wee Scottish band called Biffy ******* Clyro supported by Idlewild and first on stage the Honey bloods.  Carol drove and after a wee bit of a drama we got to Hermiston park and ride for the bus to the City Centre and a 10 min walk to the Gardens.  Edinburgh has been hosting the party for years and things went pretty slick for the amount of folks that were there.

We got into the Enclosure to find that it is stepped ideal for those of us that are vertically challenged so we headed for the back and the highest point we could get to.  We arrived for the end of the Honeys set and the second firework display of the evening.  There was a short break while we were entertained by Grant Stott and Idlewild took to the stage.  Led by the enigmatic  Roddy Woomble.  It was all about pleasing the crowd and they did their best but with dyed in the wool Biffy fans making up most of the audience they were not going to accept any less than the Biff!!

The 11pm display came and went Grant Stott did his bit Tim Peake broadcasted from the ISS none of this mattered Cmon the Biff and they were on!!! They battered thru a great set suddenly frozen hands and feet were gone as they belted out tune after tune from their collection.  A break for the bells being soooooooo long and the fireworks went on for ever, not really and they were amazing!!

Biffy part Deux!  Bands that have played Edinburgh’s Hogmanay say the atmosphere is amazing and that it lifts their performance I have no superlatives to describe Biffy’s you had to be there and I’m glad I was!!

After the show ended we headed to Dalry Road and our bus back to the Park and Ride.  One left full and we were lucky to get on the next one.  We got home about 3am and fell into bed at 4am still buzzing from the show.

A catch up…

It’s been a while since I just posted a general “this is life in retired land” post so here it is.

Things are going well I have been out a bit more than usual and drinking a bit more than usual and eating a bit more than usual all linked in with this period of time and celebration we call Christmas and Hogmanay!

Carol is on holiday from her work  and she has been busy preparing for Xmas or rather Xmas eve meal at hers which was lovely.  We spent the evening together with her son and daughter eating and opening presents in the continental way.  While she was off we took the chance to visit the European market in Edinburgh and see the Virgin light display which was pretty good.

We went to a carol service with her mother, you don’t always know how things will go when you take Toni out and Carol was on tenterhooks but apart from a slight decline in table manners everything went ok and the carols, my first, were good as well.


Rupert the cat AKA as the Roopster seems to have settled in well,  since his little bid for freedom he is never far from my side even when he doesn’t want food.  Of course the penalty he has to pay is that he is constantly rubbed and played with especially with his new Xmas toys! I am led to believe from Carol the cat woman that this is the cause of his grumpy attitude and that if he wants to sleep I should let him.

The weather countrywide has been terrible but Fife seems to have escaped the worst of it so although there are bad spots we have had nothing like the North of England.  Training has continued cycling mainly on the turbo although I have been out on the 29er a few times and as far as running has gone its get wet or don’t go basically!

I have begun to set up a web site for the bike tours I intend guiding in 2016 so watch this space for news of that and if you are reading this and would like to know more about them or have friends that would like to try a guided tour in Scotland get in touch.

That’s all for the mo my next post will be just after Hogmanay a round up of 2015 and a look forward to 2016.

Islay Marathon week and road trip.

Caledonia blared out from my IPhone 04:30 on Friday where had the week gone?

I had made sure of an easy week with the only  runs an interval set a cooper test and my Jog Scotland session and the only biking I had done had been to deliver Mums on the run flyers to local nurseries.  Weds I had spent with Carol and we had finally managed to get around most of the tapestry in Kirkcaldy museum before closing time.

Back to 04:30!  After a wash and breakfast I gathered everything together and set off with my heavily laden Giant for Kirkcaldy station and the first of three trains in my journey to Ardrossan Harbour for the first ferry.  The 05:53 was on time and I arrived in Edinburgh with 15 mins to spare before the train for Glasgow Queen Street alighting at GQS I made my way to Glasgow Central for the Ardrossan Harbour train. 

 So far so good my timetable had been fine and all the trains had been on time too.  Now to get tickets and board the ferry.  The ferry was very busy with at least 30 cyclists waiting to board behind the cars.  Most of the cyclists were doing the 5 Ferries cycle route a very popular 1 day ride with Scottish club cyclists and one which I had done twice.  However today I got off the ferry after a very pleasent crossing and turned right heading north for a lumpy 14 miles to the hamlet and ferryport of Lochranza.  On the 5 ferries and indeed on my trip this is where things can go terribly wrong if you miss a ferry or if the ferry does not run.  However I got to Lochranza with enough time to relax in the sun with a smoked venison sanwich from the sandwich shack.  The Lochranza to Cloanaig ferry docked and this time cyclists were on first about 8 of us this time.  Once docked I headed across the peninsula to Kennacraig and my third and final ferry first I had to cycle 5 miles a nice easy pace with over an hour to cover the distance.  There isn’t much to see on this stretch of road so I did not hang around thinking it would be better to wait in the sunshine at the ferryport rather than on the bike!  This trip was over 2 hours to Port Ellen a significant portion of which I spent on the deck in the sunshine.  Scotland is an amazing country and I was seeing some of the best sights it had to offer.   


 The ferry arrived at Port Ellen we all disembarked and I headed off on :”the high road” to Port Charlotte YH my home for the next 3 nights.  This was the longest cycle of the day about 19 miles and with the sun starting to go down the sky was an amazing colour.  The route I was following was almost the whole of the marathon route so that let me know the kind of run I was in for!

I arrived at the YH at almost 8pm 14 hours, 3 train rides, 3 ferries and 3 bike sections after I left Kirkcaldy. Sunday’s marathon doesn’t seem like a bad proposition after that!! 


The hostel was an old distillery building and it had been converted by the SYHA into an amazing hostel.  It had everything one needs, comfy bunks, hot showers and large teapots.  When I booked in I was told that there was another 3 cyclists there from Fife and lo and behold there were 3 members of the Fife and Kinross CTC on Islay for a wee cycle break.  After spending some time with them I headed for bed and a good nights sleep.  Luckily my room mates were also early bedders so a good nights rest was had.  I took advantage of the breakfast on offer at the hostel and then headed out to registration in Bowmore.   

 After registration I had time for a cuppa and a scone and a walk round Bowmore.  At 5:30 there was a pasta party in the High school unfortunately it was not very well attended but the food was excellent and I ate more than my fill so much so that when a lift was offered I took it!

The race report is covered in A-Z of marathons.

On the return trip I was able to have a bit of a long lie as I did not have to start cycling until 07:15 on Monday to cover the miles to Port Ellen and get aboard the first ferry.  Much duller and cooler than Friday the rain, which had been forecast to hit at 09:30 had obv not seen the forecast and the heavens opened at 8.  By the time I reached Port Ellen I was soaked through and cold and stiff.   On the ferry from Port Ellen there were another 3 cyclists headed to Kennacraig with 2 travelling onwards to Ardrossan.   I arrived at Claonaig just as the ferry was raising its ramp luckily it was the ferry earlier than I had planned to get so I spent an hour relaxing in the sun with my book till the rain returned and forced me to take shelter!  The ferry returned right on time but had difficulty unloading a bus and in the end the passengers had to get out so the bus could get away from the water lapping at its wheels and power up the landing ramp. 

 This all meant that the ferry left 30 mins late!  There was however contingency in my travel plans so although I did had to get a move on to Brodick I made the ferry ok and connected with an earlier train this continued all the way home and I made it back to Kirkcaldy about 50 mins earlier than I had planned.  Time for a bath and bed!!