Tag Archives: scottish bike touring

Urban cyclery.

Taking bikes to a Jean Michel Jarre gig might not be the first thing that pops into your mind but with gig tickets and 2 nights hotel booked it seemed like an ideal opportunity to explore some of Glasgow on two wheels.

Carol and I travelled by train to Glasgow Queen Street and then onwards to our hotel in the West End by a very effective protected bike lane which took us through the traffic and over the motorway system safely and efficiently.  Before heading for our hotel we nipped into the Siempre bike cafe on Dumbarton road to while away some time till book in.  We had checked with the hotel that they had storage for bikes and this was in the main corridor under a cctv camera which, by the markings on the wall was a pretty regular occurrence.   With bikes stowed and after a wash and change we headed out for food and the Hydro which was just a short walk away.  Whilst browsing the net for food outlets in the vicinity I came across Fanny Trollopes literally 200yds from the front door of our hotel, Fannys it was. Advertising a two course pre theatre dinner for £15 I would happily have paid double for the food.  It was excellent.  No use describing what we had here as the menu changes on a frequent basis but suffice to say even if you think you know what you are getting it will be different with some twist to the flavour.  The gig at the Hydro was amazing and JMJ in his seventies still has the energy and passion he showed at the Docklands in the 80’s.

After a not too heavy breakfast served efficiently and quickly by the staff in the Sandyford we climbed on our bikes and headed back to the Hydro and the Clyde walkway.  This had been work in progress when I did my LEJoG and although some stretches were still undergoing work had vastly improved in the 3 years since I had last been thru.  We followed the walkway out to Clydebank and Dalmuir where we had a break for a cuppa mainly to warm ourselves up as a slight rain was falling.  We had lunch booked at The Ubiqitous Chip in the Centre so after tea we headed back to the centre but along the F. C Canal.

WE followed the canal back towards the centre, through the Botanic Gardens and into Ashton Lane and the Ubiqitous Chip.  Unlike Fannys this was booked on purpose and features in Peter Irvine’s Scotland the Best.  Soup and an open sandwich was the order of the day here and the results are shown below.  Another gem of a place!

After lunch we headed back to The Sandyford.

We had return tickets for the train but decided to bike down the Canal to Lenzie or Croy and catch the train from there.  So we headed back to the Canal via the River Kelvin and the Botanic Gardens and headed NE first then due East along a well tarmaced canalside path.   We stopped at a canalside pub for a cuppa and sheltered under an umbrella from the rain. Then continued on towards Lenzie.  We left the canal at Kirkintilloch and picked up a cycle path near the marina from there it was simply a case of following signs to the station.  On the way there we cycled across a nature reserve and through a wood both of which even in the rain were very pleasant.

We now begun a tour of Central Scotland’s lesser known rail stations from Lenzie to Larbert where we changed to get our train to Edinburgh and were told in no uncertain terms by a surly rail guard to move our bikes two carriages down as the bike storage was full.  We would have done this anyway. But a smile doesn’t hurt does it!!

Totals for the weekend were 30 miles 530 feet climbed in 3h 27.  Not great distances but the whole point of the trip apart from JMJ obviously was to do some biking in Glasgow. 


Carcassonne to La Somail-Tragedy and punctures

I awoke to several worried messages on FB asking if we were OK and anyplace near the tragedy.  On with the TV and checking BBC news to hear of the attack in Nice the previous evening.  Breakfast was rather subdued.

It had been a really pleasent few days in Carcasonne we pedalled away along the canal the realisation that  the holiday would soon be over suddenly hitting us but at least we could pedal away.

The crops were once again the grape variety.  The surface we cycled on was hard packed earth of varying widths which made riding side by side difficult and at times was very bumpy and uncomfortable.  We had read reports of the Midi being rougher going than the Garonne and they were right.  Although the canals are managed by a country wide organisation it seems the pathways are down to the local Departments and the paths since we had entered Aude had been terrible. It was here that we got our first puncture!

A feature of the canals are the plane trees that line the banks and provide shade lately they had been attacked by some sort of disease and on almost the whole length of the trip we saw mature trees with numbered disks nailed in them, stumps where they already been removed or young trees that had been replanted.  This was a long term project and there were many signs describing the size of the investment and the duration of the project.

We proceeded along the canal passing through Marseillette, Homps, and Argens-Minervois to name but a few of the villages.  There was a bit of urgency about today’s journey as we were meeting a friend of Carol’s for dinner and had some distance to cover.

We passed by some interesting metal sculptures along the way .

Our Gite for the evening was the Neptune another quirky privately owned establishment barely 50 feet from the canal and with a lovely little terrace where we were invited to take a drink with the owners.

The owners explained that Carol’s friend, Carrie, had called to ask directions and let us know that she was running a little late which gave us more time to get ready and relax on the terrace!

Carrie arrived and took us to the town of Bize-Minervois where she lived with her husband and son.  We had a stroll through the town to a lovely little restaurant where we had an excellent dinner and some wine.  Afterwards we went back to Carries house for a short while before she dropped us back at the Gite.

Stats Distance 41 miles

Time 4h 48m

Climb 194 ft

Carcassonne, Le Tour and Bastille day.

Our time in Carcassonne seemed to be spent travelling the 3 miles from our “holiday camp” to the town for various events.  The first event which was on the 13th Jul was the start of Le Tour from the city centre.  We cycled in and found the start point for the caravan and followed the trail of vehicles which led us to the team buses but there was heavy security all around and no one was allowed near unless they had a pass.

We locked the bikes up and set about finding a good spot to catch the caravan and watch the sign on and roll out of the riders.

Between the caravan and the sign in starting we took the chance to buy some tour souvineirs as this would be our last day at the tour.  You do not need to look far official merchandise stalls are fairly obvious and well stocked with all sorts of tour tat.
The riders seemed to sign on in a random manner but the Jersey holders were all stopped and interviewed as were some of the favoured riders.   
After the riders rolled out we headed back to the accommodation.

The following day we were total tourists walking around the walled cite, snapping photographs visiting museums and generally whiling away a day with no particular aim.  

We couldn’t get up onto the battlements as they were being made ready for the fireworks display for that evening.  The Carcassonne Bastille day fireworks are famous all over France and we were  looking forward to them along with several thousand others!  The photos do not do the display justices.  The display lasted 25 mins and lit up the sky and the battlements.  Once the display had finished we headed back to our bikes and headed for bed never imagining the news we would waken up to.

Castlenaudry to Carcassonne post tour PLF!

We rose late booking out time was 1200 with Le Caravan due through at 2:45.  The hotel had kindly let us leave bikes and baggage in the storage area so we were free to wander the town, soak up the atmosphere and most importantly choose our caravan and viewing spots!

Why two spots?  Well you want space for when the caravan passes so you can scramble about for the goodies as it was I ended up giving most of mine to the sister of a girl who seemed to get everything and was not into sharing with her sibling!  As for viewing you want to see as much as possible with perhaps the risk of a crash.  The route went past our hotel up a slight incline and did a sharp left hander on a cobbled corner we chose this spot to view the tour.

After the tour had gone through it was time to grab our bikes and baggage and head for our next stop. The Bastide cite of Carcassonne.

We headed down the hill amidst the tour tidy up operation. It was here we had our first mechanical as we headed down the hill my panniers felt out of balance what had happened was a bolt had shaken loose from my rear panniers.  After some first aid we again headed off.

We swung left onto the canal and were on our way.  The accommodation was listed as being 500m from the canal and on the outskirts of the town.  We wasted no time as there was a financial cost if you turned up later than 7pm!   Unfortunately by the time we negotiated a main road and a new huge LeClerk development we rolled up 45 mins late. Looking sweaty and bedraggled.   We booked. In and were shown our rooms Velo. Storage was on our patio and there were bikes on nearly all of the patios in our row of rooms.  

We were to be here for 3 nights so we took the chance to do a full unpacking of our panniers and get some washing done before we hit our single beds!!

Stats Distance 26 miles

Time 2:30:13

Climb 84 feet