Monday, 27 April 2015

Better do some training...

Time to start building some fitness, and making sure the bikes are in shape as well.

April holidays saw a few days at Balgowan - near Laggan - near Newtonmore, a favourite spot for rest and recreation. On our first day we rode down past Wolftrax with its smart new cafe (not open but they kindly let us sit in to drink our coffee), down to Loch Laggan and the track past Ardverikie House of "Monarch of the Glen" fame.  The loop round the beautiful Lochan na h-Earba and back to base made for maybe 25 miles, half off-road, and it only hailed on us once!

Start of the cycle route to Pitlochry
  Dad and I managed half of the journey back to Perth on the tandem. Here we are about to set off from Dalwhinnie back to Pitlochry, on a beautiful sunny day.

The back tyre developed a slow leak, so on went the spare, and we carried on without further mishap to complete about 30 miles. 

 After lunch, the temptation to put the bike back on the car proved just too great.

The start of the Kinross Sportive
The next challenge was the Kinross Sportive (which conveniently doubled up as my fitness challenge for Duke of Edinburgh Bronze). The family tackled the Blue Route, the shortest at 'only' 44 miles. After a week of dire weather forecasts, we were relieved when the day dawned dry, though with a chilly head-wind, and it just kept getting better until we ended in bright sunshine. We climbed slowly but steadily up the Lomond Hills ascent, and enjoyed coffee and biscuits at the picnic tables at the top (apparently not quite the done thing, to judge by the stream of cyclists going past).

All was going fine, and a skylark sang over our heads, when suddenly - BANG (or 'Big Bang Theory' as I put it) - the back tyre had blown, and the chain was off for good measure. The passing support van quickly helped us repair the tube and get the spare on, but as he drove off we realised that the tyre had a hole through which the tube was rather perilously poking. Fortunately it held for a few more miles, before giving out once more (not quite so dramatically) just before the feeding station at Newburgh. Here we were rescued by a large number of sugar doughnuts, and a helpful man with a roll of gaffer tape, with which we patched the inside of the tyre.

The rest of the ride was straightforward. We were about the last to finish in every category, but we didn't mind a bit. About 8 of our planned days to John O'Groats should be no harder. But then some of them will be quite a lot harder....

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

We're all going on a summer holiday...

I'd better start with a confession. I'm not really that interested in writing, so I'm leaving it to my Mum, Dad and two brothers to do the blogging. It seems they have got a crazy plan that we all cycle from Land's End to John O'Groats this summer (July 20th - August 8th 2015 to be precise). It's fine by me, I love cycling (I go on the back of the tandem). It won't be our first cycling holiday (we had one in Holland, and another round the Austrian lakes) - but it will certainly be the longest. We are not speedy cyclists, and will be taking three weeks for the trip, at 50-60 miles a day, which we hope won't be too strenuous, but there are sure to be some tough days.

We'll be fundraising for a charity as well: YMPA Perth and Kinross (see their Facebook page). They raise funds to help children attend the fantastic music camps run by the (equally fantastic) Perth and Kinross Instrumental Music Service (IMS). In fact, I am at Senior Music Camp right now (another reason why I am not actually writing this post). If you are near Perth, why not come to our end of camp concert, Saturday 11th April at Perth Concert Hall, or Perth Youth Orchestra's concert the next day.

I'll blog more about the great work of the IMS another time, and my progress in training for the big trip. Our next milestone is the Kinross Sportive at the end of April!

p.s. why 'tandemandtuba'? Well, if there is one thing I like more than riding a bike, it is playing my tuba. But I haven't yet figured out a way to do both at the same time...