Saturday, May 27, 2006

Insert own pun here...

Note to self and other bikers - if you are going out on a motorcycle trip, make sure you have petrol in your tank. If you do decide to run out of fuel, however, try not to do it on the Forth Road Bridge...

Yesterday Claire and I trekked to Crieff to get some new tyres...the weather was poor so we just headed straight up the motorway to Perth, her riding in luxurious comfort on the VFR750 and me adopting the "head down arse up" style on her Bros 400.

It was an uneventful journey, we ate macaroni while the tyres were fitted and were soon heading south again. Claire had told me that the Bros usually needed petrol "as it's approaching 200" - the trip meter is in km. Not a problem, plenty left to get us back to Edinburgh, then. And there's always the reserve tap, right?

Passing Inverkeithing (almost there!) and the trip is showing 179 - better stop at the Shell garage on the other side, I think. Splutter splutter....hey, I was right, timed that well...not a problem, I think, I'll just switch the reserve tap on.'s already on - oh dear - and by now I'm on the bridge with Claire following wondering why I am starting to flap about. The bridge is steeper than you think, and the incline we were on seemed to help feed the last remaining dregs of petrol to the struggling engine. It seemed for a moment that we might actually make least off the bridge and to within pushing distance of the garage. Actually with the Bros you'd probably just sling it over your shoulder and carry it to the garage, but whatever.

So, it died. I freewheeled as close to the left as I could, and Claire pulled in behind. There is no hard shoulder on the Forth Bridge and there are various phone numbers and emergency telephones dotted along it which is fine if you are a driver sitting neatly caged into your broken down Volvo, not so good for bikers who would really rather get off the bridge as fast as possible. So, Claire was going to have to take me on the back of the VFR. Except she's not into practising the art of the "much heavier pillion than you" under such extreme circumstances so I ride and she goes pillion. So, Kev, Mike, Colin, nyahh, I've ridden the VFR.

The plan was to get as far as the Shell garage, buy a petrol can and a bit of fuel, strap it to the back of the VFR (using the incredibly handy bungee and strap I just happened to be carrying...Be Prepared we used to say in Cubs. No, really, I think I deserve extra points for having those with me. I also had a USB laser mouse in the same pocket. Ready for anything, that's me). Then I was going to ride back over the bridge, u-turn through Inverkeithing, stop at the Bros, fill the tank, head back to get Claire and Bob would be our Uncle. Except he's not, because that would have meant the plan worked.

For a start, Shell don't sell petrol cans. (Well, either that or Claire asking for a "jerry can" in her thick soupy accent confused the sales assistant.) But of course not, how silly of us to think they would. Luckily the Tesco garage opposite did, and once we worked out how to push the button to get petrol out the VFR was loaded up and ready to go.

Leaving Claire at the garage I headed back over the bridge, keeping my eyes peeled for the Bros on the other side - I couldn't remember how far over we'd made it. Then, in the distance, I could see the spot marked by the flashing amber lights. This meant the good people from FETA had beaten me to it. Passing alongside revealed the full extent and the horrifying truth of what was going of the guys was looking at the Bros...while the other three guys were leaning over the side to look for the body.

It seems we managed to stop right beside one of the few walkways linking the road to the pedestrian walkway. They guessed someone had stopped the bike, crossed over to the walkway and jumped over the side. I'd be lying if I said there wasn't a moment when I considered ditching Claire and the bike and heading off home on the VFR. Just a moment, mind. Instead I circled Inverkeithing and headed back south over the bridge, now down to one lane and with a 40mph limit. So that's how these tailbacks happen. They had one of their trucks with the big "keep right" flashing light display. "Hooray!" cheered the Friday evening rush hour commuters.

To their credit the FETA guys were very cool about it; I think they were just pleased not to be fishing a body out the water and towing a bike off the bridge. I explained the situation to them and as I refueled the Bros they sent a car to find and retrieve Claire from Tesco. By the time she arrived she hadn't yet reached the "laughing about this one day" stage. Infact, she still seemed to be solidly stuck at the "mortified about it right now" stage.

So; two bikes, two riders and fuel enough to get off the hanging about, off we went. Lessons learned? It never hurts to check your fuel switch just in case, and stop for fuel 20 miles before you think you have to.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Route with a view

For a commute through the capital of Scotland, I do seem to have landed lucky with the scenery I pass. It is a section of National Cycle Network Route 1 and as such is well signposted, thoughtfully sited but poorly surfaced. Mind you, every road in Edinburgh is poorly surfaced so why should cycle routes be any different?

This is the beginning of the route, starting at Roseburn and taking me over Corstorphine Road. It is busy in the mornings with dog walkers, cyclists and runners; there is evidence that horse riders use this path too...

If anyone wants this picture for a lesson on perspective and vanishing points, help yourself.

Like I say, well signposted.

There are three of these signs letting drivers know there is a dead-end further up this road...

...yet tell tale tyre marks on the road show somebody just didn't understand what that meant.

This is the actual Cramond Brig, the dividing line between the counties of Edinburgh and Linlithgow. The newer bridge for modern traffic is higher up, though you can't see anything of the old bridge from the road - mainly because it is a well known speed camera site and you daren't take your eyes off your speedo.

This stone tells of repairs to the bridge; I'm sure the workers of 1776 wished the cowboys of 1761 had just done it properly...


...driving to work can seriously....

...make you late and frustrated. Who'd have thought, it turns out my bike is powered by 'holier-than-thouness' and even when it rains I am kept dry by the higher moral ground.

And finally, a little stretch I call 'The Death Star Trench' - cycle down it as fast as you can but touch your handlebars on either wall and you're mince.

Resurfacing? Mmm, not much call for it, sir.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Life going on

Weeks cycled - 2
Daily distance average - 20 miles
Total miles - 200+
Petrol Money saved - £40
Purchases (not including bike, helmet and lock) - shoes, shorts, gloves, panniers, rack - £216
Injuries sustained - scratches to right leg from front cog, bit of a sore knee after week 1
Number of times shouted at - 2 (one driver, one chav teen girl)
Weight lost - 3lbs
Number of times fallen off - 0
Flies swallowed - 2
Something else swallowed, hopefully another fly - 1
Number of times overtaken by old guy in wellies - 2
Number of times asked "Did you cycle?" while wearing helmet, gloves, shorts and carrying panniers - 4

Kit is growing and growing - we have had to move ontho his next set of clothes as the very wee newborn stuff is too small now! He also took his first bottle yesterday - given by proud but wary dad - more of a practice than for any real reason, but he enjoyed it and fed well. We are keen to get him used to a bottle earlier rather than face a battle once he is older; good advice gleaned from many others we have heard stories from!

Lorna has bought him the "Over Stimulation Chair" from Mothercare - it lights up, plays tunes, vibrates and has dangly mirrors and rattles to hit as he flaps his arms around desperately trying to escape the noise and flashing. Our other exciting purchase is a couple of "grobags", sort of half-pyjama half-sleeping bag, designed so he can't kick it off or get smothered by it. It's just another of those things we didn't know existed but suddenly was worth paying money for.

We feel like we've had plenty visitors of late - the Cambridge crowd were over last weekend then again on Thursday and today Dad and Donna called in for lunch with Gill showing up too. Kit performed well doing his ful range of awake happy, awake grumpy and asleep.

I'll need to restart the running training from tomorrow. I have signed up for another two races this year; Loch Lomond 10K at the beginning of September and Falkirk at the end of August. Puff pant.

Sunday, May 07, 2006


I did it! I ran round Edinburgh today, managing to come a heady 2379th (out of just over 6000 runners though...) The weather was not kind, but the worst rain was just before the start with it brightening up during. I am proud to be able to say I beat 4 Smurfs, but a bit embarrassed to have been beaten by Tweety Pie and Sylvester...
Kit is now 3 weeks and 3 days old and developing a personality day by day. He had a hearing test the other day. It used to be that at 8 months someone would shake a rattle and see if baby looks round. Now at one day old they strap electrodes to their heads and necks before playing a series of clicks though an earphone. He only got a 50% reading for his right ear after he was born, so this was the follow up visit - and we are 100% auditory! It must have just been birth muck.....
We took Kit into Napier to show him off on Thursday - yet more nice people being friendly and very generous to the boy! He even got an astrology reading given to him with the warning that the read lines stood for confict...hmmm, there were a few too many of them if you ask me, so we'll either need to rub them out or destroy Venus rising.
On Friday we took him for a walk round the Botanic Gardens. This is something that Lorna has been planning for a long time,part of her vision of motherhood. It was a beautiful day and the place was packed out with other prams...pram rage! I'll we welding some steel plates to ours for next time.
Neil, Janice and Cameron came to visit today to meet Kit - and he made Cameron's day by peeing all over Lorna's top - ha ha!
I go back to work I will be beginning my "cycling to work" stint all being well. Save money, get fit. That's the plan, anyway. I've done a practice run to Queensferry and can get there in about 40 minutes; of course I must remember there's a return journey to be done each evening.
Went on a bike(motor) run yesterday with Mike and Colin. Had a brilliant time, headed up to Braemar for lunch and avoided all the threatened rainshowers. Sadly Kevin didn't avoid the not-forecasted oil showers, meaning he and Claire couldn't join us.
Lorna begins her first real "by herself during the week" time tomorrow but I know she'll cope.