Heading home…

October 26, 2016

Well, that’s it – it’s been a great couple of weeks but today we’re off to the airport for the trip home. It’s safe to say we won’t be enjoying quite so many warm sunny days and deep blue skies as we have in the last fortnight. For readers of this blog, this may or may not come as a relief.

See you back in Mud Island…

Are you Sick ..

October 24, 2016

… of all the blue skies and sunny bike path shots yet? We aren’t, but you may be relieved to hear we’re heading home on Wednesday. So we’ve been getting all the vitamin D we can while we may.

Meanwhile can I interest you in some scenery?

Royal Gorge

Onion rings as big as your head?

Giant onion rings

Oh, okay, not quite as big as your head. But they were definitely scouring all the county fairs to source the winners of the ‘heaviest onion’ competition …

Not that everything in America is supersized: have a tiny little snake (it was pretty quick to get out of our way)

tiny snake

And the UK is not alone in over-engineering bike crossings – this is the lead up to what is essentially a car park.

Ahead Stop sign

It’s still a fab bike path though. And we discovered this morning that a warm dry headwind is so much more pleasant than a cold wet one.

We are so not ready to go back to Scotland…

Step Aside, Coffeeneuring…

October 22, 2016

… There’s a new challenge in town: whereby you cycle to one of Pueblo’s many fine Mexican restaurants (the other half is starved of decent Mexican food in the UK; there don’t seem to be many restaurants that haven’t gone down the comedy sombrero/tequila shots route) and then attempt to cycle off even one tenth of the calories you have consumed in 80 degree heat.

distant smoke

The original plan had been to go to the mountains, but the fire is still raging out west and the air would have been full of smoke

This is not helped by stopping off at the Dairy Creme on the way home although in end all we had was a fresh lemonade slushy. When the water in your water bottle has turned the temperature of used bathwater, this turns out to be the most incredible drink ever.

Nick's Dairy Creme

Sadly, I don’t think it qualifies under even the new laxer coffeeneuring regime as ‘coffee’. So we’ll just have to cycle off in search of qualifying beverages tomorrow instead…

Burning Issues

October 18, 2016

Sunday ride

Well, we seem to have arrived in Colorado during a heatwave, which would be better if I’d actually packed accordingly. I don’t know about you, but even though I did check the forecast and see that we were looking at some pretty warm days, somehow it’s hard to believe that it isn’t more prudent to pack a jumper or three rather than t-shirts and shorts which is what I could really be doing with. Not that I’m hoping for cooler weather, mind – there’s no such thing as too hot – but I’m certainly testing to destruction the claims that merino is magic at any temperature …

reflections in the lake

Anyway, the weather has made for nice sitting-out-on-the-porch type activities, which is fine by me, but anything more active has meant getting going early. Yesterday we took off after breakfast on the bikes to enjoy the slightly cooler morning and a brisk (the other half doesn’t do any other speed) spin out along the river path to the Nature Center and back, via a coffee stop* in town.

autumn trees

Today was intended to be a hike in the mountains but when we headed out to the car the sky looked rather odd

smokey skies

A grassland fire out towards the mountains was raging away, closing the mountain park and generally giving everything an apocalyptic feel.

smoke filled skies

Perhaps there really is such a thing as too hot after all…

* There’s a risk we may have started coffeeneuring by accident …

You Can Keep your Mists and Mellow Fruitfulness, Frankly

October 15, 2016

‘You’ll be needing this,’ the other half said to me handing me the key to unlock the bike, before heading off with his parents. I had been having, it’s fair to say, a stressful morning: with a lot of stuff I needed to do, a duff Windows update had been causing Word to keep crashing. Eventually, with the help of Twitter and Dr. Google I had managed to back out of the changes and more or less got my computer working again, but it had effectively taken me two hours to get to the point where I could even start the thing I had meant to get done early to allow me to go out and enjoy the delights of a sunny Colorado October day. As it was, I was going to have to stay behind and let the others go out and enjoy themselves without me.

bike on path

Two hours later, I took the other half’s advice and unlocked the bike and took it for a pootle down the river trail. It was too hot to go far (fall in Pueblo is a relative thing – we’re talking 28 degrees celsius, or F hot in Farenheit – so not exactly your crisp cold autumn day) so I contented myself with taking photos.

shaded path

The path was full of grasshoppers that turn themselves magically at your approach from what look like sticks into whirring red-winged creatures, like a butterfly wearing a two-stroke jet pack. I amused myself trying to capture the moment of transformation but my reflexes are not fast enough.


Grasshopper in stick mode

And the trees, while not exactly the firework display you’d get in the north east, were putting on a bit of a show.

tree with autumn leaves

You’d be looking at Pueblo a long time before you mistook it for a beautiful city – but it has its moments.

And then I came back and spent the afternoon on my computer in the shade on the patio.

This is the sort of autumn weather I could get used to.

more autumn colour

A Little Less Conversation

October 6, 2016

the road out

So today I went (by bike, naturally) to a Climate Conversation, which is supposedly part of a listening exercise by the Scottish Government in the run up to its updating of its climate policy, as well as a chance for people to talk to each other about climate change and where they think the priorities might lie.

While I’m not massively optimistic that whatever we say won’t just end up in a nice report whose only contribution to reducing carbon in the atmosphere is by storing it in paper form, I still think it’s worth turning up to these things, just in case. And besides, it was a chance to meet some folk from the vicinity of the new Nearest Village, at least those portion of them who care enough about the climate to spend a sunny afternoon discussing it.

These things are always an eye opener. I was preparing by reading through the government’s guide to the Climate Conversations and came across this:

I realise that this is really just supposed to be an illustrative photo, not a design guide, but just the fact that someone could even describe that as illustrating a street designed for people – someone who was putting together a guide to discussing climate change policy – suggests we’ve got a million miles to go before we’re even talking about the same things, let alone actually creating people friendly streets.

Anyway. The conversation itself was fine. There was a structure we were supposed to follow, but it wasn’t too rigid and most people were talking a lot of sense. Nobody ranted about windfarms (I might have ranted a bit about plans to cut Air Passenger Duty), and I managed not to bang on too much about bicycles, and we mostly agreed that the Scottish Government needs to do everything – get people cycling, insulate houses, reduce traffic, build more renewable energy – if we’ve got a hope of saving the planet. So I cycled home, mildly encouraged that people seem to understand the problem and are keen both to do something about it themselves and see government action to boot.

To be greeted by this news.

I despair.

Still, at least I got to ride my bike…

road back

Weather Eye

September 28, 2016

I should know better, really

And of course, the weather gods caught up with me this morning, when the primary school at Nearest Village was having their cycling day, which traditionally takes place in the pouring rain

When I first started doing this, the school was tiny and it was (in retrospect) a piece of cake although it didn’t feel like it at the time. Since then a shiny new building has encouraged all sorts of additional enrolment, and there are now a massive 40 kids at the school and all of them were raring to go (we had to disappoint the two P1 girls, one of whom had only come off the stabilisers a week ago, that they couldn’t come on the main ride, although they did still get to do a bit of riding on the road to get to the playing field and back).

little bike

On the whole, perhaps not quite the bike for a spot of off roading

We’ve settled into a bit of a routine with these rides. There’s a route which does a bit on the road and then veers off via some farm tracks so they can struggle up the ‘big hill’ at their own pace and then whizz down the other side and fall off at their leisure without any traffic to worry about.*

the big hill

Tackling the last bit of the ‘big hill’

Rain emphatically did not stop play, although we kept things moving so nobody was hanging around too much in the rain (riding in the rain was fine). These are Scottish kids and very much not made of sugar, although the head teacher did decree that the heating could go on for the afternoon, despite it not yet being October. I was glad to get home myself and light the fire and collapse on the sofa for the rest of the day

Even better, the headmistress, after years of me encouraging her, has taken to cycling over the summer and promises that next year she will join us on her bike. In the end, it was a week in Cumbrae that converted her – I really must visit; there seems to be something in the water there as people go as convinced bike sceptics and come back having spent a week cycling everywhere. She has problems with her knees so has increasingly found it hard to walk much, so she’s thrilled to have rediscovered the bike. ‘It’s given me the outdoors back’, she said. And then admitted, ‘I should have listened to you years ago.’

If only the council would follow suit, I’d be a happy woman. Perhaps I should just arrange to send all of them to Cumbrae. And maybe leave them there.

* Turns out, if you stick your legs out wide on the downhill bit and then miss putting them back on the pedals, you can do quite a spectacular tumble all on your own. Fortunately no broken bones, much to the other kids’ disappointment, as they were hoping for at least an ambulance