Uh Oh

November 8, 2016

There is much I have been meaning to blog about, when I got the time, but I have been gadding about again, to Perth this time for a cycling conference where unusually I didn’t come away completely depressed about the future, even though there was an actual government transport minister there, which is usually enough to pour a dose of cold water on everyone’s enthusiasm.* Of course, this may have been because someone was foolish enough to fit me up with a microphone and let me loose on the closing panel (after someone more important pulled out at the last minute

But never mind all that. Because, while I noticed ice on the puddles yesterday as I cycled down to catch the bus on my way to Perth, I really wasn’t expecting to come back this evening in increasingly heavy snow (fortunately, the other half had driven to pick me up, so I was witnessing this from inside the car. There are limits to my devotion to active travel…). We have inherited a rather sorry looking olive tree in a round-bottomed pot from the previous owners of the house, which we have spent most of the autumn picking up after it has blown over in the wind (top tip for gardeners: don’t put trees in round bottomed pots. I mean seriously, what were they thinking?) I had been meaning to find out whether to bring it indoors to our entrance way to the winter but hadn’t got round to it because it’s only the first week of November, for crying out loud. Hopefully it is not too late already…

I say nothing about the election over the water, but I do hope that when I wake up tomorrow, sorry-looking olive trees and Scottish cycling policy will still be top of my list of worries…

*Although it’s even worse when they don’t bother to turn up but post in a video presentation because there’s a much more important meeting about trains they want to be at instead


Freezing Scot

November 1, 2016

OK, so it’s not quite Colorado weather but as far as the blue skies and sunshine go, it was a fairly good effort on the whole, seasonally adjusted

blue sky and reflections

A nice day to cycle into town for lunch with the other half, followed by choosing my own housewarming gift from a talented friend – not a bad swap for some chilli plants and tomatillos earlier in the year.

Flying Scot prints

Flying Scot linocuts by Hugh Bryden – the hard part was choosing just two.

The problem with this time of the year is that even on the nicest days the sun is so fleeting  – turn your back on it for a second and it has slipped down behind a hill and the clear skies mean it’s all the chillier once it’s gone.

autumn colour

Time to get cracking on sorting out the insulation …

 


Kill or Cure

October 29, 2016

So we made it home on Thursday despite late-running flights and then hitting rush hour traffic in Glasgow (you’d think the only congestion in the area was caused by the Bearsway Cycle Route but I don’t think anyone’s built a cycle track on the M74 yet, so it must have been something else*). I was hoping that the jet lag wouldn’t be too bad having slept eight hours and waking bang on my normal time on Friday morning, but then it kicked in properly and I couldn’t get to sleep till gone midnight and I woke up groggy and late this morning

Not only that, but someone had stolen our view

Which was annoying as I had a 38 mile round trip to Notso Bigtown for a cycling meeting today which would have been nicer without that sort of mizzle that doesn’t exactly fall on you but which just hangs there in the air until you cycle through it, getting you just as wet as the other kind of rain. Something involving blue skies and sunshine and warm winds, say. Something like Colorado …

Still, here I was in Scotland and what did I expect, so I put on my jacket and hat and gloves and set off. I was meeting up with a couple of folk en route and I set off late enough that I had to ride quite hard to get to the rendezvous on time. And the route was along the Old Military Road and while I know in my head it goes up every unnecessary hill, I hadn’t really taken it on board properly until I found I was having to power up every single one of them if I wasn’t going to be late. And I realised that two weeks of pootling along largely flat river paths in the sunshine and stopping for coffee and treats at frequent intervals, even at altitude, doesn’t really prepare you for an 18 mile hilly ride into a damp mizzling headwind. Also, that I had forgotten to get anything for lunch. It’s one way to burn off all those surplus US calories, I suppose.

One meeting, several biscuits, and an emergency pork pie later I was ready to tackle the homeward route. We decided to avoid the worst hills by taking a slightly longer route, taking in my old papershop run, and all was well until my companions and I parted ways at what used to be Nearest Village. I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to ride a tired horse past its stable once its ears have pricked up and it’s realised it’s almost home – but that was how my legs felt as I pedalled reluctantly past our old house. Indeed worse, because my legs knew it was another six miles, almost all uphill, before they and I made it home. Oh, and it was still raining**

autumnal road

Reader, I made it. I may have stopped to take the odd blurry photo here and there and to take a drink and generally have the opportunity to stop pedalling for a few seconds, but I didn’t get off and push even on that last little steep kick up just before our house. Eventually I will even be able to lever myself off the sofa and cook supper, although not perhaps for a while. I’m trying not to think too hard about the fact that I’m signed up to lead a 26 mile extra evening ride tomorrow (not counting the 16 mile round trip into Bigtown and back… ). And I will definitely, DEFINITELY, sleep well tonight.

* possibly – just a wild guess here – TOO MANY CARS? And yes, I’m aware of the fact that we were one of them and thus part of the problem…

** I appreciate that anyone who has spent two weeks posting sunny holiday photos gets zero sympathy here.


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 …