Category: cycling


Yes there are bikes – lots and lots of bikes – making you think what’s all the fuss about – it’s not that hard.

But this post isn’t about that, it’s about minimalism and warmth – and how they go together. Copenhagen is a very well lit city. little pools of warmth.

These are some of the photos that i took – mostly fabric and not all danish.



At the end of October, with leave to use up, my flight reflex was kicking in. The one where I want to be far away, and probably alone. And well Orkney at the end of October seems like a place you’d find a bit of space.

Day One

On the ferry from Gills Bay to St. Margaret’s Hope I saw a Puffin. I mean that’s a life’s ambition right there. Puffins are cool!

Back on the Surly for the first time in a while, and loaded up. Its pretty heavy, but low gears keep you rolling. South to the Tomb of the Eagles.

Tomb of the Eagles

Tomb of the Eagles

During sightseeing the wind picked up. By the time I remounted I was set for one hell of a tailwind. North across the Churchill barriers, Kirkwall bound.

The Italian chapel is a bit of a mind fuck; slavery, religion, stewardship, and tourism. Reconcile that if you will.

The Italian Chaple

The Italian Chapel

By now the light was fading, and it was dark by the time I made Kirkwall. I found the SYHA closed for the winter (meh!), but also found the lovely peedie hotel, very open.

Day 2

The weather was wild so I decided to hole up in Kirkwall and read (Soil and Soul as highly recommended by Laura). I ventured out to explore Kirkwall. Which feels very much like the middle of somewhere. I liked it. Also bought another book; George Mackay- Brown -what else?

Day 3

A day of wet roads and tailwinds. Coast road north, finding  and following signs; first stop Rennibster earth house.  It’s in the middle of a working farmyard, and you have to climb down a ladder to get in.  There is a nice feeling from knowing that you are trusted to cycle up the road to the farm, and climb down the ladder to look around by yourself.

A typical ‘nowhere is open’ lunch:  A sausage roll, a slice of tiffin, and some good banter from the wee shop at Evie, eaten in the rain sat on the bench outside.

As I arrived at Skara Brea the sun began to poke through. After re-fueling in the cafe, (it’s hard to appreciate things on an empty stomach) I took a wander around. It’s hard not to be captivated by the sense of community the hamlet brings.  I spent a few hours picking stones and shells off the beach and enjoying the place.  There’s something about that wee place that will stay long after the shells have broken; you can see why you would live there.

Then on towards  Stomness, but just time to stop for a walk around the Ring of Brodgar before it got dark .

Ring of Brodgar

Ring of Brodgar

Day 4

Stomness is pretty easy to love. That town has heart, and soul. It also has a great map.

I spent the morning in the Stromness Museum, loving the Canadian exploration stuff, some of the native american beadwork was amazing.  I also fell totally in love with the oil painting “Linklater and Greig Entering Yesnaby Noust” by Stanley Cursiter.  The cliffs and waves reminded me of a summer’s climbing on sea cliffs.  I also stopped of at the Northlight Gallery, which wasn’t strictly speaking open, but I was allowed in to look at the tapestry exhibition.- I really want to go on one of the courses here.

In the afternoon I headed off on the bike again, to visit Meas Howe.  The tour guide was great – I liked her a lot – and after our tour she pointed me in the direction of a few other nearby sights, and gave me a wee map they had put together. So i stopped of at Barnshowe and the Stones of Steness (and the village of) on the way back.

I made it back to Stromess as the sun was setting – so I cycled out past the campsite and along the coastal path to watch the sun set over Hoy.


Sunset over Hoy

Sunset over Hoy

Day 5

The only ferries from Stromess are early, so my hopes of seeing the old man of hoy were dashed in pre-dawn darkness.  Once the ferry had docked in Scrabster I had a calm cycle 18miles along the coast to collect my car.

A First Race: MFCC Munlochy Womens Race

Since moving to Inverness I’ve been riding with the MFCC development ride on Monday nights. After a particularly fun session, endorphins at a peak, I was convinced I should enter a women’s road race that the club was organising. Entering a road race! Really exciting, really scary. Really just 5 weeks away.

I think the first thing I did was come home and draw up a training plan. A mix of riding more and doing efforts and the club APR. Luckily for most of this period the climbing wall was closed for refurbishment, so no conflict of interest on Thursday nights. Thursday night APRs were tough. Pretty much they way they went was getting dropped every time. Fun though, and yeah I could feel the benefit.

As the race approached there was lots of nerves, broken sleep, crisis of confidence and general stress. I was pretty grumpy I reckon. Then the day before my pmt broke, my hormones shifted direction and all that was left was the excitement.

Even just the support infrastructure was exciting – pinning numbers on, lead cars, motor cycle out riders, a flock of yellow jacketed marshals; like those proper races you see on the telly.

Just one lap to go right?

MFcc Women’s Road Race 2013,  originally uploaded by road cycling.

A bit of a truce was called for the first lap, a nod to the number of first timers in the race. Then once the racing started proper I got dropped on the hill. It didn’t take to long for me to find someone to work with and we stuck together for the rest of the race. Luckily for me I had the slight edge on the hills, and the finish was on a hill.

Meanwhile at the front of the race, local hero Lee Craigie crossed the line first.

I don’t think I stopped smiling the whole 50 miles. It was such fun (still riding that wave). MFCC took the organising pretty seriously and did a great job. Corners swept, pot holes filled, marshals at every juncture. Thanks so much guys.

Hebrides Itinerary

Some workings on how a Outer Hebrides trip might work.  I’m going on the conservative side with timings (10mph) assuming that we’ll be stopping to look at views and history.  Lots of folk seem to do it in 3 or 4 days, but i guess some of that is taking most direct route rather than scenic route, and maybe not going up to Butt of Lewis, and back down again.

Approaching MalacleitApproaching Malacleit by Richard X, on Flickr

Day 1

1. Train to Oban

Trains to Oban go via Glasgow. Need to be in Oban by early afternoon.

2. Ferry Oban to Castlebay (Barra)

Timetable: summer-barra–oban-castlebay . Most days the ferry seems to depart mid-afternoon and  get in late at night 8.30pm (4.5 hours)

Maybe stay on Vatersay? or maybe cycle to near ferry if light and conditions allow..

Day 2

1. Cycle Barra

It’s 8 miles from the ferry port  at Castlebay to the ferry port at Ardmhor via the east coast of the Island.  9 miles via the west coast.  (1 hour aprox)

2. Ferry off Barra

There’s 4 ferries a day from Ardmhor; 9.25, 11:10, 15:45, 17:30 . Would be good to get first one. (the sailing to Eriskay takes 40 mins)

3. Cycle Eriskay to South Usit

3 miles from Ferry to South Usit across the causeway.
35 miles up the island of South Uist.

(4hours aprox)

Day 3

1. Cycle Benbecular

a) The long way round – 11 miles, by the main road

b) Up the main road – 7miles

(1 hour aprox)

2. Cycle North Uist

a) the long way round (west coast) – 32 miles

b) the east way – 23 miles.

(3 hours aprox)

Day 4

1. Ferry from North Uist to Harris

Timetable: north-uist-and-harris (berneray-leverburgh)

Four ferries a day, either up early for the 7.15 or later for the 10:25

(takes 1 hour)

2. Cycle Harris

1. Cycle 50 Miles up Harris – a few different routes depending on how feel.
would be good to make some dent on the next days miles too.

(5  – 6 hours)

Day 5

1. Cycle Lewis

Cycle up one side of Isle to butt of Lewis – then back down the other side to Stornaway,
70 miles – 7 hours

Day 6

There used to be a coach that took bikes between ullapool and inverness, but no longer running. Seems the only way with bikes is to ride.

1. Ferry Stornaway to Ullapool

Ferry Timetable: Stornaway > Ullapool

Seems to be 2 a day, most days. Either up early for the 7am – or there’s one at 13:50 takes 3 hours.

2. Ride Ullapool to Garve

Along A835 is 32 miles with 450m of ascent – approx 3 hours.

3. Train – Garve to Inverness

Trains at 13:39, 16:14, 18:50 (check up to date times nearer time)

4. Train Inverness to Home

train back to edinburgh/carlisle


Freedom of Scotland Travel pass;

  • covering Train and Ferry. and some coasches
  • 4 days unlimited travel out of 8 consecutive days £114
  • Valid from Carlisle.


Crazy Guy on a Bike | Magic of the Outer Hebrides of Scotland
Paul’s Cycling Trips (with 2 Hebrides trips)
Book: Cycling in the Hebrides: Island Touring and Day Rides (not released until 15th May 2012)

Cups on Shelves

_O, originally uploaded (on flickr) by Inside_man.

There’s an interview with Graeme Obree on the Velo Club Don Logan Podcast (Episode 9). There’s this great bit where he’s asked about trying to win the hour record, his answer came as a bit of an epiphany.

You don’t think I might be able to break this, cause otherwise your not gonna break it…  …In my mind it’s was as clear as lifting a coffee cup down from a shelf. You don’t go hmmm, I wonder if i can do it, i’ll have a go though. It’s like you just lift that coffee cup down.  … What I say to people is that the word try is three letters that represents the possibility of failure, an excuse for failure at the start. You don’t try to break the hour record; you set out “I’m going to to break the hour record” and that’s it!

Then when I think about it I realise that when I try to do things they sometimes don’t happen, but when I do things they do. So although I knew it, I hadn’t really got it.

I think over the last year I’ve got much better at making stuff happen, thanks to this change in attitude.  Always good to be reminded though, especially in a new year.

Here’s to doing stuff!