Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Looking Forward

Isn't it lovely, that sound of crunching, fresh, undisturbed snow underfoot? Better still, the sound of tyres pushing their way through the piles of white and the heavy breathing as you try to keep the bike upright and limit the two-wheel slides? Yeah, it would have been nice but instead the winter so far has consisted of wet, windy, dark and cold days with little joy for the cyclist.

I did go through a brief phase of cycling to work but after a puncture on the way home, a pack of wet patches and no inner tube, I decided during my rescue drive home that it wasn't such a good start to the year. Instead of riding, I spent the rainy days filing my tax return online and trying to overcome my urge to give up riding and do something exciting with my life like being an accountant!

So what's better than riding bikes? Thinking about riding bikes, of course. Here are some of the projects and adventures that I plan to embark on this year. It's a kind of New Year's Resolution if you like but I prefer to think of it as some exciting things to look forward to!

Stonehaven Cycle Club

Plans are hotting up for a cycle club in Stonehaven. Likely to be a branch of Grampian Tigers, Aberdeen, there are some seasoned veterans of the sport involved and a wealth of knowledge and experience of managing clubs. It is expected that the club will cater for 7-12 yr olds initially but I hope we can cater for teenage cyclists in the future. I'm really passionate about harnessing the interest in this area and funnelling the energy into a real Stonehaven scene. Wouldn't it be lovely to have a Stonehaven Cycle Festival? Watch this space as that is definitely a future project I'd like to get underway.

Upgrading Qualifications

As part of the cycle club, I'll be completing my UKCCC Level 2 coaching qualification. This will be a new one for me. I love promoting cycling and as a commuter through London for several years I know a bit about urban cycle safety. As a teacher and Cycle Leader I can lead children safely but the one thing I have never been tested on is my technical riding skills. My guess is that if I can make it down black-graded runs and wild downhill sections on a hardtail and live to tell the tale then I must be doing something right. However, set me off at the bottom of a wet, rooty and steep incline and you'll soon hear some interesting sounds!

I'm also going to be doing the Cycle Trainer Plus course this Spring which will enable me to train the volunteers that deliver the Bikeability courses. I must admit that I do feel somewhat frustrated that I have to delegate the delivery of the Bikeability training to others' since I cannot be released from class time, maybe this will give me more time out on the bike with others and keeping my practical, urban cycle training hours up.


I haven't forgotten about the racing this year. I have chosen several races that I'm going to go in for. This year's Eliminator in June will be high on the fun-scale and is promised to be even better than last year. A dual track down the side of a hill, through a wood and into a barley field at the bottom was a recipe for big grins last year. I can anticipate a much bigger turnout this year so the pressure for a decent place will be on.

Muckmedden's Eliminator 2013 from Morrocco Media on Vimeo.

As well as the fantastic 10 Under The Ben race which I'll be doing again this year (though in a pair rather than solo this time) I'll be attacking the general vicinity of Ben Nevis as part of the epic wilderness enduro, Tour De Ben Nevis. I'll join hundreds of other riders spending a day riding up, down, through, carrying up and throwing myself off a number of features miles from civilisation and with no support team. Sound like fun!

Last year, I think my favourite race was the Highland Perthshire Enduro as part of the Highland Perthshire Cycling Festival. This year it seems to be billed as the Dunkeld Enduro but whatever it's called, I hope it's as steep, as fast, as muddy and as much fun as last year's. I'll be going for it to beat last year's time.

And finally, let's not forget the excellent ABZ Mates Races set up by the ABZ Mates Team as a friendly, free but highly competitive series of downhill races around Aberdeenshire. Having done 1 and a bit seasons, I think this year I should offer to host one around Stonehaven. I'm thinking an Enduro style race with sections through Fetteresso and down Cairn Mon Earn.

The Hill

I'm pretty excited about the hill. This year I am in the process of carving a second, parallel line to enable us to race one-on-one down our custom-built track. I've already spent a fair amount of hours properly laying sturdy trail surfaces, rock gardens, jumps and drainage so I'm hoping people enjoy it. I can't wait to organise a few more races on it.

A Forgotten Project

After a great visit to Glasgow's Riverside Transport Museum last weekend, I found what was last year's Holy Grail for me. I know that Rudge-Whitworth produced three colours of roadster bikes. I can't remember the first but one colour was black and one was a beautiful red/coffee colour. I rescued a bike a year or so ago and when I picked it up it had been hand painted black, and a pretty rough job too! Low and behold, under the black was this coffee colour. Unfortunately I wasn't able to restore the coat underneath and since the frame was very tatty anyway, I put it aside to await a respray. Well, having seen a coffee coloured, beautifully restored one in the museum, I have vowed to try to recreate the bike's former splendour. Here's what it used to look like.

Here's what I hope it will look like soon.

photo courtesy of Paul 'niniferrose' on Flickr

So all in all, I'm hoping that this year will be busy. I really hope that it leaves me time to ride the roads of Orkney with my Uncle when he visits and hit the high passes of the Norwegian mountains with Sven. You only live once and no-one knows when it will be time to check out. I recon I'll cram it in while I can :-)

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