weekend doings

When Mood Music
2012-08-12 22:12:00 calm Ich Bin von Kopf bis Fuss auf Liebe Eingestellt – William S. Burroughs

Before I get into this, can someone explain why my most-played albums just now are Hairbrush Divas’ Singalong Summer (lots of 80s disco* and pop), William Burroughs’ Dead City Radio and Spaced Out (a compilation of songs by William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy).

*I guess part of the reason for my loving this album is it contains Chic’s Le freak. I’m always reminded of one of the female singers when when Chic performed on Top of the pops – the living embodiment of ‘dead junky eyes’ if there ever was one. And, hey, there’s one connection – from having first read The naked lunch in my pre-teens, I’ve had a slight but ongoing fascination with junkiedom. And it’s gratifying to learn that the hook ‘Ahh, freak out’ was originally much ruder!

Enough of the bread, on with the filling:

velocity = distance ÷ time, velocity × mass = constant, so no bloody wonder it took ages!

Having made Lev half a kilogram heavier, and then spent the evening with Elly, returning books to the new shelves in our reference section, during all of which my right hip and knee were in large amounts of pain, it was only logical to cycle a long distance the next day. (I’ve found since that kneeling sets off the pain, and I did a lot of kneeling while attaching Lev’s front pannier rack.)

I was – and still am slightly – nervous that 70 miles non-stop next Sunday (yes, that is meant to be unsubtle) will be beyond me. My plan was to do a decent distance (i.e. over 40 miles), including some hills to attenuate this fear – or learn where my limits are. Yesterday morning was fine and sunny, so after helping my better half take a few boxes of unwanted books to the nearby charity shop, Lev and I set off west along the A8 at 10:31.

We did use the cycle-path around Gogar roundabout – we’re quite not yet ready to take on that piece of madness – but jumped back onto the tarmac soon after the squinty bridge at Gogarburn. Yes, it’s a dual carriageway, but there are no ‘no bicycles’ signs and the supposed cycle path crosses a lot of junctions that are more unsighted (and hence more dangerous) than being in plain view on a road that has two lanes, so there’s plenty of room for 4-wheeled wankers to move the hell over!

Newbridge roundabout was fine – the traffic-lights were kind, and I don’t recall having to detach my left foot from Lev. (I’m still learning SPDs – it can take a over minute to attach my right foot before starting off, and I don’t always get the left foot attached first go.) My text history tells me we did this roundabout about 11:20.

After this, the tarmac to Broxburn was smooth. We deliberately weren’t sprinting*, just settling into distance-cruising: Lev was heavier, and carrying more kit because we were leaving the city, while my right knee was still twinging slightly.
*Of course, this is a relative term. On a very good day, we can get to 20mph unaided. A decent roadie will cruise at around 30 mph!

The long uphill drag through Broxburn, Uphall and Dechmont was OK too, despite the poor road-surface. (The road is sections of concrete with 2-inch gaps every 30 meters or thereby. Why is this? I can understand expansion gaps on bridges. But this piece of road is on solid earth.) Despite this, and the arse-poundingly rough tarmac between Dechmont and the Tesco depot 2 miles on on, Lev and I were enjoying ourselves and averaging 15 mph. I pondered carrying on to Glasgow and then cycling back as far as my legs could stand. However

  • I’d promised to be home mid-afternoon to help finish sorting the reference section and tidying the spare room.
  • I didn’t want to wreck myself ahead of next Sunday.
  • There aren’t many hills on the A8/A89/A899/A89 route, and I wanted to build in some hill practice.

So after Bathgate (which we reached at 12:01), Lev and I turned north off the A89 onto the A801. We had a quick stop so I could ‘Paula Radcliffe’, munch an energy bar and work out how to get to Falkirk without risking being sucked onto the M8. (I now realise I could have stayed on the A801 until the junction with the A803, then taken this latter road into Falkirk.) However, at the time, I thought the best plan would be to turn off the A801 and use B-roads to go via Avonbridge (reached at 12:51), California and Shieldhill. So here’s a word of warning: don’t do this! There are stupidly steep hills, some of which have blind right turns. Even where the road is level, hedges block the views around curves so I couldn’t see whether it was safe to move away from the road-edge and push on.

Then there’s a massive drop back down into Falkirk. (There was a good view of Grangemouth and the Forth beyond it, but this didn’t compensate!) We couldn’t enjoy this part because the road-surface was patchy and blind-curved – I didn’t want to find myself avoiding a pothole only to meet a corner-cutting infernal combustion engine at high speed. Ah well, it was a good test of Lev’s disk-brakes. (His front brake was slightly noisy – perhaps I’d moved the disk slightly while moving the quick-release lever to fit the front pannier-rack.) The Bathgate-Falkirk stretch brought our average speed under 10 mph. I’m not pleased about this – further hill-training is required.

We had another stop in Falkirk so I could get my breath back, munch another energy-bar, text Elly (13:17) and wow the locals with my lycra. There’s a 1-mile gap in the cycle meter map because I forgot to restart recording – oops! Then we took the A803 east. The road’s gradient varied but seemed to be uphill all the way to Linlithgow, and uphill again from Linlithgow to Kirkliston (reached about 14:52). Yet Linlithgow is on the Union canal: so shouldn’t it be in a dip? Also, the road after Linlithgow was littered with ‘bricks’ of shit and straw: not nice for my right knee, which was by now threatening secession, and my arse, which was now very sore despite two layers of padding. (I was advised today that Lev’s saddle is right for my pelvis width. I just need to increase my ischial bursitis resistance.)

Lev and I had just reached Winchborough when my bluetooth headphones warned they’d soon give out. They finally did so not long after Kirkliston, leaving us to take on the dual carriageway into Edinburgh without stimuli. For anyone who’s interested (is anyone even remotely interested?), here’s the track list I’d been using:

Title Artist Album
Summertime Angélique Kidjo Keep on moving: the best of Angélique Kidjo
Der Tag …du bist Erwacht Schiller Tagtraum
Poor choice of words (Batman theme) Hans Zimmer, remixed by Paul van Dyk Volume: the best of Paul van Dyk or The Dark Knight (original soundtrack)
Always loved a film Underworld Barking
Gia (radio edit) Despina Vandi Gia (single)
Aria (armin mix) Dido Gatecrasher Global Sound System
Adagio for Strings DJ Tiësto Adagio for Strings
Viva la vida Coldplay Viva la vida
Comfortably numb Pink Floyd The wall
Nobody’s diary Yazoo You and me both
Run free Rebecca Ferguson Heaven
It never entered my mind Miles Davis Miles Davis, volume 3

It was mixed by Bárány Attila.

I emphasise that this was dual carriageway but that bikes are allowed on it, and that the supposed cycle-path is riven by cracks, blind entrances and a bridge with huge steps at Ratho Station. It’s also a pedestrian path with bus-shelters, so it would be very easy for a pedestrian to step into a cyclist’s path, with unfortunate consequences for both. Cyclists are free to use roads – infernal combustion users have to pay a fee to use them, presumably because they damage tarmac, so I feel justified in using the road.

The traffic wasn’t heavy, so there was no excuse for cars not moving into the inner lane when overtaking me. I think I was right to be utterly incensed when a Smart didn’t do so, but then moved over at the slip-road up from the airport roundabout – and yet there were no cars coming up that! I’ve not bellowed so loudly in a long time. Smart car, maybe. Dumb dangerous fuckwit wanker of a driver certainly. I think Lev’s next addition should be rocket-launchers. (I’m not sure that anyone has a ‘right to pollute’!)

The stretch from Maybury to Servants’ Quarters was less painful – perhaps because I’d realised by now there was no chance of Lev and I achieving an overall average of 15mph. Because we’d only travelled 56 miles, I even pondered getting onto Edinburgh’s cycle-path network for an hour or so. However, a text from Elly telling me that she was about to come home limited the extra to a trip up to the cycle co-op to buy a lock-extender. (I didn’t map this because jPhone was about to go flat.) Now Lev and I have bonded, I want to attach his D-lock to Servants’ Quarters and make damn sure he’s not stolen.

So that’s it: an enjoyably testing (despite the above moans, I was exhilarated when I finally got home) 60 miles in under 5 hours pedalling (about 5¾ hours door to door), so slightly over 12 mph average. I believe I’m ready for next Sunday.

Domestic bliss

The afternoon and evening were filled with

  • Elly bravely applying Heineken pain-cream to the parts I couldn’t reach
  • finishing sorting the reference section
  • reinstating the spare room where the reference books had been stashed so my brother and his partner can stay next weekend. (My main role was fixing and repainting a drawer unit.)
  • taking Elly for a cocktail at the nearby 52 canoes tiki den. (Photos here, here and here.)


Shakedown cruise

My much better half has just bought herself a touring bike. Fidel is in the same range as Lev but was produced this year, has higher quality brake and gear mechanisms, and also has butterfly handlebars, enabling a more upright, sight-seeing position. He came with SPD pedals but Elly wanted toe-cage pedals. (He also came with average tyres but we got those swapped for Schwalbe marathon plus tyres – these and Gatorskins are the only brands I trust.)

So we fitted swapped the SPD pedals for toe-clip pedals and took cycle-paths to the promenade at Cramond. (We also checked that I’d fixed Fidel’s front rack so the front brake doesn’t foul it.) Here I held Elly and Fidel upright so she could practice getting her right foot into its cage without having to think about balancing and moving. When she was ready, I gave her some emergency-stop practice. (Pulling the left foot backwards before putting it down to the ground while braking safely isn’t an innate skill.)

We also raced each other a couple of times. As I predicted, Elly is stronger and faster than me on a similar bike – the only advantage I have is some cycling stamina and more road-reading experience so I’ll know when it’s safe to push on!) Elly was delighted to find that Fidel takes in his stride hills that would severely tax Che (her commuting bike). Elly says that while she’s not yet in love with Fidel, she is infatuated!

We did about 14 miles today, culminating in yet another trip to the cycle co-op to buy a stand for holding Fidel when he’s resting at Servants’ Quarters and frame-luggage for both Lev and Fidel. With this, Lev now has room for a spare inner-tube, some energy bars and a tube of pain-cream without needing panniers. Even better, I believe I can reach the energy bars while moving!


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