2015_05_01: Escape from Dundee!

I’m still trying to build fitness my and stamina in preparation for sportives, more cycling holidays in Europe and eventually cycling to India. So each week I’m trying to increase my range by about 10 miles and more hills. Last Friday I did 60 miles from Berwick-upon Tweed to Edinburgh, so I wanted a 70-mile route starting around an hour’s train journey from Edinburgh. The plan is to maroon myself somewhere new one day each week so I must cycle back home.

So I hit on cycling from Dundee via Perth to Edinburgh.

As long-term readers and friends will know, I don’t like Dundee. It’s the one place I’ve had actual rocks hurled at me. There are are at least two good things to come out of it – a former flat mate who was (and presumably still is) brilliant and the DC Thomson stable of comics. When I lived in St Andrews, I used to visit the Hilltown area to buy 20kg sacks of basmati rice so I could live far cheaper than if buying at normal supermarket prices. So I suppose it isn’t fair to use terms like the Kingsway Colditz, Stalag Luft Menzieshill or Gulag Blackness.

The Edinburgh-Dundee train didn’t require hanging Lev Davidovitch Bikestein by his wheels, but was too short to fit a full-size bike without turning the front wheel and thus preventing more than one bike fitting into the dedicated bike-space. I’m still mystified why UK trains just aren’t bike-friendly in so many ways. However, this train did offer something special – it got me to Dundee just in time to encounter an old friend who I’ve not seen for far, far too long. (Pause to remember lots of good times and look forward to many more!) He’s a DJ and record-producer – some music is here. So we chatted for a while – good-natured banter about my healthy lifestyle, his travels to play clubs aroudn the world, respective families and so on. I’m really looking forward to meeting up again with him, his wife (who partially inspired my aim of cycling to India).

Lev and I then set off – we had to walk a while to find a way onto Riverside Drive. There’s a cyclepath along the waterfront, past Dundee airport and on to Invergowrie. After that, path or cycle-lane runs along the side of the A90 to Longforgan. Thereafter, we got a bit lost (we’d missed the official cycle-route turnoff at Invergowrie) and hugged the side of the A90 to Inchture, cursing lorries that passed too close. At Inchture, the cycle-lane disappeared so after a long wait for a gap in traffic, we crossed at a plebestrian crossing only to find that the route led back onto the A90 – but by now there was a road-side path. We imagined the shared-use signs were visible and set off again, taking advantage of lorry-slipstream and consequent brown-underpant feelings.

As far as I can tell from cyclemeter, Lev and I did the 23 miles to Perth in about 90 minutes. That’s over 15mph, which is probably due to hail and wind pushing us on:

Here’s some GoPro footage of the Dundee to Perth stretch:
There was a pause in Perth’s South Inch park to refuel and use the municipal toilets.

All Leved up and miles to roll!

Then Lev and I turned south towards Edinburgh. I could see a range of hills between us and home. (Lev can’t see, despite sometimes having a mind of his own.) The gradient turned nasty just south of Bridge of Earn. I could hardly trun Lev’s pedals, even though I suspect the gradient was little more than 10%. Unlike spinning or turbo training (not that I do that – yet!), you can’t stop turning at the bottom of each pedal-stroke because you’ll fall over if you do. So we ground our way up to Glenfarg, me cursing my lack of strength and decision to do this bloody cycling thing most of the way.

At Glenfarg, an NCN sign indicated that the route went to the right (south-east), presumably via more hills. So we ignored that and carried on along the main road (B996) until it met the A91, the main road from St Andrews to the M90. There was a sign indicating a cycle-route around the east side of Loch Lomond, so we took that. There was lots more grunting and peching as we went through villages on the lower slopes of the Lomond hills until we reached Ballingry. I think it was about here that my bluetooth headphones ran out of juice – the rest of the journey was not powered by music.

We stopped there to buy water – I’d drained half of my camel – and a bread roll, and confim to Elly that I was still alive, then set off southwards again. The route took us through Lochgelly (memorable for road surfaces almost as bad as Leith Walk), Cowdenbeath and onto Crossgates. From there, I could see hills the other side of the Forth – we were so near I could taste the diet Irn Bru! However, another set of undulations (they’re not big enough to call them hills) lay between my legs and home. So we tottered through south Fife into Inverkeithing.

There’s a cyclepath though Inverkeithing to the Forth Road Bridge, mostly downhill. Lev and I passed someone being treated by the emergency services, blood all over his face and screaming in pain near the way onto the bridge – we don’t recommend taking the final turn at any speed. The bridge implores cyclists not to do more than 15mph. It’s hard not to obey this on the way up its curve, but very easy to disobey when going down. Afterwards, there’s cyclepath all the way to Edinburgh’s city centre. Most of the stretch along this part of the A90 has been relatively recently rennovated – smooth tarmac apart from the annnoying occassional rumble strip.

The path goes through the back streets of Cramond and Barnton – Lev and I were held up by a taxi blocking the route, so got back onto Queensferry road for the final couple of miles. It’s fun to try to sprint using the impetus of drops and rises from Quality Street junction to the Dean Bridge. Unladen, we have hit 30mph on level roads. This time, I guess we probably didn’t reach 20mph, but Lev was laden and I was tired.

Overall we did 65 miles in 5 hours 12 minutes of pedalling time, so that’s 12·56 mph on average – better than last week’s 11·07 mph average. There was hardly any backside-pain and no chafing of the unmentionables, and I was able to spin the next day with little ill effect, just a little ache in my right hip. So I’m getting more confident about stringing together several long-distance days. Next week’s challenge might be cycling to Glasgow and back: no train journey, over 80 miles, almost guaranteed head-wind on the outward journey and a long slow uphill drag through West Lothian. And Lev’s about to get new two-sided SPD pedals because I’m bored with looking down to get his left combination (one side flat, other side SPD clip) pedal into the correct orientation every time we start off – it’s boring and it takes my eyes off the road.

Here’s the cyclemeter details.

Ride Time Stopped Time Average Speed
Fastest Speed
5.00 22:42 7:15 13.21 22.28 1103 229 76
10.00 19:55 7:32 15.06 25.39 895 177 272
15.00 16:55 0:22 17.73 21.75 1122 34 0
20.00 18:20 2:23 16.36 23.45 1010 34 108
25.00 25:05 20:27 11.96 20.62 1043 267 143
30.00 29:20 6:49 10.23 19.83 1027 467 81
35.00 23:27 6:54 12.79 29.40 876 240 302
40.00 25:51 2:09 11.60 20.69 939 138 196
45.00 29:24 33:58 10.20 19.95 1047 356 227
50.00 21:37 1:16 13.88 22.32 937 79 229
55.00 21:42 3:14 13.82 27.50 830 224 364
60.00 28:08 0:56 10.66 24.37 1086 344 382
65.00 27:38 3:42 10.86 23.41 982 200 238
65.35 2:03 1:12 10.34 11.56 80 82 23
Ride Time Distance
Stopped Time Average Speed
Fastest Speed
Energy Burn
0.00 – 6.21 34:31 11% 4.51 1:29:44 4.84 6.20 821 1070 239
6.21 – 12.43 2:11:34 42% 21.17 8:19 9.45 12.43 4948 1537 270
12.43 – 18.64 2:00:20 39% 30.77 0:08 15.34 18.63 6006 266 1127
18.64 – 24.85 23:38 8% 7.98 0:00 20.27 24.61 1158 0 772
24.85 – 31.07 2:05 1% 0.92 0:00 26.50 29.40 44 0 234

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