Listen to a Cyclist’s Playlist- CTC Lothians and Borders on the road again in Kirkcudbright by John Palmer our cycling blogger.

A Cyclist’s Playlist – Kirkcudbright away trip, 12th and 13th June 2018


As organised, meticulously as always, by Dame Iron Sides, we met in the grounds of St Cuthbert’s church for an obligatory photo showing off everyone’s new red tops. There were a few recalcitrant members still in blue.

As we set off this song, On The Road Again by Willie Nelson cycled onto the list.

Cycling along I realised we had Brian ‘Sunny Orange’ Curtis with us and I thought, in his honour, should be on the list:

Unfortunately the playlist doesn’t include anything for Keith, our new person, who spotted our first red kite.

On the main hill of the day Jo-Jo was back marking, so she can’t be included in this, but there were others, who we might loosely call Fairydust and the Fandangos doing this:

At the bottom of the hill, at a crossroads, the Rev D Ross, Iain and Jill ‘the Plank’ McBain left us to take a shorter route home.

We had lunch at New Galloway and Janet and Gordon were comparing notes on the relative merits of bridies from Dundee and Glasgow and other delights of the mean streets from which they hail. So this seemed appropriate:

And while on the subject of the Boss, many of us had attended Doug ‘the Sculpture’s degree show, so this played in his honour.

At Rhonestone, 10 miles from home and looking for our coffee stop, the road was blocked for re-gritting, so we had to find an alt route to Threave and then home, at which the route planners excelled.

Finally, I had thought this would be me, but we had no stragglers coming back into Kirkcudbright. Still, it’s a nice way to sign off:

I hope this works for some of you.


Read the latest CTC Lothians and Borders Ride Report by John Palmer our cycling blogger


Wind Resistance – Fala Moor, 30 May 2018

There is no blog from me today.  The story of Fala Moor and Soutra Aisle has been written and sung and performed much better than I could ever dream of. Karine Polwart’s ‘A Pocket of Wind Resistance’ has been a hit since its first performance at the Edinburgh International Festival in 2016.  It has toured across Scotland and the UK and is on at the Leith Theatre on 16 August.  Folk Radio’s review says; “This is far more than an album, it’s a journey. Karine Polwart’s ‘A Pocket Of Wind Resistance’ is theatre for the ears”.

We didn’t suffer wind resistance today, more like cold from the haar, but you can listen to our journey by streaming or downloading the disc here;

If you want to listen to the tracks individually, pay particular attention to:

All on a Summer’s Evening

The Moor Speaks. “In the moor where the wind sings, I am earth and I am water, I am sedge and I am sky, I am old dead things, I am alive.”…”Do not hold your breath in your fist. Open your hands.”

Lark in the Clear Air, “And my soul it soars enchanted as I hear the sweet lark sing in the clear air of the day.”

Labouring and Resting

“In September the geese snaking across the Firth of Forth from their summer nests in Iceland and the coastal cliffs of Greenland, clattering and honking in their ever shifting skein.  My garden is a flight path, I watch, I listen.  The outstretched wing-tips of each migrating goose create an up-wash, a pocket of wind resistance, for the bird tucked in behind and below.  These nooks of ease, these aero-dynamic sanctuaries, cut the drag by up to 65%.

“It’s a wonder; it’s also a gale-bitten struggle to sustain co-operation.  Every goose takes a turn, stepping up, falling back, labouring and resting.  Like sky-born socialists, no lone bird bears the brunt… Stepping up, falling back, labouring and resting.”

A Place to Rest and Mend

“A priest works his magic on Soutra…The wintering geese settle in down below, in the cool lochan waters of Fala Flow, while here in this place to rest and mend the friars and midwives attend to the sick, the infirm and the aged, the pilgrims, the poor…Here on this wind-battered fell-side that flanks Fala Moor, the kindness of plants and the kindness of hands.”

Remember the Geese

“Miles and miles and miles and miles…I watch and wonder at the geese as they fly up the Salter’s Road to Fala Moor each autumn, stepping up, falling back, labouring and resting.  The skein is their refuge and so is the moor itself.”

Molly Sime’s Welcome to Salter’s Road
“She was waiting for a boy…
driving on a Clydesdale like her father once had done
from Mutton Hole to Preston Hall thro all the dells and ditches
and an avenue of burly beeches that reached towards the sun.
For miles and miles and miles she rode
down Salter’s Road to Fala Dam and all the way home,
for miles and miles and miles she rode.”

Explore, enjoy and let the songs and stories resonate.




James ‘Jimmy’ Waddell – Funeral Arrangements

It is with great sadness that we advise of the death of longstanding Lothian and Borders CTC member James ‘Jimmy’ Waddell, who passed away on the 28th April 2018 at St. John’s Hospital, Livingston.    Jimmy’s funeral service will be at Midcalder Church on Wednesday 9th May 2018 at 2.00pm and after at East Calder cemetery.    All fellow cyclists welcome, bikes very welcome.

Donald Urquhart, Secretary

Read the latest humorous parodies of CTC Lothians and Borders Ride Reports by John Palmer our cycling blogger

Summer Cycling Chums – Callendar Park, Falkirk. 2 May 2018


We pricked up our handlebars as we heard someone opening the bike shed.  “I wonder who’ll be going out today” said Orange MB. Then we realised it’s Wednesday.

“It’ll be you, Black Specialised Tri-cross, off on one of your epics.  Be sure to tell us all about it in one of your blogs” the others jeered at me.


We met up outside the dead Blue Goose – no vodka there then – and not the most convivial of spots, with the traffic rushing by. Poor old Dawes of Sir Bill was squeaking and groaning away as usual. “Oh, my joints hurt, my chain’s rusted, my brakes are clogged, my gears need indexing, my cables need greasing, I need a good bath.”  We knew he’d be going on and on like this all day.  “Hey Dawes, I hear you’ve got some new companions” piped up Tripster of Sparkly.


“Don’t get me started on those” grunted Dawes. “Abominations; little wheels, fold-ups, with delivery baskets on the front.  And pink for him and blue for her, I ask you.  At least they can be packed up in a box, so I don’t have to listen to their silly chitter-chatter all day.”


We all crowded round Genesis of Colin Shakin’ Stevenson, to welcome him back on the rides.  (We call Genesis bikes the Creationists). “Glad to see you back mate” we chorused.  “I hope you don’t start giving Colin the shakes again” I thought.


We were introduced to new Specialised of Sue ‘Skylark’ Robertson. We were really upset to hear the story of how our friend, Falcon Explorer, a bit overweight but still a really good, steady chap, had been stolen from his home.  “That’s a fate worse than being given away to the Bike Station” said Revolution of Krol. “Imagine, you could be used to ram-raid some kid, or as a getaway bike after a bank heist, or have your tyres slashed and your wheels kicked in in a gang fight.” “His imagination does run away with him a bit sometimes” I thought.


I was looking forward to seeing Specialised of Posterboy again. She is transgender – flat handlebars and duck-egg blue paint job. But instead a bike I’d never met before, a Van Nicholson, turned up and explained he was Posterboy’s summer bike.


I looked with admiration at the sleek lines, light frames, perfect geometry and slim wheels of Giant (at least I think that’s who it is) of Marion, Avail of Heather ‘Pooch’ Porteous and Spa of Smiley. I knew, sadly, I’d never be able to keep up with them. Actually, it turned out that Spa was back-marking and the others were malingering. So, I got a chance to chat about their titanium frames and flared mud-guards.


Cannonball of Dame Iron Sides was leading and just before we left Tripster announced it was Dame’s birthday yesterday. Between you and me, Cannonball can be a bit vicious; she gets up and bites the Dame every time she hops off her pedals.


As we headed onto the canal the Creationist of Shakin’ commented on my new back wheel and drive train and front ring and new tyres. I was dead chuffed that someone had noticed.


We were all getting very wet when we got to Ratho.  Trike of Dave ‘Strictly Come Triking’ Stokes went off to get a coffee and then went home, which was a shame because I wanted to talk to him about his cornering technique.  We were however joined by Specialised of Fiona ‘Fairy-dust’ Owen.  She’s a lovely looker, all in white, but suffering a bit with arthritis in her handle-bars and headset.


It was nice to chat to Lady Hewitt of the Hipster about her trip with Specialised of Kool Kristine to Colonsay, where they enjoyed wall-to-wall sunshine and cycled all over the island. There were lots of famous authors there for a Book Festival, including Bella Bathurst, who wrote a book about us.


We were going up the hill to Ecclesmachan when I realised everyone had turned round and was coming down again.  There had been an accident involving one of those motorised, four-wheel things and the road was closed. (Ecc’ll smack her one).  So, Cannonball had to do some quick thinking to find an alternative route and decided we needed some more training and took us up Binny Hill instead and on to Linlithgow.


We had lunch at Callendar Park where we looked at birds and water and trees; Skylark liked that. Sparkly gave out cake and we all sang ‘Happy Birthday to you’ and tinkled our bells and blew our horns. Sir Bill played on a swing.  Under all the dirt you could see old Dawes blush in embarrassment for him.


After lunch we passed through Grangemouth and Bo’ness and then Fairy-dust and the Specials started up a chorus:

“We’re rolling, rolling along

From Bo’ness and through to Blackness

With the wind on our backs awfy strong

We’re gliding, gliding along no stress”.


I think it was to the tune of Rawhide, but I might be wrong.


As we climbed out of Blackness and on to Mannerston, our cranks began to hurt, and our drive trains felt the strain.  We were glad to stop at the garden centre for a rest and to take on board some liquid and cake.


At Cramond Brig the Dame offered to guide people back to the start through Cammo.  I just wanted to go the way I know; I can do it on auto-pilot, don’t even need one of those Garmin gadgets that get stuck on us.  But others took up the Dame’s offer and I could see Cannonball thinking; “oh no, why did she offer? I’ve got to keep going now while all I want to do is go back to my nice comfy shed and put my wheels up.”


As we got home, after another 65 miles, John opened the shed and slid me back into my place next to old Silverback Reebok.  “Where have you been?” the others all twittered and chirped. “Who did you meet, what did you see, were you all right, were there any accidents, did you carry John OK?”


“Oh, hush your weesht” I groaned, “I’m so tired; my tyres are blistered, my saddle’s sore, my chain is stretched, my gears are aching; I just need to rest. I’ll tell you all about it in the morning.” And with that I leant in against Silverback, closed my eyes and went to sleep.