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.
CTC Spring / Summer Fashion Week – Biggar. 18 April 2018
Contemporary Transgression Cyclists’ Fashion Week, hosted in one of Edinburgh’s most hip restaurants, the Charwood Grill, was designed to show off our latest fashions as we welcomed in the Spring. Our host for the occasion was Duncan Ross, former designer at Commes des Garçons, flamboyantly rigged in his stonewashed orange-red jacket. The day’s programme had exhorted us to break out into seer-sucker shorts and date night, short-sleeved tops. We were however warned of inclement weather and dressing down in end-of-season winter-proof accoutrements may be more advisable.
Clearly, the aim of the show was optimism. Our models rode along a zingy yellow and black top. There were pops of colour, often worn top to toe, in yellow, cerise, orange-pink and blue. A resurgent house symbol of a triangle of wings within a cycle wheel – or “a synergistic winged glyph imbued with a positive message” as the notes had it – was celebrated.
The colour of the new season was to be the bang-on-trend strawberry-red of the new line of CTC short and long-sleeved jersey tops. These, like second skins, patterned with a rash of liver-coloured tatouage and layered under moiré Goretex cycling jackets, give Cycling UK a brand identity when they barely have a brand. Unfortunately, the drop of these items hasn’t happened and so all attempts to model this latest range have been temporarily abandoned.
The first wow factor on the catwalk was provided by the Halford Triplets, Jude ‘the Guid’, Marion and Alison ‘Jo-Jo’ Johnson in nipped-waist, cerise jersey tops with shoulder zip on sleeves for an easy transition from full-length sleeves to sleeveless top.
Doing a sterling job in keeping the show on the road, as Duncan changed the show’s route in mid-flight, was Bill ‘the Destroyer’ Coppock in his retro, exhausted, plum nylon and laine mix gents jumper with fashionably destroyed elbows. His outfit was accessorised by a capacious saddle-bag in faded cerise canvas with an ingenious iron bar attaching strap.
Having crossed the moss, heads down into the wind, to West Linton our next scheduled catwalk session was outside the public toilets in the village, with a star-struck audience of Primary school children. Marian showed a stunning black base layer slashed in pink and decorated with horizontal, rain cloud-effect blue and white stripes. She was tapping into the zeitgeist with her latest protest chic look, giving feminine softness some bite. Jude showed her bold use of colour by mixing a sky-blue light gilet with her cerise Halford’s top.
It was also a break-out moment for Alastair ‘Crash’ Crichton, showing a Scott sponsored, themed collection of black and white helmet, high vis white, zipped, wind-cheater with its raglan sleeves picked out in canary yellow. Layered underneath was a blue jersey, which when zipped, cleverly brought together the Scott logo.
On leaving West Linton we would have loved a photo-shoot with Kool Kristine to show off her luminous peach, wind-proof jacket against a background of beautifully groomed sheep, colourfully dyed in a soft peach wash. She however peeled off at Blyth Bridge as she was much in demand at a number of after-show parties.
Meanwhile Sparkly Gordon had lost his fizz and was having a shite day. He was showing off a very last-year pair of half-mast shorts and a brutalist box of a pannier. He was finding the wind in his face shite and to cap it all he was dropped unceremoniously by Kool Kristine. He told me his “brutalist confection and South Asian spice” outfit was about recognising and accepting the discomfort that’s part of our reality and dealing with it through “beauty and positive energy and joy — the opposite of discomfort.”
Bill Krol led the way in ensuring the cultural hegemony of high-vis clothing ranges, from the tops of our helmets, the raglan sleeves saying sporty in an instant on our daffodil yellow jackets, to our gaiters. A new study has however found that these do not lessen the chance of an accident.
Despite the headwinds, the show was able to meet its schedule for the planned al fresco lunch in the Champs Elysee of Biggar, where the CTC flaneurs mingled with the assembled paparazzi and fashion editors of all the influential magazines, including the crème de la crème from the Peeblesshire News.
On the lunch catwalk Cathy ‘Smiley’ Riley was exerting soft power by parading a Chamonix powder blue jacket with inset elbow joints and pads and welt pockets. Marian modelled another outfit, a nectarine-peach outer jacket using vintage and up-cycled materials. The loose cuff in flashing white towelling plus the bid for independence in John’s cross-country, statement sandals excited much comment. His whole show was a marmite moment for a cyclist who plays with a melting pot of cultures, nods to the zeitgeist’s penchant for sportswear and underpins his designs with sustainable sourcing.
After lunch the caravan turned its face for home with a tailwind behind us. Duncan, on behalf of Commes des Garçons, unveiled their spring/summer 2018 campaign on the road to Carnwath. According to the press release, “a mysterious, untrammelled landscape: the hills and glens and its pristine nature explode with bursts of passionate laughter. Inspired by this landscape, photographer Sparkly has shared his authentic vision. In this collaboration he whisked us away to an untouched world, free of frills and artifice, in harmony with the emotions that he conveys.”
At Carnwath we were met by Liz, the hipster extraordinaire, Sutherland, who had followed the show along the official route. We – some of us – sped up and over the Lang Whan – another evocative landscape – to the Corner Cafe in Currie, the venue for our final show. Duncan, as fresh as a daisy, showed off last year’s iconic, baby-blue CTC branded jersey, while Doug ‘the Sculpture’ Mackie, who had been sculpted all day in black was rock’n’roll in a sharp black base layer with inset sleeve pocket.
As Peter Campbell says, “As the only animal that makes its own pelt, we must choose for ourselves a set of colours, stripes and spots that will, like it or not, communicate much about us…and put us in touch with a uniquely human anxiety, ‘what shall I wear today’.”
Credit: From an idea by Billy-Bob Fowler
John Palmer is our cycling blogger and regularly posts parodies of ride reports on our WhatsApp group.
Nuances of the chat and idiosyncrasies of ourselves and fellow rides are noted in affectionate descriptions of the day
They are a source is great amusement to those who participated in the ride and those who were not present but eagerly anticipate the report of the day.
Game of Two Halves – North Berwick. 24 January 2018
“It were a game of two halves guv. We kicked off with the wind behind us and were bowling along nicely until poor Davie lad picked up two yellow cards in quick succession and was sent off. I thought the first one was fair enough, but the second one; well what can you say. That’s how the ref saw it and you have to go with the ref’s decision.”
“Then the forwards and the backs misunderstood the next play and messed up badly. Still, we got to half-time and sorted it all out in the dressing-room. Not that the hair-dryer wasn’t in full use.”
“In the second half the boys had to dig deep into the wind and pull together as a team. All credit to the skipper and the rest of the boys as we got to the final whistle just ahead. We’ll take a lot out of that, but we’ve still got a lot of work to do.”
Border Reivers re-claim the Forth Road Bridge – Charlestown. 31 January 2018
Despite the dire warnings of the old weather woman, Mette Officer, the Lothian & Borders Psyclopaths today sent a small expeditionary force into Fife. It was led by Jester Gordie frae the side o’ the Clyde and marshalled by Mistress Iron Sides, with four layers of that new-fangled thermal armour no less.
The first objective was to regain the Forth Road Bridge for psyclopaths, which was achieved after much Humming and Yousing. Our next objective was to creep unseen and unhindered along the coast to Charlestown and there sample the village’s delights. We were joined by the Laggard Stuart, who had fought a brave rear-guard action to rendezvous with us.
After paying our respects at Dunfermline Abbey we regained the bridge, where Sir Bill, he of the squeaky steed, single handedly reclaimed another lane for psyclopaths. To celebrate this deed, we repaired to the wee bakery at the Queen’s crossing, where blue-haired wenches serve, to partake of rocky roads and apple pie. A raggedy rabble finally wound its weary way back to the city.
(Psyclopath: a person suffering an extreme love of bicycles.)
Bewildered Reception for Britten’s Masterpiece: Peter Grimes – Haddington. 14 February 2018
This was an ambitious and storm-wracked production. Originally conceived as an open-air, moving production, with its three Acts taking place at different venues across East Lothian, conditions forced the cast to make many cuts, resulting in a bewildering performance.
In the Prologue, Duncan, in the role of Mr Swallow, determined a near collision as accidental. The production was then hit by the forced withdrawal of Alison, in the role of Auntie, due to the wind. The company boasts one of the premier sopranos, Dame Janet Iron Sides, here reprising her role as Ellen. While no longer quite able to hit the high notes, she held the cast together when they hit a muddy patch.
The remainder of the first Act and the second Act had to be spliced together and were performed at the Borough Hall in Haddington. The pub scenes were played with great gusto by this notable cast; Stuart admirably filling the role of Bob Boles and our “alluring Norwegian”, Kristine as one of the “wittering nieces” (Edinburgh Festival 2017) were particularly well characterised.
In the interval between the two Acts, star of stage and screen, Gordon “Reg” Robertson kept the audience amused with his latest light entertainment, a quiz on popular TV shows of the 1960s.
The orchestra was conducted by the company’s resident conductor, Bill Coppock. From the start he set a fast tempo but found that while the string section could keep up, the woodwinds and brass were more hard-pressed. As the third Act proceeded to Musselburgh they were at least two bars behind in every interlude, leading to a very disjointed experience for the audience. Nevertheless, the production was met with charitable applause, including from celebrity guests, members of the Scotland cricket team.
School’s Back – Bo’ness. 7 March 2018
BBC News: Lothian Region has decided to re-open all schools. Roads and paths have all been cleared but road users still need to take care. Chief Rides Co-ordinator, Bill Coppock, said: “We had to make an early decision to cancel rides so that those parents who wished to take themselves to sunnier climes could do so.”
Dame Iron Sides: “Gather round now class, today we are going on an outing to Bo’ness. Now, there are a large number of us and I expect you to all ride safely, in groups of 5 or 6. And no rushing past the leader, thank you. Who wants to be back monitor today? Thank you, Brian. And Marian, will you be middle monitor?”
“And a special welcome to Liz who is on a phased return to school after her operation. Please all give her a big hello.”
“Of course, going on an outing like this is a great chance to learn. At the end of the day I will be asking you to write about your day and setting you some homework questions.”
John’s written homework.
We went to Bones’s. It was 82.8 kms there, and back to my hoose. We were riding for 5 hoors. Gordie brought some special brew to drink with Dunc. He said it was very strong and would make you sick. Dunc went home early.
Techer was cross with me because I rode through a puddle when she had told us to walk round. She used a bad word.
Marian kept calling ‘car on’, ‘car up’, ‘keep left’, ‘turn right’. We were pleased she was keeping us safe. Matt told me about the elecshuns in Italy.
Sandy gave teacher a special sweet and Gordie took a photo. She seemed very pleased. He is teacher’s pet.
Stuie had a puncture in the morning, and then three more in the afternoon. Bill had two puncshers and broke his tire. Somebody said they were riding heavy. I think he was been horrid and meant they had eaten all the pies. Ian had one too.
We didn’t go to the cinema in Bones’s or see its examples of our industrial heritage or its fine municipal planning and housing from the 1920s. Techer said there was a Silent Film Festival there in two weeks’ time and we could go then.
When Stuie and Bill had punctures, Peter and I got lost. We did not know where the others had gone so we nearly cried. We just went our own way and then we found them and we were very pleased.
Conifox gave us nice coffee and cake. There were pictures of Sir Chris Hoy. We thanked teacher for a brilliant day and then we went home.
Here are the homework questions:
What were the main towns we went to?
We did 82.8 kilometres; how many miles is that?
When Kristine got to the top of the hill, which was 1.5 kms and 100 ms of climbing, 20 seconds ahead of the rest of us, how much faster was she going?
What is the difference between La Liga and the 5 Star Movement?
Name one film that will be showing at the Silent Film Festival at Bo’ness Hippodrome?
T Cells and 100 Years Younger Over 21 Rides – Morham. 21 March 2018
As we approach the end of our winter season, famous faces old and new, gathered at Kingston Crossroads for a final test. Over 21 rides have they managed to reduce their cumulative body and brain age and increased their T cells?
Today’s final ride was led by Jude ‘the Guid’ Nixon, deputising for lead scientist on the programme and fitness guru, Duncan, the Rude Mechanical, who was overseeing the progress of another of his proteges in the sun of Playa se San Juan. Jude stressed to the group the need for discipline and teamwork if they were going to succeed. “Teamwork, connections and community are one of the strongest ingredients of good health.”
Unfortunately, we have been let down by Cambridge Analytica, who we contracted to scrape data from Facebook to enable us to compare body ages with biological ages. So, the tests must be expressed in gender-neutral age-bands.
The participants did not get off to a good start and within 20 minutes Jude had to lecture them on their group and lane discipline. Matt then developed a severe case of puncturitis and tyre-splitting and had to abandon the test. Would these set-backs affect morale? Matt is usually a major contributor to lowering brain age with his learned discourses on post-structuralism in political thought.
The back markers however exhibited good problem-solving skills in managing this event and Jude was able to award the team 10 stars.
The 70+ age-band considered their chances of success to be high, given the presence of Mark Can McCann, who, while usually cycling 16-18 miles more than any other participant, confessed himself to not feeling tired at the end of a run and only needing a beer in the summer. What can his T cell count be?
Meanwhile Billy-Bob and Posterboy were reminiscing about their marathon running days of thirty years ago and their attempts to get below 3 hours. Of course, running in a city marathon has its distractions. But are they keeping up their T cell counts by swapping from running to cycling? And Fiona ‘Granny’ Owen denied being sleep deprived, but will the tests disclose how many other grandparents suffer in this way?
Participants are allowed a lunch stop, with the nutritional value of their lunch being strictly regimented. Pies anyone, chocolate, black tea? We celebrated Gordon’s birthday in his absence, but he has now revealed that he was indulging in French pastries and a few bevvies before attending the opera instead of participating in the test. Those in his age-band should therefore be somewhat relieved by his absence as he may well have depressed their scores.
After lunch the test became much tougher and discipline, teamwork and consideration for others was at a premium as participants turned for home into a strong head wind. The group was split by traffic lights in Haddington and then a long wait for four trains at Seton crossing. Members kept their heads down, concentrating on the task in hand.
In the end it was a depleted group that made it into the T, coffee and cake stop at the ride’s end. But Jude was able to announce, from results handed in – participants waited in suspenseful and breathless anxiety as the camera panned slowly between them – that in all age-bands body and brain ages had reduced and T cells were up. But it was still not clear; will the 100 years younger target be met?
Rain Haiku – Garvald. 4 April 2018
Four fish in a row
Drown in north east wind, rain, snow
Coffee, warmth, friendship
La Cosa Nostra: Siciliano Ciclismo Societa – Rough Ride round Edinburgh 9th April 2018
“Attenzione mia collega” called Peter ‘Bluetooth’ Valente, the SCS’s capo for the day. “We’re just going for a ride in the park. There will be a coffee stop at the Secret Garden” he warned sinisterly, flashing his electric blue smile. The atmosphere chilled and all the goomahs visibly blanched.
Cycling up the Dell our crew’s first stop was at the grotto where the ladies used to wait while their cugine went on a contract. We got very tangled up with dogs, especially one mortadella with three out of control pooches. She told the capo where to go; I was surprised he didn’t get John ‘Harmless’ Watson or one of us other soldiers to do a piece of work on her.
Bluetooth led us up to the Dregs. When Gianni ‘Nosewipe’ complained, “this is like walking down a sewer on the East Side”, he came back quick as a flash, “if you’d been with Capo ‘Cut Away’ Bill, you’d have been swimming in it.”
“Up that bank” he ordered, “and keep your heads down. We’re crossing over N’Drangheta territory here. You better have come heavy.”
Bob ‘Fireman’ Virtue proudly showed us the scar on his bum where he’d taken a message and then sowed it up himself. It was clear what the message was.
Gordon ‘Sparkly’s’ goomah, La Duchessa, admitted she’d not let the cement dry on her shoes when she’d dragged his other goomah out of the house in concrete boots. She was such a jamook she just didn’t do her spring cleaning.
We crossed the Lower Southside and found our way to the Secret Garden. A hippy joint, but we all agreed you can score good sfogliatelle there, as well as weed, mushrooms and dried llama dung. We realised why it was the Secret Garden; your secrets are safe with us as long as you give us a regular taste – coffee and cake will do. Otherwise, it’s a shake down.
La Duchessa was just wearing it; an Italian cycling jacket, a pinky ring, a hankie in the breast pocket, gold cufflinks, and other ornamentation. But here’s the shake down; for a taste we’ll not reveal how she had augmented her outfit.
We found our way back across more fields and muddy tracks, and ugh, countryside, full of birds and animals and forbidden fruit out riding. After one bumpy, fast downhill, Peter flashed his bluetooth smile again, “that’ll shake out your fillings.” I didn’t think he was a dentist; I thought he left that sort of thing to Smiley.
We had lunch round a puddle on the Braid Hills and reminisced about the number of celebs we’d shaken down in executive games and the best places for dogging in Edinburgh. Bluetooth was suggesting Cammo Park, while Sparkly was all for exploring further on Braid.
We parted at the pond, but all swore the Omerta, that we’d be loyal to future ‘rides in the park’.
Glossary and Credits to http://pixelmafia.org/