It’s all about the bum cheeks

I took the saddle from the old/winter/commuting bike and stuck  it on the new baby. As it happens I think it still needs a little adjustment so might have another quickie ride midweek. The white saddle on the all black number doesn’t look so good but the quality of the ride is more important than the looks.

newbike
check out the unshaven legs

Today’s ride out was meant to be just a spin to check out the saddle. It turned out to be a lung bursting, thigh burning, wound tugging ten mile blast.

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Loch Ness

Aldo suggested Loch Ness Etape as part of my preparation for my reverse EE stage. It was very good timing, a whole ten days before I start cycling in Madrid. The route would be free from traffic and we’d cycle through a beautiful part of Scotland. The course looked relatively flat with the exception of the monster of a hill halfway round. It was this hill that was our focus, it is more of a challenge than any other climb that I have attempted to date.

I wasn’t sure if tapas was the ideal fuel the night before an early rise and long cycle. But this was the best we were going to get on a busy Saturday night in Inverness. The food was quite good and just what we needed after walking round the town several times getting knock-backs from all the posh places. It shouldn’t have been a surprise that all the good food stops were fully booked on a Saturday night. If this place didn’t have an available table then it was a toss-up between a very popular fast food burger chain and an ‘all you can eat’ Chinese buffet chain.

I read somewhere that only one night’s broken sleep will not make a big difference in performance, so I was thankful for that as the mattress I tried to sleep on was so bad that counting all the broken bits together I might have got a couple of hours. I’d be better off sleeping on the floor – exactly what I reverted to the next night!

I used some precious bottled water and boiled the kettle. I emptied two complimentary sachets of nescafe in to a small cup and half-filled to get a fix before breakfast. I only got partly dressed for breakfast, socks, cycle shorts and base layer. Let’s face it who am I going to meet other than Aldo at 5.15 am. Nobody, though if we were an hour earlier we would have bumped into our drunken neighbour  from the room above me and next door to Aldo. He bumped into a lot of things after he fell through the B&B front door, though he had the courtesy of finishing his rendition of the Beatles classic line of ‘I get by with a little help from my friend’ when he reached the front gate.

The start-line was only a short cycle down the hill to Bught Park on the banks of the River Ness. Despite Aldo’s prediction of chaos, the start was busy but extremely well organised and we breezed through at our on-time and ridiculously early start time of 6.32.

Stop number one was at the top of a small climb out of town about a mile into the event. We cycled this little climb the night before and felt every degree of the gradient. Today we seemed to glide up the hill with ease, in a peleton of hundreds of cyclists. Also stopped and peering backwards down the hill, obviously waiting for friends, were three fellow cyclists. ‘Have you given up as well?’ one of them asked. I’m not sure if we replied or just gave an approving laugh. A little bit of friendly banter that was typical throughout this friendly event. As we left the layby and carried on we passed a guy fixing his front wheel back onto his bike and blowing up his tyre. A puncture so soon – poor sod.

Soon after this Aldo stopped us for what reason I cannot remember but it was not a puncture as I first feared. We’d already passed several unfortunate people who were crouched over their bike at the side of the road obviously suffering a puncture in front or rear. On remounting our conversation turned to tyres and punctures. Without doing the maths I reasoned that although we saw a lot of casualties it was only a small and probably expected proportion out of the 3,000 cyclists on the road. Aldo had another explanation, not everyone has quality tyres, making them vulnerable to regular punctures. He went further than this suggesting the tyres he buys are ‘indestructible’. He may have a point, I thought – I hadn’t had a puncture since August last year, that’s 2,000 miles of winter cycling on these tyres and one of them was of the ‘Indestructible’ variety that Aldo has mentioned. Aldo hadn’t had one for even longer; he had got good at breaking spokes but had a good record for preserving his tubes. Of course both his tyres were of the ‘Indestructible’ variety.

Our route down the A82 was up and down along the west side of the Loch, though the climbs were mostly gentle and never lasted for long. There was calm over the Loch, with little or no wind, it was dry and the little sprinkle of rain that we had when we left the B&B had come to nothing. We cyclists had the road to ourselves, no noise of vehicles except for the occasional marshal’s motor bike slowly cruising by. The noise was of nature, of gear changing and near-by chitchat of other cyclists. It was an enchanting atmosphere with some great views across the water. I needed to stop, not for a puncture but for another reason – a call of nature. To be comfortable going up that hill I had to go. Shortly after we passed through Drumnadrochit I choose my layby carefully, basically the first one where there were free berths, where I would be at least partly hidden between trees. Facing the Loch I let go and enjoyed the view. Looking down the steep bank about 100 feet to the Loch I had a different view of cookers, freezers and fridges, a white goods graveyard. Someone else had chosen this layby and partly hidden berth as carefully as I had. Before remounting my bike I had to push passed yet another fellow cyclist with a puncture, he should get himself an ‘Indestructible’ tyre I thought.

We had agreed to meet at the feed station after the summit. It was our only scheduled stop. As we approached the bottom of the hill I reminded Aldo of our agreed meeting place. He didn’t need reminding but it was the green light for him to go at his own pace, which would be about a couple of miles faster than me for most of the incline that was to follow. He had been patient all the way down the west bank of the Loch, slowing for me when needed. I like to think that I was pacing him sensibly for the second part of the Ride.

The five mile hill was split into three distinct climbs, on the first climb the atmosphere changed again. It was still calm and there were still no motor vehicles on the road and no wind, of course there was the odd cyclist with puncture problems – poor sods. But now all the chitchat had stopped as most cyclists were too busy breathing to talk. It was hard work but I took it slowly and pushed a little harder only when I needed to avoid other cyclists on the very busy road. I was surprised to see so many people off their bikes and pushing them up the hill, more than a handful and this was the first climb! I kept telling myself it’s tougher to walk and push the bike than to cycle; my lungs and my legs were beginning to disagree.

After the first mile there was a short downhill this led to the start of the second climb, which I understood to be a lesser gradient. It wasn’t, that is I had misunderstood and I didn’t need to be on it to comprehend. As I came round the final downhill part, the second climb loomed in front of me, any momentum that I had from this section was completely nullified within the first few yards of the climb. Strangely though I was now beginning to enjoy this climbing thing except that the sun had come out and I was feeling very hot underneath my four layers. Near the top of this climb I saw another cyclist with his bike upside down in the layby. As I got closer I recognised the figure, it was Aldo…. Or was it? Aldo had ‘Indestructible’ tyres, so I had a second take – yep it was Aldo – poor sod. When I shouted over ‘Nae luck mate’ it was meant with sincerity, to have a puncture was bad luck but to get it on the climb was real tough. It was only afterwards when he showed me the video did I find it funny, no hilarious. After the second climb was complete I could see far enough beyond up the third climb to where I thought the summit was. I got chatting to some girl who had cycled this hill the previous week; she warned me about the sudden short steep incline at the start of the third and final climb of the hill. I’m not sure why you would do this hill one week before the event but I guess we’re all different. I was glad of the warning, the short sharp segment really hurt my legs but strangely I enjoyed it.

I expected Aldo to have the puncture fixed in no time and catch me before the feed station four miles down the road. Or at least arrive shortly afterwards. Dismounted and standing at the entrance to the feed station I waited. I waited for about 25 minutes and all sorts of thoughts and worries went through my head but the predominant thought was; ‘Where the feck is he? My body temperature was dropping and I was starting to feel the chill from the sweat in my base layer. When Aldo did arrive he told me the story of the big gaping hole that appeared in his ‘indestructible’ tyre. My reckoning why he took so long was that he’s forgotten how to change an inner tube and because he’d had these ‘Indestructible’ tyres since he was 12.

We set a good pace home from the feed station and raced at my 100% for the last sixteen miles. We passed so many other cyclists here that made me think that I set too slow a pace on the way out. Nevertheless Aldo’s pace making on the way home matched what I expected from him as he had set this precedent each of the last two weekends.

Apparently Aldo got silver and I got bronze.

On Sunday night we tried to eat in all the posh places that knocked us back the night before. Any of them would have been nice but Inverness was closed.

I didn’t take any photos but Aldo has shared his video clip. If he hasn’t disabled access to the link by the time you read this – turn up the volume.

That shite moment

The Crow Road

Saturday I went up The Crow Road, the one going through the Campsie Hills not the one in the City that Ian Banks wrote about. Up and over the hill from Lennoxtown, this was the more difficult ascent. I’d previously climbed from the other side, via Killearn and Fintry, which I knew at the time was much less difficult. The route also took us up Tak-Ma-Doon Road, for the first time. Though there are some pretty steep bits, this was the easier direction to approach from.

Aldo’s text in the morning rather surprised me, Gadget Man hadn’t set his alarm! Last week he surprised me as he got us lost in a blizzard of hail, this time was equally as surprising as he postponed his arrival for an extra hour in bed. Both of these are my tricks.

When Aldo did arrive on Saturday morning, I wasn’t ready. I thought I had more time than I did, though I did manage to make the pasta sauce for that night’s dinner, wash the bike and clean and oil the chain. Oh yes and I managed to sneak in another half an hour’s kip, a deliberate decision of course.

I can sleep anytime, anywhere, except when I have something on the next day and I need to get up early.

On the train home
On the train home
Ferry to Brodick
Ferry to Brodick
Waiting for breakfast
Waiting for breakfast

But that was another trip


We set off before midday, Aldo had downloaded the route to the Garmin, I hadn’t bothered. This was a recipe for failure as the only two times that Aldo has got lost that I know about is when he was following the Garmin directions on unfamiliar territory. I never follow the Garmin and often get lost.

The journey up to Lennoxtown, though windy, was an easy ride. It was all uphill but neither of us were in a hurry to expend too much energy. We cycled through some familiar ground, places where we’d cycled together when we were new to this sport, only a few years ago.

When turning into Crow Road we discussed again our thoughts and reassured each other that this was about getting up the hill at our own pace. About preparation for Loch Ness etape and enjoying it. It was not a race!

The Race (part one)

I had managed to hold on to his back wheel or within a few yards for two and a half of the three miles on the ascent up Crow Road.

I set off first but Aldo very quickly passed me – at the start of the long straight part of the road leading up to the car park. As the gradient lessened slightly I gradually caught him and was nearly back on his wheel when we turned the bend just before reaching the car park. Consciously or not, he gave a little spurt, not because he thought I was close but because of the spectators sitting on the grass verge at the car park edge. Of course they weren’t spectators, just like this wasn’t a race, just two couples enjoying a clear view across the Clyde Valley. As I passed I caught the eye of one of the girls as she moved to a standing position, she looked into my eyes and I read her mind – Why is the cyclist in front looking so cool and relaxed when the guy behind is wearing a face of a Maniac? –

I was conscious of not pushing too much as I knew the steepest section of the hill was yet to come so I steadied my pace and watched Aldo slowly pulled away from me again. A couple of hundred yards past the car park as the hill got steeper, I found with my even tempo I was slowly catching him. Another hundred yards and again I was on his wheel, I was right there, I was up into third bottom gear, how good did I feel. I could take him now, I thought just cruise up beside him, hang there for a while then shift up a gear and humiliate him. Instead I stayed where I was but only for a little while. Suddenly the lower parts of my legs were starting to disobey me, instead of coming up beside my companion, I was again falling behind as I slowed my pace to something more sensible. If you were an onlooker on the hillside you would have observed and got the impression that I was going backward like a novice competing against a thoroughbred.

He beat me up by quite a distance it seemed but the record showed it only as a minute. I was breathing normally again and was happy at being so close. And now looking forward to the downhill reward.

The Race (I wasn’t racing)

I wasn’t ready for the immediate climb at the foot of the hill as we turned off just before Fintry. The climb out of Fintry was only 2.1 miles with an average gradient of only 3%. Aldo overtook me again but I wasn’t playing, I was going slow, I was knackered. He waited for me on the flat and we had an easy pace again alongside the Carron Valley Reservoir.

The Race (only racing if I win)

Turning into Tak-Ma-Doon Road, my lungs and my legs were feeling good again In fact they were feeling the best they had all day. We chatted for a while at the start until we met the rising ground. I took the lead but expected Aldo to be on my shoulder and pass me near the brow of one the short steep inclines. I enjoyed this climbing better, not sure why as it wasn’t too long since my legs weren’t working very well going up Crow Road. Maybe the short steep climbs (with flat parts in between) suit me better. I gave the odd glance over my shoulder but Aldo wasn’t close at any point up the hill. Maybe the roads were too narrow on this hill or maybe I was just too bloody good for him? I beat him up by a whole ten seconds or so.

Tak-Ma-Doon down was twisty with not much chance to get some speed up, so a wary descent.

The road home was fast as I pushed myself over the final part of the journey. Aldo asked for the same average over the last ten miles to match last weeks effort. It was mostly downhill, the wind was at our backs and I was feeling stronger this week, much more than last so the sixteen mile per hour average was easy to beat.


This trip was really our final preparation for the Loch Ness etape next week. At least it was my last big cycle before then and the last one with any significant climbing. The Cycle was good and we did nearly as much climbing in total as we’d expect to do next week. But I don’t think we got the test that we will have on that hill just after Fort Augustus. The distance was a bit short of the Etape distance as well, which I am less bothered about, especially since I felt so strong for the last twenty miles.

I am getting a bit bored of this wind

I read recently that it was good hill training to pedal a hill with slow cadence in a higher gear. I did this from the first roundabout on Carmunnock Road, past Kings Park to the top of the hill. I stayed in the saddle, like I nearly always do – I tried to keep my speed above single figures but Mr South Westerly was back on my case – I wanted to go to my lowest gear but I didn’t – I wanted to listen to what my lungs were telling me but I couldn’t hear them properly as my legs were screaming at the same time. When I checked the measure later I shaved three seconds off my previous record for this short, 0.2 mile stretch. Zero point two miles! I went through all that pain for just zero point two miles…. what a whimp! I was whacked! So much so that to pedal down to the next roundabout was difficult. It wasn’t that my legs were sore (they were), it’s just they didn’t work very well. The next part of Carmunnock Road was in sight as I left the next roundabout, just a 4% steady climb and less than half a mile but I was taking this slow. In fact I now resigned myself to slow cadence is low gear, for the rest of the ride, I thought.

I’d originally planned to go to Gleniffer Braes but didn’t feel it, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to cycle all the way to Paisley with the wind in my face. Totally undecided I cycled down Saltmarket and thought about all the routes I could go. Even when I was hurting going up Carmunnock Road, I still had no idea where I was going. Though I knew I now wasn’t going to climb from Paisley, through Gleniffer and up past the ‘Car Park in the Sky’. Shame, I have been wanting to do this climb for a while now, I see it as good preparation for climb out of Fort Augustus in twelve days time (well doing it twice might be). It seems daunting now but long ago, as a teenager, for the year or so when I was cycling, I don’t remember being so afraid of it.

I found myself in Carmunnock, I guess my legs were telling my subconscious mind that they were in the mood for more abuse and sent me up another hill to this little village. I’d past through this place only once, maybe twice before. It was quiet, a few cars but no people on the streets, little wonder as it was an unpleasant night, windy with raging grey skies. The air was wet but I was undecided whether or not it was raining. I turned left halfway through the village, not sure why, maybe because that way looked the hilliest! It was, I found myself cycling up Cathkin Braes, such a hostile looking place.

cathkinbraes
Cathkin Braes – not sure if it would look good even on a hot sunny day?

So this was Cathkin Braes and not a Mountain Bike to be seen.  I felt like a bit of a cheat, I came out with the intention of hurting my legs on some tough climbing. But apart from the jelly making at the bottom of the climb it seemed a rather gentle affair. I zipped down the hill, the light was just about good enough to see far enough ahead on the unfamiliar road. I should do that again, I thought, it may make me feel better about not visiting Gleniffer. So I nipped through Kings Park area, heading west and hoping I’d meet Carmunnock Road at some point. On this occasion my sense of direction did not elude me and very pleased at the point which I rejoined Carmunnock Road – immediately after that short steep climb that turned my legs to mush. Too bad I wasn’t doing that bit again. The downhill from the top was excellent again, the road was now familiar but just that little bit darker, so I covered the brake handle just as much.

Strange how I start to feel good ten to fifteen miles into the cycle.  Too bad, it was time to go home. I had text conversation with Gemma earlier and agreed to call when I got back. So didn’t want to leave it too late as I was looking forward to speaking with her. And I was getting bored of this wind.

Not a Piece of Cake

Hutcheson's Hospital
Hutchesons Hospital

There is something very pleasant, I thought, about a short ride through the city, as I cycled back from the train station, along Argyle Street then the Trongate towards home. A chance to stretch out my legs as they were still hurting from the day’s activity. This and the train home were a break from the rush of the last couple of hours. Even my shower was rushed, the toasted scone that Karen kindly made me was eaten as I got organised, as was the espresso that Aldo prepared. I quickly thought back to the same journey in the morning, which was equally relaxing. But although the skies were clear, I got a taste of the force of the wind today. I like Glasgow at this time of day, before it gets busy with people. The morning route had taken me along Ingram Street, past some iconic buildings including, the old church that is now the Ramshorn Theatre, the recently refurbished Hutchesons Hospital, the Glasgow savings Bank building that is now owned by Jigsaw and the building where GOMA is housed.

The main event of the day was to climb near Darvel, a steep climb that would take us to the TV Mast above the town. We pondered at the turn off to the climb and decided to go for it despite us both being exhausted from riding in today’s weather conditions. We quickly realised however (and not for the first time today), this was not the correct turn-off, so jumped back on to the A71 till we came to the next turn-off. This was the point where we took note of the time and did some easy calculations, which determined that we haven’t now got time for this. With this new knowledge Aldo decided to take the lead and guide us back to Kilmarnock – PDQ. ‘I’ll take the wind for a while’ he said, and he did. He took the wind right out of my lungs as I tried to hang onto his back wheel for the next ten miles.

Aldo had Garmin trouble from the moment we left his house. But he downloaded the route again via his phone app and on we went our way. I was familiar with the route out over Grassyards, through Fenwick and onto the A77. There was a girls race on the A77 between two roundabouts on this road, so we kept on the cycle path to avoid getting in their way. The racers were clearly working hard as they passed, going the opposite direction, battling against  the wind. This should have been a clue as to what lay ahead for us on our return as at some point we would be heading south west. The wind today was to stay constant, and most definitely a south westerly. With the wind at our backs, I set new Strava PRs on the ride down to Eaglesham, and I hardly pedaled!

After Eaglesham, we were on unfamiliar ground, though we’d both traveled some of the roads in this area previously. Our mid-point stop was at Strathaven, so when I saw a post signalling Strathaven 10 miles turn left, our navigator said straight on. What followed was an interesting little ride about six local farms, five miles of poor surfaces, a short climb, a long climb, a fast descent on a poor surface, a steep ascent with a hail storm firing head on into my face and legs like pellets from a thousand air guns, and two dead ends. On one of our retreats after a dead end, we headed along where we had been before. I saw a signpost saying Strathaven, 10 miles that way. ‘How did we miss that?’ I said. We had one more short stint of wet weather and then it steadily improved, when we reached Strathaven it was dry and sunny. I never appreciated the elevation on this stretch of road, but at least the wind at our backs again and a good descent followed immediately.

The Strathaven Tea Rooms was recommended to Aldo by friends as a bike stop. This was a good recommendation. We both had coffee, Aldo had scone, I was undecided between scone and cake, I chose the scone too. The scone was good, it came with jam and cream, I had more cream than could fit on my scone. I think I was discreet about this but other cafe visitors might say different. The lady at the table next to us was served cake, it looked nice, I wish now that I had had cake and not scone! This happens often, I order scone when I should have ordered cake. I know this as whenever I order scone, I always want cake if someone else gets it. If I order cake and someone else within my gaze gets scone, do I want scone…. Nope!

We left Strathaven and headed South West! Yep South West! We strayed a little off this direction over the next nine miles, sometimes we were heading South South West and sometimes we were heading West South West . Ah you guessed, the South Westerly was as rampant as it was when I headed down the Eaglesham Moor.There was a little bit of climbing but the wind factor over these miles made it feel like a mountain.

By the time we got to Darvel, after not deciding to climb the hill to the mast, my legs were aching. Aldo, without realising, gave me a punishing workout over the final ten miles home. He set a good pace but well off his hundred percent, every time he looked around, I was there or there about. The truth is I wasn’t much away my hundred percent, which was torture to keep up for so long. I’d get onto his back wheel but if I stopped pedaling for a second, I’d fall back and have to work like a maniac to get back up there. If I hit a shallow in the road, or if I looked up to see the ‘miles to Kilmarnock’ road sign, each time it required an extra effort to get back on his wheel. About a mile from Kilmarnock, Aldo judged the roundabout perfectly where I slowed by missing a pedal stroke or two, again I needed to play that catch up game. Coming off the roundabout, I saw the climb, short though it was, it made my heart sink. I knew I’d only catch him now when he slowed. He did pretty soon after sensing I wasn’t there.

I’ve done a lot of miles on the bike in the last five months and increased the intensity in the last two. I think my strength and fitness is close to where Aldo was when we first visited for the EE stage 1. I was impressed by my pacemakers tempo on the final segment today, a little indication of how much catching up I still need to do. Maybe at Stage 2 of the EE, I’ll be nearer his pace?

Trossachs

I got my second ride out with the Major, the first one being a few weeks ago after him first citing the idea a few years ago. The day is Easter Saturday, if that’s what one calls the day before Easter Sunday. Everything seems to be going as plan; he picks me up in Glasgow and drives to Aberfoyle. Bikes out of the car and reassembled, a quick tour of the holiday home and we are ready to set off before 11.00 On the way to Aberfoyle, Ally talked of growing up in the area, pointing out landmarks and friends’ houses along the way. I already knew he was a story teller and always spoke with passion, but as he told me things that he has experienced, it was obvious he had affection for the area. Seems, I thought, he has lived away long enough to feel the nostalgia each time he returns.

Ally’s house was right at the foot of Duke’s Pass but thankfully we headed in a different direction, along the main street and quickly turned right onto a cycle path out of town. The route Ally had planned never took us over the Duke’s Pass, which initially I was disappointed with but soon realised there was plenty climbing elsewhere on the trip. Not that I particularly like climbing, I just know I need the hill training. The climb I am scheduled to do at Loch Ness on the 26th, never mind the Sierra de Guadarrama, is longer and steeper than I have ever done before. We stayed on the cycle track for only a short while, until we crossed the River Forth and joined the A81. The sun had really began to shine, the skies were blue and only partly cloudy, but the wind was blowing into our faces even after we took the first turn off towards Buchlyvie – a place name I have never needed to speak out loud. Apparently it is pronounced buck-lie-vee. I guess this is like many other place names in Scotland, not apparent how they are pronounced based on the spelling, as in; Hawick (howk), Drumchapel (the-drum), Possilpark (shy-t-hole).

Just after Port of Mentieth, my cycling buddy asked about our average speed, he concluded that the pace we were going felt faster than quoted. Very polite of him I thought, if he knew me a little better and if he hadn’t grown up in such an affluent part of the country, he might have said ‘gonna slow the fuck down!’

Before we reached the biggest climb of the day we were passed by a smart looking bunch of cyclists who weren’t out just for the scenery. The small group shifted up Cocks Hill in front of us, they climbed as a single unit, easing over each little summit and quite quickly disappeared from our view. I looked them up later; the impressive Velocity 44 team from Stirling were out for a club ride. Our ride up our biggest climb of the day was a bit more laboured.

After Callander we thought about taking the cycle route which followed the south bank of Loch Venachar as opposed to cutting onto the A821 all the way to Loch Katrine. I stopped a couple that were out walking their dog just at the start of the road and asked them if they knew the condition of the trail. They gave an answer pretty quickly but Ally seemed keen to practice his social skills and engaged them in conversation about the alternative routes around this neighbourhood and revealing his great knowledge of the surrounding area. Anyway, we went on our way down the trail after getting the assurances from the locals. As it turned out, they were a pair of fecking liars! It was a lovely trail, we slowed and cycled carefully as we no longer had the correct type of bike and width of tyre for the terrain.

Mountain Bike Trail
Mountain Bike Trail

I have only cycled around Loch Katrine once before, with Mac on a wet, very wet day just over two years ago. The path round the north side of this Loch had a lot more climbing than I remember but, again, glad of the hill training opportunity. We stopped for a while at the junction as we came passed Loch Arklet, which was 500 feet above our destination. The weather this day was very different from two years ago, though the clouds hung quite low at the top of the Loch, the sun quickly came back as we raced the final 10 miles downhill to Aberfoyle.

A good spin of the legs, with perfect weather and a perfect host.

A Tuesday in September

Bright morning – late start – easy cycle – in front – girl cyclist – nice view – short skirt – no helmet – good speed – turned the corner – basement parking

Late start – email catchup – double coffee – small cup – work some – chat some – butter roll – crisps on – work more – chat flirt – good day – so far – sunny lunch – walk out – walk back – system issues – Aldo message – message back – phone test – text banter – tinned soup – work grrr – camera laugh – security pass – cisco password – AD XP Mac – java update – goodbye Ali – work hassle – late finish – greuther furth – don’t win – money lost – get on bike

Six o’clock – light rain – why now – might go off – hope it does – snood scarf – up ramp – along street – no lights – go back – start gain – squinty bridge – cycle past – swig gulp – first drink – hydro arena – circle round – secc – long straight – museum – on left – south street – pushed hard – hard work – very long – when’s the end – grit teeth – keep going – dumbarton road – good rest – at lights – drink some – adjust shoes – too tight – straight across – cleat engaged – not quite – slow away – lessen pace – lincoln avenue – delivery office – turn left – adjust snood – head cover – glug glug – more water – parked cars – wet roads – slow down – traffic lights – wipe glasses – drink more – big junction – cross carriageway – big road – great western – good surface – busy road – major junction – anniesland cross – bus lane – getting wetter – close traffic – slow downhill – turn left – across bridge – river kelvin – up the drive – queen margaret – little climb – at lights  – drink some – another slug – still raining – cross road  – maryhill – ruchill park – to the right – police on streets – always here – poor surface – wet roads – I see puddles – balmore road – straight across – glug glug – another drink – glasses off – rain smear – bit of wind – head on – springburn – up hill – very slow – more rain – springburn – always grey – downhill – even slower – wet roads – maybe slippy – too slow – stop bieng scared – brake brake – for god’s sake – keep going – grit teeth  – left at lights – uphill – that’s better – push hard – on left – mail centre – downhill now – swoosh – wet roads – close traffic – fast cars  – and buses – puddles – poor surface – brake more – bus stop – more puddles – veer left – royston road – safer now – at lights – two sets – drink more – glasgow cathederal – next stop – careful now – cobbled path – oh shit – close one – today’s snap – no good – phone gone – battery done – squeeze bottle – last drink – high street – brake brake – all the way – home safe – wet wet – feel good

Welcome smile – hot bath – beef ragu – carrots and celery – new potatoes – melted butter – fresh brew – great cuppa – check strava – night night