Training or exploring?

I was disappointed Sunday – I was so sure my training ride was longer than the previous week’s, but in fact it was a couple of miles shorter. On a map it looks longer, but last week I went a bit further towards Haddington then doubled back and that must have added a couple of miles on. In any case, this is the ride:

https://www.strava.com/activities/493222716/embed/4ce0ee5fbc81811dca880a5d27d1019dc7e2cea4

This is a Stava thing in case you didn’t know. I started using it as a way of keeping track of times and distances for training. It turns out a fair few of the other guys on the Man Power ride use it and have a Strava group, so I’ve joined that, because I just don’t feel inadequate enough.

The astute will notice that the ride ends in Dunbar don’t match up – that’s because I forgot to start recording until I was about half a mile or so into the ride. Although I’d like to pretend it means I can add a significant amount onto the recorded time/distance, even I’m not that dishonest. Yet.

I can see already what my problem with training is going to be. Riding the byways of East Lothian is just too interesting and I want to stop or follow an unscheduled road to see what’s down it. It doesn’t make for training gains.

I called my Strava ride today the “Auction Mart Circuit” because I stopped by the old Auction Mart in East Linton that is on the cards for redevelopment along with the old Auction grounds it sits on, near the railway line where the station used to be:

East Linton Auction Mart

Eight-sided Auction Mart in East Linton, in a state of dilapidation.

The reason it’s an “Auction Mart Circuit” is because I also went by the entrance to the East Fortune Sunday Auction. Tenuous, I know, but I like giving my rides some kind of name other than “Morning ride”.

I wanted to have my picture taken to show off my new helmet and overshoes, but when I got home I completely forgot to ask Eileen to take one of me, even though she was standing right there when I rolled in.

I bought a helmet because the ride requires I wear one, and I thought I needed a few months to get used to wearing one, as I haven’t for years. It was okay, the way helmets fit have come a long way since the last one I bought, and this one doesn’t feel so chokey, so it stays. I didn’t feel any more or less safe, but funnily enough I felt like other cyclists out and about were a bit friendlier than when I was just out in my warm beanie. That could very well be a figment of my imagination though.

The other bit of kit I got was a pair of overshoes, as my feet had been really freezing on previous rides. They did their job in keeping the wind and water off my trainers, but my feet were still pretty cold – not frostbite cold, but cold. Having said that I had reverted to a rather narrow-toed trainer, which is going to let the cold in no matter what, so I think I need now to look at thinner thermal socks instead of the bulky wool socks I wore on Sunday.

Back to the ride. This week I was on busier roads that previously. I rode mainly on the roadside shared-use path from Thistly Cross roundabout to East Linton and then again on the path to the top of Pencraig Hill and just beyond.

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The view from the rest stop at the top of Pencraig Hill. The snowy hills in the distance are the Lammermuirs and the mountain in the middle distance is Traprain Law.

There is a plan afoot to upgrade this path between Dunbar and Haddington, and there are some bits of it that are very good, but too much is roughly surfaced or deteriorated pavement, or corrugated hand-rolled surface, and most of it is about a meter too narrow. If they could build a consistent 3-meter wide high-quality surface the whole way, that would go a long way to attracting cyclists off the carriageway and onto a more relaxing ride. The A198 is the old A1 trunk road and is of sufficient width to easily lose a meter along its length.

But I had to get back onto the busy roads when I turned north off towards East Fortune. Top tip: if you pull off to let a line of cars get back, and if where you pull off is at the bottom of a hill that rises sharply again, make sure you are in a suitably low gear instead of the high gear you were powering down the hill in. A rookie mistake and lesson learnt.

So up to East Fortune and turning east to head back to East Linton (lots of easts in this sentence) cycling into a brisk, biting east (!) wind.

At East Linton I took the Tyninghame road with the intention of cutting down to the ford behind Knowes farm and getting on the old A1 that way, staying off the busy A198 road from North Berwick and Whitekirk.

On the way I checked the ford to see if it was passable:

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Not looking good.

So I took the bridge:

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Yep, I was right about that ford.

It was a straight shot back on the cycle path on the old A1, through West Barns and Belhaven behind the hospital and through what used to be fields around my house and is now an expanding housing estate/building site.

The weather this coming weekend looks horrendous, but I’ll do my best to get out at least once.

Gearing up for the ride of my life

I’ve signed up for a 94 mile charity bike ride on 28 June, from Glasgow to Dumfries. It’s part of a longer Glasgow to London multi-day event, but I don’t think I’m quite up to that one yet.

It’s all in aid of Ovarian Cancer Action. My wife Eileen has ovarian cancer and I’m keen to do what I can to help research and find some ways of mitigating this insidious disease. I’ve never been a big fundraising person or particularly outgoing or in the limelight kind of guy, but I know I have generous friends who will support us given the chance. This is that chance.

I’ve been on a couple of training rides so far, 24 miles at the longest, and I recognise that I’m going to have to step that up if I have any hope at all of even finishing the ride in June, much less maintaining some kind of respectable pace. I have been averaging 10 miles an hour, but that’s not going to be good enough because the day entails a few rest/lunch breaks and I won’t want to be trailing so far behind the others. Hopefully I can get some friends/family to go along with me so I won’t be a weedy granddad amongst a bunch of beefy strangers.

Oh, this ride is called “Man Power” because it’s all about Men Doing Stuff for their Women, which I can get behind for a good cause.