Month: May 2014

Arun Arund Arran

Back in January I signed up for a wee cycling adventure in Arran with the wonderful local group Lothian Cyclists. After several months of waiting and excitement I took to my bicycle along with 25 other like-minded souls and we headed off to this most beautiful of Scottish islands at the beginning of May.

I had been looking forward to the Arran trip, mostly because I had never really cycled out with the boundaries of my local area and was keen to challenge myself with a 60 mile loop around Arran. The group element was also something I was keen to experience – with over 20 fellow bike fans to ride with I was looking forward to the banter and friendships that might blossom.

Map of Arran

Map of Arran, note the red triangles meaning steep hill…

Upon arrival on the island I had positive vibes that I was going to thoroughly enjoy my challenge of a 60 mile loop around the circumference of the island. The map that greeted me at the ferry terminal gave me a few concerns, what with red triangles peppering the route like an unwanted pizza topping, but I shrugged them off and pedalled the six miles to the Corrie Bunkhouse along with my fellow tourers.

The Corrie Bunkhouse

The Corrie Bunkhouse, at the top of an EXTREMELY steep hill

The Corrie Bunkhouse was at the top of a horrendously steep, unmade road. Traipsing up there with a loaded bike in tow was no fun, but the views at the end were most certainly worth the trouble.

View from the Corrie Bunkhouse

View from the Corrie Bunkhouse

Accommodation was basic (what do you expect for £12 a night?) but after a bad night’s sleep due to excitement, nerves and a weird place I positively sprung out of bed, loaded up on porridge and prepared myself for my ride.

60 miles might not seem a lot for some folk, but this was a big thing for me. Having only managed 40 miles in one go prior to my adventure, I was a bit concerned I would have problems keeping up and managing the route. But once I got started the views and experience melted my worries away.

East coast of Arran on the way to Brodick

East coast of Arran on the way to Brodick

Arran is a spectacular ride. I cannot recommend it more. The scenery, the locals, the route is stunning. Even with a crummy road surface and tonnes of hills it was the best route I’ve so far traversed. Drivers were patient and courteous and did I mention the views?

Boats at Brodick harbour

Boats at Brodick harbour

The beach at Brodick

The beach at Brodick

We did the route clockwise, and after a hilly start there was a long, straight stretch which was parallel to beaches and the sea.

West of Arran

The view over the sea on the west side of the island after Blackwaterfoot

And although the straight was energetic and beautiful, I actually found the hills to be one of the most satisfying elements of the run. You just dig down and deep and keep going. They are a fantastic tonic; you are focused and concentrated and are set about the task at hand. Everything else just disappears into the ether. Although challenging and lung burning and red-face inducing, in retrospect they were perhaps my favourite parts.

Triumphant at the summit of the hill after Lochranza

Triumphantly knackered at the summit of the hill after Lochranza

The hill out of Lochranza was killer and seemed everlasting, but we were rewarded with peaks at the summit. And of course, the descent. The wind was strong on the way down and at times I felt like I was flying. I wonder how the folk on road bikes didn’t just take off into the air!

Mountains at the peak of the hill after Lochranza

Mountains at the peak of the hill after Lochranza

All in all, Arran was a wonderful trip. I feel like I have been bitten by the touring bug now and it’s imperative that I get out on the bike to see more of Scotland.


I’m pretty sure this is Lochranza…

So thank you to Lothian Cyclists, who I heartily recommend to you. They do all kinds of runs all though the year so you should check them out and get along on a ride with them soon.

More cycle touring beckons! Have you done this route before? If so what did you think? And I’d love to hear any recommendations you might have for other Scottish cycle tours and routes. Especially the islands. I think that seeing Scotland by bike might be the only real and proper way to see our fair country. Don’t you think? 🙂


April was 30 days of biking

On the 1st of April the weather was horrific. Rain was coming down in sheets and as I looked out the window to gauge the day I was not impressed. The weather was so poor I would have normally jumped on the bus.

But not on 1st April 2o14. I had signed up to complete #30daysofbiking, a pledge to ride your bike every day for the month of April and to be part of a community of joyful cyclists. It’s a couple of years old now and has spread like wildfire, consuming the bike-minded first in the US and now across the pond.

30 days of biking

So I slung on the waterproofs and braved the elements because of my pledge. That was the only reason I dealt with the horrible conditions. And as it always is, cycling in the rain was just about as good as cycling in the dry. So began my #30daysofbiking.

April was a good month to cycle every day. My daily commute was absolutely splendid in the spring sunshine.

Davidsons Mains Park

Good morning, Davidson’s Mains Park!

Daffodils on Victoria Path

Spring is out in force, with daffodils on Victoria Path

Victoria Park Edinburgh

The Victoria Park in the sunshine

I signed up to volunteer at the Scottish Bike Show along with other CTC members and was treated to some seriously lovely looking bike candy to drool over. Look at that Shand hand-built bike, isn’t it gorgeous?

Shand bike

Drool drool drool.

I did a couple of short rides in Glasgow, one out to the Emirates Arena (for said Bike Show) and the other down to Pollockshaws to meet South West Community Cycles. The folk there were absolutely lovely and I hope their venture is a real success for the south of Glasgow. They are also right next to Pollock Park, which is a joy to cycle through.

Pollock Park, Glasgow

Pollock Park is stunning in the sunshine

I also got the opportunity to explore more of my own city and went down some of the paths and nooks I’d never ventured down before.

Water of Leith path

A sidestep off from the Water of Leith path

tunnel on path


I also took the time to enjoy the tried and tested routes I do all the time in our beautiful city. Instead of just belting along the paths I spent time soaking up the view and noticing lots of new things about my routes. Sometimes I forget how lucky I am to live in such a wonderful place, but a quick jaunt on the bicycle always reminds me.

Roseburn path

Overlook to Murrayfield from the Roseburn Path

The Water of Leith

The Water of Leith

I managed to squeeze in a longer ride with the lovely Belles on Bikes, as per my previous blog post. And I also fitted in a bit of cycle campaigning by attending Pedal on Parliament with lots of friends and colleagues.

PoP group shot

Pedal on Parliament crew, ready for some campaigning

Last (but by no means least) I acquired a new bike. Welcome to the Orbit tourer, which I already love dearly. It’s had a bit of a makeover since it came into my ownership, and I look forward to spending some cracking hours in the saddle with this cracking bike.

Ladies' Orbit tourer

Oh dear me, I love this touring bike!

Suffice to say, April was a pretty decent month as far as pedalling goes. Long rides, short rides, bicycle events, even a new bike! The pledge to ride every day was a real incentive to get out more. I made conscious decisions to fit a cycle in daily (except one, sadly) and found that it’s in fact extremely easy to do.

So I think I will be doing my #30daysofbiking next year too – and I will try to get full marks next time. Happy cycling!