Monday, 15 February 2010

The Audax tour of East Lothian

Think of something different and do it! That’s what I did yesterday.

On this occasion, it was the Audax tour of East Lothian, a 66-mile trip from Musselburgh, taking in Pencaitland, East Saltoun, Gifford, Whitadder reservoir, Garvald, Dunbar, Haddington and back to Musselburgh.

Although the event is different from let’s say swimming and running, which is what I’ve been doing recently; it was not exactly unfamiliar because I did the event last year. The difference this year is that I wasn’t very well prepared. It’s true that I have done the odd spinning session through the winter, but I haven’t done a 350 mile trip around Arndra Predesh and Orissa in India, which was my preparation for last years event.

The first thing I had to decide was whether to take my race bike which is light and so has thin light tyres or my heavy bike, which has tyres with a better tread. The blurb from the organisers said not to use light tyres because the roads up in the hills would be tricky. I knew that if I took my heavy bike, the gears would leave me struggling on the hills, but I decided to go for the heavy option. I would have been better taking my racer, like many of my fellow Audax riders, and I was right the hills were a real bitch especially the switchback on the way up to the Whitadder reservoir.

Be prepared is a particularly important facet of bike riding and in fairness to me; I did check my bike and oil it, pump up the tyres and generally check it out. But I didn’t check well enough. I could blame Harvey for this because he disappeared for half an hour and I had to go searching for him. This may have contributed to the chain coming off on the first big hill. Luckily, it only happened one other time during the race. Later, when we hit the really big hills outside Gifford, I could have sworn that the brake was on as I struggled up. When I got to the top and was on the road to Garvald I discovered that the equivalent of the brake was on. The back wheel had slipped loose a bit in the frame, with the result that the wheel pressed against the the frame and made a hard hill, impossible These two irritations aside, it was a great event. The highlights were:

• reaching Umberto’s in Dunbar and downing a cappuccino and large chocolate muffin,
• getting to know some of the other guys en route and
• sticking in a group for the final push into Musselburgh.

Near Stenton I witnessed my first bike pile up. I had been in a group, when my chain came off for the second time. I stopped and fixed it and then set off in pursuit of the group. There’s a left turn before Stenton, and as I took it I saw, a cyclist lying on the road and a lot of others standing around her. The group I had been with had come across the local landed gentry taking dipsy, pogo and other assorted dogs for a walk, thereby filling up the narrow country road and causing the pile up. As I approached, I saw a woman cyclist move gingerly from the road, complaining of a sore arm. Fortunately, she was able to carry on and finished the event. I hope dipsy and pogo don’t feel too bad about it all.

Before the event, you have to predict how long you will take. I made a wild guess of between 5.30 – 6.00 hours. I took 6.10,  so considering my lack of preparation I was pleased with that. It has left me with the taste for a few more bike rides this year.


  1. sounds like a good cycle dad! think we should stick to walking at easter chains involved!!