Tag Archives: Edinburgh

cycling and integrated active travel with train journeys in Scotland

Vlog 001: Active Travel

In my first ever video blog, I do a bit of ‘active travel’, first cycling to work, then taking my bike on the train to Edinburgh for the afternoon. A look at integrated transport in Scotland.

It was interesting to chat with Stirling Cycle Hub and I was grateful that Suzanne came on video at a moment’s notice. They have been doing good work at Stirling Train Station for several years now. I hope to get back there soon to do more audio or video content.

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Top flight racing in Edinburgh

In the past week or so, we had the news that Edinburgh will host the Red Bull Hill Chasers series and a round of the Tour Series of criterium races in 2014.

The Red Bull Hill Chasers is a Hi-NRG hill climb eliminator, which was run last year up the cobbles of Cockburn Street, with competitors encouraged to use any bike.


The event will take the stage on April 14th this year up the Mound, possibly the first time Edinburgh has seen bike racing up The Mound since 1989, when the Kellogg’s city centre crits visited the city?

Robert Millar, The Mound, Edinburgh 1989

Robert Millar, The Mound, Edinburgh 1989

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Tips for Cat.4 racers – where the race was lost (or won?)

In order to get blog posts out at the moment, I have to make them short and decisive, like the moment a race was won or lost.

Even at novice level, a mistake or specific moment can be the difference between success and failure. Over 4 years of trying my hand at racing, I have found it worthwhile to reflect on what went wrong in a race and make a point of changing or improving that thing.

Example mistakes
• forgetting to drink or eat until half way round
• slipping back & losing places when taking a drink from the bottle
• allowing yourself to be bullied out of position
• spending time in the wind at bad moments
• chasing down attacks and then paying for it later
• not checking your kit & equipment properly beforehand

Noting your mistakes
I did the Gifford B race at the weekend and it went really well for me throughout, and I got my best placing ever at that event – 22nd – albeit in a big bunch finish. There was 1 brief mistake that stood out- on the last lap I opted to use the wee ring in the drag before Bolton, and forgot to change up when it flattened out until several riders had surged past me. A small thing, you might argue, but losing 10-15 places just before the last big climb isn’t ideal.

Out of your hands (or legs)
Often you hear people say ‘I just wasn’t strong enough’ or ‘I didn’t have the legs today’. It’s always worth pinning this down to something more specific that you can work on. For me, it was the long climb after Bolton. This is where I have always been dropped before, and it nearly happened again. So the remedy will be hill reps at anaerobic threshold HR, to try to push the threshold up.

gifford road race  april 6th 2013 053

I was well placed on the last lap, going through the trees before the course starts to climb.
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Gifford 2013

My output has been flagging like someone on a 60 mile club ride with 1 bottle and no food. So do I drop off completely or put in a few flailing digs? It’s going to be the latter- standards may be slipping but some’s better than none? You be the judges as I spew forth a stream of consciousness on my first race of 2013.

The Gifford road races were traditionally (for me) the first of the calendar, held on the first weekend in March often on the same time as the Dick Longdragon RR In Aberdeenshire and the Corrieri’s Classic 10m TT on the Stirling ‘Kippen flats’ course.

This year it is in April and this is lucky with regards the weather. March has been a pig and I pity the racers who have had their programme disrupted, enthusiasm dampened and early good form wasted by races called off due to snow. It’s no fault of the organisers- I have done Gifford three times before in early march and each time has been dry.

For me April is a better slot though as it gives people a chance to get going. No disrespect to other events but Gifford is a fairly big, well-organised race and it almost seemed wasted to have it so early in the calendar.

The A race has a strong field as usual but without the dominance of one team as we have seen in previous years. Last year could go down as a surprise with junior Tom Arnstein pulling off a result. This year I will be rooting for junior Kyle Petrie, the only Stirling rider in the main event, but he won’t thank me for mentioning his name as he has been laid out with illness recently so might not be at his best. Who else is tipped? Give me your shouts in the comments.

For me Gifford is a course with which I have unfinished business. Dropped horribly in my first year, full of expectation the second, I was gutted to be me with the same outcome, albeit one lap further on. The third year I almost made it to the finish with the lead bunch but lost contact on the climb and trailed in a minute or two down, thirty-somethingth.

I have come to realise it is a testing circuit – if you aren’t climbing on the rivet or descending at breakneck speed, you may be blowing your energy trying to push to the front or spending time in the wind when you shouldn’t. Grab the bottle or a gel and you lose a few places- it can be relentless.

I don’t feel I have any form yet but I have had a pretty good winter and have done some new things in training so should be stronger. I have a lighter faster bike and one more year of experience so who knows. Thanks in advance to Edinbugh RC who always put on a great event.




Rich Mitch at Ronde

I’m home alone this week and you may have noticed blog output increasing proportionately.

One thing I’m hoping to do with my spare time is see illustrator Richard Mitchelson, who is showing his work and appearing at Ronde Cafe in Edinburgh on Saturday night, 31st March.

Rich created the legends series of portraits that were used in print, on mugs and on T Shirts by Rouleur. He also illustrated the 1989 tour for Rouleur edition 16. You can hear more about his work in this podcast interview with the Velo Club Don Logan.

I’ve been invited by the lovely people at Ronde in Edinburgh to frame up some work and show it in their fantastic store. I’ll be showing pieces I’ve created for Rouleur magazine and a whole array of portraits of famous riders. I can’t wait and I’m hoping lots of people come along and say hello on the Saturday evening, I’m sure there’ll be beer!

So if you’re in Edinburgh? or know a cycling fan who might like to check it out? Come along. The prints will be for sale and we are hoping to auction off a couple for charity on the night. So See you at Ronde on the 31st. Thanks for reading!

RONDE is found at 66-68 Hamilton Place, Stockbridge, Edinburgh…

Joe Christison, Edinburgh Comet RC 1950s

Courtesy of Jennie Wells comes an image of Joe Christison of the Edinburgh Comet RC lining up for the start of a race.

There is a great set of images of the Edinburgh Comet RC riders in the 1950s – click through and explore them. Jennie’s father is John Gilliatt, who raced along with Joe Christison.

Joe Christison and Ian Greenfield
Joe Christison and Ian Greenfield

Joe Christison is pictured above- a rider who it seems little is known, these days, which does not seem commensurate with his ability. I blogged about his story in a post last year- Tour-racing.co.uk republished some archive articles about his lost chance to go to the Grand Prix des Nations– back then then the unofficial World Championship time trial.

Click through for my post, and the piece on tour-racing.co.uk – interesting story.

On the Braveheart Forum, former pro and recently-retired race organiser Jimmy Rae commented:

I remember as a junior riding out to the Tour de Trossachs 1953 with my clubmates in the Thistle and watch Joe winning, knocked he minutes off the course record, I followed his career and witness the sad demise of the pro and independent class, The last time I raced with Joe was in the the Tour of Scotland in 1958, I was in the race wining break with him and John Lackey, Joe offered to work and help me win the race which contained all the Empire Games riders.

Information is required for identifying the riders in the photos – please help if you can.

Steve McCaw breaks VTTA hour record

Steve McCaw has set a new VTTA outdoor hour record of 42.822km. That’s a UK-wide vets’ hour record- congratulations. This was set on Tuesday 9th August at a blustery Meadowbank Velodrome, breaking the previous outdoor age group record of 40.86km or 25.4 miles. Most readers will be familiar with the hour record, which holds something of a legendary or mythical status in the world of cycling. I spoke to Steve to find out more about this achievement.

Image Allister Watson

First, Steve gave me a bit of background on his cycling career:

I won my first ever time trial aged 15 and I was third in my first ever road race in a sprint finish a few weeks later so the die was pretty much cast then, “has good aerobic capacity but not much of a gallop!” I’ve won The Scottish 25tt and 50TT and ridden small stage races as well as a lot of different track events. I took to the track right away but have always tried to keep variety by riding road and TT too.

Steve had twice held a Scottish hour record as a junior:

I broke the Scottish hour record when I was still a junior in 1980 with 42km. I was the scottish junior TT champion that year and had used a track bike to set a number of junior TT records so having to spin a small fixed gear when riding TT’s was good practise for the track. After that I was selected for the British track Team squad and rode the Junior World track champs for GB. In 1982 I had another go at the Scottish hour record and raised it to 45km, and although that mark has been passed now it’s still the furthest ridden on traditional equipment of spoked wheels and dropped handlebars.

1980 – 1Hour- Steve McCaw Scotia Sports/Dales Cycles – 26 miles 98yds
1982 – 1hour- Steve McCaw Roiseal crt – 27miles 1681 yds
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Exclusive: TdF 2017 Edinburgh prologue course!

I’m ignoring my own advice about counting your chickens with regards to a Scottish Grand Depart for the Tour de France. I much prefer to assume they have already hatched and proceed directly to speculating on a prologue route.

Dave Hamill kindly commented with an excellent suggestion that takes as many attractions and historic monuments as it’s possible to do in 5 miles.

Dave’s route starts in the Grassmarket, surrounded by historic buildings and closes, where the Nocturne Series has hosted an elite crit for the past three years. Surrounded by pubs and hotels, this is an ideal starting point for media and hospitality, although conditions might be a bit tight.

Cam Meyer Nocturne 2010

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Cobbled climbs: Ramsey Lane, Edinburgh

My friend Andrew Abbess was in Edinburgh recently and kindly remembered that I had been charting cobbled climbs in Scotland and snapped a few pics.

This little stinger is in Edinburgh’s old town, and the photos were taken where Ramsey Lane becomes Mound Place. The climb is obviously well known to cyclists as shortly after, ERC roadie went past.

The climb would be ideal as part of a Tour de France prologue up to Edinburgh Castle.

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Pic of the day: me! on the pavé

The pavé are tough. Here’s me on the cobbles of Edinburgh’s Victoria street in the Edinburgh Nocturne cat4 support race. It was brutally hard, a circuit of only a mile but the steep hill split the field completely, in the support races and the pro race. I was nearly lapped after half the race so unfortunately got pulled out by the commissaire. Probably for the best judging by the face I am pulling.

Thanks to Robin Dick, aka RCD Photographic for the pic. He has loads of other good pictures of the Edinburgh Nocturne 2010 support races and elite race on Flickr.

My twitter friend Brian, aka Bazzargh also got one on his iphone. Note the complete lack of other riders around me. I had lost the small group I was in and was about to be eliminated from the race at this point.

Update- found another one of me on the British Cycling flickr stream, initially looking OK, but later, fit to burst. pics © British Cycling, click through for originals, and pics of other racers.