Sunday, 20 December 2009

An amazing weekend of snow biking...


What an amazing weekend for what i had hoped for...
There wasnt much snow to speak of around here in the centre of the county and along the coast, just below zero temperatures but 8 miles in up on the lammermuir hills...oh yeah!!!
I drove up to ride out of Gifford at 8am Saturday and a -6 degree`s Celsius which burned my lungs on the slog up the tarmac hill towards Redstone Rig...



The road salt was losing its battle in the sub 0 temps...


The climb up Redstone Rig is hard going on a normal bike nevermind on a Pugsley, i was happy to walk up and pump some heat into my toes that were a bit cold now after half an hours cycling.
This would be the coldest they got all day as it warmed up a bit and i would be taking pics and filming-have to make the most of this weather here in East Lothian. We got snow last year and although deep was wet and away after 2 days.
I was going to be in for a nice sunrise...


Up above Redstone Rig at the junction for Whiteadder/Longformacus a snowplough came down. A surprised driver informed me it was -8C here ,he had a big grin when he spied the hip flask on the Pug. I reckon ploughing roads would be a cool job...



The sun was up now but still behind Penshiel and Priestlaw hills but was shining northwest on the Pentland hills south of Edinburgh...



Road conditions were ideal, hardpack snow with a few clear patchs but not a lot of snowmelt water, nothing worse than getting a wet ass at the start of the day..!


I turned off the tarmac to follow some of the maintenance tracks below the electricity pylons that run west across the Lammermuirs from Torness Power Station on the coast...


At first i was struggling to ride the 2-3" snow. I just seemed to be wheel spinning on the ice under the powder snow that proberly fell last night and it seemed a real struggle for the first mile or so. Now as well i was cooling down after the sweat of climbing and the headwind cut to the bone. I dropped the tyre pressures down as far as i dared (back home when checked they were 7psi front 6psi rear!!!) and hey presto, we were rolling...


The snow actually got better to ride the further west i rode. Using this track and some shooting tracks would take me in 9-10 miles to a junction with the old right of way that runs back over to Gifford.
I said shooting tracks, the Lammermuirs around here is predominitly Grouse moors, mostly managed by 2 large estates. The hills are a rolling heather covered peat which to me is there there secret, they offer no dramatic scenery and to many a visitor would appear bleak and boring but there secret is there lack of human day visitors, imagine what Edinburghs Pentlands would be like today?. Be loads of folk out, most days up here you can count the folk you will meet on one hand...



It sure was cold. My buff had ice on the sides from sweat!. lots of icicles in the peat hags at the track side...

Was a good run down here that i got on film, then being out the wind stopped for some food...


And some hot tea!. How good was this!. the flask worked ok, reckon you may smash the holder if serious offroading but for this or winter road cycling?, brilliant...



It was silent down here except for the call of Grouse, they were everywhere. Also seen a lot of mountain Hare tracks which you will see on the filming i did though i never seen any. There coats will be white now. Also saw a few buzzards but hadnt seen anyone else...


Riding on i left my own tracks behind...



Around half way along the track is a fence line and locked gate marking the next estate. There was 4X4 tracks, proberly the gamekeepers from last night...



Sky was a lovely winter blue.A lot paler than summer...







Here is how quiet it is up here. These old sheep shears have hung here as long as ive been coming up here. Anywhere else they would have been pinched...



A cheap camera cannot capture the light the human eye can. Scotlands light is famous as film makers always keep saying. I wish you could see the colours in these photos...



More ice...


Onto the old right of way over to Lammerlaw now...


It was getting really cold. My compact camera wasnt working quite right so i started taking stills with the Tachyon camera, so now you get that cool halo effect sun pics!.
I was still warm as i had 2 pairs of socks with viking dry boots, Altura showerproof/winproof trousers with Montane paclights on top, a sleeveless Merino top with my North Face softshell under my North Face paclite jacket. Both hese tops are the most expensive clothing i have ever bought but both are brilliant. I wore a buff under the helmet and 661 winter gloves and i was toasty as long as moving. I did have a space blanket in the frame bag just incase-yes it was that cold you would need it in an emergency...



The temperture was really cold now with the wind up here. Snow depth was twice as deep and drifting in the strong cold wind...


I couldnt imagine a puncture or mechanical breakdown up here in these conditions as it was baltic..!


I turned off the track along a shooting track to the cairn on Lammerlaw, the 2nd highest summit of East Lothian, but takes the crown for its views over East Lothian and Edinburgh as well as across the Firth of Forth to Fife.
Two sets of fresh footprints appeared in front of me. And the two walkers who made them were returning on them descending from the summit the way they came. We had a quick blether in the freezing wind. I am sure one of the two guys said my name when i stopped so if you did and know me and reading this post then hello!, It was a wild day up there wasnt it?!
Up to the cairn of Lammerlaw...






King of the hill....


You can see the approching forcasted snow coming across from the north west...


All the snow had now frozen solid on pugsley...


Time to get down out of here. I headed down the hill taking it easy as there are lots of ruts and washouts on the track,  and stopped off at my mates at a nearby hillfarm where a whiteout lasted about 2 hours.
Imagine still being up on the hill in that?, good timing!

Look at the Pugsley after the whiteout...



I had multiple brews at my friends house, and ate most of his biscuits before riding down to Gifford, and loaded up and into the car, home and warmth, what a great day out...



Sunday; 
My legs felt pretty shot on sunday after around 40miles on Saturday but i had to get out again Sunday, especially after more snow had fallen overnight...
We may get more snow here in southeast Scotland this winter but it may not be as good.
I drove up to the small village of Garvald and rode up the hill road into the Lammermuir hills which has a long climb with 2 brutal steep parts (esp on a 35 lbs pugsley) and although the roads to Garvald were icy there was a bit of a thaw and alot of water on the road. Once up to Castle Moffat pump station i was greeted with a very different snow, the snowplough had stopped at the houses there and i was greeted with this...



2-3" of powder dry snow on top of frozen hardpack it was perfect to ride on...


There was only 2 sets of 4x4 tracks, from the only hill farm on the road at Johnscleugh and the Pugsley rolled along real easy on the hardpack. I would reckon better than some tarmac.
I soon  forgot about my tierd legs as was loving this, despite the big climb ahead...


I just spun up the hill on the granny ring in 2nd or 3rd to the top for a breather and soak up the view over the plain of East Lothian...


Over the hill and a long downhill the Pugsley was flying!. The front end felt a bit twitchy if coming out the ruts but as the Pug always seems to do it washed out a bit but dosnt throw you off as often as most bikes...



This was great. My own prepared snow trail, and no cars either, i sped on towards the Whiteadder...


At the junction with the main road to Whiteadder resovoir it was just as bad but more tracked and it wasnt quite as good to cycle as was a bit rutted...


Looking south towards Whiteadder...


And north to Mayshiel, Redstone Rig, and back to Gifford...


1pm now and a cold wind was getting up.I feasted on choc chip cookies and hot chocolate from the flask which today i just put in the frame bag as had the room, i cant imagine not having a frame bag now on the pugsley...
The 6 mile return back to Garvald would do me fine for the day, and i filmed on the return to make a film for youtube. I just left the camera running and moved it about as i rode along, makes for a quick to edit film..,
i had done alot yesterday. It had got thinking though..
It is a pity there isnt a bothy up here in the Lammermuirs as a 2 day trip with a bothy stop over would be perfect. Bothys for those abroad are (usually) small stone huts with a stove, range or open fire. Fire wood is often dropped off by landowners/volunteers, there is a few bunks table chairs etc inside, all you need to get a heat, eat and sleep. Bothies are mostly up north in the highlands and Perthshire but there is a few in the Scottish Borders, oh there mostly free too, just leave them as you find them, preferbly with some chopped firewood for the next visitors.

Heres the bothy at corrour (pic pinched off flickr)...


In this weather you could proberly bet to have a bothy up here to yourselve(s).
This weekends proberly been one of the best weekends winter cycling i have done. Although last new year on the beach was good...(hip flask emptied)
The Surly Pugsley never had a glitch both days, no frozen mechs-possibly cause i airline my bikes dry when washed whichgets all the moisture out moving parts on mechs etc.. and the chain stayed lubed with the castrol motorcycle chainwax as did the control cables that were all coppergreased before fitting.
I love riding this bike, it is so much fun...


A New Experiance...
Riding in snow is a lot different to riding on sand along the beach. I know myself how much i have progressed as a rider riding mountains bikes over the years, and now discovering the possibilites of where a the Pugsley can be ridden on terrian that may be possible , but is often a lot harder on a normal tyred MTB. While i have learned how to keep moving easier on the beach and am a lot better at reading the sands firmness by its colour, texture and looking ahead at depth of footprints and knowing what gears to be in etc.., snow is a whole new learning curve.
Definitly harder to ride but very rewarding. Did i say fun too? -)


I originaly did 4 films, one from the the following Sunday morning too, then a few months later re-edited them into one film and uploaded it in May 2010

Song is Jakatta












8 comments:

  1. I recognize "the new experience" about riding in the snow. It's hard work but great fun!!

    New Endura trousers on top of Odlo my long johns keep me warm. Wet cycling shoes but warm feet with thanks to my Sealskinz socks.

    Tomorrow I will try a couple of pogies.

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  2. I especially like those last 2 pics... the shots of the snow blasted pug. Very cool!

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  3. The pug where he belongs! Looks like you both had fun!

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  4. It looks like a great ride.

    At the end of my ride yesterday my MTB felt like it weighed a ton with all the snow on it. I hate to think how heavy Pugsley felt on those hills!

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  5. Sweetness!!!
    I really like the snow covered Pug!!!!
    Heavenly!!!!

    Peace,
    Joboo

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  6. one of the best weekend ever winter cycling...
    perfect snow and weather,though a bit raw on satuarday late on!!!
    a hot drink from a flask way to go on a winter ride!!!
    thanks for comments..

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  7. And that Sir, is why the Pugsley was invented!

    A great ride report mate.

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  8. Delightful! Thanks for sharing. Great pictures too.

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