At the start of this year I swapped my old skinny-tyred Scott CR1 for a fat-ish tyred Jamis gravel bike. If my Twitter feed is anything to go by, a lot of folk see the gravel trend as marketing bollocks designed to sell more bikes. In all honesty, mine has proved something of a revelation. Over the last couple of years I’d begun to get a little tired of tackling the same old, routine road rides in my local patch. Owning a bike that can take the rough with the smooth has allowed me to explore tracks, paths, old drove roads and the like to expand my route itinerary without the hassle of moving house.
The SNP – I’ve been a member since the 80s – are the brave party (not Bravehearts, that’s a nonsense slur opponents without a clue throw our way), prepared to make bold political decisions in order to force change for the better.
Last weekend I attended my first party conference. I was buoyed by the bold and positive talk — Scotland can and will be changed for the better. We just have to work hard to make it happen.
Then came the debate on cycling:
From stages of the Tour of Britain, the Seven Stanes mountain bike trails, to the hugely successful TweedLove festival, there’s a regular reason for a two-wheeled Borders pilgrimage.
Next up is the Endura Tour o’ the Borders, which starts and finishes in Peebles on Sunday 10th of August. Heading into its third year, this cyclo-sportive is on the up (quite literally, more of which later): 2014 will be the first running on roads closed to cars.
Last year’s edition was epic. Less than clement conditions resulted in semi-submerged roads and riders at risk of hypothermia. Moving from late spring to the height of summer might make heatstroke more of an issue. Whatever the weather, participants have two route options: 55 or 77 miles.
“I’d always wondered where this road went,” I say as we turn out of Peebles and onto a stretch of single-track.
I’m pedalling alongside my guide for the day, Neil Dalgleish, director of TweedLove, the Tweed Valley festival of all things cycling that runs from the 24thof May to the 8th of June.
We’re on a cracking valley climb. The sun is out, the sky blue; fluffy white sheep pepper the verdant hillsides. Biking bliss.
I’m previewing the Skinny, a 45-mile sportive that’s new to TweedLove. The £15 entry fee gets riders a free feed station and official timing along the marked and marshalled course.