On Friday I headed in to the centre of Edinburgh for November’s Critical Mass. Even before I set off from work in the west of the city, it was pitch black. So I had my lights and reflective jacket on.
About 17:45 a whole load of fireworks started from Edinburgh Castle to mark St Andrews Day. We had a great view point from the foot of the mount between the two National Galleries. There was a couple of points where the fireworks went off in a cross pattern, a bit like the cross on the Saltire (our national flag).
Today I watched the River City omnibus. Friday’s episode really emphasised the fact that in Scotland we really don’t celebrate Saint Andrews Day. In fact we usually forget that Saint Andrews Day even exists. Over the other side of the pond, Tartan Day is celebrated (at a different time of year), far more than what we do. Are we Scots no use a celebrating? Or are we just too busy working to bother with celbrations?
Last weekend’s Edinburgh Mapping Party went well. We had around 10 mappers at the meet up. Most of FIXME land has now disappeared.
There was a few debates on what things should tagged. After some discussion it was decided the West Approach Road tagged highway=primary rather than tertiary, as it has all the characteristics of a primary, even so it doesn’t have a reference number. Also Princes Street hasn’t been a primary road since it was restricted some years ago to allow only buses along it east bound.
Hopefully there will be some more meetups in the future.
Today, I was intending to cycle from Edinburgh to Berwick-upon-Tweed and back. Unfortunately on leaving the lights a Regent Road to head down on to London road, my gears started making a grinding noise.
Gears 5-8 all made a horrible noise. Luckily I still had gears 1-4, though unfortunately I had a top speed of only about 15 miles per hour, which is way too slow when on the road. I cycled down to Halfords at Seafield to see if they could see what the problem was. One of the guys at the BikeHut took a look and said that I could either wait about 10 days for a gear service (£14.99), or replace the gear cable myself, which probably would be the problem (£1.99).
The old gear cable has had one of the strands lose in parts of the cable. However the change of the cable hasn’t made the noise go away. So it seems that the gear unit will need to be opened for an half yearly service. I also need to get a new chain and front cogs for it too some time soon. 🙁
At least I did manage to do some more mapping for OpenStreetMap.org, so it wasn’t a completely wasted journey.
One of the great things about being on a push bike, is that you can ignore “Road Closed” signs, instead of taking a long diversion. In this case, a bridge on the National Cycle Network was getting replaced. Though there was a temporary scaffold bridge available for use by cyclists and pedestrians.
Parts of the journey were quite tough, even so they were downhill on quiet roads, there was a strong head wind. At Innerleithen, I stopped for a short break to grab a pizza, so that I would have enough energy to get back home. From there the cycle route starts heading east to Galashiels and Melrose.
After Melrose, I decided it would be better to head back home rather than continuing south on the national cycle network. At that point I seen a distance sign that said that Edinburgh was 39 miles away on the A68. At that point I predicted that I’d be home some time between 12 midnight and 1 am.
As I was heading up the first part of the A68, which was quite a bit of uphill, I was starting to extend my prediction as to the estimated time of arrival home. However the downhill at the other side made up for the extra time to get up the hill, with me arriving home around quarter past midnight. 96 miles in 9 hours 45 minutes is pretty good, with a few breaks. It is however only a third of the speed required for setting some UK Road Records.
On Friday I went along to the monthly Critical Mass again.
I managed to arrive just in time this month for them setting off from the foot of the Mound at 6pm. This month seems to have been busier that the previous two months. There was about 44-55 people on their bikes there.
This month there was no major problems. Unfortunately at a few points there motor vehicle getting into the middle of the group, but we managed to sort that out quite quickly. Also on our way up Leith Street, when we were stopped at the traffic lights, there was two police cars coming up behind us with their sirens blaring and lights flashing. Unlike motor vehicles, we were able to rapidly shift over to one side of the road and on the pavement and let them past.
In true Critical Mass style at the last minute, we decided to head to an off-licence and then the Meadows for the after cycle drink and chat instead of the usual trip to The Peartree pub.
On Thursday evening, I took the train over to Glasgow for the Scotlug meeting. There was an interesting presentation about phidgets. Afterwards I went along with the other geeks to the pub to grab something to eat and have a natter. I’ve even now seen an iPhone (not just in pictures), though not yet had a chance to play with one.
After 11pm, I set off back to Edinburgh. On my bike. I could have taken the train, but that would have cost more and I was needing the challenge of cycling over night home.
I headed North from George Square to the Glasgow spur of the Forth and Clyde Canal. I then followed the Forth and Clyde Canal, the whole way to the Carron Sea Lock, where I then hit the road for the rest of the way home (except the cycleway parallel to the A90 from Dalmeny to the Crammond Brig pub, where cyclists are not allowed on the trunk road).
By the time I was nearing South Queensferry, first light was starting to show. See the picture below, where you can just about make out the towers of the Forth Road and Rail Bridges.
The journey took 5 hours, and was about 53 miles in length. It’s not very often you’ll see me arriving home at 4:20 am.
The greatest thing about cycling at night is that the roads are really quiet, especially after 1am. It also makes cycling on the bigger roads a lot easier, and saves you from having to use the quieter and hillier routes. It can also be faster as you don’t have to deal with other traffic or air turbulence caused by other traffic.
I’d be quite happy to do it again, as long as I don’t need to get up the next day before lunch time.
Many people have commented on the various day cycling trips that I’ve taken. However yesterday when shopping, I found someone who has been doing a lot more cycling than myself. He took the train from Cambridge up to Inverness. Then he started cycling and camping rough. That was two months ago.
He was taking everything he needed in panniers on his bike. He was looking at doing around 50 miles each on the way back down to Cambridge.
See the attached photo of his bike with the panniers full.
On Friday I headed to the Edinburgh Critical Mass again. It was a lot busier than last month, which meant that it was better perceived by the public.
As the route of the Critical Mass is not predefined, it is very easy to change the route. When we tried to turn right from Princes Street into North Bridge, no vehicles were allowed, so instead we headed down Leith Street.
Last Thursday I was in Stirling for a presentation in the morning. I took the train out, so that I was able to be out there for the start of the presentation at 9:30. Unfortunately as I was travelling before 10am and it was not yet July or August, I had to pay the full fare of £5.80, rather than get a third off with the Young Person Railcard. I’ll need to keep in mind that for the next 2 months, I’ll be able to get the discount even when travelling before 10am Monday to Friday.
After the presentation finished at lunch time I cycled to Glasgow for a Scotlug meeting, where there was a presentation by Chris Fleming about OpenStreetMap.org. It took about 5 hours, including some time for a few breaks. Unfortunately there was some rain showers on the last half of the Cycle from Stirling to Glasgow. At one point it was so heavy that I decided to hide under one of the bridges that go over the Forth and Clyde Canal to let the heaviest of the rain to pass over.
As it had been so wet, I decided to take the slow train home, otherwise I would have cycled through the night back to Edinburgh.