Bowery Mural

Dirt Bike Symphony

Saturday, 17 April 2010

So there it was, my shiny new bike, all clean and nice and non-squeaky... But not for long!!  I was invited to go up a mountain on my bike - mountain biking!  There would be me, PTC, Bobinson and Craig.  I jumped at the chance.  I set off from work about 4.30, bike in the back minus the front wheel, two bags worth of stuff! (I'm a girl, there are things I must take to work every day) and a bag of crisps and a Milky Way for my dinner.  

Broken Bike?  nah....

As I drove along the Gargunnock road passing Kippen, Arnprior and Drymen the noise from the car** got worse and worse.  I've had 2 new exhausts in the past 3 weeks and it's even worse than the original one they took off.  But then the car started to sway - or was it my imagination, or was it because the roads gently meander and rise and fall in a strange pattern all the way along the A811.  It was getting stressful as I was uncertain if something was about to fall off the noise was so bad and to add to my anxiety I was bursting for the toilet.  I got into Balloch and remembered the McDonalds on the roundabout.  I pulled in, visited the restroom and got on my way again.  I stuck to a safe 45 miles per hour on the roads all the way to the destination on my very detailed instructions from PTC (except PTC, there was a right turn when you should have said left but i'll let that one go). 

I saw them sitting there on the wall waiting.  There were introductions and a joke, then i got the stead out the car.  I think they were secretly jealous of the cleanliness of it!  They blew up my tyres, I got geared up and we were on our way.  The biking trio cycled off and Craig ran down the road behind us.  We headed out of Bowling and into Old Kilpatrick across the Forth and Clyde canal alongside the River Clyde.  It was a lovely night and i was glad we went along this wee trail for me to get used to the bumpy night ahead.  I chickened out of quite a steep bit though instead going through a style in the fence.  This was sensible.  It was a bit chilly alongside the river but as we headed out of Old Kilpatrick and up onto the Kilpatrick hills via The Slacks, the evening sun was beating down and all the effort was making me sweat.  

As we were going up the road I thought this wasn't too bad after i eventually found the right gear.  We headed onto a gentle slope of gravelly stuff again in the right gear i was being challenged but the legs still felt fine.  All my spin classes must be paying off i thought.  We passed a field filled with wee lambs and sheep and they were baa-ing away all contented in the evening warmth.  Every now and again i'd glance to the side to check out the view of the Clyde, it was just lovely up here.  Further up I caught a glimpse of Craig at a gate, he must have bionic legs to run there!  I was glad i had a seat! 

We stopped for a wee drink and then headed off again.  But this time to going was rougher and the hill was a but steeper and as much as i tried i just couldn't get a gear without the back wheel slipping in the rocky terrain and i just had to get off before i fell off.  But no shame in it as the others were off and pushing their bikes too.  This was a bit of a killer but a chance to give the legs another kind of exercise they haven't had for a while.  We reached a second gate and stopped for a wee bit.  By this point PTC still had his sunglasses, you can see it in this picture.

Bobinson & PTC

We set off again this time on the bikes and it was again an ascent but it seemed alot easier, and less rocky more dirt/gravel.  Perhaps I was getting used to it?  I was enjoying myself as i listened to their chitter chatter all the way up.  Tales from their epic trip last weekend, interspersed with commentary from PTC about where we were and what was over there.  On this occasion it was a wee quarry.  Onwards and upwards we went and then a lovely peaceful calm area came into view...  I think this is where we wee overlooking Duncolm and Fynloch  Hill (all place names were provided by PTC - it is his home ground after all).  Anyway it was braw and the views were great on this clear calm evening.

It was onwards down towards Loch Humphrey's south side but not before final instructions from Bobinson about descending.  I especially liked the part where he said if you don't want to don't do it.  We set off down a track, Craig running all the while and me at the back... way at the back!  They were like little people in the distance whilst I steadily negotiated my way down a rutted dirt track.  Then we cut off into boggy grass which wasn't too bad but bumpy and sticky at times.  Onto another dirty mucky puddle filled track and there were a few folks on the waterside with a wee dog.  Personally i was glad it never came near.  At this point I have to say my bike was doing really well, I was getting more confidence on this mtb ride and I was still relatively clean... but not for long.  I was forced to go through a mucky puddle and that was it!  Officially dirty bike now.  

We headed through an enchanted dark forrest of trees.  Now this was a challenge.  There were loads of dips, roots and deep cuts in the ground and the twigs kept getting stuck in my tyres and making a noise (not the worst noise of the evening though!).  It wasn't long after another noise appeared!!!  More on this later.  Soon we were out of the trees opposite Doughnut Hill and into pinky evening sunset light again, Ben Lomond peeking over the top of a hill.  The sun was bright and glowing it's pinky orange blanket over the place.  I had to take a photie.
Peekaboo Sun
The next section would be the descent.  PTC would go ahead and point out any tricksy bits and Phil would stay behind me all the while shouting instructions.  It was a little bit hairy at parts but I think I was finding my feet quite well.  But the noise form my front brake was getting louder and weirder.  We descended pretty quickly down grassy slopes along dirt tracks that again had a few steep sections and few tricky proper boggy muck sections but I wasn't the one who nearly fell off at one point!  :o)   Down and down was onto more gentle slopes but it was fast.  By this time PTC and Phil were offski fleeing down the hill next to Lang Crags.  I was at the back with Craig with him shouting 'go fast as fuck!!'  So i let the breaks go and flew down the hill to another gate.  It was awesome.  I know I left it a bit late to get brave but hey, it was my first time.  Craig came over the hill a few minutes later, still running, still going.  Awesome.
Camera Run
We were then onto tarmac and heading down towards Milton.  And the noise coming from my bike was the most annoying thing ever!  Weird, like a part on Dr Who's Tardis that is malfunctioning.  It was quite melodic though, a symphony.  Annoying all the same.  We were soon speeding down the hill and appeared out onto the main road at Milton around 8.30pm.  A little over 2 hours on the bike and it was fantastic.  Still a wee bit light left in the ever inky blue sky.  It was getting a bit chilly though.  Once Craig had reached us we headed to the famous BP garage for eatables and a hot drink.  There was photies, eating and chatter before we headed back to base.  

It was only now they plucked up the courage to ask for a shot of my bike around the car park. :o)  I think they were envious of my little clean lightweight stead who shall now be named Spooky! or Stato...  you decide?  I packed up the bike in the car, put another top on as it was well chilly now and headed off along the road back to Stirling.  The drive home wasn't too bad, just about an hour but the car noise** was getting worse.  But my bike was looking authentic now, dirt on lower parts and some on the seat...  I laid an old yoga mat out in the hallway where it currently resides and would wash it on Thursday after work.

All in all I thoroughly enjoyed my first proper mtb ride (even though my bike got dirty).  It was fantastic! And I think, once i gained a wee bit confidence on the terrain, I did great - if i say so myself!  Thanks for inviting me guys and it was great to finally meet Bobinson and Craig.  Another brilliant bunch of people I've met through the power of the 'net.  Thanks for the tips and instructions about ascending and descending, it's these simple things that make the difference.

Aye, bike rides in the Kilpatricks - Brilliant!

Ange xx

**update on the car noise.  Got a new exhaust about 4 weeks ago, had it changed once, still made a noise (or so I thought).  It was more of a constant whirring clunking noise all the way to Bowling and back home.  Dad took it out Thursday night and immediately said it was the wheel bearings!  The back right hand wheel was wonky and so this was causing the clunky whirring noise.  As soon as he said it I knew he was right.  My old wee VW Polo used to sound the same when it's bearings were away.  Anyway, Dad replaced the wheel bearings on Friday and I got another new exhaust today and my wee silver car is sounding much better.  Phew!     

GTwestival - the aftermath

Thursday, 1 April 2010

As a follow on from my previous post about relationships via social media outlets i thought i'd do a follow up so i could quantify or indeed, poo poo my own thoughts.  But before i give a final opinion i'll tell you what happened...

Last Thursday saw me on a jaunt to Glasgow to attend the Glasgow Twestival.  (Twitter festival - get it?)  A night to raise funds for the charity Concern.  Twestivals were taking place in cities all over the world via the power of Twitter.  This would be the night that i'd meet three more people and add them to the two already on my 'putting faces to names' list on Twitter!  

After freezing in a bus stop on the Great Western Road they arrived.  @LilacSwizzle (Nicola), @Pyllon (Paul) and the ever so shy and retiring @markofrespect (Mark).  :o)

We made our way into the Landsdowne Bar & Kitchen, got our Twitter name badges, had a picture (or two taken) and got a drink (2 cocktails & 2 mocktails!).  I don't know about those three but i'll admit to being a little bit nervous meeting three new people for the first time but somehow after about 10 minutes I felt fine.  They were everything I'd imagined and better.  I couldn't help thinking that there are in fact people on Twitter that I might not want to meet but these were people I did and they were ace and made me feel very welcome indeed. 

A guy came over and turns out he was an illusionist - or spooky guy - one of the two.  He asked if anyone knew someone called Phil.  I said I did but not well (I'm talking about you @Bobinson).  Anyway he done this 'trick' where i had to think of a card i would imaging i was telling Phil and then tell everyone.  (Now a point worth noting is this - I did think about the ace of hearts and then changed it to the 5 of clubs...).   He took a pack of cards from his jacket pocket and started putting them down on the table one by one until he came to one that had Phil written on it.  He turned it over and yes... it was the 5 of clubs!  It was so weird and freaky.  Especially since i'd changed it from ace of hearts to this.  I sat and wondered if he'd somehow read my mind, my body language or was this a whole load of poppycock.  He then did a few other 'tricks' and they all worked out right!  Was this coincidence or was he really an illusionist - a good one at that!

@LilacSwizzle had brought me a present (@Pyllon and @markofrespect said it was from all of them but i know the truth!! ).  The present was an adorable shiny bike bell as seen below.  I was delighted.  It was time to exchange gifts... so i gave them my cross-stitched Twitter name badges and they loved them.  (I hope?).  @markofrespect was particularly pleased with his, tweeting a photo almost immediately.  I was delighted I could bring a smile to faces with my handy work!         

Next up were the raffle tickets.  I bought £5 worth, i'm pretty lucky - sometimes.  The others bought some too.  By this time there were more #tweegies in the venue and it was pretty good, music playing and chatting.  The first band came on (sorry I can't remember their name), they were ok! but quite loud so talking was just shouting really.  I was aware I was perhaps a bit quiet but hoped the didn't notice -  i really do get tongue-tied, i mean in my head I'm saying things but they never seem to come out of my mouth.  Probably the reason i like blogging and tweeting really.  I get a few seconds grace to think first.  Anyway it was time for the raffle draw and auction!!  Mark won two prizes and i got myself one - oh yeah! - a 3 course meal for 2 in the Landsdowne Bar with Champagne!!  not too shabby at all, i was well pleased with my lot (except that champagne will be wasted on me).  Anyway the night went on and a while later we departed.  I drove home in freezing fog feeling pretty satisfied that i went along and pleased that i had met these three lovely people who i hope i can now call friends.     

So that's it.  Four individuals who'd been brought together by the power of Twitter.  And here is my summation of the whole social media relationship... phenomena?
I can hand on my heart say that these are people I would never have had the opportunity to meet if it hadn't been for Twitter.  In fact i'd have considered myself not cool enough to be part of their group.  We are all individuals and yet we connected in some way via Twitter.  And to me that is a wonderful thing - right?  Moving in new circles, meeting new and interesting people can benefit us all.  I could say more and gush on about them but i know @markofrespect will be embarrassed!!  :o)  

As someone mentioned in a comment on the previous post, there are people i follow on Twitter but i wouldn't necessarily want to meet them, there are others i'd want to meet but probably never will and there are may be those who i meet and think - idiot!  But it's the fact that those options are here for all to savour that's the greatest idea to me.  I say don't knock it until you've tried it but don't tell me that there's nothing to gain by blogging, tweeting, emailing... or even facebooking.  I love my wee blog and the last post has seen more comments than most of my other posts and for that I'm grateful.  It has also allowed me to meet people - well only one in person but you know what i mean.  it has allowed me to build relationships with people from all over the world USA, Australia and right here in Scotland.     

My final lessons and thoughts are: there are people you follow on Twitter or who may follow you, go meet them!  You should.  If you don't connect in person, fine but you'll never know unless you try.  Also I'm now going to try to get over my extreme shyness, it's not doing me any good.  But the good news is that since last Thursdays night out I have struck up conversations with people in the gym, with people at work, with total strangers and it felt good.  High five!!  I've also gained some new followers (#tweegies) thank you and i'd like to meet some of you too.

Thanks so much to @markofrespect for suggesting I attend the GTwestival and for being like an adult version of my hyperactive nephew! (that's a good thing by the way!)   Big thank you to @LilacSwizzle for being a totally cool lady and for my fabulous bike bell (it's getting fitted this weekend!)  and huge thanks to @pyllon for being a really cool guy and for awarding me the tile of honourary #tweegie! (btw i hope you don't mind the photo's being on here!)  Big hugs to you all.  

Ange xx