Cycling: Tearfund Drumlanrig Challenge

April 29, 2017

29th April and our 2nd Sportive of the year (following last month’s No Excuses Falkirk ), first of all the stats:

  • Distance: 57 miles
  • Moving time: 4:42
  • Total Time: 5:21
  • Elevation: 3040 ft
  • Average Speed: 12.2 mph
  • Max Speed: 30 mph


Cycling: Wattbike No Excuses Falkirk Sportive

April 7, 2017

OK, a new category to blog about.  Last year Ross and I did a ‘sportive’ (well more of a fun-ride) for the first time.  That was the Pedal for Scotland Glasgow to Edinburgh ride.  So far for 2017 we have signed up for three rides, this was the first:

26th March 2017: Wattbike No Excuses Falkirk Sportive

  • Distance: 45 miles
  • Moving time: 3:58
  • Total Time: 5:26
  • Elevation: 2416 ft
  • Average Speed: 11.4 mph
  • Max Speed: 34.4 mph

For somethings called “No Excuses” there were a lot of things that started getting in the way of us doing this.  Firstly it turned out to be Mother’s day, not the most popular day to disappear on your bike for half the day.  It also was the day the clocks changed which didn’t make getting up for 7am any easier.  However, when we got there and got started it was worth it.

The weather was great, bright and sunny, very little wind but a little cold especially first things or when we stopped.  This was our first run out for the year and with little training we deliberately took it easy.  It was also my first serious ride on the Specialized Diverge Sport A1 – my first real road bike since I was a teenager :-0

Unfortunately I had a number of ‘mechanicals’ firstly the front mech wouldn’t change in to the small ring (easier) then the rear derailleur wasn’t correctly limited which threw the chain off the biggest (innermost) cog and into the spokes.  I then tried to avoid the lower breaks so this didn’t happen again but found that the lowest 4 cogs on the rear cassette were all jumping when I put down any power.  The mechanic at the first rest stop was able to sort out the front problem but for the rest of the day I simply avoided my lowest gears and really lost a lot of confidence in the bike.  This was particularly annoying as this was a fairly hilly route and certainly a challenge to our level of cycling.  (PS Got the bike sorted out and all seems fine now, though I’m not sure how it was all knocked out of alignment).

It was a fun day, I kind of wish we were fitter to have had a better go at this ride but certainly a good day.


For comparison:  11th Sep 2016: Pedal for Scotland Glasgow to Edinburgh

  • Distance: 45 miles
  • Moving time: 3:25
  • Total Time: 4:17
  • Elevation: 1600 ft
  • Average Speed: 13 mph
  • Max Speed: 30 mph


Book: David Millar “Racing Through the Dark: The Fall and Rise of David Millar”

March 24, 2017

I’m a fan of cycling – it’s the only sport I follow.   However I wasn’t really following it that closely in the days when David Millar was at his prime.  I do know him as a pundit and commentator and when I discovered that his background as a cyclist included being caught for doping, serving a ban then coming back to cycle ‘clean’.  So I decided to read his autobiography.

I’m not however a great fan of autobiographies as a style and struggled to read this taking at least six months on and off to get through it.  This was also partially because I have it as a paperback and tend to read mostly on a phone app now, so I’ve lost the habit of picking up a physical book.

OK so what about the book – it was interesting.  David Millar’s childhood, interest in cycling, etc. was alright but really this book is about the insight into the growing awareness of a naive young cyclist to the fact that doping is happening all around him and the gradual feeling that the only way he can compete with doppers is to join them and the final submission to this temptation.  Framed around his arrest and various legal battles the rise and fall and rise of David Millar is a good read.

David explains very well the isolation of a cyclist even in a team situation and how that personal drive to improve can, when the situation allows it, lead to overwhelming temptation.  In those days of cycling drugs seem to have been so easily obtained and used that it really was widespread.  David’s insight into the situation seem to have been of some use to the fight against drugs in sport in the years since he has served his ban.

Book: Robert Crais “Suspect”

February 5, 2017

One more novel from Robert Crais, this one a stand alone one with no cross over of characters from the other series.

bookLAPD cop Scott James is recovering after being shot and his partner being killed when they stumble into a killing.  He is just coming back on duty and training up as K9 cop, although he is probably still unfit for duty.  He meets Maggie, an ex-marine explosives detection dog who lost her partner (handler and in her view alpha-dog) in an attack where she was also shot.

Neither of them should be back on active duty but they find each other and become ‘pack’.  The story follows Scott’s determination to solve the case where he was shot but also how the dog and man become one unit and accept each other.

Robert Crais, style is often to switch who’s point of view he is writing from and in this story we are frequently in the position of the dog which makes things even more interesting.

I really enjoyed this story, which was sightly different from his other books.  Very well written novel.

Book: Robert Crais “Taken”

January 22, 2017

Another Elvis Cole and Joe Pike novel – and yes I will repeat myself this is a fast paced, page turning thriller.  I like this genre, I like this author and I like these characters.

bookIn this story Elvis is hired to find a missing daughter, but the reader already knows she was caught up in a people smuggling operation and is being held captive with her boyfriend.  As Cole investigates he discovers that not only are there a number of gangs bringing people across the border from Mexico to the US but there are also gangs stealing from those gangs as if the people are simply a commodity to be bargained with or killed.

As Cole gets closer he too is captured which puts Joe on the warpath and he is a character you don’t want on the warpath.  My only niggle with this book is the jumps around in the timeline of the story near the start of the book.  Other than that, another great read from Robert Crais!

Review of 2016

January 1, 2017

The summary of my ever diminishing blog posts for 2016 (and some other things that I haven’t posted but which would be worth noting)… as ever please note this is only to help me remember things I really don’t know why anyone else would be interested.  Previously 200920102011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015

The blog originally included a lot more about what I did or thought, now it is mainly ‘reviews’ of books read and only really so that I can look back and be prompted which one is which since in general I read fast paced thrillers which are more or less the same… go figure :-/


MOVIES (cinema)

Events (anything significant to remember)

  • 24 Aug:  Lewis first day at Nursery
  • 3 Nov: Rachel born

Cycling (new to 2016 now I have Garmin and record things)

  • 2016 totals:
    247 rides
    126 hours
    1415.5 miles
    41,270 ft gainRides worth recording:
  • 11 Sept:  Pedal for Scotland Glasgow to Edinburgh
    — 45miles — 3hr 25 (moving time) — 4hr 17 (total time)
    — 1600 ft gained — 13mph average speed — 30mph fastest speed

BOOKS read this year….


  • March: Center Parks (just us)
  • April: Center Parks (Cheung clan)
  • April: Crieff Hydro
  • July: Isle of Lewis

Other Highlights:

  • Jan: Car was stolen
  • Feb: Got a new car
  • March: Danar 40!
  • April: lots of Holidays
  • July: last ever CLAN Gathering
  • July: Michael’s Wedding
  • Sept: Pedal for Scotland
  • Nov: Daughter born !
  • Dec: Danar moved from iPhone to Android :-0

Youtube uploads:

Running Totals:

  • 2009 – 23 books – 6 Movies – 4 gigs/events
  • 2010 – 33 books – 13 Movies – 10 gigs/events – 6 meals – 4 holidays
  • 2011 – 18 books – 2 Movies – 3 gigs/events – 1 meals – 3 holidays
  • 2012 – 16 books – 7 Movies – 3 gigs/events – 3 meals – 4 holidays
  • 2013 – 8 books – 2 Movies – 0 gigs/events – 1 meals – 2 holidays – 1 Son
  • 2014 – 1 books – 3 Movies – 2 gigs/events – 4 holidays
  • 2015 – 18 books – 2 Movies – 2 gigs/events – 3 holidays – 6 videos
  • 2016 – 34 books – 2 Movies – 1 events – 4 holidays – 4 videos – 1 daughter

Book: Robert Crais “The First Rule”

January 1, 2017

Just finished in time to count it in 2016..

bookAnother complex but compelling thriller that keeps you on the edge of your seat.  Here an old friend of Joe Pike is murdered so Joe gets involved.  Might expand later but actually trying to post before midnight  just to please my sense of completeness  :-)

As promised, a little more to remind me what this story was about.  Focused around Joe Pike, with a little help from his partner Elvis Cole, we get a little more insight into Joes mysterious mercenary work.  Joe hears of the death of one of his old company.  Murdered in an apparent house break.  Was his old friend involved in something he shouldn’t have been or did he manage to leave all the violence behind as everyone thought. 

With a strong, silent character like Joe it is interesting to see how much the reader can care about him and how much character there can be.

Book: Robert Crais “The Watchman”

December 21, 2016

Most of Robert Crais novels (but not all) are in a series around the main character Elvis Cole, a private detective, and often helped by his partner Joe Pike.  This is the first outing where Pike takes the lead, which is an interesting twist.

bookIn a previous novel Pike had to agree to take on a job, any job, in order to get information he needed to save a life.  This novel is that payback.  Pike receives a call to take on a job to protect a witness – Larkin Barkley a spoilt, feisty daughter of a billionaire who saw something she shouldn’t have and has a team of people trying to kill her, even when in protection of the authorities they seem to be getting inside help.

Joe, with his inability to express emotion or say more than four words thrown together with Larkin is an interesting mix and Joe Pike can’t simply protect but needs to go after those who are trying to kill Larkin.  An excellent page turner and great to get inside Joe Pike’s head.

Book: Robert Crais “The Two Minute Rule”

December 21, 2016

The two minute rule refers to how long you can hope for during a bank robbery before the cops turn up.

A bank robber, Max Holman, served his time and is phased back into society… when his son (who he had no contact with and grew up to be a police officer) is killed by bank robbers.  Now, it’s been a few weeks since I read this and to be honest it was complex and I can’t remember the details.  The highlights however was the relationship between Max and the ex-FBI agent who caught him.

This is a one-off novel, not part of Robert Crais various series and is an excellent if a little complex read.  Page turner.

Book: Robert Crais “Hostage”

November 28, 2016

Continuing through Robert Crais novels, again as in the previous novel “Demolition Angel” this story is not part of his ongoing series with Elvis Cole and Joe Pike.  This novel also sees a new writing style for Crais – I’m sure there’s a name for this but I don’t know enough about writing bookso need to describe it longform…   It is written in the first person but the person keeps changing.  We read from a gangbangers point of view his fear of holding up a store and trying to getaway, then from the Police chief’s point of view how to react to a potential hostage situation, then from the hostages point of view as the bad guys arrive in the house and how they deal with the unfolding drama.

So the writing style is great and keeps the pace up, but the story is amazing.  A hostage negotiater is burnt out and troubled by a negotiation gone bad so becomes a Police Chief in a small town …but then a hostage situation comes to him.  The bad-guys break down outside a house – where the hostage situation unfolds – that happens to be tied into the mob…  and more – so much more.

An incredibly fast paced page turner. Great book.