For some reason I feel the need to explain that I am Scottish, I was born and raised here, I have a Scottish accent, I bought a house here and my first full-time job was in a company that made, apart from whisky, that most Scottish of products. Tartan. I’m pretty flipping Scottish.
I did however work for three years in Westest Wales, at a company that was famous initially for its t-shirts. Some were thought provoking, some were funny, all of them made you think. My personal favourite was a t-shirt called Hopetimist, a word blended of hope and optimism, and in many ways this is the product that the Yes campaign are selling (and politicians are salesmen, policies are their products) and it’s a beguiling mix. That belief that we don’t need anyone else, we can do this, Scotland can be wealthy and prosperous, with a better brand of politics. It’s not quite Obama’s “Yes We Can” but it isn’t too far off.
In reality what the Yes campaign is selling is risk, it sounds like something else but that’s exactly what it is. Imagine you have a pot of stuff, there’s some politics in there, an economy, health service, education system etc…And you go into see the risk management investment service. They look at what you have and set out two paths, the first path guarantees the pot of stuff and potentially growth of a couple of percent over the term you want to invest for. Pretty good. But then there’s the second path. They’ll take your pot and having spoken to their experts they reckon they might get five percent more back over the term, but there’s a catch, the pot isn’t guaranteed and neither is the return. It’s a risk with no form guide.
At this point if you choose the second path you become a gambler, you’re accepting the risk. Except this isn’t just your pot, this belongs to everyone. The second path affects five million other people, one of those people will possibly loose their job if there is a Yes vote, or that person may have to move to England to keep their job, a job that right now pays for that house in Scotland and puts food on a Scottish table. You’re gambling that there will be enough replacement jobs created for that person to find a new one. And that person, if you haven’t worked it out, is me.
The choice we are making is very real and the question every gambler should ask themselves is how lucky do you feel?
The clock clicks round to 05:15 and my shoes click into the pedals as quietly as I can manage to keep the neighbours in their slumber. The first turn of the cranks feels heavy, legs dead, the short sharp climb up past the already working post office convinces me that my limbs aren’t going to work this morning.
Onto the main road and my lungs and heart start to catch onto the idea, soon I’m cruising down the pockmarked asphalt on legs full of energy, careful not to burn out before the sun comes up. Swinging off the tarmac and now crunching the gravel, startled hares sprint across the fields. More tarmac, undulating, efforts put out to keep my single gear spinning before a long descent where my legs find resistance only from bearings and grease.
My midpoint is a town, I’m as startled by it as the early morning bus commuters are of me. Suddenly I have to think of other things other than speed and hills; buses, pedestrians, traffic lights. A sharp climb takes me away from the grey and back to the gravel. No buses here, it’s nice. A brief flirtation with the commuter chaos in A-Road form and then the stress is done. A quiet singular lane winding into the hills, narrower and narrower until all I’m left to follow is a stony sinew.
Avoiding snakebites I thread my skinny tyres through the shale, climbing for a while until the topography gives me a helping hand and I speed down the tarmac with barely a turn of the pedals. I fly past the bus stop queuers, the car starters, the walker commuters and suddenly and surprisingly I’m here. I stow my kit, amble to food and then my desk. Time to work my brain and let my legs rest.
Not sure what the word is for soaked South African but here’s a picture of one anyway. A nice ride to work turned into a downpour laden mission back home.
As a rule I’m not that big a fan of Trek bikes, but occasionally they take time off from closing down iconic brands to put something out I really like. I really like this, a lot.
Sunshine followed the rain today so a quick evening spin was in order, the days do seem to be getting shorter though…
Last Thursday my legs felt amazing, on Friday they didn’t. My aim is to have Thursday Legs every day. “Thursday Legs” is now a thing, it’ll go viral, you heard it here first #thursdaylegs
Mixing up the Glentress red and black trails in the shifting gloom today. Not sure if it was Enduro, I’ll check…
The last time Jake and I tried a backroad / offroad route from Peebles to Balerno we spent about 20% of the whole time walking. This was not pleasing as we had hoped to cycle the vast majority of the route but the Pentland Hills just outside Edinburgh are a bit of a barrier, there’s only really one way through from the south and we had ended up too far west for that. So a rethink, a further scan of OS maps and I thought I had a potential new route.
At 5:05am, that’s AM! We rolled out of Peebles for attempt number two surrounded by fog. We knew we would have to spend the first 8km on the main road heading to Edinburgh which is usually hectic. But we were passed by maybe a single car per km before we heading off and through a private estate with manicured lawns and in the distance a vast house. Initially tarmac we were soon on a good gravel road and for a brief couple of minutes the sunshine appeared and a golden light spread though the trees. We skirted a loch before descending onto the smallest of small backroads before cutting across a moor on a forestry track. Loose and undulating it made us focus while the fog closed in, the moisture in the air coating us with a film of dew.
Back on tarmac again we headed down to Penicuik and through the town centre, busier now we were approaching 6:30 but still relatively traffic free. A quick climb and backroad dirt track saw us to Flotterstone. Following this access road up into the middle of the Pentlands the sun threatened to break through the grey but it never quite managed and we had to make do with a warm gloom. On the singletrack of Greens Cleugh we forded the river without a dab. Only a mechanical was going to ruin this now and despite the loose rocks we made it through, punctures avoided and we hit the long descent down to Balerno. And coffee.
The return leg was all stunning sunshine and blue skies. We were slightly faster heading home and the North Sea breeze certainly helped keep us cool. Hitting Peebles just before dusk started to set in felt amazing and it has been one of the best days on a bike so far this year. The route was a winner, so much so that we might give it a crack next week as well. The only downside is that I want a new bike to do it on…