A day on the bike – The Lockerbie Loop with the Cycle To Syracuse Team. Big learning for the old boy!

The Lockerbie Loop with the Cycle to Syracuse team! Another learning curb!

So much to learn so little time.

It was another very early start and back to Lockerbie (242 miles each way I know that trip well)

Yesterday we were taking part in the cycle event The Lockerbie Loop in aid of “Children’s first”

SCOTLAND’S NATIONAL CHILDREN’S CHARITY

Children .

Some children have little to smile about. We’re determined to give them reasons to.

We help Scotland’s families to put children first, with practical advice and with support in difficult times. And when the worst happens, we support survivors of abuse, neglect, and other traumatic events in childhood, to recover. They organised the event and did a great job looking after us a well and still smiling at the end of a long day for them thank you all.

The route is 75 miles over hill and dale (Colin Dorrance) the first 25 pretty steep and over 4500 feet of climbing in the day.

The Event started at 0930 and was busy with three options 20 mile loop, 50mile and our 75 mile loop. There were lots of folk about and a lot of kids and families up for the event considering the weather forecast it was a good turn out

The forecast was for showers in the morning and clearing up in the afternoon. It had improved but poured on the journey down the roads would be tricky!

Not being a cyclist it was with trepidation I joined our group of 5 from the “Cycle to Syracuse”team. This is a team that are cycling to Syracuse University in late October early November in memory of those who died in the Lockerbie Disaster. Sadly 35 students were on the plane and Lockerbie and the university in the USA have been close since ! I am the only outsider as the team all come from Lockerbie. Colin Dorrance the man behind the idea was a policeman, Paul was a fireman Dave is a para medic,Brian is the headmaster of Lockerbie school.

It is a great honour to be part of the team and representing the Mountain Rescue Teams and the military who helped in the aftermath !

After the start we stayed together the hills were hard at the beginning but I was well looked after. “Get in the right gear granny gear and other advice “ I am a mechanical dyslexic but I am getting there I hope!

We had some rain at the start then the sun came out and a few PR shots with a stop at Tundergarh primary school. This was very poignant as this was near where the nose cone of the aircraft landed in 1988.

It took some time for me to realise where we were. As this was a well known part in the Lockerbie story where the aircraft fuselage landed.

For me it took a bit for that to sink in as this area was a place of many memories.

The team were patient with me and it was a long day for them as well. Dave Walpole hasd just completed a busy night shift as an ambulance man. Yet with no sleep he kept coming back to check but Brian and Paul were looking after me and Colin the wise owl giving the odd bit of advice.

In the end it went well I was a bit slow for some but I felt I had plenty left in the tank at the end for the 2 hour drive to Ayr.

Some of the roads on the route were badly potholed and wet it needed care . So in places I took it easy especially down hill. Better safe than sorry old bones do not mend easy.There were a few new road surfaces with plenty of loose gravel just been done. This meant Lots of learning for me. We had some great support from the marshals and the charity. The odd stop for water food and tea in the MOFFAT Rugby club and village hall.

It was a long day and everyone was gone apart from the charity volunteers and marshals but they looked after us. It was then a drive to Ayr 2 hour 45 min. I arrived about 1945 to Ayr but stopped twice to enjoy a Bonnie night ending up with a great view of Arran.

I learned lots today and though I will never be a cyclist I can’t thank all for their help yet who would have thought that this old boy would cycle 70 miles and 4500 feet at nearly 66.

I have done some great hill days in the past but this was so different with a lot of concentration in a new sport especially in the wet. Usually on a big day I was with a few mates or on my own this was different and way out of my usual

Comfort zone but worth doing!

The countryside was superb as was the support by the team. I had some memories of this area from 1988 but to see it after the rain it is a beautiful place . When cycling you do get time to think and yes I did struggle at times with my thoughts of what this area means to me and so many of my friends.

As always the fresh air the rain the lush rolling hills, the forest make it all worth doing. Even those hills that keep coming with views ever expanding. They along with physical effort clear the head and mind.

You have to accept that the body is not what it was 50 years in the mountains take their toll but it was great to be out and learning so much.

Thank you all for your patience and support.

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Jenny Graham 10335 miles in New Zealand.

Current location: Awatuna, New Zealand

Miles covered so far: 10,335

Estimated miles to go: 7,645

Update Jenny – unsupported round the World in New Zealand – Australia was a toughie, but Jenny managed to complete the staggering 5,556km (3,470miles) in only 22.5 days… with a final mega-push of 370km in one day.

But we are out of Australia and into New Zealand! The change of scenery seems to have given some sort of additional superwoman powers to Jenny as she is flying across the country, already approaching the top of the South Island.

It is truly a beautiful country and the all though there has been a distinct lack of Tim Tams and chocolate milk (a staple of life on the road in Australia) the views and wildlife are more than making up for it.

A big thank you to sponsors Leigh Day Cycling Unitas Global APIDURA Shand Cycles Endura komoot Hunt Bike Wheels RitcheyLogic John Hampshire Coaching​ Cycling UK Insta360

You can follow Jen’s adventure here http://theadventuresyndicate.com/round-the-world/ and use the hashtag #eastboundRTW

What a lassie – thanks to theadventuresyndicate

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A good article on Lockerbie by Colin Dorrance the man behind our cycle to Syracuse University in late October.

It is good to see that folk are talking about their part at Lockerbie it’s taken many years but so many are now telling what they did. All are normal people but I have been so pleased that many are opening up and speaking from so many different aspects.

Great article by my friend Colin Dorrance the man behind the “Cycle to Syracuse

In late October I head to to the USA to cycle to Syracuse University from New York where 35 students died on the aircraft that crashed in December 21 1988.

I was there with the RAF Mountain Rescue Teams SARDA and many other Agencies.

Colin was there as the youngest policeman a local man . This is a small part of his story published in the Herald on Saturday .

Today I am back in Lockerbie for a training ride with our team of 5 .As the only non – local it will be interesting.

It will be a hard day for me but hopefully will go well. Wish me luck.


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Jenny Graham – now in New Zealand pushing on in her Solo Round the World Record Attempt unsupported ! Farewell to Runrig after 45 years of making music .

I heard my pal Jenny Graham on radio Scotland yesterday. She was speaking on her attempt Solo Round the World Cycle.

She is going great and in New Zealand now after a hard time in Australia due to weather. It has been very cold and wet yet she never got it easy.

She spoke about how well she was received in so many countries and given so much by so many who had so little. Yet arriving late one day in Australia after a long day she could not get into the Hotel as they had cashed up! What a way to treat a “tourist ” poor Jenny coped though as she does sleeps out regularly . Sometimes the kindness away from so called civilised society is lacking and we can learn from those who have so little?

Jenny was amazing on the radio so honest and yet enthusiastic about her incredible adventure and what an inspiration she is to us all. She hits the mountains in New Zealand no easy task but I am sure the Inverness lass will not let that stop her.

I am off to Lockerbie to take part in a bike event with the Cycle to Syracuse team. In comparison with Jenny my 70 mile event is small stuff but to me a big event. It’s another long drive but worth it. The forecast will be interesting with wind and rain to see how I get on.

Our Jenny what a lass going well over half way and still smiling.

Runrig the wonderful Scottish band play their last gig tonight in Stirling.

Over the years they have been a great influence over so many years and they opened my eyes and many more to the Gaelic language the Highland people and the music of the land.

There was politics in the songs and a much neglected Highlands and Islands got a new awareness and recognition and a great following from the younger folk!

They started up as a Dance Band in Village halls – music rock and pop. The band played in the early days in many of the halls we stayed in with Mountain Rescue Teams.

They created lots of new material in Gaelic – tale end of culture . They were local and so Aware of their background and a revival was happening politically. There music was political projection of Scotland all over the highlands.

I listened to their music over many years on expeditions and with pals. It was amazing how much their music was even appreciated all over the world. The sad Columbia spacecraft that blew up

on take off in the USA and among the debris located was a cd carried by one of the crew.

Todays last concert in Stirling will be a shared journey especially those from the West and North West where the band come from. They will be missed but what a legacy they leave and there will be a few tears.

Thanks Runrig special memories from a great 45 years of music and culture.

Runrig music what’s your best song ?

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A visit to Endura who are making out cycling kit for Cycle to Syracuse in Livingston and then a long drive home.

This is from Colin Dorrance who is the man behind our cycle to Syracuse in the USA.

We have been in communication for months with Endura, the Livingston based cycle sportswear manufacturers – they have a custom design service. Aside from specially designing our gear for Syracuse free of charge, they treated us to a complete factory tour and gave us a complimentary neck wrap each that they had designed themselves.

The gear is emblazoned with several meaningful badges, slogans and designs, not least the motto of the remembrance scholarship and the Lockerbie town crest. We have been in communication for months with Endura, the Livingston based cycle sportswear manufacturers – they have a custom design service. Aside from specially designing our gear for Syracuse free of charge, they treated us to a complete factory tour and gave us a complimentary neck wrap each that they had designed themselves.

The gear is emblazoned with several meaningful badges, slogans and designs, not least the motto of the remembrance scholarship and the Lockerbie town crest. Suddenly, we feel the real responsibility to be worthy of the challenge ahead of us. The choice of Cumnock tartan is a story I’ll save for another time.

You’ll see us out on the roads around Lockerbie in the coming weeks. Please do give us a (friendly!) wave.

Endura routinely deal with the top cycle athletes in the world, and it didn’t matter to them that we were not quite in that league! We were treated like sporting royalty. Absolutely wonderful day. Thank you Endura and particular to Alan Blue, Custom Design Manager He could not have been more helpful throughout.

Thank you also to the SPRA – who kindly sponsored our short sleeve shirts and got the whole ball rolling for us in the first place.Suddenly, we feel the real responsibility to be worthy of the challenge ahead of us. The choice of Cumnock tartan is a story I’ll save for another time.

You’ll see us out on the roads around Lockerbie in the coming weeks. Please do give us a (friendly!) wave.

Endura routinely deal with the top cycle athletes in the world, and it didn’t matter to them that we were not quite in that league! We were treated like sporting royalty. Absolutely wonderful day. Thank you Endura and particular to Alan Blue, Custom Design Manager He could not have been more helpful throughout.

Thank you also to the SPRA – who kindly sponsored our short sleeve shirts and got the whole ball rolling for us in the first place.

Thank you Colin for this piece on our visit and I headed up the road home at last. Endura looked after us so well and the gear is superb. It is great that the gear is made locally by a Scottish company and we met so many folk who were so kind to us! The support from our Sponsors is superb and the work by Colin Dorrance humbling. What a great day we had and one I will never forget.

It was then say good bye and the long drive home. The hills were looking green after the rain but I was glad to get home. It took a 4 hour drive and then get sorted for a bike run tomorrow.

It is all getting so real .

footnote :

From Colin

it’s Cumnock Tartan – the designers cleverly took an image of it and did the rest through some very clever image scanning and pressurised heat treatment from special paper onto white lycra. So unfortunately there is no cloth involved – incidentally we included the tartan in honour of one of the passengers from the plane, whose ancestors came from Cumnock, Ayrshire.

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Interest in Lockerbie after my piece on a visit last week. The tragedy of Servicemen taking their own lives years after conflict. Heading North after another visit to Endura in Livingston.

The Lockerbie window

Yesterday I was interviewed about the Lockerbie tragedy in Ayr by the BBC . It was another hard piece to talk about but at least it is done and we will see what happens. It is terrible that so many ex military are in the news just now after taken their own lives after leaving the services. Sadly after fighting in so many wars there seems so many are not getting looked after or help. Sadly I find this tragic that the MOD does not know how many servicemen after they leave the Services have commuted suicide. Surely this needs looked at in great detail and better care for those who gave so much? Even talking about PDSD is hard and drains me few understand this. Yet if we can highlight and keep focus on helping others i feel it is worth the personal cost?

Today I head home via Livingston and the Scottish Cycling company Endura who are making our cycling gear will be giving us our kit. This is for our “Cycle to Syracuse ” in late October in the USA. It is great that a well known Scottish company are making our gear and it should be an interesting afternoon. Then it will be the long drive North to home.

Endura – Scottish cycle clothing company’s innovative aero garment engineering kits out one of the World Tour’s most illustrious teams. Our latest video takes you through the process of producing Movistar Team’s cycling kit for the Tour de France. From designing and aero engineering in Scotland to the fitting room, where Movistar’s pro cyclists give us their feedback, before we print and hand-sew the kit, ready for the World Tour.

I have been busy in Ayr as my brother is home with his wife Fay from Bermuda. We managed to get out on the Galloway-hills and a few days wandering round local haunts.

I managed to spend some time with him and Fay and my sisters and despite us all getting older it has been a good trip. It is important that you make time with those who matter.

I had some visits to places in Ayr that meant a lot too me where I was born, lived, played football and grew up. I made time to walk or cycle and see the places most days at the beach the sea and of course views of Arran. I was so lucky to spend time in Ayr when young. My Mum and Dad are long gone but still so many memories it was a great place to be brought up.

Happy birthday to my step daughter Yvette who is away just now it is so hard when you cannot celebrate with them. I am thinking about you and the family xx

I got a lovely email from my first Mountain Rescue Team Leader George Bruce grandson what a man George was. He looked after me as a young RAF Team member and was a mentor for me. Sadly like so many he is now no longer with us but the stories keep coming. He was full of fun and what a leader and sense of humour. He was in the mould of Bill Shankly with Billy Connolly humour. He looked after us and what a miss he is still today in our lives.

Treasure those you love and spend time with them it’s to late when they have gone. Make every day count.

Posted in Cycle to Syracuse Training, Cycling, Enviroment, Family, Friends, Health, Local area and events to see, Mountaineering, Views Political?, Weather | 2 Comments

Half way round the World cycle – 9048 miles unsupported Jenny Graham.

. Yesterday was great to hear that Jenny is now half way round the World and going well despite the weather. She is in Australia and still despite 56 days on the bike. I hope she stays safe and the weather gets better for her. There are lots of pals thinking of her and we wish her well.

I am down in Ayr with my family as my brother is home from Bermuda and yesterday was our first day of heavy rain but it is needed. I hope to get out on the bike today where I will see more of an area I love and the bike is the way to see more.

We had a big family meal after Church and it was a great time . It is important that you make time in this busy world for each other. I have a busy week ahead with meeting My pals John and Mary in Ayr on there way home from a holiday. On Tuesday I have an interview with the BBC and Wed travel home after a visit to Endura our Scottish cycling clothing company who will have our kit ready for our big cycke to Syracuse in late October. Then back up North lots of driving and maybe a few miles in the bike as well!

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