A wild day on the bike always learning no matter how old you are? A look at the Cycle to Syracuse Video.

I always say every winter I get a kick up the backside when I go out on my first winter day! The term “Faffing” ( not being organised) is well used by me and my pals. Gloves and maps get dropped every winter even crampons putting on and off takes a bit of getting used to. It’s all part of the winter experience no matter if it’s your first or 50 th winter.

Many will know I have taken up cycling for my Cycle to Syracuse that starts in the last week of October in the USA. We cover 600 miles maybe more in our journey to Syracuse. I pray for good weather but will have to accept what we get.

When I got offered the chance of going I had hardly been on a bike for years. As 65 I am easily the oldest member by nearly 17 years, so I have had to work at my fitness as never before. My training started in the coldest winter for years in icy roads and bitter wind in Mountaineering gear and cycling most day in a small duvet. I was only doing a few miles but was learning,

I was so glad when the summer came and it was shorts and tops by now  and long hours of daylight. By now I had bought some of the gear, and getting so much help my head was full of advice. My local bike shop were great and Reg Stuart and his wife were a great help.  It took time to get the backside used to the cycling after 4 operations I have to be careful but it getting a bit easier. I enjoyed the sun and seeing places I used to shoot by in the car and losing a lot of weight has helped. Yet I was home for the first weekend in 3 weeks and the weather was windy and I had to get out. I was up early and gear sorted I was glad I took some extra kit.  Now it’s seems like its back to winter and  I did a trip to Spey Bay via a few minor roads. I had some varied weather wind and rain it was pretty cold but stopped at Spey Bay the Dolphin Centre for breakfast, sadly there were no Dolphins about. .

The Garmouth bridge is a huge feat and the story of how they built it is inspiring what a piece of engineering and they had to divert the Spey as they built it. The Spey is a mighty river and you cannot control nature, yet the Bridge is still there and is now part of a popular walk and cycle, It was built for the railway now gone after the Beechan cuts and nowadays could we have used these lines to help environmental and the traffic on our roads, sadly there was little vision, I feel for the future?

At one time the line was double tracked, but soon was singled as a later plan shows. The station had a wooden building similar to others on the coastal route and two platforms. A signal box and two sidings lay at the eastern end.

Apart from a short closure for renovation work in 1928, the line to Garmouth remained in use until the Beeching cuts in 1963 when the coastal rail route was closed bringing yet another village era to an end. For a short while in 1972 there were talks of turning it into a road bridge to ease traffic on the A96, giving a more direct route to Buckie. Cost at that time being estimated at £100,000 with British Rail offering to sell at £5000. However, it was decided the idea was too costly and impractical. So, it planned to leave it as a public walkway with maintenance by Moray Council at that time being £700 p.a.
Today all we have left are names, e.g. ‘Station Road,’ the small housing estate appropriately called ‘The Sidings’ and the ‘Whistlestop Pond’ on the south side of the old line. Memorials to what must have been a grand sight, steam engines and carriages puffing through Garmouth
Published in the Garmouth & Kingston Newsletter Dec 2004
Garmouth Bridge

The weather was changeable but it was a hard cycle back and I even wore my over trousers as I was feeling the cold and the rain was heavy at times. It was great to get home and get a shower warm up and listen to the Golf the Ryder Cup on the radio. Its hard being out on my own and when the weather is so changeable easy to say no. I only have 22 days before we go to the USA so I have to keep up the training.   So much to do and so little time and how I miss the mountains.

Wet gear time. Soon be mountaineering gear?


This may be of interest to many of the troops who were at Lockerbie, We had 4 teams RAF Teams , SAR and Support helicopters, the Army and there was a huge Civilian and SARDA input many for several months. So many Agencies played their part and over the 30 years I have heard form hundreds of those involved. They all played a huge part and have a lot to be proud of. Everyone gave so much yet there were no  lives to save and so many pals were badly effected by this over the years. Yet we all learned so much and everyone played their part and the kindness and care of my friends and family and the local Lockerbie folk has kept me strong . We were so well led by Bill Gault the ILR ( our Boss) at the time and all the teams and Team leaders worked so well together it is rarely acknowledged.

It may be worth watching the full video The full ITV article on Cycle to Syracuse.

Thinking of all the troops and families involved.


About heavywhalley.MBE

Mountain Rescue Specialist. Environmentalist. Spent 37 years with RAF Mountain Rescue and 3 years with a civilian Team . Still an active Mountaineer when body slows, loves the wild places.
This entry was posted in Aircraft incidents, Cycle to Syracuse Training, Cycling, Enviroment, Local area and events to see, Lockerbie, Mountaineering, Views Mountaineering, Views Political?, Weather, Wildlife. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to A wild day on the bike always learning no matter how old you are? A look at the Cycle to Syracuse Video.

  1. Laura says:

    Hello! Sorry to trouble you, I stumbled across your blog post on the Cycle to Syracuse and wondered if you might be interested in speak to STV News about it? I work as a journalist there and we would love to film an interview with you if you have any time to spare. Warmest wishes, Laura (laura.piper@stv.tv) (0141 300 3799)

    Liked by 1 person

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