Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Run to Fife

The west is enduring constant drizzle but the weatherman promised that the east was bright & dry with very mild temperatures so I headed to the East Neuk of Fife.


14C church at St Monans

St Monans harbour


The beach at St Andrews

 The 18th green & clubhouse at the Old Course, St Andrews

200 miles in Scotland in February without getting soaked and/or frozen is pretty good going.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012


I was looking through old photos and found this one - the FJOC rally at Henley-in-Arden in Warwickshire in 2003. We camped at the village cricket ground - while a match was in progress! A well lofted six could have modified the FJ's fuel tank. The cricket ground was as hard as my garage's concrete floor and persuaded me to change from a foam camping mat to an air mattress.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Canal Run - Part 3

The Falkirk Wheel. This lifts barges from the Forth & Clyde to the Union canal. It was built in 2002 when the canal was re-opened after closure in 1963. The wheel replaces a series of locks that were abandoned & infilled in the 30's.

The canal takes a similar route to a much older structure - the Antonine Wall. This was built in the 2nd century AD and formed the northern border of the Roman Empire for a short time. It is a turf wall & ditch that has eroded away over the centuries so you'll have to use your imagination.

 An old (1912) Dutch barge at Falkirk

  Approaching the end of the canal.

The east end of the canal at Grangemouth where it joins the muddy River Carron.

I hope you enjoyed my tour of the canal. It was an excuse for me to ride the bike during the winter. All of this in only 35 miles - what a country!

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Canal Run - Part 2

Our trip along the Forth & Clyde Canal has taken us from Bowling to Glasgow. Now the canal heads into the countryside.

The canal near Torrance on a gloomy winter's day
At the village of Twechar

The Martyrs' Stone beside the road between Kirkintilloch & Kilsyth. This commemorates two Convenanters executed in 1683. 

Banton Loch, Kilsyth. This reservoir was constructed to provide water for the canal. It is also the site of the Battle of Kilsyth (1645) where the Royalist defeated the Covenanters with great loss of life.

Barges ties up for the winter at Falkirk.

I thought that these horse statues at Falkirk were to commemorate the beasts that toiled on the canal pulling barges. But they turn out to be "Kelpies" -  mythical water horses from Celtic folklore. They are models of statues 30m high that are to be erected at The Helix - a leisure development on the canal currently under construction at Grangemouth.

Stayed tuned for the final leg of our tour

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Canal Run - Part 1

Last year I had the idea that it would be an interesting way of seeing the country by following the route of major rivers by bike. As it turned out this was good fun and lead me to lots of places I'd never been before. I'll maybe post up a report at some point. Anyway the recent dry but cold weather meant that I could get out on the bike but couldn't go too far. This precluded a "river run" but then I thought "what about the Forth & Clyde Canal?". This crosses Scotland between The River Clyde in the west at Bowling, through Glasgow, Falkirk then into the River Carron then River Forth. Completed in 1790 the canal was an important conduit of industrial Scotland. It is now used for pleasure craft. Ok the first part of our tour starts in the west. 

The canal joins the River Clyde at Bowling

Bowling Basin partially frozen in the cold weather.

Hand cranked opening bridge at Clydebank

The Beardmore Sculpture at Clydebank at the site of the former shipyard.

Lunch "al fresco" at McMonagle's chip shop, Clydebank.

Lock gates at Anniesland.

Residents of the canal.
Stables at Lambhill for the horses that pulled the barges.

Lambhill Bridge. I used to earn a living as a Civil Engineer working on bridges. I designed and supervised strengthening works on this bridge. It was fairly easy since the bridge was of riveted steel construction. It was possible to burn out the rivets out to attach new steelwork.  

I've only got to north Glasgow! Stay tuned for more as the weather permits.

Monday, 6 February 2012

Featured Bike - Suzuki GR650

The Suzuki GR650, perhaps unfortunately called the "Tempter" in the US, was a Japanese interpretation of the trad British twin. I recall an magazine article on it with the headline "too nice for Britain?". We wouldn't find out since it was never imported. Produced 1983-89 is was sold in the US for only two years due to poor sales. An interesting feature was a variable inertia crankshaft using bob weights to give a heavy crank at low speeds for torque and a light crank at high speeds for more response.   

Saturday, 4 February 2012

CBF Caliper Replacement

I have written previously (5 Dec '11) about my woes with the CBF's front caliper. I've spent a bit of time stripping, cleaning and lubricating it but won't work properly. CBF250 parts are fairly rare but I gambled that a caliper from a CBR125 would fit and got one from Ebay. It was in good condition and came with a useable pair of pads. The caliper seems better quality than the 250's and is a straight bolt on. 

This hose clamp is a handy tool.

The CBF with its sexy new gold caliper