Sunday 26 November 2017

White Cart Run - Coda

During my run along the White Cart I was reminded of events from my past. In 1992 I was working on a construction site building the M77 motorway at the point where it crosses the river. 

Here I met Colin MacLeod. You could say we were on opposing sides. He was an anti-roads protestor. For the year it took to complete this section of the road he camped out in the woods engaged in a (mostly) one man protest. He came to prominence when he took to the trees and lived up there for nine days. He was dubbed "The Birdman of Pollok" by the press.

In June he upped the ante. We arrived for work on Monday morning to find Colin perched on top of the 150 foot jib of a crawler crane. The police were called and the crane operator told the cops "I'll lower the jib so you can arrest him". The cops replied that if he fell off and was injured they'd arrest the operator.  

So we waited…..for 6 days. Then Colin came down, was promptly arrested then bailed out by his supporters. The road was completed without much further interruption. I had to admire his dedication to his cause. He died at a young age in 2005.  

Thursday 23 November 2017

White Cart Run - Part #2

Anchor Mills. Paisley was known for textiles and this mill was part of world's largest thread producing factory. Now apartments and offices
Paisley Abbey. Established in 1163, but mostly 15th century (I think)

I came across this mural on the gable end of a tenement near the river. It depicts a kingfisher and is dedicated to Alexander Wilson. He was a weaver who emigrated to America in 1794 and became known as the "Father of American Ornathology" 

On the banks of the river is Paisley Town Hall. Typical of the grand public buildings constructed in the Victorian era.

Lift Bridge, Renfrew. Just before the White Cart joins the River Clyde is this lift bridge. It was built in 1924 and is still in operation.
And for the climax of my tour of the White Cart - something really special…..two boulders behind a fence. No, wait, bear with me.

The stone on the left is the Argyll Stone. In 1685 Archibald Campbell, 9th Earl of Argyll led a revolt against King James VI. This failed and he was captured near this spot and subsequently executed. This stone was (possibly) the pediment of a cross near where he was captured.

On the right is a stone known as "St Coval's Chariot". St Conval was a 6th century Irish priest who was carried across the sea to Renfrew on this boulder - like a divinely-powered surfboard, I suppose. He then worked to convert the Picts to Christianity. The stone was (and maybe still is) a place of pilgrimage. The stone has a depression on top (where the leaves are) and pilgrims would drink the rainwater in it to cure their ills. I would have tried this myself but the fence prevented me.


On a very wet and dull day I'm in Clydebank looking across the River Clyde to where the Cart joins it.  

I hope you enjoyed my run across the grey old city. As always I was aware of how much is packed into a small distance in this country and that even though it's cool, wet & dull a run on the bike can be enjoyable.

I didn't want to end the tour on a bum note so today I went back to Clydebank when it was sunny.

Wednesday 22 November 2017

White Cart Run - Part #1

It's an idea of mine to follow the course of a river and see that I can find. I've posted a few such runs. But it's cold, dull and wet so I'm reluctant to go too far. The White Cart is a short river that rises in the hills near me and wanders across the south side of Glasgow for about 20 miles before joining the River Clyde. There can't be much of interest in that. Can there? Well let's see.

This is near my house and I've featured it before (where I incorrectly said it's on the Cart) It's an old mill outside Eaglesham. It's on Polnoon Water, a tributary of the White Cart.

This was built as a cotton spinning mill in the late 18th century. The stream has been dammed to provide power for the mill. It was nicely converted into apartments and I found an old photograph from 1965 before conversion. The website says that the photo can't be put on-line but I suppose a link is ok.

The ford at Eaglesham. I often pass this on my travels. The depth gauges are a recent addition - it seems that the metric system has not yet been adopted in East Renfrewshire.

The footbridge in Linn Park. Only a few miles from my home and I'd never been here. As someone who toiled in the bridge building industry this is a little gem. It's an early example of a cast iron bridge dating from the early 1800s. Cast iron was replaced by wrought iron then steel but because it's cast rather than rolled it means that complex shapes are possible. Also cast iron is less affected by corrosion than steel so this bridge, built at the time of the Battle of Waterloo, is still in good condition and with a little maintenance it should effectively last forever. 

Snuff Mill. Again, close to where I live but I can't remember being here. The (former) mill is on the left behind the bridge and milled snuff (amoungst other things)
Sitting in a fine location on the bank of the river is Pollok House. Once a private house and estate it is now public.
Footbridge at Ross Hall Academy. In the distant past I earned a crust designing and detailing reinforced concrete so I appreciate the single, elegant form of this bridge.
Autumn scenery at Crookston Road

Crookston Castle. Again I've passed this many times but never been bothered to visit it. It's in good condition for something built around 1400. It's in a pleasant woodland setting in well maintained grounds. Part of the castle is missing but, given its history, it's lucky that there's anything here at all. In 1489 the Earl of Lennox revolted against the new king James IV. The king laid siege to the castle and used a formidable weapon to end the rebellion. Mons Meg was a huge siege cannon that fired a 20" diameter, 385 pound stone cannon balls. After a few of these hit the castle the defenders gave up. 

Tuesday 14 November 2017

Honda Super Cub - 100,000,000 and Counting

Honda recently announced that they had built 100 million Super Cubs since production started in 1958 making it the most numerous powered vehicle ever.

The bike was known as the Honda 50 or C50 in the UK (to avoid confusion with the Triumph Tiger Cub) and the Passport in the USA (Piper aircraft used the name Super Cub)

Early '70's C50
The story of the Cub started in 1956 when Honda's founders Soichiro Honda and Takeo Fujisawa visited Germany and noticed the popularity of small motorcycles and scooters. They came up with the idea of a "universal motorcycle" that would appeal to a wide range of buyers in the West and the developing world. They rejected the scooter concept because the small wheels could not cope with poor roads in developing areas and because the enclosed engine made maintenance difficult.

The bike is no longer in Honda's range in the West having been superseded by scooters but its popularity not only continues but is increasing. It is currently produced in 15 countries from Viet Nan to Peru. The first 50 million units took from 1958 until 2005 to produce but that figure has now doubled.

The Cub was marketed in the US using this famous campaign. Honda was trying to attract customers who weren't motorcyclists.

In the developing world the Cub is used for load carrying
The bike is a "step thru" with a pressed steel chassis and central spine. The engine is suspended below the spine. The motor is a four stroke of 50-110cc. Small bikes had been two strokes but the four stroke gave the C50 durability and economy. The bike had a conventional three, later four speed gearbox but an automatic centrifugal clutch. Fujisawa saw the bike being used to deliver bowls of noodles and that the rider could hold a tray and ride at the same time!

The NSU Quickly had many of the features of the Cub and is likely to have inspired its design
A new version of the Cub was recently shown. Why change a winning formula? It seems that this bike is to be sold in the UK.

Saturday 11 November 2017

Featured Bike - Kawasaki H2 SX (2018)

In 2015 Kawasaki introduced the Ninja H2. This is a supersport bike powered by a supercharged 1000cc 4 cylinder engine. Initially there were two versions. A street bike with 200 bhp and the track-only H2R with an insane 310 bhp. These bikes are expensive - the H2 is twice the price of the ZZR1400 (ZX14) or ZX10 and the H2R is a lot more.

The H2 doesn't seem the obvious basis for a touring machine but Kawasaki have announced the H2 SX. This is a sports touring version with a more relaxed riding position and panniers. So if you have deep pockets (probably about £30,000 - no price yet) and like to tour very fast - this might be for you.

 Promo video - nice alpine scenery

Slick "studio" video

Kawasaki have used the H2 name previously - the Mach IV 750cc two stroke triple of 1972-5.   


The H2 SX seems to be priced at £15,000 - so a lot less than I expected given that the H2 it's based on is £28,000.

Tuesday 7 November 2017

Loch Lomond

Loch Lomond is Scotland's largest loch - ok, it's only 24 miles long by 5 miles wide at its maximum. Tiny by international standards, but hey, it's ours.

It's also probably the most visited due to its proximity to Glasgow. But today it was quiet with most of the tourists long gone. It made a good location of a short run.

The Maid of the Loch at Balloch. This paddle steamer operated on the loch from 1953-81 and has been under refurbishment here for the last 20 years.

The loch from Balloch

The CBF at Balmaha


War memorial at Rowardennan

A couple of moody monochromes

Thursday 2 November 2017

Autumn Run

A strange thing happened today - the sun shone. So I had to get out for a run. I thought it would be cold so I took the CBF rather than the SV. In doing this I lost 50 bhp but gained a pair of heated grips. As it turned out it was pleasantly mild in the sun but the grips saved the day as it became evening.

Abandoned church in Barrhill. I think I've featured this building previously but I do like a picturesque ruin.

Old crawler tractor

I liked this old lattice truss footbridge over the Cross Water of Luce with its rust shining in the autumn sun.

It was very calm today. Nice riding conditions but not so good for this wind farm.

The Cross Water of Luce

New Luce

Now this confused me. It is a strangely shaped bucket on a pole suspended by a chain. What was its purpose? Well, nothing really, it's an art installation.

The sun over Luce Bay

Luce Bay