Sunday, 2 September 2018

The Great Escape!


Just about 7 weeks post knee replacement, with it being such a good day and my rehab progress going great, we decided to have a family trip north to Frankie's Chip Shop; the UK's most northerly chippy!


On the way we'd noticed that the island in Girlsta Loch had a causeway to it! It's Shetland's deepest loch (or was!) and has cold water artic char in it. Obviosuly this summer has been so dry that the remains of a causeway to it have 're-appeared'.



With two trekking poles and Clare carrying my camera I managed to slowly and carefully get down to it, and across it! Clare even walked around the shore, but I thought I'd pushed my luck getting to it never mind further.



I'd guess it'll be a while before the loch's this low again with autumn approaching now.


After Frankie's we also went to Otter Ayre a secluded beach on Muckle Roe...


Beren had a clamber about the rocks...


And I sat on my bum taking photos of the waves with Clare doing yoga in the foreground, but sadly it's that long since I've been out with my camera that I'd missed the focus on all those photos! I'm not impressed as there'd have been some nice pics, if they'd been in focus.

So, I'm home now, very tired, but not in pain. I'll find out later this evening how my knee has taken to the peerie off road adventures today...





Tuesday, 31 July 2018

The final fling! A bikepacking and family holiday before my knee replacement.



As soon as we got the date of my knee operation we decided to have a fortnights holiday before the op as it would be the last chance we'd get this year.

The first bit involved me leaving a little earlier with my friend Colin to do a little bikepacking trip in northern Scotland. Nothing taxing terrain wise, but a long trip in my condition...



About 350 miles in total of tracks and quiet roads. But first we had to get to the top of Scotland.

After meeting up we cycled to Lerwick for the ferry to Orkney for the fun to begin...


Arriving late in Orkney we headed to a bird hide I'd been told about near the Stanes of Stenness for a cosy trouble free night...


A cycle to Stromness the next day saw us on the ferry to Scrabster, passing Hoy and it's Old Man on the way...


Now you may wonder why there's a little dead end on the map above just below Thurso? I made a major boo boo! Despite us trying to be ultra cautious every time we left some where to check we hadn't left any thing I had left my bumbag with money, cards and all sorts in it 25 miles back on our route and we had to back track to get it. By then it was too late to retrace our steps again (adding 50 miles to the day) so we had to make alternative plans to meet back up with our planned route at the Crask Inn the next day. The reason for leaving it as simple; we'd stopped to remove clothing and the horse flies were so bad, and the worry over ticks where we were was so great, that we rushed to get moving again.

Still it meant when we camped at Bettyshill that night, we got this amazing view...


The rest of the trip was uneventful, with amazing weather, tracks and views. The only thing that was an issue was the horse flies, they were totally horrendous and biting all the time.






 And here's a short video of our trip...


Clare and Beren met Colin and I at Aviemore and then we had a family holiday at Gardenstown and the Banff coast, before a week near Jedburgh and me being dropped off at the doors of the hospital for my operation.



Looking down on Gardenstown. An amazing coast...


House in the woods near Jedburgh...



A family cycle to Holy Island...



 The Capon Tree, oak...


A family cycle around Keilder...



Clare and Beren went Ape!


And a stay at Falkirk just before my op...





By the way, I was left at the hospital by Clare only so they could get the ferry home and then she could take the time off once I got home rather than waste it while I lay in a hospital bed!






They have rebuilt me!


So the day of my knee replacement operation has been and gone. In the end it was a partial knee replacement by my cycling surgeon who's worked with Team Sky! He felt the damage in the rest of my knee wasn't severe enough to warrant a full replacement and the benefits I'd get from a partial knee; better and faster recovery and more natural use at my age with my activities was worth it. Not quite the Six Million Dollar Man (to get it done private I was quoted 12k), but they have rebuilt me and I will be better, faster, stronger and all on the wonderful NHS!

Golden Jubilee Hospital (Glasgow) was a fantastic hospital with fantastic staff. The view from my bed of the Clyde with the Titan Crane (which a friend has BASE jumped off) wasn't bad either...


Post op I had to stay in bed the first day as my leg and foot was still totally numb.


And I still had a hunter canal block in my thigh in case anything else needed doing...


 But the next day I was finally able to sit up...


Get out of bed and hobble to the loo on my sticks. What a relief!


 I'm now two weeks post op. The 7 inch scar is so neat and healing well!


I guess having dissolving sutures instead of staples helped. 


The swelling has gone down massively, but it's still very tender, numb and swollen around my knee and the thigh muscles aren't quite firing right yet. It's early days still though and it'll improve as the muscle damage and swelling dissipates. Night time is particularly uncomfortable, especially if I've pushed my activity too much; what me?! 

Currently my life is sofa, bed, physio exercises, a couple of 5 minute sessions on the turbo for range of movement and the odd hobble near the house. Walking is still with two sticks outside, very slow and tiring and leads to pretty quick swelling and stiffness in my knee. But, it's still only two weeks since the op, it's all looking very promising really!

Once recovered I'll hopefully be able to get out and about in the hills and coast like I used to and rejuvenate this blog!

In the mean time the next post will be what I did in my final fling  two week holiday before the operation...




Sunday, 3 June 2018

A bit of fun at Nibon with the lads...

It's seems that as my knee replacement approaches (still no date) I'm doing more than ever; certainly I'm making the most of it before a few months of enforced time off the road and rehab!

It wasn't the best day, but some friends from work made plans for a bit of fun on and in the water at Nibon in North Mavine.


We started with a kayak around both Nibon and Gunister looking in the coves and caves along with trying, but failing, to film the puffins and seals. It seems a basking shark was a little further north near the Drongs while we were there, and a walrus is on Skerries today!


This was followed by a bit of exploring and a few cliff jumps; the one through the cave roof being the favourite. And finally a bit of a swim about with snorkel and fins before I got too cold and my leg too painful.

A stop at Frankie's for fish and chips on the way home made the day complete!

And here's a video of our bit of fun...



My knee's not talking to me today, but it hasn't stopped me organsing one 'last hurrah' with a bike trip via Orkney to the north of Scotland at the end of June; that's assuming that I'm not in for the chop by then... Watch this space...



Wednesday, 23 May 2018

5 days of Scottish Gravel



Well, it's been sometime hasn't it?! As regular visitors will know I've been out of it a bit for a long time due to knee issues stopping me having fun. Anyway, I've now been told I'll be getting a knee replacement around the end of June, so what better way to celebrate than to get away and make the most of it while I can?

In case you're wondering what some who needs a knee replacement is doing going for long bikes rides, it's about the only thing that doesn't seem to bother it too much. I can ride 100 miles, but a walk to the local shop isn't any fun.

So, a friend and I planned a trip in the Cairngorms of gravel riding. A fair distance each day, but not too rough a route, so that I can handle it. The weather Gods shined on us and we had a brilliant time!


After cycling to Lerwick for the overnight ferry day one took us 91km from Aberdeen to Ballater via back roads, the Durris Forest and the Deesside Way. 


Banchory riverside...


Bridge of Potarch...



 We were staying at the Ballater Hostel, but being early we decided to have a (32km) run up to Loch Muick until opening time. We headed up forest tracks on the west of the valley and sped back down the road on the east. I've been there once before years ago, it's a stunning place...



Day 2 saw us then ride an adventurous 105km through Balmoral, Braemar, Linn of Dee and Glen Feshie and around to stay at Badaguish Wigwams for 2 nights.


Glen Feshie was a toughie, particularly with my knee as there were some bits that couldn't be ridden, but the dry weather made it less tiresome. Still that was slow going with a number of fords to cross.

Queenie was busy with some wedding eslewhere...



Looking towards the Linn of Dee...


White Bridge...


The ruins of Geldie Lodge made a good lunch stop...


Impressive falls on the River Eidart...


Foot cooling moments!


We spent 2 nights at the wigwams and had a day doing an 80km loop around the area including a massive climb up 'The Burma Road'. We even saw Chris Boardman in the cafe in Aviemore at breakfast and got a nod 'Hello' from him!



Cairngorm Club Bridge...


Loch An Eilein...


The top of the Burma Road...


And down towards Carr Bridge..


Day 4 saw us cycling 83km via Tomintoul and Locg Builg back to Ballater and the hostel again...


An Lochan Uaine on the Ryvaon Pass...



Glen Avon is lovely and has some ace bridges...




The water shed is at Loch Builg and from there is was down hill (ish) to Ballater...




The final day of the trip was back to Aberdeen, but we took a longer way of 100km including a climb up the Cairn O Mount, why? Because it's there and I'm daft!


 The top of the Cairn O Mount. Also known as the Cairn O Vomit by some after they've cycled up there.


 And you can see it all in glorious hand held HD video below...


And here's links to my strava recordings of the rides...