Keeping Warm

January weather is not always ideal for cycling, but when the sun is out and the wind is on your back it can still be very enjoyable as long as you have enough layers on.  Using a train to travel upwind and then cycling home is a great way to spend any day, but especially in the winter.  Last weekend, the wind was from the west so I started from Bridge of Allan – twice.

Three iconic spans of the Forth Bridge viewed from the north side of the Forth Road Bridge.
Are We Nearly Home Yet?

Yesterday’s planned cycle ride was cancelled as both of my cycling companions were not able to cycle. At short notice, Clare, Bryn and I went for a walk led by Jude. She took us around the southern haunches of Arthur’s Seat, choosing some lovely paths I had never used before despite wandering around this area many times. We were disappointed to find that the cafe at Dr Neil’s Garden was closed until April. We repaired to the Sheep Heid across the road for beer and nibbles – an excellent replacement.

Sun reflected on partially frozen waters of loch, viewed through the branches of a tree in the foreground.
Duddingston Loch – No Skating Ministers Today

I am keeping an eye on the weather in Warwick where Bartimaeus is moored.  The temperature there is hovering near to freezing, and definitely below during some recent nights.  I’m also watching the temperature inside the boat and the electricity consumption.  Just sitting minding its own business, the boat uses around 2KWh of electricity each day.  When the temperature drops low enough, the little heater in the saloon comes on.  This typically seems to double the power consumption, and has kept the recorded temperature onboard above freezing thus far.  I’m very pleased I bought that heater, running the diesel central heating to do the same thing would have been more expensive.

It’s also been very close to freezing in Edinburgh, with icy pavements and roads for the last few days.  Undaunted, Kenny and I set off on a train in to the southerly wind this morning.  The forecast for Stow was marginally brighter than in Edinburgh.

Cattle grid with ice under the bars and a sheet of ice over the road beyond.
Take Care Cycling over Cattle Grids

I was pleased to find that the sky was even brighter than forecast.  The quiet back roads we were using were mostly free of ice, though we had to keep our eyes peeled.  The first cattle grid would have kept us clear of the ice underneath it, but we didn’t fancy the sheet of ice on the road beyond.

View of weak sun shining over snow covered hills. A bicycle is leaning on a gate in the foreground.
View Back from the Cattle Grid

We stopped for a drink from our flasks in a sheltered spot alongside the Heriot Water before the steady ascent to skirt the summit of Wull Muir.  We stopped again at the top to enjoy the view and to finish what was in our flasks.  From this point there is more than a thousand feet of descent before we get home.  Keeping our speed down was essential in case we found unexpected patches of ice.  With the light wind still mostly behind us, our lower speeds also reduced wind chill.  We got home well before sunset without being chilled.

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