Thursday, 8 September 2016

Tour of Britain Cycle Race - Glasgow

The Tour of Britain cycle race got underway on Sunday 4th September from Glasgow and finish next Sunday in London. Many big names are taking part in the race including Mark Cavendish, Andre Greipel, Steve Cummings, Elia Viviani, Sir Bradley Wiggins and others.

The first stage of the race left from George Square before travelling to Kilmarnock, Dalmellington before finishing in Castle Douglas.The weather was warm and sunny and there were a large number of spectators hoping to catch a glimpse of the riders.

 Top Cycling Stars

As expected, the Data Dimension team bus was surrounded by a large crowd hoping to see top British rider Mark Cavendish. He did manage to get through the crowds to make his way to the large mobile stage in George Square for the team presentation prior to the commencement of the race. I managed to get a photograph of him making his way to the team presentation.

Mark Cavendish
I also caught a glimpse of Steve Cummings, a teammate of Cavendish who had a stunning solo victory on stage 7 (L'Isle-Jourdain to Lac de Payolle) in this year's Tour de France.
Steve Cummings
Mark Renshaw
Australian rider Mark Renshaw, is the lead-out man for sprinter Mark Cavendish's and he was seen chatting to members of the Sky team. His nickname is 'Prince Harry', as he bears a resemblance to the British royal prince.

Top German sprinter Andre Greipel was also taking part in the race and got a good reception from the crowd. He was the eventual winner of the stage in Castle Douglas. In this year's Tour de France Greipel won the final stage in Paris.

Andre Greipal
The race started with 2 laps around the city centre before heading south to Kilmarnock, Dalmellington, St John's Town of Dalry, Parton and Castle Douglas.

Lap 1 of the race
Lap 1 of the race
Andre Greipel in white jersey
Nicholas Roche (second right) and Italian Road Champion Manuel Quinziato
Nicholas Roche (second right in white jersey in image above) of Team Sky is the son of former pro rider, Stephen Roche, who had a glittering career and won the Tour de France, Giro d'Italia and World Road Race in 1987. Nicholas Roche is currently the Irish National Road Race and TT Champion.

Sir Bradley Wiggins
Sprinting for the line
During the second lap 5 riders out in front. The sprint in Clyde Street was won by Jasper Bovenhuis of the An Post - Chain Reaction Cycles team. 

Peloton on lap 2
Sir Bradley Wiggins
Rear view
After leaving Glasgow the route was going through some beautiful countryside.on its way to Castle Douglas.

St John's Town of Dalry

When I was watching the race on TV later, I could remember many of the roads in Dumfriesshire, as I used to stay with my auntie and uncle and five cousins in St John's Town of Dalry during some of the school holidays. The area is great for cycling and I remembered many of the locations the race was travelling through as I watched it on TV.

The town was used by pilgrims travelling from Edinburgh to the church established by St Ninian at Whithorn. Support was offered to pilgrims by the Knights Hospitaller of the Order of St John of Jerusalem, who owned much of the land on which the village was built until the Reformation. 

I would have loved to watch more of the race from the roadside, but I do not have a car and my car-owing friends decided it would be more enjoyable going shopping in the designer shops Glasgow, than watch a great cycle race. 

Castle Douglas

The race finished in Castle Douglas with sprinter Andre Greipel winning the 100.5 mile stage. There was a bad crash on the bend leading to the finish which involved Mark Cavendish. Fortunately none of the riders were seriously hurt. Another casualty of the crash was the carbon fibre bike of Team Sky's Elia Viviani, which was broken in half. 


The start in Glasgow was well organised and the crowds appreciated the event commencing in the city by turning up in large numbers to cheer on the riders. Hopefully more events like this will be held in the city in the future.

Further Information
Tour of Britain

Sunday, 12 June 2016

Loch Lomond and the Village of Luss

The weather has been lovely and sunny so with a few days off work, we took the train to Balloch on the south side of Loch Lomond and cycled to the village of Luss. It was an easy-going day.

The area around Loch Lomond is spectacular and it attracts plenty of visitors from all over the world. I heard French, German and an oriental language, which may have been Japanese, as well as English, being spoken.

Loch Lomond 

Loch Lomond is the largest inland stretch of water in Great Britain by surface area.The loch also contains many islands, including Inchmurrin, the largest fresh-water island in the British Isles.The Loch is part of the Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park which was established in 2002.

Loch Lomond
Loch Lomond looking East

Loch Lomond has many small islands called 'crannogs'. These were built by Iron Age people over 2500 years ago when wooden piles were placed in the loch to enable dwelling places to be built free from predators. They were accessed by a causeway.

In later periods rocks were added to the wooden structures to make an island and to allow dwelling places to be constructed with rocks. In the photograph below a crannog can be seen behind the small boats.

Cameron House Hotel

Cameron House Hotel and resort
The five-star Cameron House Hotel and Resort is situated on the banks of loch Lomond. It has an 18-hole Championship golf course, a luxury resort spa and a range of outdoor pursuits.

When we were there, a seaplane was taking visitors on a flight around the area. We watched the seaplane departing on another journey with a full complement of passengers.

Seaplane at Loch Lomond
We then continued on the cycle path to Luss. Although it is not compulsory to cycle on the cycle path, it is recommended, as it is adjacent to the busy A82 road. The cycle path is an old footpath and has quite a few blind bends in it so care has to be taken when riding along.

Queen's Tree

Across from the Loch Lomond Arms Hotel in Luss is the Queen's Tree. This was planted to commemorate HM Queen Elizabeth II, on 9 September 2015, overtaking her great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria to become the longest reigning monarch in British history. The tree is a Red Oak (quercus robur), and its base is surrounded by an inscribed stone circle.

Queen's Tree, Luss

One of the things visitors notice about Luss is the colourful displays of flowers in the village. Many of the villagers have good displays of flowers in front of their houses. Below shows some of the displays.

Luss Parish Church

The church in Luss, which was built in 1875, used to perform more marriages in Scotland than any other church. This was scaled down in 2013 at the request of the then minister who wanted to spend more time with the 750,000 visitors to the area. 

Luss Parish Church
Luss Parish Church Entrance
At the entrance to the church is a quote from the Psalm 122 v1 "Let us go into the house of the Lord." When we were there, a coach load of French visitors were being shown round the church.

Luss Pier

Luss has a small pier from where many small ferries take visitors on trips around the loch. Visitors can visit many areas and islands on the loch including Rowardennan, Balloch and Balmaha and visit the islands including Inchmurrin and Inchcailloch.

Some of the ferries also have bike racks so it is possible to take a bicycle and continue with a tour in another area of the loch.

A Mute Swan and Cygnets at Luss Pier
Luss Heilan' Coos

There were some Highland Cows in a field in Luss - a mother and two calves. These were very popular with the visitors and the cows were enjoying all the attention they were getting. As it was very warm, the cows were having a wee lie down.
Luss Heilan' Coos
After a great day in Luss, we cycled back to Balloch to have some fish and chips in Palumbo's cafe before making our way to the train station for the journey home.

Further Information


Luss (Visit Scotland)
Palumbo's of Balloch