The World’s Highest Bridge Bungee Jump – Part 1 (Andrew)

While clearing the attic I found a box of homemade DVDs left by the previous owner, one of which was marked in red ink: ‘Max’s Stag’.

I’d watch ‘Max’s Stag’ if it wasn’t the case that finding old home movies in the attic is the exact plot of Sinister and, tonight, after watching it, I’ll be dragged to hell by the demon Baghuul.

Who records a stag and then burns a DVD for everyone? What kind of stag do was it?

Steve: “I brought the handcuffs.”

Michael: “I brought the blow up doll.”

Max – “Lol, very good guys, you’re just trying to make me nervous.”

Bob – “Just wait to see who we hired for the pub crawl! It’s a surprise but if you’ve ever seen the Wizard of Oz then you’ll know who we’ve got…. we got a midget dressed as a munchkin!”

Max – “You guys are the best! Now, Jamie, what did you bring?”

Jamie – “Well, I thought I’d bring my camcorder so we could record the whole event and maybe we could sit down one weekend with a cup of tea and a chocolate Club biscuit to watch it again.”

Everyone – “Yay!”

Part of me wonders if the previous owner is desperate to find this DVD. Maybe they’d left it in the attic because it was never meant to be found? Maybe they’d wanted to take it away with them because what happened on Max’s stag was meant to stay on Max’s stag, including the location of the shallow grave they dug to bury the hooker. Maybe the previous owner woke up in a cold sweat a few months after moving and thought: “FFS, did I leave the evidence in the attic!”

Or maybe that’s what Baghuul wants us to think to tempt us to watch the DVD? Maybe this is just an elaborate set up to unleash Satan? If so, perhaps it’s better to just smash it with a hammer and not bring about the apocalypse.

Also I don’t have a DVD player so there is that too.

I might as well be trying to watch Betamax than try and watch a DVD. Instead, if I want to watch an old video I need to turn to YouTube. Which, as far as I know, will not summon Beelzebub.

However, finding the DVD reminded me that I last watched a DVD 10 years ago when I uploaded a video to YouTube so that I wouldn’t lose it if something happened to the DVD itself. I wasn’t on Max’s Stag though, I was jumping from Bloukarans Bridge in South Africa. Luckily I had a bungee cord wrapped around me as otherwise I wouldn’t be able to tell you my tale next week when I share the story of what happened when I tried to jump off the highest bridge bungee in the world.

To be continued….

Film Friday: Olympic Swimmer Attempts Navy SEAL Test (Andrew)

A Ronseal video – it does exactly what it says on the tin/YouTube link. An Olympic swimmer, a former world record holder, attempts to pass the fitness test to become a Navy SEAL, the US equivalent of the SAS.

While the video is largely filmed at one track and doesn’t feature any rotating drone shots or epic landscapes it does feature one thing you may not have seen before – an entirely new swim stroke. It turns out that the Navy SEALs use a combination of breast stroke and free style to swim in a hybrid stroke that looks like you’re constantly changing your mind about what stoke to use while swimming. Check it out.

Toddman 2021 Official Route Announcement (Andrew)

Every year a Dutchman predicts the route of the Tour de France. His predictions are so accurate that journalists bring a copy of his map to the official route announcement so that they know what the Tour will announce before they announce it.

How does he do it though? How does one man predict year after year the route of the most famous bike race in the world? The answer is easy. The route is not a secret. Well, not if you know who to ask…

A race as big as the Tour de France needs to sign contracts in advance with everyone involved in the route. From French local authorities granting permission to use their roads to hotels and BnB’s expected to house every rider, staff and journalist. All these people talk. Local councils boast to the local newspapers that the Tour is coming next year; the hotels are full and are turning away bookings; work has started on resurfacing roads and preparing the infrastructure to bring the Tour to any part of France.

And through hundreds if not thousands of phone calls, the canny forecaster works out exactly where the Tour will be before the Tour announces it officially.

You, on the other hand, don’t need to guess where this year’s second biggest race in the world will be held because I bring you a world exclusive – the official route of Toddman 2021.

And, just like last year, Toddman 2021 will see two of the finest athletes in the world (called Todd and from the Western Isles) resume their rivalry like Pokajar and Roglic as they fight for iconic black Peat & Diesel jersey.

For more on Toddman check out the race reports here and here.

So, here it is, a world wide exclusive – the new route!

Below you can see the bike route, which has changed from last year’s flat sprint stage to a hilly mountainous stage featuring two of Scotland’s finest climbs: the Todd Road nee the Crow Road and Todd Me Doon nee Tak Me Doon.

While the run will involve a trail run and climb of Meikle Bin before finishing at Todholes farm and the now iconic and controversial green gate (see race reports for why the green gate is controversial).

Who will win? Who knows? But we do know that it will be someone called Todd!

Film Friday – Every Single Street (Andrew)

Last week I recommended ‘Transamericana’, a film about ultra runner, Rickey Gates, running across America from coast to coast. A year later he set himself a new challenge, one which while still involving running thousands of miles would never actually see him running further than seven miles: he set out to run every street in San Fransisco, just seven square miles.

While I’ve been running every street near my home for the last year – see here and here among other articles – he takes it to the next level by sleeping on every street in a campervan and not stopping until he’d completed them all.

If you want to see how a simple idea can change someone then watch this video.

Film Friday – Transamericana (Andrew)

This is one of the longest films I’ve recommended on Film Friday. It’s long in running time at 85 minutes but also long on running time as it covers ultra runner, Rickey Gates, run across America from east coast to west coast.

It’s a fascinating film because it spends very little time on the mechanics of the run itself. We learn little about how many miles he ran each day, how many hours it would take or how he dealt with food and water (except when talking about crossing Death Valley). It’s mostly Ricky talking about what the run meant to him and the effect it had on his view of America.

Highly recommended. And, next week, a second video from Ricky Gates about what he did next.

Training For Celtman – Final (Andrew)

There are many reasons for not starting a race and I think I’ve experienced them all.

I’ve been injured. That’s a common one: a strained ankle, shin splints or a dodgy knee. They’re all common reasons for not starting. Less common is a broken rib caused by tying a bungee cord around my waist while playing five a side football aka Bungee Football.

Bungee Football is a stupid, stupid game that recreates table football by tying players together with bungee cords so that they have to work together to play. Of course, it doesn’t work like that because when you run right, the rest of your team runs left and you’re thrown to the ground faster than a losing scratchcard. And, unlike an actual bungee, where a lot of time and effort is spent making sure that you don’t hit the ground, in bungee football you hit the ground again and again and again until you break a rib.

I’ve never played it since.

But I did play it four days before I was meant to take part in the Caledonian Challenge, a 56 mile walk along the West Highland Way in 24 hours.

I tried to take part, I went up with my team the night before but, as I couldn’t sleep as I could’t lie on my chest and I couldn’t carry a rucksack with tweaking my broken rib every time the chest strap moved across it, I had to pull out.

That wasn’t the strangest reason I’ve ever had to pull out of a race. Iain TwinBikeRun and I were going to take part in the Tour of the Borders – a cycle Sportive starting in Peebles. The forecast was poor, it was meant to rain all day but we still went ahead as we knew we had waterproofs to manage the bad weather. It turned out though, that what we didn’t have was a front window wiper for Iain TwinBikeRun’s car. As we drove down, and as black clouds gathered and the forecast predicted the start of a 36 hour downpour, the windscreen wiper fell off Iain TwinBikeRun’s car. Blimey!

We stopped at Abingdon Service Station to see if they had a replacement but they didn’t have anything we could use. We were left with no choice: we could carry on, but with no wiper to clear the rain from the windows – and no certainty that if we could get to Peebles before the rain started that we’d find a wiper there the next day so that we could drive home safely. Or, we could abandon the race and head home and order a wiper knowing we didn’t have to drive again until it arrived. We decided to head home.

Most times though when I’ve abandoned a race it’s because of the weather – I used to regularly take part in a half marathon in Fort William in November until I realised that of the five times I’d entered it, I’d only taken part twice. Fort William in November is a good month for submarines, goldfish and putting out fires. Every race day I’d open the curtains of my bed and breakfast, look out at the torrential rain and make a mental note to start gathering animals two by two.

When I think of Celtman 2021 now, I think of it in terms of the races I’ve not entered and how it compares. And I think it stands on it’s own as I can’t think of another race where I’m injury free, the weather was good and I’d trained as much I could yet that training wasn’t enough. There wasn’t any more I could do as I couldn’t swim before the pools were open in Glasgow and I could practice outdoors until the lochs had started to warm up too.

Knowing this, I don’t regret not taking part because there was never a chance of taking part. Just like Bungee Football, there was a limit to how much I could do safely – and that limit was set by the pandemic. There was nothing I could have done to change it.

So, after 32 months of training, effectively the lead up to Challenge Roth in 2019, the postponed Celtman 2020 and this Celtman 2021, I suspect I will now hang up my Celtman training. I doubt I’ll apply next year as 44 months of training is at least 32 months too long and it would be good to be able to swim, run and bike without thinking that I need to hit a target for training.

Unless I change my mind when entries open in October… 🙂

Film Friday – A September To Remember (Andrew)

A September To Remember? Let’s see if that’s right…

In the BBC Scotland home show “Scotland’s Home of the Year” the judges mark every home they visit out of 10. Except they don’t – they only ever mark them out of four as homes either get a 7, 8, 9 or 10. No one has ever scored six or lower.

The judges could be reviewing a home with one wall, no roof, a raging fire burning down the living room and, worst of all, a “Live, Laugh, Love” sign in the kitchen, and they would still give it a 7.

It’s a nice show. And it’s nice touch that no matter how crap the home they always try and find good things to say about it.

“The out of control fire really keeps the home toasty and warm while providing a degree of spontaneity that shows the home owner’s fun loving side!”

So, all I’ll say to this week’s Film Friday is that a film about a man who challenged himself to sleep in a different London park every day in September deserves a seven.

And any film that talks about sleeping in the parks without once mentioning homelessness is, in my books, morally suspect as I couldn’t help shake off my feeling of unease watching someone say “it’s better than sleeping in my own bed!” without acknowledging that for many people this is not a fun social media challenge. But, looking at the positives:

“The lack of mention of serious social issues really show’s the filmmaker’s fun loving side!”


Open Water Swim Review: The White Loch – 2021 Update (Andrew)

I’ve covered the White Loch before and if you want know about parking then check out our guide here and if you want an updated version you can find it here and if you want to know what it’s going to be like in six months in winter then you can find that too.

So, this is a review to bring you up to date with what the White Loch is like in 2021 after a year of lockdown, a year of closed swimming pools and a boom in wild swimming.

Well, the answer is easy: it’s become one of the most popular lochs for swimming, paddle boarding and for taking a quick dip in the south side of Glasgow. I regularly pass it when I’m out cycling and I count 10 – 20 people there most mornings, days, evenings and nights (though I’m guessing with that last one as I haven’t checked that out as I can’t ride my bike in the dark!)

In one way, this is fantastic as it means that you will always have company if you want to go for a swim. However, popularity brings its own dangers.

First, the more people use the White Loch the harder it is for it remain ‘clean’. It’s important when swimming to always wash your wetsuit between swims and especially if you are changing locations. You don’t want to bring microbes from one loch to another. What is natural in one loch may be harmful to another so please wash between swims.

Second, not everyone welcomes wild swimmers. While the law may be on your side, and the right to roam includes a right to swim, that doesn’t mean you have a right to the loch greater than anyone else who might use it. There are farmers, there are fishermen – and above all there’s Scottish Water. Be mindful of where you park, how you get changed, what you bring to the loch and what you bring away – everything. And most of all remember that the right to roam/swim doesn’t include a right to have a barbecue, a right to litter or a right to, erm, relieve yourself.

The White Loch itself remains a great place to swim. It has a nice loop round the loch, it’s relatively sheltered and it’s very easy to get there from Glasgow. It remains one of my regular swim spots but, in order to keep it safe for everyone, do remember that you’re not the only one who swims/fishes/walks/farms there. And the easiest way to do that is to join the Southside Swimmers Group on Facebook to keep up to date with everything happening with the loch:

Check out the Southside Swimmer Group here