Tom Cruise Couldn’t Do This (Andrew)

As lockdown has had more sequels than Mission Impossible, it seems apt that throughout each one – from ‘Lockdown: The Original Series’ to ‘Friday The 13th Lockdown This Week’ – I’ve become Tom Cruise.

For the last year, Iain TwinBikeRun has made videos of local bike routes and running trails. And, just like Martin Scorsese needs Robert De Niro, Iain TwinBikeRun needed a star for his videos – and who else to turn to than me!

Just like Tom Cruise, I can run.

Just like Tom Cruise, I have a nose so big and pointy I can use it to pot a snooker ball.

But, unlike Tom Cruise, I don’t believe I’m filled with tiny space aliens controlling my mind as I wait for the mothership to descend from the outreaches of the cosmos and whisk me away to intergalactic heaven.

So, basically, I’m 1980s Tom Cruise and not 2020 Tom Cruise. I’m the Cool Cruise! Cocktail Cruise! Maverick!

But what Tom Cruise doesn’t tell you is how hard it is to run on camera. I’ve been running on camera for Iain TwinBikeRun for a year and it goes something like this:

Iain TwinBikeRun: “Run up that hill!”

Me: Ok!

[Runs half a mile up a hill]

Ian TwinBikeRun (Shouting): “Come back.”

I do.

And I run it again because he wants a different angle. And then again because he had his thumb over the camera lens. And then again because he wants an overhead shot with a drone. By the time I’m finished, I’ve been up and down more often than Tom Cruise on Oprah Winfrey’s sofa proclaiming his love for ‘her from Dawson’s Creek’. And I’ve covered more miles than a tarmac spreader.

Tom Cruise makes it look easy. He’s always running on camera. However, I can now see that not only is he a great actor he must also be a great ultra runner because that’s the only way he could get through a day’s filming. If Mission Impossible was accurate he should show him spending 10 minutes each film bent over with his hands on his knees and saying “Just give me a minute, I just need to get my breath back!”.

So, when you watch the videos, spare a thought for the Tom Cruise impersonator running through them. I know I make it look easy but, just like Tom Cruise, I would also like a spaceship to swoop down and rescue me when I hear Iain TwinBikeRun shout for yet another take.

Rugged Run – The Clisham (Iain)

The Clisham is the highest point in the Western Isles On a good day it will reward summiteers with a great view across to mainland Scotland. On a bad day you will be rewarded with a very boggy, very steep climb and nothing to see from the top!

I’ve climbed it a few times and its fair to say I’ve had more bad days than good.

The forecast was good so I hoped this time I’d see something from the top. You can check out the video to see whether I did.

VIDEO

MAPS

https://www.strava.com/routes/2824373525391231296

Review

Rating: 3 out of 5.

A bit of a slog but worth it for the view from the top.

Parking

Rating: 4 out of 5.

There is a car park at the start of the run.

Facilities

Rating: 1 out of 5.

None

Nearest cafe

Rating: 1 out of 5.

Nothing nearby but there are a couple of places in Tarbert.

Run Surface

100% trail

Dog Friendly

Yes as long as your dog likes hills!

Elevation

647M of elevation.

Training for Celtman – Four Weeks to Go (Andrew)

Last week, as it looked like Moray was going to remain in Tier 3 lockdown restrictions while the rest of Scotland moved to Tier 2, I wrote my friends and colleagues in Moray a song:

When the COVID’s sky high in Findrassie and Roseisle

That’s a-Moray!

Where the police block the streets if more than two people meet

That’s a-Moray!

When masks are in bins because “we got the vaccine!”

That’s a-Moray!

When we’re ruled by the SNP but we all voted for a Tory…

That’s a-Moray! (A-Moray!)

That’s a-Moray!

Of course, three days later it was announced that Moray was not the only region to remain in Tier 3, Glasgow was also going to remain in Tier 3. Which means that we can no longer travel outside the city as the rest of the country will be Tier 2 and you can’t leave a Tier 3 area to go to an area with a lower rating.

Which means, for the moment, I cannot travel to Celtman or to some of my favourite swimming spots. With four weeks to go, unless anything changes, it looks very unlikely I’ll be taking part in Celtman as: (a) I might not be able to travel to the Highlands; or (b) even if I could, I won’t be ready to swim.

I’ll see what happens in the next four weeks but I put my chances now at less than 25%.

Rugged Run – North Third Reservoir (Iain)

I’ve written about North Third Reservoir before as a swim venue https://twinbikerun.com/2019/07/19/outdoor-swim-review-north-third-reservoir-iain/

This visit was intended to be for a swim but there was one problem – lack of water in the reservoir. The water level was at least 8ft lower than my last visit which meant my usual swim loop was a (wet muddy) walk.

So instead I ran a loop around the reservoir. It was a nice 4 mile run that’s was easy to navigate. The path is well worn and easy to spot as its popular with dog walker and mountain bikers.

Check out the video below to see the great view from the top of the cliffs overlooking the reservoir.

VIDEO

MAPS

Review

Rating: 3 out of 5.

A nice short route with great views

Parking

Rating: 3 out of 5.

There are not many parking spaces nearby. You might have to park further away and walk to the reservoir.

Facilities

Rating: 1 out of 5.

None

Nearest cafe

Rating: 1 out of 5.

Nothing nearby

Run Surface

100% trail

Dog Friendly

Yes it is a popular dog walking route

Elevation

115M of elevation.

Film Friday: Into The Empty Quarter (Andrew)

Some places are badly named. Greenland is not green, Iceland is filled with rocks and volcanos and DR Congo is not a real doctor. The Empty Quarter, the desert stretching from Oman to Dubai is however very well named – it is almost entirely empty and devoid of, well, anything but dust and rocks. It barely has a hill as it stretches for hundreds of miles of large, featureless and frankly empty terrain.

It may seem strange to recommend a video about two adventurers – Alastair Humphreys and Leon McCarron – attempt to walk from one end to the other unsupported and pulling a large car as there is very little to see. They walk. They pull the cart. They don’t show any scenic sites as there are none. They just keep walking and pulling through miles and miles of desert rocks.

Yet, despite that, it provides a good insight into why some people have the desire to explore even when the rewards are minimal and the only question being asked is “why am I doing this?”

In Praise of… the DryRobe Compression Travel Bag (Andrew)

A couple of years ago I worked with a guy who was an enthusiastic but rubbish sailor. And an alcoholic. Not a great combination – especially when you throw Ebay into the mix – as, one night, he bought a inflatable dirigable and arranged for it to be shipped from China.

Now, you and I, when faced with a blow up boat ordered while drunk from a country not known for it’s accurate descriptions of products bought on quasi-black markets may have be cautious in opening the box when it arrived. Not so, our drunken and excited sailor, who decided he couldn’t wait for an ocean and instead decided to open it in his living room. At which point he pulled a cord which should not have been pulled and automatically inflated a 10 feet dinghy in his front room. Whoops.

Even worse, he hadn’t realised you needed a specialist pump to deflate it so couldn’t get it out of any door or window without going to back to Ebay and buying a very expensive pump from the same Chinese sellers. Sellers who had very smartly spotted the opportunity to sell very cheap boats but very, very expensive parts…

I share this story because while most of us will never know what it’s like to wake up with a hangover and the Titanic blocking your telly, if you have a Dryrobe then you’ll know what it’s like to live with something that takes up more space than a frigate in a bathtub. DryRobe’s are huge. They have to be as you use them to get changed underneath so need space to take on and off clothes and swim gear. But they also take up loads of space in closets and coat hangers. They, like a dog on a sofa, expanding to take up all available space.

That’s why I’m praising something very simple. A vacuum/compression bag. A bag that you store clothes in and then sit on to expel all the air before sealing it shut with a simple air plug. It’s brilliant, it condenses clothes until you can almost fit a robe into your pocket. It also makes it the robe easy to store as it no longer fills your house like an unwanted guest.

And while DryRobe sell a branded bag, you can use any bag, just search vacuum bags on Amazon and you’ll find plenty of cheap bags you can use.

They’re brilliant. They’re perfect for Dryrobe, perfect for taking clothes on holiday when you need space and it’s just a pity they don’t have one big enough for a lifeboat in a living room.

Dryrobe: Compression Travel Bag

Amazon: Compression Bags

Rugged Run – East Lothian Beach Marathon (Iain)

John Muir was one of America’s most famous and influential ‘Outdoor Enthusiasts’ – although he described himself (in a ltter to a friend) as a “poetico-trampo-geologist-botanist and ornithologist-naturalist etc. etc.” Which must be annoying to write when he was filling in the job title section of application forms.

The John Muir Way is a 130 mile walking/biking route that stretches from his birthplace of Dunbar to where he left Scotland to head to America – Helensburgh. That is too far to run in one day but whilst looking at the route I noticed the section from Edinburgh to East Lothian is almost marathon distance if I went via as many beaches as possible.

I planned to start in in North Berwick and then get the train to Edinburgh but due to heavy traffic on the Edinburgh bypass it looked like I was going to miss the train. I drove to Longniddry instead and caught the train I should have got from North Berwick.

This complicated my run slightly as there is only one train an hour from North Berwick to Longniddry. I’d have to keep an eye on the time so that at the end of my run I didn’t miss a train and then have a long wait.

The first section of the route was from Waverly Station to Portobello beach.I used to live near the route so it was interesting to see places I used to visit – look there’s the Safeway I got my shopping in, look there’s that weird that always had scary people outside it, and look there’s that gym owned by a personal trainer to Hollywood celebrities’.

I was at the opening night of that Gym. I remember the personal trainer thanking everyone for coming. He asked his girlfriend to stand with him. He then he burst into tears as he blubbed about how much he loved her, how she had changed his life and how he’d do anything for her. She was really embarrassed at his speech and so was most of the audience. A couple of year later, I saw him on the front page of a tabloid paper. It turned out he wasn’t a nice man!

The first beach was Portobello beach or Puerto Bello Beach. Which I saw written in Graffiti on a wall next to the beach. I like the Spanish vibe of the name. It seems fitting when the weather is nice and the beach is full of happy people but maybe it is not so appropriate in the depths of winter.

The route from here to Gullane is very easy. Follow the John Muir way signs. I enjoyed this sections as I wasn’t very familiar with the towns of Musselburgh, Port Seaton and Cockenzie. They all had nice seas fronts to run along.

In Gullane I decided to ignore the John Muir Way. The official route goes south of the town but I wanted to go to the beach. It was definitely the correct decision. The coastal section here was my favorite part of the run. There was big sandy beaches and nice trail running.

Gullane was a good spot to pick up refreshments. I got chocolate and water from the local CO-OP.

I rejoined the John Muir Way as I left Gullane. I wanted to head to Yellowcraigs beach but I was conscious of time. The detour to the beach would mean I’d miss the next train from North Berwick to Longniddry and then I’d have a long wait.

I decided to head straight for the train. I’d see enough beaches for one day!

Check out the video below to see what the rote is like. I was running by myself so it’s mostly shots I could film quick and easily as I didn’t want to add too much time onto the run.

VIDEO

MAPS

Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

An interesting route but the road section might put people off doing it. If so you could start at the forest entrance instead

Parking

Rating: 3 out of 5.

North Berwick can be very busy so get there early to find a spot.

Facilities

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Plenty of cafes and shops on the route.

Nearest cafe

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Plenty of cafes and shops on the route.

Run Surface

20% road, 50% path. 30% off road.

Dog Friendly

Yes it is possible but I wouldn’t recommend the distance for a dog. I would only take my dogs on a shorter stretch of the route.

Elevation

344M of elevation.

Film Friday: Chris Froome Vlogs (Andrew)

In a world where sporting champions images are carefully controlled and managed by PR advisors and social media managers it would be refreshing to see a genuine sporting great film his own videos while sitting in an empty train carriage on the way home from a race, which is exactly what four time Tour de France champion Chris Froome has done.

Chris Froome joined Israel Start Up nation at the end of 2020 after many successful years at Team Sky/Ineos Grenadiers. Following a horrendous injury in 2019 Chris Froome was looking for a new start and team to support his ambition of competing again for one of cycling Grand Tours. It would have been easy for him to keep a low profile as he returned from injury but, instead, he has posted regular updates on his training and races as he tries to regain his place in the peloton. And what’s refreshing is that while it’s clearly a result of his contractual requirement to promote his new team, it’s also done in a way which appears open and sincere about his challenges as he films himself at training camps, at races or working on equipment or technique.

Training for Celtman 2021 – April (Andrew)

I cannot lift my arms. Every time I try and raise them a ripple of pain runs from my elbows to my shoulders. The same happens when I try and lie on them. Any weight on them leaves them throbbing and numb. After an hour of trying to get to sleep I get up and get some painkillers before sitting in the living room waiting for them to kick in. It takes three hours, 4am, before I can move an arm without hurting. I finally go back to bed cursing every stroke I swam tonight.

It’s mid April and Pinkston Watersports has reopened for swimming in Glasgow. As it’s April, and the temperature is hovering around seven degrees, I decide to swim in full hood, boots, gloves and an extra vest. Unfortunately so much lycra twists my body in the water so I’m gliding through it like a broken corkscrew made of concrete. Every stroke feels like I’m trying to contort my body round a u-bend. After a couple of laps, one kilometre, I can’t swim any further. I think I’m just out of practice, my technique poor and my arms weak, but through the rest of the evening my arms become more and more sore.

In six weeks I need to swim three kilometres, that night I couldn’t even lie down for three minutes.

The following week, I don’t bother with boots, swim slower and concentrate entirely on stretching out flat in the water. It helps. I don’t need to raid a pharmacy on my way home but it does show that trying to get to a 3K swim in just a few weeks is a big ask. I’ll keep adding some distance with every swim and hopefully I’ll build some confidence that I won’t need more drugs than Lance Armstrong to complete the bike leg after the swim.

Saying that, I’m still not sure the race will go ahead. Triathlon Scotland are limiting waves to 30 people (including support and volunteers), which would mean Celtman would need have starting waves. I believe Celtman is not part of Triathlon Scotland, so doesn’t have to follow the guidelines, but for insurance, I wonder how it can avoid them completely. Further details on how the race will be run will be out in the next few weeks. For the moment, I continue to try and get ready to start.