Dec 31

Youth Cycle Racing

If you want to get your kids to eat their greens, then enter them in a bike race.

The Commissaire stood with his starting pistol in the air, “The race will start within the next 15 seconds”, he shouted to the riders who sat on their bikes with a look of absolute concentration on their faces. Bang! The starting pistol fired and the riders sprinted to get into the sharp left corner first. This could have been a scene from a professional race, but it wasn’t; each of the 20 riders lined up on the starting grid were six years old or younger and they were all taking part in the West Lothian Clarion Youth Cyclo-Cross race in Linlithgow last Sunday.

Such events happen up and down the country throughout the year and are a great opportunity for young riders to experience the thrill of racing, but more importantly, it is a chance for them to get out and have fun on their bikes with lots of other young people. My own two children were taking part in this race; my six year old girl was a veteran at such events, having entered several before, but for my four year old boy it was his first and such was his excitement that he went to bed early every night in the lead up to the race and was asking for more vegetables for his tea, “Just to be strong and healthy for the race, just like Chris Hoy” he said. It was a parent’s dream and our only wish was that there was a race every week we could enter him in. At the end of the race there were a lot of red cheeked and sweaty little faces, but every one of them had a grin from ear to ear as they tucked into the cake and hot chocolate from the refreshments tent. As we drove home in the car and my little boy’s eyelids grew heavier he muttered, “Can we do this again tomorrow?”. The cyclo-cross season is coming to an end, but the Scottish Cross Country (SXC) mountain-bike series is about to start with the first event being held in Forfar on Sunday 17th March 2013. SXC is similar to cyclo-cross in that it is an off-road event with categories open to all age groups of riders, allowing parents and their children to enter for the event.

If you would like more information then visit: Scottish XC

Where to Ride?

The Trossachs for some off-road riding

Where to ride: The Trossachs
Location: OS Landranger 1:50,000 Map 57 Distance 13 m/ 22km  one way Start at Aberfoyle NN 523011 Finish at Callendar NN 626075
Details: This on and off-road route through the Queen Elizabeth and Achray Forests leads you over the Dukes Pass and down to Loch Venacher and onto Callendar. It is suitable for adults and older children and follows traffic-free forest tracks, some minor roads with a short section of main road at Aberfoyle. The start of the ride has a stiff climb, but then it is steady going after that and mostly downhill


Dec 30

Castelli Fusione Windstopper Jacket

Castelli Fusione Windstopper Jacket

Let the Castelli Scorpion take the sting out of your winter rideCastelli Fusione Windstopper

I have a certain nostalgic tendency towards cycling and my preference is always for Italian. It’s not just a romantic notion though, as the Italians have a passion not just to produce the best, but to do it in the most stylish way possible. For this very reason I have long been a fan of Castelli for this very reason. In this respect the Castelli Fusione Windstopper Jacket does not disappoint; clearly a lot of time has been taken to ensure this jacket looks good, but no matter how stylish something looks, it is the functionality that counts on the day.

Racing fit and sleek lines

The cut of the jacket is good and lends itself to the racing heritage of Castelli with sleek lines and a fit that avoids material flapping in the wind. I have long arms and I was pleased to see that with my arms stretched out on the hoods of the bars my wrists were still covered. Weighing in at 294g the jacket is more of a bantam than flyweight, but it’s certainly no heavyweight. The slight weight increase offers more protection from the elements, but is on the cusp of having too much bulk to pack into a jersey pocket; it does, but only just. However that is not really an issue as the “Fusione” is more of a jacket to be used on days when the weather is such that wearing a jacket from start to finish is the order of the day, keeping your lighter and thinner, packable jackets for less inclement conditions.

The worst of the Scottish winter weather

And so it was Christmas Eve and the forecast for my northerly bit of the UK was horrendous: gales blowing at 60mph with gusts of 80mph; driving frozen rain with snow at higher levels; not the ideal riding weather, but I had signed up for the “Rapha Festive 500” and nothing was going to stop me heading out. I donned my “Castelli Fusione Windstopper” jacket, flicked up the collar and got my head down. The first few miles were directly into the headwind and progress was slow, but I was warm. My Windstopper jacket was doing its job well so far. I’ve tried various “active shell” jackets before, with varying degrees of success, but for this kind of weather I would usually wear a heavier weight jacket and several layers, with the inevitable “Michelin Man” feeling the result. There is nothing worse than feeling overly bulky as you head out on your ride, so the close fit of the Fusione combined with its weather beating qualities was a delight. Underneath I wore a long sleeve club training top and underneath that a long sleeve merino base-layer and that was more than enough to keep me warm. Indeed if the mercury level had been a few degrees higher I may have been too warm, but the Fusione had that under control with front and back zipped vents to allow a through-flow of air. As I rode on, conditions deteriorated; rumbles of thunder emanated from the hills above me and the sky grew very black indeed and it felt like I was riding into the depths of “Mordor” from “Lord of the Rings”. My average speed was pitiful as I fought against the rising wind speed which was now carrying flakes of snow past me at a high rate of noughts. Mixed in with the snow, hail and frozen rain needled my cheeks, but the high-backed collar of the Fusione, with its soft fleece like material, kept the sting from the back of my neck. The descents were where the Helium “Windstopper” fabric really showed its capabilies  stopping the chill dead and keeping me warm and comfortable.

Castelli Cycle clothing

My jacket (white) was highly visible out on the road in the dark and dingy conditions and the reflective details across the shoulders, sleeves and on the vent lanyard straps as well as on the distinctive “Castelli” branding across the chest and classic “Castelli scorpion” gave me a confidence that I would stand out to other road users no matter how dark the sky grew. An elasticated hem kept the chills at bay around the waist and Velcro adjusters at the sleeve cuffs ensured a snug closure at my wrists. The seams are stitched rather than taped, but so far I haven’t experienced any issues with wetness making its way through. Overall the Helium Windstopper® fabric does its job well and despite the conditions I never once felt a chill. The Fusione is water repellent, rather than waterproof, but it did a good job of keeping me dry. Prior to trying out the Fusione I had read some reviews that breathability had been an issue, but I am glad to say that I had no such problems, even without using the sizeable vents. The zipped vents appear with two on the front and two larger ones on the back. The front vents are fairly standard, but the back vents are notable for the lanyard strap that hooks onto the zip. This allows easy access to the top zip, without having to stretch your arm; this works well on opening the vent, but is not so successful when trying to close the vent again. A bottom zip also allows opening of the vent and access to rear pockets in your jersey underneath. There are no pockets on the Fusione, which I wouldn’t really expect on a “race-cape” and the inclusion of them would have added bulk and taken away from the sleek lines of this jacket and added little functionality.

Overall I have been impressed with the Castelli Fusione Windstopper Jacket, both for its notable Italian style and flair, but more-so for its remarkable ability to shrug off the worst that the Scottish winter weather could throw at it. I’ve ridden over 300km wearing it in the grottiest conditions and it is still looking new and doing it’s job well.

To find out more about the Castelli Range of cycle clothing visit

ProBikeKit UK

Castelli – An Italian Cycling Legacy

Italian cycle clothing manufacturer “Castelli” has a long and rich history of supplying clothing to generations of professional riders such as Italian legends Fausto Coppi and Gino Bartali. The brand as we know it today however started in 1974 with Maurizio Castelli and it was at this point that the innovation really kicked in as the company started to produce a series of “firsts” for cycling kit, including the first aerodynamic lycra shorts and first functional thermal winter cycle clothing. Professional riders like Eddy Merckx, himself someone who was always looking for the cutting edge to gain advantage on his rivals, gave the company a huge boost by wearing a Castelli body-suit on his successful “World Hour Record” ride. Perhaps one of the most important innovations by Castelli however was the pioneering of the sublimation dye process that allowed colours and logos to be added to technical fabrics; from that point on, cycling’s commercial aspect would never be the same again. Sadly Maurizio Castelli died in 1995 from a heart-attack, at the age of 47 whilst cycling up the Cipressa, a climb made famous by its inclusion in the one-day Queen of Cycling Classics “Milan San Remo”. Castelli’s legacy lives on however in the brand that bears his name and his design flair and innovative approach to cycling kit continue to be evident in the range of items that the company produce.

Visit ProBikeKit UK for more cycling gear

Scot Tares

Skinny Tyres

Aug 2

Improve your pedalling

CadenceGet more out of your cycling by creating a more efficient pedal stroke.

You’ve spent a lot of money on your bike and invested countless hours in all weathers to get fitter and faster on your bike, but if your pedal technique is inefficient, then you are expending a lot more energy and effort than you need to.

Swimmers spend a lot of time in the pool, not just improving their fitness, but also honing their technique. Combined, technique and fitness will contribute to a better and more efficient swimmer. It is something that cyclists can learn from; we invariably spend a lot of time “putting in the miles” to become stronger and faster, but rarely focus on our technique.

The French term, “souplesse”, is often used to refer to someone who has a supple and flowing pedal cadence. A smooth pedal stroke like this can make the rider look like they are riding effortlessly, whereas a rider that is mashing at the pedals, not only looks like they are making hard work of it, they are also expending a lot of extra effort for very little return.

Engage your glutes

There are 4 key points that you need to focus on when improving your pedal technique:

  • Cadence – The faster you can pedal in an easier gear, then the further you go for less energy expenditure.
  • Engage Your Glutes – Your glutes are huge powerful muscles, but riders often just rely on their quads to keep their momentum going. Get your position right on the bike. Get you saddle height right, ensure the fore and aft position is correct and get your body position right for the terrain you are riding.

Pedal in a circle

  • Pedal in a circle – It sounds obvious, but most riders have dead spots in their pedal stroke because they only engage with the pedal at the top of the pedal stroke.  ushing the pedal over will pay massive dividends. This can only be achieved by engaging your glutes
  • Relax – All of the points above can cause a rider to tense up and hunch their shoulders. This can lead to aches and pains and will prevent you from maintaining a smooth and high cadence.


Just like a swimmer, a cyclist needs to practice on each of these aspects to improve their technique. It is not just a case of thinking, “Right, I know what I need to do, now let’s go and do it”. Each technique needs to be practiced over and over again with a conscious and reflective learning style. Only when you have mastered each technique can you pull them all together and master an efficient pedal technique.

For more information on pedal technique or any other aspect of skills or performance coaching, get in touch with us, or join us on one of our coaching weekends.

Aug 1

The biley-up and drum-up

Drum up at Blackwater ford Glenn Shee mid 1950sScot Tares tells us of the “old-days” when a cup of tea was enough to let you cycle 280 miles in one day.

There used to be a time when the “biley-up” was a key part of cycling club tradition. The impromptu stop to brew up a pot of water for a cup of tea often happened several times during a ride and clubs and riders had their favourite spots to stop at for a “brew”.

The last “biley-up” that I was at was on the banks of the Tay by Dunkeld as part of the Perth United CC Christmas ride. Being Christmas it was not polite to just brew up a pot of tea and more often than not a wee tipple and a few sausages cooked over an open fire were part of the deal. That year I ended up in the bad books as my old shaggy lurcher, who I had taken along spotted, a string of sausages in a saddle pack and he was off with them quicker than a bunch of cyclists in cleated shoes could chase.

Nowadays the café stop is an integral part of cycling club life, but preceding that was the “biley-up”. William Mclennan, who rode for Charles Star CC in Dundee and was a key figure in the Dundee Centre representing all the Tayside clubs, told me of a ride report he read in the Forfarshire RC club book that detailed an impromptu ride in 1964. “Members left the gates at 12.30am on Sunday morning…” it began and then went on to describe a ride of over 280 miles taking in Lochearnhead, Glen Ogle, Crianlarich, Glen Falloch and Stirling. By the time they got to Glen Devon for their second boil-up of the day they were starting to tire, “The run from Glen Devon was ‘pure hell’ with the sun, sore legs and sleepiness taking their toll. A good time was had by all… or so they said”.

It proves the masochistic nature of cyclists and as I sit here and type I’m thinking to myself, “that does sound like fun and I know I’ve still got the old “biley-up” kettle in the shed somewhere.”

Get out and ride

Scot Tares

Cycle Route

Cycling in Glen Devon and Glen Eagles

Where to ride: Dunning – Glen Devon – Glen Eagles
Location: OS Landranger 1:50,000 Map 58Start/ Finish – Dunning: NO 019145
Details: 25 miles/ 40 km road rideFrom Dunning ride up the Common of Dunning (B934) for 3 miles of ascent before descending back down to the Yetts o’ Muckhart. Just before you reach the Yetts, turn right into Glen Devon on the A823 and follow this road through Glen Eagles and onto Auchterarder. Follow the A824 through Auchterarder before turning right onto the B8062 back to Dunning.
Aug 1

Cycling Clubs

Scot Tares finds cycling can be fun if you club together.

Last week I was sent a couple of photographs from a Courier reader who cycled with my Dad in the 1950s in the now defunct Charles Star CC. The two photos, one of a club ride up to Reekie Linn and the other a group shot of the whole club were fantastic to see and it struck me how similar they are to photos I have of myself out on club rides. The steel bikes and woollen clothing have been replaced by carbon fibre and lycra, but the spirit of camaraderie is still there and for me that is what joining a cycling club is all about.

When I joined my first cycling club, I followed in my Dad’s footsteps and became a member of “The Star”, I still have my 1980s red, white and black diagonal stripe club jersey; perhaps it was the influence of my Dad, but I couldn’t imagine cycling without being part of a club. Despite the demise of Charles Star CC, there are more cycling clubs in Courier country than ever before and they are attracting new members all the time. However there is a wave of cyclists coming through for whom joining a club is not a consideration. Those I have spoken to have heard of, or witnessed instances of clubs being too cliquey or elitist. This may be the case in a minority of clubs, but my experience has always been entirely positive.

The benefits of joining a club are numerous, such as: meeting like-minded individuals, building a wide network of riders to call on when you want to go out for a ride with others and probably most valuable, learning a lot of new things about riding your bike, which by yourself could take years of trial and error.

Over the years I’ve made a lot of really good friends and had many adventures from being part of a cycling club and I would urge anyone who isn’t in a club to give it a go. Do a bit of research and find that the club that most suits you and if it turns out it wasn’t for you, then you’ve not lost anything, but you never know, it may just open a door to a whole new world of riding.

Get out and ride

Scot Tares


You can check out all the cycling clubs in Courier country at British Cycling:
Aug 1

Inspiration for cyclists

Scot Tares finds social media can offer some inspiration after all.

Like many people, I follow social media sites but often, at best, just skim over the inspirational, human-drama stories that often feature in them, but last week one in particular caught my eye.

Rick Hoyt was born 43 years ago with a profound disability, but his parents fought for him every step of the way to ensure that he was given a life and opportunities at a time when such things for people with disabilities were scarce. After school one day and communicating via an electronic talker Rick indicated to his father that he wanted to take part in a charity run for a high school friend who had been paralysed in an accident. His Father, Dick, was overweight, but agreed and both he and Rick completed the five mile run, Dick pushing Rick in his wheelchair the whole way. Soon they entered the Boston Marathon and next up was triathlons, where Dick would swim nearly 3 miles puling Rick in a dinghy, run 26.2 miles, then cycle 112 miles with Rick on the bike. Since then they have completed 212 triathlons together.

By contrast in recent weeks Lance Armstrong has admitted his doping past, but despite his revelations of what we all already knew, there was not an inkling of regret or apology. In fact he was bold enough to say he couldn’t have won without doping; a misguided excuse that gives credibility to the notion that if something looks too difficult to achieve by a fair means, then it’s acceptable to cheat. The Brazilian novelist, Paulo Coelho once said, “There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.” Perhaps Armstrong was a victim of his own fear of failure.

Armstrong stood, and still does to some as an inspiration to millions, but it was built on a deceit of lies, bullying and corruption and it appears that the foundation of this persona was a testament to his own feeling of greatness, rather than his humility. We all need people to inspire us, but perhaps those who should inspire us, and receive our plaudits, are the “local heroes”, rather than media fuelled idols. True inspirers don’t seek self-aggrandisement; they just get their heads down and get on with the work in hand.

Cycling is a great way to get out and get fit, improve your health and well-being and it’s accessible for everyone. It’s also a great way to raise money for charities, with place to place rides, charity sportives and endurance events all providing challenges for those just starting cycling to more experienced riders. If you are sitting reading this thinking, “I need to lose weight”, or “I’ve not touched my bike for years” then look around you for the inspiration that will motivate you to get out and do something. You never know, you could maybe end up inspiring someone else. I often meet people who tell me, “Oh, I could never do that”, or “I’m not that kind of person”. Each and every one of us has the ability to achieve; Rick Hoyt and his son Dick proved that, and in the end it was the inspiration from each other that led them to great things and it still pushes them, “The thing I’d most like,” Rick types into his computer, “is that my dad sit in the chair and I push him once.” Now if that doesn’t inspire you, nothing will.

Get out and ride

Scot Tares


Aug 1

Cycling in the snow

Scot Tares finds snow excuse for getting out on his bike.

Sometimes it can be difficult to motivate yourself to get out on your bike, but when you do, these times are often the best rides that you can have. So it was a few Saturdays ago, as the snow came down heavily and I sat in my warm house with the fire crackling away; to be honest if it hadn’t been the sad, and well-practised guilt-inducing look in my dogs eyes I wouldn’t have gone out at all. I knew they were desperate to get out for a run, so I packed my mountain bike on the roof of the car and drove up to Craigvinean, by Dunkeld.

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The snow was deep and untouched, save for a few animal tracks, and I broke the trail ahead, leaving a snaking tyre track behind, with a dab of a pedal on each side as my feet scuffed through the snow with each stroke. It was tough going and I could hear my heart thumping away, but I knew I needed to press on to maintain traction. Momentum was an absent friend that day and despite being in my smallest gear, I was still grinding the pedals around to maintain any forward movement at all. Focussing on the track ahead, I tried to keep my upper body as relaxed as possible to aid with keeping the bike as straight as was manageable; no mean feat as the front wheel slipped left and right each time it did so I lost a bit more speed and had to fight to keep the bike upright. The dogs ran ahead of me, occasionally looking back to see what was taking me so long.

After 3 miles of climbing I passed below the summit of Creag an Uamhaidh and finally hit the downward slopes. I descended at speed, snow whipping up from the front wheel like a snow plough and my back wheel fish-tailing behind. The dogs were now in their element and sprinted past me, running at top speed. The descent, as it always is, seemed too short for the effort of ascent, but it had been exhilarating.

That evening I lay in front of the fire at home reading and my stomach muscles ached. The effort of keeping the bike stable and moving had obviously employed more muscles than just those in my legs. I recalled how tough the climb had been and how much I had grovelled up it and decided that I would head out and do it all again tomorrow.

Get out and ride

Scot Tares

Cycle Route

Craigvinnean Forest, Dunkeld

Where to ride: Craigvinean
Location: OS Landranger 1:50,000 Map 53Start – NO014423
Details: There are many routes to explore in Craigvinnean that are suitable for all ages and abilities of riders, including those looking for some downhill thrills.My route ascended through the forest, below the crags of Craigvinean and onto the summit of Creag an Uamhaidh (NN980460), before descending towards Dalguise and then back towards the Hermitage.
Jan 26

Training In Zones

Written by Scot Tares and originally published in the Courier 26.1.3 (copyright DC Thompson)

Scot Tares gets in the zone with his cycle training.

ZonesGetting ready to trainPreparationHydrationClimbingDescendingA recent study at Stirling University has investigated how training intensity can have measurable effects on performance, and the results may not be what you expect. The 29-week trial on a group of cyclists found that a programme of predominantly low intensity work mixed with around a 20% volume of high intensity sessions led to greater improvements in fitness against a group of riders that maintained a moderate intensity of workout throughout.

For many people new to cycling this may seem counter intuitive and they might assume that periods of cycling at a very low intensity is a waste of time, but it is this very approach that has formed the basis of a cyclist’s winter training programme for decades. Dr Stuart Galloway of Stirling University said, “It is a case of training smarter. We found in these cyclists that if you can make the hard sessions harder and the easy sessions easier then you will likely see better progress. Amateur athletes tend to spend a lot of their training in a moderate intensity bracket, which in our study showed much smaller improvements”

The question for those amateur cyclists who may not have experience in gauging the intensity of their efforts is how much is “hard” and how little is “easy”. Well, the easiest way, without using technical and often expensive equipment such as power meters and heart rate monitors, is to gauge your effort using perceived exertion. Based on a set of zones, where zone 1 is cycling at a pace that your gran with a basket full of shopping on her bike could pass you, to Zones 5 and 6 where you can’t talk and can only maintain the effort for a few seconds at a time, this method is surprisingly easy to use and if you trust your intuition, a relatively accurate method to gauge the intensity of your performance.

Many amateur cyclists are turning to professional coaches to develop structured and specific training plans based on a combination of intensity and volume; even those with very little time to train can achieve improvements in their performance and as an added bonus longer lower-intensity rides are key to losing weight. For those training for events such as the Etape Caledonia, this “smart” approach to cycling could be what you are looking for to achieve your goals.

Scot Tares

Dec 25

Christmas is a time for bikes

Ride your bike and eat more mince pies

Originally published in the Courier 22.12.12

As the decades pass by and toys go in and out of fashion, each Christmas brings another “must-have” item on children’s lists for Santa. However, one item that never seems to go out of vogue is the humble bicycle; it’s been a staple favourite for children around the world and still remains a must-have Christmas list item for kids of all ages to this day. Thinking back to my own youth, I remember meeting all my friends out on our street in Dundee, mid-morning on Christmas day to give our new bikes a test run; usually our motley peloton in those days consisted of a few drop bar “racing” bikes, a Grifter and possibly even a Chopper. We spent a few hours testing them out for speed and their ability to ride ramps “Evel Knievel” style (riding a “Raleigh Racer”, not something I was entirely successful at), before the cold defeated us and the prospect of more chocolate, Christmas dinner and a read through the new Oor Wullie or Broons annual before bed drew us back to our respective homes.

It is heartening to see that bikes are still high on Christmas wish-lists and that come the 25th  of December, those lucky enough to get a bike from Santa will be out on the streets burning off some calories and making some room for their Christmas pudding. Nowadays, however, it is not just children who are out on bikes on Christmas day showing off their new cycling kit; riders of all ages will be hoping that the parcels under the tree are two-wheeled related. However, if new bikes and kit aren’t motivation enough to get out on your bike over the festive period why not set yourself a challenge of completing a set distance during the Christmas holiday. There are established challenges already out there, such as the Rapha Festive 500 in which you can try and log 500km of rides between the 24th and 31st December, but there is no reason why you can’t set your own challenge, no matter how difficult or achievable. It is a great time to get out on your bike, as many of us are lucky enough to have some time off work over this period and what better way to spend your time off than riding your bike, especially when it means you have an excuse to eat another mince pie when you get back home.

Merry Christmas – Get out and Ride

Scot Tares

Twitter: @SkinnyTyres

Where to Ride

Where to ride: Balhomish and Birnam Glen
Location: OS Landranger 1:50,000 Map 52Start –The Hermitage, Dunkeld
Distance: 4miles/ 7km
Details: This mountain bike ride is a favourite with locals and has some technical sections.Starting at the Hermitage, head out west towards Rumbling Bridge. Just after crossing the bridge a marker points the start of a short, but technical and rooty single-track. At the end of this, cross the A822 and head up the track towards Balhomish farm. Just before the farm, turn left and follow the track that descends through Birnam Glen, hugging the side of the Inchewan Burn. You can easily get back to the Hermitage from here by heading to Inver via the footpath that starts at the Dunkeld recreation ground and which heads under the A9.

Blazing Saddles copyright DC Thompson 2012

Originally Published in the Courier 22.12.12

Dec 7

Cycling and books

First Published in Blazing Saddles Column in the Tayside Courier Weekend Supplement 8.12.12

Scot Tares finds out you can enjoy cycling from the comfort of your armchair.

Alongside my passion for all things two-wheeled, I have several other past-times and pursuits that I enjoy: going to the mountains with my dogs and my mate, listening to and collecting vinyl records, and reading and collecting books. Books have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember and one of the benefits to be had from them for me is that when I’m not up the hills, or out on my bike I can be reading about them, or even better reading about riding bikes in the mountains with camping and whisky thrown in for good measure; another two passions of mine.

My bookshelves strain under the weight of many books of all varieties, but it is probably cycling books, which fill seven full shelves, that are the most prominent. Friends have been known to remark that they are amazed that so much could be written about riding a bike. There are travelogues from people who have cycled all over the world; classic cycling fiction such as “The Rider” by Tim Krabbé; and biographies, one of my favourites being “In Pursuit of Stardom” by Tony Hewson which recalls a time in the 1950s when he, Vic Sutton and Jock Andrews blazed a trail across Continental Europe trying to make it as pro’ riders. Others such as “A Moustache, Poison and Blue Glasses” recall a rich and sometimes dark history of races and riders; several of which are packed with black and white photographs that evoke the passion, pain and suffering that seems to seep through the very pores of the sport.

Far from being a subject that has a limited scope, the sheer variety of books about cycling is astounding and increasing numbers of cycling related books are being published every year. One such book, “The Secret Race” by Tyler Hamilton and Daniel Coyle won the “William Hill Sport’s Book of the Year” Award for 2012 and is the third cycling book to have done so after “Rough Ride” by Paul Kimmage and “It’s Not About the Bike” by Lance Armstrong and Sally Jenkins. The latter sits on my shelf, but is one I have never actually got around to reading and after recent events is one that I am unlikely to do so in the future.

My wife has accused me before of having too many cycling books and I admit, that just like buying new bikes and components, buying books can be just as addictive and if the weather prevents you from getting out on your bike over the winter, then why not sit back, relax and pick up a good book instead?

Scot Tares

Twitter: @SkinnyTyres

Where to Ride: A road ride par excellence

Where to ride: Dunning – Gleneagles loop
Location: OS Landranger 1:50,000 Map 58

Dunning at the foot of the Ochils Hills makes a good starting point for this hilly loop

Distance: 24miles/ 40km
Details: From Dunning head up the climb of the Common of Dunning and head over this beautiful road towards the Yett’s o’Muckhart. At the junction prior to the Yett’s turn right and head north through Glen Devon and then Glen Eagles. A right turn before you reach the A9 will take you back along to Dunning to complete this road loop.

Scot Tares

Twitter: @SkinnyTyres

Where to Ride: A road ride through Highland Perthshire

Where to ride: Strathardle loop
Location: Highland Perthshire – Landranger OS Maps 53 & 43
Distance: 52miles/ 87km – 1657ft/ 505m ascent
Details: This circular road route is a beautiful ride through some of Highland Perthshire’s finest scenery. You can start at any point, but Dunkeld is an ideal point to leave from:

Follow the A923 north out of Dunkeld to Blairgowrie, join the A93 at Rattray and head north to Bridge of Cally where you will turn left and follow the A924 along Strathardle, before dropping into Pitlochry. From here there are several options to head back to Dunkeld, either on the cycle route alongside the A9, via Dalguise or by the hillier roads around Guay and Tulliemet

Copyright DC Thompson 2012


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