TAC 42 Index
REGULAR READERS of this slightly irregular column will be well used to its diet of wildlife observations, technical ascents and gruelling Cairngorm odysseys. All that has changed recently. The Bad Companion is in training for a rather arduous sponsored cycle ride in Turkey and your man here has been dragged into the training. As the BC thinks the half-life of a Glasgow road cyclist is about four days, we have dipped into the rather esoteric world of mountain biking.
The first hurdle to be cleared was the buying of the steeds. This was akin to the famous Not The Nine O'Clock News "I want to buy a gramophone" sketch where the na´ve customer is ridiculed for his ignorance of the Dolby B system, woofers, tweeters, wow and flutter. With the bikes it was "double-butted Cro moly" and "Fox Vanilla R coil over, adjustable rebound". As one who has cycled to work for 17 years I thought I knew my way round bikes, but apparently not. They've even done away with the cotter pin.
A virgin mountain biker, one has to grapple with a number of issues. Erosion - for example. At the risk of unleashing the ire of the PC hill brigade, "erosion schmerosion" I say. Don't really see the issue. Land Rover tracks are the best routes, and it's pretty hard to erode them any more than they already are. The sort of paths where one might worry about erosion are almost un-navigable by bike. Who could cycle up the Sligachan glen? Well OK, apart from Gavin the cycling anaesthetist. Having thus opined, I must admit that since I started this draft the so-called Ardgartan Circuit has been navigated - a route which includes one of the worst bogs I've seen on foot never mind wheels.
What about anti-biker signs as in TAC37-40? Well we've seen one of them. Halfway from Loch Chon to Loch Lomond near Comer a seven-foot deer gate straddles the track with a "no bikers" sign. Grant Urquhart the biking radiologist informs me that he just lugged his steed over, as the sign had "no basis in law". We were more timid and retreated. On consulting the book when we got back it seemed the sign had been put up because "the bikers scared the deer". This is an interesting notion. One wonders what kind of deer they're trying to raise and why. Here was me thinking deer stalking was all about Robert De Niro pitting himself against the mighty beast, with John Williams twanging away at "Catalina", when all along what they want is the old Monarch of the Glen to come up begging a Mars Bar, promptly to get lock stock and both smoking barrels in his regal visage.
Scanning the paper the other day I discover that a new outdoor shop has opened in Partick calling itself "Cotswold Outdoor" and siting itself next to Whateverys. I am troubled by this. One is used to hype in the naming of commercial enterprises. Everest, Nevis, North Face etc. I've never been to the Cotswolds, but I don't really think I need to. The Ed informs me they are slightly less mighty than the Mendips and are full of Oxford dons wandering about quaint villages reciting poetry and eating cream and honey scones. Just the image to entice you into looking for a new set of crampons and a technical axe. Next we'll have a lads' magazine called "Reflection" or Jeremy Clarkson's Sewing Machines will hit the screen. I feel a wee bit nasty writing this, as following TAC's rigorous research policy I have visited said store and found it to be excellent, spacious, and with very helpful assistants. (They also stock TAC - Ed.) However an Albion name is an Albion name.
Those TAC readers who follow their Ed's parallel existence on the back pages of the Saturday Scotsperson will have noted his recent exegesis of the HEWITT acronym. The pedantic will know that it stands for Hills in England, Wales and Ireland above Two Thousand feet. It really begs a competition to find another suitable acronym. For starters let me suggest Hirsute Ed's Watershed Is Topologically Tortuous. Not very amusing, so how about His Evening Wear Is Troll Trousers. I am sure you can do better. Please write in.
TAC 42 Index