Tuesday, October 10, 2006

From Back In The Day...

This a newspaper article from around March 1987. It's been kicking around at my parents place since then and I've always meant to scan it.
There're some great quotes in there and the prices and kit advice are superb!

A Wild Mountain Time
Dalkeith Advertiser, circa. March 1987(?)
Words: Janet Bee
Pictures: Jim Dickson

MOUNTAIN biking, I was told, began on the sun-kissed beaches of Califor­nia - a far cry from, the wet and windy outskirts of Penicuik last weekend.

But the wild weather did not deter the newly-formed Penicuik and District Mountain Bike Club setting of for the woods near to Coates Farm.

The club started at the beginning of the year and its first outing was on New Year’s Day. Its popularity is increas­ing with every trip and more than 20 cyclists of all ages braved the weather on Saturday.


Based at Ladywood Community Centre and founded by keen local cyclist John Anderson, the club aims to provide a means of getting into shape with an element of fun as an added bonus.

John, who works at the centre, started the club as a way of encouraging local youngsters to have an interest as well as being an ideal way for him to keep fit for cycle racing during the winter months.

John describes mountain biking as a sport for all ages and abilities - ideal for going the [sic] shopping, for a family, cycle run or simply a means of keeping fit.


The club Scotland’s third is not focusing on the racing side of mountain biking but fortnightly outings to the Pentland Hills, Glentress Forest and along local disused railways tracks.

Saturday should have seen the club cycling through the Pentlands to Balerno. But the poor weather curtailed any plans for a lengthy journey.

“Mountain biking can be done in all types of weather,” said John. “But it is up to the individual how far he or she wants to go and what they have capabilities they have got.”

Unfortunately my fitness (or lack of it) let me down and I was exhausted soon after leaving the main road, up through a series of lanes to Rullion Green. Granted the strong wind did not help my cycling any – well that’s my story!

But the weather conditions did not deter the members of the club who cycled ahead leaving me bringing up the rear. Nevertheless, the club prides itself on its responsibilities and I always had someone keeping me company.

John explained that the club members aim to help each other when out and about. For example, if they were cycling through the Pentlands those ahead would stop regularly to wait for slower members to catch up and thus ensuring each others safety.

Routes are carefully planned in advance so the group knows where to go and not to deviate from the pathways chosen.


Mountain biking is an advanced style of BMX cycling. But although the bikes appear similar, there is a world of difference.

Mountain bikes have low ratio gears which makes cycling uphill much easier. On average, the bikes have 15 gears which can cope with almost any terrain.

The bikes also vary greatly in price. A recent edition of Mountain Bike UK featured a guide on the machines high­lighting the special features and differences to a "normal" bike.

The most suitably priced bike, says John, is between £250 to £400. This bike is all-purpose and adequate for most riders. And regular ser­vicing can guarantee a bike a longer life.

The bikes have chunky tyres for better grip and many cyclists now customise their machines with large wheel discs for individuality.

The flat-style handle bars as opposed to the racing style, make balance much easier and the height of the bike should be slightly smaller than a road bike as this makes falling off (a common occur­ance) less painful.

Bikes are available from most cycle shops and John added: "This is a God send for cycle shops. The BMX had, tired out with children but this mountain bike craze has really hit off because it covers a wide range of ages."


The next important piece of equipment is a helmet, which can be "pretty pricey," costing between £24 to £60. But when you think of your safety, it is not much to pay.

When starting out, cyclists can use canoeing or skate-boarding helmets you may have. Both provide you with the needed protection and saves on additional costs.

If you do go out it is ideal to wear several layers of clothing to give warmth rather than one chunky item. For footwear, cyclists should wear something with good grip and waterproof - hiking boots or mountaineering boots are ideal.

Spare parts and tools should betaken on outings and in the Penicuik club John takes the necessary equipment with him to carry out repair work. The most important pieces are a spare inner tube, a pump, a puncture repair kit and a spanner.

Tools, equipment, extra clothing and some food for longer excursions can easily be packed in a rucksack which allows for more freedom when cycling.


Fitness is important, as I discovered, and it, would be ideal to know, your capabili­ties before setting off on any outing

Ladywood Community Centre offers a wide range of keep fit and exercise classes to get in shape and many of the youngsters are involved in a weight training class on Mondays from 8pm to 9pm to assist their mountain biking.

If you would like further information abut this up and coming sport and the club contact the centre on 71 78473.


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