Thursday, 21 August 2014

Ridin' solo

Stuart Gray former GIA Vice President and architect with Holmes Miller moved back to his home town of Aberdeen in 2013 to pursue a career in the Oil and Gas sector. Despite turning to the dark side Stuart still pursues his interests in Architecture and has been training on his own around the Granite city ahead of Septembers challenge . . .  

5 years in Glasgow . . . 3 years with the GIA. 

Having left both Glasgow and the Architecture world last year to join the Oil & Gas industry back home in Aberdeen, even being considered to join the GIA team was a shock. It was however, an opportunity I couldn’t say no to …. so let the training commence!!

Motivation to train had dipped since the last sportive I did as there was nothing to aim for, so this was a welcomed challenge. I can ride 120 miles no problem but 4 days of 120 miles every day …… I’m not so sure and to be honest not too confident at the moment. 

So as the lads trained in the cold wet conditions over the weekend in Glasgow (good effort lads) I had the luck of 20 degree temperatures and sun in the tropical north east and I had planned a short 1.5 hour ride at a fast pace. 

Got the gear on, bike ready, tools packed and Garmin on (if it isn’t on Strava it didn’t happen) but didn’t pack any food, it was only a 1.5 hour blast… or so I thought.

1100ft of climbing into a headwind within the first hour was a good wake up and my constant swearing at the wind made me miss the turn I was supposed to take and my short cycle turned into a 3 hour ride. Not long at all but with no food or money and gusting winds it made it interesting.

I kept going, keep the average speed as high as I could and looked forward to the turn back home where I would be blessed with a tailwind to blast me back. For those that know Aberdeen gauging the wind direction is like predicting lottery numbers and as if it couldn’t get any worse just before I was away to make the turn back for home the wind direction changed… Goodbye tailwind, hello hell!!

5 miles from home I slammed into ‘the wall’. Legs started cramping, cold sweats and all I could do was limp home and watch my average speed be decimated. I made it home, demoralised and even less confident…..

Next weekend I’m in Glasgow for a ride with other members of the team. Looking forward to it, riding in a group is always enjoyable and I’ll remember to pack the energy gels!!!

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Obey the Rules

// If you are out riding in bad weather, it means you are a badass. Period.
Fair-weather riding is a luxury reserved for Sunday afternoons and wide boulevards. Those who ride in foul weather – be it cold, wet, or inordinately hot – are members of a special club of riders who, on the morning of a big ride, pull back the curtain to check the weather and, upon seeing rain falling from the skies, allow a wry smile to spread across their face. This is a rider who loves the work. 

For those who are not familiar with 'the rules' it is a list of 95 simple rules established by the "Keepers of the Cog' - Velominati to ensure basic cycling etiquette is upheld. Rule number 9 applied to our group of four who turned out for the first official Architects in Lycra training ride on Saturday.  

An eager Michael Jarvis and a slightly 'tired' Mark Kilkenny joined myself and Neal Whittaker for a 100km ride through Ayrshire. Our route took us South out of Glasgow towards Newton Mearns and onto Kilmaurs, and rather unfortunately in the opposite direction of a hefty prevailing wind. 

From Kilmaurs we headed north to Stewarton and west to Beith. The Canny Man in Lugton provided a much needed coffee stop and some respite from the Scottish elements which we had been battling now for close to three hours. The subject of Architecture was deliberately avoided as we enjoyed the comfortable surroundings of the Canny Man, instead stories of previous cycling adventures were exchanged (Michael J was slightly concerned to hear that both Neal and Mark have previously cycled across the USA). The roads back to Glasgow via Stewarton were very enjoyable, largely because it was downhill and the 20mph wind we were all cursing when heading south was now pushing us along nicely.       

A good first training ride as a group but the distance covered and conditions we endured made the difficulty of the challenge we are about to undertake very real. It is great to see more donations being made and at the time of writing we have raised £960.00 for the Architects Benevolent Society. It would be great to break through the £1000 mark before our next group ride this weekend. 

Michael Dougall

GIA President

Neal, Mark and Michael J


Monday, 11 August 2014

38 Days to go . . .

Edinburgh to London. A relatively straightforward journey, by plane it takes around 1 hour, by train 5 hours, or even by car the trip can be completed in just over 7 hours. By bike however the two capital cities suddenly seem very distant. A journey of over 440 miles and 18,000 ft of climbing is what faces our team of architect cyclists hoping to complete the adventure in four days when we set off in less than 6 weeks. 

The challenge is being undertaken by a team of architects in support of the charity The Architects Benevolent Society, the only charity in the UK for architects, architectural assistants, technologists and landscape architects and their dependants. The ABS give practical help to people of all ages who have experienced illness, accident, bereavement or other personal misfortune. Support includes grants, loans and advice.
Robert Ball, Chief Executive of ABS, said;
This is a wonderful effort on behalf of the Society and we are so grateful to all those taking part in the long ride from Edinburgh to London. We all wish you the very best of luck. Thank you!
I am pleased to report that fund raising is off to a good start and at the time of writing our first blog we have raised £780.00, huge thanks to everyone who has donated so far. 

Sunand Prasad, President of ABS, said; 
As President of the ABS and cyclist, I am thrilled to hear of the Edinburgh to London charity cycle ride in support of the ABS instigated by the Glasgow Institute of Architects. Best wishes and huge thanks in advance to all ten riders. I hope some of us will bring our fresh legs to your last leg in to Portland Place and the RIBA HQ.
We have also recently received support from both Gerfloor ( and MYB Textiles ( We are extremely grateful to both companies for their support. 

Scottish Adventure cyclist and Queen's Baton Relay reporter Mark Beaumont has also offered some words of advice to the team; 

Edinburgh to London in four days is an ambitious cycle by anyones standards, but is a superb route, and I wish the pedalling architects few punctures and fair winds!

Team members have been out training ahead of our Grand Depart on September 19th and our first official group training ride will take place this weekend. Feedback from the training ride will be reported in a future blog by one of my fellow AIL members.

Michael Dougall
President, Glasgow Institute of Architects

Andy Cardwell tackles the famous Logie Kirk climb during an 80 mile training ride on Saturday. 

Four participants are also members of the Glasgow Green Cycling Club who celebrated their 3rd year anniversary this weekend on Arran.