Home from the Hebrides – A photographic journey

Enigma Echo photographed on Isle of Lewis, ScotlandI'm still horribly jet lagged from the holiday and yesterday's fast-paced 46 miles with TJ didn't help but I've started to sort through the mountain of images from Scotland. The eight-day whirlwind tour of Lewis, Harris and Skye was spectacular. The weather ranged from bright sunshine to howling gales laced with rain and snow. From dawn to dusk we followed the light and explored the wind-swept beauty of these remote outer islands. In the summer the popular beaches and hills would have been dotted with visitors, in winter we had the landscape all to ourselves. Our timing was perfect.

The Enigma Echo (above) was a great companion throughout. I didn't ride as many miles as I hoped but I got lots of practice peeling off outer layers down to cycling kit and quickly assembling the bike to catch good light and a good stretch of road whenever the opportunity arose. I felt immediately comfortable with the Campy Chorus componentry and compact drivetrain on the Echo. I was surprised by the swapped brake lines (right hand stopped the front wheel) and can't say I ever got used to it. Good thing most of the riding was uphill. The titanium frame had a magical luminous quality in the winter light and true to form provided a superb ride equipped with light, responsive Campagnolo Zonda wheels.

Jim and Mark at Enigma produce some exceptional bicycles, I can only imagine how good my Eulogy is going to feel. I'll have plenty of photographs of the frame and the build as it happens.

The magnificent Hebridean scenery is traversed by some incredible roads, but sadly Scotland is not road bike friendly. In over 1500 miles of travel through the highlands I didn't see a single road with a decent shoulder. Many of the single lane roads over plateaus and climbs were sparsely traveled at this time of year, so they could be ridden in relative safety, but drivers move fast and don't expect bicycles to constrict the already limited roadways. Still roads like Glen Brittle or the Quirang on Skye, the narrow canyon on the road to Aird Uig on Lewis are worth riding if you're vigilant. I climbed without a helmet for photography's sake but wouldn't do any significant riding without one.

3 Responses to Home from the Hebrides – A photographic journey

  1. Josh Caffrey says:

    Beautiful pictures from your trip, very nice. I was reading some of the entries on your site and came across the Garmin post. Do you plan on trying out the new Edge 705? I just ordered one and it will be my first Garmin. I was just interested in your experience with the 305. Are you a Mac user? I just want something so I don’t get lost on new rides, a little more confidence in exploring maybe comes with a device like this.

    take care,

  2. sam says:

    excellent pics! i love the rapha-esque feel to them. glad you had a great trip.

  3. Josh,

    I dropped my Edge 305 recently, and as I mentioned cryptically in the Garmin post, the LCD has a band of dead pixels that don’t show anything now. I still can navigate the menus and it records as well as it ever did, so I’m taking a wait and see attitude to a new device like the 705.

    The 305 has some idiosyncrasies. You need to turn it on early, while you’re putting on your shoes, helmet and gloves etc. Until it has locked on satellites and returned the display to the HRM or whatever else you’re showing on the first screen; it will inevitably lose the connection and stop recording during the ride. Follow the simple discipline above and unless you’re taking it into deep forest or long tunnels, it shouldn’t lose it’s satellite bearings and you’ll get good data.

    Another minor annoyance is its unpredictable connectivity via USB when uploading ride data. I think this depends on the complexity of the USB devices chained to your computer. My setup is not simple, so I routinely have to plug and unplug the Garmin several times before it registers.

    The Edge 705 sure looks nice, and I’d love to capture power data. Perhaps its most interesting feature is the support for the ANT Sport protocol. I’d also look at the new Quarq Qranium computer. It’s ridiculously expensive, but its support for ANT Sport and an open-source Linux OS may mean lots of features get developed by the user community quickly. It wouldn’t take much to beat Garmin’s slow release cycle.

    All things considered, I’d still choose an Edge 305 over the 705 I think. Walmart continues to have a great price on the 305 ($264), but I’m sure you’ll find the 705 a great training companion. For long rides like the Rapha Occidental Continental, the 705 would be terrific. If I’d known where we were going, I might have bypassed a couple of rest stops and managed a few more miles before cramps set in. Have fun with it.