Think global, ride local -A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood – Part 3

by 5

ortlieb logo

Worn down by home schooling, Sanny takes a different tack when it comes to education provision.

Words by Sanny. Images by Julia Gould and Sanny.

Think global, ride local

“How long has it been now?” I wonder to myself as I look at another day of home-schooling tasks that lay ahead for my daughter Julia and I. Umpteen weeks! That’s how long we have been navigating our way through See Saw, an online learning app that seems to consist entirely of revision tasks and no actual teaching. Umpteen. It sounds like a lot but it is still in the teens as James Acaster so eloquently puts it. The sun was out, it was warm and I have to admit that I cracked. “Come on, we’re going on a bike ride. Let’s bring the camera and learn about how to use it. School is done for the day.” To her credit, she still quickly did her school work but the dye was cast. We were going on a mini adventure around the not so mean streets of Glasgow.

“Put Captain Solo in the cargo hold…….”

Our first port of call was a not so dim and shady side street just off of Clydeside. The street art there is little short of phenomenal. Rounding a corner, we were faced to face with undoubtedly THE coolest character in the entire Star Wars universe, Boba Fett. Some 30 feet high, the mural had us both somewhat slack jawed. Forget tags and pre-school excuses for graffiti, this to my mind is as much an example of fine art as anything you will find in a museum. Riding along the street, there are many great examples of what can be done with spray cans including one particularly striking masked face.

ortleib glasgow bikepacking
Face mask, manga style.

While Julia got to grips with the camera with me as model, I soaked up the scene. I loved art at school and wasn’t half bad at it but it never fails to impress me when street artists work on such a massive scale and produce such visually stunning images. Sorry, this is in serious danger of turning into a treatise on street art worthy of Pretentious Art Influencer Monthly so I’ll refrain from any mention of how the artist managed to capture the surrealism of the underlying metaphor within the confines of the metaphysical didacticism……..or some equally baffling phrase that I don’t understand but will nod affirmatively and pretend that I do! Just know that I really liked it and that is good enough.

Tools of the trade.

Getting back on our bikes, we ambled our way down the shared use path that lines the banks of the River Clyde and made our way over to the Science Centre. Home to two brilliant examples of how more buildings really should be clad in sheet titanium, we found a series of waved grass humps that made for a perfect pump track. Clearly, we were not the first folk to do this as a narrow line of hard packed singletrack stretched the length of it. Taking turns to pump all the way to the end, it felt like all good rides should. We were playing on our bikes and having fun which is surely what all biking really boils down to?

Whoop de doos!

Eventually, hunger came a knocking and we turned the corner to sit in the sunshine and eat an impromptu picnic. A child of the eighties, I brought that old school classic of Primula Cheese and Ham spread in a tube. Served on oatcakes and accompanied by an apple, it was the poor man’s ploughmans but none the worse for it. All that we really needed was a Vienetta, Birds Ice Magic and a glass of Creamola Foam for the ultimate throwback repast.

An old school classic!

I can’t even begin to recall when I last had Primula but it must have been a while as it was when they still used foil tubes. As Julia snapped some more pics, I soaked up the rays in quiet contentment. However, the shine was taken off the moment retrospectively when I subsequently read that Primula had recalled all their products after finding Clostridium Botulinum in their production process. Oh well, the world did not fall out of my bottom so I think we were ok.

Melting black roof tar on a hot summer’s day.

Built on the site of the old Glasgow Garden Festival, I fascinated / bored to tears (delete as appropriate) my daughter with tales of what was a watershed moment in Glasgow’s reinvention as a city of culture. Riding through Festival Park, I was able to show her what remained of what had been a brilliantly conceived and realised event. The brainchild of Michael Hesseltine, they were a way of reclaiming vast tracts of derelict land in five towns or cities throughout the UK. I must have gone well over 30 times with my folks as a young kid back in 1988 and loved every minute of it. Who knows, perhaps with the economy’s precipitous positioning, someone in power might take a leaf out of the old play book and kick start a new series of regenerative economic events? One can but hope.

Architecture done brilliantly.

“Fancy some proper mountain bike trails to try?” I asked, more in hope than expectation but to my delight Julia was well up for the challenge. Making our way over the unusually quiet M8 motorway, we soon found ourselves in Pollok Park, a real gem of green space in a city rightly famed for its many parks and green spaces. A number of years ago, the cycle team in the Council realised that there was scope to build some mountain bike trails in the forest and promptly did. Although fairly small in scale, they are a perfect place for kids and families to experience proper mountain biking in dense, mature woodland slap bang in the middle of a populous urban area.

Hard to believe that this is in the heart of Glasgow.

Unlike the trails at Glentress, they feel less constructed and more natural. In the winter, they get muddy while in the summer, they bake solid and make for a great place to simply play on your bike. It was heartening to see all manner of girls and boys, young and old, riding the trails on everything from £99 Halfords specials to some seriously flash machines. For me, it was definite proud dad moment time as Julia repeatedly powered up some of the short but steep climbs that pepper the trail with a big smile on her face. After a couple of grin inducing laps, we decided to head back home although not without another visit to the whoop de doos at the Science Centre.

Definitely better than homeschool.

As an antidote to home schooling, it had been the perfect day out. We learned a bit about photography, we rode bikes, we had a picnic and perhaps most importantly of all had a lot of fun. Mission accomplished I would say.

Homeward bound……

This article was brought to you in association with Ortlieb.

Julia and Sanny were using:

  • Ultimate Six handlebar bag and camera insert
  • Atrack 25 Litre backpack
  • Saddle Bag 2 1.6 Litre

Guaranteed waterproof and incredibly durable, ORTLIEB bike bags, backpacks and travel bags have long enjoyed an excellent reputation among bike and outdoor enthusiasts. Our bike bags make for the perfect companion when you’re out biking, bikepacking or touring! Hikers, climbers, canoeists and many other adventurers rely on the quality of our outstanding gear. You’ll encounter waterproof ORTLIEB backpacks throughout the world, accompanying their owners on hikes in the Catskills, expeditions in the Himalayas and bike tours in the Australian Outback.

Try Singletrack From Only 99pMembership + Magazine for only £2.99

Try Singletrack digital membership for only 99p for the first month. 

Or only £2.99 with a copy of the latest Singletrack magazine, worth £10.

By day, Sanny plies his trade as a Chartered Accountant and Non-Executive Director. By night, however, give him a map and the merest whisper of a trail "that might go" and he'll be off faster than a rat up a drainpipe on some damn fool mission to discover new places to ride. Rarely without his trusty Nikon D5600, he likes nothing better than being in the big mountains, an inappropriately heavy bike on his back, taking pics and soaking up the scenery. He also likes to ride his bike there too although rumours that he is currently working on his next book, "Walks with my bike", are untrue (mostly). Fat biking, gravel riding, bikepacking, road biking, e biking, big mountain adventures - as long as two wheels are involved, you'll find him with a grin on his face as he dives off the side of a mountain, down a narrow lane or into deep undergrowth in search of hidden trails and new adventures. His favourite food is ham and mushroom pizza and he is on a mission to ride all of the Munros, mostly as it allows him to indulge in eating more pizza. He has no five year plan, is a big fan of the writing of Charlie Connelly and reckons that Kermode and Mayo's Film Review Podcast is quite possibly the finest bit of broadcasting around.

More posts from David

Comments (5)

    That artwork is crazy. How someone can make something that good on that scale is beyond me.

    Some cracking pictures by the young ‘un and one made the banner. She should be chuffed 🙂

    “Forget tags” … you can’t have one without the other.

    Hi Brakestoomuch

    She is and thanks for the kind words.

    I was pretty delighted when I saw what she had taken. The banner one she took is one of my favourite photos ever. Perfectly framed. Not bad for a newbie to photography!


    Sanny (proud Dad!)

    Good piece and an example to other parents on things you can do with your kids without spending a fortune or using a smart phone! Graffiti when it’s done well can brighten up a grey cityscape and make you stop and stare for a while. Get past the Banksy hype and Bristol has a great street art trail and Dunedin on New Zealand’s south island also has a trail with some stunning art.

    nice one Sanny & Julia!

Leave Reply

Try Singletrack For Only 99p

Or enjoy the latest magazine for only £2.99