You don’t have to be good to start … you just have to start to be good! Joe Sabah
4/4/14 Day 1
A few shorts notes to let folk know that I did actually cycle off on 4/4/14. After some heartfelt hugs with family members, Adrian, my brother in law, on his lightweight racer which is as heavy as candy floss and me on my touring bike, which is as light as a ‘bus’ pedalled off just after 8am but just before the torrential rain which was to accompany us on a sodden but satisfactory 60 mile saunter south along the coast to Arbroath.
Although the weather was dull and grey our spirits were colourful enough as Ade patiently free wheeled whilst I zig zagged my way along the road slowly getting used to the new bike and bulky load. A strong coffee, frothy waves and salty breeze were welcome respite 20 miles in at Stonehaven. A wee climb out of the town afforded a bonny view of the historical harbour.
Another 20 miles had Ade mentioning the sharpness of his razor seat on his rear, however I was more than comfy on my new Brookes sofa which he had bought me but which probably weighed more than his bike.
Although the 40 miles to Montrose had hardly been lung bursting we stopped at a couthie cafe which served up some steaming homemade soup followed by mouthwatering mint cake washed down with a hand warming sweet hot chocolate. The lovely lassie who served us found great hilarity in our drooket demeanour!
The final 20 miles were covered along the national cycle route which detoured through calm countryside with the sounds of birdsong and farmyard animals replacing the roaring roadside traffic.
I was pampered on my first nights stop in Arbroath as Aberdeen Office Supplies whom I had previously worked for paid for a night in the excellent Inishowen Guesthouse as a thank you for my endeavours. To round off a perfect first day on the road my parents and sister, Aud, drove down to dine out and treat Ade and I to a delicious slap up meal!
A five course breakfast ensured that I trundled over the Tay Bridge in Dundee as the rain continued to test my new waterproofs. However, my mind was already on the massive packed lunch my mum had prepared. My legs had tightened a little from the adrenalin fuelled first day and I knew my bus was too heavy and that eating my food was the quickest way to lighten the load. Alternatively I could have shared it with sheep too shy to fight for a little of their own lunch.
A simple day of 69 miles reflecting on my bike, baggage and the adventure that lay ahead had me arriving late at the spotless Witches Craig Campsite buried behind the Ochil Hills at Blairlogie. A carefully pitched tent on the saturated surface kept it and me dry. I then headed off for my eight minute shower, although I did repress the button, then plunked myself on a plastic moulded chair in the toilet block and wrote my diary whilst waiting for my phone to charge. I retired just in time to hear the tap, tap, tap of rain on the tent top as I slipped into a contended slumber!
Peanut butter and banana sandwiches, three carrots and a couple gulps of water got me ready to wring out the tent, roll up the thermarest and pay the £9 bill but unable to repair my bike computer which after 25,000 faithful miles had drowned during the last couple days deluge. A character building day ensued with headwind, rain and a muddy canal side path resulting in slow progress. Normally this would not have been an issue but I had promised my friends, Neela and Al in Kilwinning that I would be with them at six. Sitting at a roundabout at Kirkintilloch an 80 year old man offered me directions. Despite having had a triple by pass and asbestosis he had just received a spanking new lightweight racing machine for his birthday. With renewed vigour I bolted over the Clyde Bridge in the centre of Glasgow and headed for the Ayrshire coast. I stopped for some carbohydrate in the form of a bag of chips and a bottle of the famous Scottish Barrs Iron Bru … the only local soft drink in the world where coca cola has not been able to oust as the number one best seller!
Fortune favours the brave and I wheeled into Kilwinning only an hour late. Despite my fatigue and slightly aching limbs I was quite content with my first three days back on the road … 200 miles and around 18 hours of cycling has been a nice wee taster of things to come.
I have decided to stay here until next Monday and take the opportunity to get to know the blog, rearrange my bags, tweek a few things on the bike and spend some quality time with my friends, whom it will be unlikely I will see again within the next three years!
Thank you so much for all the emails, texts and comments of support received so far … I very much appreciate them so please keep them coming, although I cannot promise to always reply to each one.
In due course I will be adding a map which will detail my route and shall try to be as creative and spontaneous with the blog as energy and internet access will allow.
Much love Eck x