Thursday, July 15, 2010

Bike-athon First Week

 Collecting my bike and trailer from Ally at Richards in Perth. My mum bought me my last bike from the shop way back in the 70's from the present owner's father - nice that there are still small independent shops on the go - great helpful service from Ally and Drew as well.
 The mountain of stuff...even with the trailer and four panniers I can't fit it all in and have to leave some behind with Laura. After emotional goodbyes I head off South from Perth. The weight of stuff makes even the smallest hill feel like I'm dragging a grand piano up the Matterhorn. My heart pounding I soon start walking alongside the bike up the steeper hills. There's a strong head wind and it takes me seven hours to make the 35 miles down through the back roads of Fife to Dunfermline. I arrive exhausted and dehydrated but glad to have made it.
 I spend a few happy days with my new friends and relations Helen and Alan helping them with a bit of kitchen fitting and floor laying. They are both very interested in my therapy and eco stuff and we have great long chats about everything under the sun. We watch "Garbage Warrior" the film about Mike Reynolds and his travails bringing Earthship building methods into the mainstream - a good film. Helen and Alan have done a lot of travelling themselves and have fascinating tales of India, Turkey and many other countries to tell. Thanks for all the friendly hospitality, lovely food and endless cuppas you two!
 No  more trailer! One day of the grand piano in disguise was enough for me. Helen and Alan kindly make space for it along with a couple of boxes of stuff for me and the trailer goes on Gumtree. I can't help thinking of the explorer who was preparing for a polar sledge trip and even trimmed the bristles on his tooth brush to save weight. Another time I wouldn't take nearly so much gear.
 It's a windy day when I set off from Dunfermline and the Forth Road Bridge is closed to high-sided vehicles and crazed eco-cyclists. I only have to wait a few minutes though before one of the bridge maintenance guys gives me a lift over with the bike in the back of his van. It's the first of a succession of fascinating road-meetings that would never have happened otherwise. Bridge Man, who is often right up in the suspension towers, tells me that press reports that the cables are about to break are highly exaggerated. Only a dozen or so of the 12,000 cables that make up the main supports have parted and they may have been like that since the bridge was built. Well that's a relief! And I was just waiting for the whole lot to come pinging down under the weight of my stuff.
 I have an easy run along cycle tracks round the Northern suburbs of Edinburgh and find a good campsite at Musselbrough.
 The next day I have my first serious hill, the Soutar, but manage up pushing the bike a lot of the way. It's a bad traffic day with only sporadic cycle lane but generally cars and trucks give me plenty of space. I have another interesting road meeting with a lovely girl maintenance worker managing a crew of strimmer workers who gives me lots of good advice on the route. Bizarrely, the guy above stopped in the layby at the top of the Soutar where I was resting and released these crates of pigeons on their first training flight.
 After another twelve hours' sleep at a campsite in Lauder I set off for Alex and Mick's place near Kelso. It's a perfect cycling day, sunny and warm with a fresh breeze to keep the flies away, cruising along or walking up the hills through open hilly farmland. I clock up my first 100 miles. Yay!

1 comment:

cgb said...

Well thats 100 miles less to get to Portugal! With the attitude that the journey is more important than arriving, you'll have a great time, Ian. Nice clear pics telling the story too.