Well I managed my trip out to Aberlady on Saturday. It was a perfect day for it, a little overcast with the clouds threatening to rain but never following through, pleasantly cool temperatures and only the slightest breath of wind. I have no problem with rain or snow when cycling but wind is a deal-breaker for me – above 12mph or so and I’ll just take the bus thanks very much.
Anyway, I followed the route on the image here – down through Portobello, along the prom, through Musselburgh and basically following the coast up to Aberlady. Traffic was pretty light and thanks to the low winds I made it in about an hour, a good bit quicker than I’d planned. By the time I reached the down I was vaguely considering carrying on the seven or eight miles to North Berwick but the slowly building pressure on my bladder made the decision for me; a pit-stop at the Old Aberlady Inn was in order.
If you’re ever in the area I recommend popping in for a drink or a bite to eat, it’s one of those beautiful old country pubs – low ceiling, dark timber beams, rough stone walls and a blazing fire – and was the most welcoming establishment I’ve visited in months. I believe it’s a family business so I placed my coffee order at the bar with mother, her daughter brought it to my table (with some amazing homemade shortbread on the side) while the man of the house wandered out for a chat as I slurped down a damn fine coffee. There were tempting smells wafting in from the lounge room, the distinct aroma of proper old-school pub meals, a mix of steak pie, fresh fish, vinegar and the rest of my favourite foods. This was torture as I didn’t have enough cash on me for a meal and hadn’t brought my wallet so I’ve chalked it down for a proper weekend lunch date in the near future.
After fifteen minutes it was time to hit the road again. I briefly entertained the thought of heading to North Berwick again but then realised I couldn’t be arsed and that, even more pressingly, two weeks with much less exercise than usual was taking its toll on my thigh and groin muscles so I wasn’t going to last much longer. The low wind was against me on the return journey which, added to the fatigue now setting in, made for a slightly less pleasant trip but I still made it back to the flat in more or less an hour, meaning I’d averaged fifteen miles per hour on the trip. Not bad considering I’d estimated ten to twelve beforehand and very promising given the new plan I’ve been hatching…
A colleague mentioned the other day that one of his friends is planning an epic cycle from John O’ Groats to Lands End sometime around Easter, a pretty heavy undertaking of over 1,000 miles which he plans to complete in seven or eight days. In fact, Jono and I calculated that he’ll have to average 14-15mph for ten hours or more per day in order to make it on time Not for the faint-hearted. There’s no way I could handle that right now and the truth is it sounds more like punishment than a fun holiday – I mean what’s the point in covering all that distance if you don’t even get to pause and take in the scenery once in a while? Wouldn’t you prefer some happy memories rather than just a week of constantly burning thighs?
So I’m planning something on a slightly smaller scale, John O’ Groats to Edinburgh over a period of seven days sometime probably at the start of Autumn when it’ll have started cooling down but the days will still be long enough to give me the most flexibility. The plan is to cover the distance over seven days which works out at around 60 miles per day, give or take. At the pace I was riding on Saturday – perfectly manageable – this translates to four hours of cycling per day, two easy shifts with a lunch break in between and plenty of time to stop for photos and enjoy whichever villages I happen to stop in to spend the night along the way. I’ll be following the East coast rather than plumping for the most direct route purely because I’d like a more interesting journey – it’s not as dramatic as the West coast but I can always try that some other time.
The route takes me via many places with personal meaning for me – Dunbeath where my old band played one of the best gigs ever, Inverness where I met my ex for the first time, Gardenstown where I got married and my ex-in-laws stay (possible bed for the night!), Gourdon where my friend Kate stays (another bed…) and Dairsie where my bro and honorary sister live. A good number of potential stop-off points to break up the journey, refuel and get some chat after a few hours on the road.
That’s the plan anyway – before I start properly considering it I’d best concentrate on getting the half marathon and the Thailand trip out of the way. Knowing me, my entire list of priorities will have changed by then and I’ll be off scuba-diving, mountaineering or extreme knitting instead. Still, if anyone fancies coming along for shits and/or giggles just drop me a line, much more chance of it actually happening if there are a few people in tow…