Crossing the border
Managing my 12 mile test ride yesterday with no falling off, dizziness or general panic was a huge relief. The 12 miles felt a lot harder than it should have done but I’m comforting myself with the fact that my body has been working pretty hard on the whole healing thing! Today was all about upping the mileage without pushing myself too hard and risking setting myself back – I’m still feeling a bit wobbly. It was also the day that we would cross into Scotland – although there’s still a few miles to go to John O’Groats it’s an exciting milestone, and a huge achievement for Laura and Jon who have cycled all the way here!
Knowing that if I started with everyone in the morning I’d want to do the whole day of 70 miles (too much for my current fragile state), I opted to join the ride after the first brew stop at about 20 miles.
During my enforced absence from cycling I’ve mostly been in the brew van, ‘helping’ the guides set up the huge variety of snacks and making cups of tea as the soggy cyclists come through.
The guides do an amazing job of looking after us, and it’s been interesting to get an insight into how it all works (the metaphor of a swan gliding smoothly over the water while legs frantically paddle underneath is definitely fitting as these cyclists are a demanding lot!).
It’s been a lovely way to see everyone through the day and still feel a part of the trip, and the guides have done a great job of entertaining me/ tactfully looking the other way when I’ve had a little cry about not being able to get on my bike when everyone else sets off.
So in some ways I’ll miss my brew van duties, but I was VERY happy to be getting on my bike for the short stint taking us to lunch in Gretna, just before the Scottish border. The indecisive weather from yesterday continued with alternating showers and sunshine; our soup lunch was very welcome, even if it was slightly disconcerting to be surrounded by photos of dour clergymen who have performed weddings in Gretna Green over the last 200 years!
After lunch we had a long stretch of blustery, roughly surfaced road – not quite as windy as crossing the Severn bridge on day 4 but hard work and with occasional moments of almost being blown over sideways. The route took us through a series of small towns and villages with some imposing stone churches, a couple of beautiful lochs and through (but thankfully not up!) rolling hills. We’ve been warned that the dodgy road surfacing is a theme throughout Scotland, so we have 5 more days of pins and needle-y fingers to look forward to. But with scenery this stunning that’s a price I’m willing to pay.
I lasted the rest of the day to reach our overnight stay in Moffat, and hoping for no repercussions from the 50 miles… We have a group meal to look forward to tonight, with haggis on the menu! We’re really lucky to have a fantastic group of people to do this trip with, and I’m looking forward to hanging out with them tonight having done at least some of the cycling today rather than feeling like a bit of a fraud as I have for the last couple of days…
Day 10 tomorrow- it’s going so fast!
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