Day 2 – Fort William to Edinburgh
Readers worldwide will be hoping that a short day in the saddle means a short blog. I can’t promise anything, but I’ll try my best.
JOGLE aficionados will note that going through Edinburgh is nowhere near the quickest or most direct route. Back in the planning stage, I think something along the lines of ‘Ross has never been to Edinburgh, let’s go there’ was mentioned, which looking back seems slightly silly as we saw absolutely zero of the places we ended up staying in, apart from the inside of a supermarket and a bed.
We rolled out from Fort William (slightly late – Jack beginning to make a name for himself), along the northern shores of Loch Linnhe, in fairly high spirits. It was still raining, but only slightly, with the forecast telling us things were going to brighten up during the day.
However, we did have a fairly stiff headwind to contend with, which made things harder than they needed to be. The good news was that we had the best views of the entire trip to look forward to, and they didn’t disappoint.
We took in one of the ‘official’ top 100 UK climbs up and out of Glencoe, climbing over 300m in 8 miles, which was absolutely stunning. Ross and I shamefully broke the bike touring code by leaving Jack behind to slog up alone (the assumption was he was just taking some picture – he usually is), for which we rightfully received an earful and duly apologised.
I thought it right to include the fact that, yeah, there were arguments. I think it would be silly to pretend otherwise. There were some long, long days on the bike, and at times we were really pushing to our mental and physical limits, and tempers sometimes did fray. But we were always quick to apologise, and admit we’d been a twat there. I found myself apologising a lot more than the other two..
Once we’d hit the top of the climb, the views were just as spectacular, and the time flew by as we enjoyed some flat or downhill miles. I got a real boost as we hit the shores of Loch Earn, as I’d cycled here with Katie just two months ago during our epic Tour Du Trois Lochs. The good memories and familiarity really helped with morale.
There was also a cow for some less serious photos.
We had some lunch in the little village of Comrie, where the sun had finally come out and we tucked into yet another slice of cake. We left here buoyed by the thought of what was probably going to be our only ‘daylight’ finish of the week.
Champagne was popped when for the first time on the trip ‘those’ trousers finally came off and I was just down to my full-length tights. We had a couple more climbs to negotiate, but as well as being the shortest day, this was a reasonably ‘flat’ day.
We cruised through the golfing haven of Gleneagles, with the scenery still offering us plenty to look at. That was until we abruptly reached Dunfermline. Apologies to any readers from the region, but I won’t be rushing back.
It was a bit of a rude awakening to be back in civilisation after being in fairly remote parts of Scotland for so long. Trying not to get mowed down by aggressive drivers was high on the list of priorities, with buses pulling out from all over the place, threatening to delay our dinner plans – there was only ever going to be one winner there.
Crossing the Forth Bridge was mega, as we could see Edinburgh in the distance, and it really felt like we’d come a long way in the last day and a half. Instead of taking the most direct route to the city, I’d sold the lads the ‘scenic’ route, taking in the Dalmeny Estate and a sharp couple of climbs.
From here I was on familiar roads, and I guided us through the cobbled streets of Stockbridge to the little flat our family owns – a welcome bit of luxury after a hard day at the office.
After the perils of Day 1, I was feeling so much more positive about the days to come. I’d always told myself it’d take a few days for my body to get used to the punishment, and I was hoping the fabled Spraggins ‘diesel’ engine would kick in as the week wore on.
Jack proved he was more than just a photographer and a pretty face, as he whipped us up a mean risotto whilst #phonegate rumbled on. I’d reached out on social media, and amazingly, so many people had come back with offers of help.
It turned out that ex-president of Serpentine Running Club (I used to be a member) Jen Bradley lived just around the corner, and she was amazing in loaning me a laptop to try and help restore my phone. After (literally) hours worth of trying, we resigned to the fact that it was, to use the technical term, buggered.
It’s a slightly pathetic sign of the times, but not having a fully functioning phone really knocked me back. I felt that I really needed the messages of support from friends and family to boost morale, and now that link was broken I felt like I was cut adrift. But we did everything we could, and from that point on, I accepted it wasn’t coming back to life.
By the time I returned home the other lads were fast asleep and I quickly sorted my gear for the morning and got my head on the pillow. Try as I might, I really couldn’t sleep, with my mind again racing with thoughts of crossing the border into England the following day..
Day 2 stats:
2,143 meters of climbing
8 hours 50 ride time
10 hours 6 elapsed time