10 May 2013
Warning, this post might go a little odd, it was a long day and hard ride. 71 miles, across some serious hills to begin with, and into a nasty headwind all the way.
I awoke to a grey day but at least the rain had stopped, and I’d had a cosy night’s sleep under the Monkey Puzzle tree post lots of food the evening before. Packing up a wet tent is never good, but is something I’ll have to get used to I expect, gave it a good shake but impossible to get it dry without some sunshine.
I breakfasted and set off before 9am, wanting to make good time up into Scotland and to Edinburgh. Little didn’t know at this point what the day had in store for me. I cycled down into Berwick-upon-Tweed, and across the bridge into the town proper, before finding a McDonald’s on the outskirts for a quick second breakfast and to upload a couple of blog posts via their wifi.
To get into Scotland I had to hit the A1, crossing the border after a few miles, with hills getting hillier, and a headwind building from the East. Sunnier though.
I finally turned off the A1 at Burnmouth, which was somewhat of a relief given the traffic, and headed down to Eyemouth along the A1107, following route 76. The headwind was getting stronger making hill ascents trickier, but the countryside was lovely and the sun was out, so all good. I had a break in Coldingham post a long climb – quick rest and a banana from my fruit basket, on the St. Abbs road in a nice warm sheltered spot. I didn’t go all the way to St. Abbs as would have involved long hill back up into Coldingham, and I was already feeling a bit tired.
I followed the coast road back towards the A1, past a wind farm having a particularly productive day. Some pretty long hills up, followed by some lovely long descents despite the wind which meant I had to keep pedalling to prevent stopping, even downhill.
I had to cycle down the A1 again for a bit, whereupon I passed a sign which as well as advertising various tourist attractions, mentioned Goblins abounded in East Lothian, but that you might not see one; I’d had a feeling I was being watched for some time.
I turned off the A1 to Dunbar where I lunch from a local bakery – nice chicken tikka masala slice and cake. Met up with a large group of cyclists on their way to Newcastle from Edinburgh, they were enjoying a nice tailwind, I had the opposite to contend with. They were riding for a children’s charity and taking three days, looked fun but think I prefer cycling on my own or in a smaller group.
In Dunbar I also passed a Peruvian busker, sending familiar notes drifting through the town from his pipes. I’m sure I’d seen him in Norwich at some point. Quite strange to hear in Scotland where I was more expecting bagpipes. He had a funny hat on, maybe he was a goblin.
From Dunbar I headed off once more into the fierce headwind, which was proving very draining. I had to turn off route 76 to keep following the coast, and headed up to North Berwick past Tyninghame and Whitekirk. I passed Tantallon Castle and the impressive Bass Rock island.
I turned into North Berwick where I had a break. I’d had a tiring day so far with my bike feeling heavy. I had suspicions someone or something had slipped stones into my panniers but couldn’t find any. North Berwick is a lovely spot and would be worth a return visit.
On the subject of the large hill/mound to the north of the town, it was a little bizarre coming out of nowhere, and very imposing. Don’t know if it was man made, I suspect not, probably volcanic origins, or more likely Goblin in nature.
The clouds started to draw in now and it was getting colder, so I tried to pick up the pace, heading down the coast through Dirleton which had an impressive castle, then past Aberlady Bay. As well as getting colder my lower back started to ache on the right hand side which I tried to ignore; suspect poison darts from the Goblins who’d realised I’d rumbled them.
I rode past Gosford Bay where there were several goblins kite-surfers out taking advantage of the wind that had been plaguing me. They were going really well but hard to capture in a photo.
I think I was starting to hallucinate at this point so I ate some sweets to try and get some energy and sanity back, before continuing along the coast past Cockenzie and Port Seton, then on to Musselburgh where the charity ride from earlier had started. It started raining at this point but I didn’t bother with a waterproof, it would have been too much effort to get out.
Rode on determinedly towards Edinburgh city centre, hoping to make last orders at the Virgin Money lounge above which our Edinburgh office is based. I road around quite a lot of Edinburgh looking for the office, due to going wrong then getting trapped by roadworks. Everything is a lot more difficult when you’re tired. Finally found St Andrews Square, which should have been easier seeing as I passed really close to it about 30 minutes previously, however unfortunately it was well after 17.30 by that point. Thanks for the donations though Edinburgh colleagues!
Worth mentioning that Edinburgh drivers are a little mad, and quite aggressive, plus there are lots of buses to contend with. I think Princes Street had the highest density of buses I’ve ever seen in one place, even more than London or Marseille, and they’re all driven by goblins as far as I can tell. You also have to watch out for the tram lines they’re installing at the moment, no trams until next year however the lines are easy to get your wheel stuck in; several cyclists have apparently fallen afoul!
Negotiating more of Edinburgh I made my way to Hugh and Meredith’s flat, friends who I’d been threatening to visit for years but never quite made it. Arrived in time for dinner, a very welcome Mexican cooked up by Meredith, followed by strawberry tart and ice-cream. Great to catch up and also learnt lots about Lego Star Wars from their son Noah. He could seriously go on Mastermind with specialist subject Star Wars, not sure 6 year old general knowledge would quite work out though I’m sure he’d give them a run for their money. Also got some laundry done so good for at least another couple of weeks now 😉
Full of food, and with thoughts of goblins receding I retreated to a comfy bed, although thinking about it Hugh does have a Goblin tendencies, especially when he gets his bottle of Everclear out – if you’re ever offered this drink run away!
Tough day, hardest yet with wind and hills, but good to end up with friends. Tomorrow equals finding a bike shop to get new brake blocks, tyres, and a once over (for the bike not me, although I could probably do with it), then going down the Union Canal to Falkirk, and on to Stirling. I might also try and find a chemist for sore nose remedy, and anti goblin hallucination drugs!