This always promised to be a momentous day. It never failed to live up to that expectation.
Firstly, I said au revoir to my parents after breakfast this morning and gave them my dirty washing to take with them! I only did it to make my mum feel younger. It was to remind her of when I used to come home from University for the weekend and give her a present of my dirty washing and collected the same all neatly laundered at the end of the weekend. I hope my mother appreciates the things I do for her.
I left my parents in Uddingston and set off north for Glasgow and beyond. Heading into Glasgow, I went past Celtic FC’s ground at Parkhead, a “temple” to Fenian politics and one of the ugly faces of Catholicism. Heading into the centre of Glasgow, I then passed the main Muslim mosque and saw slogans of support for Al Quaeda nearby. Passing across the centre of town, I was delayed by an Orange Order parade and have to say, the behaviour and triumphalism of some of those taking part in the parade showed a side of the Protestant denomination that should no longer exist. In the space of perhaps 4 miles I had seen the ugly side of 3 religions. Mind you, I’m sure the Glaswegians who saw me think they have seen the ugly face of English cyclists.
Riding through Glasgow reminded me of my last visit to the city in November 1999 to see England beat Scotland 2-0 in the European Championship Play off tie. I had a ticket in the Scotland end and think I upset the locals when I jumped out of my seat each time England scored. I’m sure the term sassenach, the liberal use of anglo saxon language and the questioning of my parentage were not terms of endearment, nor were the missiles flying in my direction.
I made some good progress after this along the A82 past Erskine Bridge and Dumbarton. This road was a very busy dual carriageway. It was however a fast road to cycle on and the traffic didn’t phase me after years of commuting in London. Finding a cafe stop proved more difficult. After about 25 miles, I stopped in a lay by and asked a coach driver where I could find a cafe. He told me it was about 10 miles up the road to the next cafe. He seemed surprised that I said this was no problem and that I would go there instead of turning off into a village near the route. By this time the rain had started to fall.
I stopped in a little place on the banks of loch Lomond called Luss for a cuppa and a flapjack. Another couple came in and chatting to them, it turns out they know a number of members of the Lea Valley Youth Cycling Club that I am the child welfare officer of. Its a small world!
Whilst I was heading north, Jo was driving up to join me at Crianlarich for the night. The speed she was travelling at, I suspect I will have several Notices of Intended Prosecution when I get home (only joking!).
I started around this time to be troubled by a minor twinge in my left thigh. This continued to get worse, and after I stopped for lunch it was considerably worse. It was pouring with rain and I was soaked through. This did not help. The rain was the heaviest I had ridden in for sometime. I was only 15 miles from Crianlarich by now and Jo was already there. I battled on the last 15 miles, struggling at times to turn the pedals with my left leg. I was in pain. The road was uphill climbing some 500-600 feet towards Crianlarich. I was determined to get to the destination. My thinking being that if I get there, I could if necessary spend a day there resting and hoping the thigh strain would heal.
I did eventually arrive at the hotel Jo was waiting at. The meeting was slightly difficult as i was far too wet to hug Jo. Fortunately the hotel has a drying room so I was able to put my wet kit in there and also leave my bike there.
The hotel is beautiful and well recommended. I am posting this on the hotel wi-fi connection. A great meal in the hotel and good company (and hopefully some TLC) will see me back on the road either tomorrow or Monday. I can think of worse places to be holed up in. The countryside is spectacular and the hotel is great. I also have a young lady to fuss over me, even if she won’t wear a nurses’ uniform!
One thing that is noticeable as I progress is the change of terrain. in Cornwall and Devon there was lots of ups and downs, short steep hills. In Scotland there are not so many ups and downs, but the climbs and descents tend to be longer more gentle gradients. Here in the start of the Highlands, the roads tend to pass through the valleys rather than going over the tops of hills.
Will I be riding tomorrow? I hope so, but that is in the hands of God. He has me in a great place if a day’s delay is needed, and great company too, so i’m not too worried if I am delayed a day- as long as I am able to continue to JoG eventually.
60 miles travelled
Time taken 4 hrs 17 mins
Average speed 14.0
2550 feet ascended