So it came down to this, no turning back, crossing Morningside road, from Orlas frozen flat, This is it, I take a deep breath, cant believe that I’m actually doing this, As the rush hour traffic lights change I get swept into the tide of traffic, guided by Franks satnav directions and Orlas lucky charm horses head strapped to the handle bars..One quick look back, and a wave at lonesome Orla and I’m off….
With a big happy holiday head on me, sun shining, wind in my face, London six days away, I pull up along side Edinburgh’s student bike population, weighed down by laptops and ruck sacks and high nelly baskets. I smile a big happy stupid, “I’m off to London smile” which seems to creep them out, and by the time we get to the second set of lights, they shoot on through, despite the fact that their red, anxious to escape the Jimmy Saville in lycra..
You have to trust the Satnav, it pulls me up out of Edinburgh in search of the A68, up through leafless suburbs, still waiting on the slow spring to break, retired garden plots, tired council estates, till we eventually break free of the city, full of energy and enthusiasm, determined to enjoy every moment of the trip..I tip along, despite the head wind, that slaps the face off me,, and swings side on, but never slipping in behind me..and this was to its habit for most of the trip.
It was as I imagined sun shining, high non threatening clouds. Slipping through quaint little towns tidy little villages with every street and lane named and signed. But the A68 had its hairy moments. Thursday morning articulated lorries in a terrible hurry to be home for the weekend, swept by pinning me to the hard shoulder wrapping me in a swirl of wind, and my heart in my mouth…
But still there I was pedaling like nuts, thinking that I was doing something brilliant till I passed a runner with a baton in his hand 60k outside Edinburgh, and he looked fked. Four Klms later I’m flagged down by a guy with a mobile to his ear..
“Have you seen a runner…?”
“I have, and he looks fked” I say.
“He’s running to London for Amy, it’s a charity”
“Well, I hope Amy isn’t on a life support machine and relying on yer man, because Amy has a better chance of surviving then your man does..he’s fked…”
I presumed it was a relay as they hoped to be in Darlington by tomorrow morning, via Newcastle, I hope to be in Darlington tomorrow evening avoiding Newcastle.
On I cycled, still feeling good, up over peat land down woodland valleys, stopping for Coffee and homemade soup in Lauder where they still talk about the great snow of 42…
You have no choice but to crawl out of Scotland, its like the Scots just make it hard for you to get here, and even harder to leave. The road up to the border is a corkscrew, that saps energy, and goes on and on, Imap a bright red articulated lorry crunching gears, slowly winding its way up along the mountain. My happy holiday enthusiasm begins to ebb. Is it any wonder Mel Gibsons Braveheart, only got as far as York and then called it a day. They were to kneackered to go any further.
Breathless and beat, I cross its summit.. I get talking to a couple my age, he with a little sports car, with a roll back roof, and a glamorous “wife”..me in lycra and a bike with a horse’s head..I tell him that I’m cycling to London, and joke “it’s a midlife crisis type of thing” I say almost apologetically..He laughs and points to his glamorous wife and little sports car.. “That’s my mid life crisis…” we laugh. And for a moment I envied him. But as I rolled over the summit and free wheeled into the valley below and on into England..I thought “Ye, but is he happy” Because right there that very moment I was the happiest sore arsed cyclist in the world.
I after the long energy sapping climb over the border, thought it was just a matter of a long happy free wheel to Bellingham below. And my final destination of the day. But when I eventually reached the turn off sign post for Bellingham, which was only half inch away on the map…after a 110k of hard first day cycling, it tells me that I have another 18k up over moorland, and hills, where Curlews called lonesome and lapwings nested…
Tired legs sore shoulders now forced me to stop every few klms, to take the ruck sack off and stretch. And this was to be the trend for the entire trip, towards days end…
Eventually, there it was, Bellingham, like a scene from Emmerdale, without the dysfunctional families and the odd murder. I glided with a new found confidence into its deserted streets…Hampered by the nagging thought..”Jaysus, I have to climb back out off this valley again in the morning….