Last night I got back from a fabulous cycling trip near the west coast of Scotland. Normally I would probably comment on Facebook and post a picture but if I am to get better acquainted with my feelings then I need to celebrate the good stuff as well as reflect on the bad stuff (simplification but you understand I hope).
So what made the weekend so great?
- getting away for a weekend which had been organised by someone else
- not having to drive two hours each way
- friends I can laugh with who are happy to stop for a break
- no wind to cycle against and not too hot
- stunning scenary
- finishing a challanging ride (lots of ups and downs and distance) and reversing the route the next day
- discovering a new area of Scotland with a fascinating ancient (4000 year old) history
- time together and time apart
- meeting and remeeting other travellers and sharing a bit of our stories
- unexpected kindness of strangers
- chance meeting of a 90 year old friend who normally lives nearly 500 miles away
- hardly any midges
I find it hard to capture how special this trip was for me. For a cyclist the figures may help. Over two days we covered 135.8km (84.4 miles) and climbed 2072m (6800 feet); I used my hard tail mountain bike employing high gear ratios and high cadence but my friend on her Trek 7.9 was extremely impressive on the ascents.Completing such a ride from doing a weekly 20 mile ride and a few 2 mile commutes was brilliant.
I really enjoyed meeting people: the dad and daughter cycling to Oxford University where she was starting her first year; the local cyclist who offerred us tea and coffee and then brought our huge slices of courgette cake; the driver who passed us a couple of times and wanted to chat. I love being part of these little vignettes in people’s lives.
Finding out about Kilmartin Glen and its historical significance was amazing, over 300 ancient monuments within a six mile radius. The highlights for me were the standing stone circle in a small grove of trees and Dunadd Fort.
The trip was also an opportunity to revisit memories of past holidays. We started near Taynuilt which is near Dunstaffnage marina, the start of many a sailing trip off the west coast. We also went along the Crinan Canal and past Tayvallich marina from which I sailed around Jura, Islay and Gigha. Cycling through the glens is brilliant, but on reflection I think if you really want to experience the west coast of Scotland, nothing beats sailing.
Many thanks to the people whom this experience was shared with.