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.

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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.

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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.

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Many thanks to the people whom this experience was shared with.

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