Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Tuesday 18th May
Edinburgh day off

I woke early, even considering it was a day off. I had some plans, but not many: get the blog sorted and published, get some washing done and dried, and do some Chopper maintenance. If I could do those, I’d be ok for doing not much else.

My legs were stiff, and my bum needed a rest from that bench seat of a saddle. I was tired and generally worn out, and I was glad that Hilary had bullied me into having days off. Thank you, Hilary! xxx

I still wasn’t able to get on-line, so busied myself with adding to the draft blog that I’d started, and at 07:30 went down for breakfast. Continental again, but quite ok and as much as you can eat - I settled for warm rolls, cheese and ham, and then another warm roll with marmalade, all washed down with four cups of tea.

I asked at reception whether they’d got anyone to sort the ‘net out, but no, so I wandered back upstairs to carry on a little. Soon after starting again, lo and behold, I could connect! so I started the upload procedure. It took and age, but I got there in the end, I hope you’re happy with my efforts.

Tomorrow, I travel to the Borders - a “short” distance of 50 odd miles-ish, and I believe that there shouldn’t be too much in the way of climbing over mountains. I plan to get away at 8ish, and DougieB should be there to shepherd me out of the city.

Chopper is fine and ready, and Trailer is sitting up in the room in a corner by the door. Four bunks in here and all occupied so when we’re all in, it’s a bit squashed but the area by the door is fairly empty, they don’t seem to have designed the living space too well. With Trailer in the room, I can pack my box without too much effort.

All in all it’s been a quite and relaxing day. I’ve just devoured a chicken chow mein from over the road, and earlier on I had a couple of pints. I may go back soon and get another couple, but it will be early to bed again for me. For lunch, I had two sachets of soup and loads of mixed fruits and nuts and couple of Baby Bells. Luxury eh?

Wednesday 19th May
Edinburgh to Beattock

Here I am at Lochhouse Farm at Beattock. It's very quiet here, and I will sleep like a log! Luckily, they have internet connection though not WiFi for me. I'm connected via ethernet on a wire in the dining room.

I was awake early - again - and busied myself quietly in the dorm. I had everything prepared so it was only a matter of washing and dressing, then getting Trailer down in the lift to the ground floor and Chopper out of its prison dungeon. It was shortly after 7am, and breakfast wasn't until 7.30 but I asked nicely and by 7.20 I was drinking tea and eating warm rolls with cheese and ham. Shortly after, I went back up to the dorm for a final check to make sure I'd got everything and signed out at reception.

DougieB was outside waiting, so we greeted each other like old friends and off we went into the busy Edinburgh streets. It was tough climb for me up Leith Walk as my legs had seized up after a day off! I soon got into a rhythm and was ok. Doug shepherded me well, and I thank him for that. He knew which lane to get into and when, and made sure he wasn't leaving me behind.

We crossed under the Edinburgh by-pass and took the Penicuik road - A701 - busy, but ok, and Doug did his thing with me wonderfully.

The road climbed out of the city, and continued to do so. There were downhills but they were vastly outnumbered by the uphills. Doug and I parted at Leadburn where he turned back to Edinburgh, and I carried on alone with only Garmin for company.

A nice view with a bridge over the Tweed

Somewhere near Blyth Bridge (I can't be any more accurate than that), I spied three cyclists coming towards me chatting together riding three-abreast, we hailed each other as we went by. I wasn't sure if they were LEJOGers or not. Five minutes later, at the bottom of a hill, I saw a chap taking a photo of me as I approached. As I drew near, he asked me if I was Mick F! It seems he's supporting the three riders I saw, and one of them surmised that it was me and phoned back to his mate. We chatted for a few minutes. The three riders were LEJOGing and were orthopaedic surgeons(?) from Plymouth! No doubt they've been on the CTC Forum to have know about me. I passed on the web details and he said he'd hopefully be able to upload the photograph. Good eh?

At about the halfway mark, I stopped at Broughton at a nice little cafe and scoffed a bacon and egg roll washed down with a pot of tea. Whilst sitting there, a chap that had just left, came back in and gave me his pocketful of change for the school! How nice was that! Also, an elderly couple came in and sat on the next table and we got chatting about this and that, and eventually my story came out, and they gave me a tenner! HOW nice was that!

The hills continued to come ...........................

At the top, it was only mid afternoon and I knew that Lochhouse farm was a couple of miles from Moffat, so determined to find a pub in the town for a meal and a couple of beers. I started to descend - at last! - and although the hill wasn't steep, it was continuous and as the mist had come in and it had started to drizzle, I was getting cold. I pulled over and put on my Gortex top to keep out the damp wind. I'm glad I did.

Even so, by the time I made it into Moffat, I was freezing cold - perhaps verging on hypothermia. I was grateful for a warm pub, and very grateful for the big steaming plate of liver and onions! Oh, and I managed a couple of pints too.

Just as some ladies were leaving, they spied Chopper and Trailer outside on the pavement and came back in and gave me a handful of change. They asked loads of questions which I answered of course, and they went with broad smiles on their faces. Aren't people nice?

Warmer and fuller, I made my way to the farm. It was easy to find, just on the end of the Moffat road where it joins the M74 and Old A74 - just near a roundabout.

I checked in, showered and had a hot chocolate.

There, that's my day.

54.46 miles (353.64 miles from JOG)
8:41:05 duration
5:56:04 cycling and sitting on that awful saddle!
2709 ft total ascent
I won't bore you with the calories, but suffice it to say that I may not be losing weight, but I am losing girth. My lycra isn't lumpy and I had to tighten my heart-rate monitor strap and inch or two!

I've noticed that although my heart-rate is the same under stress and pedalling, it recovers quickly and to a lower level than it did before. This is what you call fitness.

You can see by this graph how much today's climbs have been rather tiring despite the relatively short mileage. Click on the picture to see the scales. Basically, from mile 28 to mile 46 the road got steeper and steeper. Then it dropped rather!

The route was very straightforward. Over Edinburgh North Bridge and straight out onto the A701.

Some of you have been asking about perhaps sending some money to the school. I'm not fishing for this, but if anyone wants to, please send a cheque to class teacher:

Miss Claire Martin
Gunnislake Primary School
Chapel Street
PL18 9NA

Please make the cheque out to "Gunnislake School OLA"
(OLA stands for Outside Learning Area)

Thanks. I mean it. Thanks.

Ta Ta for now, and hopefully there'll be more tomorrow, and this time from England.

Regards to all,


  1. Oh thanks heavens, I thought I was going to bed without my daily dose of your Chopper - and you can't tell me you never heard THAT one in the Navy! That's one helluva lot of climbing, I feel for you! Hope you get the bike seat sorted out somehow :-) Have a great Thursday!

  2. Hiya Mick,

    Hey, if you need a breather then have one! Good on Hilary for insisting you have a rest.

    Good luck with crossing the border, have your passport ready etc etc., LOL only kidding.

    Keep up the good work :>)

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. Mick
    Really enjoying reading about your travels.Prior to this the only Choppers I ever saw were either hanging up on the wall in my LBS or on display somewhere else so I am more than impressed to see someone still using it for what it was meant for.The distances you are covering are also impressive.I went out yesterday and did 32 miles at an average of 10mph and I felt happy with that. As a Chair of Governors at a local primary schoolI am also well impressed to see that you are doing it for your local school to raise funds.Like all of our colleagues rest assured that I will be sending a small donation.I do hope you plan to give the kids a presentation on your achievement when you get back home because i am sure if you do there will be some of them that will remember it and perhaps when they are a little older they will recall what you did and realise that they too can achieve whatever they want to by just making that effort.

    Look forward to reading your next report. Stay safe and may the wind be behind you.



  5. Thursday 20th May

    We drink in Hilary and Mick's local.

    Tonight we are having a pub quiz to help him raise funds for our local school.

    Wherever you are, raise a glass for Mick this evening!

    All the best
    Critter and Lis

  6. Thanks Critter, see you soon!

    And thanks too, to Ted.