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1993 Biking Britain


So… July in Scotland was the wettest July since 1947! Ditto September in England. My first day on the road was wet and windy. Before setting out, with a cheerful “Good morning!”, I had accosted a stranger on the street intending to ask for directions to the post office. “What’s good about it?” growled he. It was on that first day that I learned that mist-gentle drizzle is not the enemy of the cyclist, but that a head-wind is. Several days later, along ht shores of Loch Eriboll, I confirmed this early lesson. Cycling south along the east shore I was bucking a headwind and struggling despite the gently undulating road. Cycling laster north along the west shore, with the wind behind me, I was doing 14 miles per hour without pedaling! I was later told that most cyclists do Land’s End to John O’Groats so that the prevailing southwesterly wind is behind them.

On a few days the mist-gentle drizzle turned into a torrential downpour. Then, if you can, it is time to get off the road. If you can’t, you just have to tuck your chin in and bear it. Bear fingers getting too cold and stiff to change gears; bear trudging uphill through a sheet of running water until your shoes and socks are sodden and you can feel rain trickling between your toes; bar the sting in your eyes and your inability to see properly; bear the fear of being unseen by those approaching from behind. But invariably there is a pub or hotel ahead. Where kind, albeit reserved hosts, will allow you to dry out before a roaring fire and serve you homemade soup and brandy and coke. And later, if you are lucky, you can dry all your worldly goods, soaked despite the pannier-maker’s guarantee that your panniers are 100% waterproof (!), in a centrally heated B&B.

And then there are the sunshine days – days made for shirtsleeves, sunglasses and suntan lotion. Beautiful days without wind or rain. Great days for photography and ice-cream. Days on which to zigzag from one side of an untraveled B-road to t’other, to picnic on the roadside, to watch jugglers in the town square, to sing if you can. Heavenly days – of which I had my fair share!

Sunshine day
Sunshine day
Sunshine day
Sunshine day
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