Well that’s the holiday over. What I mean is that tomorrow we start our seventeenth day on the road which is about as long as we have ever toured for, until now. Under normal circumstances we would be getting a bit despondent at this point as we contemplated returning home and getting back to work and routines but not this time. I’m wondering if the next week or two will feel like an extended holiday or whether we will begin to really believe that this is our life for the forseeable future. It’s an exciting prospect and ever so slightly frightening too. If I’m worried about anything, it isn’t the cycling, the weather or any problems we may encounter. No, it’s the possibility that there will come a point when we just aren’t enjoying the experience, but if the first two weeks are anything to go by, I would say there is nothing at all to worry about. So far, it has been wonderful and even without much in the way of warmth or sunshine, being completely immersed in the unfolding spring has been a magical experience.
As we have travelled north, further and further from familiar territory, the sense of being close to nature and living almost completely outdoors has been the single most rewarding sensation for me. As I write this I am sitting in the lounge of our wonderful and generous Warm Showers hosts, Dick and Jackie and I am looking out over Loch Sween with the very real prospect of seeing an Osprey fishing for its supper. You couldn’t ask for a nicer setting or kinder and more interesting people to stay with but I am still really looking forward to camping again tomorrow night. We will almost certainly be on Mull by then and well on our way to the Highlands. Lots of big climbs, I know, but with all the rewards of spectacular scenery that the clash of big mountains and rugged coastlines does so well.
Looking back at the first two weeks I get the sense of a transition from focussing on making linear progress over the ground to climbing to a completely different spiritual place that comes with this new landscape and the peace and tranquility of it all. We have gone through a kind of breaking in process. Getting gradually fitter as the roads have risen higher and working our way through various aches and pains as our bodies have adjusted to the new demands we are making of them. Now comes the reward of hard work we hope.
We have already met loads of lovely people, some of whom have embraced our odyssey with joyous enthusiasm and others who have not. I think the coolest response so far was from another cyclist who, when Gill explained what we are doing simply replied, “oh lovely” and changed the subject. By contrast, while I shopped for dinner in the Girvan Co-op Gill was presented with a two pound donation by a woman in the street who wanted to know what we were doing.
In Wigtown we were sheepishly approached by the wonderfully named Forbes Rogerson who, it turned out, was harbouring a burning desire to load up his bike and pedal into the sunset. I hope we inspired you Forbes because you really won’t regret it.
We have been spoilt rotten by Dick and Jackie over the last twenty four hours and it has been incredibly relaxing to stay in their home and swap stories of cycling and all manner of other topics. Dick offered to host us for two nights because we needed a rest but also because he said the weather forecast for today was awful. In fact it’s been glorious so the fact that he had a large load of firewood delivered today that had to be unloaded and stacked does make me slightly suspicious of his real motives for keeping us here for today. Only joking of course Dick, stacking firewood is my second passion after cycling, honestly.
We’ll be sad to leave our new friends but happy at the same time to start this new phase of the journey and to enjoy the experience as it continues to grow and develop.
Still waiting for the Osprey I’m afraid.