It’s like Christmas already in Edinburgh for me. With Frankie Goes To Hollywood and Chris Rea delivering the soundtrack I am getting into the Christmas riding mood, slowly but surely (the picture on the left was taken in significantly warmer temperatures at Xmas 2008). I usually have a much better taste of music, but need to learn Chris Rea’s lyrics to alter them accordingly, as I am cycling, not driving, home for Christmas. I am the present these days, as the panniers will only hold the bare minimal essentials. The last bits and pieces for the journey arrive slowly and with significant delays as public life grinds to a hold due to snow, and I was not expecting those winter conditions in Scotland ever, but why not add another challenge to an already existing one. Commuting to Stirling takes roughly about five hours each day on the train, the announcements from Scotrail plummet as the temperatures do, but everything is beautifully painted white, the perfect setting for two rides on the weekend. Due to the issues with mail and rail, both don’t seem to like the white stuff, I had to cancel my planned training weekend up in the Cairngorms, as taking a train these days is a rather adventurous thing to do in Scotland. With an avalanche warning for Arthur`s Seat in Edinburgh and snowboarding on the A9 past Dunblane life can`t get much more crazy here.
To get some miles in my legs I managed to squeeze two weekend rides in. One through the beautiful Forth Valley, another one to North Berwick (I finally climbed the law as well, in snow and ice with SPD shoes). Not much time for detail, but it was good to reassure myself that the singlespeed is the best option I can take for that trip in winter. And the Swobo handles perfect in this weather at the moment. Especially as I have spent most miles riding long distances on the road bike, the combination of the speed of the road bike and the sturdiness of my other tourer is brilliant, and I am sure I will tell the same in three weeks time. Not mentioning the orange wheels, which are the major draw card, so I will travel with speed and style, unheard of so far. Going uphill was fine so far, it only takes a better and more strategic approach to riding, as taking the speed from downhills to uphills is worthwhile. I also get the chance to finally test some kit to choose carefully what to pack. it will include my Woolie Boolies, Grandma’s handknitted socks and hopefully some warm stuff from the sponsor of the trip, Montane, should it arrive in time. I will post a more detailed list soon as some stuff has still not arrived (I have plan B ready), but it will be a rather lightweight journey. The weekend was finally good to push my confidence, as I am well aware that this trip is going to be harder than the others I have done so far. While flicking through some pictures with Ian today, I am quite stoked to which lovely corners of the world the bike(s) has got me so far. With 100km and 8okm ridden on both days, and well under the hours I actually have to ride, I am confident to reach the rather ambitious day targets for this trip. The first days will tell.
Publicity is well under way as well with only a few days to start off. Just to make things clear. This is not a publicity mission, neither is it a purely charity-driven mission, in the end I am doing all of this because it is fun, and I like to push myself that little bit further with each mission. New bike, new terrain, new people, all that sounds like a wicked mix, and I am really looking forward to experience good days and challenging moments, and I love to share all this. I totally understand people who rather experience things like this from their couch, it would be rather dull if we were all out there. The reason for doing a trip like this on Christmas is to remind me and others of what this time of the year is about, and it’s not shopping and eating! It’s about meeting friends, make new ones, and share a thought for people that might have not had a good year. That’s the reason why I chose to ride for charity as well, and I would appreciate to meet my target of £1 for each kilometre cycled. The whole thing was ambitious from the start, with only three days to pack I am well up for it, so watch the progress here. And maybe drink one pint less and donate some money for BEN Namibia if you like my stories. more info here