The previous two days had been really good weather just great for biking in today was rather colder and duller almost everyone had at least one extra layer on.
As no one fancied the Travellodge’s version of a continental breakfast we headed into Musselburgh and the Burgh Cafe. All weekend I had been amazed at the amount of food this crew could down but they surpass themselves at breakfast with quite a few opting for a full Scottish I just can’t eat that much then jump on a bike!
After leaving Musselburgh we headed along Portobello Prom to be confronted with three police vehicles and a Bomb disposal van suffice to say the full Scottish delayed no one as we zipped Doon Porty Prom as fast as our wheels and good manners would permit.
Leaving Porty behind us we travelled through Leith and onto some of the Capital’s excellent cycle paths unfortunately they were full of kilted walkers doing the Kilt Walk and as we were headed in the same direction that meant we were constantly bell ringing or in some cases whistling to let people know we were approaching. However a few “want to hire a tandem” or “anyone needing a backy” cheered the walkers up. As you could imagine we got fairly well spaced out and the front group missed a crucial turning which meant we had to do a U turn and go back through the walkers. We soon got on the right path and headed out to Dalmeny and South Queensferry. South Queensferry is the traditional wheel dipping stop and the end of the C2C but as Dalgety Bay is the home of the group we headed across the bridge and onwards to Dalgety Bay for lunch and the wheel dipping ceremony.
Stats distance 27 miles with 1132 feet of climb in 2:38:11 an AV spd of 10.4 mph.
The trip from Annan to South Queensferry will be on Scottish Bike Tourings rides list for 2017.
Being split over two hotels did have certain logistical problems but taken in the whole picture 5 tandems, 10 riders 5 of whom are blind it really was a minor point! We were all sorted out and ready to pedal by 0945. Those of you who haven’t been on a tandem might not appreciate that even getting started poses a challenge with a coordinated clipping in of one pedal and a 321go to get upright and start pedalling ensuring that there is plenty gaps in traffic!
Today is what is known in cyclists parlance as slightly lumpy starting almost immediately with the Devils Beeftub! I was piloting for Louise and as this was my first time I was supposed to have a co pilot as well but due to call offs I ended up being Louise’s sole pilot quite a sobering thought. When piloting a tandem communication with your stoker is all important especially when the stoker is visually impaired you literally have to think aloud warning the stoker of bends, climbs, junctions gear changes everything that effects the forward motion of the tandem. After the climb of the Beeftub came the descent scary enough with sight but when you cant’t see positively terrifying!
With two pairs of legs propelling the tandem the force exerted on the drive chain is doubled another reason for good communication as sloppy communication with mistimed gear changes can result in this.
The route comprised of a fairly good mix of quite roads and cycle paths with the occasional foray onto A roads and busy main streets like our lunch break at Peebles. Mix an organised lunch break with a disorganised community cafe and you end up with some unhappy and grumpy tandemers after a longer break than planned we headed off towards our stop for the evening Musselburgh.
Up until now route marking had been easy to follow and obvious but as we progressed it became harder to follow the route as we changed from C2C to NCN1. We were booked into a Travelodge in a never quite made it retail park and 1 by 1 all the tandems turned up from every point of the compass.
We were collected by taxis for a trip to a nice Italian restaurant where stories of routes and damaged chain rings were exchanged!
Stats Distance 75 miles 35 ft of climbing in 5:51:33 av
One of the items on a cyclists tick list the coast to coast or C2C as it is generally known. It has many variations I was tackling one of the Scottish routes Annan and in our case to Dalgety bay the home of Talking Tandems for whom I was piloting. Talking Tandems is a charity that enables blind or partially sighted individuals to get out on a bike despite thier disability.
There was 5 tandems involved in the ride which was being staged over three days. The group met at Dalgety Bay and after loading bikes and luggage headed down to Annan via Gretna services for lunch. There was a couple of hiccups but the group was assembled ready for the off from Annan Harbour by about 14:30.
This first day we headed to Moffat following the clearly displayed C2C signs along quiet country roads till the final 4 miles when we had to take a busy A road. The group was booked into two hotels and once we had all gathered at The Star keys were given out and we dispersed to our hotels for a wash and change before dinner and convened in The Star for a pleasant evening meal.
Stats for the day Distance 31.4 miles 1282 feet climbed and a bike time of 2:34:49 AV spd 12.2