Archive for April, 2011

The beasties hover and ambush you in groups as you hurtle through their airspace.

Bam! Bam! Bam!

Forming a pattern like they’ve been fired from some ancient blunderbuss. They don’t hurt, but they leave gooey marks if they impact hard enough that their heads and tails become one as they splatter your cycling jersey.

“Are you going far” asks the friendly old wifey, who, with her rotund midriff and wide brimmed hat, looks like a colonial governor on safari in the jungle as she ceremonially stalks the first part of the ‘way’, shooting pesky natives with her fly-filled blunderbuss.  She seems impressed with the intended trip – we’ve come down to East Linton, East Linton > North Berwick following the John Muir Way – a series of paths and rights of way that are joined together to provide an off-road walking and cycling route that stretches from Muir’s birthplace of Dunbar along 45 miles of coastline, also joined by the East Linton spur.

Apart from the odd wasp chewing sour-puss, most people are happy to share these trails and chat, and I always proffer a cheery ‘hello & thank you’ to everyone I pass, even those who look like they’ve just seen Beelzebub come into view atop a bike and just stare as they try to process your appearance.

Duck…weave…hop….brake..BRAKE…climb…out the saddle…batter on……the second part of forest singletrack is superb, fast enough to whizz along, lot’s of twists and mini climbs and dips, with roots, stumps and the odd sticking out branch all coming at you fast to keep you on your pedals.

North Berwick is heaving with tourists of almost every nationality, with the whole place planted with myriad flowers and in bloom it’s a riot of colour in the brilliant sunshine. I put back 500 of the near 2000 calories I’ll burn today with a quick lunch before cracking on towards Gullane. Astonishingly quickly we come on Yellowcraig beach…the ice cream van is tempting but a new ice cream shop in Gullane is the next destination so we forego Mr Whippy’s facsimile for the real thing.

Archerfield House

The signage is good but not perfect for the route to Gullane – we skirt along the golf course path a little further but soon connect back up, and also take an unintended detour past the magnificent Archerfield House before jumping back on the path.

There’s a biplane of all things buzzing alongside and above us as we come out of Archerfield Estate into Gullane. For giggles I wave at the pilot and to my surprise he spots me and flicks on the smoke switch. He then, to our delight, does a couple of sorties over his new appreciative audience. Brilliant!

The ice cream is cold yet begins melting immediately in the increasingly warm sunshine. It’s good, creamy and well-earned as there be hills soon. Don’t pass through Gullane without sampling!

We detour off the path before it continues to Aberlady and head past Myreton Motor Museum. I’ve passed this several times before but never visited and I don’t break that habit today at least. It looks deserted anyway.

The path shown by the map at Ballencrieff has been ploughed and planted so we didn’t get to Camptoun that way – had to double back and head up the road, slog..slog…slog…..then the fast bit back home.

Good times. GOOD times.

Miles: 27  Bugs swallowed: 0  Ice-cream: 1 Cake: 0 Calories burned: 1737  Mechanical problems: 0  Tosser motorists: 1

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“Pull yourself together, man”. “Leave your problems at home. I look forward to leaving mine and getting into work”. “Tablets only change people, I didn’t recognize my friend when he took them”.

And so on. It’s amazing how many people become experts when they learn that you are suffering from clinical depression.

I suffer. Badly.

Tablets help but don’t cure. Some days are better than others. Some days I don’t want to get up for fear of how low my mood is. Other days I berate myself for being so self-indulgent and how it’s always about ‘me’. I hate myself most of the time. My psychiatrist cancelled my third appointment due to illness and hasn’t arranged another one.

But, there just might be a smidgeon of hope at the end of the tunnel that just maybe, just maybe isn’t an express train.

Cycling.

Cycling’s easy. You just jump on, keep the bars true and push one crank down and sure enough, the other foot will push the other crank down and you’re off. And that’s it, by and large.

Cycling’s hard. That hill seems to get steeper the further you climb. And all you have to rely on to fight gravity and a lifetime of destructive comfort eating is your two legs, and lungs that never seem to grab enough of a share of the atmosphere to keep your legs oxygenated. But you make it. And as you coast the hill, the view floods into your renewed senses, your heartbeat slows and then…the descent.

Woo-hoo! Is it really safe to go this fast with only an inch and a bit of contact with the road from each tyre? Ah sod it. Wheeee!

It’s called cycling presumably as it describes the cycle of the cranks from 12 o’clock back to 12 o’clock. That simple, effective method of self-propulsion actually demands that both sides of your brain are in perfect harmony, each hemisphere controlling the opposite side of the body. You zone out as your mind settles into this calming, rhythmic state. For once no damaging thoughts, the only baggage with you is physical not mental. No one can hurt me out here yet I’m not in a car which always goes and comes back as quickly as possible. I can go..anywhere. Faster than walking..slow enough to enjoy the scenery. One day I might not go home and just keep cycling and see where I end up.

“It’s a dangerous business going out of your door. You step into the Road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there is no knowing where you might be swept off to”.

Cycling helps.