Posts Tagged ‘East Lothian’

Manor House

Cranking along at 19mph nearly home and there’s a glimpse of brown through the hedgerow. Then another glimpse. It’s moving quickly. Probably more deer like those that crossed the track whilst we were cycling the quagmire that is Garelton Walk near Whitekirk, where the motorbike eroded ruts were so deep the only way to keep going is to preserve momentum as the ground either side is too high to allow pedaling.

Slurp! Sticky…sticky….thump! Momentum lost….splat! Dumped in the mud. Ouch. Stop laughing at the back.

It wasn’t deer as the next flash is black & white…as the hedgerow dipped and the road rose we saw the craziest sight come into view. Cows. Lot’s of cows. Cows. Racing. Us. Haphazardly canting along the hillside like be-costumed It’s A Knockout contestants. It was the second unofficial race we became embroiled in. The cows were much more civilized and agreeable than the first set of opponents.

The track that intersects the John Muir Way is taking us towards Binning Woods before we then head to the afore-mentioned Garelton Walk. It’s in reasonable shape, old sometimes broken access road. But it stinks. WHAT is that smell? It coats your lungs and nasal passages and doesn’t leave. The smell of putrefaction lasts over a mile. The only explanation is either this is where the (now dead) sperm whale from Hitch Hikers Guide To The Galaxy interfaced with the planet and ended his short period of existence by learning that gravity is, indeed, a bitch,  or, as the lad suggests, maybe the US didn’t dump Bin Laden’s body at sea, instead they fired his corpse out the back of a C-130 transport plane somewhere over rural East Lothian!

Binning woods was soaking too, tracks with deep wet tractor ruts. We stay on the main route through, avoiding the various logging paths which are flooded at the bottom as they run off down the hill. This is a small working forestry with logs stacked along both sides of the track.

Tyninghame. Back on the road as the sodden, muddy paths were not hospitable to us today. In the distance a huge pack of road cyclists, possibly a racing club. We tank it down the hill to the bottom at which we are turning right to avoid being caught with this huge pack. We beat them down easily and turn off. Oncoming traffic means the lad has to wait patiently to turn. He positions himself perfectly just to the side of the line in the middle. The racers catch up.

Two abreast. Three abreast.

“You could be a bit quicker next time”

shouts one of the racers, as if encouraging a youngster to throw himself in front of a car just to prevent them from having to – lord forbid – steer, brake or yield even an inch of tarmac despite the lad having the right of way. The Mum gives them a severe dose of invective but this does not dampen our frustration and indignation at these events, particularly when a slower rider we speak to tells us one of the same group told him “to get out of the fucking way for fuck’s sake” as they passed him. Like a swarm of angry bees, these brightly-coloured carbon-mounted menaces arrogantly assume they own the road and can ignore any and all rules whilst being rude and discourteous to fellow road users. Rings a bell doesn’t it – it will be EXACTLY the same patter they espouse over lunch when discussing motorists. Most of whom, perhaps surprisingly, we have found to be very patient and careful on the rural roads we cycle in between paths and tracks. Disappointing and fuels the “all cyclists are menaces” mantra.

Hailes Castle

We fuel up in East Linton with picnic stuff to take over to Hailes Castle which lies south of Traprain. It’s an extensive ruin next to the River Tyne and is a great place to picnic at as we stuff back some well earned calories. The lad is getting better – and braver. He attempts to defeat gravity on a grassy downhill Evil Kinevel would have given second thoughts, and goes over the handlebars for a muddy faceplant. He gets up mostly unharmed and much wiser.

The rain wisely decides against pissing off  gravity and begins splattering the earth – and us – as we near Haddington. It’s warm and very humid so the rain isn’t terribly irritating – hey you can only get so wet anyway. But it accompanies us through Haddington and up the Aberlady Road and round Camptoun. Despite this, and perhaps due to the effort of the climb up from Haddington, this is the only point of the ride that I get in the zone and tune out all the crap..it’s been a frustrating cycle today….I find myself whistling Peter Gabriel’s “Games Without Frontiers” for who knows what reason as we crank on towards home and our short race with the CCRT – Cravendale* Cows Racing Team!

Jeux San Frontiers indeed.

Miles: 22  Bugs swallowed: 0  Ice-cream: 0  Sandwiches: 2  Mud: lashings  Calories burned: 1639  Mechanical problems: 1 minor  Nettle stings: too many  Tosser motorists: 0  Moronic cyclists: lots

*Cravendale is a double-filtered milk which is apparently soooo good the cows will come back to reclaim it – at least in the mind of some overly-paid ad man.

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