Up at 5am to be ready for bags to the truck at 5:30 and riders meeting at 5:45am. Getting the bikes out I was chatting to Sue and Duncan who are doing the ride on a tandem. They are from the USA. This is their first TDA ride but they have been riding a tandem since 2000. Duncan is about 6 foot and Sue is quite short so when they come to a stop Sue can’t actually put her feet on the ground. They had an accident on the last riding day and Duncan has sore ribs, hopefully he will be alright for riding today.
Also had a chat to Shirley and Dan, also from the USA. Shirley and Dan are doing the Africa ride in 2019 which goes from Cairo to Capetown. They are not going to do the whole ride, and are going to start in Nairobi. Another TDA friend of mine Jacqui from Australia did this last year and the photos were amazing. Shirley is trying to enlist me on the ride as well.
6am – off in a convoy for 6 km to the ferry. The ferry is a Stena line ferry and is about twice the size of the New Zealand Interislander ferry. The journey is two and a half hours and we dock at Cairnryan in Scotland.
The weather is cold and misty with a bit of drizzle and the forecast isn’t promising. To start up with we all line up for breakfast. To make it easy on the ferry catering staff we are all having exactly the same thing: 1 fried egg; bacon, hash brown, a sausage and a piece of Soda bread, and 2 slices of white toast plus tea or coffee. I didn’t eat the sausage or bacon but ate the rest as a long ride today. The tea or coffee was a bottomless cup which was good.
It would have been a good chance to catch up with the blog but unfortunately I didn’t have access to my bag again until tonight and can’t take the iPad on the bike. It was pretty boring sitting around on the boat and I got up a couple of times and walked around. In the gift shop I saw and bought a silly Scottish hat and amused myself taking photos of fellow riders wearing it.
When we docked it was still misty and cold but not at this stage raining. We had been told to meet in a car park and a number of us were following Caitlin from TDA as we assumed he knew where to go, but it turned out he took us off in the wrong direction. It added a couple of kilometres before we got back to the car park. Esther TDA handed out some food to keep people going till lunch as it was already after 10 and we had 50 km to ride until the lunch spot.
To start we had about 10 km of climbing which wasn’t too steep, mostly about a 6% gradient. As the road is long and straight I was not looking out for flags. I was riding with Brett but he is much better at hills than me so he disappeared into the distance. I had passed a few riders and then as I was riding along there was a couple of work trucks on a bridge which I had to swerve out to pass. I kept going and had a big hill climb and then down into a town. I checked my notes and it said “left at 31 km” so I went left but was a bit puzzling as I couldn’t see a bridge, but there hadn’t been any flags so off I went.
After a couple of kilometres and a few turns with no flagging I’m like “yep I’m lost” so I went into a petrol station to ask. So much easier in an English speaking country. They said to go back through the town and turn at about 7 km onto the A14 which I did. Once more no flagging but this is the A14 and it does have the right town name on it so off I went another substantial climb.
After another 7 km and still no other riders or flags I was getting really concerned and flagged down a motorist and asked directions. Just then another rider came up the hill from the other direction and the turn was just behind me. Thankfully I had managed to get back on track by another route, I hadn’t seen the flagging just behind me as it is set up to get the attraction off your eye on the right not the left.
Much relieved I discover I have now done an extra 21km, and am lucky as Rhonda was the last rider closely followed by the sweep, and if I had been a couple of minutes later they would have made the turn and I would have carried on down the road they had just come up on!
Lots of rolling countryside to lunch at 50 km – or 71 k for me! Brett was sitting waiting for at lunch wondering where I had got to. Remember the two trucks working on the bridge? Immediately after the bridge was a flagged turn to the left. Brett was waiting there but had popped into a bush and with having to swerve to miss the vans, I sailed on past.
After lunch we were riding along when Judy and Tim from New Zealand joined us from a side street. There was a traffic diversion after lunch and they had made a wrong turn and were heading off in the wrong direction when a van driver stopped and asked if they were with the group because if they were, they were heading off in the wrong direction. I could have done with the van driver earlier in the day myself!
Lots more hills and a number of them were not rolling, the rain that had been threatening all day arrived, so on with the wet weather gear. But hey, only 20 km to go and a room not a tent at the end.
I was getting pretty tired and did not enjoy the last 20 km, my legs did not want to climb anymore hills, but kept chugging along and at 5:30pm we arrived at the Park Hotel. Nice big room at the hotel. So far the riding day hotels have been better than the rest days.
While we were waiting for dinner a group of us had a cold beer in the bar, and I was chatting to Mary from USA. Mary is a good rider and got to the hotel in the first few, but having done the ride also went and did a gym session. The only exercise I am interested in post ride is hand to mouth.
We were having dinner in a separate dinning room and we went there straight after the riders meeting at 6 pm. At 7 pm they finally bought out some bread rolls, I was about to start gnawing off my own arm by this stage.
We didn’t get the main until nearly 8pm! The food was nice, but way too slow. I had chicken liver pate and chickpea curry.
At dinner I was sitting next to Ross from USA, who along with having done the Orient express from Paris to Instanbul, he has also done the Silk route twice (Beijing to Istanbul)twice! He said he got sick the first time so went back to do it properly.
After dinner I decided I needed to catch up on the blog which is a couple of days behind. However, I couldn’t keep awake and woke myself up snoring a couple of times and called it a day.
Tomorrow we ride to Edinburgh and another rest day.