Bowery Mural

I Pedalled for Scotland

Sunday, 18 September 2011

This time last week i was just getting home from the Pedal for Scotland bike ride. 51 miles of fun. Here's the story...

Thursday afternoon and I printed off a map off how to get to Glasgow Green from Stirling. It was for my Dad. He would be in a support vehicle for a group who were taking part in the Pedal for Scotland Glasgow to Edinburgh bike ride. I started thinking maybe I could go along too. Then I never thought any more about it, until they tweeted that you could still register online up to 4.30pm on Saturday. I made a mental note of that.

Friday came and I wasn't feeling too great. I know what was up with me but that's not for these parts... Anyway as Friday wore on I was feeling more and more off. I went to spin class in the hope that would sort me out and it kinda did. A little. After spin i rushed home, had a shower then headed to Karen's as everyone was there for Connor's 2nd birthday. He got a guitar and was totally loving it. He had cake and we were all there. We played pass the parcel, Ryan won! Then it was musical statues, Ryan won again! Next up with Just Dance on the Wii. They were great at it. Soon it was time to go home. I think Connor loved his birthday.
Birthday boy, his brother and his Granda
 Back at home I still couldn't shake the feeling that I had. So went to bed after exchanging a few texts.

Saturday I woke up and still wasn't feeling that great. I felt a little better after an exchange of advice from a friend. I watched the rugby and F1 qualifying and headed into town to buy a top for school reunion i was to attend that night. Home from town without a top but i had a lotto ticket and a birthday card. That was fine. It was about 5pm when i decided that yes, i would go along to the cycle. I had a quick blast around on the bike to make sure it was in working order. The seat needed adjusting and the tyres were pumped up a little then it was packed in Dad's work van. That night I was still feeling a little delicate of tum so decided to give the school reunion a miss - which i'm gutted about. I packed my bag, charged the phone and camera batteries and finally went to bed about 11.30pm. We'd be up at 5.45am....

The alarm went off and it was dark outside. I could hear a couple of birds singing and no rain - result. I showered, got dressed and had my Weetabix. I was feeling a little better today. We set off to a meetup point at 6.45am. There were a couple of people there already but we waited about 20 minutes for the rest to arrive. We headed off for Glasgow about 7.15am (via Falkirk) and arrived about 8.15. I was dropped off to go and register at the People's Palace and that would be the last time I saw them all day. (The team Dad was supporting was a company team from Stirling).

After a quick registration I headed to the start line. There were hundreds of people lined up. I admired some of the bikes around me. Some were shiny and new looking, others were well worn. Mine was amongst the former. The rain started to drizzle and i was a bit nervous. Most people there seemed to belong to teams or be 50% of a partnership, i kinda wished i had someone there too but this would be a good thing to do on my own. It's the most spontaneous pursuit i've done in a long time and it would give me a chance to think about things, life, people, a person...
Slowly but surely, about every 6 minutes we moved forward and got close to the start line. An announcer was chatting to people at the front and i hoped i would just blend in with the crowd and he wouldn't stop me for a chat. Phew. That was lucky. At 9.15am my group were ushered through the start line and i was off. It felt great. The weather was holding just for now with even some blue patched through the cloud. The first few miles were roads that were blocked off to traffic but soon enough we hit a set of traffic lights which would signal the start of the open roads - watch out for that car!

We rode along through streets i didn't really recognise but soon were out the east end and passing by the big shopping centre at Easterhouse. The Glasgow Fort, couldn't remember what it was called there. It wouldn't be long now until the first feed station. But first, a tricksy hill to split the group. And split the group it did. I got my gear sorted and made my way up. Reaching the top was made slightly difficult by stupids not being in the right gear and stopping right in front of me but reach the top i did and decided to pull over for a wee drink. Turns out i needn't have bothered stopping as a little further on, crossing the M73 we were 2 kms from the first feed station at Drumpelier park. I stopped my Dad's van in the car park and stopped for a wee chat. On my watch it was only 1 hr and 2 mins since i'd set off. Not bad i thought. That was with lots of stops at traffic lights coming out of the city centre. Woohoo. I set off a little further along to the actual feed station and queued up to pick up a bottle of water and a banana. I ate half the banana, drank the water and decided to set off again. I wasn't out of puff yet.

Out of Drumpelier, through the centre of Coatbridge and Airdrie. There was a boy racer in Airdrie who was giving the riders the v sign with his fingers. Eejit. As I passed through Stirling Road roundabout in Airdrie i recalled with fondness and a heavy heart many a day we passed that roundabout to go visit my Pappy in Law village near Carluke. I haven't been through that area for years, maybe i'll take a wee drive through to see the old house again. The weather was beginning to get greyer and the rain turned from light drizzly to a constant pitter patter but it was still not heavy. The skies were grey and the wind had lifted and even worse it was a head wind. That's when your heading straight into a wind, isn't it? Yes a head wind. It was constantly buffeting me and then turned to a cross wind when there were no trees to shelter us. My pace was still constant, occasionally speeding up as I overtook slower riders. We came upon a sign for Longriggend and i can remember thinking what a dreary place. It was quite high up, although i never realised until we got there as the climbs were steady. And then there was a sign for 2kms to the next feed station at Avonbridge. Now in Falkirk Council territory too. I needed this stop. My tummy was starting to grumble and the Weetabix i'd had at 6am wasn't fuelling me any more. I headed into the feed station but the queue was extra long so i headed straight back out and perched on a garden wall across the street so that I could eat my chicken roll i had with me. About 15 minutes later i set off again.

The next stretch was more b roads. The riders were more stretched out, thank goodness. The weather was the same but on the approach to Linlithgow it got calmer and the sun even poked out from behind the blanket grey clouds. I was ready for this lunch. We were now on 12.45pm. I'd been riding since 9.15am. Not too shabby, Ange, not too shabby at all. There was a long climb up a gentle but never ending hill and i saw a 15 miles to go sign!! Great feeling.
a welcome sign
 The park was great but you couldn't really see the palace that you can see from the motorway or train. I parked my bike on the rails, queued up outside the tent and got my lunch after about 15 minutes. Pasta. Pepper pasta, it was literally dry pasta with peppers mixed through. Hhhmmm dry pasta. I needed the full bottle of water downed to help it go down. A cup of tea too. Albeit too milky. I sat and ate my lunch and then headed off after about 20 minutes, not before getting a guy to take my picture.

Out of Linlithgow and the weather was good. I'd even saw i was hot but my bum was aching. It had survived all those miles so i'm sure another 15 wouldn't matter. Ouch. I was up and out of the saddle a few times but that only served to make it worse when i sat down so i shifted about a bit on it instead. The road was long, relatively flat then we passed through Winchburgh where my cousin used to stay and over the motorway into Kirkliston. NEARLY HOME!! It had only been about 20 minutes cycling since Linlithgow so i opted out of stopping at this feed station. I had my own water so no point. I looked at my watch and it was reading a little over 4 hours. I decided i'd try to make it into Murrayfield under 5 hours. A challenge for myself. Out of Kirkliston a cycle only lane had been set up with cones but people were slow going along it and they were two abreast. It was difficult to overtake but a few squeeks of my brakes and the guy pulled in to let me by. I flew. I was now on a clock... I looked over and saw the airport. Nearly home. That's what i kept thinking to myself. On and on and on. We were now in residential streets and there was a street in Davidson Mains (I think) where we came around the corner and people were clapping and saying not far to go! then up a little hill and group of little boys, about 9 or 10, were lined up and were getting a high five from all the riders. I of course obliged them and got a 'nice shades' shout too. I tell you this, it was so good at that point. There had been hardly anybody on the streets watching and this group of little boys were a boost at just the right time. Thank you wee boys!!

My watch was now about 4hrs 45 minutes. 15 minutes to go. Surely it could be done. We were now on the canal path. It was dark but at least it was flat and smooth. I kept a steady pace but tiredness was starting to set in. I'd wished it would come to an end soon. Then I thought WWPD (what would Pyllon do) and i laughed. He'd grit his teeth and carry on and that's what i did. It worked. Through a break on the tree branches and over a little bridge i caught a glimpse of the metalwork high up on the stadium, woohoo!! It can't be long now. I looked at my watch 5hrs... Oh well. We were directed to get off the bikes and down a steep section which came out onto a street, Roseburn Terrace. I recognised this area from when i attended the Kings of Leon gig here back in June. It was a welcome relief. I'll admit to slowing down a bit. We rode around the back of Murrayfield and what a great surprise, directed into the stadium, out the other side and to the finish line. It was great! I'd done it. YES!
The only sad part was that i crossed the line and no one was waiting on me. That would've been ace. I shed a little tear. More of relief and sense of achievement than sorrow though. I collected my medal and goody bag and called my Dad. They were waiting on the Ogilvie crew who weren't in yet, near Haymarket. I headed around and found them. Awesome. It was great. I got my dad to take a picture of me finished then he loaded my bike into the van. I opened my Wee Bru, ate my crisps and marvelled in what i had just done. I think i'll do it next year.

We waited for about another hour until the riders started to come back to the vans. I felt pretty pleased with myself as some of these people are out on their bikes all the time. Smugface. My battery died on me though so i limited my tweeting but a huge thanks to everyone who wished me well. It was all greatly appreciated.

Look at this cool but scary graffiti i found on a wall where we were parked. Anyone know who did it?

When i got home i showered, had dinner and was tucked up in bed by 9pm. A few texts were exchanged with a fab friend and i dozed off full of tiredness, achievement and excitement at what could be next.

Great things bikes, aren't they!

Angela x


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