Day 1: Am I on an audax?

8924449411_78b436d77cWe packed up and left in the evening of Friday 24th May 2013, cycling across London in rush hour traffic. I soon got used to pulling away on a fully loaded tourer, and probably did this more times in the 6 or so miles to the station than I did in the rest of the week. I was a bit wobbly at first but eventually it became second nature.

We had left the decision to go on tour rather late and so our travel options to Scotland were somewhat limited. There were no bike spaces left on any of the sleepers, or on the trains to Glasgow so we were forced to go via Edinburgh instead. The whole “getting bikes onto the train” faff was reasonably straightforward for once. The guard was of course miserable about it, but aren’t they always? The train was absolutely rammed – standing room only. Thankfully we had seats but no way to get to them owing to all the standing passengers. Adam used his teacher voice and people who were adamant they couldn’t move suddenly could.

And off we chugged. Nearly 3 hours later we still hadn’t reached York. 5 hours after leaving London we eventually got to Newcastle. At 2 am in the morning we got to Berwick but there was a broken train there which we had to push around and then rescue the passengers. Just before 4 am we rolled into Edinburgh having been on the train for nearly 9 hours. Ugh.

We made way to our Travelodge, rolled our bikes in to the room and looked forward to the 2 hours of sleep we could get before having to get our 7am train to Glasgow. I was starting to wonder if Adam had planned this tour as some sort of audax in preparation for London Edinbugh London 1,400 km audax.

A few hours later, bleary eyed and miserable, we headed back to the station and had to fight with an over officious guard about getting our bike onto a completely empty train to Glasgow. There were already 2 bikes on there you see. We won – yay.

From Glasgow we went to Oban. There was no worry about getting our bikes onto this train – they seemed to let as many on as wanted. They have neat hanging bits for bikes so mine was safely tucked away in order to someone to throw their bike in front of it badly scratching the frame.

We arrived at Oban and sat around in the sun (yes the sun!) eating prawns and watching the world go by waiting for our ferry to Barra. The previous day’s ferry had been cancelled so it was packed. There must have been about 100 or so bikes waiting to get on, but we were all let on first and they packed us all in without any bother, with a friendly smile. Trains guards would do good to take some tips from the CalMac ferry men.

001 Bikes on Oban to Barra ferry

And so we settled in for a 5 hour ferry crossing, which was a little bit choppy in places and eventually arrived in Barra 29 hours after leaving London, having had 2 hours sleep. I remarked to Adam that we could have gone to Australia in that time….

As we disembarked the ferry, there was a bit of a short steep ascent. I opted to walk up it and I watched in admiration as a few hardy souls got on their fully loaded tourers and honked up it out of the saddle.

We almost fell into our B&B and despite it still being light at 10pm we both fell into a deep slumber.

Miles cycled: about 6. Sleep: not enough.

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