It seems to be part of the human condition that we crave the one thing that we don’t have, and take for granted all the other things that we do. So it was, as I made my way up the Scottish coast after alighting the Belfast Cairnryan ferry at around 10 am that I was less thankful for the dry, nay sunny, weather and the lack of midges, and more annoyed that the prevailing wind had singularly failed to turn up, being replaced by one from the North.
Coupled with a busy main road, it made the journey hard work, both mentally and physically. Due to the sorry state of my Garmin unit, I had no idea how fast I was going, my only point of reference being the occasional sign post with mileage on it, and without knowing the time (no watch, because the time is on the Garmin…) I could only go by how fast I thought I should be going. I did remember not to push the gears too much, and kept to a lower gear than I might usually have done, in order to lessen the effort and conserve my energy.
I turned off the main road after Turnberry, passing what appeared to be a rather posh golf club. They had two golf courses, a putting green, and a miniature golf course. As far as I could see, all they needed to complete the set was a crazy golf course, something which I saw much later in Brodick, complete with miniature Forth Rail Bridge!
While the traffic volume decreased, so did the smoothness of the road, and I was soon playing a game of dodge the pothole. I was getting sea views from time to time, and saw what I thought was an oil rig, but which turned out to be Ailsa Craig! In my defence it was very hazy out at sea.
On the way into Ayr, I was struck by the large villas built in yellow sandstone, and surmised that the town was certainly very prosperous once.
Without my route directions, I simply kept the sea on my left as I made my way to Troon (red sandstone buildings). I found a bit of cycle path for a few miles, but was by this stage wondering whether or not I would make the 3.15 sailing from Ardrossan.
Short answer is no, but not before I endured some hideous miles of dual carriageway from Troon, running out of water several miles short of my destination.
As I approached the harbour, I could see the ferry docked, but knew that I was not going to make it. A very helpful girl at the ticket office allowed me to leave my phone on charge while I went to Asda for my second sandwich of the day (first from a Coop on the outskirts of Ayr, both £1), along with a packet of crisps and two bottles of coke, one of which I drunk straight-away, the other going in my back pocket.
The kind girl also filled my water bottles from her water cooler, so suitably replenished, I boarded the boat.
Sitting down to have my sandwich, I opened the second bottle of coke, only to have what seemed like most of it spray over my legs and the seat. Wiping it off my legs, I realised how dirty they had got from the miles on the road.
The ferry arrived in Brodick shortly after 5.30, and the tensions that had been with me on the trip up the coast were soon caressed away by the sea and mountain vistas that confronted me at every bend. THIS was what cycle touring was about, not a chase up a dual carriageway. I slowed down, taking in the scents of flowers and heather, stopping to take scenic shots. There was one climb near the end that had me in my granny gear on the way up, and in scary exhilaration on the way down. I arrived in Lochranza at 7.00, almost 13 hours after leaving home, with the sun shining.
I should say that the GPS data was collected by my phone using an app for just that reason. It did suck the life out of the battery though, hence the need to re-charge in Ardrossan.
Home to Belfast harbour: 7
Cairnryan to Ardrossan: 69
Brodick to Lochranza: 15
Number of malfunctioning electronic devices: 1