I cycled a total distance of 28 miles this week, but it has given me confidence that I will get round Scotland. Let me explain…
Denise and I went to Porto Pollensa for our holiday this year, and on the one overcast day decided to hire a tandem. By sheer chance, and unbeknown to us at the time, we managed to hire the worst tandem in Mallorca! Seven gears at the back and a single chainwheel at the front, it may have been cutting edge once, but no longer.
I had seen a prospective route to a lighthouse that I thought would not be too far, and give some views along the way. Denise assented, so we set off up a reasonable incline, or so it looked from afar. I was soon breathing heavily, and was feeling slightly guilty, assuming that Denise was having a tough time of it too, until she started trying to have a conversation with me, talking easily. It appeared that since it was my idea, I should do the brunt of the work!
Despite inadequate gearing, we were able to grind our way up to a viewpoint, getting an encouraging “Allez, allez” from a passing car (my first!), and were treated to stunning views. Warning bells should have rung, however, when Denise asked if I could adjust her saddle, which was tilting back a bit. We hadn’t been given any tools, apart from tyre levers, so a swift thump with my fist levelled it off.
It wasn’t long after our descent the other side began that Denise said that the saddle was moving again. It worked its way looser and looser as we progressed towards the lighthouse, and the result was that Denise wasn’t able to contribute to the pedalling. We passed Formentor beach, and got as far as a tunnel quite close to the end, but with no knowledge of what the road would be like, and my wife threatening serious injury to the bike shop workers, the only decision to be made was to turn back, and hope to find a shop or someone with a spanner.
On the way back, I spotted a piece of rope lying at the side of the road, and was able to tether the front of the saddle to the frame, preventing it from tilting back so much. Even with such a repair in place, I didn’t feel it wise to try for the lighthouse again, especially as we were running low on water.
We stopped at the beach at Formentor for lunch and then returned to Porto Pollensa before cycling round the bay to Alcúdia and a wander round the old town. Upon returning the bike, the guys in the shop were apologetic, but did ask if we wanted to hire it again the following day. It didn’t take much conferring to politely decline their offer.
So, why am I confident for Scotland? Twofold, really. Firstly, if I can get a heavy tandem up a reasonably steep hill on inadequate gearing with my wife not able to render much assistance, then I should stand a good chance of getting a lightweight tourer with a couple of panniers over most lumps in Scotland. Secondly, I am reasonably sure that I will be able to fix most breakages that occur on the bike, to get it rideable, at least.
Both of which are just as well, as I will be passing through some pretty remote, ( and pretty pretty, I hope) spots on my trip. And I will probably get in even fewer training miles this week, when I head over to Devon to visit family.
Here is the route we took