464 miles. 10 islands. 8 ferries. 7 days. 2 wheels
On Thursday 28th April, Phil Smith from Glasgow, and his Musselburgh-based friend Mark, will set off with their bikes on a train from Glasgow, heading to Gourock. It will mark the start of a week-long journey that’s due to culminate in Garve, south of Ullapool, on Wednesday 4th May, ahead of a train home to the Central Belt that night. The mainstay of their travels, however, will involve island-hopping and cycling across the Inner and Outer Hebrides. They’ll visit Islay, dock briefly at Colonsay on route to Oban, before heading to Barra where the hardest leg-work will start, with the Western Isles scheduled to be traversed within 48 hours.
The ride’s been set up in order to raise an equal split of money for two fine charities close to Phil’s heart: Marie Curie and Brain Tumour Research. You can read more about the cause, and donate to it if you’d like to via this link (any sum gratefully received) Continue reading...
The two keen cyclists are no stranger to pedal-powered adventures, having undertaken road trips in the Lake District, Ardnamurchan and Mull, Sutherland, and Dumfries and Galloway in the past. However, they haven’t had much riding on their expeditions previously beyond personal pride, so this time there’s even some (modest) training happening before the off. Assuming that spirits and tyres can be kept pumped up and the bikes don’t let themselves down, perhaps the biggest X factor facing the tour is the occasionally mercurial nature of ferry crossings. Two of the route’s ferries – from Port Askaig to Oban, and Oban to Castlebay – are one-off day sailings, and Phil and Mark are still investigating what contingency plans they might be able to call upon in the event that those boats are disrupted or cancelled. On that note, if anyone on Islay has any bright ideas about how to get back to the mainland on Saturday 30th April in such circumstances, the duo would love to hear from you (firstname.lastname@example.org). Private boats, drones, hovercrafts, catapults, secret underground tunnels – all options, sensible or outlandish, are welcome. Fingers crossed that all ferries sail fine though, to help their fundraising journey towards completion as planned.
We wish them both good luck and hope their adventure will go as planned!