You cannae beat it. You will as you begin to realise that the routes you choose will have echoes of the past. You will be reminded by names, ruins and villages that were once strong, complete or important trading posts. The flowers emerge and green shoots give one the hope of new life and warmer times are on the horizon. Now that the ferry transport bike free there is no excuse to bike here. The enjoyable part is to be able to share such places with good friends, make new ones along the way or purely talk in the landscape alone. The traveller in Scotland was always regarded with good faith and oft times would be welcomed into peoples homes when there was no other place of refuge or similar. There is a grand history of cycling on Islay and it seems to be returning now. (Thank goodness). I am still busy training and see plenty of interesting things and people as I plough my 700c furrow along all of Islayâ€™s 190 km roads.
Nowadays on a bike it is the same. People will stop for a blether(chat) - especially if you call into Ardbeg or Debbies! It is about passing the time or question genuinely where you have travelled from and where you are off to. The bike is high within the Scottish psyche (we did invent it) and many a folk will have a close connection to a machine and the miles they did on it. Some places are very remote and distances far, so memories will be loosed on seeing the bicycle! Continue reading...
I have been told about secret drum up spots (places where you were able to make a brew) and of good short cuts. Nowadays I enjoy the quality of the machine I ride, the speed it allows me to travel and the openness of the freedom of the road without the massive amounts of traffic found elsewhere in Britain (Obviously Edinburgh, Glasgow and Inverness are not included in this formulae!). This is the call of the open road, and indeed it is. Whether you are riding the Borders which have wonderful hidden glens, great climbs and rolling landscapes or the Isles in which the weather beaten vistas surprise yet still, to the vast expanse of the Highlands and Islands - there is nowhere quite like it. Recently I was riding with my son along the route of a border sportive. It was a fresh winter morning and we rode in silence climbing steadily, the wind at our backs easing our rising upwards. I looked at him â€œI just love riding my bikeâ€ he said. And we continued enjoying the moment, loving the riding!
Many thanks to Jeremy Hastings, Islay's Wilderness Guide, for supplying this story.