DAY 13

Today's mileage: 54
LEJOG mileage to date: 682

Map view:

Google Earth view:

And the ride to date:

Today we rode mostly west, to the bottom right-hand corner of Edinburgh.

There was some light rain as we set off.

I'd banned Donald from displaying his England flag in Scotland! He hadn't yet managed to pick up a replacement, so his flagpost slot was empty.

The road ahead was straight, and all rather grey.

We had 53 miles to go to Edinburgh at this point, and the cycle route offered was 89! And probably mostly on crappy broken-up paths. Absurd.

A short ride led us to the bridge over the River Tweed, which marked the border between England and Scotland.

We rode across the bridge, and ...

I flagged down a passing 4x4 driver to get him to take this:

"Lands End to John O'Groats," he mused. "That's ..." He sort of tailed-off at this stage, so I suspect he wasn't going to complete the sentence with 'heroic'.

As you might expect, the first Scottish road was uphill.

Scotland does have some great place names, though.

The greyness continued, but the rain stopped - which has to count as a blessing in Scotland.

After all the straight roads, this was something of a novelty:

The trees around these parts didn't so much indicate the prevailing wind direction as appear crushed into abject submission.

The road surface was utterly dire. The trikes were being shaken around like crazy, and it was vibration rather than headwind that limited our speed.

My belief that it couldn't get worse was later to be proven very, very wrong.

We were mostly still heading in an unerring straight line as far as the eye could see.

The hills in the distance didn't look too bad from this far away ...

The day was warming up, so I risked the wrath of the weather gods by removing my jacket. They were again kind.

In Scotland, and it's sunny!

No prizes for guessing which tune I couldn't get out of my head for the next 20 minutes.

This was at the entry to Greenlaw. It didn't look big, but it did look like the biggest place for some considerable distance, so we decided to have a slightly early lunch here.

I saw a woman walking down the street and asked her whether there was somewhere we could get lunch. She looked at me in astonishment. "Lunch? In Greenlaw?" Her tone of voice seemed to suggest I'd asked whether she had any daughters I could deflower.

Finding lunch did indeed prove something of a challenge. The only pub was closed. The woman had suggested that the Internet cafe might be worth a try ("They do coffee, I don't know whether they do food.") I spotted a shop just before it, which would be our Plan B, so I nipped in there first to make sure they weren't about to close for lunch.

Then went round the corner to see what the Internet cafe had to offer.

This turned out to be tea, coffee and some mostly-ficticious cakes. But they did, I notice, have a microwave. Would they mind, I asked, if I nipped next door to the shop, bought a microwave meal and then borrowed their microwave on condition I bought tea, cake and Internet access? That was fine, so I had a rather tasteless microwave lasagne, and a tastier apple pie. I also quickly checked my email.

What the cafe lacked in food, it made up for in friendly locals, so an enjoyable chat was had.

This was at 16 miles rather than our usual 20, but I wasn't confident of finding anything in the even-smaller places ahead. I was right: nothing else appeared for many miles.

Then back onto the open road and that very surprising Scottish sun!

Our cake stop was usually at 40 miles, but again, when I spotted a hotel offering all-day food, I figured that might be our last chance for a while. I was again correct. Tea and the most delicious shortbread biscuits were consumed.

My flag acts as both a visual alert and a convenient resting place for my Camelbak drink tube. Refilling the Camelbak, I forgot to thread it past the flagpole, causing the tube to fall back and jam in the rear derrailleur:

Please ignore any wholly unfounded rumours suggesting that I have done this before. We freed it, washed it and then set off again.

The navigation was fairly easy from here.

Up that bastard hill, then.

Yep, that one starting at 32 miles and peaking at 35 miles;


Up, up, up ...

And up some more.

But eventually we reached the top. Where, just to add insult, the only cover for a pee-break was ... up a steep bank.

Of course, the good news about going uphill is that you generally get to come down again. We had a long, pleasing 25-30mph descent which was then spoiled by this:

A road surface apparently made from giant-grade sandpaper. We could have been rolling down at 30mph but instead couldn't do more than 15-ish because we were being shaken to pieces.

That really is unfair.

But not quite as unfair as this ... We set off down a long hill towards Edinburgh. A normal road, shared by all traffic.

At the bottom, was the A720. You could go east or west. There were no other roads off this junction. Both had huge 'No cycling' signs. I went round the roundabout to double-check: nope, definitely no other exits, and no signs for alternative cycle routes.

I considered the options: cycle back up the long hill and hope to find some other route, or exercise a tactical failure to notice the sign.

A short distance later saw us on more ordinary roads through Edinburgh.

The campsite was on the south-east edge of the city.

Complete with guard-yak:

He had a close call, actually: the bar had stopped serving food, and if I hadn't succeeded in persuading a takeaway pizza service to deliver to the campsite ...

So that was day 12. The mileage wasn't too long, but it was a fairly tough day, with, I knew, worse to follow.

But hey, how hard can that last bit be?

Tomorrow's goal is a campsite just outside Perth, about 61 pretty damn hilly miles away.

Onto day 14 ...