British winter and Orkney roots…

Posted: October 23, 2012 by Ben Weber in Cycling, English, Training
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Cycling in the British winter… conditions not always quite so calm!

It has been a long couple of weeks; busy at the office; busy training, more cycle rides (though a bit of a cold now…) a lot of the same things have been happening.  So, am sorry that haven’t written much. More planning is going into the UK bike tour, and it will be a busy schedule. Cycling from Land’s End to John O’Groats in winter is definitely not going to be the easiest of journeys – though we are going to have a month to do it in, it should be enough, going at a reasonable pace of around 80 km per day and resting a day a week… but you never know in winter about how strong the wind and the rain is going to get and how many days might be lost due to bad conditions.

The Old Man of Hoy – the landmark we would pass on the boat ride to mainland Britain

We will be stopping off at and passing through places which have certainly meant a lot to me in my own personal development – from the holidays we spent when we were younger down in  the south (I remember flying a stunt kite at Burnham-on-Sea with my father, which was a lot of fun and among the really great memories I have with him – will be nice to see if we can get another stunt kite and try flying it… let’s see how strong the winds are first, though!!)… School and life in Lancaster (a mixture of good and bad memories… you know what schools can be like, particularly during adolescence…!); boarding school in Carlisle… curries in Glasgow with my sister Lesley and her partner, Billy (my stomach hurts just thinking about how much I ate!)… and the long and horrible train journey up from Glasgow, through Inverness to Thurso and Scrabster from where we got a boat to Stromness on the Orkney Islands where I grew up… hopefully we will be to make it there after we have finished the ride at John O’Groats.

Growing up in Orkney for the first eight years of my life all seems a bit vague in my memories now. I remember going to the beach with my brother and sister and the dog; getting on the boat to Scrabster and passing the Old Man of Hoy… tremendous storms blowing waves over the boat, the St. Ola; our house and the barn at the top of a hill… Playing in what I remember being a nice and large garden in my “hooter-scooter” toy buggy and: learning how to ride a bike. With this last thing, I remember my brother Mark taking me to the top of a hill and then just giving me a push and off I went. Fortunately there were no cars around but then again, there weren’t that many there at the time when we lived there. The ditch at the end of the road near the beach was more than welcoming, however, when I lost control (though this was after a good period of self-sustained riding!)!

I think it was a pretty ideal place for us to grow up as we were able to wonder around pretty freely; we all grew up pretty independent and I think all of my family have got a bit of an adventurous streak to us. I guess if we manage to get there, it will be like returning to roots and in some ways reaching some of the roots of this project. It will be great to be able to make it. Thinking back and I guess when I was young, I didn’t appreciate the desolate beauty of the place that can be seen in picture

As I mentioned in a previous post, we want to raise funds for the World Wildlife Fund with this trip – please help us in doing so and give generously at our WWF JustGiving Page – any help you can provide would be fantastic!

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