The last two days have been close to or over 100 miles each and so the trip has reached a new level of intensity; both physically and mentally. Today as we roll out of picturesque Oban, I try my hardest not to look at my milometer. When you know that you’re aiming for 100 miles and the reading is only 1.3 miles after a 10 minute climb, your day stretches out before in a vague amorphous mass. The blank page. Hemingway called it a white bull; a menacing void waiting to be filled.
Filled it in, we did. Chatting with an elderly woman on a bench over lunch, “What a lovely lake.” “I think you mean Loch, where are ye – America?” With the offset Glaswegian cyclist we meet in the fringes of the town on a beat up 1970’s racing bike. That he might be speaking in an entirely foreign tongue was not a faraway thought as we sped through town. The lady who hears our story, gives her a rye smile and chuckles to herself – “A surgeon and a teacher and you’re going around on bicycles.” The African percussion teacher who bombards us with questions on the street in Renfrey.
We fill almost 11 hours of the day grinding down the West Coast of Scotland through incredible scenery which we are beginning to take for granted in glorious sunshine. We take it in turns to Stannard (verb – to give huge heroic pulls on the front in order to make life easier for a team mate who is injured/dispirited/lazy) it on the front and, not for the first time, it is our team work which pulls us through a second long, hot day in the saddle in a row.
At 1945 we arrive to the home of Rafe Watson’s friend Katholemew in a beautiful old tenement flat in Glasgow. The feast prepared smells divine as we walk in and the bed in the spare room looks soft and incredibly inviting. Tomorrow, a well deserved day off in Glasgow to explore and rest our aching joints.