Thursday, June 23, 2011

Edinburgh to Scottish Borders

Our clothes dry, our saddle sores scabbing over, and our drive trains shiny silver, we set out from Edinburgh on a fairly sunny and warm morning. We waved goodbye to Arie, who was faster out the door than us, knowing that we would probably catch up with him eventually over the next couple of days. I decided that since my bicycle was no longer making a creaking noise, I would fix the other noise maker - my kickstand which had been loose since Denmark. We had no specific destination as we pushed off into Edinburgh morning rush hour traffic (sedate, but with huge buses). First stop: a bakery we had stopped at the day before for some artisan bread (our first since NorCal) and baked treats. Second stop (unscheduled): public library for directions because the R1 bicycle route that we had been following appeared to evaporate as we came out of a park and merged with a large road. Third stop (unscheduled): Bike Station for directions and a map. Bike Station is a lot like the Bicycle Kitchen of my dreams: big, organized, with bunches of clear signs. This is not really fair to the Kitchen of today - I haven't been there is ages.

Yeah, we liked that place. A lot. And they ensured that we got on the right path out of Edinburgh. The first stretch is called the Innocent Railway. Innocent because it was pulled by horses - no engines. Now it is a beautiful bike path through the green.

This turned out to be a stunning day. Lots of rolling hills through beautiful forest or well-kept pasture land. Lots of old rock walls and sheep.

We got one soaking squall in the afternoon, but otherwise the sun was out. Arie had warned us that there was a pretty nice climb on this day. We were now on the North Sea route, which Arie has done before, a few years ago. The climb was an incredibly slow accent, but long.

With, of course, a fantastic view.

Straight along the side of a hill, we just kept going up. At the top we stopped above a wind farm in a valley?

And then began the descent. First, the relatively steep and long hill.

Nothing like going down after you've climbed to the top. At what we figured was the bottom, the road flattened out and we had a surprisingly difficult flat, straight ride through a gorgeous valley. There was a slight head wind.

And then we went around a curve, between the hills, and started to descend again.

Softly at first, but gaining momentum.

Each turn made, we couldn't believe we were still going downhill. At one point Joshua said, "We are definitely below sea level now."

Simply glorious. After maybe an hour of rolling down a gentle slope, we arrived in Innerleithen. We knew Arie had planned to stay in town that night, and we decided to stay, too, after a beer and a large bowl of Chinese food.

We hadn't seen Arie's bike yet, so we thought he might be staying in the other hotel in town. Ramona went to check, and found him in the front bar. We had a fun time catching up after the day we had had - best descent ever, etc. Innerleithen is where the North Sea Cycle route meets up with the Tweed River. Arie needed to be in Newcastle a day earlier than us, and he was planning to catch the ferry the same day as he arrived. We wanted to have at least one night, so we could hang out a bit with Budge. Since our schedules were basically the same, we decided to try to tag along with Arie the following day, and make it a really big one.

- rolling post

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