Thursday the 20 June, 2013
Marooned on the Forth Bridge motorway
|The profile of today's route.|
I sang as I pedalled along the A90 at morning rush hour through Edinburgh towards the Forth Bridge, 11 miles to the west. I sang Scottish songs, or the few words of those I knew: "Donal' Where's Ya Troosers" of course, and another I thought best fitted the occasion – , goodbye but I'll be back, a tune I had heard every New Year's eve since Edinburgh was a village.
Should old acquaintance be forgot
And never brought to mind
Should old acquaintance be forgot
For Auld Lang Syne
|One last photo of Edinburgh Castle.|
Most of the traffic was coming into town; I was going the other way so I was not squeezed or tooted at and no-one shouted at me for singing on a busy highway. The wind was kind. It was a good start.......
…........until the sign on the motorway:
NO CYCLISTS OR PEDESTRIANS PAST THIS POINT.
No surprises here. I had heard about this sign and how to get round it. I took the turn-off and soon found the cycle route, well marked with clear signs. Sadly, it was closed, not just with a sign indicating track repairs but with a wire gate. Let's see. I can't go on the motorway.... the cycle path is closed. I dithered, scared myself shaky by riding the wrong way along a motorway exit-ramp, then settled on decisive action. I lifted my bike over the gate and rode down the track. When I came to the road gang replacing the surface, I walked the bike across to the centre strip of the four-lane, yowling motorway and past the road works. I shouted out to the sniggering, pointing workers.
“ You silly gits. How in the name of a steaming haggis do you expect me to get to your dumb bridge is you block off all access ways? Eh?"
Well, I thought it, anyway.
|My first glimpse of the Forth Rail Bridge. I had somehow failed to realise|
that there are in fact two Firth of Forth Bridges, one alongside the other.
The road bridge is visible to the left.
Half an hour later I was on the bridge. There are two bridges, actually; the one you see photos of is the rail bridge. My bridge was more modern and had wide cycle lanes. I have no doubts that it is strongly built but this bridge was noisy – and it shakes like a train at speed. I stopped often for photos and for a chat with a couple from the Malvern Hills near Worcester. They had spent years travelling round the UK on their holidays and had no desire to see the rest of the world.
“Britain will do us. We love it all”
|The rail bridge from the shaking, thrumming, road bridge.|
A feisty Scottish lady
Here's a summary of today's ride once I had ridden off the Forth Bridge.
- At school we had studied the poem “Sir Patrick Spens”. Remember?“The King sits in Dunfermline townDrinking the bluid-red wine........”
- I passed through Kelty, Inverkeithing, and other towns but they have not stuck in the memory. I guess that's my way of saying that they were....unexceptional.
- A stiff climb from Bowershall. Business as usual.
A Scottish road sign.
- Short of Kinross I rode behind a tandem raising money for Alzheimers, close enough to see the riders' steady chat, the toss of a head, laughing, the front rider half turning. I could also tell that their backsides were hurting as they frequently stood on the pedals, a certain sign of their need for relief. The sight of these two riders provoked regrets, issues that I want to change for the next ride.1. I would prefer to ride in company than alone. Often during the day I would like to have had David riding with me to experience, to discuss, what was happening to me.2. I should have organised to sponsor ….Ronald McDonald House, or World Vision.... organisations I had some knowledge of. It would have added to the whole experience.
- Stopped at the kerb in Kinross, I asked a couple:
Our route this morning took us close to but not through Dunfermline and I was sorry to miss it even though I had never liked the story related in the poem. It's all very well for the king to sit safely drinking wine while he sends Sir Patrick to his death by ordering him to sea in atrocious weather.
“ Excuse me, which road to Perth has fewer hills?”
“Hoots mon! ( I swear she actually said this) Where ya fram?” I told her.
“De ya nae ha hills in New Zealand? Are ya worried aboot the hills?” All this forcefully but with a smile. I told her that in fact NZ was a very hilly place
We talked on for ten minutes. “ You should come to New Zealand.” I said in farewell.
“ Ooh no! It's sounds way too hilly fa me! Ha ha. Away wi ya!”
I meet a potential LEJOGGER
A mile outside Kinross, I stopped for a Deep Heat break and was joined by Paul who I had passed on the way into Kinross. He had been visiting his sister in Edinburgh and was on his way back to Perth on his bike. He quizzed me closely about my trip, confessed he would love to do it.
“ Of course you should do it. And I am sure you could. If I can, anyone can.” and I truly believed this. The main thing that stopped people was their belief that it was too gruelling for them.
“ I guess I could but my wife would never agree to it. She works and would not think it fair if I was riding around Scotland and England.”
I thought about how lucky I was to have a wife who encouraged me in such adventures.
Most cyclists, I would guess, are glad to get to Perth after some steady climbing from Kinross to the south, never far from the roar and swish of the speedway on the M 90. Be prepared for a sharp pinch just before you reach the outskirts of Perth.
We strolled through the town and found it impressive. Perth (pop.45,000) was once referred to, unofficially, as the 'capital' of Scotland, and this attracted business – linen, leather, bleach and whiskey the most profitable – from the 1700s. The wealth shows in the large stone private homes, in the public buildings and the imposing bridges over the River Tay. I liked the traffic- free main street, the range of restaurants (their outside seats forlornly empty in this early summer), and the walks along the banks of the Tay, impressively broad as it flows through the city to the Firth of Tay, a few miles downstream.
|Perth from a bridge over the River Tay, a few miles above its mouth on the Firth of Tay.|
We ate venison at Deans@ Let's Eat Restaurant, drove out to the Firth of Tay, then back to Schiehallion House, a double-storey stone mansion like Mrs Muir's Whitestone House.
Perth is known as the “Gateway to the Highlands” and tomorrow the route profile resembles the horizontal profile of a man's head, a man with a very big, sharp nose. We'll be climbing 2,000 ' up over his nose tomorrow afternoon. Wish I'd fitted that electric motor in Bolton!
Weather – Mostly fine with little wind.