It was only a matter of time. Our love of travel abroad was bound to leak into the allure of cycle touring. It only required matching up our cycling criteria – following water, avoiding population centers and seeking out countryside beauty – with a destination. And thus the Scotland Tartan Cycling Tour was born.
While snow still blanked the ground and the bicycles were still in winter storage, Rich’s thoughts turned to spring. Learning that May was the driest month in Scotland was the deal clincher. What he neglected to mention was that it was far from the warmest. If indeed, Scotland ever gets very warm. While fully on board with this adventure yet a bit concerned, I began to lay in provisions. Windproof gloves, protective booties and a thermal cycling jacket made their way to our door courtesy of Amazon Prime. Subsequent test cycles up the North Shore into frigid NE winds have convinced me I’ll be fine. And if I had to shed my new layers, so much the better.
We know enough about cultural differences to understand that the cheap roadside motels we frequently use don’t exist overseas. So instead, we hope to substitute hostels for less expensive accommodations. Unlike the youth hostels of our, well youth, these establishments often offer private rooms with shared bath. That’s good enough for us. Have sleeping bag will travel.
What we haven’t done is plan a route. Nor do we intend to. Unlike all previous trips, we are going to wing it this time. We expect to travel north. We hope to follow the coast. We will avoid extreme hills. And make it up as we go along. Even so, I did a little sleuthing, checked out the National Cycle Network routes, and concocted some idea of what we might do. The only part that is for certain is that we will begin and end in Aberdeen. And we will cycle for three weeks in between.
To my extreme surprise, Rich has ordered detailed paper maps for cycling in Scotland. Although he has always successfully relied on downloading Google Maps in the past, the realities of cycling in remote areas must have prompted this shift in approach. I heartily support this practical step!
Our trusty bicycles will travel with us. Despite the risk and the expense, we prefer to ride our own bikes that have served us so well on all previous trips. We just have to trust the airlines to treat them with care…
We are getting down to the final details. It’s now a routine we know well. Our custom jerseys are on order. We’ve started to create small piles of gear. I’m ticking things off my comprehensive list. And soon we will be venturing abroad. Aye, to bonnie Scotland.