Cycle from Glasgow to Edinburgh or not


You know when you’re in a nice comfy car travelling between Glasgow and Edinburgh and the journey along the motorway seems to be all straightish and flat?  Well, on a pedal bike, it isn’t.

The notion for making such a journey by bike was Mandy’s but to be honest it did sound like a fun challenge.

Cycle from Glasgow to Edinburgh just for fun

I’m fit and healthy I thought.  I cycle up, down and around the hills of Auldhouse.  I do yoga and LBT classes and most of all I Spin.  So cycling the 50 miles between Glasgow and Edinburgh will be no problem at all – eh naw.  The first 40 miles were ok.  But then the last ten miles were a different story, tears of self pity brewed and sweary words were definitely muttered.  Thank goodness at least it wasn’t raining.

Pedal for Scotland

The Pedal for Scotland blurb advised arriving earlier rather than later so we were up at 6am and in the car for 7am.   We parked near the Caledonian Uni and cycled down through George Square to arrive at Glasgow Green shortly before 8am.  All toileted up we entered the starting queue and just over an hour later passed the starting line at twenty past nine.  The wait was long and had it been cold or wet would have been pretty miserable but the Pedal for Scotland folks appeared to be doing their best by the 8000ish cyclists.  If you’re thinking of doing the ride it would be wise to wear something warm at the start.

The event, on behalf of Cycling Scotland, seemed well organised.  The route was policed through Glasgow city centre and out towards the east end.  Passing through Airdrie was a bit on the hairy side where at junction after junction the stewards were more interested in their mobile phones than cars or cyclists.  Once in Edinburgh we used cycle lanes with most of the last part along cycle paths and quiet (mega expensive) residential streets towards Murrayfield.

The route included 5 food stations with milk (Freshnlo was an official sponsor), bananas and apple nutrigrain bars at each one.  The main lunch stop at Linlithgow Palace included soup (well, klix type cup-a-soups), pasta salad and sandwiches.

The finish was at Edinburgh’s Murrayfield stadium.  Sadly there was no evidence of  ‘all the chocolate you can eat’ as mentioned on the Pedal for Scotland website but there was Tunnocks caramel wafers.  We’d opted for transport back from Edinburgh to Glasgow and that too was surprisingly efficient with the bikes quickly loaded onto huge trucks while coaches stood by.  After 5 hours in the saddle I have to admit the wee sleep on the bus on the way back was the best part of the day!

Bikes and cyclists of all shapes and sizes

We saw fat tyres, skinny tyres, recumbent bikes and tandems with the odd BMX thrown in for good measure. Some riders and bikes were making funny noises and I suspect that not all of them finished.  The most impressive sights of all though were the little kids, some could only have been eight or nine and while I was labouring up hills thinking “swearyword, swearyword, swearyword”, they just kept pedalling by.  Good on them.  Along the route we kept pace with mostly the same families: a mum and two young boys, dads and their sons and several granddad, dad and grandson combinations.

Flat it is not

Pedal for Scotland elevation
Is this flat? I think not.

I read somewhere that the route wasn’t hilly, having cycled it, I beg to differ.

We passed a cattery somewhere; I remember it because the hills were getting steeper and the mood distinctly quieter.  When we left Linlithgow Palace and started climbing again Gordon commented, with an unnatural lightness of tone, that the food stops all seemed to be at the bottom of hills.

In hindsight

Did my yoga, LBT and Spin classes help? Yes.  Despite my complaining most of the ride wasn’t too bad except when near the end (10 miles out) free wheeling became even more painful than cycling and thoughts of falling off were strangely comforting.  Is this the cyclist’s equivalent of the runner’s wall?  If not, then I’m happy to never find out!

Were my yoga, LBT and Spin classes enough? No.  Were my weekly 90 min cycles up and down the hills around the farms of East Kilbride and Auldhouse enough?  No.  Should I have gone on some longer training runs?  Yes.  Should I possibly have eaten more at the food stops rather than not eat in an attempt to not have to use the portaloos? Yes.  Am I a numpty? Most definitely.

Should you have a go?

Of course, but be not like the numpty and do some longer training runs first.  There are loads of cycling routes across Scotland and plenty of websites to help you choose one.  So if you’ve ever had the notion of cycling from Glasgow to Edinburgh and perhaps raising some money for charity, I’d recommend you give it a go.  Will I be doing it again – probably not :-)

Did you do the Pedal for Scotland Glasgow to Edinburgh cycle, I’d love to hear how you got on.

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