Day 74 Has seen over 75 miles cycled, at least 1771 feet climbed, several paddle steamer impressions, the laws of Physics defied, a journey by moon light along the Clyde canal, a park spiked fence negotiated with the bike and me, the largest city in Scotland navigated, and lots of help from delightful Glaswegians. 

Today I cycled the National Cycle Network Route 7 to Glasgow. I started in Doune going over the lovely top road into Callander. Then remembering my paddle steamer impressions in Callander last time we had flooding I cleverly avoided that bit and set off alongside Loch Venachar only to find that she had spilled over on to the road too. I wasn’t turning back so I was now a paddle steamer again and while I enjoyed the rhythmic splosh, splosh, splosh as I peddled, my smile became even broader as I realised that my new boots and gaiters were properly waterproof! My feet were dry and warm. Amazing. 

A flooded road completely submurged from the heavy rain
A flooded road completely submurged from the heavy rain

The weather was a mix of sunshine & showers with the showers only starting once I had taken my waterproofs off. While the wonderful moody pattern of the clouds flowing around the mountains was great to see it did lend itself to a rather unpredictable pattern of weather. After the third change I was nearing the top of the Menteith hills as I crossed into Aberfoyle and with more rain visible on the horizon and a cooling breeze I decided to leave my waterproofs on or I would never have made it to Glasgow before tomorrow!! The forestry tracks that were so muddy when I cycled back this way from Aberfoyle a few weeks ago were now graded and made for a hugely rewarding downhill into Aberfoyle after what had been a very hard climb. 

Now comes the tough question because todays ride defied the laws of physics. If Callander sits at approx. 100 metres above sea level and Glasgow sits at Sea Level in the Clyde Valley why did I find myself spending most of the day cycling uphill?!?!?! In fact there were several points on the route that were very emotional. I was at times on a very low ebb and four times had to dismount and walk up the last little bits of yet another hill. Each time I got to the top I thought that it had to be the last crest but never was. I was getting close to sacking it but then as I stopped to eat a flapjack and get some energy in to the body I turned and saw the most amazing rainbow. It became a double rainbow and as a reminder that I was not alone, that God was watching over me and even walking with me, it topped up my lagging reserves of determination and spurned me on. On and on I climbed my thighs screaming with pain as they pumped hard to keep me going up the hill.
From Aberfoyle up into Gartmore.
From Gartmore up into Milton.
From Milton up into Drymen.
From Drymen up into Croftamie.
From Croftamie up into Balloch.

At Balloch all should have flattened out as I followed the River Leven down towards the River Clyde but disaster struck. River Leven had overspilled it’s banks and flooded the cycle path. It was too deep and not just a short section but the whole lot. I had no option but to take a train journey. Did I pat myself on the back, say well done – you did the hard bit and take a train back to Stirling or did I take a train to Dumbarton which is where I was due to join the river clyde? I hadn’t come this far and spent all day with screaming legs to admit defeat and turn to go home. It was getting dark but how hard can it be to follow a canal path?

The hard bit was finding the canal path!! After getting out of the train in Dumbarton I picked up the scent quickly but then, in the middle of the town it disappeared completely. It was getting harder and harder to pick out the signposts for the cycle route in the deepening darkness. A gentleman I asked for directions from walked me to the turning for the cycle path. He was a great guy and I very much hope that he comes to find me and join me on this journey. I was off and cycling quickly. Through Bowling and lost the scent again. Found a security guard who very kindly pointed me in the right direction. I was now on the Clyde canal. It was flat, a great surface and a clear night so enough light to be able to just grab the bike by the horns and go for it, the tyres humming merrily along the tarmacked surface interspersed by the odd whoosh through puddles. There was a certain amount of heart in mouth stuff in the pitch dark but had no pot holes, no unseen gates or fences. In fact all was going smoothly. It took ages to get through Clydebank but eventually hit a real sight for sore bottoms. A signpost. Only 14 more miles left to Glasgow City Centre. I pushed hard as it was getting late and I needed to be on a train to Stirling by 7pm to get the Dunblane train and be able to cycle the 4 miles back to Doune and be home by 9pm. A couple of delightful couples on passing on the canal path reassured me that I was heading in the right direction. All was going well. I spotted the signpost and turned off for the final run in to Glasgow City Centre to discover that I was now locked in to a park at Kelvingrove. All the gates were locked. I had no time to go back and try and find a route around the park in the dark. There was no option but to lift the bike over the spiky park fence. Send my daysack over after it so as not to get caught up and then jump over the fence after it. All done without incident or injury. I wasn’t even arrested!!

I had the good fortune to see, and record, a beautiful rainbow
I had the good fortune to see, and record, a beautiful rainbow

The final push towards Glasgow Queen Street station and stopped and asked another couple for directions. They were awesome, gave me a really clear and easy to follow route and promised to look up the challenge. I hope you come and join me on the journey. I think you will get lots from it. I just wish I had taken your names!!

As I hit the pedestrian precinct 3 miles later with a cycle lane through it another cyclist loomed up alongside me so I asked for a confirmatory final direction as I knew I was now close. He wouldn’t just give me directions. No even better. He was on his way home from work and would lead me to the station personally. We parted with a handshake, a smile and a promise to look up the challenge with a beer rather than a glass of wine.

I only had 15 minutes to wait for the train to Stirling. That was perfect. Just time for a Mocha and a flapjack to take on with me. It was a short journey but long enough for a lovely lady to engage me in conversation on the train having seen my very muddy old bike and depart with a promise to come and find me on the challenge. I really hope you do as it was so good speaking with you and I am positive that you will really like it. Say hello when you find me!! Once at Stirling I only had 15 minutes to wait for the train to Dunblane. That was perfect. Just time for the loo. Hit Dunblane and set off for home. I was dreading the hill out of the town on to the Doune road after such a long day but found it remarkably easy. Before I knew it I was on the cycle track for the final run in to Doune and home by 9pm.

I flung open the door and screamed. I did it. I DID IT!!! It was at times hugely emotional. Really tough, one of the hardest things I have done for a very long time but I did it. No seizures. Today I Beat the Beast!!

The challenge in numbers total since the start:
Days completed: 74
Total Miles Cycled: 469
Total Miles Walked: 338.5
Total Miles Run: 18.8
Total Distance Swum: 300 metres
Total Miles covered under own steam.891.3
Total Height Gained under own steam: 29,897 feet
Mountains Climbed: 5
Hills Climbed: 15
Days of Voluntary Activity: 5.5
Organ tunes learnt and performed: 5
Salmon Caught: 0!
Curling Matches played in: 3
Curling stones placed on the button (the centre of the target): 1
Weight Training Sessions: 7
Aerobic Circuit Sessions: 3
Press Ups: 107
Pull Ups: 27
Sit Ups: 107
People Met and Hands Shaken: 280
Pots of tea shared: 17
Prayers joined on the top of a hill: 2
Prayers joined in the street!: 1
Pills popped: 318
And most important of all – Money Raised as at Day 65 – £5,029.

Considering I started this challenge 9 weeks ago very quietly with no target beyond a fiver, thanks to the brilliant advice from a friend of mine, I am absolutely thrilled and again thank you all. So far that is £77.36 for each and every day that I have managed to find the will and energy to do something worthwhile and my goodness it has been worth it for my peace of mind, for my healing and for the five wonderful charities you are supporting through your generosity. Long may it continue.

Thank you all for your incredible comments and support. Please continue to spread the word.

If you see me around do please give a cheery hello and shake my hand or toot your horn and give a cheery wave to show your support and encourage me on.

Thank you

Yours aye