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Tag: biiicycle biiiiicycle

A wee bike trip and a trot up a hill

Since I’ve got this lovely bike now and I decided I wanted to use the next few months to enjoy Scotland, the incredible weather on Saturday seemed like a good time to start.

Due to a somewhat heated and ill-advised debate on Friday night, I had scads of frustrated energy to burn, so Saturday morning I packed a sandwich, sunscreened myself up, and got on my bike to ride to North Berwick which is 23 miles away.

On yer bike.

On yer bike.

I’ve never cycled NEARLY as far as that in one go. I did about 10.5 on Tuesday night, and I think I did about 14 when I was at my parents’ house in October (but with a long beer and lunch break about halfway through) and that’s probably the closest I’ve come.

But last year I walked from Prestonpans to North Berwick, and followed more or less the same route as I would be biking, so I knew what I was in for, and it’s not bad in terms of terrain. A few small climbs, but mostly flat and about half on bike paths, the rest on reasonably quiet roads. And sunshine or no, you can’t beat the views.

Not too shabby for a lunch break.

Not too shabby for a lunch break.

Google said it would take just under two hours. I took about three including a few short stops, so I think I did pretty well. I was originally going to go with some friends, but other plans happened and I ended up just doing it on my own. That was probably for the best, as I think I needed the time to have a few words with myself, and I also didn’t have to worry about my speed in relation to anyone else. And now that I know the trip, I can go back with people!

My Steampunk coffee and cookie reward shot got some jealous reactions, and that is excuse enough to take another trip next time the weather’s good. There’s also a fish and chip van about halfway along the route on the beach outside Longniddry, and I’d love to try it out.

A photo posted by Kate (@kateamann84) on

It was a good way to get to know my bike better too. I’m still a little wobbly on it but I know what gears are cranky and what’s comfortable and how my brakes like to behave and all that.  (And I finally decided its name is Alicia. Because The Good Wife. Obviously.) I’m not super happy about the Po Campo bag I bought, which I’d been excited about, but it doesn’t like to stay upright on the rack. It’s too much of a hassle to send it back to the US, so I just need to figure out how to modify it to make it work. Can’t win them all.

The beach in North Berwick, hooray!

The beach in North Berwick, hooray!

Anyway, once I’d had a bit of a walk round North Berwick and along the beach, I headed to the station to get the train home. And somehow I still had a lot of energy, so I went with my friend Katie round the back of Arthur’s Seat for a drink at the Sheep Heid. After which we ended up going nearly all the way back up the hill, sort of by mistake, but it was a good scramble. It was the first outing of the new hiking shoes I bought for our trip to Glencoe next month too, so there was some proper breaking-in going on.

It was such a lovely evening and I didn’t get home until about 10.15, which is one of the nicest things about summer in Scotland – you can be going up hills at 9 at night and still have plenty of light to do so.

I was certain that after all that activity I’d be screaming in pain when I woke up this morning, but since I finally remembered to stretch properly before bed, I’m more or less fine. It felt really good to just run myself ragged all day. I think I’m finally so fed up of sitting at a computer all the time that my appetite for escape is like a perpetual motion engine. Dancing, cycling, going up hills. There’ll be plenty more of that.

Summer’s gonna rock, you guys

This beauty is on its way to me.

Right as I got home from the US and declared it’s now The Six Months Of Saving A Lot For The Trip, I just spent a whole load of money this weekend. And NOT on travel.

I bought a bike (and related accoutrements) and I registered for a few swing dance events.

I feel this is all justified.

A lot of what I thought about on my lazy train rides to and from North Carolina was what I wanted the summer (and all the time preceding my whole rip-it-up-and-start-again thing) to look like. My priorities surfaced pretty quickly: friends, dancing, Scotland. All of these overlap quite nicely.

I tend to say yes to way too much extra work and crap I really don’t need to. Between that and seemingly endless life admin bullshit, I’ve been feeling really overloaded when all I really want to do is make time for the stuff that makes me feel like life is awesome. So really I just want to say yes to doing more with my friends around Edinburgh and the rest of the country. And I want to do as much dancing as possible. And hopefully feel like I’m getting better at it.

You may remember that I was thinking of going to Sweden for a week of Herräng dance camp this summer. I decided in the end that I’d have to push that plan to another year in order to save more for the Trans-Siberian. As luck would have it though, Rob and Diane Van Haaren, who have taught at Herräng for most of the last 20 or so years, are doing a workshop in Edinburgh in July, so I can get a taste of swing dance summer camp without leaving home (and for an incredible price). Then just before I run away in November, Edinburgh Winter Swing Weekend happens, which also includes super amazing teachers (Jo Hoffberg, Kevin St. Laurent, Jenny Thomas and Scott Cupit) and a whoooole lotta dancing. It’ll make for an excellent leaving party.

I’m incredibly excited about all of that. And I’ll also be doing Edinburgh Lindy Exchange in September as well as all my usual weekly stuff and various social dances here and there. All of this covers every single one of those priorities – in addition to helping keep me relatively sane. It’s good money to spend, and it’s not actually all that much in the end.

As for the bike, I had already decided to buy it before I went away, because I thought if I didn’t budget for it before the trip, I’d never afford it right away when I got back. I am not exaggerating when I say just about everyone I know has a bike, and I’ve been considering it for a pretty long time. I got a pretty entry-level one in terms of price and fanciness, but good enough that it should last a fairly long time. (And I can’t waaaaait for it to arrive. 7-10 days, gah!)

So now I can zip back and forth between home and dance stuff and friends’ places and the beach and anywhere else I feel like going. And I can go for longer rides on the weekends or take it on the train and explore other places relatively cheaply. I walk everywhere in this city, which I love to do, but it does take up a lot of time, so this will allow me to claim some of that time back without losing the exercise. Then I can spend more time with people or reading books or sleeping, which I need to do a bit more of as well.

These things are all making the summer look pretty awesome. Plus there are hiking trips to the highlands, Balkan music club nights, Foo Fighters at Murrayfield (finally!), lazy Sunday morning breakfasts in cafes, local beer festivals, and all manner of other things planned. And my parents will be visiting in September, when we’ll probably go to Arran or somewhere equally cool.

And I think I’ve managed to fit it all in the budget while still saving enough for 3 months away. Seriously. HOORAY!