This was a very, very hard day and it seemed like nothing could go right. We awoke to cold, pouring rain, and had to pack up camp with everything sopping wet. In retrospect, it would have been nice to take the day off, but considering we weren't very far out of Glasgow and we were going to visit Lian's friend, Jennifer, in Edinburgh, we decided to just get there.
What followed was a demoralizing 40 miles of rain, hills and very cold winds.
Near the beginning of the ride, I had to bike down a very wet, winding, steep descent, and I was terrified I was going to go tumbling down the road and die in a heap of limbs and crumpled metal. Needless to say, I didn't die. After a couple of grueling miles (up and down "hills"—but being from pancake-flat Illinois, these were more like mountains), we stopped for breakfast at the only place around—a very fancy hotel. We didn't feel particularly welcome in our grubby, wet, neon rain gear. It turned out that the only other people there, a table of elderly Scottish women taking tea together on a grey morning, were actually quite friendly.
On the road again, and with scones in our tummies, things improved dramatically. It stopped raining for a bit, and we biked through some incredible countryside. I am so sad we don't have any pictures (we didn't have the heart to stop AGAIN after not even biking a mile. We just wanted to get the heck out of there). I'll just have to remember it without photos. Stunning vibrant green craggy hills, loads of adorable sheep and their babies—it was the Scotland from movies and postcards. This made up for some of the crappy morning experience. Pretty soon, we were whizzing along, up and down rolling green hills. Beautiful! We biked through quaint villages and towns, and I learned to navigate them fairly well. Getting tired, but not too bad.
Then, following our GPS incorrectly, we almost got led onto a highway, and had to turn around numerous times as we tried to find our way through what felt like endless roundabouts. I was getting more and more tired, having to stop often, and I began pushing my bike up hills instead of riding. When we had 15 miles to go before reaching Edinburgh, I simply could not go on any further. We were both tired and demoralized, and thought that if every day was like this one, it would be a very long, very horrible bike trip. Luckily, I saw a sign for a campsite, and we decided to call it quits for the day. It was the best decision we could have made; it was heaven on earth.
As we slowly pushed our bicycles up the hill to the campsite we passed a deer farm full of beautiful creatures that bounded along with us until they were stopped by a fence. We finally arrived at Beecraigs campsite, which, unbeknowst to us, was one of the nicest campsites in Scotland.
For a mere 13 pounds, we found clean, HOT showers, a nicely-heated bathroom where we could dry all of our belongings, and very best of all, we made some wonderful new friends. The only other people camping were three fathers and all of their children, on holiday for a weekend of their Easter vacation. The two girls in the bunch, Jenny and Anna, came over to invite us to dinner; they were barbecuing and there was plenty for everyone. We could not have been more grateful. They fed us hamburgers, chicken kebabs, chicken korma, and countless other goodies, and gave us massive bottles of organic, locally-brewed beer to drink. We could scarcely believe their kindness and our good fortune. They wouldn't even let us help wash the dishes.
We spent a wonderful evening getting to know Alan, Charlie, Scott, and all of their children. We talked for hours, lit a campfire, and roasted marshmallows. Scott helped us with our route for the next day, a flat bike path following a canal all the way to Edinburgh (it is amazing with all of our planning how we forgot to look for something as simple as a bike path).
When we went to bed, we were invited to join them for breakfast in the morning. It could not have been a more wonderful evening. It made the whole day worthwhile. To Alan, Charlie, Scott, Adam, Jenny, Anna, JoJo, Ewan, and all the rest of you, THANK YOU SO MUCH!