I stayed up late last night...’til around 2:00 A.M. The guy who I’m stayin’ with (Tim) accepted two more couch-surfers, and they came around midnight. So we spent a couple of hours talkin’ with them...one is from Canada, the other from Germany...they are searchin’ for a place to live in Glasgow...
Well, anyway, as the story goes, I slept ‘til 11:30 A.M.!!! I love it! Seeing as how I didn’t have any breakfast food, I cooked some pasta and ate a couple of slices of bread. And then had some dark chocolate. That’s my type of breakfast!
Well, the day was young, so I needed to do something. Before I came into Scotland, I had a huge desire to ride a horse through the hills. I mean, who wouldn’t want to do that, right?! Well, seeing as how I was in the city...and horse-less...I went for the next best method.
I looked for a bike. But I was still going to ride in the hills!
Tim has several bikes laying around, but most are in need of some special attention. One of the bikes in his bedroom is missing a rear tire (and frankly, I haven’t mastered the unicycle yet...that comes later in life). I found another bicycle in his closet (I’m not joking), but the rear tire was flat. Hmm...no luck there, either.
So I walk down stairs and I find about eight more bikes. The first one has a flat tire, the second one...”Hey, the second one doesn’t look too bad!” The tires have air, the brakes are connected, and it has a seat! But I did notice that the seat moved up and down. So I went upstairs, grabbed some wrenches...only to hear the sound of a man trying to get into the door. He yells something in a thick Scottish voice, and I still don’t have a clue what he said. But I walk out of Tim’s apartment, and what I see is quite comical...I left the bike in the hallway, and the man has wedged the bike between the door and the stairs. He can’t get to his apartment!
So I walk down there, ask him if the bike I found is Tim’s, and he says no...it’s Charlie’s. Hmm...Charlie. I don’t know a Charlie. But I can buy it if I want to, because Charlie wants to sell it. It turns out that Charlie is Tim’s neighbor. But I have a problem...you see, I don’t want to buy a bike. Well, kindly, the man walks upstairs to see if Charlie is in the apartment...and I found out that he isn’t. Hmm...Charlie’s bike.
Well, I walk upstairs and look at Tim’s bikes again. Not a chance. They need too much work. So I load up some maps, my camera, and a couple of wrenches, and I head back down to Charlie’s bike. I am banking on the fact that Charlie is a kind man. After all, what are neighbors for, right?! Worst-case scenario, I have to buy it off of him...but let’s hope not.
Well, I head down the road, and I meet up with a bike path, and I just start heading west. In my mind, if I go far enough, I will eventually hit some hills. After all, Scotland is hills! That’s my game plan, anyway.
Well, I bike and bike and bike, and all I see is more city. Some suburbs. Some ship docks. Some possible ghettos. But no hills. But I keep on going. Eventually, I stop and ask someone where I can bike in the hills.
“What time is it?”
“And you want to bike in the hills today?”
“Yup! So do you know where I can get to the hills?!”
He points me back in the opposite direction, says that I will have to get off a bike path, go through the city, blah blah blah. But he also mentions going the other way.
“How long would it take to get there?”
“It’s 13 miles...”
“Ok, sounds great!”
I don’t think he really know that I am serious.
“Listen, where are you staying?”
“Close to the City Center in Glasgow...”
“And you want to be back before tonight?”
“Yup...so I better get going!” Little known fact...I have noticed in Ireland and Scotland that people are incredibly friendly. Sometimes you have to pull yourself away from them, or they might talk to you for hours!
At just that time, another biker comes by from the opposite direction...the man I had asked stops him.
“Hey, can you help us out?”
“I want to bike in the hills...how do I do that?!”
"The hulls?!” (He had one of the most amazing Scottish accents ever!) But his surprised response was less than encouraging. “Aye, you are far away, lad. I guess you cood go back dat way...” pointing in the direction I am going...
“Sounds great! How far?”
“Just go until this bike path stops....then just head for the hills...but you are going to be carrying your bike...” And with that, he was off.
Hmm...carrying my bike? What does that mean? Oh, well, I needed to get goin’...
I thanked the guy that I had originally asked, then startin’ bikin’ down the path again. It should be noted here that I was pedaling directly against the wind from the west. I seemingly pick the most windy day out of the few that I have been in Scotland. Go figure. Well, a few miles later, I could see hills. Sweet. So I got off the path, then tried to head for them...but I couldn’t get to them.
I went up one hill, only to find an expressway blocking me. I went another way but couldn’t find it, either. So I asked an old couple on the street, and they pointed me on my way.
A mile or two later, and I have passed under the expressway, and I am heading up this hill...and there are sheep everywhere! So I give a couple of “BAA!!!”’s to ‘em, take some pics, then keep goin’. As I ride higher and higher, the scenery is absolutely breath-taking. At one point, I even said, “I don’t deserve this...”
But the rocky road was becoming...well, steep. As in very steep. So I had to get off of the bike and start walking. I stopped numerous times to take pictures, and at one point, I had a huge burst of energy, and I pulled a William Wallace...I just started running up the green hills until the very top! It was awesome! But it was windy!!! The winds were probably around 35 mph at this point. I took some more pictures, tried to get close to a few rams, then kept on going...
And going. And going. I eventually came to this beautiful lake up on top of the hills! It looked like a scene from Oregon! Pine trees in the background, dark blue water, and wind like crazy!
And I was startin’ to get tired...my calves would feel the pain every once in awhile, but as soon as the terrain became even remotely flat again, I would get excited and hop on the bike again! I did this for a few hours!
The rocky road turned to a rock path, then to a path only worn down only by sheep and the occasional brave heart. I loved it. At times, it was hard to see where the path was going! But I kept on going...at one point, the terrain was becoming pretty steep, so I ditched the bike and just started running up the hills.
From one hill, I could see another higher hill, so, of course, I couldn’t have that, so I ran down the hill (it was very cliff-like, yet at the same time, I was stepping on a combination of grass and moss...the hills were so wet and soft!). But I acted like a ram and just jumped and ran down the hills. Beautiful. At this point, the wind was pushing me when I reached the crest of the hill. As soon as I was on top, I would be moved by the wind! It was great! Except for the fact that it was now overcast and cold...probably in the high 50's.
I climbed up the other higher hill, and I found an interesting stone on top. It sort of looked like a tombstone, but it did not have the properties of one. At the bottom, it read, “RS, BSM, 3666.” I was not sure if that was the elevation of the hill or what, but I took a picture for good measure.
My mouth was dry. And my body was spent! But I had to go back down the hills now...so I just started running and jumping! I ran back, found the bike, and started going back...and let me tell you...
The only reason for going up a mountain on a mountain bike is so that you can come back down! It’s that simple. At one point, I am sure I reached at least 35 mph, and the rocks were very loose...and the rocks provided for some ramp-effects, too...I hit one pretty hard and that through me quite a bit, so I added some quick brakes...but I couldn’t brake too quick, because I was going so fast! Haha...it was a pretty crazy couple of seconds there! There was a good possibility of that not turnin’ out so hot! But I was able to get it under control, no worries. I will say, though, I thought I was toast. It made me a new man!
It took me 2-3 hours to get up the mountain, and only 15 minutes to get down. It was awesome!!!!
I wearily biked back to the bike path, then started headin’ back home to Glasgow. I was so tired, that I actually had to get off at one point and walk the bike for several feet.
I had left my wallet behind, so I had no money for food or water...both of which I was yearning for! I finally made it back to Glasgow (well before dark!), drank a couple of glasses of water, threw two slices of bread in my mouth, then cooked some pasta, and took a hot bath! What a great feeling!
All that to say I think I am going to build my castle on top of one of the hills in Scotland. It was a great day!
[NOTE: You can see all of my pictures under the “My Stories” link...just scroll to the bottom of the page once you get there!]
2007-08-31 17:02:00 GMT