When we got to Edinburgh, we were picked up at the airport by Lindsey, the UK Tandem Rally organizer. He took us to a bike shop downtown for a new chain, then out to the campsite. We were staying in a trailer with our friends Janet and Steve Sisson from Seattle. It was a chance for us to be trailer trash in style.
We had a mass start on Sunday as about 50 tandems wound through Edinburgh toward the Forth Bridge. On the way, we broke another link of my timing chain. Yipes! This was getting annoying. At least this time I had the tools to fix it. I made another adjustment that I hoped solved the problem, then we continued across the bridge.
We worked our way through backroads to the town of Culross. The streets here were paved in river rock, very round and very bumpy to ride on. This used to be home to a royal “palace”, the small yellowish building in this picture.
The cue sheets were a bit cryptic on the way home, but with the help of Heather and John from Glasgow, we were doing well. At least until I broke another link. Then another. We limped slowly back to the campground.
While it was strange to drive on the left in Scotland, the most difficult part for me was that Scottish drivers park on whichever side of the road they like. Most of the time I was riding toward parked cars, which always made me wonder if I was on the wrong side of the road. I’ve since learned that parking in the direction of travel is a purely American thing. I hadn’t noticed it so much in France, though.
The next day John and Heather gave us a ride to the bike shop with our bike. Actually we went to two before we found available mechanics. (Thanks Bicycle Works!) Heather gave us her cell phone to stay in touch with the bike shop while we took a walking tour of Edinburgh. We went up to the castle, a magnificent structure. Who would have thought it could ever be taken? The gates are guarded by William “Braveheart” Wallace and Robert the Bruce, the king who routed the English invaders. The panorama is the view from the castle.
The next day we were riding again. We toured Roslyn Chapel, made famous by The DaVinci Code. It’s completely covered by a temporary roof while they let the stonework dry out as part of a general restoration project. Visitors have gone up from 2,000 a year to 16,000 a year since the book came out. We continued across the countryside populated mostly by sheep until we arrived at Gladhouse Reservoir. A little lunch there with other riders, then back to our trailer.
Our last day of riding took us west to Linlithgow Castle, birthplace of Mary, Queen of Scots, and on to the Falkirk Wheel. This is a wonderful piece of engineering designed to bring barges down 30’ in one drop, rather than through a series of locks. Only problem is that there isn’t much call for barge traffic anymore. But it looks neat.
Click the last thumbnail to see it in action!
It stays in balance at all times because of Archimedes’ principle which says that anything floating in a tub of water displaces its own weight in water. Ergo, the two ends of the wheel are always in balance regardless of whether they have a boat in them.
Along the way we also saw this railroad bridge that looked like an aqueduct. By the end of the day, however, we were ready to be finished. We’d ridden 72 miles, our longest ride of the entire vacation and had finally gotten “butt-weary”. We were ready to go home.
One last time, I packed the bike. We were generously given a ride to the airport at 5:30 AM by an English tandemist named Michael. His stoker wisely stayed in bed. Our Scottish adventure had come to an end.