Friday, September 5, 2008

The call of the motherland

Riding in Europe should be a goal for any US based cyclist. If after watching a euro-race on TV, you aren't drooling over the scenery, history, or epic nature of the terrain-you are most likely a recumbent rider. Belgium, Italy, France,Spain,Holland, Alps, Pyrenees-these are all places you want to go. One country that gets minimal love is Scotland. There are many reasons to visit Scotland-single malt and Roslyn Chapel are two that spring to mind, but it wasn't until I got this pamphlet in the mail that I realized what I was truly missing. "Cycling on Islay and Jura" is a pretty epic piece of enticing travel journalism which I encourage you to read or obtain it. Here is a typically humorous section.....
"Concomitant with the agricultural nature of both islands is a preponderance of both sheep and cattle, either at the side of some roads or, in one or two cases, actually on the road itself. Cows are larger and heavier than you are, and can cause quite serious damage to you and/or your bicycle if they become alarmed. Though it may seem silly, the best way of dealing with cows, either on or at the side of the road, is to start talking
to them well in advance. Cows apparently have things on their minds other than cyclists, (like grass) and your sudden appearance in close proximity can startle them. Talking alerts them to your presence, and should see you past without further
incident. Do not attempt to herd cows off the road, they can be more dangerous than you’d think.
Sheep, on the other hand are the most predictably unpredictable
animals you are likely to meet, and the best we can advise is to keep your wits about you - watch both sides of the road, particularly during lambing season. Pay particular attention
if there are oncoming vehicles."

Classic. The islands do not possess especially long routes, but how far do you really think you can ride after 4-8 distillery tours in less than 20-40K?
The land of Robert Millar,David Millar, and Chris Hoy has a lot more to offer than Haggis and Trainspotting and is now in my top ten. A can imagine an epic week in England and Scotland starting with the Three Peaks race and ending here in a cannonball into a a vat of Lagavulian. Maybe get tanked enought to reenact the Wickerman.

This is the true home of the argyle so Garmin fans should pay homage here.

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