UK 2014: weather, weather and some changes in priorities…

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Things didn’t go as planned.

There are many reasons for that.  Hurricane Bertha hit just as we were heading towards our start point – bringing flooding and destruction to our route that would have rendered it ‘epic’ even without a child in tow.  We also all got a particularly vicious viral bug that meant Bryn wasn’t really on for situations that pushed him (not to mention us).

Derailing our adventure with all it’s bicycle-based travel was the right thing to do.  But we’d been so looking forward to putting pedal-travel gloriously back in it’s place as our main identity for two brief weeks that being sensible wasn’t at all easy.

On the way to Lochcarron the news was full of destruction and flooding.  This very high tide was helped by the Hurricane Berth storm-surge

On the way to our planned starting point in Lochcarron the news was full of roads closed and too much water. This very high tide that submerged half Doug’s garden was helped by the Hurricane Berth storm-surge

It seems obvious that we were going to run into something that we just couldn’t do as Bryn got older.  Others had warned us that ‘things got harder’, but we’d had so much success being bicycle-based with him that it took this trip to bring some important lessons home.

In many ways we’re still working out how not to be travelling by bicycle, despite us now having been back from our Americas trip longer than we were on it.  We’ve fudged, by hoping that our all too brief weeks away would slake the thirst and scratch the itch sufficiently until another time comes.  Even now, part of both of us is wondering how long it will be before we can set off again without a booked return.  Maybe that will give some idea of our need in the face of the even greater adventure that is Bryn.

It’s some measure of our ever increasing joy in him that trying to learn the lessons he is teaching us is worth it.  We just have to modify, adapt and take pleasure in different things – possibly not too different.  We’ll have to see…

With neither Bryn or Sarah able to talk too much without coughing we delay a start longer and concoct a car-based journey up the west coast, then across and down.  First stop Gairloch and getting the bikes out we head out

With neither Bryn or Sarah able to talk too much without coughing we delay a start longer and concoct a car-based journey up the west coast, then across and down. First stop Gairloch and getting the bikes out we head out

This hour or two is well surfaced, but still not 'main'.  Our fat tyres, that we'd brought to make the bog doable are less ideal now

This hour or two is well surfaced, but still not ‘main’. Our fat tyres, that we’d brought to make the bog doable are less ideal now

A bit further north we do a longer day trip

A bit further north we do a longer day trip

with plenty of wide-open to be in

with plenty of wide-open to be in

and tidal coastline to meander past

and tidal coastline to meander past

There are some pretty dreich days where we can do little other than move on

There are some pretty dreich days where we can do little other than move on

Though the puddles that litter our walks are a magnetic draw for the now more bouncy Bryn

Though the puddles that litter our walks are a magnetic draw for the now more bouncy Bryn

Coming round to the Cairngorms we find a bit of sunshine

Coming round to the Cairngorms we find a bit of sunshine

and some soggy bog

and some soggy bog

that connects to some beautiful singletrack

that connects to beguilingly beautiful singletrack

In this case a little cross country readjustment is needed

In this case a little cross country readjustment is about to be needed

This time all is well, but we definitely learn that margins of comfort should be bigger

This time all is well, but we definitely learn that margins of comfort should be bigger

We get better.  Free-form route planning gets us into some good spots despite not 'doing the loop'

We get better. Free-form route planning gets us into some good spots despite not ‘doing the loop’

A washed out bridge at Derry Lodge

A washed out bridge at Derry Lodge

and gullies where there should be path turn us round.  We even do so with good grace

and gullies where there should be path turn us round. We even do so with good grace

because the new iteration takes us singing along here

because the new iteration takes us singing along here

A mix of Singletrailer and Yepp-mini together with puddle jumping pauses do the trick.

A mix of Singletrailer and Yepp-mini together with puddle jumping pauses do the trick.

Time to run around (in convoluted circles)

Time to run around (in convoluted circles)

with the odd muddy face-plant

with the odd muddy face-plant

and some more speediness  fill our days

and some more speediness fill our days

The way things work out, we meet up with plenty of old friends.  Al and I chat our way round a Simonside double-loop in Northumberland while Sarah and Bryn meet his daughter Megan for the first time

The way things work out, we meet up with plenty of old friends. Al and I chat our way round a Simonside double-loop in Northumberland while Sarah and Bryn meet his daughter Megan for the first time

Newcastle also gets a visit with sand-time, swimming at the pool and a bit more bike-time lubricating many more meetings.

Newcastle also gets a visit with sand-time, swimming at the pool and a bit more bike-time lubricating many more meetings.

August in the UK turned our ideas upside-down, but also pushed us towards better priorities and a more relaxed road.  All to the good I reckon :-)

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