Month: April 2014

A Flag for John Muir

It was the grand opening of the John Muir Way yesterday, a 134 mile long stretch of coast to coast path from Dunbar all the way to Helensburgh. And boy, what an opening it was.

As part of the festival celebrating his impact on history and the environment, I took to my bike with the Belles on Bikes to carry a flag for John Muir and cycle the opening 15 miles of the Way from Dunbar to North Berwick. Here we all are at the end of a really beautiful stretch of cycling, complete with two John Muirs to pat us on the back!

Belles on Bikes John Muir Festival

The day started bizarrely but well, with a train out to Dunbar and then a lively atmosphere in the town centre with live fish wandering around in front of us, blowing kisses and generally being a complete hoot. There were also birds and flowers and other beautiful costumed performers doing their thing.

Costumed fish John Muir FEstival

The Belles and I waited our turn to be let off to do the cycle and took up our flags as part of the John Muir Festival relay. I loved the flags – big, bold and brimming with bicycles. Some folk had them strapped to their backs with special backpacks, but I opted to have the flag cable-tied to my pannier rack. It’s such a shame we had to give them back at the end of the run!

flag and bike

Belles waiting to set off John Muir Festival

After a quick blah blah blah from Alex Salmond and an unveiling of a pretty purple sign, we were off!

The route started with coastline but quickly moved into countryside and farmland. It’s worth noting that there are now actually TWO John Muir Ways – one for cycles and one for feet. Suffice to say we took the former route.

Dunbar coastline

River on the John Muir Way

Ploughed farmland on John Muir Way

The John Muir Way itself was mostly on shared path or quiet road. Surfaces were on the whole reasonable and the going was good. There were a few good hills to puff up, but nothing grim and the surrounding scenery made the climbs quite the enjoyable thing.

John Muir Way to North Berwick

There was one painful stretch along unmade field and my poor hybrid did not enjoy the experience one bit. So although for the most part the route is road and path, the small, bumpy, rough field part made this more suited to a cross or mountain bike. I was a bit irritated that such a splendid route would include cut-throughs of this nature, but I’m sure John Muir wouldn’t have minded.

John Muir Way Walking Route East Linton

Looking towards East Linton

The Way took about an hour and a half, with a couple of stops to strip off (it was very sunny and the going was roasty-toasty). The views were beautiful and the roads were blissfully quiet and clear. This, my dear friends, it what cycling is alllllll about 🙂

East Lothian countryside

East Lothian horses in field

You can easily see two of East Lothian’s big landmarks on the ride; the Bass Rock and Berwick Law.

Bass Rock in the distance

Berwick Law from John Muir Way

North Berwick itself has good eating and cracking views, and this is where the Belles finished the run. The official distance is 15 miles according to the John Muir Way, but my Strava mapped 13ish, so there’s a wee bit of give and take.

Bass Rock from North Berwick

Berwick Law

So there you have it. A bloomin’ gorgeous and easy ride from Dunbar to North Berwick. I cannot recommend it more. If you jump on the train from North Berwick you’ll be back in the city in less than half an hour. Or you can cycle the additional mileage back to Edinburgh. Or you can bike it back to Dunbar and jump on the train home, which is exactly what I did.

Here’s the route mapped, if you’d like to try it yourself.

So thanks John Muir(s), you have left quite the legacy. Not only did you preserve and care for the environment, but you left behind some lovely cycling in your place of birth.

John Muir times two

And thank you trusty, lovely, wonderful bike. Once again you come up a winner! 🙂

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Will you be at Pedal on Parliament?

It’s not long until Pedal on Parliament 2014 on the 26 April. Will you be there to add your support for a cycling-friendly Scotland? I plan to attend with some of my CTC buddies and colleagues, as well as friends that love a good old cycle on their bike and thousands of other like-minded folk.

Pedal on Parliament Poster

I attended for the first time last year and had a bit of an epiphany on the day. I’d never seen so many people on bikes together before. It felt, well, amazing. The mass of attendees was something spectacular and made me realise just how many different kinds of folk on bikes there are. Sounds silly, but I’d never appreciated just how versatile and loved the bicycle is.

I love this amateur snap I took last year, which illustrates just what I mean. The chap in the full lycra standing next to the couple in casuals, along with high-viz commuter style shows just a tiny cross-section of the thousands of participants from the event.

Pedal on Parliament 2013

In 2013 the queue of cyclists stretched from Middle Meadow Walk up to Summerhall. Perhaps this year we’ll get twice as far!

What everyone has in common is a love for riding, for embracing this most humble but wonderful form of transport. Pedal on Parliament proved to me that cycling is a truly universal thing. It can touch everyone. And it should. So we should get together to tell the Scottish Parliament that, don’t you think?

Last year I did my PoP in a purple dress, red gloves and high-viz pink waterproof, complete with helmet and other safety faffage. So I was kinda going down the commuter stroke everyday utility avenue, with a total and complete lack of understanding around colour and how it can clash quite painfully on people’s eyes.

Safety faffage at PoP

This year I might wear TWEED. Though it is a bit restrictive across the arms. Hmm. And I figure I probably won’t rock up in a helmet either. I’m sick of feeling like an “other” when the bike is involved. (But I suppose that’s for another blog post!)

Anyway. I digress. You should come. It will be fabulous. Lots of bikes, lots of people on bikes, lots of solidarity asking for more time and money and thought to be given to people on bikes. And I believe there will even be some bicycle celebs like Graeme Obree attending too (although when I took this photo last year I had no idea who he was, oops!).

graeme obree pop

So what is not to love about Pedal on Parliament? 🙂 I’ll see you there, yeah? Ding ding!