August 23, 2013, by David Greenaway

The VC’s Life Cycle 3 Blog: Day 4 – Innerleithin-Edinburgh – Cumnock

When I started cycling, less than three years ago, I never imagined a day would come when the prospect of setting out on an 86 mile leg would be met with a sense of relief (albeit a small one). Following the last two days, that day was today.

Blog writing time was restricted last night, so I was again late out. Nick and Stefano waited for me and we got away from the Traquair Hotel in Innerleithin about 45 minutes after the others.

It was a misty, drizzly and cool morning, ‘dreech’ in local parlance.

The team at Rosslyn ChapelWith Stefano setting the pace, we made rapid progress through Peebles and Pencuik to our first stop, Rosslyn Chapel. We chose this for our Edinburgh photo-shoot, in preference to going into Princes Street, partly because it is Edinburgh Festival time (added to which, tram disruption there is even greater than in Nottingham); and partly because of its historical significance. (It also happens to be the place where Neville was married).

It was packed with tourists, but the staff were very tolerant of us taking over the tea rooms for a first lunch, and letting us in to the Chapel to take pictures. The Director was also patient and informed in answering questions: Steve asked about the history of the Chapel; Penelope asked about the stone work; and Marion asked if Tom Hanks actually came to the Chapel to film The Da Vinci Code.

Not long after we left Rosslyn, the weather picked up and we had an afternoon of pacey riding through the Southern Uplands. The region has some personal resonance for me. When my parents moved us from Glasgow to Nottingham to get work, in my mid-teens I travelled back and forward by bus with my younger brother and sister. At that time the 12 hour journey took in stops and pick-ups in places like Abington, Douglas and Moffat.

The ride itself was through big open landscapes with wonderful views and a lot of colour. In the main it was also on good roads. Although there was a lot of up and down, in this terrain the climbs and descents were more gradual.

After our final feed at Douglas, led by Stefano, we belted out the final 20 miles in an hour. For regular club cyclists that is probably not a big deal; for me it is. More importantly, I was in two hours earlier than last night. I cannot exaggerate how precious those two hours are to recovery time, washing time, catching up on emails, and writing a blog. My group arrived as the others were arriving, and were welcomed by Nick’s mother, sister and brother.

Chris was first in and wins today’s yellow jersey. That’s four different winners in four days; unheard of. He also had another puncture, so at three he is well out in front.

There are a range of team matters to report on.

The Riders and Support Team have been sampling local delicacies today, including baked potato with haggis, haggis crisps and Irn Bru flavoured macaroon bar.The pink chicken

There is only one accident to report: the pink chicken, a Life Cycle 2 veteran, came free of my bike and went under a lorry on a hill above Pencuik. On the way back, Stefano rescued it. As you can see from the picture, it was in a bit of a sorry state, but is with us again.

I have had quite a few emails asking about my fall on Day 2 and whether the rider on my shoulder was trying to take me out. I think not. I can reveal that that person was Karen, but can think of no obvious reason why the Deputy Vice-Chancellor would want to take out the Vice-Chancellor.

Sadly there are traffic violations to report. A team led by Andy (including Karen, Steve, Kate, Penelope, Neville) broke the speed limit in a road works area. Andy’s initial defence was that he did not have a speedometer, then admitted they were travelling at 18mph in a 10mph zone. In addition, Steve admitted to travelling at 34mph in a 30mph area. We will see some consequences tomorrow.


Karen wearing Chris's glassesA core tenet of the Life Cycle philosophy is mutual support and sharing. That is breaking new ground. As you can see from the picture, Karen is now wearing Chris’s glasses (still in denial about seeing an optician).

But an even better example is that Kate has been in Nick’s gel pants and Nick does not know whose he is wearing. He does claim the pair Kate picked up from the van had been washed, rather than just been aired. (In the meantime a pair of mine have disappeared, but I’m not sure I want them back).

Charitable act of the day: Stefano risking his life to rescue the pink chicken, and then giving it a good scrub.

Team of the day must go to the Support Team again. Notwithstanding a possible traffic violation, which I will follow up tomorrow, their professionalism and attention to detail is outstanding.

Quotes of the day: to be honest, I do not know where to start, there is such an abundance of riches.

Marion to Steve, when discussing weight management, ‘you must be a nightmare to live with’;

Neville on getting married at Rosslyn Chapel, ‘the best thing is it only holds 30 people’;

Penelope on a discussion about traffic violations, ‘I once spent a night in a police cell in Switzerland’;

Kate on realising she was in Nick’s gel pants: ‘I feel like I have a wet nappy on’.

Finally, big thanks to our supporters. You have got us to a point where over £213,000 has been raised so far for stroke rehabilitation research. That is marvellous.

Thank you also to all  of you who are commenting on my blog, the riders and Support Team appreciate this enormously.

So, another 86 miles covered, making 367 in total. Tomorrow we cross the Irish Sea to get to our second capital.

Professor David Greenaway

Posted in Life Cycle 3