Jeremiah Watt Cycling around God's Creation

long distance bicycle touring

Blog 10- Shamrocks and Kilts Tour

So, how was your day. Pretty danged lousy thanks really. I got left out of Barnard Castle later than I had wanted. But I hung around till the Hardware store opened so I could get a few bungee cords and some super glue to make a repair that was much needed. Raining and windy as I left Barnard./////
The road out, takes you up the river Tees, and in nice weather under blue skies, like they had here June 9th of 1653… had to be spectacular. No wonder the bard’s wrote songs and poems about that day. Today however was just a deep dark and foreboding grey. Clouds wrapped the hilltops,  concealing from you the ability to relate in distance. The trees shivered and shook under the heavy skies, pelting rain and a 54 degree day. Meanwhile the river, happy and rambunctious as it meandered the valley. Carelessly spilling over waterfalls and the boulders that made its bed. There must have been a dozen or more waterfalls, the largest I seen had to be 20 feet plus////
True visibility was maybe 1/4 in any one direction. There was a hillside off to my left, I assume that it formed the other side of this valley that I am continuously  climbing out of. We are rising above the trees that blanket the valley floor, I can see better now that there is a very ominous black band of cloud and heavy rain blowing in from that side. The next small village I think to myself, if there is a tavern I will use it to sur this one out. Sure enough, The Blacksmith’s Arms owned by a Trump hating fella, so we got right into it. I love the USA he says with emphasis, and especially San Francisco, Bodega Bay and Point Reyes, love it he says. This new President I think he wants to destroy the world, don’t you he asks? Hell no I say, and leave it at that. But look at how rude he is with not just his own people, but with the rest of the world leaders as well. Can you give me an example? Well how about how he treated the UN? Right, I was actually a little upset that he didn’t pull us right out of that group of despots and socialist thugs. Despots and thugs, why do you say this? I realize there are legitimate countries within the group as a whole, but you have to honest and admit there are some bad actors within that leverage their seat into nothing more than personal gain. And tell me why the US citizen should foot the bill for Europes defense? Germany, putting in 1% of GDP towards it’s own defense budget is not just wrong its criminal in my eyes. What other world leader has had the courage and conviction to take on China for instance, or within US Presidencies, who among the many have had the tenacity to take on North Korea rather than just keep sending them money as has been the status quo. So for me, since your silent, I think he is going to be seen as one of the best Presidents we have had during a time when journalism has totally derailed and forgotten what actual journalism is all about. My hot coffee was not free../////
You can just never tell with the clouds and the wind. It looks to me like the band of heavy rain has slipped over the other ridge and gone….so I make good my escape. It sure hasn’t, it comes boiling up behind me, even though I am riding uphill into a 30 mile and hour head wind. Okay, okay…..I hear the OMG comments being made out there. There are 4 cyclists who all rode in from different directions, all 4 of us were quite literally blown right off the road. I was blown off not once but twice as I struggled to pedal uphill into the wind and rain….I was actually leaning as well to make up for the force of the wind, and whoosh came a gusty and sent me strait for the rockwall and grass. One lady rider broke her metal headlight shell she hit the wall so hard. By the time I got to Alston, I was frozen. 4 different bikers converged on a tiny tea shop, not so much for tea, but more to warm up. The young lady who came in from the east, was so cold she was in tears. So here we all sit, at the Black Horse Inn, all of us trying to get dried out before we do it again tomorrow, I will bet that each of us is praying for sunshine tomorrow. Not much luck with that says the weatherman. I think Gods got this, so we shall see./////
I ask, so how much snow if any, do you get thru the winter? Lad, was it a wee bit “whinday” today as ya cum’cross. Sure was I tell him, blew me plumb for the road twice. Well let me tell ya says the owner of the Teahouse. We get 3-5 feet of snow on average. But the winds you experienced  blow that snow into 20-30 foot drifts real regular like, all along these high Moor roads. Winter here is a brute. And ya’shud takkle a’few the hills when it’s a tad icey, an’yal quit wondering why so many old Land Rovers….he says with a chuckle./////
Full English breakfast the following morning before all of us cyclists depart the Blue Angel Inn and Free House. As it ended up, there were 6 in total who sought refuge at the Inn. Everyone heads out and as it ends up, myself and another fella are headed for Haltwhistle. We are not really riding together, we sort of pass one another now and then. It is pouring rain in those big soak you thru type drops. Yesterday was wet by the end of the day, but today I am well soaked within an hour of riding.much of the distance was shrouded in a veil of cloud, but given the tight rolling countryside and abundant trees and rock not mention the fast moving river. If this ride had sunshine, it would be gorgeous that’s for sure./////
Still pouring down but a town, and a tea house are now closer. I am done with this says my infrequent partner, as we meet at the top of a steep climb. He was standing off under a huge spreading oak, taking a break from the rain. So what are you going to do I ask? I have an Uncle lives in a town not far, I will call him. I am packing it in, it’s to be rainy for maybe a week he says….each, I am done. Not sure if he changed his mind those last few miles into Haltwhistle or not. Call it God leading me, or just the weenie in me surfacing, but when you come rolling in, you pass under a stone bridge and as you come out there is a traffic circle racing you and the first left is into a train station. Wwwwhat? I roll down in front and meet a lady talking to a group of school kids. She stops with them to answer my question, which is when is the next train to Carlisle, about q2 minutes she says. So, I bailed on and disembarked in Carlisle station. I buy a coffee to warm up, and 2 young road race type cyclists come along. We have a quick visit, they advise me to get a ticket to Lockerbie a d then ride the 74 to Douglas./////
Rode the 74 but not to eventful really. The route skirts every little town. So in reality after I left Lockerbie until I camped that night, I n ever met one person. Woke up early with dappled sunlight hitting my tent, the leaves of the trees around me cast shadows amidst the brilliance of sunshine. Rolled camp up and at the same time I was watching the bashful Scottish sunshine being chased away by heavy dark clouds. By the time I made a special stroke, yup,I it was raining.  The entire day today, was sunshine for 15 minutes and wind and rain for an hour, an on we went. My new app says we covered 51 miles which feels real good considering some of the days I have had. I had a deuce of a time finding a camp spot this evening, harder than I have had in quite a while.. comparable to finding spots along the coast of Italy. I am camped now, have a pretty good spot finally, had a cheese sandwich, a gulp of water and 3 cookies….I am done and to be honest, yes, I am pooped./////
Woke up to a slate grey sky, a mild wind and just one days ride from Stirling. Stirling is the famous location of William Wallace Memorial. Shame on you if you had to Goolize William Wallace. I suggest buying Braveheart and watching that. Mel Bibson does a fantastic Wallace, something senior Bieber just couldn’t do me thinks. Anyways, there are several towns famous because of huge historical battles, I passed thru all three today. That being Falkirk first, then Bannockburn where Robert the Bruce finally stood his ground for Scotland and finally here in Stirling. I think i had the weirdest day cycling that I have had in a while. Riding my Komoot app route, and it put me on dirt roads for about 5 miles./////
So I hit a 3 way fork in the road, a little confused because there was little difference between the roads and direction since it was a chicken foot shaped junction. My map app does not zoom right in close, and maybe the biggest downfall of the app, it obscures the road names you have to guess. Anyways I  went a ways on the one which I thought made the most sense. One grass covered trail went into a cow pasture, the other toe of the chicken foot headed on a narrow path into a grain field. The route I thought, was a 2 track dirt road, the typical 2 wheel tracks and a high grass verge ( this is for Racer and Kollins- tell me what verge means), with plenty of long puddles since it had just rained for the last 489 days I think. So, I gear down and head out on my chosen path, a small creek to my left and it had a very steep bank off the roads edge. Mature trees on both sides of my parg. I am riding one wheel track not the verge at this point. I go just a couple hundred yards and check my map…..wrong path, the correct path is out thru the grainfield after all./////
Turn my bike around, and remount and start off on one pedal but in too high a gear so I am having to bear down on my pedal way to hard and that also seems to cause my upper body to contort and tilt the handlebars in the opposite direction. Now I don’t tell you this as an attempt at making an excuse, but it did play into the lightning speed event that followed. The lid on my handlebar bag popped open, it never does that. For but a second I looked down at my bag because my first thought was something may fall out. But at the same time lurking under the 4 inches of water in the 10 feet long puddle…..was a rut leading right. My tire hit that rut just perfect and launched me with my butt now located higher than my head, and my bike with the front wheel turned sharply right……..strait over that danged cliff. We landed in a grand pile amidst the lower branches of two trees. With everything now being literally upside down and no real firm footing under me, I had a he k of a time getting to my feet and then an even harder time keeping my foothold as the edge was nearly vertical. I bet I spent over half an hour getting out, throw up each bag, make sure you have all the bungee straps etc so you can reload. Then lift and shove the bike back up the slope in what seemed like 6 inch moves, if I tried for to much distance iether the bike would slip back or my foot hold would give way. Frustrating as all get out, but I bet it looked funny as it happened./////
So where you from he asks as he pushes his Koga Myata bike up next to Shirley my Surly. From central California I tell him, and how about you I ask. Belgium, I live right now in Antwerp and a recovering drug addict. My name is Nils, and yours? I was just upside down, so I don’t know my name at the moment I tell him. I will explain later I tell him. We are both touring, and I thought I had a heavy load. Heck no. His is almost double the load I am pushing down the road. He has all I have plus a trailer in which his average sized dog lives. About the same size as an average border collie for instance. I suggest to him that he should buy 5 or 6 more dogs, but hook them to the front of the bike instead! Great guy to visit with, used to do his traveling in a fancy 5 ton truck of the Unimog type…..but his drug movements caught up to him and that all came crashing down leaving him addicted and facing prison time. On the road to recovery now, 1 year 5 months away from it and attending addict meetings every week no matter where he is./////
Spent Sunday here in Sterling by shopping for a new charge cord for my tablet so that I can post this blog today. Riding back to my little guest house I spotted a open bay car wash, and my bikes gears and rimms needed a darn good wash, so I got that taken care of. Headed out from the car wash and heard church bells up the hill not far from me, so I took in a church service at a PresbyteriN church this time and it was a good service. They listened to me since sing the first rhyme and they rolled out a special guest  chair just for me that was in the back parking lot. These Scots are such kind people, just amazing. I also just found out tht Scotland is full of Bulgarins right now who come over for the fruit harvest season here…….so maybe the guy who hornswaggled me out of my hat last year will be out in the field as I ride by……I can get my darned hat back.
Think I will stick with my Christ addiction. Good night all and may God in Heaven bless us all and keep us safe.

4 Responses to “Blog 10- Shamrocks and Kilts Tour”

  1. Mark Stewart

    I second Colleen’s sentiments, you really are a great writer and story teller!

  2. Larkin

    Outstanding blog entry. No wonder those people are known for fighting. They cant fight the weather so what the heck, wanttafight? And don’t know if you heard or not but our President just sold Poland 22 F35 fighters I think it was. And I believe he reinstalled the defense system into Poland Oblama pulled out without notice. Ya know, because he loves Russia sooooo much. Don’t quote me on the defense system. I am dry camping on the new property to get things rolling and don’t have access to all my usual sources.

  3. Jerry Gant

    I love getting to read of your travels and trials. A lesser man might have called this ride off a couple of thousand miles ago. The chair in the parking lot is exactly the reason I don’t sing in church….I like a/c too much!

  4. Colleen Watt

    I know I may be bias but you are a great writer and story teller my love! Have a great father’s Day and kids and I have a surprise you will hear about on Father’s Day! Love Yah Colleen

It would be great to hear from you!