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Day nineteen: Movie magic, monumental crossings and a sprint finish

Day nineteen: Movie magic, monumental crossings and a sprint finish
Posted on February 2nd

Maybe it was because I’d had such a good night’s sleep the night before, but for whatever reason, I started off by cycling in the wrong direction this morning. Possibly a case of over-confidence, or maybe I was subconsciously getting the inevitable mistake out of the way early, from what would turn out to be an otherwise perfect day.

Quickly getting myself back on track, I was heading south again en route to Tentsmuir Forest – a distance of just under 90km. Despite the minor false start, all of the planning that I’d been doing late into the evenings and nights was really paying off now. A smooth ride down the coast then round to Dundee brought me to the Tay Road Bridge and then straight through to Tentsmuir. The support vehicle was waiting for me there, and Tim was even able to cycle up to meet me.

I was joined there by Chris Broome, an ultra-marathon runner and friend of Stephen Pike (from my main sponsor – The Marble and Granite Centre). Chris knew the area well, and it was nice to have a guide through the forest, navigating me through the dunes and safely bringing delivering me to the water’s edge. From there I swam the kilometre across the mouth of the River Eden and onto the beach at the world famous St Andrews Golf Course.

Chariots of Fire!

Now you will have to excuse me a little indulgence at this point because I could not resist reenacting the immortal scene from the beginning of the 80s classic movie ‘Chariots of Fire’ which was filmed here. I didn’t go as far as to don the 1920s white shirt and shorts: but it was quite easy to imagine myself surrounded by other aspiring athletes while Vangelis’ mighty anthem slowly built up in the background before rising to a tumultuous crescendo. It was one of those special moments which became a firmly locked memory in my heart and head.

Aside from the associations with a classic film, the beach was fabulous in its own right, and it was an enjoyable 6km run. From St Andrews, it was back on the bike and another 50km taking me round to Queensferry and the Forth Bridge crossing.

Unexpectedly perfect at the Firth of Forth…

This was one of the few places where meticulous planning had been hindered by a lack of information, and I simply had not been able to work out a good place to park and launch the kayak. So we literally just turned up hoping that there would be somewhere that was suitable. And, as is often the case when you apply that sort of positivity, we happened upon a perfect spot.

It looked a bit dicey initially, with choppy waves and windy, rainy conditions. But I was three weeks into my adventure, and I was pretty much ready for anything by now. As far as I was concerned, there had already been too many occasions where the plan had been compromised by caution. And I was so glad that I choose to venture out this time: it was amazing and probably one of the best kayaks so far.

After the first choppy section, I was suddenly paddling with the tide and the wind behind me, and I was flying. It was almost like being on a hydrofoil, and I barely had time to inspect the work of the perennial painters whose job it is to keep the bridge looking spick and span.

A quick taste of city life.

Tim joined me on the bike for the last stretch which took us through the centre of Edinburgh and East to Aberlady. It was the first time since Liverpool I’d been anywhere near a city centre, and we were both keen to get back out onto the open road. So, with Scotland’s capital behind us, and a tailing wind, we set ourselves a self-imposed speed target and went all out to achieve it.

An average of 30km per hour saw us arrive at the caravan park for a well-earned rest at the end of another fantastic day.