Here is the recipe for how not to enjoy a day of bike touring:
1. Require an alarm to get up
2. Be in a hurry to get somewhere so that you don’t have time for breakfast
3. Only have food that requires cooking
4. Ride hilly terrain in cold winds for at least 10 miles
5. Half way through the day remember that it’s your riding partner’s birthday
Oh man. The day started off rough. We were hangry and the Scottish summer weather was at peak dreary.
Today was the day we were to visit a plethora of must see archeological sites on the Orkney mainland before catching a ferry at midnight to head further into the Atlantic Ocean to the Shetland Islands. Normally our itinerary consists of riding, eating, and camping, all of which happen whenever we feel the urge. When we start making appointments and booking events our simple life gets complicated and less pleasurable.
I know what you’re thinking. First world problems. It’s true. Complaining about the stress of visiting tourist sites and riding on luxury ferry boats sounds like we’re a bunch of insufferable weenies. But as the official documentarian of this trip, it’s my duty to tell the story as it happened. And as it happened, we were a bit grouchy with the start of our day. But then we ate some food, visited said must-sees, and I finally acknowledged Carrie’s birthday and the world was right again.
After we visited our final archeological site of the day Maes Howe, it was time to ride to Kirkwall, the main city on the island, where we planned to eat dinner out and then catch the ferry to the Shetlands.
This was our first time eating in a restaurant since our meal at the Rose Inn back at the beginning of our trip about six weeks ago. We normally avoid restaurants because they’re expensive and the food isn’t better than what we can make with our simple cook kit. But because it was Carrie’s birthday and we didn’t have a good place out of the wind to cook, we decided to splurge. The veggie burgers, sweet potato fries, and alcoholic beverages were satisfying but the £37 price tag was a sour dessert. We normally spend that much on groceries for four days. Four days is twelve meals plus snacks.
After dinner we made our way to the harbor to meet the ferry. While waiting for the ferry to arrive several other cyclists showed up, including a group of maybe 10 Polish women. I’m pretty sure cyclists outnumbered motorists in the waiting room.
Once on the ferry we saw the news on the TV about the madman who plowed through people on the streets of Nice in his truck. What a tragedy. The amount of violence occurring at home and in Europe is just terrible. It seems the whole world is racing towards a brick wall. Even here in the quiet Shetlands, we read about a man who attempted to bite the nose off of another man. Are we turning feral?
Since the ferry departed Kirkwall at midnight, we wanted to find a quiet place to sleep for the seven hour voyage. After a bit of hunting, we found a spot large enough that we could inflate our ground pads and tuck into our sleeping bags. With ear plugs in place, we were able to sleep.
Despite the hectic morning, Carrie’s birthday turned out all right. Probably not the best birthday of her life, but I’m sure she’ll remember it.