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canoeing, kayaking and other adventures

canoeing and kayaking adventures born in the Southeastern U.S. and now centered in Scotland...

Monday, March 17, 2008

Falkirk Wheel revisited - 16/3/2008

It's a bit early yet for a Falkirk Wheel and back ride, for daylight and fitness reasons, so we cycled there and got the train back. The wind was in our favour this time around, thanks to a forecast-based decision. We left a bit earlier than 1pm this time, too, though arguably not much before.

Somewhere between the Water of Leith path and the steps up to Union Canal, my GPS thing found its satellites and began tracking distance. We cycled roughly west with an Easterly or Northeasterly wind behind us most of the way. Our first stop was the climbing centre at Ratho where we got some juice and I ate my first snack of the day. Brian showed me the ride he wants me to try, the Aerial Assault. It starts with a zipline across the top of the climbing centre then leads to a number of obstacles to climb up, down or around for a couple more passes still across the very top of the centre. I am not convinced.

Brian had a celebrity sighting at Ratho. He saw Tim from the Office (original UK series) or Arthur Dent from the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. I live under a rock, so I recognised him only with some pointing and explanation.

We didn't stay very long, with most of the miles ahead of us yet. The canal cycle was very pleasant, though not very eventful except for the occasional sweet but daft dog who chose to run in front of the bike at the last possible second, eliciting a loud squeak of the brakes. Brian's pace leveled out with mine around mile 18, which helped me feel less like dead weight. When we reached Linlithgow, I asked if he appreciated me not yelling at him this time, even though he didn't hear me the last time either. We wondered what the two snow-covered hills were in the distance. Post-cycle map consultation suggested they were Stuc a' Chroin and Ben Vorlich roundabout Loch Earn.

Refuel #2 began at Linlithgow, which left us 11 miles more to the Falkirk Wheel. More daft dogs and their people added excitement to that leg of the journey. We reached the tunnel either just before 4 or just before 5. Brian wanted to see how far he could cycle before having to stop for lack of light. To his credit, he got about 50m into the tunnel. It was pitch dark with lots of dripping. The glare of sunlight from the other end, even though it was about 600m away, I am convinced helped with the pitch dark. My eyes never felt adjusted. Falkirk High station was on the far side of the tunnel, so I didn't get to test my theory.

We reached the Falkirk Wheel after some nice downhills, knowing full well they would be uphills soon. We saw the last boat of the day make the journey up the wheel and then headed inside for snack #3 for me and snack #1 for Brian.

Rather than let stiffness set in too quickly, we got back on the bikes and headed for the station. The uphill was as sluggish as I expected. My legs de-stiffened near the top, not completely ill-timed since we had a couple miles yet to get back to Falkirk High. Backtracking was uneventful and we arrived to have only a few minutes wait to the train home.

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