Nervous trepidation was order of the day at breakfast. Talk of miles per hours, cadence, elevations... Nerves were soon settled with a short jaunt to the Palace of Holyrood house where the cyclists were treated to a private tour around the State Apartments. A rousing farewell by the Rt Rev John Chalmers (Moderator of the Church of Scotland and a Band of Sister) and former Scottish International rugby player Gavin Hastings boosted confidence and, before we knew it, we were pushing our way out past Scottish Parliament, around Arthur’s Seat, and on our way towards the Scottish Borders.
Endless traffic lights slowed our initial progress but it wasn’t long before we pulled into our first water stop of the day. Jelly babies, Belvita biscuits and Mars bars refuelled us and we set off towards our lunchtime stop at Fountainhall. Extreme Catering had laid out a feast and, with our energy cells fully charged, we set off for the second half of our trip. An early sense of relaxation was soon dispelled with our first serious climb of the day. Huffing and puffing we made it to the top and were rewarded with far-reaching views.
After a second climb and a brilliant descent we ended up riding alongside the endless Roxburghe Estate wall that hid Floors Castle from us. A few right-hand turns later, we pulled into Kelso with cheering from our amazing support crew.
First day done! Jonno has just won Jock of the North for his early admin error of leaving his cycle shorts on ship and the ever-smiley Katie won our Flying Scot prize for her ultra-cheerful nature. Tomorrow’s course is a long one, climbing more than 5,000ft – including up to and over the border between England and Scotland - and cycling about 84 miles.
Nervous? Yes. Determined? Yes. We will get there but, first, we need a good night’s sleep!
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