Canal des 2 mers test trip.

On the weekend on 4th/5th June Carol and I boarded a train for Falkirk along with our bikes and 5 panniers for a weekend testing kit, bikes and bodies before our trip to France in July.

The kit being tested included my new bike the Genesis Tour de Fer 20, Carols saddle and v expensive Sweaty Betty cycling underwear and her new panniers.IMG_2613

We alighted the train at Falkirk and headed straight for the Union Canal then down to the Falkirk Wheel which Carol had not seen before.  An amazing piece of engineering that transports craft from the Firth and Clyde canal to the Union canal.25321299924_0e5f08625a_z

After some sightseeing and a cuppa we headed out on the Union Canal and the first leg of our journey to Dunbar.  This trip had been chosen to emulate our French trip with the canal being nice and flat and distances being approx the same as those we will travel daily in France.

We had been having some amazing weather and the sun continued shining on Saturday.  The canal and the canal path were both busy with boaters, canoeists, bikers, runners and dog walkers.  Things were going great till just outside Linlithgow when Carol got a puncture.  I had the wheel off in a jiffy and the spare tube out unfortunately I had not packed a pump just as well the path was busy we eventually managed to stop a cyclist with a pump and we were on our way again.  DSC02502

Alas it was not to last long and I found myself on the way to Elevation Cycles in Linlithgow to purchase spare tubes and a pump.  We were on our way again and this time our luck held and we were soon approaching the Canal Basin and food!

Carol had had the forethought to call our B & B and tell them we would be late so we made a little detour to the Filmhouse and had our lunch/tea/supper there!

We were booked in the Preistville near Duddingston chosen for its proximity to the cycle path for next mornings start.  It turned out to be a stunning old house and although it was clearly newly decorated the owners had not changed any of the original features.  We spent a good 30 mins looking at the wall decoration, pictures and letters from bygone days, very interesting.  The room was clean and comfortable with the best tea tray I have ever seen in a room!

After a good nights sleep and a hearty breakfast we were on our way once more heading for North Berwick and Dunbar following the John Muir Way.  This part of JMW is on a mix of surfaces with a lot of it on roads and whilst this is fine for cycling I wouldn’t like to walk it.  DSC02504The route takes you through Prestonpans with the street murals, Cockenzie with the remains of the power station still visible, Gullane famous for it’s golf courses and North Berwick dominated by Berwick Law and where we stopped for a spot of lunch.IMG_2624

After our lunch we got back on our steeds and began the climb out of N Berwick and headed for Carols friends at Canty Bay.  We had seats and bikes booked on the 1930 train from Dunbar so after a cuppa and some home baking we headed for the station.  Time flew by unfortunately we seemed to be getting slower. It was time for some head down and hard pedalling.  We rolled into the station with just under 10 mins to spare.  I checked with the station staff what coach the bikes would be on and was told coach D.

We headed down the platform and noticed another two bikes waiting by the coach D stop.  The train arrived and the other two cyclists got on first, the guard shouted down the platform as the train could only take 3 cycles we explained that we had reservations and the other two cyclists were asked to leave the train.  A bit unfair and the guard could have allowed them on but rules is rules and they left the train!

Totals for the weekend were 83 miles with 1700 feet of climbing.

How successful were we?   Well we (I) need to remember to pack a pump.  The Tour de Fer was great, Carol’s panniers passed the test although the jury is still out on the Sweaty Betty’s and the saddle!.  It is now less than 3 weeks till the Grand Depart and to say we are excited would be a major understatement!

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