It’s not possible to think about a break cycling in Orkney without discussing two subjects. The first is wind. Understanding the wind, listening to the forecast and checking the wind direction are all second nature to Westray folk. For a fisherman it’s life and death. For a farmer it’s profit or loss. For tourists it’s important to know because on such a small island as Westray there’s always a sheltered beach if you know the wind direction, and it’s never more than a few minutes away. For a cyclist the wind means it’s either a stuggle or a breeze. As I cycle to Mae Sands, the effects of wind on the island are everywhere. There are few trees and those that have crept timidly above their sheltering walls have become blasted and horizontal. The recently delivered wheelie bins are all tied firmly to solid fence posts and have strong elastic ties to keep their lids down. Strangely the caravan down the road seems to have lost its tethers but surely they will be back come winter. The trampoline has massive ties to its legs and the newly completed wind turbine is rotating nicely.
The second subject close to all cyclists in Orkney is bottoms, because bottoms are, well, important. As a cyclist your fundament is fundamental. Since the mouse ate my gel saddle it’s been hard, literally hard going. Now a few days have passed and I’m firming up nicely and take the rabbit-burrow strewn sandy path to the beach with glorious abandon.
Back home it’s time to get the Scotch broth mix soaking for tomorrow’s dinner. Barley, split peas and lentils. Just right for another day of wind and bottoms.