8 THINGS I LEARNED FROM MY CYCLE ROUND THE OUTER HEBRIDES
If you have been to my blog before you will know that I have recently cycled the Outer Hebrides and that this has been a big achievement for me as well as a lot of challenge and fun. I thought it was important however to round things off and try to summarise the trip in a way that might be helpful to others. So here is one final piece about my trip where I describe what affect it’s had on me, what I have learned from it, and how I feel about the future. I hope it some small way that by reading it others will be inspired to get out and have fun in a way that they may have though difficult or impossible. Hopefully by seeing the fun I have had by getting out and doing it, people might push themselves to get out and have as much enjoyment and fun as me.
I was surprised by my own Fitness/Stamina
Never having done a cycle tour before and have cycled so many successive days in a row, I was surprised how I was able to just keep going. I covered the 186 miles in 5 days averaging 40 miles per day and I have not cycled as consistently as that over a few days before. Some mornings I felt sluggish and one morning I didn’t want to cycle. After the first couple of miles, I felt good again. I was pleasantly surprised how I could just keep going and, of course, can now apply that to other areas of my life.
The Beautiful Islands
The Outer Hebrides are stunningly beautiful with miles of unspoiled landscape, rich in birds and wildlife. The remoteness of them makes them feel quite untouched and I felt like I was quite far away when I was there. The beaches have to be some of the best in the world with their mile upon mile of beautiful and deserted white sand. There is little to compare with turning a corner and seeing a Hebridean beach stretching out for miles in front of you.
The Biggest battle is in the Mind
Without doubt, the biggest barrier and obstacle to overcome is that of what goes on in my head both on and off the bike. I’ve always known that I struggle to control my thoughts sometimes but didn’t realise just to what extent that my mental well-being intrinsically linked to how I perform physically. The times that I desperately did not want to cycle or even go outside, turned out to be the bits of the journey that I enjoyed the most.
People are very Kind
I met many lovely people in the Outer Hebrides who showed us great kindness and hospitality and it made the trip even more special. The night, for example, that we could not get accommodation and were seriously contemplating a night in the car, people went out of other their way to help us and did everything they could to get us accommodation. I have to mention and send special thanks to Emily, General Manager of the Hotel Hebrides in Tarbert and to Flora who kindly opened up her house to us. We were so grateful for their kindness and generosity.
I can do other things and inspire others
This trip has filled me with confidence, self-esteem and has made me excited about other things I can do in the future. This trip has had a big impact on me and it has, among other things, made me realise that there are so many amazing places to visit, cycle, write about, and it has made me hungry to do more. I have had some very nice comments from people about how they find me an inspiration and it has given me the desire to do more. Helping other people is a privilege and if I can do that by showing what can be done to push the boundaries of their abilities, I am delighted to do that.
Cycling in the rain can be joyous
By far the favourite part of the journey was cycling over Harris, between Leverburgh and Tarbert, in the rain. It was mild, the roads were deserted and the atmosphere was indescribable and I had a wonderful time to myself.
I need people around me
The Outer Hebrides are beautiful and I don’t think I could find the right words to fully describe the beaches and ruggedness of the landscape there. Beautiful as they are, I don’t think I could live there. I learned that I am really grateful for my life in the city with all my friends and social activities and culture around me, although I will definitely go back for another visit.
Barra Airport is amazing
I would urge everyone visiting Barra to pay a visit to the airport to take in the spectacular view, watch a plane land on the beach and order a plate of chips. The airport consists of one room which acts as a check hall, departures gate, arrivals hall, luggage depository, security, and of course a fantastic cafe with a view to die for. I just thought it was wonderful and would like to fly to Barra next time to achieve the full experience.