Our newest ambassadors Fiona and Lucy are a pair of best friends who manage to pack adventure into their busy working lives. The pair took on the Outer Hebridean islands of Harris and Lewis on their bikes last month in typically grim weather and will be tackling a tour through Italy later in the summer. We caught up with them before their trips to find out more!
Being a psychotherapist and a doctor respectively, you might question why Fiona and Lucy have decided to use their precious free time exhausting themselves with cycling tours. The truth is, the pair haven’t always felt like they were “strong enough” or the right kind of people for these kind of adventures. But after completing two marathons and realising the amazing things her body was capable of, Fiona realised there was really no ‘type of person’ that’s capable of doing amazing physical feats.
“As I have watched friends do epic adventures, some friends tandem biking across America, some other friends biking across Washington State...I started to realize that too could be me/us!” She tells us, and whilst some people may be daunted by the idea of returning to such a demanding job with blisters, aching legs and saddle burn, Fiona maintains that “some of our best holidays have been those where you feel you need another week off after just to recover”!
Preparation and Packing
The pair are total cycle touring novices, having never even done a cycling trip overnight, but went on a road trip together last summer across America. They drove from Seattle to Washington DC with lots of camping and hiking on the way, so are used to spending lots of time together in close proximity. Aside from this, both women commute to work on their bikes, which they’re hoping will stand them in good stead for the journey. Fiona’s marathon training should also come in handy when it comes to general fitness and stamina.
The two are keeping their plans for Italy relatively loose, with an aim to cycle 35-80 km (22-50 miles) a day depending on the elevation. “We didn’t want to be too overly planned and anticipate some days we might get distracted” Fiona explains, “we hear there are many vineyards along our route, coincidence? I think not.” We definitely like their way of thinking!
The friends are planning to camp in both Scotland and Italy having enjoyed it so much when in the US. Though they’ve been seeking out a backup plan in the app Warm Showers for Italy, “rumour has it Italian’s aren’t a big fan of wild camping,” they explain, “but who wouldn’t want us two sweaty and exhausted looking women sleeping in their vineyard?” It’s definitely hard to reason with that logic! Luckily they’ve had overwhelmingly positive responses from people on the app so they shouldn’t be left out in the cold if their master plan doesn’t work out.
When it comes to packing for the trips, Lucy’s had to reign in Fiona’s optimism slightly, reminding her that waterproofs are probably not ‘optional’ for their trip to Scotland and should probably come higher up on the list than fairy lights for their tent! The pair now have a more thorough packing list though still have the occasional panic, “every couple of days, one of us will normally have a moment where we will be like, “Hey....where and how do we poo?” or “Hey...how do we work out how much water to travel with, is there lots of water available in Italy?!”” They tell us.
Thankfully their bikes are much more prepared for their trips! Fiona has a Trek Hybrid and Lucy owns a Ridgeback Expedition, complete with some funky antlers on the handlebars! “They were installed by the man from Gumtree who owned her before,” Lucy explains, “he named her Rosie and cycled her around Vietnam.” Sounds like Rosie’s had more adventures than most! Fiona’s kitted her bike out with front and rear panniers whilst Lucy’s given Rosie the all-star treatment with Schwalbe Marathon Plus tyres to try keep the punctures at bay.
Things get minimalist when it comes to navigation though! The pair are using their Beelines to follow some GPX routes they’ve created but they’re also looking to a map from the 1930s that belonged to Lucy’s great grandparents! Whilst the paper maps have been good for visualising the landscape, the women are hoping that the area hasn’t changed too much, “the key includes where to find baths, fingers crossed they still exist!”
A Few Final Questions
We asked Lucy and Fiona what they would take with them if they were only allowed to take eight songs, one book and a luxury item on their trips. Here's what they chose.
Fiona: “A good book for reading out loud! Probably HP, or Michelle Obama’s autobiography” Lucy: “A book of lateral thinking puzzles to keep us entertained!”
Their luxury item:
“My SodaStream -ruddy love some fizzy water. An unlimited supply of ice cream.”
Darius Rucker - Wagon Wheel
Zac Brown Band - Chicken Fried
Lucy would like a school hymn or carol.
“Can Harry Potter Audiobooks count for the next 5 songs?! We ploughed through a lot of HP on our roadtrip!”
And their preferences…would you rather:
Cycle the whole way into the wind, or the whole way in drizzle?
“I think it would have to be in drizzle. After hearing about fellow Beeline ambassadors Ailie and Dave’s week cycling/zig-zagging into a headwind across a desert in Patagonia I now respect the power of the wind so much more.”
Have to drink a bottle (500ml) of Irn Bru or have to drink a dram of whiskey every five miles?
“How many miles are we going? I feel like a dram of Whiskey might be quite fun once we’d got over the first few.”
Complete the ride on a three seat tandem or on fixies?
“Oh man, I looked up tandem bikes when this bike adventure dreaming began, but luckily or unluckily - still not sure - I struggled to find one for us! I would love to do it on a tandem, and three seats = extra pedal power right?!”