Andrew Laing cycling to Comrades

Posted on April 26, 2008 by


A marathon end to a marathon journey

Published Date:
24 April 2008

UIST’s roads will be looking pretty good to one cyclist this summer.
North Uist’s Andrew Laing is to return to the islands to complete the multi-sport adventure race, the Heb Challenge, from June 29 to July 4. But he will be either the fittest or most knackered sports enthusiast there, having just completed a cycle from Edinburgh to Nairobi.

Andy has, to date, cycled through 18 countries, and it’s not over yet. The push is on for him to reach Durban in South Africa by June 15, where he will take part in the gruelling 89 kilometre Comrades marathon.

“I liked the idea of the trip having a definite end point with a specific goal,” said Andy. “Rather than aimless cycling around it meant I had a target date to aim at. I also wanted to minimize my air miles, so the way it worked out in the end was that the trip started when I closed the front door of my flat in Edinburgh and jumped on the bike to cycle to the Rosyth Ferry; it will only end when I hopefully cross the finish line at about 5 o clock on June 15th.”

Andy set off in November, and since then has been regaling his friends back home with regular updates on the networking website Facebook. Andy’s diary tells of ups and downs, literal and figurative: days of hilly cycling, some good, some not, and moments of frustration, exasperation and near submission. As it stands, Andy is philosophical about the journey and what it’s taught him.

“I’ve learned a lot about self reliance on this trip,” he said. “I was pretty independent before, but I’ve really had no choice but to look after everything myself this time. I think the motto of this trip has been ” everything’s fixable”: pretty much everything that could have has broken.

“When things have looked really bad and you can’t imagine going on, I’ve learned that everything can be patched, mended, bodged and stitched. May take ages and not look very pretty, but no matter how bad things are there is always somehow to get by.”

For extracts from Andy’s cycle diaries, including the hassles and frustrations as well as the good bits, see the next issue of Island Eye.