Podia’s Max Burgess decided to extend his stay in Scotland a little longer after the Grinduro to explore the islands along the West Coast.

Words and Images by Max Burgess

I have been sitting in front of a white space for the past 45 minutes, trying to think of what I want to tell you about my weekend of cycling in Scotland. I could give you a detailed explanation of the route we took, the things we saw; but sometimes you only need the images to appreciate that.

I have been reading Ryan Wilson’s amazing accounts of his adventures in the Andes for inspiration, but I am not sure it has helped.

Like many of us, I dream of riding the desolate tracks around forgotten mountains with nothing for survival but the things in bike bags. For most of us this isn’t reality, but it should not stop us from enjoying our own ‘micro-adventures’.

Adventure is a state of mind. It’s about taking ourselves out of our comfort zone and enjoying it while we are out there. But, it doesn’t have to involve month long expeditions in far off places. It can start nearer to home.

Riding with a couple of friends across the Isle of Arran and through lochs and isles that make up the Firth of Clyde was an obvious decision after we finished the Grinduro. Having no set plan or route, just tents and sleeping bags along with the knowledge that wild camping is legal in most parts of Scotland, meant the possibilities were endless.

With this kind of freedom come opportunities. 73 km into the third day we decided the road we had chosen was too big with too much fast moving traffic. Our options were to either continue on without any alternative for another 70km, or turn back to a ferry we passed some 15km earlier and change our direction and destination.

The choice was a good one. Waiting for a ferry to the Polphail we started speaking to a cyclist. Alan is actually a former local who now lives in Dubai and comes back every now and again to visit family and ride his old roads. Luckily for us, he was full of great ideas of places we should explore. No pouring over Google Maps can give you that kind of information.

This just proved that a lack of a plan or at least having a flexible one helps with spontaneous moments, and in my opinion spontaneity is like the good bacteria of an adventure; it breeds the fun into situations.

If you are planning your own escape, aim for it to be something that you wouldn’t normally do; a new place or new people.

The most important thing is to just get out there and get on an adventure, even a micro one. It doesn’t have to be the Andes, it doesn’t even have to be the Scottish Isles – there are probably hundreds of new places to explore a short train journey from where you are right now. Just get out there and see them.