If you leave Edinburgh to the south on the A7, take a turning just after Gorebridge and continue past the limeworks and the incessantly barking collie, you’ll soon reach a cross roads with the B7007. Parking up on the roadside before the snow gates you’ll notice straight away what feels like a 10°C temperature drop from the centre of Edinburgh and a howling wind which will make you question your chosen pastime! Proceed anyway, it gets better!
The B7007 initially climbs steadily from the snow gates at near constant gradient on a glass like surface. With the rare combination of a tailwind and good legs, the first climb can take as little as 10 minutes on rollerskis, however, with the prevailing wind and a fatigued body it can be a 25 minute slog. As you crest the first hill and continue towards Innerleithen, you quickly forget that you are anywhere close to the capital city. The rolling hills, known by the local cyclists as ‘The Granites’ could fool you into thinking you’d gone 200 miles north into the highlands. It’s a 45km session all the way to Innerleithen and back. If it feels like a still day on the way there, just make sure you’ve got some food to keep you going into the headwind on the way back!
Yesterday I estimated that during my 4 years of full time study at Edinburgh I must have spent more time on the B7007, in the Pentland hills or on Arthur’s seat than I did in the library. I’m not sure whether that calculation would enrage or impress my tutors!
So that’s it, last Monday I graduated with a chemical engineering degree, so what now?? Many of my classmates are lining up generously paid first jobs and moving into the real world, a smart move for sure. But it’s less than 2 years until the next winter Olympics and support for the national ski team is going from strength to strength with the recent success of full time athletes Andrew Young and Andrew Musgrave. The little boy that dreamt of wearing the yellow jersey wouldn’t really feel I’d done him justice if I just gave it all up now would he?
So I’m now a full time athlete and in August I’ll be moving to Lillehammer to see just how good I can get, training with some of the world’s best skiers, using some of the world’s best training facilities. I guess I’m graduating from the B7007 and moving on to a masters at the Birkebeiner stadium. Hopefully I’ll be a lot less lazy on the blogging scene and you lucky souls will be able read all about it!
I had an awesome time in Edinburgh and met some great people – A few thankyous are due:
- The chemical engineering department allowed me the flexibility to take a year out in order to prepare for Sochi, as well as moving various assignments to accommodate my competition schedule.
- My flatmates who put up with all my early starts and terrible chat: Scott, Cameron, Fraser, Lewys and Michael.
- Edinburgh University Orienteering Club for being so welcoming and fun.
- My training partners and everyone who agreed to join in on my adventures!
- My long suffering parents for supporting me through it and allowing me to continue to run about on bits of wood for a bit longer before growing up and getting a job.