It’s been a glorious annual circuit cycle and pedal-pilgrimage for the last 8 years and, till Friday, passing trouble free. Conditions were almost perfect for the day-spin, which includes 5 fantastic panoramic breaks on board ferries between Ardrossan & Brodick (Arran), Lochranza & Claonaig (Kintyre), Tarbert & Portavadie (Cowal), Colintraive & Rhubodach (Bute), Rothesay & Wemyss Bay (Inverclyde), all for the princely sum of £15.15, WoW!

It was all going swimmingly till 7 miles short of Collintraive. We’d picked up a mountain goat ‘Alex’ from Largs, who patiently tagged along with MAMILs Scott, Stewart & myself (FOSIL – Fullarton Over 60 in Lycra) till cutting loose. In Tighnabruaich I serendipitously met an old mate Johnny, doing the 5 ferries anti-clockwise, a porpoise greeted us on a crossing and we sat sunning on the Kyles for lunch. Scotland was beaming brightly at us until, a poor gear-change on my part snapped my chain and had me dreading the embarrassing call for St Dorothy to rescue me from the middle of nowhere. We had the tools and ability in Scott to fix my chain and get me rolling again, but lacked the necessary ‘missing chain link’!

As kleggs circled for the kill and midges sharpened sabre-teeth to carry us to their lair, we jumped at the chance to flag down Alford’s finest: John, Laura & young daughter Emily to carry me & my wounded steed to the next ferry in their compact campavan. Not only did they show me mercy, they graciously took me to Rothesay’s ‘Bike Shed’, where Lorrie gifted me the ‘missing link’. Thus, Scott readied my whining wheels on the last ferry and allowed me to complete the circle from Wemyss Bay to Irvine, totally gubbed but very grateful!

Lessons learnt? 1. I knew my chain desperately needed a thorough clean, indeed I got a chain cleaner for my birthday 3 months ago, but hadn’t taken the necessary steps to use it. My mucky, mochit chain was a shocking embarrassment, clarting fingers and drawing righteous indignation from Scott, who told me not to cycle with him again until I cleaned my chain, “Just 30 min’s a week Neil is all that’s required to look after and clean your bike well!”

How often are we guilty by the sin of ‘omission’, when we turn a blind eye to helping someone out or confronting & changing a habit which is causing us to limp through life?

  1. Sometimes messages come from the least likely place. Waiting in Rothesay for my mates to catchup, a half-drunk gent was inspired to tell me he’d noticed my ‘paunch’ (thickened stomach) and commiserated about how hard it is to shift it at our age. Thanks Mate!

  1. ‘When trouble comes the adventure begins!’ Stewart gave me this proverb, which nicely describes my day. My sorrow sparked a ‘chain reaction’ in which I was blessed by 6 Good Samaritans. Yes ‘all things work together for the good of those who love God’ (Romans 8:28). As Cowper says in ‘God moves in a mysterious way His wonders to perform – ‘Ye fearful saints fresh courage take, the clouds ye so much dread are big with mercy, and shall break in blessings on your head.’

By the way, I’ve ordered the chain-cleaner solution and am determined to look after my chain and bike. I am ‘considering’ a better diet. And I’m grateful for the ‘link’ that so many miss, the gift of ‘faith’ which allows God to lead us in His Great Adventure called ‘Life’.