I can get to the Decathlon shop from Porty almost entirely along cycle paths apart from a wee bit at the beginning through the housing estate south of Porty Golf Course. After that, you soon get onto the old Innocent Railway and then through the Meadows which now has a bike track, then along the canal for a few miles to Sighthill, and then 200 yards down the road to Decathlon.
Above is a map of the route. But today I called into Fat Mac, who lives in Stockbridge, who said he’d love to go a bike ride to Decathlon. He’s lived in Stockbridge for 50 years, so all he had to do was get us from Stockbridge up to the canal. Not difficult, you would have thought. You’d have thought that he might even know a cycle path from nearby Stockbridge up to somewhere on the canal. But when I asked him about a possible route, he grimaced for a while, said he had no idea whatsoever, then said “Ah’ll jes follow yous, Rodz.”
So I lead us along his road, past Waitrose just along from his flat, where the posh people buy their food.
“Whar the feck are weez goin’ Rodz?”
“To Decathlon. That’s a shop. It’s near Sighthill and the canal.”
“This is nae ra way tae Sighthill. Ah kin get uz tae Dalry. That’s whar ma dealer used tae live.” Fat Mac offered, trying to be helpful.
“We can go up and over into Murrayfield, and then see how to get to the canal.”
“Rodz. It’s always the effin same wi yous. I could be sitting in ma lobby meditating!” Fat Mac complained, getting more and more crabbit by the minute.
After a mile or so Fat Mac found some other things to whinge about. “Ah’m effin caul. They’s too much wind. Where the feck is weez goin?”
“A shop near Sighthill” I explained again.
“Ah’s kin get uz tae Sighthill”
Now, I know that Sighthill is a relatively big place, and that Fat Mac would only know about the unsavory parts of it, so I continued to lead over past Murrayfield.
“There’s far too much traffic, Rodz. This is an effin lousy route you’ve chosen. I could be havin a bath and a nap. Instead Ah’m oot in the caul and wind cycling till Ah’m knackered. Ma legs is hurtin. Ah’ve nae been on ra bike fer a year.”
At this point, I must admit to becoming slightly flustered, what with the constant complaining from behind, so I gave up trying to get to the canal, and instead used Navigator to plot a more direct route to Decathlon. This took us through several fairly bleak housing estates, but was a very direct route, apart from the fact that we cycled one block too far south at one point.
“Ah’m nae goin oan thon duel carriageway” Mac complained, looking ahead, so instead we took a quiet road through another housing estate. Eventually we got onto a cycle path at Saughton. This is when the whinging from behind reached a new high.
“Ah could hae goat uz ontae this cycle path almost from ma hoos. Why did yeez nae say this is whar weez wiz goin? Fer feck sake. It’s caul. It’s windy. Where the feck is this shoap onywaiys?”
“Two blocks west” It turned out to be 4 blocks, but we’d cycled in a very direct route, apart from one short bitty.
“Why the feck are yous goin to ra shoap oot here. Yeez can get stuff aff ra Internet, my daughter telt me.”
“I like to sometimes see the goods in question.” I answered. Anyway, Mac never stopped complaining until we got to the shop, at which time he calmed down a bit.
“This is an effin complete waste of ra day” Mac piped up again, once we were out of the shop. “Ah’m caul. Ah thunk ah’ve come doon wi ‘flu.”
From the shop, it was easy to cycle 200 yards south and get onto the canal bike path, my original route, go past the edge of Sighthill, and then zoom in, the wind at our backs, all the way to Fountainbridge.
“Why did weez nae gang oot this ways, Rodz? We should go cycling mair often.”
At Fountainbridge we had a coffee in a Swedish cafe, where Fat Mac spoke non-stop about death, doom, damnation and more of his favourite topics.