I like cycling. I really do. There’s a large sense of satisfaction to be had in knowing that you’re powering your own means of transport, and I look good in a helmet. Fact. But still, there are very few people that I would cycle six hours straight for. Fortunately, the Friends of the Earth Scotland bunch just happen to be those people.

Erin on bike: Erin and the other riders being sent off by Sir Menzies Campbell MP.

Despite rather strong feelings of trepidation as I joined the gathering at the start point – would I be able to keep up? What if I developed a puncture in the first five minutes? Had I really agreed to do this anyway? Was drink involved? – the rather instantaneous camaraderie of our motley crew soon had me rearing to go. There was a real mixture of ability, equipment and experience, but everyone was equally up for it. It turned out that I was actually the only participant who had signed up for the shorter route, much to my shame. ‘Sod it’, I thought, ‘Let’s go the whole hog’, and joined the rest of the group for the longer, 34 mile expedition. The fact that the event organizer mentioned they’d be stopping in Anstruther for fish and chips had absolutely nothing to do with it.

The four pros – one of whom rather helpfully fixed a brake problem that’s been bugging me for months, minutes before take-off – were sickeningly fit and zipped back and forth the length of our group throughout the entire journey, checking in with everyone as they passed, and keeping us on the right track. The going was tough at first, with a couple of killer hills within the first hour – there’s nothing so dis-heartening as being overtaken by a tractor – but scheduled pit-stops allowed us all to re-group, snaffle some nuts and water, and, perhaps more importantly, stock up on cheers and encouragement from the rest.

We had it good – the weather held, the scenery was amazing, and not a single cyclist had any bike problems or accidents. By the time we set off again from Anstruther, we had all settled in to the groove, finding our comfortable pace and sticking to it. And damn if it wasn’t incredibly satisfying free-wheeling down the hill that had almost killed me on the way there. I may have startled a few cows with my whoops. Six hours after we

set off, we wheeled back to the (now) finishing point, to big grins from the staff, goodie bags and, in my case, a cold can of Kronenburg. Everyone was on a massive high, and I was grateful that I still had any feeling left in my legs. As I listened to the celebratory chatter, I began composing an email to all my sponsors: ‘Dear X, I ended up cycling over 50% more than I originally pledged to: we need to talk about upping your amount accordingly.’

A massive thanks to Zoe and Nina for organizing it all, and to all my fellow cyclists, who gave me a cracking, laughter-filled Sunday afternoon. Can’t wait till the next one.