Hogmanay in Edinburgh conjures up images of street parties, fireworks and drinking. Usually lots of drinking. You certainly wouldn't think of cycling as something people get up to on hogmanay, would you?
That is until I saw a group of four cyclists at 11pm on the 31st of December 2012. I looked out of the flat window with a glass of champagne in hand to watch the fireworks display and saw these four waiting for the traffic lights to turn green.
They were outfitted with winter cycling clothing and powerful front and rear lights. One of the group had panniers and I wondered what he had stowed away. Did he have a little picnic with perhaps a cheeky sparkling drink? Were they off to some vantage point to watch the midnight firework spectacular?
It got me thinking that perhaps a bike ride on hogmanay was a good idea. People are always looking for something a bit different to do at this time of year instead of the same old routine. Why not do the thing you enjoy the most at the climax of the year?
Riding a bike to higher ground to watch the best new year fireworks in the world would be pretty exciting.
Of course, the weather at this time of year can be unpredictable and it was lucky that 2012 was quite mild and dry. It might not be as much fun in gales and blizzards!
I tend to limit my cycling in the winter months to virtually nothing.The last time I saw some snow on a cycling trip was a random patch lying by the road, just outside Insch, Aberdeenshire. This was in April. It was the only bit of snow for miles around and was quite a strange thing to see! It was as if someone had gone up a mountain to get some snow and then brought it down to dump it by the roadside.
But I have been thinking about getting out in the winter more and more. Each time that I see a cyclist braving the cooler weather and dark mornings I think, why not? If they can do it, why can't I?
The whole purpose of my journeys is to see Scotland and enjoy the landscapes at their best. This is not always possible in winter. It gets dark very early, so I would not want to travel too far that I would miss seeing great scenery.
So, I have been looking at routes local to me and I have been seriously contemplating a trip. Seeing those new year cyclists has persuaded me to give it a go.
My name is Colin Baird and I want to see all of Scotland by bicycle.