As it turns out, no passports were required this year to get into Scotland, with last year's independence referendum having been fairly narrowly rejected.
All cannot be said to be hunky-dory on the political front, however – we're heading up to Glasgow a matter of days after a general election, when England voted Tory and Scotland voted almost exclusively SNP, painting a stark divide on the electoral map. Something's clearly got to give, but as long as the Union can manage to eke itself out for another year then we should at least be able to continue our cycle ride unimpeded – and that's the main thing.
For the time being, we're concentrating on the matter in hand – five full days to cover off what remains of the Scottish west coast. And it's full honours again this year, as David joins us once more, and James puts the traumatic memory of Skye behind him after a mere two years. Both guests were sporting shiny new bikes as we met up in London as usual, caught the afternoon train up to Glasgow, and enjoyed a couple of preparatory pints on Sauchiehall Street before retiring to our budget hotel.
We had planned an ambitious 6.15am start the following morning, since it was our intention to cycle all the way out to Wemyss Bay (a good 40 miles) against predicted strong winds, and to them catch the ferry out to the Isle of Bute, where we had a campsite booked. Would we make it? Here's a clue:
Go to Day 1 (Glasgow to Rothesay)