Thursday, 19 September 2013
Friday the 13th - Edinburgh to Aviemore
So the plan is for me to huckle Russ into joining me for his navigation skills ( i get lost in Sainsburys ), we ride up Friday am, stay over at the in-laws in Aviemore with Russ catching the train Saturday and me catching it Sunday, my wife and the kids coming back down on Sunday with In-Laws and bikes in my van. Easy eh?!
Thursday evening : New garage fancy pants automatic doors jammed!, bike, track pump, tools and spares inside. Lots of swearing. Wife knowing how cross i was getting ran over to the builders across the road and got his spare control unit, this worked. I was in! Bike etc. moved into the house. Bed at 11 in spare room so i wouldn't wake the family at sparrow fart.
5:30 - Up, It's dark. Looks damp but can't hear rain. Coffee and Porridge for breakfast. Choice of kit crucial, went for Equipe jersey, Craft summer race shorts with 2xu tri shorts as a liner, gilet and my Craft microlight waterproof. Gloves, socks, glasses. Stuffed my pockets with a Clifbar (bluebery flavour), a Cherry torque gel, a spare Zero tab, peanut butter and jam sarnies wrapped and sqaushed as small as possible, a pump and a half of a buff in case it got cold.
6:20 - Off, It's wet! and it quickly dawns on me that it's really bloody wet, by the time i've gone 2 miles i'm drenched, the swearing has begun. Wrong jacket; too flimsy, wrong gloves; fingerless, overshoes?! damn forgot my F#@!ing overshoes. To be fair i didn't think i'd need them when I was at home but it was a lot wetter as i neared Edinburgh.
6:35 - Meet Russ, Puncture, yep puncture less than 25 minutes in and I had a flat back wheel, Lothian road is a mine field of pot holes and ruts and it looks like i hit one in the dark wet conditions. Russ turns up and i'm sure that inwardly he's giggling as I'm always giving him grief for being puncture prone. I get the tyre sorted and we're off again. My back lights batteries have died!
South Queensferry, still pissing it down and i'm freezing, my teeth are chattering. Seriously Edinburgh city council need a kick up the arse, that cycle path out to South Queensferry and onto the bridge is a mess, roots, gravel, signage missing just crap for the countries capital city. Ned in vauxhall corsa nearly wipes Russ out.
The bridge, the romantic part of me had a vision in my head of us riding over the bridge to the backdrop of a cracking autumnal sunrise, nope, it's misty, wet and freezing. I'm having trouble riding straight from the shivering.
Sandy Wallaces, it's raining harder than ever and i'm already contemplating our escape routes, Sandy isn't open and it's probably a good thing because if i'd gone in i'd have never come out again.
Dunfermline, the cycle path when we can spot it is pretty good and by the time we get over to the hospital the rain is easing off. I'm freezing, Russ can't feel his hands or his feet, but it's my body that's cold. I've got all my kit on and my extra half buff that when i decide to pull over my mouth and nose to generate some heat makes me wonder if that's what water boarding must feel like.
9:20 - Kinross, it's stopped raining! I'm warming up. The descent down into the flood plain around the town was brilliant, both Russ and I joked that we'd hate to meet a logging truck. Round the next corner and what do we see? Yep there it is; all 18 wheels of it, luckily for us the truck was heading into the forest below us and the road was clear by the time we got that far. We stop for the first time of our own accord (since the puncture) and have a sarnie, according to Russ my lips are blue, i certainly feel cold but i'm not as bad as I had been earlier. We both agree that we've made reasonable time taking the weather into account.
10:25 - Perth, Tesco, Hot Chocolate and a danish, bliss! A quick tasty bite and some serptitious use of the hand driers in the loo get us warmed up nicely and ready for the next leg to Pitlochry where we plan to stop for lunch. First though we have to negotiate the Motor Mile and the beginning of the A9. Luckily we only have to ride maybe 500m up the dual carriageway and then we headed off toward the brilliantly named Tullybelton.
Bankfoot, I just saw my shadow! The suns out, hurray, i'm down to just my gilet and the waterproof is stashed, superb.
Past whinnies b&b we miss the turning and head off toward Stanley before I realise we should of taken a turn down a road under the railway about 600m back. About turn and we're on the right track again.
Dunkeld, getting peckish. The cycle path along this section is a mixture of old bits of the A9 and some 'shared use' paths, sometimes we're feet from the A9 and sometimes it's out of sight and you can still hear the trucks and buses hammering along, the road is amazing as we ride parallel with the A9 but maybe 50m up to the right. The distance to Pitlochry from the entrance to the railway station carpark is 14 miles, 100 metres further on it's 15 miles and then 100m further it's only 13 miles if the signage is to be believed hmmmmm?
Balinluig and the road goes back over the A9 heading for the last stretch to Pitlochry. Soemwhere between here and Pitlochry the road goes sharp right and sharply uphill, this tests the legs a bit more than everything else we've come across, yet again the road was superb twisty and tight and well surfaced. Whoever Dougie is he's got lots of suporters along that stretch of road as every few hundred meters there's a message telling him to 'Go Dougie' but his friends have a strange sense of humour as they lied about it being the last climb.
1:00 - Pitlochry, lunch! Cafe Biba and a lunch of soup, bread, chips, tea and caramel shortbread sorts us right out. I'm dry now too. I grabbed some new batteries for my back light and some Haribo from a 'Johnnie a' things' and we headed North again along roads that felt familier after the last VCM 'Cross monument ride in the snow.
Athol, strange, Route 77 that we had been following, was being directed into the grounds of a country house and in true middle age male fashion we ignored the signs and carried on regardless. Whatever the other route was, we were more than happy with the one we had chosen, it was fast, smooth and devoid of any traffic. Cracking. Both of us were feeling a bit sluggish after our lunch and I stuffed in some Haribo to pick me up a bit.
Drumochter, wrong!, Haribo come down is not nice, way too much sugar means way too big a drop in energy and I feel rubbish. But the cycle path is superb, mainly old A road or new buttery smooth tarmac with only 1 or 2 km of gravel, we're making good progress, the support crew ( wife, kids, nanny ) pass us on the A9 and wave, blow horn etc... and then they pull in just before the summit to hand out the sourest sherbert lemons i've ever had the pleasure of. Russ has lost the plot, he's down to no arm warmers now, i'm not that brave but it's nice and warm.
Dalwhinnie, downhill! It's all downhill from here to Aviemore ( we hope ) i've eaten the Cliff bar and feel much better, both of us feel remarkably well with hardly any aches and pains, just the usual sore backside and stiff neck but not what i'd expect after over 100 miles on the bike, long may it continue.
9 miles? 9 miles to where? we keep seeing these old stone markers by the side of the road saying we're 9 miles from somewhere, surely not Kingusie that would mean we only had about 24 miles to go, we'll see.
Newtonmore, Newtonmore was only 9 miles, we're both surprised how good progress we've made since Pitlochry, it's a beautiful autumn evening on lovely quiet roads and cycle routes. The temperature has dropped though and we're both in our windproofs again. Russ has another near miss, this time with an overtaking 7 and a half ton wagon.
Kingussie, Kincraig, Tiger Cubs! we'll be back there with the kids Sunday I bet, still fantastic weather and there's almost no traffic, both of us are feeling the mileage a bit now, the odd uphill we encounter puts us both in a lather, our legs are definately a bit tired but still not as bad as i've encountered before on shorter rides.
9 hours in the saddle - Aviemore, we've made it! chuffed, both of us feel tired but ok, no where near as bad as I expected, no mechanicals, punctures or other unplanned stoppages other than the puncture before we properly set off and for Sherbet Lemons. That's the longest ride i've done in one day and to be honest one of the best long rides i've done full stop.
Despite shit weather and a puncture at the off the day was brilliant. Cheers Russ. When are we doing the double :-)
I better say thanks to the rest of the crew, My far too understanding wife, kids and in-laws who without their help we wouldn't have had a bed, food, return trip for the bikes or the all important post ride Brew. Cheers Guys.