Sunday, 19 April 2009

Hurray for biking!

Well that was the best fun I've had with my clothes on! Well apart from that massage in Wat Po but I won't go into that.

The weather over here on the east coast of Scotland has been rubbish all week, but every time I look at the weather forecast it looks like it's sunny over the west coast. So,I bought a new Givi screen for the bike, fitted a tail pack, printed out a map of the west coast of Scotland and set off to explore.

Saturday I drove along beside the river Dee as far as Ballater then turned north and rode over the Caingorms - bloody hell what fabulous scenery! The high point was riding for mile after mile along a single track roads with not one other vehicle in sight, just enjoying the scenery and the sunshine. Low point - looking in my mirrors to see a line of about 12 bikers coming up behind me at about twice my speed, each one weaving past as if I was a mobile chicane, waving, then disappearing off into the distance! I felt like a right knob.

The basic plan was to ride as far as possible, stop for the night and then ride again all day Sunday, but I did hit a couple of snags. Firstly is the abysmal mileage I get from the bike (caused I admit by inability to be gentle with the throttle)which means I have to stop every 100 miles for petrol. Secondly, and I'm open to suggestions how to get around this; I found it very difficult to ride fast AND enjoy the scenery, so much so that I was bimbling along at 50 mph for ages. And third (I know thats more than a couple) various parts of my anatomy began hurting after a couple of hours riding - wrists, arms and bum.

The upshot being that by 5pm I'd only made it to Inverness, although I had taken loads of photos and drank about a gallon of coffee in various roadside establishments. So I called it a day and stopped in a very pleasant hotel on the shores of Loch Ness. Crashed out early night.

But, and here's the bit I referred to at the beginning, that meant I could get up early this morning and start riding before the Sunday drivers appeared. The A82 south along the north side of Loch Ness was heaven! Bright sunshine, a completely empty road and enough gentle curves to alow me to ride at a reasonable speed while still enjoying the scenery.

A quick stop in Fort Augustus (more petrol and a coffee) and I took the B862 north along the south side of the Loch. This road goes through the Monadhliath mountains, is a single track, and looks like Colorado USA! Grand imposing mountains and forests, another empty road and I was in heaven. After that I gave up planning and just rode down every single-track road I came to, just generally winding my way south and east.

I stopped for lunch at some magical place near Cock bridge; there's this tremendous widing road all hairpins and steeply downhill, at the bottom is a tea shop. The road then hairpins its way back up and over the next mountain, so if you're sitting outside eating your lunch you hear the bikes coming down the hill all popping and banging, a quick blast past the teashop then screaming their way uphill - better than a racetrack. And all the time a huge clear blue sky and sun beating down.

Ride a bit, stop a bit, ride a bit more, stop for a coffee - what a way to pass a weekend! This is the life!

I finally got home about tea-time, washed the dead flies off me new screen and staggered upstairs to soak my aching body parts in a hot bath. Heaven! Hope you all had an equally good weekend - hurray for bikes!


  1. Fantastic photos - is that your sunny weekend for the year? ;)

    I had the same problem last year , I think it's just one of the cruelties of riding that you can either ride or admire but not both at once :(

  2. HWL - thats a cruel comment about our weather here in bonny Scotland...but probably fairly correct if last year is anything to go by!