Sunday 6th October!

The forecast is predicting heavy rain for Sunday. So there may be a Saturday call off so make sure you let me know if you are coming along so I can tell you should a call off happen.

Assuming weather is favourable.

8.30 start Perth, ping me if you need to know where, but usual place.

Plan is for Dunning Glen to Yetts o’Muckhart then double back through GlenDevon to Gleneagles. Coffee hopefully in Auchterarder then back via Kinkell bridge and tibbermore.

There may be a late substitution of route for one heading Forteviot then Glenfarg, Loch Leven and back. Coffee in Milnathort or Beer in Kinross. The route switch is just to keep you on your toes and not sprint off for a 30 when there is actually a route switch coming 🙂

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Gran Fondo Scotland

A new event and only 3 of the 53 miles had previously been cycled so a whole new experience.

Not knowing how many entries there were or how busy the before start registration would be i nipped down to Falkirk on Saturday to register. As it turns out it was a small event so Sunday registration before the start would have been fine. (Lesson for next time).

Tons of good parking at the Falkirk stadium and an easy 1 km path to the start under the Kelpies. Oh and passing 2 decent sets of toilets for pre race nerves to be settled.

Taking my place in the start pen it wasnt too long to wait before we all set off. The usual enthusiastic pace to begin with soon settled and we were out of Falkirk and bypassing Denny on our way to the first real climb. The roads were a bit on the rough side and some of our lot seemed to forget that these were not closed road but open to all traffic.

The hill wasn’t too bad and I kept pace with those around me and despite the forecast it was staying dry. I did decide i had over dressed with the cap and headband under my helmet. Down to where the two routes split and my back wheel locks but thankfully I skid upright and stop before the junction.

The feed station was well stocked and plenty of volunteers to help us. Downside it was 2/3’s up a brae.  It was around here that a Yoof in a souped turbo spluttering focus cut us up. Managed to cycle with and chat with various folk in first half of route but fell back on one climb trying to keep pace with a whippet. Seemed that from there on i was mostly in no mans land with nobody visible ahead and some a distance behind.

Over to Lochend and the Black Loch and the road was familiar from Pedal for Scotland back in 2009.  Longriggend looked a bit of bandit country!

Didi the Devil greeted us on the KOM section which had been thoughtfully placed at the 75 out of 83 km mark!! The blast down to the finish was on the Falkirk bypass so extra vigilance for idiot drivers was required and approaching the final roundabout checking it was clear and signalling to go into right lane a car decided i shouldn’t have been there and went across the otherside of the road to pass be as we approached the roundabout.  As he caught me another participant commented that “The driver certainly didn’t like me!” Blast across the line and got greeted by a nice lady offering water or a bottle of 0% beer. Beer was inhaled. Then it was past party time.

Well organised event so will certainly contemplate it again.

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Day 4 :The Lochs!

Day four and we have to be out the accommodation by 10:00.  Its too early to go home, so a cunning plan of doing some more traffic free cycling it hatched. When i say hatched, the plan was conceived before we went but never spoken about until late into the beer and curry fuelled evening of day 3.

The route: To Loch Pattack from Dalwhinnie and back (obviously).

The refuge vacated (on time) we set off in convoy from Nethy Bridge to Dalwhinnie.  The drizzle is hitting the windscreen, nobody is in any real hurry. We park up at station road, A train goes past… We set off and cross the main line. The wind is in our faces,. it will remain this way all the way to the Loch. Loch Ericht is quite small, with a man made dam at the Dalwhinnie end. Today it has what i would call “white horses” on it. There are timber works on the road, and a truck squeezes past us with it load of logs. This run is, and i quote, “relatively flat”. The track is smooth (mostly) and wide. We push on up and over the many undulations until we reach Ben Alder Lodge, where the right turn just goes up and up and up. Up for almost 2 miles solid. We all climb. We are strung out on the hill like Christmas lights on a tree (florescent, green and red) ,over the hill side.

Loch Pattack reached, there is little point in going far along the loch side as the drizzle is persistent and the wind more so! We scoff cake and chocolate before admitting that the weather was just not going to improve and we should just leave.

The descent, ah the descent, what a descent. I have gone off the front early and grinning like an idiot reach the only gate on the run. On reaching it, i wedge it open with my bike and wait for the magnificent seven to appear. They did come charging over the horizon, squirted past and left me standing on my lone some.

I set off and careered down the trail. awww they waited at the top of the next rise 🙂

Back to Dalwhinnie now, bikes all loaded we set off for some warming soup at a wee cafe in Blair Atholl. This is only delaying the inevitable.

Stats for the weekend 6 fall offs,  no punctures, 2 pedals detached (same pedal)  a ton of cheese not eaten, and about 700 miles cycled.

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Radar Love

Nothing to do with Golden Earring but Simons Garmin radar. Into the headwind on our way to Pitlochry and the sound of cars being kept behind us the little Radar unit on the back of Simons bike sensed approaching cars and his Garnin glowed red in warning.  A very effective tool.

Anyway back to the more mundane. No Andrew this week, he is off falling from his bike with others elsewhere so Simon, New Boy Willie and I gathered at Brewlands. Simon being the local guide I just set the start and and mid coffee point the rest was up to him!! ALthought there was a mild panic when i heard it was Pitlochry Highland Games this weekend, but thankfully on Saturday not Sunday. Off we set, Drumore Loch and over to A93 then down to Bridge of Calley. The road is R.A.F in places and the section down into Calley is being closed later this week for resurfacing. The theme of today was Simon gets the 30’s, there was an occasional half hearted challenge but nope he had a clean sweep.

No coffee stop at the Kirkmichael garage but on into the headwind and over the moor.

Idiot Driver 1 – 19 Plate Focus decided that there was room on the narrow bridge for them and Simon so barged on through rather unsafely.

Idiot Driver 2 – Further up at the top of the Moor despite a fast approaching Volvo Idiot 2 in a Range Rover barged past on a dangerous section and had to cut in swiftly in front of us to avoid colliding with Volvo and no doubt taking us out too.

Simon did a sterling job of riding on the front shielding us from the wind then led the charge down the Edradour Hill. I spy the 14% gradient and start thining of the return climb. Easy seeing that Simon knows this road as he had no fear and knew exactly where the 30 was. I backed off. New road time and over by the gold course and round some tight bends to ER for Coffee. Willies wife met him there and dragged him off to get scrubbed off to go to a doo that afternoon.

No matter how much Willie and I tried we were no match or size to activate Simons Radar, But we have a scheme for next time,

Fueled it was off via West Haugh and up another R.A.F road surface to Edradour (Sneaky 30, Simon pleading innocence not knowing of it’s existence). Then up the 14% climb. It was slow, 5mph at times so no PR’s for Simon Today he paced me up the hill which i’ve never managed to get all the way up previously without a walk. The tail wind may have helped too but we shall gloss over that.  How the heck somebody got planning permission for the ugly box house neat Edradour next to the traditional styles i’ll never understand. Easily seeing my previous attempt was slow as even at 5mph it was a PR up there 🙂

No idiots on the return to Kirkmichael just a blast of a run, me trying and failing to match the stealth bike.

Our run was now accompanied but a new distraction. My saddle creaking like mad and flexing like a bendy thing. It is no more. My worry was it splitting completely and the jewels getting crimped, or worse! Certainly no stealth mode for now. On up the Glenshee road to the Pottery turn off. Legs feeling it a bit now and a bit concerened about the nippy ramp at Glenkilrie especially with the all the motorbikes taking no prisoners as they sped past. Teeth gritted i got up but the right hammy was nipping to a wee stop once off the main road. Ewan Whippet was at home, what a shame Simon didn’t know earlier 🙂 On and up to Forter Castle and back to Brewlands for a cracking time on roads lest traveled.

Now to find a replacement saddle, First step, check which old discarded ones i have in the garage for now before heading to Mr Google.

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Day 3…still cycling

Having had a quick reccy of the start of today’s run, Alan had done similar. Compromising to be done!

The band of 7 set out, up the road, then on to the new to most track. The first trail drops down quite dramatically and flows through the trees, it is a bit rooty. We get to the fairy doors, and there is an obligatory photo op!

Moving on we follow the train posts. This is again a touch more technical than most of the gaggle are used to. We come to what looks a bit like North Shore. It’s not, it has steps in it. KS gets unseated and falls in her usual slow motion style. SW, puts a foot off the boards and has to be helped before KS who is pinned under her bike can be righted. Rolling on we soon join up with the Speyside Way and cover ground we did yesterday only in the other direction.

At Loch Garten now there is a fair amount of plootering down the trails dodging crisps and mutts. When we finally emerge at Boat of Garten, we have covered about 8 miles (going be the road would have been four). My bike wont stay in the rack, so Alan magically produced a pandrol to put behind the wheel – job done. Scones and coffee consumed at The Boat, we head towards Aviemore on the Pine Martin trail. This track slowly deteriorates to a line of squashed grass. Hike a bike. I am at the back of the pack (pee stop) so when I career through the woods and over a tiny rise to catch up, my bar gets snagged on a bit of branch, and I take a tumble… They laugh.

At Aviemore now, we opt for the orbital. Again lots of crisps make this slow going. SW takes a tumble on a steep gravelly descent, while avoiding crisps and another wee dug. Shaken by this we head into the town centre and rest up with choccy biscuits. It surprising how much we all needed the boost.

Heading up the druie Road we turn in at the Dell Farm Road, smooth… PKC could learn a lot from this. We go through the farm and past bulls, in their individual parks.

On the road to Street of Kincardine now. The road is fast as we are wind assisted. Back into the woods now we follow the Osprey viewing trail and then cross back onto the Speyside Way again. We are on a charge to the accommodation now. On a particularly narrow and rocky corner, SS over eggs the pudding and her bike unceremoniously dumps her in the heather. Bruised and bashed her bike is lifted off her and she is helped to her feet – the heather gets a “fluffing up” too.

On the home stretch now, we retrace our route back through the woods to the cabin… Braw! Curry for tea. Washed down with fav beverages. 28 miles again today…. Tomorrow, Loch Ericht/pattack is the target.

There is something to be said for a fluid run, where route decisions were taken on the fly, and different members of the tribe take on the role of ride leader.

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It’s Ryvoan Day

The happy band of 8 set off for the Ryvoan pass in the howling gale, and light smir.

The smir passed quickly, and we boosted along the track. Regrouping every mile or so. The decision of first right after the gate was comm’d… It was wrong, should have been second right. No biggie we back up and go to the pass.

The climb started and went on for ever. The wind blew. Alan supplied chocolate for all at the highest point. We careered down the hill. Interestingly, I was not recognising this bit. I started to laugh, this was the wee track Alan and I hid in when we did the pass the last time.

Right then, back on the proper track, it undulated, the wind blew ever harder and the drizzle was omnipresent. The White Loch came into view, I knew the Bothy was not far. Regrouping at the Bothy the assembled peloton were warned of the state of the track.

Onward and mostly downward now, we again regroup… There is only 6 of us. SS has fallen off. Light damage to knee, elbow and big toe. We set off again, boff down again. Pride bruised this time.

Regrouping and the weirdly fab green Loch.

Decision made, next stop the Druie Cafe for lunch.

Battering down the track, SW Follows Alan over a hump, squirts down the other side, does not arrest her speed and heads for the heather coated ditch. The front stays on the track the back, not so much. But somehow, she holds it together and continues battering down the track. SW the punches the air in celebration – she can be heard shouting “I stayed on”

At Druie now, soups ordered and scoffed.

Heading for BoG now, the wind is behind us, and the drizzle has abated.

At BoG, the decision to not have a beverage and just go back via Loch Garten – coffee outside just makes you cold.

We are well on our way now, Alan and I are well ahead, I stop to wait. Alan is over the hill and far away. I go back to find IW, RE ATTACHING Ashley’s pedal and crank again.

ALL sorted now, we bleesh the tracks all the way back to Nethy Bridge.

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To the Lady Garden

Parked up by the pitches in Nethy Bridge, we set up the bikes for our expedition to Grantown on Spey.

Being the ride leader I set off first to scope out how to get on to the Speyside Way(it wasn’t hard). We set off together and followed (mostly) the disused railway.

First incident, one of our number fell off in slow motion into the heather. Following the Speyside way, it is peppered with gates, which rather than being annoying, made the one at the front go the the back as they held the gate open.

Emerging from this very gentle off road section at the Smokehouse, we crossed the main road and gently climbed into Grantown. Approaching the square, there was an ominous metal clank. Ashe’s pedal and crank hit the road. Alan set about re attaching the crank to the bike. Job done, we went into the cafe/bakery ate cake drank our beverages and studied the map to find the Ladies Garden. It would have been rude not to visit.

There is a level of smut that follows any thing to do with the lady gardens.

We headed back towards Nethy Bridge on the road. The headwind is unpleasant. Alan, is at the head of the snake and me, I am at the back. There is an impromptu regroup. We are off road now, its good to be off the road, but it is a wee tad lumpy. We regroup a couple of times. Sandra falls into the bracken, causing a minor traffic Jam on a skittery we rise. Back on the road at Castle Roy (ruin), we are on the final approach to Nethy Bridge. I don’t go to the cars… Only the drivers do that, we all go up the Dell Road to our abode for the weekend.

Tomorrow we are going Ryvoan.

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