And the excitement for the weekend is building. All the bikes are delivered to their respective cars for transportation. The bags are all nearly packed and the ever-growing list of food items is being collated. WhatsApp is going in to melt down, with I’m bringing… and I will bring…
The departure time is almost upon us. Sandra waits to be picked up and I cripple off to my awaiting ride with a rucksack full of beer and a bag full of cycling clothes.
We are on our way!
First stop is House of Bruar. This is the first meeting of the ten. We sort out the kitty and drink our teas and coffees. Yes, yes, yes, scones too were consumed. The first cycle of the weekend is alluded to, by the identification of the Car park for our next rendezvous. We are off again, next stop Aviemore!
The triangle car park at Rothiemurchus fills up fast with our convoy. The bikes are unloaded, and a few of our number are wriggling about in the cars, trying to discretely get into their lycra. The rain starts.
Setting off in groups of 3 and 4, because it makes us easier to pass, we head for Insch. The plan as we set off in the smirr, is to go off road as soon as we can. At the first regroup point, the off road idea is canned – logging operations are in progress. Well this is my excuse, as I actually have no clue as to which forest entrance to take 😊. The precipitation is off and on all the way to Insch – mostly on.
Insch Watersports (how appropriate) has a bike rack for eleven, one space is occupied – we fill the rest and drip our way inside. Alan gets a “waitresses pad” (the type you write on) and takes the orders of hot soup, scones, cakes and the usual assortment of beverages. Suzanne nips off to the loo to stand under the hand dryer while she waits for her lunch. Some of the group are under the impression that we will be going back the way we came – as you may have guessed this is not going happen. We head for Kincraig (Alan gets the 30’s), there are two options here, first right or second right. We go first right, I am following KS, who is so far out of her comfort zone, it is really not funny. The track is about a tyres width with a drop to the river on the right. About 50yds along, it is all too much and she gets off. Alan of course bounces off into the distance over the slippery routes and rocks. Joining the proper path now, the surface is smooth and flowing. The weather has taken a turn for the better. The drizzle has stopped and we are getting flashes of sunshine. The first hump and all but the two or three at the front are off. Gear anticipation, narrow track and wobbling cyclists are the cause. Stopping to ooh and aaah at the view is what we do all the way to Aviemore. This cycle path is great, with its bomb-hole style dips, hairpin bends and long undulating straights. I find a single Blaeberry, Alan scoffs it “hey that was for sharing”. I take the 30’s at Aviemore and head back for the Triangle. Altogether now, we are just about at check-in time, so the drivers drive and the rest of us cycle. Spey Lodge (Splodge) is like a bond villains lair. We are in, and the rooms allocated and the beverages are cracked open. SQUIRREL!
Settled in, Alan sets off for the chippy… fish and chips all round. Washed down with beer or prosecco or gin or tea or… Anyway fed, I retire to the beanbag to watch “Guardians of the Galaxy II”, I miss some of this film, by resting my eyes. I wake up to find my picture being taken through the kitchen hatch.
SQUIRREL! ETD 10:30 we are going to Carrbridge. SQUIRREL! Actual time of departure is a little after 11. We are mostly following cycle route 7. I say mostly because, we ended up on the golf course on a buggy track. Which, didn’t go anywhere. This is a positive, as Alan has had a mechanical. Our wee about turn reunites the group. On the right track now and heading the “Boat”, there is much crisp and dog dodging. We have a few regroup points along this track and in Boat. Heading for the B9153, we stop at the junction. And split up in to our wee groups for the 3 mile drag to Carr. We arrive in dribs and drabs, and stack the bikes outside the Kitchen Café – but they cannot take us. We cross the road to the Cycling friendly “The Old Bakery”. I set off early from here to scope out the next section. I am waiting alone for what feels like an eternity. Have they gone past when I was down the street out of sight? No, Suzanne has had a deflation, so Keith pumps her tyre full of tyre weld and they set off In to the woods now, the track is rolling and rooty, but it’s better than being in with the traffic. The group splits, and I wait at a junction for the rear guard. The rest power up the longest climb of the day. When the back markers arrive, I am regaled with naturist stories of wasps and ants. Alan gave the ants nest a quick poke with a stick. Top of the hill and the vista opens out, we stop for a photo opportunity (we can see last years’ excursion hill from here – it’s the other side of the A9). Suzanne is deflated again, this time it’s a newish tube. On the way down to Boat, I realise we are clattering through a field of disinterest cattle(shades of last year). The grid at the end is buckled and the track rutted just before it. Taking this at speed, I have a smooth transition to tarmac and stop at the Boat Junction. Karen turns up next and then Les. Les keeps going towards Boat. Karen and I choose to wait for the regroup. Karen’s phone goes off. It’s the rest of the party. There has been a falling off. Its Sandra. Which Sandra? Its Sandra Whi. Alan appears and piles off back to Splodge for the car. Sandra has bashed/ broken her helmet and scuffed, scraped, bashed, bruised(they will appear in full technicolour later) and beaten up the rest of herself. She appears with the rest on her bike determined to finish this ride. At Boat we stop for another coffee, it is clear that SW should go no further today. Alan, arrives with the first aid kit, and puts SW’s trusty stead on the car. Iain goes to retrieve her water bottle… fail. SW is chauffeured back to Splodge for a soak in the bath and a consoling glass of prosecco. We take the trail back to Aviemore. Iain breaks off to get SW a new helmet and Keith a new tube.
Its BBQ for tea (as planned). SQUIRREL! Alan set about lighting it… He is a persistent bugger, it takes SQUIRREL! hours to dry the coals and get the burgers cooked. Sandra Wha has missed every squirrel sighting – so now it is a game to shout squirrel and the reaction is like that of the dog in UP!.
Later start today, replacing Sandra Whi’s helmet after her spill yesterday – she gets a Giro mips capable one. And Keith’s ever-lasting search for tires (nice conti’s by the way) is resolved for this holiday. Setting off in our wee groups, Les is adamant we are going right at the end the road, Sandra Wha persuades him otherwise. The road up to the loch is as dull as ditch water. It’s left round the loch and then on up to Morlich. We stop for numerous regroups, and a picture on/under the mountaineering club bridge. Right round Morlich, we head for the Café at the foot of the Green Loch trail. Carrot cake (other cakes were consumed) and pictures of the “wild” but very well-fed supermodel squirrels taken, we head up to the Green Loch. After a photo opportunity the pack of ten split, with six opting to go over the Ryvoan Pass. The rest going for a bleesh back down the old logging way and first shout at the showers.
The climb up to the bothy was interesting, with loose boulders and gravel on the first section. This probably enough to put some people off – not us. (I am thinking “I hope it’s not like this the whole way”) At the Bothy now have photographs taken. There was a walker in the bothy -reading as we larked about non-to-quietly. The rain started as we press on, it’s mostly down hill with some steep ramps and interesting surfaces. Regrouping less now as the high altitude midgies have sensed fresh meat – only Alan gets bitten. Ash has her revenge and eats a fly. OSMand is a life saver, as was the jogger who told us how to avoid Nethy Bridge – there really is nothing in Nethy Bridge.
Off road to Boat from Loch Garten now. I don’t know who said it, but they asked why we were on this lumpy forest trail when there was a perfectly good flat road right beside us. We stop for a wee refreshment in Boat (same café as the day before). There is a dog walker who asks if we have come far. Alan says 22 miles, and that ten of us had started out, but we got hungry! We head back yesterday’s route. Alan and I opt for a small excursion, re-joining the group near the golf course.
Back at the lair now, we are met at the door with chilled drinks. Sandra finally sees her squirrel and attempts to photograph it.
We go out for tea, eat too much and party on. Some party later than others.
It’s a sad day, packing the cars, loading the bikes and clearing the lair of every trace of our existence (except the large collection of sorted and assorted empty bottles. We have one last regroup at Bruar before heading off on our last leg home and back to normality.