I awoke to the sound of rain. Not really what I wanted to hear in this first hour after sunrise. So, got up sorted my cycling gear, scoffed some breakfast and went out in to what was quite a strong wind with a light drizzle being blown through.
Setting off from the Farm I went to Clochan and headed for Fochabers. Between Clochan and Fochabers the debate in my head was Dipple or Ordiequish. Dipple put me on to the main road too soon and Ordiequish had the mother of all climbs (It had beaten me in the past). In Fochabers now and Ordiequish is the order of the day. The climb has a hairpin bend at the bottom of the valley, no momentum to help even a little bit. I start the climb and push the pedals hard, two thirds of the way up, my legs are wanting to stop, I keep going, I am getting that odd metallic taste in my mouth, the top is in sight, I round the corner at “the top” to discover a lesser gradient, but it still climbs on. This would turn out to be the worst climb of the day.
Rolling on my next target is Rothes – it was the amazing smell of animal feed production that filled my nostils (made from the waste from the distilleries that are dotted all over this Spey Valley). Rothes comes and goes, the weather is improving all the time. Archiestown is the next target.
Off the main road now, I note its 24 miles to Grantown. The climb starts and goes on more or less for 4 miles to “The planned town of Archiestown”. I surmise this was the old “main” road, until I realise the number of Distilleries I will go past. Knockando (Upper) is very much a ribbon development, quite pretty in its own way. The road climbs and dips and enters The Cairngorm National Park. I have seen two moving vehicles on this road today. Given the infrequency of traffic, I feel sorry for the giant flying insect that clearly got out of its larval stage on the wrong side. It stotted off my helmet with a fair thud. I stop a bit up the road to check in with “the broom wagon”. Nobody is up!
At Grantown on Spey (to give it its Sunday title) now, and I go down the imaginatively name Grant Street. I think I should have turned left at the lights, I didn’t and end up on a more major bit of road than planned. Not to worry, when I see the planned route, it looks as rough as a boars arse. I turn off on to another quiet wee road 4 miles to Nethy Bridge. This is undulating but surprisingly more down than up… result. At Nethy Bridge, I check in again, all is well with me, radio silence from the Broom Wagon is a concern. As I am checking in, two cyclists breeze past, with no acknowledgement. I head for “The Boat”, not that I am going there, Coylumbridge is my next target (there are lots of bridges on this route) I pass the two cyclist as seen in Nethy Bridge, stopped at the side of the road, I ask if they are ok, but don’t stop. A couple of miles later they have hunted me down. There is a headwind for the first time, it feels brutal, I draft them for a bit, but don’t like the spray in my face, so drop off. A Renault Megane in a burnt red colour goes past. At Coylumbridge now, and I get to roll down the hill to Inverdruie, where I stop again to check in. Still no response from the Broom Wagon. I pass the entrance to Loch An eilan and about a mile up the road a Renault Megane in a burnt red colour goes past. Feshiebridge is next. The headwind feels stronger than ever. I debate (sometimes outloud) Insh Water Sports for a coffee or press on. I press on. A Renault Megan in a burnt red colour goes past. I glimpse Ruthven Barracks (ruin) in the distance. Not far to Kingussie now, as I pass the Barracks, I spy the Megane. In Kingussie, I scour the length of the main street for somewhere to have a coffee or in this case soup. The Sugar Bowl is open. As I sit in the window watching the world go by – not much happens in Kingussie, but then the Renault Megane in a burnt red colour goes past.
Fed now, with something warming, that headwind has really taken its toll, I head for Newtonmore. In the days prior to this run, I am sure I said, Kingussie and Newtonmore would be too far.
I go through Newtonmore and head out the Ralia road, nah, I turn back and go out the Laggan road, again my heart is just not in it so I begin my quest to find somewhere to rest and stay warm. The now responding Broom Wagon (currently at Aberlour) finds me. I sit in The Wild Flour Café, drink tea and eat a fruit scone. 20mins. The broom wagon has burst into life. The occupants of the wagon come in for coffee too. I load the bike and we are off home.
At Blairatholl, we stop to do a tyre pressure check on the wagon, and this guy with his son who are doing LEJOG ask if I have a spare tyre. I take the wornout tyre off my bike and give it to them… their one has a tear in the side wall. I have new tyres at home that I had just not got around to fitting… good deed done!
Next week its a loop from Blair Atholl 8:30am Castle Gates!