Try as I might, to place the Dr Hook Classic of Sylvia’s Mother in Simon’s head as an earworm – I think I failed.
Simon greeted me with the wrong name, he the did the same to David and then Alan too – I then called him Sylvia. Why Sylvia, honestly I have no idea where it came from… starts with an S, he had set the “Plath” we were to follow.
Any way we three set out from Escape Routes and over the appropriately named Bridge Road in Pitlochry. The Bridge goes over the Tay. Then it was up the first of many inclines. Some might say too many inclines. We skirted along past Fonab and joined the road to the south of the Tummel River. I had done this road before, admittedly in the other direction, so i had a fair idea what was coming. We saw many many wild campers – too many? Probably. And probably less wild. More, domesticated, with their dome tents and BBQs. We did ask one camper if the breakfast was for us… they looked blankly back. The mood was good, and the pace surprising.
Oh what fresh hell is this, a ramp, not just any ramp, a gradually increasing one. You know the type, it sucks all your momentum away, and then presents the biggie (probably not much more than 15%) big enough for gears to get crunched and ground. Yes I went super granny. Super granny is the smallest ring on the front to the one with the most teeth (unlike grannies) on the back. Its a wake up call for what is ahead.
8 miles in I allow myself a wee celebration. Ton up for the week. We are in the general area called Foss now. The road just undulates, but it is really climbing. Before we hit the climb most feared, Sylvia, announces we had already done 300m of climbing.
At the junction with the Schiehallion road there is a teeny tiny brown sign, with an arrow and a picture of a bike… its down the way, I try to persuade Sylvia that is the way to go… to no avail. We start to climb, it is relentless, it is not overly steep. Yes, it has steeper sections and flatter too. We keep going. I am not in super-granny, which is strange, maybe I have been going to the “easiest” gear too soon all this time. Anyway, “just round the next corner”… aye right!… “next corner” gets called a fair few times. Then into view comes the appropriately named “viewpoint”. We stop and regroup… read the lime-kiln stuff. Seriously, who in their right mind puts a lime-kiln at the top of a hill.
We are heading down, down towards Loch Rannoch.
The wind is in our faces, it actually feels cold on this slightly overcast Summers day. Its not all down hill you know! Again i have done this road in the opposite direction, it looks nothing like I remember – maybe its the lack of trees. Descending now at pace, and using my fair share of the road, I have a little half crown tanner moment, as a Golf coming the other way is using its fair share of the road. (if this was a venn diagram, the overlap would not leave much outside). NO worries, we both move, carry on our way.
Some might call it Karma(n), i call it another Golf, who shot past at speed and quite close – Golf Telepathy? … Nah, just a poor driver in a hurry. The descent to Rannoch is on at full speed NiatnuoM eht fo gniK Etape Cally the other way. Its the sort of descent you just live for.
Grinning like idiots all the way in to Rannoch now.
We stop for a warming drink and a scone or Borders tart or both at The Riverview Cafe in Kinloch Rannoch. we chat idly to some other cyclist who like us arrived just as the cafe was opening.
Fed and watered we headed out towards Tummel, Passing a couple on mountain bikes. The Calvine/Trinafour turn off comes and we go up there. Now, in my head we are going to Calvine BA etc. In Sylvia’s head we are only going up to come down the other road to Tummel Bridge. We follow Sylvia’s route. Getting to the bottom of the hill we again meet the same couple that had left Kinloch Rannoch ahead of us. They are going for Lunch at StrathTummel Inn. We are on a bit of a mission now, Queens View is the target.
Stopping short of QV, as David has a pseudo mechanical, well its sort of a mechanical, but its intermittent. Bike checked over and given the thumbs up, we set off.
Sylvia has put the suggestion of Tenandry as an added loop to make up the miles. No, just no. I have done this road before, not doing it again.
Back in Pitlochry, we stop again at Escape Route for some welcome sustenance before heading home.
In writing this wee synopsis of today’s run, I have ignored the 30’s (Sylvia got them all with no skulduggery) and the chatter we have like the substitution of Foss into strained phraises… where did that even come from! Delirious perhaps?