A Mini Adventure (Thirty six hours with SBT.)

Due to a set of fortuitous circumstances I found myself with two totally free days and set out to make the best of them.

I set myself two major objectives 1.Climb a Munro (a Scottish mountain over 3000ft)

2. Cycle an iconic Scottish route.

I set off for the North west of Scotland at 0700 and although it was a working day for everyone else missed the majority of the rush hour traffic.  I was parked up at Coulags and ready to climb the munro by 1130.  The munro, Maol Chean-Dearg, looked amazing in the sunlight and was beset by other “baggers”.

 

A small munro at 3061 feet I had negotiated the easy lower slopes, the higher rock fields and made my way back to the car by 1730.

I was staying in a Youth Hostel in Applecross which meant a drive across the amazing Bealach na Ba.  To quote Wikipedia “Bealach na Bà is a winding, single track road through the mountains of the Applecross peninsula, in Wester Ross in the Scottish Highlands. The historic mountain pass was built in 1822 and is engineered similarly to roads through the great mountain passes in the Alps, with very tight hairpin bends that switch back and forth up the hillside and gradients that approach 20%. It boasts the steepest ascent of any road climb in the UK, rising from sea level at Applecross to 626 metres, and is the third highest road in Scotland. ”  You may have guessed by now that this was the second item on my list.

I had a good nights sleep in the hostel aided no doubt by the fact that none of us in room snored!

I planned on doing the Applecross loop 44 miles of single track tarmac with 4400 feet of ascent , 2000+ of which is the climb up from Applecross.  The road winds and undulates it’s way through amazing countryside with views of mountains, beaches and forests following you around all the way.  A very hot day was forecast so I rode my Ridley Orion Team with a small backpack and bladder.  The road rises even before you leave the village and basically does not stop going up until you reach the car park at the summit.  The road was not busy when I left, 0830, but as the day wore on the traffic became more frequent due in part to the Peninsula being part of the North Coast 500.

The ascent down the other side was exhilarating, scary, fast and ear popping.  Strava gave my top speed as 40mph!  20180530_103522

At the bottom I turned left and continued around the loop.  Although the Bealach is the biggy there are plenty other lumps along this road 2400 feet of them to be exact.  The route is what I call an OOOOO and AAAAA route every corner you turn there is a better view than the one you just went by.

 

The temperature was rising and the level in my camelback was falling when I happened upon this little oasis of rehydration and refuelery!  Oh and the Amazing flapjacks were!!

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The final ascent and approach to the hostel crowned a magnificent day.

A quick pit stop load the bike back on the car and I was off and heading for home.

I arrived at 1855 just less than 36 hours after I had left.

So the next time you have 36 hours what will you do………….

 

 

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Talking Tandems group ride

Talking Tandems are ten years old this year.

Cycling really is simplicity itself.  You want to go out for a cycle you jump on your bike and head out.  Simple.

Now add into the mix several blind or partially sighted cyclists from Fife and Lothian, transport arrangements, pairing pilots with stokers on the correct sized pool tandem, exchanging pedals and finally each pair trying out the tandem they have been allocated!  A time consuming process.  That was what happened this morning at the Dalgety Bay base of Talking Tandems.DSCF2329

We finally got on out way but luck was not smiling on me.  Originally down as solo support I ended up pairing with a new stoker on a large tandem.  At 5 ft 5 in not an ideal size.  I was willing to give it a go so that the stoker could get out.   We left the car park and within 10 metres one of my pedals had fallen off!  A quick fix and Gavin, my stoker and I was off, almost 400 metres later and a gear cable snapped.  That finished Gavin off he decided that he would get picked up and head home.  We limped back to base and I got on board my solo steed and headed out to try and catch the others.

We headed across then under the eerily quiet Forth Road Bridge.  We then headed on country roads to Winchburgh and Linlithgow.  The turning point was just after Linlithgow and on the way we stopped for lunch at a handily placed garden centre.

The return route saw the group heading through the lovely Hopetoun estate and Port Edgar and heading, once more across the Forth Road Bridge and back to Dalgety Bay.

The route was 35 miles long

with 2100 feet of climbing.

TT are 10 years old this year and are a registered charity if you or your company would like to support TT please get in touch.

 

Gearing up for the season.

Multiday tours with Scottish Bike Touring begin in March and run through till October.  Between the end of one season and the beginning of the other I look for new tours for the upcoming season, get them on my social media sites and check the bikes.

New tours for this year include two Outlander themed tours, an Edinburgh based day tour and a multiday Fife locations tour which can be done as a point to point tour or as a hub tour being based in Kirkcaldy.

Still on offer are firm favourites the Island Adventure tour and the Great Glen way.

Who are the tours for?  Honestly anyone with even a base level of cycling fitness can come on an SBT tour.  An addition to the website is a ride level guide which describes the ride so you can decide if it is for you.  The tours are taken at an easy pace to allow you to soak in the views and soak up the atmosphere.  If you don’t fancy riding in a group that’s OK too come on an individual tour.

If you don’t see a tour which fits what you want get in touch and we can design a bespoke tour.

Full details can be found on http://www.scottishbiketouring.com

 

“Off” season at Scottish Bike Touring.

It has been a little while since I posted but that does not mean that I have not been busy.

All of my bikes got a good clean and going over at the end of November with my Ridley Orion road bike ending up on the turbo.  Happy to say that there were no problems with my bikes just another year of scrapes and bumps.

I decided that my website was looking a bit tired so decided to give that a makeover.  Not being used to sitting at a desk for hours on end I broke the work into manageable chunks stopping when required.  I have had good constructive feedback from some viewers so please feel free to log on to http://www.scottishbiketouring.com and give me more feedback.  The site is still undergoing some work but you should be able to navigate through it ok.

As well as the website I was going over the rides on offer and decided to revamp some of them and introduce some new ones.

Two new offers are city and off road bespoke tours in and around Edinburgh.  I was asked to do this last year by a client and it was a really good ride.  Built to the clients requirements this can be as long or short as the client requires and take in a lot of sights.

Another new tour is based totally in Fife.  The Outlander Fife locations tour.  I have been riding this during the holidays and watching the series for background.  This tour can be done in two ways either as a normal point to point tour or as a “Hub” tour returning to the same accommodation each day.

Hopefully it will not be so long before my next post.

 

TTFN

An Aussie odyssey

In late September my website rec’d a hit from an Australian web address.  I replied but it got bounced back.

I had another hit same name different e mail once more it got bounced back.

There was a phone number so I gave it a call and spoke to Kelvin in Australia!

He was coming to Europe and would be in Edinburgh for four days and he wanted to spend one of them visiting the Falkirk wheel!

We agreed a date for a tour and also that he would call to confirm date and time when he arrived.

A call was made and a date and time set.  We set off for the Falkirk Wheel at 1000 on the 6th October and after negotiating the Edinburgh traffic we arrived at the Canal basin and the beginning of the Union Canal Path to the Falkirk Wheel.

Kel was from Sydney and a Primary school teacher and keen to learn some local history as well as having a bike ride.  We came through the final tunnel and as soon as Kel saw the top of the wheel he let out a whoop.  The next hour his body may have been in the café but his mind was outside and as soon as the wheel started operating he was out looking at the wheel.

After food and drink and a final look at the wheel we headed back t Edinburgh.

Kel had really enjoyed his ride almost 70 miles and although the Union canal is a contour canal we recorded over 2000 ft of climb.

 

SBT does the Five Ferries

Start timeThe Five Ferries is an iconic Scottish road cycle on the west coast of Scotland.

Regarded by many as a one day challenge and indeed run as a challenge in one of it’s guises, the Five Ferries is a approx 100 miles long, you travel on Five Ferries, two islands and 3 peninsulas.

There are a number of ways to cycle this route my preference is to start at Ardrossan and get the ferry to Arran and head south around the bottom of the island.  Arran has a spectacular coastline and it is laid out before you as you head around the island.  This is the longest cycle leg with the most climb and is an ideal stopping point if you want to do the ride over 2 days rather than 1.Climb from Brodick

Ferry number 2 takes you from Arran to the Kintyre peninsula and a ride north to the village of Tarbert an ideal lunch stop.  You have cycled 50 miles by this point and climbed almost 4000 ft!  Alas if the group speed is not sufficient to build a cushion its no lunch and straight on Ferry No 3 to Portavadie and the Kyles of Bute.Tarbert

If you would like some luxury rooms for an overnight stay this is the place!  This is the third cycle leg and the scenery is just awesome.  You cycle round the Kyles of Bute to board ferry No 4 at Colintraive travelling to the Island of Bute.  A short fast 8 miles sees you in Rothesay for the final ferry to Wemyss Bay and the final ride to Ardrossan.

This is not an easy one day ride and the added pressure of ferries to catch with the chance that they might be cancelled for one reason or the other makes it an adrenalin raising ride!

There is plenty to see on this tour I would recommend that you take your time and take the two day tour and as I said there are a number of ways to do this ride it can be shortened reducing the 100 miles to something more like 80.