Monday, 20 September 2010

Oban - Ardnamurchan - Fort William

Miles 77 today
In 5hrs 32 mins burning 2293 Kcal climbing 3300ft

Miles total 1134
In 76hrs 18mins burning 35653 Kcal climbing 51412ft
Most miles in a day : 106.2

This morning was a late start. We were all due to get on the 9.50 ferry from Oban to Mull, but it was full to cars. We agreed that Denise would travel the mainland (80m), and I would cycle the shorter route (26m), via Mull.

The ferry trip was 45 mins. I walked onto the ferry, through the vehicle door in the bow along with the cars, coaches and lorries. The bike was tied to raling and off upstairs. The passage is beautiful. It seems that looking at the island is a better view than on it. I had to ride the 20 miles to Tobermory (aka Balamory) in two hours to get the next ferry. It was again a fresh wind. I ground it out and got there in just under an hour and a half. I had my fisrt taste of single track road. Great on your own, but with no predictable car behaviour. Some push past, either way, some wait, others are difficult to get to go past even when you slow right down and wait for them to pass. Genreally it seemed to be the visitors (cars full of bags, roof boxes, etc) who were more polite than the locals (4x4s, trailers, local registrations).

Tobermory is lovely, and the ferry runs from the end of the main street. I stocked up in the bakers, and sat in the bus shelter at the top of the ramp. The ferry came round from the harbour where it had been moored and one car, one bike, seven people and a bee set off back to the mainland. It was very windy, and a bit rough. I’ve been on rougher bus rides though. It took about 10mins longer than scheduled. It didn’t stay, as soon as two people and two dogs were on for the return jouney, it was off. No Denise. I rang, no reply. There was 6 miles to go to Ardnamurchan point, so I left north west and into a gale.

I fought my way forward. At least this time it would become a tail wind, but it didn’t make it any easier, the road went up and down and was anything but straight, but always into the wind. Denise caught me with 3 miles to go. I rode right up to the lighthouse, no short measures allowed.

It was then time to turn around with 52 miles to go and it was getting on for 3pm. Down to coast, back up, view of the Cullin on Skye north, back down to the south coast on a rolling +/- 150 feet, no flat or straight road. It was hard and I endured more local driving on the single track road. It may be a long cul de sac, but is very busy and loads of building. There always seemed a house in view.

The landscape became softer with more trees, the views to the south were stunning. Finally the road opened out and was straight. The tail wind really kicked in and I was doing 17 to 20. Denise came up along side and Joan asked if I wanted food. No, I’m fine. I felt like a real pro with a team car. She drove on ahead. A climb starts I am not giving up, the speed drops to 14 and I hold it there. I am rewarded with a 30mph plus drop down to the sea loch south of Fort William. Which way will the wind turn as I turn north.

We meet again at the Ferry. It is an hour before sunset but darkening. Up onto the A82 and 8 miles to go. I hold 18mph, on the trunk road, there is not much traffic and what there is, is kind. Red rear light flashing, I watch as the distance comes down. Denise is in the car park by the Loch, it’s bike on the roof and we’re off to the B&B just after 7pm.

It was a hard long day. The start was late, the ferries took time, but saved time. I didn’t want to go on anymore. Every 10 miles was faster than the last. It was mad.

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