Cycling is my hobby and is sometimes a little difficult to mix with photography as most events are on a weekend as are most weddings! As luck would have it this event had caught my eye and was also a free weekend through a cancellation. I always try and do one ride in the Mother country each year this seemed to fit the bill perfectly with a start in Linlithgow followed by a tour around the Perthshire Highlands. The route covered 411K (254 miles) and was rather hilly as you would expect going through the mountains and had an evening start time of 9.00 pm. This was to be a bit of a problem as I had to leave the hotel I had stayed at the night before and basically hung about all day getting no real rest, it didn’t help that I’d spent two days wandering Edinburgh till late having a ball watching the Fringe. I’d pay for this later….
Here is the route and if you would like to see it in more detail the excellent Ride with GPX site has it loaded there also.
The start was in the car park of Tesco’s in Linlithgow and as this was classed as an X-rated event (no facilities) we expected to have to carry everything needed until Pitlochry at 240K (150 miles) mark. As it was an evening event all the shops in the highland villages would be shut. The Neil the organiser did however have a trick up his sleeve!
Around 35 riders left in lovely clear evening light with headlamps blazing on a little adventure. I only knew one person, Alex who is also an Audax organiser. The first section was basically weaving it’s way through the built up area of central Scotland on-towards the highlands via Loch Carron. As soon as the hills arrived the big group shattered and I found myself riding alone along the lovely moonlit Loch Carron, which must have the worst road surface I ever had the pleasure of riding over.
The below shot is of riders leaving Linlithgow and into the night.
Alex riding through the night – this photo was taken from the bike one handed using a Nikon AW100 compact which is meant to be waterproof and shock proof. It was still working at the end! It also has a GPS which is handy for actually remembering where the photos are were.
The route wound over to Aberfoyle before the lovely climb over the Duke’s Pass and past many a silent loch towards the control at Lochearnhead at 110k. The Lockearnhead control was brilliant, as a few late night revellers went home a helper called Dave had drove to a car park and had his camping stove on the go and muffins and crisps. This was so welcome particularly as we had expected to have to go through the night without a cuppa!
From Lochearnhead to Creiff was a fast flat section and I left alone but quickly caught someone and we worked together along the fast main road which at that time in the morning was totally car free. Soon after another chap joined and the three of us took turns to pull the mini peloton along. From Creiff the route turns Aberfeldy where Dave had set up another tea stop which was most welcomes after a very long and fast and cold decent from the moors above. From Aberfeldy and now in wonderful daylight the route wound over high moors to Kinloch Rannoch and over the shoulders of Schiehallion the fabled Scottish mountain the ride was named after, funny enough at sunrise.
Amazing riding country.
The roads less travelled I am sure. Amazing riding in an amazing country.
The amazing weather wasn’t to last long, with the coming dawn also came a lot of cloud cover but thankfully little wind and no rain.
This is one of me taken by another rider as the sun comes up. Just look at the layers needed to keep warm in a Scottish Highland dawn. I’d had a jacket on through the night as well. The leg warmers would stay on till well into the afternoon! In my sleep deprived stae i seem to have taken my bar lights off but not my ‘head’ light.
From Kinnlock Rannoch the road turns to the very busy tourist town of Pitlochry and the groupd i was waith arrived there for 8 am and a cafe stop for a full cooked breakfast, a cake, a couple of cups of tea. After 240 km (around 150 miles) to say it was nice to have some proper food was amazing. We where also well over half way with just a 100 miles left to go.
The photo below was taken on the Kinnloch Rannoch to Pitlochry road and shows the wonderful group of riders I spent most of the ride with.
From Pitlochry the road went up and up and over another wonderful moor on the way to Kirriemuir and I started having problems staying awake! Luckley in a little village I can not remember the name of I spotted a bench outside a shop – to a tired Audax rider a bench is a 5 star hotel! I expected everyone to carry on without me but they all waited. After 15-20 minutes sleeping I felt much better and a big slice of cake and a cup of coffee didn’t do any harm. Onwards to Kirriemuire which at 300K was 3/4 of the way around. Just after Kirrie we stopped at another cafe at about 320K – and again I had a little sleep – photo attached below, on the decking this time… I’m on the right, Neil the organiser has also decided to have a catnap. Others had a little kip when sitting at the table. The remains of my soup and sandwiches is visible behind.
The route from Kirrie to Perth was probably the easiest of the entire ride but for some reason it was my low point, on leaving Perth and hitting hills again I was fine! The longest climb of the ride was just after Dunning which went on for a few miles but at a steady grade. From there most of the route seemed downhill or flat and the sun even came out to add a bit of warmth to the last few KM before arriving back where we had started.
Riders crossing the Kincardine Bridge not far from the finish. I forgot to take any photos at the end….
I really enjoyed this ride, the scenery, and people made for a grande day out. Total statistics for the ride are:
Distance 411K 255 miles
Climbing 5400 meters or 17800 ft
Moving average speed 15mph