Mostly, this is random stories from my various trips as I collect them, but I've a wee backlog to get through too and those will pop up occasionally.

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Monday 23 September 2019

Home to home

Piemonster (Shaun) had a plan that we should do a 2-day ride from his house in Burntisland to mine in Aviemore. I left all the route planning in his hands, other than adding a compulsory stop at Stewart Tower Farm. Shaun booked annual leave, I booked a train to Burntisland. Then Shaun contacted me the day before to tell me he wasn't feeling too well. Rather than let the plan be wasted I decided to do it solo, though Shaun accompanied me for the ride through Dunfermline. 

Bikes on trains are great. It always spells a.d.v.e.n.t.u.r.e.

Weather on the day turned out to be much better than forecast. It was weird to be looking at Edinburgh after having lived there for over 50 years.

We had a second breakfast at Aberdour before hitting the delights of Dunfermline (lots of houses but almost continuous cycle path), whereupon Shaun headed back and I headed up and over the Cleish Hills. It's a gradual climb up but gives great views over Loch Leven and a nice descent.

Soon enough I was on the shores of Loch Leven, following Shauns carefully mapped route and thus ignoring shorter/faster options.

I saw lots of these signs on the byways near Glenfarg

Almost every one was right before a climb  :roll: 

Before long, I was thinking about food again and considered stopping in Perth but I still had a goal in mind.

For those that haven't been, the cows that make the milk used in the ice cream are in the field next door. It's as close to zero food miles as you can get so I always "support their business".  :lol: 

Some of Shauns route choices were, err, eccentric.

I'd no idea of how deep this was going to be but escaped with just damp soles.

Not a bad gateway for a Sustrans route.

Just don't expect the same standards everywhere.

At Killiecrankie I took another Shaun bypass option.

By this time, I'd already planned to stop for food in Blair Atholl but was now left wondering what my next step would be. With no sparkling and witty banter to be had, I didn't fancy hugging the bar for a couple of hours, so the original plan of bivvying in Blair and then heading for breakfast at House of Bruar was cast aside. It was all now about how far it was worth pedalling on. I even considered just riding home. I'd likely arrive about 1 am. However, I really enjoy sleeping outdoors so, after finding out that the Newtonmore Grill opened at 6:30, I decided to head north and see how the legs were. 

You can check out, but you can never leave.

I obviously had a tailwind coming over Drumochter as I found myself reaching Dalwhinnie before 10. And then the rain started. That made up my mind and I decided to find somewhere to pitch. With two roads and a rail line to consider I reckoned on a spot at the end of Loch Ericht for a bit pf peace. While it hadn't been too windy, I now had a wind coming right up the loch. Ignoring thoughts of recent dam bursts I found a sheltered spot on the dam wall. 

In fact, it was so sheltered that I was even getting midged.

What followed was, I think, the worst nights "sleep" I've ever had. I was comfy, warm, tired and sheltered from the wind I could hear gently roaring over the dam but I just couldn't get to sleep. I reckon I had maybe 2-3 hours in total, broken up through the night. I was also getting various cramps, possibly from dehydration. Maybe I was subconsciously just wishing I'd cycled through the night and gone home.

By 5 am I was ready to strike camp (in the rain) and head north to Newtonmore.

I arrived just as the cafe was opening and sat eating my roll surrounded by drowsy truck drivers, obviously all wondering what the hell I was doing there. A constant light drizzle followed me home, with me getting there at 9 am. 

All in all, a funny old trip. Not as planned and a lousy nights sleep. Still, all good miles though and enough nice food to help make up for it all.

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