An early 5:30 am wake up and a quiet coffee and bread roll started the day. surprisingly enough it was raining again, but thankfully not too heavily. We eventually started to roll at 6:00 with an aim to ride to Glencoe cafe for breakfast.
The first part of the ride took us over a few small climbs before dropping into Spean Bridge – knowing the roads having driven them countless times before maybe helped with a feeling we were powering on and feeling good. The road then dropped gradually into Fort William, where it was raining and windy, just like the last time I’d cycled through with the Across Scotland team from Banchory Academy.
Following the A82 alongside the water’s edge, and stopping for a pee, a group of 5-6 riders sped past us. Before I’d got back on my bike Justin was hot in pursuit, and that was the last I’d see of the group and Justin for a while. Once on my bike I plodded at a more sedate pace, taking a few pictures on the Ballachulish Bridge as the weather broke and we had a break from the rain.
I arrived in Glencoe Village at around 9am and found Justin again to get the lowdown on the group of other riders – they were doing the JOGLE route, supported, over 9 days. As nowhere was open for breakfast until 9:30 we decided to head on to the ski centre and get the climb out of Glencoe down before breakfast.
The climb out of Glencoe is stunning, with the mountains and Anoach Eagach ridge keeping your eyes wandering, with fond memories and memories of hard times climbing the various routes along the way. Passing the Clachaig Inn without stopping for food or a few drinks felt strange. The Clip Up Climbing sticker is still on the sign just opposite the turn off for the Clachaig – good to see, as its been there a few years now – another past venture that might be resurrected one day?
Passing the waterfalls and Jimmy’s house, the road climbed steadily onwards and upwards before levelling off just before the Ski centre. Breakfast time! A full Scottish breakfast with Stornoway Black pudding hit the spot. 50 miles done, and the highest point of the day pretty much in the bag too – things were going well.
Rannoch Moor was clear and sunny – what a contrast to the usual clag and blizzard conditions, dodging moose on the roads that we are used to. The clear weather, stunning scenery and breakfast fuel was making the day pass easily – feeling good!
Dropping down towards Loch Lomond, we sadly left the mountains behind us and picked up the cracking road that runs along the side on the Loch. The roads were surprisingly quiet with everyone, especially the truckers giving us an easy way and being very patient. You forget just how long Loch Lomond is until you come to ride it – it’s too often just a place on a route towards the mountains and taking it in at a much steadier pace was great. A quick milkshake and venison burger in Luss topped up the energy levels before we made our way into potentially the most stressful part of the day – Glasgow!
The planed route was to avoid the main dual carriageway and busy roads through Glasgow, and it worked a treat. The back roads kept us entertained with some interesting sights, the most memorable being a scene straight out of Shaun of the Dead – a guy standing in the middle of the pavement, at an angle, staring at the floor, cigarette in mouth….if only we had taken a photo. The cycle path along the river’s edge is a great ride, with interesting architecture along the way. Getting back onto more main roads, it was still surprisingly unstressful, and keeping your focus on not getting run over took your mind off the cycling for a while.
At Giffnock the road then kicked up again through East Kilbride and Chapelton, before dropping down to Strathaven which was our stop for the night. We easily found The Shieling B&B, showered and changed before heading into tow for food at The Waterside – the food was good and beer very welcome. The Shieling is a bit dated in decor but clean and comfortable, and the owners very friendly and chatty – a perfect nights stay.
Brilliant ride today. 147 miles in 10 hours. A day of changes – from the beautiful scenery of Glencoe to the back-end of Glasgow and from wind and rain of this morning to sunny weather of this afternoon. Route planned was spot on especially through Glasgow.