Gettin' Nowhere Fast

Trip Start May 22, 2009
Trip End Feb 16, 2010

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Flag of United Kingdom  , Scotland,
Sunday, August 2, 2009

Awoke to the sound of raindrops hitting the tent.  The best sound to wake up to!  (For those of you who may not know, that is sarcasm).  Time to pack up our damp, dripping, slug-infested gear.  Oh yay.

The rain was tolerable, more of a drizzle than anything else.  The roads were hillier than yesterday, but not too bad.  Until we got to Lochearnhead that is.  Heading north out of town there was a very long gradual hill (rising into the highlands), and there was no shoulder to ride on.  About 1/2 way up, we were pulled over by the police who politely told us that we should really not by cycling here (although it is allowed).  Just too busy and dangerous on the road.  But he told us of an old abandoned rail line that would go in our general direction.  Giving directions back into the town we had just climbed out of, we wet off in search of the old train station.  Trying to cycle along the 'trail', there was no way we could continue.  Deep  muddy puddles bogged us down, and large rocks and roots in the way made it very difficult.  Our panniers sounded like they were going to rattle right off (which, by the way, another broke last night - same as the last).  I've noticed that several 'cycle paths' we've tried are much more difficult to traverse.  Fine for an afternoon ride, but not suited for weighted-down touring bikes.  So back out and into town we searched for another route.  Brian thought he had seen a sign for a cycle path back on the other side of town.  A tiny little road wound up and up past houses which didn't look like it was going anywhere.  Plus it was leading in the opposite direction to where we wanted to go.  Stopping for a rest and a think, I was going to encourage Brian to try a bit further - we can't expect the paths to run just like the roads - but when I turned around he was gone!  Back down the hill I went.  Both of us now completely frustrated.  What to do?  We couldn't go back on the main road, couldn't ride on the train path, couldn't find the other path...I certainly didn't want to head back on only our 2nd day out.  Furiously wishing that we'd rented a car after all - at least then we could drive on the roads!  This town was too tiny to have a rental outlet.  Dead end.

Heading back into the town, I thought we could perhaps go to the Police Station and get some other directions or advice.  But first I stopped into a little shop to see if there were any ordnance maps that might give us a clue as to where to go - none helped (of course).  Buying some food so the grumpiness didn't grow, I had a little talk with the shop owner.  He assured me that the 2nd road we had taken was the right one to get us up to the cycle path.  So back we went.  And sure enough, the entrance to the path was barely 100m from where I had intended to encourage Brian to press on.  Only about an hour and a half wasted...

But the path proved difficult to get to.  The little road was only the start of the climb.  Several saw backs awaited us.  Unfortunately for me, I had difficulty with my gears right at the start and landed on a rock bruising my outer thigh.  Legs too shaky and me too shaken up, I couldn't ride for awhile.  Pushing my bike up the saw back was the only option (Brian was long gone as he hadn't heard by cry when I fell).  At least at the top, the rail line was well packed and fairly level, so I could ride again without too much difficulty.  Luckily, the route was quite beautiful as we rose and rose watching the road from high above.  With great expanses of land still rising above us, waterfalls tumbled down  every few feet or so.

When we finally intersected with the road again, we were lucky that it wasn't too busy.    I thought my leg was doing well until we stopped for a break and it began to cramp as soon as I got off the bike.  We didn't have a lot further to go, but I walked the bike since I felt wobbly and the traffic was busy again.  We arrived at a REAL campground that night - with showers and everything ;)  A sunny dry evening, Brian went on a quest for some liquid cheer and we relaxed.  The only thing to interrupt us were some annoying little sheep ticks.  These seemed to like Brian quite a bit, and disgusted him completely!  At least I got to laugh and laugh as he thourally inspected his legs every minute or so. 
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