Sunday, 22 June 2014

Wednesday 18th June

Today we were up early.  We had breakfast and again the lady couldn’t do enough for us.  We loaded the van and we set off about 8 O clock.  It was a lovely ride through Inverness.  Dani’s Sat Nav took us all through the lanes, across the river and on to the main road to Fort William.  The road was a bit busy to start with but the sun was shining and we had a bit of a breeze and it was the most beautiful ride by the loch. We were all really enjoying it.  Graham was driving this morning and Caroline was on her trike. We were making good progress. We needed to as we had 64 miles to do today.

We had no fallings off or out, it was lovely, not too many hills and we knew if we went up we had a nice ride down.  That is not always true in Scotland.  We stopped for coffee at a visitor centre.

At about 11.30 we bought some lunch in a post office.  We were not ready for lunch at this point. I took over the van and Graham to bike.  I then went to find somewhere in the shade that we could all stop and eat our lunch.  It was about 12.30pm by then. 

Graham, Andy’s brother phoned at that time, to say he had reached Fort William.  He was supposed to be getting there at tea time to join us for 10 days.

Before I go on, it’s going to get a bit complicated with 2 Grahams.  I shall called my Graham Gra and Andy’s Graham, Graham.

As everyone was OK I thought it might help if I collected Graham from Fort William and bring him back to the others to help Andy.  By this time Caroline and Andy were on the tandem and its really tough on the hills.  If Graham had known, he might not have been so keen to get to us.  It was a help and saved about an hour in time.  I took over from Gra on the bike at this stage as well.

As we don’t mention Dani very much, it’s not that were are leaving her out but she is there for all of us and gives encouragement to us all when needed.  She also keeps Caroline laughing.

We arrived at our hotel in Fort William about 7.30pm.  Andy and Graham are leaving us tonight to go up Ben Nevis early tomorrow.  They are staying in a bunk house at the bottom of Glen Nevis.  Then they will catch us along the road to Oban tomorrow.

After they had gone we four decided we would have a McDonalds, have a shower and go to bed.  When Graham and I got to the McDonalds they had a power cut and had closed for the night. We did get a burger and took it back to the hotel.  Then we had a shower and went to bed.  A very long but enjoyable day.

Thursday 19th June

Caroline, Dani, Gra and I had all slept in the same room last night.  I woke at about 5 O clock.  When Dani work and looked at me I said “Good Morning.”   By the look Dani gave me I knew I had said the wrong thing. She wasn’t grumpy, but was not ready to wake up. 

Gra and I went to the town to get some milk.  On our way back to the hotel we saw a place to get breakfast so Caroline and Dani came to meet us.  We were eating breakfast when Andy an Graham came back too.  They had walked up to the waterfall on Ben Nevis and thought better of it. 

We all had achy muscles today.  I had given Caroline a deep heat massage before we left the hotel.  I did offer it to anyone else who needed it but the screeches from Caroline put them off a bit.

By now it was a little late to start but we set off for Oban.  This was again a lovely ride following the loch. Caroline and Dani had been really tired after yesterday’s mammoth trip, but at least we had a breeze today.  I cycled for the first 7 or 8 miles, then Gra took over. Andy and Graham were also swapping with the tandem. 

We stopped for coffee in a nice hotel with a swimming pool and were very tempted to have a dip but decided to get on our way again.  Gra was on the bike.  It was his turn today, to fall off, although by the look on his face he hadn’t realised that.  It did make us laugh. I wasn’t quick enough with the camera otherwise that would be on facebook tonight.

They set off again.  I hadn’t realised it, driving the van but there were a lot of cycle paths along this route.  It makes it so much nicer than having to hold the traffic up on the roads.  Most people are really good and patient though.

We had lunch about an hour or so later at another café at Portnacroish.  Caroline and clan had a deer on the footpath before them at one stage.  He didn’t seem to be a bit concerned and even posed for photos.

They came across some amazing bridges today.  One at North Ballachulish and the other at Connel.  I did take some photos but I was a bit far away for them to be good.  Another lady I met while I was at Connel and got talking to took some photos for me with her big camera.  She said she will email them to us.

Just after that Graham had a puncture so I had to go back and collect him.  This was about two miles out of Oban. The others made it to the hotel about 7pm.  We got some food and cooked in the hotel tonight. 

Caroline has hurt her ankle today and is in quite a lot of pain, so we were all really pleased when she said she might not ride tomorrow.  Not that we didn’t want her to ride, but it was her decision not to.  We all thought that she might carry on regardless.  She was very disappointed but we were all relieved.

Friday 20th June

Today it seemed funny to have a passenger in the van, but very nice.  We had to get lunch for everyone and had a shopping list, so Caroline and I went into Oban.  We brought Caroline a good brace for her ankle which we put straight on.  It helped a lot. 

It gave her a different perspective to be in the van rather than on the bike.  Dani, Andy and the two Grahams were making good progress.  We were heading toward Claoriaig Bay to catch the ferry to Lochranza on the Isle of Arran.  We were doing this as we did not want to anywhere near Glasgow on bikes.

They had gone a lot further than expected.  It was a stunning ride but really hard work.  We had about 65 miles today, and a ferry to catch, which always adds pressure as the last ferry is 7pm.  Looking at the views today it was so beautiful, you miss so much in a car but the hills were very high.  When you are going up its such hard work, but the coming down in wonderful.  So exciting.  You can free wheel down the other side for sometimes two or three miles.

We had our lunch in a layby again.  Much needed today with all the hills.  I couldn’t do too much uphill riding, even with the electric bike.  We stopped in a hotel at Kilmartin about 2 O Clock, to have a drink and to charge our batteries. (Ours and the bikes).

Caroline and I watched them go all the way down the valley before we left.  They were still making such good progress, We reached the ferry just before 6 O clock.  We waited an hour for the ferry to come, which was more time than the last ferry we took.  We were on the ferry  about half an hour, and the hotel was 2 mins from the ferry.  We were all really relieved and went straight to the bar for tea.  We all decided, Caroline not on her bike today was the best thing as the hills would have been too difficult for her and we would definitely have missed the ferry.

Then to bed, for Gra and I anyway.  I think the boys went back to the bar.

Saturday 21st June

We woke up this morning to rain.  We have been so lucky with the weather so far we can’t complain.  The bay as stunning. We packed the van early as we wanted to leave straight after breakfast.  By now the rain had stopped.  Breakfast again was lovely, although we are all feeling we have had enough cooked breakfasts.

The ride on Arran this morning was straight up hill for miles, then straight down again for another few miles.  Caroline decided it was too much for her to get up the hill so came in the car with me.  As soon as we left the hotel Gra was having trouble with our bike.  He did try and mend it but realised it was the bearing in the front wheel. It would have been  impossible to catch Dani, Andy and Graham, (maybe not Graham) there was nothing left to do but put the bike in the back and ride in the van with us. 

It was a mammoth incline.  We parked at the top and waited for them.  Andy also wanted to put the camera on his bike to record the decent.  They said it was amazing.  I think I was safer in the van.  Very scary.  Caroline did have the option of going down on her trike but she felt the same as me. 

When we reached the bottom Caroline decided to get on her trike to see how the ankle felt as we were now on the flat until the ferry at Brodick Bay.  Again different scenery but beautiful.

We almost drove straight on the ferry and it was good to sit and have something to eat while crossing back to main land at Ardrossan.  We stopped in the Asda car park to make some adjustments.  Dani had done a brilliant job of planning the journey and putting the whole thing on her Garmin, to give us directions, but today when we got on the ferry it thought we had finished for the day and wiped the rest of the journey to Ayr.  It was soon reinstalled and we were ready to go again.

The four of them rode off to Ayr.  Gra and I found a bike shop in Troon.  They were so helpful but didn’t think they would have to bearing that we needed, but he would try.  He couldn’t mend it under the guarantee but we didn’t mind, we will have to claim the money back later.  We left it with him and went off for an hour.   He was a very nice man, a very nice man indeed and he fixed it and it only cost £26.00.

We got in touch with the others, who had also gone through Troon.  They seemed OK so we went straight to the hotel in Ayr.  They arrived about half an hour after us. 

It seems now that Caroline had not had a very nice day.  She still didn’t want to give up on the day.  Apparently her electrics kept cutting out.  I don’t think she will be doing too much tonight.

As it was still quite early, we decided to go into town and have dinner.  I drove Caroline and the others walked.  We went into Weatherspoons, went to order our meals and they wanted to see Dani’s ID.  She was very cross, any way it was in the van so Dani and I went to get it.  Having walked all the way back to the van and was nearly back to Weatherspoons again, they now decided Caroline needed ID as well.  They wouldn’t even serve us food with no drinks.  With that we left and got take away Pizza, burger and Kebabs.  It wasn’t what we planned at all and Dani felt it was her fault.  None of us felt like that.  Now to bed.

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