A blog about cycling...especially the long distance stuff

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Day 7 Irvine-Arran-Oban

I woke up feeling pretty good considering yesterdays struggle. Managed an early start and had a short 10 mile pedal over to the Ferry Terminal in time to catch the 9am sailing over to the Isle of Arran. At the terminal I had a chat to a mum/dad/child team taking a tandem over to the island to ride round. Dad and the boy on the tandem with mum on a road bike. Their kit was truly ancient and I admired their attitude...their boy was really young and I hope he gets hooked on the experience!

After a 1 hour trip west, landed on Arran and a large convoy of cyclists departed together. Had a brief chat to a German couple riding the just awesome Koga Signature touring bikes. Wow they look the business...not for speed but for long haul cross country tours. I want one!

Anyway, headed north up the coast and was on my own in only a few minutes. Arran is not a big island and I had a ferry to catch on the other side over to the Western end of the mainland. By doing so, this made my Lejog much longer (than going up the middle east of Glasgow which is the fastest possible route) but with far better scenery. Arran is very pretty:

It was a 14 mile ride over to the other side and I decided to gun it and try and make the 12pm ferry - if I failed to get this then it wouldn't be a disaster but would mean getting to the mainland after lunch and with only 20 or so miles behind me...which would mean riding into the evening. 14 miles in an hour. Doesn't sound much, and its not, but with a laden bike a quite a big hill:

...this required digging in. I got to the summit at 11:45...15 mins left to get to the ferry...and with one open road ahead...oh yeah...let go of the brake levers and just flew! Cue a "Top Gear" like finish...

I wont discuss speeds here just in case mum is reading, but pulled up at the ferry with 5 minutes to spare, wiping away my streaming eyes but not the huge grin on my face, and with one pannier hanging on to the frame only by its safety catch.

The next stage was a short 30 minute Island hop [in the safe hands of captain Haddock?!] 

and was talking to more tourers. This group were from the US and Australia, and spending 7 weeks cycling Lejog along with all the outer Islands including the Shetlands. They had huge loads and looked ready for anything:

There was also a blind women riding on the back of a massive touring motorbike with her partner...very courageous. 

Back on the Scottish mainland, time to crack on and try and get some miles in as the Ferry's had still meant lost time despite my sprint. The section from Clanoig north was superb, hardly any cars, great road and wonderful forest to pedal through. Made up some good time and didn't stop till I hit Lochgilphead around 2pm.

After that, the road meandered lazily through lochs, forest, and ancient monuments. Will let the photos speak for themselves.

The day went well though it was a hilly one, rolled in to Oban in reasonable shape. It was also slightly shorter than anticipated at a pifling 90 miles - looks like the site I was using for planning did include Ferrys in the calculation.

Tomorrow: Loch's and and the Highlands await...game on

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