Onwards and northwards, Day 12 to Blairgowrie

Posted: February 17, 2013 by Ben Weber in Cycling, English, Training
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

The two bridgesIt was slightly hard mustering the will to leave Edinburgh and continue the ride – I have to admit that the day of rest had been very welcome. Though we had to continue, onwards, northwards, on the final phase of the journey towards John O’Groats. We believed that this would probably be the hardest phase of the route, with no flexibility in terms of weather days or days to rest. We would be going north, straight through the Cairngorms, stopping at Blairgowrie to the south of the mountains, Newtonmore in the middle of the region, and then Inverness before going to Brora, Wick and John O’Groats… a total of 488.23 kilometres, so still just about a third of the total distance of the whole route.

Entrance to the Forth Road BridgeFirst thing’s first: leaving Edinburgh… We were staying with Charlie and Mel in Musselburgh, so a little bit to the east of the city. We still had to get the Forth Road bridge – a good 25km away and a little longer than I thought. It took a while getting there, along an apparently endless cycle path with so many exits we would have got lost had it not been for the GPS. Our next host, Brian, told us that evening that he had been on the path a few times though had taken ages to navigate his way through it to the bridge. Fortunately the map plotted was good though it took a little while working out where the entrance to the path was.

The bridge itself is pretty spectacular: giant, going over the Firth of Forth, with the red rail bridge to its side. Apparently they are going to build one more road bridge right alongside it in the same area  – not sure why. The bridge does close when the wind is too strong, so maybe that has something to do with it. We were lucky that the day was still so there was no problem for us, thankfully. As we were going on it on the cycle path, it was constantly shaking with the enormous traffic that was going on it – very glad that there was a cycle path…!

On the other side, it was reasonably plain sailing. A few hills now and then, but nothing we hadn’t seen before. As the day progressed we could see snow covered mountains appearing in front of us, and it was nice as we were able to cycle along smaller roads that went north, paralleling the motorway, so there was little traffic going along with us. All the heavy vehicles going up to Perth were on the M-road.

Going along, my bike started to make irregular clunking noises. Nothing very much, but it was an annoyance. Being irregular and with no rhythm, it seemed that there was nothing wrong with the actual drive mechanisms as there would have been regularity with the turning of the pedals and chain. There was nothing visibly wrong, either. So we  kept on going. Past Perth, at around 4pm or so, though we decided not to stay to enjoy the town even though it was very pretty going through it and across the river there: we wanted to arrive in Blairgowrie before night-fall as, as we had found out in the first few days, riding after dark is no fun and on these roads, there are no street lights until you get right into town; and towns were few and far between.

Full speed ahead for 25km (16 miles) and again it was pretty easy-going across the relative flat terrain. It was gradually getting darker and darker though we were doing well enough. As we got close to the town, however, we saw a cyclist passing the opposite direction. I said hello as he went by, and then all of a sudden I heard Natalia calling to me. The rider had turned around and was riding alongside her: he was Brian! He had come out to meet us and guide us back to his place. It was certainly  a great welcome!


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