Reinvigorated and ready for a longish leg.
21 May 2013
It had felt a bit odd sleeping in a real bed again for the first time since Edinburgh, however I did sleep well, and awoke feeling refreshed to a day that held promise weather wise, if still a little chilly due to the north/north westerly wind. Still it was nothing like the wind they’d had over in Oklahoma, where a tornado had ripped through the city. Reading the news it looked pretty horrific and my thoughts are with the victims. We’re fortunate in the UK not to experience such extreme weather too often; 1987 was the last really big storm/hurricane I can remember, which caused widespread damage in the South East, when I still lived there.
I finally managed to get myself out of the comfy bed, showered and had breakfast with Jim, Sue, Joan and Chip; porridge and toast. Wonderful toast made from homemade bread, with marmalade, been ages since I’d had toast and hadn’t realised how much I’d missed it. It’s a bit tricky to toast bread over a stove but maybe I’ll have it try it, or drop into more cafes for breakfast!
I got packed up, with a bit of help from Chip although he was slightly dubious of my tent flapping about (I’d spread it out to dry), and hit the road about 10.45, bidding a warm goodbye to my most excellent hosts. It had been really good to see them after so many years, and I’d really appreciated the bed, food, company and temporary fix to my pannier rack!
I scooted down the hill from Jim’s house, remembering to stop at the Co-op at the bottom to buy more toothpaste, before heading back up to Rothes, and taking the B9015 to Mosstodloch and on to Garmouth. I’d had a really good run up to the coast again, with very little wind, and my legs feeling refreshed. I passed quite a few people fishing in the Spey again. Apparently you can pay upwards from £5,000 a week, per rod, to fish. Seems a bit extortionate to me, especially as I didn’t see a single person catch anything.
At Garmouth I decided to continue on up the Kingston-on-Spey, despite it being a dead end, just to touch base with the coast again before heading West.
I wanted to go to Elgin for lunch, and to have a look around plus visit a bike shop I’d sourced earlier via the web – Bikes and Bowls. Post a slightly slightly frustrating ride into another headwind, through nice countryside, I made it to the city – it is a city which I didn’t realise, having a cathedral, albeit a ruined one.
The sun came out in Elgin anyway, and I had a welcome sandwich which was slightly awkward to eat being massive.
I made it to the bike shop, and bought two new back-up inner tubes just in case, although I shouldn’t get too many punctures with these new tyres, touch wood. The owner had a Blackburn low rider front pannier rack but wouldn’t have been able to fit it until later, and I needed to get some miles under my belt. I decided to risk it and carry on – the temp fix seems to be holding very well anyway, and should be okay as long as I don’t go on too may more bumpy routes – will avoid Route 1 off road sections in future, for the sake of my posterior if nothing else. It was good to have a chat with the owner about touring and some of the routes he’d done anyway.
Elgin seemed like a nice small city. On the way out I rode past the cathedral, which was mostly destroyed at some point due to an argument between the rich & powerful and clergy; think it might have been over someone wanting to marry someone. Cathedrals being destroyed seems to be common in Scotland, same for castles.
From Elgin I rode up to Lossiemouth, startling a female pheasant with chicks on the way; I had to swerve to avoid the chicks, and the mother flew out at me in defence but then settled down. The chicks looked like big bumble bees but had hidden by the time I got my camera out.
In cycled to Lossiemouth via the B9040, riding through the town via the harbour, and out by the RAF base, another where Dad used to be stationed.
I picked up the coast road and headed west towards the Moray Firth. Several Tornados from the RAF base were circling overhead, either on a training exercise or coming back from patrol, I think they were Tornados anyway. A group of them were coming into land one by one as I rode along, with them flying overhead before circling around and out of sight. I had a brief moment of feeling a bit like I was Tom Cruise on his motorbike in Top Gun, riding down beside the runway as F16’s took off, but it’s not really the same on a push bike, loaded to the nines, with no cute flight instructoress to go and meet afterwards – just a tent and slightly smelly lobster! I sang along to Danger Zone anyway!
I continued on down the coast road, which dips inland a bit, through Hopeman then Burghead, then all the way down to Kinloss where there’s a big army barracks. I turned up to Findlorn, a slight diversion but wanted to see the village and Findlorn Bay. Findlorn is an attractive little village and marina, with a couple of nice looking pubs. I could have camped there but wanted to get a few more miles done on this leg, and still had plenty of day left.
From Findlorn the terrain continued to be fairly flat, and the wind dropped leading to some easy cycling with no rain! I pedalled down to Fores, then on to Brodie Castle, mostly via back roads although none go that close it the coast. Was following Route 1 again for the most part.
I arrived in Nairn about 19.00 and picked up a few provisions, including more bananas and breakfast stuff, before heading out to the campsite at Delnies Wood, just outside the town. It’s another Camping and Caravaning site, which I’ve always found good, and welcoming to cycle tourers. Apparently their constitution says they always have to try and find a pitch for backpackers, cycle tourers, and canoeists, which is good to know when you’re feeling shattered at the end of a long day’s riding, and just want to pitch up and go to sleep. Only £5.50 too, despite not being a member. The site is in the woods and red squirrels live in the surrounding forest; I’d seen one earlier but hoped to get a photo or two.
Dinner consisting of a pasta feast, with added onion, cheese and Tabasco, followed by fruit, chocolate and flapjack, the latter making the best sort of trail food in my opinion.
So a good days ride where I’d managed to get into the zone and ignore the weather, mulling over a few books and wondering where Game of Thrones has got up to in the TV series. Covered about 73.7 miles.
Went to bed looking forward to the following day, which had Fort George, Culloden and Inverness on the agenda, ending in Loch Ness. Fingers crossed weather continues to be okay.
Hope the death toll in Oklahoma isn’t too awful, and people are coping okay, all this considered!