exo : rides


Wed, 02 Oct 2019


The last time I cycled near the four houses and an Inn that make up Struan the weather was grim, I’d just finished slogging along the bleakest bit of the A9 cycle path and I still had a chunk of miles to go. I was in no mood for stopping despite the obvious photo opportunity.

The best way to resolve this is to cycle there specifically to take the required selfie in front of the sign. A check of the sunset times makes it look doable in the gap between when I can face getting up of a weekend and the light going so here I am heading out at 9am on a Saturday.

I am not an early riser.

It’s a bit brisk but nice and sunny with not too much wind so progress is good. Given that it’s a fair old way I’m making a decent effort to not hang about. First stop is Dunkeld for an early lunch of an extremely tasty sandwich at Aran Bakery. 50% of the reason for riding through Dunkeld is the food here.

A pleasant bonus is that the link to the other side of the A9 has been resurfaced so it’s much swifter, and less fraught on slightly unsuitable tires. There follows a bit of up and down to Logierait and then the always ominous “Road Closed” sign which I ignore it because usually you can sneak a bike through. In this case they’ve even helpfully put in a path for walkers and cyclists. Naturally, it isn’t mentioned till you get there.

There’s a bit of disagreement between the cycle route signs and the GPS when we get to Pitlochry but head down, obey the machine and they’re soon back in sync.

In contrast to the stretch from Dunkeld there is a lot of straight flat road into a slight headwind at this point. It is not terribly enjoyable but at least it’s quick. A bit of a wiggle round the House of Bruar, yet another A9 underpass, a left hander and we’re at the sign.

I am not a taker of selfies so a bit of photo faffing occurs in which I am confused by the front facing camera flipping the image, and hence the text on the sign. Like an idiot I decide to use the forward facing camera which is a bit trial and error. A sensible person would realise that the photo is flipped back when saved.

Photos done I travel the extra couple of hundred yards to get to the other side of Struan and then turn and head back. There’s a few brief pauses for photographs. The first for one of the many Flat Earth tagged road signs that pepper the A9. I’ve no idea why they’ve chosen this bit of the world for their campaign but whoever is responsible is prolific.

The second stop is to capture the shrine to tweed maximilsm that is the House of Bruar. As ever the car park is packed and getting through the junction is done with a bit of caution given people adjusting from battering down the A9 speed.

The long straights are a bit better in this direction and I’m quickly in Blair Atholl for second lunch. Shortly afterwards I’m heading for Pitlochry after it turns out that’s where the place I’m aiming for is. Nine odd miles of undulating later I’m pulling up to picnic tables in the sun.

Second lunch is a little disappointing compared to first. It’s not actually bad, it’s just first lunch was really good so anything else was always going to compare poorly. Still, it does the job and onwards.

Sadly I was supposed to hang a left but the recovery is quick and we’re back on the lumpy run to Dunkeld. By which point I’m beginning to feel the miles so I decide to stop for emergency Mars bars and sugary drinks. Plus some water, of which I drink a chunk in short order.

Five miles later it becomes apparent that some part of this was an error and I enter the stern talking to and “please don’t be sick” part of the day. I back off for a bit of soft peddling and drinking water which more or less sorts me out. I’m back to feeling just “I’ve cycled a fair old way” in time for the Cat “I could do without this” lump that cuts over the hills. No records are set going up it but given half an hour before I wasn’t sure I’d get up at all this is ok.

The downhill on the other side is joyous. The realisation that the wind has changed and there is now a headwind heading back into Dundee less so, but the done by 7pm ish target is looking on track. There’s a brief pause to take the obligatory photo of the V&A and then it’s the final run to home.

Ten and half hours and 146 miles is probably a bit excessive for a selfie.

posted at: 21:58 #

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