Mid-June saw the second Carbon cycle of the year, and the first ‘coast to coast’ for most of the attendees. The trip was a two day affair, from Mallaig to Aviemore, then Aviemore to Aberdeen.
With all the great weather we’ve enjoyed in late spring/early summer, you might think we would have had sunshine and clear skies on the trip; you would be wrong. For some of us the adventure started early with trains cancelled between Glasgow and Mallaig due to gale-force winds, resulting in a short train journey to Stirling and a long taxi ride to Mallaig.
Day 1’s cycling started fantastically well in dry conditions and we took the coast road south of Mallaig enjoying great views over idyllic white sandy beaches. By the time we reached Glenfinnan, and our mid-morning coffee break, the sky had clouded over and the rain had begun, obliterating any chance of seeing Harry Potter’s viaduct, although a couple of us did spot the steam from a train, but that might have just been clouds…
Soaking and cold we made it to lunch at Spean Bridge, and shortly after it dried up and we were pushed along with a brilliant tailwind for most of the afternoon. We paused at Laggan Wolftrax mid-afternoon and then rode into Aviemore via the woods at Rothiemurchus. Day 1: 106 miles and 4,500 feet of climbing.
Day 2 started with no rain, although most of us were still drying our shoes with hairdryers from the day before. We set off via Coylumbridge and the lovely back road to Nethy. From there it was a climb up to Tomintoul for coffee, all in the dry! The next stage was the big one, over the Lecht, and, as we set off from Tomintoul, the rain began and the wind started to blow in our faces. Despite that, we all managed, heroically, over the Lecht, and via the Gairnshiel, to arrive into Ballater for a well-earned lunch.
Our Aberdeen cycling guru Ian then guided us along some fantastic quiet roads all the way into Aberdeen, the route only slightly spoiled by the fact we could barely see it due to the rain bouncing off the ground, and could hardly grip our handlebars to steer along it due to the cold.
The shivering group arrived into Aberdeen, looking a little lost in Union Square, and, having showered, we enjoyed a great curry to celebrate. Day 2: 96 miles and 5,500 feet of climbing.
While the weather was at times horrendous, the route was beautiful, our support was fantastic (thanks again to Alison and James), and the company was great fun. Thanks to everyone who came along – it was a real adventure.