Saturday 13 August 2011
Such is the dedication of the Kyle of Sutherland cc that despite torrential rain four riders turned out for the wednesday evening club ride this week. The wet and dark conditions called for a fairly short choice of route but one that proved to hold a good deal of excitement, if not for the riding then purely for the chance to bare witness to the awesome power of nature.
We started a little late, just after seven as we took an extra while to layer up the waterproofs and strap on the neoprene, and headed out of "the unit" into the deluge. Out past the Gledfield primary school we took the left hand turn out to Dounie and splashed our way along the road cornering tentatively through deep floods and loose gravel. Passing along under the low grey clouds we caught glimpses of the Carron river raging to our right but only when the road took us to the bridge did we really get a picture of the sheer power of the water. Six foot waves boiled and smashed below us like the Dudh Kosi in flood, thoughts of a raft were tempered by thoughts of a watery grave!
Turning left we proceeded along through the trees and wild dogs out to the church at Croick were the road turns to gravel and mud as it goes it's own way up Glencalvie to Ullapool. We turned back into the wind and suddenly the work was harder and all seemed much colder but such a magnificent landscape as we are blessed with was plenty to keep our spirits high. Keeping to the northern side of the river we made another couple of stops to absorb the spectacle of the crashing river as it made its way down the gorge down to the Kyle. Chris picked up the pace to tow us all home acroos the flat open sections toward the end of the ride and we rode four up and happy back into Ardgay grateful for the shelter of the unit at Heaven bikes.
I love the rain.
Sunday 7 August 2011
Monday 1 August 2011
This past Saturday dawned bright and clear with a promise of warm sunshine so I didn't need to be asked twice to throw the roadie and the camping kit into the van and head off for a trip into the north west corner.
By mid-day Chris and I were on our way from Ardgay in the blancmangemobile up to Altnaharra, across the moors by Allnabad and on to the shores of Loch Hope. We quickly set up camp in a grassy old quarry beside the road with terrific views down to the loch and the magnificence of Ben Hope standing over us then set off on the bikes.
It was great to get the legs turning and we rode along together on the swooping single-track road that leads to the coast road which is pretty much an epic roller-coaster of joy. The hills took us gleefully down to Loch Eriboll and around its shores to the bridge at Polla and north again through Laid, Portnancon and out to the north coast proper at Rispond. Here we dallied a while enjoying the glorious view across the beautiful sandy beach that screamed out to us for an adventure by kayak, one last hill just for the buzz then back the way we'd come.
Along Loch Eriboll you can see the hills to come across the water, so near and yet so far but big whichever way you look at them. However for every steep grinding up there's an adrenaline pumping down and soon enough we arrived back to our camp with weary legs, hungry bellies but joy in our hearts and minds.
Mercifully we'd stocked up on Smidge at Heaven-bikes because the evening air was still and out came the midges and threatened to ruin the party but not to be beaten we just went for another ride this time back south under the face of Ben Hope. We returned to camp and lit a little fire to ward of the wildlife and sat back drinking coffee and making plans.
And trust me we've got plans....