Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Hi Guys! Here I am in Edinburgh on a bright and sunny Tuesday 18th May. I’m having problems with the internet connections here, as although the WiFi is working, it’s not allowing a connection to the web. The reception staff have tried to contact the people responsible, but nowt has transpired as yet - 09:00. Consequently, I’m working off-line at the moment in an effort to get ahead of the game. If SYHA don’t sort it soon, I’ll go out and fine a bar or cafe with Wifi to upload all this. My photo’s and movies are all edited and prepared, I just need a connection to get it all up on the blog.

Yesterday, on my way down from Pitlochry, I met DougieB fron the CTC Forum. He was a welcome and friendly sight! We sat in a cafe in Milnathort near Kinross - he with a cuppa and me with a full Scottish breakfast.

Anyway, here’s the story so far .......

I left Inverness at 07:30 eager to get away having stuffed myself with a Continental Breakfast of rolls croissants, cheese and ham, and loads of tea. The road climbs out of the city and into the hills and I found the Old A9 for a change. On previous rides out of Inverness, I’d taken the main A9 as it was always early in the morning and quiet with traffic. The climb is awful. It goes on and on and on, and I hoped that the Old A9 may be better, but it wasn’t. It was devoid of traffic, but it was still a climb.

Inverness from 400ft at only 3 miles up the Old A9

At Milton, the Old A9 runs out and I moved over onto the A9 to descend the steep hill to Daviot, then I turned off back onto the Old A9 - The B9154 - and climbed again up to Moy. From there, it’s ok for some miles.

After the Moy section, the road comes back to the A9 but you can follow a tarmac path alongside the main road, then cross over - dodgy, but ok - and follow the track a little way then onto the Old A9 again through Tomatin. Here we start to climb again across the Findhorn bridge and up to the Slochd Summit. The Old A9 is a bit dilapidated here, but actually quite fine. Soon enough, after a a while, you join a proper road and head into Carrbridge. I stopped here for snacks and a breather.


From Carrbridge, the Old A9 is now called the B9153 and A95, then the B9152 through Aviemore. Again, I stopped here for a rest and to visit the loos. Getting back to Chopper, I was chatting to a chap and his wife who wanted to know all about what I was doing. He runs marathons for charities and we discussed the merits of “Just Giving” and publicity. I explained about the costs involved and the fact that I was doing this for a local cause. He and his wife were much taken by my ride, and handed me a £20 note! Isn’t that wonderful? I thanked them profusely, we parted with handshakes, and I felt quite humbled by the experience.


After the tourism of Aviemore, I headed south through Kincraig and into Kingussie stopping into a cafe for a pot of tea and a huge baked potato with cheese and beans. Yum!

I was on my way again headed for Dalwhinnie via Newtonmore, again still on the Old A9, now the B9152, A86 and unclassified, but superb, roads. From Dalwhinnie, the Old A9 is still there and it takes you up and up towards Drumochter.

Then disaster stuck! I was a little over-exuberant with a gear change, and the chain over-shifted behind the big sprocket. The chain tangled up and pulled my sprockets off the hub! I disconnected Trailer, leant Chopper down, pulled out my little toolbox and took the rear wheel off hoping against hope that nothing was broken. I wasn’t disappointed, and within 15 mins, I was back in action, not before making a cock-up of knocking the speed/cadence unit on the LH chainstay. It fouled the LH crank, and initially I though that the Sturmey Archer hub had broken internally. If that happened, I was well and truly stuck - miles from nowhere and JOGLE over for me.

Suffice to say, I sorted it, and was on my way again - phew!

The rear mech is actually for 6 to 8 sprockets, and in throttling it back to only 2, the inner stop doesn’t work so I had to make a Heath Robinson screw system that would reach. The problem is, it adjusts itself from time to time, and this time it allowed an overshift. Two clicks is enough on the gear control, but I obviously managed a third!

At 1300ft or thereabouts, the road becomes a cycle path and twists and turns and ups and downs its way over little bridges and through gates. This is fine for lighter more agile bikes, in fact Mercian and Trailer have been though the area on more than one occasion, but Chopper with its wide ‘bars and mirror would have been problematical. The lure of the main A9 was calling me, so at the first opportunity, I pulled onto it and whizzed along with the traffic whizzing past me. At the summit, 1500ft, I stopped for a rest and prepared myself for the long downhill. I was worn out and had it not been for the long downhill, I’m not sure that I could have made it very well. I rested at about 30 mph freewheeling for miles! Sometimes, as the speed dropped below 20, I would pedal to keep my legs moving.

At Calvine, I pulled over on to the B8079 to go through Blair Athol, Bridge of Tilt and into Killiecrankie. It was there that my heart sank. The hill out of the village is steep to say the least, I was tired and hungry, only a few miles to go, and there’s a hill! Bottom gear got me up, but it was hard. Then along a little further, and Pitlochry was there. Relief washed over me, and I felt “all emotional”.

The weather had been glorious all day, and Wind Gods had been smiling on me. I hate to think what state I’d have been in if the wind had been against me and it had been lashing it down. I thank my lucky stars all was ok.

When I arrived at Pitlochry, it was 18:30. I was dog tired and thirsty for a beer and food, so I called into a bar and got stuck in. The Etape Caledonia cyclists had all just about gone after their race that day, but the remaining ones were in party mood and chatted endlessly with congratulations to me for getting a Chopper all this way - and hopefully to LE. I didn’t want to talk much, so ate and drank, then I was away up the hill to the hostel. I made sure that the hostel was happy for me to keep trailer in the porch rather than the bike shed as it would make life easier for me. I showered, phoned Hilary and asker her to put something on the blog, and went to bed. It was 20:30 and I’d done 89 miles over the Grampians on a Raleigh Chopper, pulling a trailer. I’d been on the road for 11 hours or more and I was entitled to an early night.

I was up early and packing, then surveyed the maps waiting for my 07:00 breakfast. I ate it with relish whilst chatting to the reception chappy, then I was off. Straight down the main road out of town, but just before it turns onto the A9, I turned off onto the Old A9 - my wonderful friend! - in fact, I had planned a more scenic road down the west side of the river through Dalguise on the B898, but having perused the OS maps at the hostel, it looked too hilly, so instead took a more familiar and flatter route.

The A9 has a path alongside it that is actually quite good, so the Old A9 eventually runs out and is replaced by this track, but it soon turns into a proper road again and enters Dunkeld. I crossed the A9 again and followed the B867 through Waterloo and Bankfoot, but back onto the A9 for a mile or two, then off again through Luncarty.

Although there is a track to take you into Perth, I went on the A9 for the last few miles into the city. I followed my Garmin course right through, stopping off at the park for nuts and raisins washed down with loads of water. I sat in the sunshine on a bench, watching the folk out for a lunchtime stroll.

Then off again and through Bridge of Earn on the A912 and up the long hill to Glen Farg. I hate that hill. It’s busy with quarry lorries on the lower half, and it twists and turn and climbs incessantly. I pulled over at the Bien Inn for a breather. At the Inn, the road becomes the B996 - it used to be the main A90 before the M90 was built.

The last view of the Scottish mountains

At the top of the hill, I turned onto the A91 briefly then back onto the B996 and entered Milnathort. I was ready for a meal, and knew there were cafes in the town, and if not Kinross wasn’t far away for another chance at food. It was then that I spied a cyclist coming out of a cafe who flagged me down and shouted, “Mick?” I pulled over with a relieved smile and he introduced himself as Dougie. I’d never met him before, but had exchanged messages on the CTC Forum with him about the route to Edinburgh, and he’d cycled out of the city to meet me and escort me in. Wonderful! I tucked into my meal and we chatted about this and that and poured over the maps.

We rode side by side when we could, and Doug shepherded me along down through Kinross, Kelty, Hill of Beath, Crossgates and into Inverkeithing. I was tired and my bum ached so had to pull over every few miles to stretch my legs. In fact, I was worn out and looking forward to today - typing this out - and relaxing.

Doug had told me that we had to go over the RH side of the Forth Road Bridge as they had closed the other side for maintenance. Doug wasn’t too sure that I could make it up the steep slope onto the cycle track. I can remember NOT having a steep slope when I went over the RH side in 2006 on my LEJOG and Back ride, so Doug handed the navigation over to me! I wracked my brains to remember, and had the vague idea that I went up through a carpark of a hotel. I was right! and we entered the track without much effort at all.

From the bridge, it was my plan to follow the cycle route to Crammond Brig and go the rest of the way into Edinburgh along the main road. It was rush-hour and the road was packed with traffic. It was a good job that Doug knew a better way. I handed myself over to him completely and he took me this way and that from the bridge all the way to Haymarket without hardly so much as a road! We followed through housing estates and old rail beds, then after a steep but short climb past an office block, we were right by Haymarket station! Perfect!

Then it was through the city streets to the head of Princes Street, round the back onto George Street and then to Leith Walk. Doug and I parted by the doors of the hostel with him saying he should be able to meet me at 8am when I leave on Wednesday. No doubt he knows a magic way out of the city too!

Sadly, after showering and changing, I was unable to get on-line. This must be in punishment for getting a freeby last week! What SHOULD happen, it that when you bring up a browser window - say Google - the system should hyjack your window with a login widow that you put a code into, it then times your connection. What is not happening, is the new window asking for the login. I’ve even paid a £1 to connect too! The cheek of it!

Oh well, if they can’t sort it soon, I’ll get my quid back and find a bar with WiFi.

That’s it for now.

Stats and routes/profiles so far:

Inverness to Pitlochry
89.15 miles
Pedalling for 8:41:24
Total journey time 11:19:51
3969ft total ascent
7222 calories
Average moving speed 10.3mph

Pitlochry to Edinburgh
73.07 miles
Pedalling for 7:18:31
Total journey time 9:49:08
3020ft total ascent
5725 calories
Average moving speed 10mph

Grand Totals from JOG so far
299.19 miles
Pedalling for 30:17:26
Total journey time 38:35:39
12,600ft total ascent
22,531 calories
Average moving speed 9.9mph

Thanks for reading, and now I’ll try and get this lot uploaded.

(Five minutes later)
WOW! They've got it working! I'm on-line, so here we go on an upload - but it's slow.

(Ages later)
Sorry if I've confused folk, but I've uploaded in two stages to make sure it all goes. Second stage is ok too but the movie uploads take an age to do - quite frustrating when I'm being timed.

(Still ages later - I'm still at it, and I may have to pay for another hour!)

Regards to all,


  1. Glad to hear the trip is going well. Your daily mileages are surely above and beyond the Choppers original design brief lol

    Love this quote...

    <<< I rested at about 30 mph freewheeling for miles! >>>

    ...and think that the 'Cairngorms' pic wins the photo of the trip prize so far!

    Hope you have had a good day today :>)

  2. Apart from being my new all-time favourite JOGLEr, you are fast becoming my favoured source of travelogue and yarns from the road... you're no slouch with the camera, either! Great of those people to make an instant donation for the kids playground, what good people! Keep upp the good work, this blog has become compelling reading :-)

  3. Mick. Loving it so far. I'm pleased to say that I've done the 28 mile commute everyday this week and no knee problem so I'll be dawdling up the A6 on Friday morning. I'll leave Lancaster at about 8am and will hang about Levens if I get there before you, presuming of course that you're coming straight down the A6 that is!