After such a glorious and relaxing day we had expected that today would be a little more challenging. The Met Office had issued a number of heavy rain weather warnings for parts of Scotland and so it came as little surprise to wake to a very damp world.
A late breakfast had us on the road for 9:30. The route out of Pitlochry involved a couple of short but sharp climbs before we rejoined NCN route 7. Fortunately whilst the ground was wet we were initially spared any further rain. The route initially undulated alongside the River Tummel before heading west along the River Tay. A little light rain had us seeking shelter in a tea show just outside of Weem where a warm coffee and cake were devoured in double quick time. The rain held until we entered Kenmore, a beautiful little village on the shores of Loch Tay. Unfortunately from this point the Met Office prediction came true, and we were hit with a barrage of heavy rain showers that soaked us to the skin. In combination with lots of low cloud this meant the views over Loch Tay were somewhat hidden.
After 17 miles of drenching, the clouds parted and we were greeted with glimmers of sunshine – just in time for lunch at The Falls of Dochart Inn on the outskirts if Killin. The place was extremely welcoming to drenched cyclists, with a lovely open fire and servings of haggis, neeps and tatties. A little warmer and drier we left the pub and headed out on the second half of the day. Initially a lovely disused railway track gave way to a rough forest track. I’m sure it comes across that I moan a lot a about the Sustans routes but sometimes I’m baffled by their choices. Heavily laden touring bikes aren’t the best mode of transport to use on forest tracks, and so soon after lunch, the path sapped my legs of needed energy. Still it only went on for a mile or two…
At mile marker 41 I heard a familiar noise and felt a grinding sensation through the pedals. A quick check of the new pedals found nothing amiss. The investigation went a little further and in no time a much more serious issue was identified. The crank arms now had a significant amount of free play in them where there should be none. A quick revolution or two of the pedals and it was clear that the bottom crank bearings were failing. With little choice but to press on it was to be a case of cross my fingers and ignore the grinding sounds for the next 20 odd miles.
On with the cycling and we were treated to a very welcome free wheel down a disused railway track that followed the Glen Ogle valley culminating in a breathtaking view across to Loch Earn and Lockhearnhead. After a steep descent we were back into the undulating rollercoaster pathways following the valley. At this point it’s worthwhile pointing out that at different points along the route, the surfaces of the paths and roads varied from acceptable to downright dangerous. If your thinking of tackling NCN 7 on a road bike with lightweight wheels skinny tyres then I implore you to think again. On a modified hybrid bike with 36h custom built touring wheels and 32c tyres I was swearing on more than one occasion.
A brief stop at Rob Roys resting place, Balquhidder for coffee and a slice of delicious carrot cake, we ploughed on through the roller coaster route gradually picking up the pace until we entered Callander on a lovely sunny August evening.
There’s no doubt that we both felt the accumulated miles in our legs and the thought of another 75 miles tomorrow, especially with one of the bikes gradually continuing it’s descent into terminal failure, wasn’t particularly appealing.
Planned distance: 61 miles
Actual distance: 68.5 miles
Ascent: 4595 ft
Flickr: 2010 Cycle Tour Photo Set