Day 5 started out bright, sunny and warm. After the hills of the previous two days, today was to be an easy ride along the Spey valley to Aviemore, only 40 miles away. Rather than riding along the busy A95, we climbed out of Craigellachie onto the B9102 which skirts along the top of the valley through a number of pleasant little villages. By this point in the holiday the legs were feeling a little sore even though I’d been religiously following the advice of my physiotherapist and had been taking ice cold showers on my legs at the end of each day. After the steady but cumbersome climb we took a quick break to make a telephone call to Mike’s Bikes in Aviemore in order to locate some replacement pedals. We were in luck, the bike shop had some in stock and we agreed to get to their shop by the middle of the afternoon to allow them to be fitted.
With new pedals ordered the job for today was to nurse the current set the remaining 40 miles between ourselves and Aviemore. The B9102 is a rollercoaster of a road, comprising nearly 20 miles of short ascents and descents that on occasion dip down to the River Spey. After 14 or so miles, my legs had sent out an SOS so we stopped in a secluded spot to grab a rest and watch the birds hunt for their prey.
Picking up the road again, we continued on to Grantown-on-Spey for some light lunch. Grantown-on-Spey was quite a busy little town in the Highlands and the lunch hour had brought everybody out to the various pubs, cafes and bakeries on the main road. I’m not exactly sure what magic ingredient the bakery had put into my coronation chicken sandwich but it certainly gave me a long and sustained burst of energy in the afternoon. Heading south-east, we continued to follow the River Spey along the B970 and with the post lunch energy boost we made double quick time to Nethy Bridge, Inverdrui and then Aviemore. Looking back at the route profile, not only was there significantly less climbing in the afternoon, the bumps and humps were far less abrupt than the morning. Even though we were making excellent time, it was hard not to stop and admire the breathtaking views to the south.
Aviemore appeared to be a mecca for ‘North Face man’ and ‘Berghaus woman’, comprising of an army of unlikely looking outdoor types and a string of outdoor shops waiting to take their money (note: I’m a ‘North Face man’ too). After a little faffing about trying to find Mike’s Bikes and dodging a light rain shower, we found the shop and before long the bike was fitted with a new pair of pedals. Given my terrible job of fixing Madeline’s rear wheel, we also took the opportunity to get her wheel professionally aligned. All in all the experience of Mike’s Bikes was excellent with great people (including Mike, a similarly tall chap to myself), good shop and excellent work on the bikes.
In a wonderful feat of planning we had finished the day at 2:45PM – leaving plenty of time to rest and have a look around Aviemore.
Planned distance: 42 miles
Actual distance: 42 miles
Ascent: 1917 ft
Flickr: 2010 Cycle Tour Photo Set