07.08.2015 - 07.08.2015
Sadly, when we woke Monday morning 3 August it was raining and so, fully kitted up for the wet, we set off to ride to Applecross for some lunch and then over the Bealach nam Bo (Pass of the Cow).
With Jim L (aka our local guide) leading, first we got lost so Jim L asked Jim P if he could borrow the map and kick the GPS in. Then Jim L, on his HD, broke down and asked to borrow the WD40 to try and start the HD, which is when I bogged my front wheel as I stopped and had to be pulled out. Jim P told Jim L "three strikes and you're out!" And then Jim L fell off...
Lunch consumed and the weather heavily overcast but not raining, we took off for the pass. The sign at the start of the climb said the road was not suitable for caravans and dangerous in bad weather and we soon could see why. The road up to the pass was single lane with passing places and literally up the spine of the mountain. In clear weather you can apparently see for miles and miles but that could be a little scary as you can see exactly where you are, high, high up a very skinny bit of bitumen. As it was we were in rain and cloud and I spent all my time focused on keeping the bike from jumping out of first gear and staying on the road. Coming down was no better with limited visibility, tight hairpin bends and cross winds. We were later told by other riders we met that a bloke and his wife had come off their BMW when he touched the front brake. Once down on the main road again we made good time, now in pouring rain to Fort William to the Alexandra Hotel. We rode through deep glens and along side Loch Ness for ages, sadly not seeing much as it was very wet.
At Fort William we regrouped with the Murphys who had been off on their own Highland adventure travelling to the Isle of Skye among other places north west. We settled into our room, this time a triple with three single beds to sleep Jim, Frank and me. The price of accommodation in this part of the country and at this time of the year is high so the triple room was the cheapest option. All good, only Jim and I snored, allegedly...
WILL IT EVER STOP RAINING? Apparently not as Tuesday morning dawned with solid rain everywhere. Bearsden, a suburb of Glasgow, where Jim L and his wife Heather live, and our stop for the night, was our end point but to get there we had to ride 100 miles or so in 50mph cross winds and pelting rain. Coming up through a particularly long valley just after Glencoe and over the open moor I thought at one stage we would all be blown off our bikes by the blast of road spray and wind from the tour coaches belting along at high speed. The amount of water gushing down the mountainsides and across the road was phenomenal and it was hard not to stare at the beauty of these "pop up" waterfalls close to the road, but extreme concentration was the order of the day and that was what we all did.
The group got separated at The Green Welly Stop on the A82 as Conor, Jim on the HD and I stopped for fuel, a bit of a dry out and a phone call to a mate so a rear tyre could be ordered for Mr Parker's chief and be waiting to be fitted at the HD dealer in Belfast, our next day's destination. Back on the road the three bikes travelled successfully to where the others were waiting in a warm house with lunch of cheese, meats, bread and many pots of tea.
Having been on the road for 14 days, as you can imagine, there were several loads of washing to be done and dried in order for us to continue our journey to Ireland. So, with three garbage full of some quite gnarly riding gear in need of a good spruce up, I tagged along with the two Jim's as they went off on an expedition to find Dunchattan street Glasgow, the place of Jim P's grandfather's birth in 1887, and also to find a laundry to take on the challenge of the washing. Success! Not only a laundry with a very accommodating woman that would wash and dry clothes for the bargain price of £22.50 (don't bother converting to AUD$!!) we also found the street in the west of Glasgow, but not until our host had hailed down a cab to ask directions and the cabby said "follow me", which we did. Cup of coffee, first to pass as a cappuccino, washing collected then back to Bearsden for a baked chicken dinner and pudding. On that Tuesday night the house slept 8 adults plus the dog, a great effort with beds, bodies and bags taking up every square inch of downstairs' space.