A bit of string

This blog was written a few weeks ago, when we had our first spell of lovely weather. With the temperatures hitting 30+ this week, I’m glad it was only about 18 degrees when we did this! Looking back and reading about thermals, reminds me how lovely it is to have a proper summer!

The weather’s been glorious this last few weeks, and I have to say the amount of traffic on the road is at summer levels already. On Wednesday, I suggested to Ed that we go to Applecross for lunch. Great idea. He was in.

It’s still May, so there was the big debate about what were the ‘right clothes’. Thermals or no thermals. We opted for no thermals, however, just because I would like to be prepared, I threw a thermal into Indy’s side bag. You never know. As it happens, my choice of layers was spot on. I didn’t need the thermals!

The run up through Glencoe was lovely, and then we hit the traffic on that annoying 13 miles into Fort William. It’s been changed to a 50mph and really, there’s no point in trying to nip through the traffic. Choose a speed and stick to it. Through Spean Bridge and onwards. I knew that I had to fuel, I wouldn’t have got all the way to Applecross on a tank. We stopped in at one of the wee random country filling stations for petrol and a drink of juice. Just what was needed.

Now, Ed says he normally does Applecross in about 2.5 hours. Really? Not with me you won’t! Good luck with that. Skye, maybe. Applecross, not.

Recently, we were on our way to Edinburgh. We knew where we were going and when I got to Doune, Ed was nowhere in sight. I chose to go over the Hill of Row to the motorway. Ed hadn’t gone that way and was waiting, worried, at Dobbies, Stirling. Eventually, he used Find My iPhone and saw that I was on the motorway half way to Edinburgh. Oh, boy, did I get a bollocking for that one. But hey, we both knew where we were going, didn’t we?

So, there’s a right hand junction to go to Applecross after the Eilean Donan Castle. Ed was off and I had 3 cars and 6 bikes pull out in front of me from the Castle. I got to the junction and there was no sign of Ed. Remembering the above bollocking, the thought went through my head that he always, but always, stops at a junction. My second thought was, he must be going via Plockton and the REALLY scenic route. He hadn’t said that though. So, following the ‘biker code’ I kept going straight on, albeit I knew in my head that I should have turned right.

I had a bimble through Kyle of Lochalsh and had a lovely chat with two RAF lads in the car park, I asked them if they’d seen a biker on a Harley with ridiculous handlebars. No. Oh well! They were lovely lads and even gave me a RAF pen!  I had discounted any chance of Ed going via Plockton, (the road was closed) I turned round and went back to the ‘normal’ road. Great fun it was too and there is one corner on that road that quite frankly, I always get wrong. This time, on the way north, I read it correctly and didn’t balls it up for once. The way back, not so well read,  however, in fairness there’s chevron signs showing a left hand bend over the crest of a hill, closely followed by more chevrons showing the sharp right bend. Must try harder!

By this time, I was resigned to Ed at least getting there before me, and getting a table at the Inn. It was guaranteed to be busy. However, by this time, panic had set in, he cancelled our order of the last portions of prawns and headed back onto his Harley and headed back up over the Bealach na ba. It didn’t take long for him to spot me coming down the hill after I had had a couple of episodes of car drivers thinking that ‘might has right’. What is it with car drivers? Luckily, my head was screwed on and I was 1) in the right position, 2) the right speed, 3) the right gear and most importantly, 4) being able to stop in the distance I could see to be clear as a rather large Volvo barrelled down the hill towards a left hander. I came round the bend. Did he move over? No, he didn’t. I teetered on the edge of the road. Safe, muttering expletives under my breath.

Then we had the debate at the Inn when we got off our bikes. Why I hadn’t turned up towards Lochcarron? I reminded Ed of the day he gave me a bollocking for straying. I know he got the message, especially when I reminded him that he ALWAYS stops to make sure I’m following behind. Why he didn’t this time? I think there was a small apology, just a wee one. When I explained, he did realise why I was confused.

A lovely lunch in the sunshine, scallops cooked with bacon and garlic butter, over some rice and salad. Coffee, then time to get going again as Ed was whinging that it took nearly 4 hours to get there. Go figure. I went via Kyle of Lochalsh!!! What was lovely, were the number of folk having a look at Indy. I think Ed was mildly amused that people were more interested in her and not Scoot with her ridiculous bars!

We caught up with a group of 5 motorcyclists. This is where the string comes in. Watching them from behind it looked like they were joined by a piece of string. The lead biker was being followed, the exact same lines, by the 4 bikes. If bike #1 went for an overtake, ALL the other 4 went with him. Sorry, lads, not good. What happened to riding in a staggered formation? Ed, as you can imagine had whiffled past all of them however, I didn’t get the chance. I just rode behind on my wee Indian, minding my own business, hoping that none of them would get collected by an unsuspecting car.

I was fairly relieved when they pulled in for fuel and a rest. We had a brief stop at the new, shiny, Aldi in Fort William just to see what it was like and grab a cool drink. Just as well I only had side panniers, otherwise we might have walked out with a large tool box and a blow up canoe. The road from Fort William was less busy on the way home, and Glencoe was in all its glory, boy, are we lucky to have a magic run down the road.

Now, we know the road pretty well and we’re making decent progress. Coming towards the horseshoe bend after the viewpoint, I could see three bikes catching me…. well, I have to say they lost a bit of ground on the horseshoe bend, then after the iron bridge, the three of them whooshed past me as if I was going backwards. It was the bikes I had followed earlier, but with a longer bit of string connecting them together.

They did well in a straight line; pants in the bends.

I had a wee chat with them in the filling station when I fuelled. There was much backslapping going on amongst the lads. They did say that my wee bike could fairly shift, and I couldn’t help the automatic response my eyebrows had…. I had a bit of a gaffaw, and did tell them they had a bit of a cheek, considering the speed they were going on our ‘glorious racetrack’ – as they called it. The guy that was most chuffed with his straight-line performance was paying for ciggies and wasn’t able to coordinate his hands to pass over the money, they were shaking so much from the adrenaline.

Great fun, however, I wonder just how in control they were? Would they have been able to stop in the distance they could see to be clear? Not on your life.

Hey, who am I to judge? They had a great time and I just hope they don’t become the next statistic on our lovely roads. I would though, have liked to recommend some quality training!!


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