There’s just something wonderful about Autumn. I really enjoy it. It’s probably a lot to do with the smell, the colours and having more space on the roads. Why the smell? It’s that freshness in the air; it’s like a switch – one minute the fresh smell, the next the leaves are changing colour on the trees. Dotty (my furry four-legged friend) is stuffing his face like there’s no tomorrow. In actual fact, Dotty is supplementing his two solid meals a day and a constant supply of crunchies, with birds and anything else edible with a pulse. He’s getting a bit bigger, coat looking more fluffy and obviously getting himself ready for more daily hibernation lying in a sunbeam over the winter months. Why cats bother is beyond me. Their routine never changes.
Riding a motorcycle at this time of year is interesting. We can wear sunglasses or use (if you’re lucky) a flip down sun visor in your helmet. Sunglasses can’t be taken off though when you go through tree lined roads or in general micro-climates and shaded places; you can flip your sun visor up though; bonus. I found myself heading home last week, sun visor down and still being blinded by the westerly setting sun. Idyllic, stunning, but dangerous. I had to hold up my left hand to shade the glare. Don’t worry, totally in control of my bike for the required short time; after all, you CAN steer a bike with one hand… only if it’s safe to do so, that is! Autumn is high alert. You have to just chill out, not guess if there’s an on-coming vehicle and wait until you have the perfect view. There’s always a ‘holy poop’ moment at this time of year, when you ‘see’ a vehicle that has been in a shaded spot and glad that you had just held back until the view was perfect. In actual fact, just this morning I was driving into the sun and there had been a bit of a rear-end shunt between a VW Golf and a camper van. The front of the VW was crumpled, the camper barely damaged. I was about 20m away from the accident before I saw it… sun in my eyes and the car sitting in the shade. Be careful out there, folks.
I was having an online conversation with a friend the other night. He was telling me he was sulking. Why? “It’s nearly the end of the season.” Then I got a phone call, which was great, much better than sending fiddly messages. It made me think that I don’t have enough ‘conversations’ on the phone; it’s always on email, Faceache messenger or i message. It was just nice to have a proper chat. Does that make sense? I never got the chance to give him hell about ‘stopping riding’ for the winter, we were talking bikes and enhancing skills. This blog however, might change his mind. You know who you are!
As you, my reader knows, I am hooked on motorcycling. If you didn’t know, you need to bloody keep up. So hooked, in fact, if I can’t ride my bike, I become unbearable. I apologise in advance to those of you who have to look at my unsmiling, grumpy face this winter when I can’t get out on my bike. The only thing that stops me is ice (obviously) and snow; enough snow to stop me getting down the driveway.
I realise that the great, quality, warmish days are going to disappear, however, there are some amazing days in the winter when you just need that fix, so you should, because you can. Don’t tuck up your bike in the winter. Keep it fettled and ready to go. Get better layers to keep you cozy, ever better, treat yourself to some heated gear.
On a good day, the sun may shine, the sky might even be blue. How can you resist? Just do it, your nearest and dearest will thank you for it. They know that you’re just gagging to get out. So, suck it up, wrap up and you will have a ball, it does you the world of good. There’s very little traffic. No hooligans with their heeds down and bums up ripping past you at silly miles an hour. It’s a very peaceful feeling. Cold, fresh, clear roads, and a perfect opportunity to enhance your wet weather riding skills. It’s a really cool feeling in the new season (when most biker venture out) when you don’t have to worry about the ‘do I remember how to do this?’ I learn more in the winter months and enjoy testing out all the new tips and techniques I have been taught during the summer season. Sad, but true. I really, REALLY look forward to this winter.
We were at Martin’s 60th birthday party celebrations on Saturday night. We stayed at the Kirkland’s Hotel. I’ve stayed their before, and surprised they let me back in. I got a bitty tipsy at the Christmas lunch. Sorry Fiona Wilson, who had to watch the downward spiral to pissedness. It was a great evening, with fabulous company. The next morning, we had a hearty breakfast, cooked by the lovely, funny manager, Antony. He cooks the best scrambled eggs that I have eaten outside my own kitchen. All we had to do was decide on a route home. It was looking like a lovely day, so I suggested a route and Ed expanded on it somewhat. No surprise there!
We left the hotel in Kinross at about 10.30. Through Glen Devon, back roads to Crieff, Sma’ Glen, Aberfeldy, back road to Coshiville. Left to home or straight on? Och, straight on to the Kinloch Rannoch road. With winter approaching, there won’t be so many opportunities to take this stunning route. Bimbling along quite nicely, I realised that I had ‘lost’ Ed. I knew where he would have stopped, (that is as long as he didn’t have a puncture or similar). I turned my bike to see him coming down the hill towards me. He thought I knew the road to Foss; I didn’t. So, Ed took over the lead. Blimey. A really cute (though technical) road. Through the trees on the south side of Loch Tummel, very nice indeed.
From this wee mad road, you pop out at Pitlochry. For once, Ed offered to stop for a coffee. Oh, yes please. So, he took me to Drummonds – coffee shop and pub. Now, I have been to one or two places, however, this was a tad ‘eclectic’ to say the least, maybe even eccentric would fit too. There were so many signs about children basically translated, “Children must be seen and not heard” and be “Kept under control at all times”. Fair enough, I couldn’t agree more. The ladies toilet (not very clean) had instructions on how to use the taps and a sign next to the toilet roll saying the hand dryer was on the opposite wall. The waitress / bar lady looked scary – she would be good in a bar brawl that’s for sure. It was an ‘interesting’ place, however zero marks for truly awful coffee. If you go, have tea.
So, that was our break for the day. Generous, my Ed. That’s why I have good stamina on the bike, I guess! We headed back towards Kinloch Rannoch, this time on the north side of the loch. All the way through round Loch Rannoch. It’s not a single track road, however, you can maybe squeeze two cars past each other. Top tip for this road, if there’s a right hand bend, be sure to get as close to the nearside as is safe to do so to get the best view round the bend. There are a lot of right hand bends on this road. It’s very, very pretty, so take care, you could end up in the loch if you get distracted. If it’s your first trip round it, you’ll want to stop for photo opportunities. The north side is quite busy too, even at this time of year. We didn’t go to Rannoch Station, we just headed round the south of Loch Rannoch. A slightly narrower road however, we only met a car and a van and a red squirrel the whole way round. We then went over the Schiehallion road just for good measure. That IS a single track.
Back onto the road to take us to Loch Tay, which I have to say is a fabulous road, I love it. Careful though, there are some narrow parts and many micro-climates to contend with. There are also whacky farmers who do have a habit of abandoning their landrovers and trailers pretty much anywhere. We got home at 5.30pm. I was pooped, but satisfied that we had had a great day on our bikes, sunshine, 10 degrees, quiet roads and even Ed said he really enjoyed following me. Now, that’s a compliment if ever there was one.
Love Scotland. Don’t stop riding your bike in the winter, if the conditions are favourable, just get out there and do it. Put a grin on your face. You’ll feel all the better for it.