On Saturday April 1st a group of club members assembled at 7am in Ballachulish. But this was no April Fools……
Ahead of us lay 200 kilometers of quiet scenic roads, 3 ferries and several mechanicals.
The ride to the first ferry was only 10k, but some gaps appeared early on. After regrouping on the ferry, the faster riders set off again to try to catch the earlier crossing to Mull. There was a light headwind, but only scattered showers, allowing us to appreciate fully the spectacular scenery. Cars were few and far between and generally well behaved. After the biggest climb of the day, we dropped down into Lochaline, just in time to catch the 10.25 ferry. Distracted by the riders down at the ferry, I turned round to discover I was heading for an enormous pothole. I couldn’t avoid it, but managed to scrub off enough speed to take it slowly and avoid any damage. Another of our group was not so lucky and had to fix his puncture on the ferry crossing.
Setting off again from Fishnish, we found the café at Salen closed and settled for food bought from the garage, in true audax tradition. At that point we lost 3 of our group as the previous pothole damage proved to be more than a puncture, and they took the direct route to Craignure to catch the ferry to Oban and the nearest bike shop.
This left a group of 4 bringing up the rear, although we saw some of the others leaving the café at Pennyghael just as we were arriving. An attempt to catch the earlier ferry by some of the faster riders was, unfortunately, unsuccessful, but they were able to console themselves with a pint in the pub while they waited for the next crossing. I believe they may have been hampered by a mechanical. Large amounts of food were taken and banter exchanged on the ferry from Craignure to Mull, as we were all brought together once more. We formed into our groups again for the final leg back to Ballachulish, and even us slowest riders made it before dark. It was a tired but happy bunch that regrouped for the final time back in the village hall.
Had it not been for the pothole damage, all the members would have completed the event, which is quite an achievement. The organiser intends to run the event again next year, so hopefully we can have a rerun in 2018.