The Road to Golspie

Club Member James Bell recently undertook a mammoth ride from Dunfermline to Golspie. This is a great example of the initiative and tenacity our members have within DCC. There was no competitive angle, no trophy to win, just a personal challenge and a cracking day to be in the saddle. Here it is in James's own words -

"Warning....long post. I wrote this primarily for my own benefit, but since I have, some might be interested in my cycle on Thursday....

Never before had I leapt out of bed with such enthusiasm at 4am. Today I did, I was cycling over 200 miles to Golspie. Target cycling time: 12 hours. After a two-course breakfast and 3 cups of coffee, I left the house at 4.45am, excited like a kid at Christmas. Leaving in almost complete darkness, I started with my usual mobile disco of flashing lights.

With hardly a car on the road, I bypassed Dunfermline and started climbing out of Dunfermline. With the roads completely to myself, it was beautiful, peaceful cycling. Soon after taking the turn off for the Cleish road, I was met by four deer standing in the middle of the road, facing the opposite way. As I drew nearer, I had to whistle at them so that they scarpered from my private road, only for a fox to then run across in front of me.

I crested the top of Cleish at 5.30am, and what a view! A deep orange glow from the east was starting to light the sky, with early morning mist lingering around Loch Leven and clinging to the top of West Lomond. It was such a great feeling to be on top of my favourite road so early in the day, with not a sound or a soul nearby.

The deserted roads continued past Kinross, Milnathort and the single track road to Glenfarg, with the sun now burning low in the sky to take away the morning chill. Onwards to Bridge of Earn, the skies now clear blue, the miles ticked by without a thought. Passing through Perth before 7am, I had even beaten the commuting rush and headed west towards Huntingtower and then the single track cycle network route through Almondbank. Another single track road to myself, gliding along in the morning sun, feeling smug! My only gripe was the lack of forecasted tailwind, which seemed to be more of a cross headwind. Being picky, my treaded tyres also felt sluggish compared to the usual slicks. Telling myself to get a grip, and that cycling doesn't get much better than this, I turned my attention to my Garmin battery and calculating whether I would have enough power to reach Golspie. Starting to doubt it, I turned off my route to hopefully save some power.

After almost exactly 50 miles, I reached Dunkeld at 7.58am. This made me smile as it felt ridiculous to be there so early! I had not beaten the Japanese tourists however, who were swarming out of two tour buses to take bazillions of pictures.

Making sure I got myself into as many as possible as I cycled past, I stopped for a picture of my own on the bridge over the River Tay. Wow, what a view, clear blue skies, some mist lingering above the trees, and the brightest blue sky, it was picture postcard material. Stopping only long enough for a quick Mark Beaumont style social media update, I pressed on towards Pitlochry and Blair Atholl, where I stopped at a local shop for an all day breakfast sandwich and water stop. A forestry commission worker clocked my club jersey and started chatting to me outside the shop, asking if I had cycled "all the way from Dunfermline". I confirmed this, and that I was also cycling to Golspie, at which point the chap thought I was an absolute maniac. I smiled in agreement, gunned my sandwich, and got on back on the road.

As I passed Bruar, the dreaded Drumochter Pass cycle path was in my thoughts. Out of the 200+ miles, this 15 mile stretch was the sole reason for me dragging round some heavy Marathon Plus treaded tyres. Absolutely essential however, but I still had 3 tubes tucked away in my saddle bag just in case. As it happened, my biggest concern was actually becoming my Garmin battery and took further steps to reduce power. By turning down the screen so that I couldn't really see it, my "Apollo 13" power saving challenge began in earnest.

Starting the climb from Calvine, I entered the cycle