Day 5—Inveraray to Motherwell

Let me begin by thanking Pen Rashbass, who identified the castle in the last blog as Kilchurn Castle, on Loch Awe. I hope that my realising that people are actually reading this stuff will inspire me to up my game a bit.

Not such a long ride today (much longer tomorrow!) but this was a tough one because of the drag of getting through Glasgow. There were lots of twists and turns and it seemed for a while as if the conurbation would never end.

To begin at the beginning, Carl, Les and I had stayed in our own guest house in Inveraray, and the first thing we did was to roll down to the George Hotel (past the town jail—rather like a wild west movie) to meet everyone and to hear Rob’s instructions for the day. His advice was as pithy and informative as ever, and, as ever, I found myself remembering not a word. This doesn’t usually matter, luckily. As long as one’s cycle computer has sufficient resolution it’s simply a matter of following the bread crumbs.

Nessie taking a break in Loch Fyne (you have to look hard, near the bottom of the photo)

We set off with Carl, Les, Amardeep, Jamie and John leading the way. We passed over a bridge controlled by traffic lights, and as I waited I was astonished to see that Nessie had decided to take a short break in Loch Fyne! No wonder we didn’t see her/him in Loch Ness itself.

Inevitably it was raining. I am reminded of John Self in Martin Amis’s Money: “Unless I specifically inform you otherwise,” Self says, “I’m always smoking another cigarette.” Just substitute “it’s raining” in the second half of the sentence, and you’ll have a pretty accurate idea of what life is like on the ride so far.

We rounded Loch Fyne and the eponymous Oyster Bar HQ and headed for the Climb of the Day. I had been waiting for this, because it was such a fun climb when I did LEJOG in 2018. This was from the other direction, of course, and it is in this other direction that it features in various “best 100 cycling climbs in the UK” lists. Irrespective of direction, however, the climb is called “Rest and be Thankful”, so named because the soldiers who built the military road inscribed these words on a stone in 1753. The climb resonates with my LEJOG friends of 2018 (when it also rained, hard), and for them, here is a view from the top. Pretty spectacular.

Jim at the top of Rest and be Thankful

I went down the other side of the hill with Andy. We couldn’t go terribly fast because of all the traffic, but it was good fun, and it took us to the banks of Loch Lomond. It was great to cycle along a path, but it was less good that it was still raining (obvs) and that the path was not in great shape. Denise went down, and two others came a cropper later today. Our worst injury day so far.

(I might add that Rob has a huge store of stories of trips like ours, some of injuries and other ailments, but also some that are fruity to say the least. We might write a book together. “Confessions of a Bicycle Tour Guide Leader” sounds a bit tame, but boy, it would make good reading!)

The rest of the day involved heading for Glasgow, and passing through it along the banks of the Clyde. A measure of the complexity of these manoeuvres is that this segment of JOGLE requires 10 Bike Adventures route sheets (usually three or four suffice). The weather was still pretty unpleasant, so I didn’t take many photos, but here are some examples.

There was a dovecot (or a doocot, as they call them around here), an angler, a rainbow and a bridge, and as I passed the last of these I got close to our destination—the Holiday Inn Express in the Strathclyde Country Park. We left our bikes in the manager’s office and toddled off the the Toby Carvery for dinner (and the least said of this the better!) The rooms were equipped with an electric heater of unusual power, and this made short work of drying our clothes.

Finally, stats:

I did 76 miles in 6 hours and 23 minutes moving time. Climbing was 2,753 feet, and I used 1,835 calories.

Until tomorrow!

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