Aberdeen to Aboyne Scotland June 15, 2013
What an incredible day we had today. We were picked up in Inverness by one of our Wilderness Scotland guides Graham and he drove me, Adam, and the other cyclist on our tour (Patrick) from Inverness to Aberdeen. The drive took 3 hours and was quite nice. Once we got to Aberdeen, Graham found our other Wilderness Scotland guide Dave and we linked up at the coast (the North Sea to be precise). There we were fitted to our rental mountain bikes (very nice equipment with full suspension). The guides are very nice and so is our riding partner Patrick, who is a vastly superior mountain biker to us, having taken mountain bike trips to India, Turkey, and Greece, just to name a few spots.
Anyway, Scotland is just beautiful, and the weather thus far has been un-Scotland-like. Today was partly sunny with some threatening clouds, but thankfully we stayed dry. We had a headwind almost all the way, but as the locals described it, it was a wee headwind.
Getting back to the title of today's blog...when we started riding, Graham said to us, "don't worry if you get lost...just keep riding into the wind for six days, and you will find your way to our final destination". He laughed as he said it, but at the beginning of a long day, that was not what I was dying to hear. Yes, we did ride into a stiff headwind, but given that we were dry and relatively warm, it seemed like a good trade-off.
We started off in Aberdeen on a converted railway bed that took us right out to the country. We moved off the trail and went off-road for the next 15 or so kms until we had a picnic lunch in a small village on the way. Then we rode for about 15kms into the wind on quiet Scottish side roads, but we were trucking uphill into the wind which was a drag.
By the way, kudos go to our old ABB riding mate Ian Peden for learning how to ride on the "wrong side of the road" so well in 2010. We have had to learn to look back over our right shoulders while on the road, and looking left for car doors opening. It is weird and definitely takes getting used to.
Back to today. The ride took us through an incredibly remote part of Scotland. Barren, untamed, and near-mountainous. The final part of our ride saw us cut across sheep/cattle pastures past an incredibly creepy castle called Brise Castle. We rode 10kms up and over a big mountain with pitches of 15-20%. It took us forever. Then we had an incredible descent into this little village. Because of our late start today, we didn't get to the hotel until 7:30PM. We quickly showered in our little phone booth shower (standard Sottish hotel size). We just got back from dinner (delicious fish and chips) and are definitely ready for bed. It is almost 11PM local time. Whew!
Sorry I don't have time to write more tonight, but in the next few days, I will talk about the Wilderness Scotland tour company, mountain biking versus road cycling, Scotland in general, and how my boy Adam is doing (i'll give you a hint...he's tired and was just a tad cranky going up the mountain today...).
Check back in tomorrow for more news from gorgeous Scotland.