Back To Scotland, First Time Solo (Pic Heavy)

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Day Trippin'' started by Kebabmonster, May 1, 2019.

  1. Kebabmonster

    Kebabmonster Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2014
    Oddometer:
    98
    Location:
    Durham, England
    Hello all. First off, a bit about myself.

    My name is Andy. I live in North East England, and have been riding bikes about 9 years, I was late starter (mid life crisis so some say haha). As you might see as you read this, I ramble on a bit at the start, but I try to explain things through where I can. Once the riding starts, I'll try to keep it brief. Apologies if the initial explaining isn't for you.

    I've done about 6 or 7 tours of Scotland (and a couple to mainland Europe) over the last few years. These have always been with my mates, or 3 times I had my son riding pillion. He was 13 when we did the first, 15 when we did the last in 2017. Here's a couple of pics from those trips with Nathan:

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    I've never done a solo trip before, not even 1 overnight stay. Reading a lot of solo RRs on here got me thinking about doing a solo ride up there. I had a read of part of the thread on here about solo travel, and decided I might as well give it a whirl. Just after Christmas, I decided to start putting a few things in place. The way the UK bank holidays work this year, with Easter being fairly late, and May Day on the 6th of May, I'd read that if you book 9 days holiday in, you get 18 days off from Good Friday to May Day. As we work a flexi system, I knew I could accrue enough time for a flexi day to be included in this, so I'd only need 8 days annual leave. Result. I decided a 5 night/6 day trip would be sorted out beginning the 25th of April. Now as some on here will know, you cannot guarantee decent weather in Scotland in July let alone April, so you're always in the lap of the gods with it, but I knew I wouldn't be needing the sun cream.

    Firstly a bit about my overnight stops. I like to pre-book my overnight stays as I'm not a tenter and I don't care for staying in large towns, so I always worry that there'd be nowhere for me or I'd pay a fortune if I just picked somewhere on the day. Me and Nathan have stayed in Inveraray Hostel before, so I thought that would be a good place for night 1, plus it's 215 miles from my house with the option to add a few more should you fancy a longer run. Inveraray is a nice place, small, but has places to get a meal and have some beers (my stops always have to have these 2 criteria :clap ). Also decided I'd stay there on the last night. So I booked a single room for the 25th and the 29th for £26 a night. I like the fact they do single rooms. Me and Nathan had a 2 bed room when we last stayed there, but by the time you got both of us in and all our gear, it was full cos the rooms are very small, but I figured me on my own with just my own gear it would be fine.

    Night 2 was booked for Oban Hostel at £23.50. I've stayed here with my mates and it was ok, a big old building on the edge of town. Oban is bigger in size than Inveraray, but not too big. And there are more bars and eateries. This was my only worry in the 5 nights as I knew I'd be in a dorm room with strangers. I'm not bothered about not knowing the others, but I snore, a lot, and I don't want to upset people by keeping them awake all night :lol3 Nights 3 and 4 I pushed the boat out and booked into The Caladonian Hotel in Ullapool. Well I say, pushed the boat out, it's no 7 star place. It does it's job, but it's tatty round the edges which I'll explain later. The 2 nights in a 1 bed room with breakfast was £84, not bad I thought. This is also a place I've stayed in before, with the lads 2 years ago. You might notice a theme here, picking places I've already been to. This is 2-fold. 1, I'm predominantly a creature of habit, if I've done something or stayed there before and it was ok, I've no problem doing it again, and 2, on my first solo gig, familiarity was important.

    So, Day 1.

    Woke up at 4:30 for the toilet, and didn't go back to sleep unitl 6:40 and then only for 15 minutes. My original plan was leave about 9:00 so I missed the commuter traffic on the A1. However, the weather forecast around Inveraray wasn't great in the afternoon, so decided I wanted to leave at 8. Didn't happen as I couldn't be bothered to drag myself out of bed cos I was tired, and by the time I said goodbye to the kids (wife started work at 7), so it was about 8:15 when I left home, then I had to go and fill up.

    This was the intended route:

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    The KLV1000 all loaded:

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    And me (same gear as previous trips you'll notice):

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    So I hit the traffic on the A1 :jack Managed to filter through it at The Metrocentre, then again around the turn off for the A69 and beyond. After detouring from the programmed route, the sat nav voice ended up about 30 seconds behind the visuals due to it recalculating the route. Having never really used it much before, and never went off the route when I did use it, I don't know if this is the cheap sat nav's fault, the software, or something else... Switching it off and back on on the move sorted it out, but it would be a regular occurrence throughout the trip :dirtdog Headed up the A696 past Newcastle airport, and then onto the A68. Then the obligatory border pic:

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    And a few pics on the way:

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    I turned off the A68 at Melrose, through Galashiels and onto the A721. Parts of this road are great. I wanted to avoid Glasgow and it's ring road, so I'd decided to head through Aidrie, where I'd fuel up and call in MacDonalds for my dinner. This wasn't a great choice of route as it was dull town riding, but I got fuel and got fed, so it wasn't all bad. I needed a stop to be honest even if I hadn't needed fuel because after being awake so early, my mind was starting to wander. Large Big Mac meal with a black coffee did the trick.

    I rode along the A811 which brings you out at the bottom of Loch Lomond and onto the A82. Now I know I said I'm a creature of habit, but I've ridden the A82 a load of times, and I wanted somewhere different. So I'd programmed in to go through Helensburgh, then up the A814 to Arrochar, another great road. It has loads of small rises and falls and was great fun. Just as I got into Helensburgh, the sky was full of mad and decided to take it out on me:

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    Had to stop and put the rain suit on, but in reality, I was 10 minutes too late doing this as my gear was soaked but not yet breached. This was a lesson I learned quickly for future days on this trip.

    I headed on to Arrochar, then I'd decided to stop at a place called Rest and Be Thankful on the A83. As I was taking the pics, my glove blew off the drybag and landed about 6" away from a puddle.That would have sent my rage off the scale :baldy Some pics of the way to there:

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    At Rest and Be Thankful after a good soaking:

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    From here I went onto the B828, my first single track road of the trip (definitely not the last), then headed down to Strachur. By now the rain had stopped, so I stopped in a layby to remove the rain suit. This memorial was there:

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    I've looked up Magersfontein and it's from the 2nd Boer War apparently...https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Magersfontein

    A few more from Strachur:

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    So as I take the pics at Strachur, the sky darkens and it starts to rain again. I walk the 10 yards from the seat to the bike, get the rain suit out again and put it back on. No sooner walked back to the bike, and it stops. WTF??? I expect some sort of Candid Camera set up to jump out and start laughing at me :imaposer Bollocks to this, it's staying on. Decide instead of completing my planned route, I'll just head the 21 miles to Inveraray, dropping about 30 miles from the planned route. I'd had a good day, it was no matter. Got to the hostel at 4:25, given room 7. Got all my gear off the bike and at 4:45 the heavens opened, good call on cutting the route short I thought as I watched it come down. Room is small but fine.

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    Had a shower, got changed and went for a wander and see what food I would have as the rain had stopped. Like I said, Inveraray is small, but a nice place, and after about 10 minutes you've seen most of it.

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    I saw Mr Pia's chip shop was open so got haddock, chips, and a can of Pepsi Max, £9.80!!! Was nice tho

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    Had 2 pints in The George Hotel, then 2 pints in The Inveraray Inn. The 1 pint of Carling I had in the Inn was crap. Back to the hostel for 8:50, not many people about in Inveraray on a Thursday night. Only my bike and 1 car in the car park but no-one around inside. Had a couple of cans of Carling and in bed by half 10. A couple of soakings, but overall, a great day.

    Me in the hostel:

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    Day 2 to follow...
    #1
  2. ThirtyOne

    ThirtyOne I got my wings back. Supporter

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2014
    Oddometer:
    831
    Location:
    Honduras
    Great looking trip. Thanks for sharing it.
    #2
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  3. Red_Label

    Red_Label Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2017
    Oddometer:
    127
    Good stuff! Thanks for the trip report from the Big Country! (Shameless plug for my favorite band from Scotland and one of my favorite bands period.)
    #3
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  4. seaduck100

    seaduck100 You just got smoked by an old guy on a cb500x

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2009
    Oddometer:
    102
    Location:
    Samut Sakhon Th and SW Oregon
    Looks like beautiful country. You can keep the rain, good gear helps alot, and it looks like you've got good gear.

    I used to ride into work about 25 minutes each way in the dark at 0530hrs with freezing fog. It really sucked. By the time I got to work, my zipper'd frozen shut and I was pretty cold.

    Folks at the office didn't realize the balls of steel it took to ride into that shit job. They'd say "oh what do you do when it gets cold and wet?"

    I'd say, "you get cold and wet, but you get to ride." They never understood it.
    #4
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  5. Kebabmonster

    Kebabmonster Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2014
    Oddometer:
    98
    Location:
    Durham, England
    I've only recently updated some of my gear, and on this trip I'm pleased I did. When I was in Scotland with my mates in July 2017, I didn't have an oversuit, my boots were what I thought were RST Trachtech Waterproof (turns out they were just standard, not the WP version, guy at the bike show duped me when I bought them), and no waterproof gloves. And it rained then. It rained loads. And my gear leaked. I remember one day on that trip, I wouldn't have been any wetter if I'd jumped in one of the lochs...

    I'm going to give a run down of my gear and how it performed at the end of the RR, so stay tuned as they say :lurk

    Andy.
    #5
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  6. Kebabmonster

    Kebabmonster Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2014
    Oddometer:
    98
    Location:
    Durham, England
    Day 2.

    Today's planned route.

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    Whenever I've been to Scotland, I've wondered what the roads were like heading down to Campbeltown. It's a town a bit out of the way really where it's situated, and in all my previous trips, it's never been on the agenda. Well this time I decided I was going to head down there are see what the roads were about. Also, a few years ago, me, my wife, and the 2 kids stayed in a cottage in Colintraive. I'd said to my wife I'd be close to there and she said I should go and get a pic for nostalgia's sake, so that was put into the route as well. Total here was 294 miles for the day.

    Woke up at 5:20 needing the toilet, and as usual, couldn't get back to sleep. Just lay about until 6:30, then decided to get the gear together. I'd had a decent sleep, probably due to being awake so early the morning before, but the bed was comfy enough and the quilt was warm. Weather was grey and rain was spitting on, surprise, surprise.

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    I left at 8:00, fuelled up in Inveraray and bought a sandwich and a sausage roll for my dinner later. Headed through to Strachur again, and the heavy rain started. After learning from yesterday, I pulled over fairly soon at Loch Eck and and got the rainsuit on.

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    Went through Sandbanks, and got on the single track road then on to Colintraive. Still grey and not nice

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    Got to Colintraive, and the ferry was in to go to the Isle of Bute. It'll be lucky if it's 400 yards across the water.

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    That's the ramp to get off the ferry on the other side of the water

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    Got to the cottage and got the required pic

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    And this is the view you wake up to every morning (a lot nicer when the sun's out). As I said to my wife when we stayed there, I'd never tire of waking up to that every morning. I actually went fishing off the shore and caught some mackerel when we were there. Straight onto the disposable barbecue, lovely jubbly.

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    Back in the day, and better weather. Not that I would call myself a fisherman, the rod and reel were from when I used to go to the caravan at Amble in Northumberland with my parents when I was about 12 years old and dig for ragworm and lugworm on the beach then go fishing off the pier. Only caught something once :imaposer

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    From there, I turned round and headed towards Tighnabruaich. As you climb the hills, there's a stop off point where you get a great view of the Kyles of Bute.

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    There's a sign that tells you all the info of what you're looking at

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    Headed through Kames, then back up on the single track B8000, through Strachur, Inveraray and stopped for my dinner at the fuel staion at Lochgilphead. Some pics from on the way

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    Bike starting to look a bit filthy now

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    Tarbet has a nice harbour

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    From here, I went down the A83 to Campbeltown. Pretty dull road if I'm honest, plus the rain was on again. Not needing fuel, I didn't even bother stopping in Campbeltown, it was all about what the roads to and from there were like. So far, not great. The route took me back up on the single track B842. Now this is better. A few twisty bits, but more involving than the A83, and you basically follow the coast for miles.

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    Got onto the B8024 through Kilberry. This is a technical single track road that seemed to go on forever. Got back to Lochgilphead, then onto the A816 to Oban (no pics I'm afraid, just wanted to get to the digs by now). The A816 is an absolute belter of a road, definitely one of the best in the area. If you ever get the chance, get on it. I got to Oban hostel at 4:40. 300 miles done for the day, only about 50 of them without the rain falling, but my gear had held.

    The hostel at Oban is a big old stone building about 5 minutes walk from the start of the town centre. I was in a 6 bed room on the 2nd floor. Great, all my gear to lug up the stairs, no lift. Opened the door, 2 beds already made up, but no-one around. I picked the middle lower bunk. Room had a shower, and a separate toilet. Got my gear off and hung up to dry off the outsides, had a shower (that didn't have a curtain so the floor got soaked), got changed, and headed into town for food and beer.

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    It was Fish Friday at Weatherspoons in the harbour, £8.75 for fish and chips and a pint of Fosters. Cheaper than the takeaway in Inveraray!! So, for the 2nd night in a row, it was fish and chips (forgot to take a pic). I wasn't bothered as before this trip I cannot remember the last time I'd had fish and chips. It was decent, and so were the 4 pints of Fosters. The place was rammed, and it's a massive boozer.

    Now, 1 thing I'd not really thought about with solo tripping, was when you want to go get another beer or nip to the toilet and you're in a place that's really busy and people are looking for tables, are you going to come back and someone's dived in your seat? I asked the guy on the next table to keep an eye on my coat and table, and both were fine when I got back.

    Liverpool were playing Huddersfield that night. I don't support either (Newcastle fan) but I like to watch most football games. Weatherspoons don't do TV's or even music, so I had to find a place that would have the football on. Quick look on the net, Coasters was the nearest bar on my way back that had it on. Found the place, watched the first half, had 2 pints of Stellar. Got talking to a Scottish guy who's wife was from Newcastle. They'd lived down there for a good few years, but had moved back up to Oban.

    Got back to the hostel about 9:30, both dudes in the room were asleep. So I took 2 cans of Carling downstairs and sat in the dining room, nobody else in there. There were a big group of older kids in the kitchen area, and they were no bother. Turned in about 10:45, ear plugs in.

    For all it was a day with a load of rain, my gear just held, so it was another great day. Loads of technical roads, the boring A83, and the magic A816, a trip down memory lane with a visit back to the cottage, and a few pints on the night time. Great.

    Day 3 to follow.
    #6
  7. N-Id-Jim

    N-Id-Jim Long timer

    Joined:
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    1,073
    Location:
    where elephants roam
    Awaiting the rest of the story ! :)
    #7
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  8. GHanson

    GHanson Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2004
    Oddometer:
    202
    Location:
    near the Bleu Ridge
    Don't leave us hanging...
    #8
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  9. ishmac

    ishmac Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2011
    Oddometer:
    423
    Location:
    Central Scotland
    Looking forward to more photo's and ride reports...!

    I'm sure you know if you leave Oban you can take a brilliant ride to Connel, Appin and then onwards to Ballachulish, I did this route myself only last week as it's close to my door step. Loving your KLV, same as my DL1000, great bikes...!

    Ride safe.

    Best regards;
    Peter
    Central Scotland
    #9
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  10. Kebabmonster

    Kebabmonster Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2014
    Oddometer:
    98
    Location:
    Durham, England
    I'll hopefully post day 3 tomorrow afternoon when I have some time. A full day takes ages to do, I'd forgotten how much goes into doing it :rofl

    Andy
    #10
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  11. flei

    flei cycletherapist

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Western Mass.
    This is a fun report. Never been to Scotland and this report makes me really want to go. Gonna have to add it to my wish list now.
    #11
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  12. mattoid1

    mattoid1 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2010
    Oddometer:
    586
    Location:
    Nebraska
    Wonderful report, and beautiful country. I've been lucky enough to get there a couple times. My family is associated with Gilnockie's Tower near Cannonby. (I hope those are spelled correctly.)
    #12
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  13. Kebabmonster

    Kebabmonster Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2014
    Oddometer:
    98
    Location:
    Durham, England
    Day 3.

    Here's today's planned route:

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    I've ridden all of these roads before, so I knew what to expect, and I was really looking forward to today. Apologies for the bit of waffling on and lack of pics at the start here, but if you manage to trawl through it, you'll hopefully understand why.

    Woke up at 5:20 for another early morning toilet visit, and the guy who had the bed next to the window had already gone!! Bedding removed, quilt folded and put on top of the bed, gear gone, the lot. Due to having the ear plugs in, I never heard a thing, good on him for being quiet. The other guy was still asleep. As usual, I couldn't get back to sleep, so just lay about for a while hoping the other guy would wake up so I could start getting my stuff together. He had very little gear so I assumed he had a car and most of it was in there, I had almost all my gear in the room, and my oversuit, coat and trousers hanging on the pegs, and they'd dried out well.

    Well, he wakes up, says hello, puts some gear on, and left the room, I assumed for breakfast but found out later he was only having breakfast as I left. Now the room was empty, I could finally get sorted. Also got to go to the toilet with no-one in the vicinity. For me it's the downside of shared rooms with an ensuite toilet when people can hear your farts blasting out :(:(:(

    Got most of my gear packed up by the time my room mate returned. Got chatting to him, his name was Ted, and was retired doing a tour of Scotland including Mull and some of the other islands, doing hill walks and painting as he was a keen artist. Originally from Doncaster in Yorkshire, he was made redundant when he was 21, and moved down south just outside of Ascot where the work was, and stayed down there. Said he lives about 12 miles from Reading where my wife is from. He was heading down to Doncaster from Oban (I assume to see family/friends), then heading home from there. He said the weather had been great the week before, I said it's no surprise it's turned poor, I was on the bike now :lol3:lol3:lol3. Anyway, he was a nice guy, and wished me safe travels when I left.

    All ready to leave by 8:00. I'd phoned my wife and said I might cut the first part of the route heading south, and just head north from Oban as the online forecasts were for heavy rain the further south you got. As I think I've already mentioned, most of my routes have the option to chop part of it off if the weather is bad or I'm pushed for time, and the first part of today had that. As I pulled away, I decided to stick to the original route. In hindsight, a bit of a mistake. No pics this morning, just wanted to be on the road.

    About 10 minutes in, it started raining (why is the forecast always right when they predict crap weather, but always wrong when they predict good????). My Caberg Duke flip up helmet came with a pinlock visor insert fitted. Well it started steaming up on the inside, leaving me with about an inch strip at the top that I could see through. It had been ok in all the rain yesterday, so I couldn't understand why it was working itself today. Stopped to put the rain suit on, and decided I needed to sort the pinlock. I'm always wary when removing pinlock inserts cos I've snapped pins before and this time I didn't have spares. Got it removed, cleaned, and back in with no issues, phew!!

    Set away, and the rain got heavier, and the visor continued to steam up. Bollocks!!! Just after Lochgilphead on the way to Inveraray I felt the gear had started to let water in. My stomach and arse were wet :cry:cry:cry. And the rain got heavier. Again, no pics, I was losing the will to live. Got to Inveraray to fuel up, it was lashing down, and the visor issues were sending my rage off the scale. Knew I couldn't redo the pinlock as there was no cover to do it in the dry, so had to hope that now I was heading north, the weather would improve, and the misting up would stop.

    Set away from Inveraray up the A819. This is a great road, and I could see the skies getting brighter the further north I went. Rain finally stopped, and I started to enjoy it again. Got onto the A85, A828, and headed towards Fort William on the A82. All good roads.

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    I stopped at Fort William MacDonalds, large Big Tasty With Bacon meal and black coffee. Pinlock off again, fully cleaned and reseated a little higher up the visor. I think I'd set it too low when I did my on the road refit, and had created a small gap at the bottom. Hopefully this is where it needs to be. Fuelled up at Morrison's, and on my way up the A82.

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    I called in the Commando Memorial just off the A82. It also has some stunning views:

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    From there, Up the A87, a great road, and the A832, even better. Stopped at Glengarry for a couple of pics, absolutely amazing place, then called at Eilean Donan castle of Highlander fame I believe.

    Some more pics:

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    The sat nav decided to add extra waypoints to the route (or TYRE did when I planned it), so I have no idea how far I am from Ullapool. I get to Kinlochewe, and reckon I have about 30 miles to go. 1 mile later, I see a road sign, Ullapool 76 miles, WTF?!?!?! :lol3:lol3:lol3 Oh well, it's now been dry for a while, the scenery is great, and the roads are magic, I'm not too disappointed :imaposer

    There was also a sportscar club out, Lambo's, Porsches, Benley's and I think a McLaren P1. I bet they had some fun.

    A few more pics from the day:

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    Would love to live here:

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    Got to the hotel about 4:45, pretty done in after a long day.

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    Cool little clock outside:

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    I've stayed at the Caladonian Hotel before in 2017 on a bike tour with my mates. I'd booked in for 2 nights, £84 with breakfast, which I thought wasn't too bad. The single room is small, but has a toilet, shower, and TV. Bits of it were rough though. Edging broken on the worktop, and it looks like the floor around the toilet area had given way, as the toilet pan was lying on an angle. The shower must have been recently changed, and the tiles hadn't been patched where the old shower was a different shape to the new one. But, it is what it is, cheap enough for what I needed, and I like having a room to myself.

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    Brighton v Newcastle was the tea-time football game on BT Sport. I had a quick shower, changed and looked online to see where the closest pub was that'll have it on. 14 miles away!!! No way, must be wrong. Go downstairs and ask the girl on reception if she had any idea if it would be on anywhere local. She told me to try The Arch in down the street and to the right. Went there, asked the guy behind the bar if they had it on, and he said they had BT Sport, and nobody had asked for anything specific on TV, so he'd put it on. Champion. Got a table near the pool table with a good view if the TV. 1-1 final score not so great after Newcastle took the lead and looked in total control in the first half. Brighton came on strong in the 2nd half, so maybe a draw was fair.

    Got chatting to a guy from Glasgow who was up with his mates in cars for a blast around the North Coast 500. Some were from Glasgow, some from Yorkshire, and some from London (long run for those lads). Also chatting to a guy from South Yorkshire on a bike tour with his 5 mates. He was on a 2013 Bonneville.

    Had a few pints watching the match, then back to the hotel. Got a Smoky burger in the bar (no pic, sorry), and a couple more pints. Burger was really nice, chips were meh, just standard cooked frozen fare. Went back to the room, watched some of the snooker, the end of 2001 A Space Odyssey, then a black and white Kirk Douglas film about French soldiers in WWI. Asleep by about 12:00, which I didn't think was possible for how tired I felt when I pulled up at the hotel.

    So, in summary, a bad start to the day with the weather, visor, and losing the will to live. But boy did it get better after dinner. I'd gladly go through all the bollocks of the morning to have an afternoon like today. Great scenery, magic roads, own room, nice burger, a few pints, and Newcastle didn't get beat away from home. That'll do me.

    Andy.
    #13
  14. ishmac

    ishmac Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2011
    Oddometer:
    423
    Location:
    Central Scotland
    Excellent Andy...! Like anywhere, the better weather simply improves riding pleasure dramatically, it's not great/enjoyable riding in wet conditions.

    Loving that standard orange colour of your KLV (V-Strom), I haven't seen too many about for years..!

    Regards;
    Peter
    #14
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  15. Kebabmonster

    Kebabmonster Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2014
    Oddometer:
    98
    Location:
    Durham, England
    Day 4.

    This was the planned day 4 route:

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    The route was to head north from Ullapool, turn left towards Achiltibuie. On my first trip we stayed at the Port-A-Bhaigh campsite, and I never got a good photo of the Summer Isles on the road towards there, so decided I'd head back. Then it was up to Lochinver on the single track roads, then do the Drumbeg Coastal route. Up through Scourie, then turn right at Laxford bridge onto the A838 to Lairg, a road I'd never been on. Then head north through Crask Inn and Syre. Through Kinbrace, Forsinard, up to Strathy on the north coast, then Tongue, Durness, back through Scourie to Ullapool for another night at the Caladonian Hotel, a long day at 330 miles, much of it on single track, twisty roads.

    Woke up at 6:00. I felt a bit wishy-washy to be honest, a bit lifeless. My plan was to have breakfast at 7:00, then set off. But I honestly couldn't be bothered. Checked my route on Google Maps, 9 hours 37 minutes riding time!!! No thanks, decided I'd shorten it. Got it down to 7 hours 30 minutes by missing out the road through Forsinard. A bit better. Also decided I'd not bother with breakfast. At home I don't bother with breakfast unless I'm really hungry when I wake up, so for me it was no biggy.

    Plenty of bikes had arrived in the hotel car park after I parked up:

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    Got out of the room by about 8:10. Walk outside, it starts raining!!! Are you kidding me??? Turns into a comedy of errors. I get the rain suit out of the top box and start to put it on, but I leave the top box open, and things inside start to get wet. Close it, get the rain suit on and fastened, sat nav is in my coat pocket. Open the rain suit, get the sat nav out, get it fixed to the bike. I'd put my helmet on the floor, the neck area of it is now wet. FFS!!!

    Head for fuel. Loads of sportscars pull in after I'd filled up. Nissan GTR's, Audi R8's, and F-Type Jag, a Lotus, plus others.

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    At least the rain is stopping. Head north, and the pinlock starts to steam up again, but on the outside of it, not in the gap between it and the visor. This pinlock is really starting to annoy me now. Turn off the A835 and head to the place to get my pic of the Summer Isles, stopping off for the odd pic:

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    The Summer Isles:

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    And even this guy was trying to make an appearance:

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    Headed back the way I'd came, but turned off towards Lochinver, then onto the Drumbeg Coastal route:

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    Back onto the A835. This is a great road, and over the Kylesku bridge:

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    Maybe the lads in the sportscars from the fuel station have been here???

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    From there, headed north, and turned onto the A838, another single track road, but with lots of straight sections. Some cracking scenery along the way too. Rain had stopped, but low cloud still hanging around.

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    In the 15 miles I was on this road, I saw 2 parked up camper vans, and about 12 cars, 3 of them parked up. This place is remote. Pulled into Lairg for fuel, got a sandwich and some crisps for my dinner.

    More of Day 4 to follow...
    #15
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  16. B10Dave

    B10Dave Long timer

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2012
    Oddometer:
    1,890
    Location:
    Kingsmill Corner Ont.
    Nice pics Andy. Too bad about all the rain. Looks like you had great riding roads and scenery.
    #16
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  17. IslandMonkey

    IslandMonkey inselaffe

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2010
    Oddometer:
    1,011
    Location:
    Manchester, England
    Really enjoying this Andy, cheers for posting it.
    #17
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  18. Kebabmonster

    Kebabmonster Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2014
    Oddometer:
    98
    Location:
    Durham, England
    Day 4 Part II.

    So I finish my dinner, and head North from Lairg. Road turns to single track.

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    Cool footbridge

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    Turn right towards Syre, what a crap road. It's single track, but there's a strip of loose stones right down the centre of the road, meaning you really only have a 3 foot wide strip of tarmac to ride on. Could easily see someone coming to grief as this loose stuff was about 2 foot wide in places. Worst road of the whole trip. No pic, but you get the idea. Rolled through Tongue and stopped for a couple of pics

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    The road loops round the bay, and has some great vistas

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    So I loop the bay and head towards Durness. Now a little bit of background to the next bit. Over the last 2 days I've ridden a lot of single track roads. Although these have officially classed 60 mph speed limits, the reality is these hit your average speed a lot unless you're on a long straight section. There are a few of these straights, but not many. Mostly they have technical sections with tight blind turns, and some sweeper curves with varying degrees of visibility around them. On about 6 occasions I'd went into mainly tight turns and had to brake hard due to a vehicle coming the other way. Nothing major, but as there's so little traffic up there, even though you should think the opposite, you think there'll be nothing coming, but if there is you make sure you've got enough time to slow down or take action.

    So I'm about 2 miles outside of Durness, single track road, left then right sweeping bends, good visibility around most of them. You get into a rhythm, and I'm making good progress. I come to a shallow right hander that has a house to the right of it and a lot of trees. Just get into the corner, and there's an SUV coming the other way. Oh sh*t!!! Jam the anchors on, back wheel locks up, and I move to the left to avoid the car. To the left, there's an entrace road to a farm building, but it's gravel. The front wheel gets on this, and as I'm trying to now go right to get round the corner, the bike is leaned over, and the front wheel just lets go. Down I go.

    I'd managed to scrub a lot of my speed off, but was still probably doing 20-25 mph when the front went although it felt faster. Me and the bike bang into the grass verge and come to a stop. This was fairly lucky, as just beyond the verge was a 3 foot deep ditch with water in the bottom and I might have ended up in there with a 32 stone bike on top of me. So the bike is lying on my right ankle, but a quick push of the seat with my left foot managed to lift the bike just enough to pull my right foot out, and up I get. The Irish guy in the SUV had stopped and came running over to check if I was ok, he was shaking. I said I was fine, and asked if he could help me get the bike upright, which he did. Man, them DL1000's are heavy when they're lying with wheels on the verge 10 inches above the tarmac and you try to stand it up.

    So we get the bike up, and a couple from Harrogate in Yorkshire in a Ford Transit type camper van that had let me through a mile back pull up to see what had happened. The guy in the SUV checks that I'm definitely ok, I say I',m fine and send him on his way. Russ from Harrogate and his wife (didn't get her name) were absolutely great. Offered me sugary drinks and food to make sure I didn't have any after effects from the shock of coming off, but I was actually better than I ever thought I'd be considering I'd never crashed on the road before (crashed on a trackday at Cadwell Park a few years ago though).

    Russ was a biker himself, and we surveyed the damage to the KLV. To be honest, it wasn't as bad as I thought it might be. Bar end bent, hand guard scuffed, right hand body panel scraped, indicator smashed but still worked, rear brake pedal bent in and up but still worked, footpeg mounts and side engine casing scraped. The main thing was, the bike was still rideable. My boots have saved my ankle, my pants were ripped at the knee and the hip but nothing wrong with my right leg, coat had a few small holes in it but nothing major, and my right glove had a small tear in the palm. At the time I honestly had nothing worng with my any part of my body, I felt absolutely fine bar being a little bit shook up.

    So I chat with Russ and his wife for about 15 minutes, about what had happened, bikes (he has a ZX9R), football (he's a Leeds fan (they blew automatic promotion to the Premier League over the last few weeks), and they didn't want me to leave until they were certain I was ok to ride. It was a great gesture from them to a stranger, and I massively appreciated what they did for me. They suggested I went up the road about a mile and stopped at the cafe for a break and a coffee. They left, and I got my helmet and gloves back on and set away at about 50% of the confidence I'd had 30 minutes earlier.

    Some pics from the aftermath (never thought about getting a pic of the bike on the floor sorry, just wanted it back upright):

    This was just after we'd got it upright, which explains the fuzziness cos I was a bit shaky

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    And the damage:

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    The ditch is just to the left of the tufts of grass here

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    Here's the skidmark the back wheel left on the road:

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    This shows the start of the gravel and where the front wheel started to let go as you can see by the width of the track it left:

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    And this is the gravel where the front washed out. The vehicle is the camper van of Russ and his wife, obviously wasn't there when I crashed:

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    This is where I hit the verge:

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    So, I've since analysed how this happened, and no surprise, it's all my own fault.

    I never heeded the few heavy braking moments I'd had over the last 2 days when cars were coming the other way on corners, by going into them slower. This partly comes from planning too many miles in a day on these types of roads, and partly because you believe there's probably nothing coming the other way (ridiculous to think like this, but when you crawl round the first 20 corners of the day with nothing coming the other way, you eventually get quicker and quicker into corners as you think you'll never get anywhere fast otherwise). On tight corners I did go slower, but sweepers I didn't.

    I was also in the wrong position on the road. My extra riding training that I did after I passed my test taught me on a right hand bend you should be over to the left to allow you to see as far round the corner as possible. As you can see from where the skid starts, I was near the middle of the road.

    I was also unlucky. Had the entrance to the farm building had a yard's width of tarmac instead of gravel, I'd have got round the corner no problem.

    I was also lucky. I missed the car and the potential injuries that go with that. My insurance would have been hammered cos I was at fault. I didn't end up in the ditch with the bike on top of me. The bike although damaged, was still rideable. And most importantly, I wasn't seriously injured.

    As I sorted myself out to ride away, I felt my arm was getting a bit sore, but the rest of me was absolutely fine. The arm would get worse as the day went on. I rode on into Durness, but I didn't take my helper's advice of going to the cafe, I had to be back riding. I did pass them again just up the road when they'd pulled in to take some photos, and gave them a wave and thumbs up as I went past.

    More to follow, but without any drama unfortunately....
    #18
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  19. Kebabmonster

    Kebabmonster Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2014
    Oddometer:
    98
    Location:
    Durham, England
    Thanks for all the replies guys, pleased you're enjoying it.

    Day 4 Part III will be done when I get a bit more time.

    Cheers,

    Andy
    #19
    B10Dave likes this.
  20. flei

    flei cycletherapist

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2013
    Oddometer:
    8,828
    Location:
    Western Mass.
    Beautiful pictures, good concise writing and an honest assessment of your crash (all of which are things seldom seen on ADV). Sure looks like that incident could have been a lot worse! Glad you were not hurt. and the bike too.
    #20
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