Once again, we woke to a rainy scene outside our window, but today we planned to ride 26 miles from Fort William to Invergarry, so we couldn’t avoid it any longer. The six of us stuffed ourselves with the traditional Scottish breakfast then separated our things we would carry for the ride from the rest of our belongings which would be transferred to the next B&B by van and finally saddled up to start the first leg of our 79 mile journey.
The first crash of the trip occurred even before we exited the parking lot where the car was left. The suspect was Ian, whose over-excitement may have been a contributing factor.
As we pedaled out of Fort William, we rolled through puddles, through fields of grazing sheep, past the Jacobite Steam Train (Hogwarts Express!), and the sky spit only small amounts of rain at us.
Not much later the village roads and sheep trails gave way to a canal path which allowed for steady progress.
Ian’s seat was pretty low and he seemed to dislike high gears, so in order to go fast his little legs spun at breakneck speed. Also, since he’s such a tall, skinny kid, his bike shorts showed a lot of leg!
The highlight of the canal path was Neptune’s Staircase, a series of canal locks to raise the water level more than 50 feet. Later on, we found more single track trails, which led to the shore of Loch Lochy (what a clever name!). On one of the first loose downhill sections, Ian’s front tire slipped out from under him, and he suffered a handlebar to the stomach.
Fortunately, there was no major damage… he splashed some cold Lochy water on it, had some snacks, and seemed no worse for the wear. Corey shared his desire to swim in all the lochs we rode past, and the sun was shining, so he went right in. I didn’t want him to be the only one, though, so I followed suit shortly afterwards.
The immediate post-lunch riding was some of my favorite, with a short section of what we dubbed The Mossy Forest, followed by a long stretch of rolling single track on the Loch shore which was beautiful, especially with sunny skies.
The rest of the days ride was on a dirt road up above the Loch, meaning there was some significant climbing involved.
We stumbled upon a rock pile which provided some entertainment and photo opportunities, but at the same time we had our first encounter with the infamous Midgies (small, biting flies).
Another big climb was the nail in the coffin for our group, made especially difficult by some sections of rip rap.
After one last downhill and a quick bit of road we arrived at our B&B for the night, the Glen Albyn Lodge.
Five out of six of us enjoyed a hot tub soak before a dinner of salmon and vegetables then we all shared stories from the day and hit the hay.
Overall it was a long day but the weather was turned out to be very nice. I think we all slept well and were looking forward to a short but sweet 8 mile day tomorrow.