Vulnerability.

15 04 2018

The plan was to ride from Old Bridge of Tilt, north until the Gaick pass, follow this to Aviemore via the north part of Glen Feshie, head east to Glenmore Lodge and climb past Ryvoan and find a kip spot in Abernethy Forest. Next morning, wake up, head past Dorback, cross the river, hopscotch up Burn o’ Brown to Tomintoul and then follow the Avon to Loch Builg, and then head west to Glen Quoich, before either popping out in Glen Derry or taking the Slugain trail down to Deeside and taking Glen Tilt back to the start.

The weather looked good, though low snow was a possibility and the river crossings could be interesting, but all the info for the larger, close rivers from the SEPA folk suggested they would be average for season.

Park in Blair Atholl, like I have done many times before and start to get the bike ready. A local resident then came over and (short version) asked me to move or she would consider phoning the Police. I was a little taken aback. She said that was her parking space on the street and I could park further up the road or find another car park somewhere (none of which permit overnight parking).

Ok then.

Rather than cause a conflict, I moved. After just over an hour of pedaling, I was about to go past the point at which I could easily turn around. Normally, that is just a little mental step and on you go. However, the encounter with the local lady had me swathed in doubt. Was where I parked going to inconvenience or anger someone else? did I miss a sign suggesting it was resident parking only? Round my head it went.

I sat for a while, pointlessly trying to pick up a mobile network so I could phone and try and settle my head but it was to no avail. Stark choice: go on and potentially worry about it all the time, or turn around, go back, and sort something out.

I knew sleep would be fragile at best anyway and suspected that the additional, though un-objctive worry about what the outcome would be of my chosen parking spot seemed to have fractured my confidence.

Perhaps the map work, GPS based calculation and environment condition work had left me in a state of high alert and this was just a small negative occurrence that tipped me out of being able to go on, or perhaps there was some underlying reason that I have not identified.

Whatever, I bailed. By the time I got back to Blair Atholl, tried to find somewhere I felt sure would be ok, enough time had slipped by that my route was going to be additionally iffy.

It was like dominos falling over and I pulled the plug on the whole escapade.

I did head up to Aviemore with a view to a much shorter loop bookended by a bivi, but by the time I’d looped the lower lying areas, my mojo was completely blown and I came home late at night.

It feels like a waste. The weather window was there. The route is a good one. The bike was dialled. For some reason, my head wasn’t.

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Finishing the job.

2 04 2018

A few weeks ago, I tried to get to Inchconnachan Island, by bike and packraft. Read about it here.

Last weekend, I tried again – this time successfully.

It taught me a lot. At times, I was a long way from the shores of Loch Lomond and I also had to cross the main ‘waterway’ for want of a better word. There are big tourist tour boats that chug up and down the Loch and there are fishing vessels and speedboats too. The wake caused by these bigger and faster boats had me a wee bit freaked out when I was a long way from land. Nevertheless, with a bit of common sense, I was able to aim the bow into the incoming waves and ride it out.

Disembarking was a bit of a mess, as well. I pulled into a rusty, messed up micro-pier and immediately whacked my (carbon) forks onto a corroded and broken old metal girder. I was concerned there would be catastrophic damage, but I got away with a couple of scrapes. Lessons need to be learned and one is ‘detailed’ manoeuvring so I can get in to tighter circumstances with less chance of damage.

Some of the islands on the Loch seem to be primed for camp outs. The isolation is nice and I can see myself heading there for a S24O if the by-laws allow. Someone was already set up on Inchconnachan, in a sheltered wee spot. We’ll see.

I did jump out on Inchconnachan, though I didn’t see any wallabies. What I did see was a depressing amount of rubbish – broken bottles and the like. I guess that is the unwelcome cost of this area being arguably Scotland’s most visited outdoor area.

It is also a long way – around 7km where I crossed – and this is hard work if you are not used to the paddling. In all I spent around 2 hours in the raft and 5 and a half pedaling. I was pretty worked over by the time I got home – remembering that I had some cheese buried in my Gas Tank (secured with a DeWidget, I might add….) was a life saver!