Cycle Scotland, Loch Ness – Inverness to Fort Augustus, 36.33 miles.

Nick, a colleague from MSRC, and I decided to attempt a ride from Inverness down to Spean Bridge. As it turns out, we only made it 2/3 of the way before Nick’s chain snapped! However, we did get to have lunch at scenic Loch Ness. Anyway, on to the ride!

GPS Log via MotionBased: http://trail.motionbased.com/trail/episode/view.mb?episodePk.pkValue=830171
Nick and I started the day at Inverness, after a 3.5 hour train ride up. Initially we were worried that we wouldn’t be able to get the bikes on the train, as the guy at the ticket counter said the racks were all full. But there was no problem… we just arrived early, got our bikes on, and nobody came to boot ’em off!

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We took a bit of a scenic route out of Inverness, but eventually found B862, the Loch Ness Loop. We got drenched in Inverness, but then the sun came out and dried us off. It was quite scenic, although we were sure the loch was “just over there” and couldn’t wait to see it. We did however see a number of covs, who all stopped to look at us.

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Trucking down a bit, we came to the town of Dores, and there it was – Loch Ness! And you can see how big it is… or rather, you can’t! It’s narrow and just goes into the distance. It’s actually about the size of Lake Washington — only about 20 or so miles long. Just with some cooler scenery and a monster.

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There’s a nice stop for lunch right at the top of the loch at Dores, the Dores Inn. It has a nice outdoor patio for eating, and we decided to chance it as the sun was out. Here’s Nick and I posing at the loch:

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Here’s another shot of me a little later at a scenic view… we’re a few miles down the loch, and still can’t see the end from the mist and rain… mostly rain, as we were about to find out!

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The road leaves the side of Loch Ness about the town of Foyers, and sadly that was the last we saw of it. However, we did see the Falls of Foyers, which I thought were quite spectacular!

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We then started to go up a fairly steep uphill section… and saw some gorgeous scenery. Something which doesn’t come out as well in the picture were the silver rocks — the sun had come out and was reflecting on several wet rocks on the other side of the glen. But it’s still a pretty picture.

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For example, some more falls. I’m still trying to figure out where the water is coming from — there’s a lot of it, and there doesn’t seem to be any snowpack left on the mountain!

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There’s also a scenic guide to the area we came at… this was at the 20 mile point or so.

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We proceeded cash out our uphill and bombed downhill… halfway down, we found Loch Tariff, which was looking quite scenic in the sun.

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We’ll now stop the photo journal and dive into the bit of catastrophe. At Fort Augustus, as we were determining whether to take the A82 to Spean Bridge to ensure we made the train, Nick’s chain snapped. Bad luck… especially as he had already had a flat. Now, while Peter at Cycle Scotland had furnished us with a spare tube, we didn’t have a chain tool… d’oh! So we ended up at this Gulf petrol station to try and figure out what to do. Plan A was to take a bus, and the woman at the station was sure that the coach could store bikes in the luggage compartments under the seats. Turns out they don’t carry bikes. D’oh! Now we’re getting panicked, as it’s 6:30 and we need to get 20 miles to Spean Bridge in an hour and a half. We eventually get a hold of a cab in Fort William, about 40 minutes away. They’ll come and get us, and hopefully we can make it to the train in time. Along the way we also talked to Peter, who told us to lock the bikes up somewhere safe and make an issue of them — that was at least generous of him. So the gas station manager agreed to store the bikes in her propane storage area, which is a locked area behind the station. The cab arrived at 7:55… no way we were going to make the 8:00 train. So, we called ScotRail to find out what times other trains were leaving for Edinburgh… and since it was Sunday tomorrow, what times the Sunday trains ride.
Well, to make a long story short, we weren’t going to get in to Edinburgh before 1:30 if we took a train. And we were pretty sure our flights to Cambridge were right around there. So, we ended up taking the cab down to Edinburgh, for 200 quid with a 40 tip for the guy who was going to have to head on back on the 3 hour drive. Oof… a bit more expensive of a bike ride than we had thought!
But hey, at least we did get to see Loch Ness! And I did burn 3900 calories in doing it… so a pound gone isn’t bad, especially considering what I’d been eating and drinking during the week!

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