This was a really warm and sunny day, and was forecast to be like this all day. I’d planned quite a long ride, encompassing climbs over Schiehallion and Ben Lawers, scenic rides on the Foss road and up Glen Lyon. In total this came to about 75 miles, and in the event brought with it some excitement!
We set off quite early, and negotiated our way to the Foss road. Annoyingly (since this is a road that would particularly appeal to cyclists), it seems one has to venture onto the A9 to get there. After the A9, the road rolls up and down before running alongside Loch Tummel. The loch was particularly still, and offered near-perfect reflections of the other bank. It was particularly idyllic, with the sounds of birds and livestock among dappled shade and lushly green meadows and trees.
Shortly after reaching Foss, we joined the road that winds its way over the side of Schiehallion – a lovely climb. Reaching the top, we paused for a snack bar and a drink before descending. At the bottom, we took the turn to Fortingall, where we stopped to look at the famous Fortingall yew.
From Fortingall we pressed on up Glen Lyon. Here we saw a couple of red squirrels. The road up Glen Lyon is quite severely undulating, and I was sustained by memories of the tea room at Bridge of Balgie – memories disputed by Carol. However the tea room did exist, and we tucked in to scones with jam and cream, washed down with tea. We also bought a bottle of chocolate milk, which will assume significance later.
From Bridge of Balgie, a little single track road ascends Ben Lawers – a delightful climb, and passing motorists helpfully used passing places appropriately (except twerp in a delivery van that occupied more than the width of the road). The descent to Loch Tay was rather steeper, and I had to brake rather a lot. This had disastrous consequences just as we were reaching Loch Tay. The front tyre decided to explode, presumably from braking heat. Somehow I managed to stay upright and bring the tandem to a stop (not easy with the front rim running on Tarmac). I set about repairs. The rim was far too hot to touch, so we shared the chocolate milk before starting. The tyre was quite badly shredded, with bad damage to the bead. I booted the worst section with a small piece of tyre carried for the purpose, but had to leave the other. With the tyre only pumped up soft, we pressed on, nervously. At this point, we had about 30 miles to go.
A few miles down the road, we stopped at Fearnan to see how the tyre was getting on. It was developing an alarming bulge. We scratched our heads for a while, considering how best to keep the show on the road. Eventually I remembered the now-empty choco-milk bottle. We cut a section, and used that as am enormous tyre boot.
From Fearnan, we had a pretty uneventful ride via Kenmore to Aberfeldy, where we stopped for a quick drink. The tyre was bulging alarmingly. On to Logierait, where we rested briefly before joining Cycle Route 7 to Pitlochry for the last 4 or 5 miles back to Pitlochry.
Beer this evening was very well-earned, as was the curry!
Tomorrow we’ll see about getting a new tyre…