After excellent hospitality in Tayport, we set off just after 9.00am towards Dundee, in spetacular brilliant sunshine. Crossing the Tay Bridge, the Tay estuary looked particularly beautiful, particularly with the backdrop of the Braes of the Carse behind it.

The bridge itself offers a descent for about 2 miles, and the traffic was comparatively light. Once in Dundee, it’s relatively easy to scoot off the bridge and round past the rail station and Discovery Point, then onwards into countryside through Invergowrie to Kingoodie.

We were held up by level crossing barriers at Longforgan rail station. While exchanging banter with the man from the signal box, what did we see but the unmistakeable visage of Lionel pop up from behind a roof under repair (Lionel was a member of the Dundee Thistle cycling club when we lived in Dundee a decade ago). After pausing to chat for a bit, we pressed on through Longforgan and up through Knapp, and over the Sidlaws.

By this time the sun was high and the temperature was exceeding 25oC.  We also had the first hints of cranky gear changes that would prove a problem when we were in Ardnamurchan later on.  After some steep climbing up into the Sidlaws, it was something of a relief to have a nice cooling descent as we rode on towards Dunkeld. Apart from a few stretches of road repairs, this was pretty straightforward. Dunkeld, however, was apparently overrun with what looked like retired people, and was rather alarming to negotiate.  We’d arranged to visit Fred, an old friend from when we lived in Dundee, who was now living in a very wee village a bit north of Dunkeld.  We found his house quite easily, despite the renaming of cycle route 77 to route 83. This section of cycle route is a bit iffy at times – while the first section out of Dunkeld comprises relatively quiet roads (albeit of quite steep graient at times), later on, it becomes a footpath-like bit of tarmac, overhung with low branches.   On the other hand, it’s a fair bit better than riding up the A9 – a major trunk road.

Once there, we spent a very enjoyable hour and a half catching up with our lives, and eating a very good lunch of salad, baguettes and humus…oh, and admiring his new Cannondale tandem. From Fred’s place, it was a short ride to Ballinluig, and then on to Aberfeldy, where we decided to stop for the day. After a pint – a very excellent Wayfarer IPA (distinct elderflower overtones), we had fish and chips before returning to the B&B.

We reviewed the plan for day two, deciding to just play it by ear to see how far we got to Oban. Whatever the outcome, it seemed likely we’d get to Mull on Wednesday.

52.25 miles; 10.6mph ave; 28.9mph max; 4:55:01

View a map of 2009 tour, day 1