|View from Pass of Drumochter|
Today we climbed over "one of the highest and most barren passes in Scotland" according to the NCN map - the Pass of Drumochter rising to just over 1500 feet. We had two punctures in the rear tire right at the top, as well as a blown inner tube after one of the repairs, and another puncture in the front tire on the descent! Remember we rotated the tires yesterday? Now the flats were often occurring in the rear, whereas before they had been in the front. We decided to be more systematic, and replace the tire and tube in the same orientation on the wheel, and found the puncture in the inner tube at the same place as a cut in the tire. We had probed this cut over and over again, and failed to find anything, but using a sewing needle from her bag of goodies this time Lynn eventually found the piece of glass that had been causing us so many problems. We now think that this is what had caused many of our flat tires, since Day 9 when we had those two flat tires going into Nantwich, or maybe even before.
The day started out with a nice ride from Dunkeld to Pitlochry on an unused road parallel to the A9, but far enough away that the A road was unseen. We had one rain shower, then the weather improved. Pitlochry was a bit too touristy. It started to rain quite heavily again, so we waited it out in a bus shelter. Another shower pushed us to have lunch at the Old Mill in Blair Atholl. The home baked bread there was scrumptious.
The climb to the Drumochter Pass was on a mixture of back roads, parts of the old A9 now replaced with some parts gated so that only cyclists can use it, and specially constructed cycle path right next to the A9. The latter wasn't really very pleasant for cycling: the surface was gritty and there was some broken glass from motorists chucking bottles out of the window, and it was noisy from the road. But I suppose it was better than cycling on the A9 itself. The climb was so gentle that it was almost unnoticeable. The scenery was indeed barren. It was right near the top that we had all the flat tires, and it took considerable time to unload the bike, get the rear wheel off, find the holes and repair them, and replace the wheel. But at least it did not rain on us!
The glide down in patchy sunshine through the heather covered moorland was lovely (except for the additional flat in the front tire). We decided to stop at Kingussie, rather than going an additional 10 miles to Aviemore as we had planned, because we didn't think our enthusiasm would survive any more problems that day! Kingussie has several bed and breakfasts in large Victorian houses. We chose, randomly the Arden House which was excellent, and had a good dinner of trout or beef at the Tipsy Laird restaurant.
Route and more pictures
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