Tuesday, 18 June 2013

On a dodgy tire

I got up early yesterday and successfully caught the early ferry to Kinloach. After I paid for my ticket, I realised I'd forgotten to return my hostel room key. As the hostel was only a stone's throw from the ferry terminal in Tobermory, I asked one of the ferry employees if he would be so kind as to hand it back after the return trip. He accepted readily.

The road out of Kinloach was a long climb punctuated by working Land Rovers belonging to the Ardnancham Estates with border collies in the back. A few times, a pair of them heading in opposite directions would stop at a passing place for a confab. I was reminded of a passage from one of the Wingfield plays which described the situation as meaning "the meeting is called to order." There was also a considerable herd of red deer stags, along the wild and woolly road. (Yes, there were also sheep.)

A number of the hamlets along the single track road seemed to surrounded by deer proof fencing and deer grates. I wonder if North Hatley might benefit from this idea. ;-)

A little after Salen, I had a flat on my rear tire. Investigating the cause, I noticed there was a tear or near tear in the side wall quite close to the bead and approximately at the location of the hole in the inner tube. This is the same tire that gave me grief in Australia, and one I suspect has manufacturing issues, as the front one hasn't given me any problems. I put a tire boot over the problem area and put I a new inner tube. This seemed to work in that I didn't have another flat but going down a hill, I could feel Leonardo wasn't rolling as smoothly as he should. In short, I lost confidence in that tire.

I rolled on a bit gingerly in sunshine so warm I stripped to bike shorts and a short sleeved jersey. I stopped for a lunch of cullen skink in Glenuig where a couple of cyclists had the same idea. We chatted a fair bit, before they left ahead of me. Once I finished my smoked haddock and potato soup, I rolled on beside the gorgeous Loch Ailort.
On account of the dodgy tire, I contemplated catching a train to Mallaig from Polnish. So I looked in at an unstaffed station. As I would have had to wait a couple of hours, I gave it a miss. Besides, I'd just joined the A830 which has recently been done up a treat thanks to EU funds.

Beside the road was a cairn marking the spot from whence Bonnie Prince Charlie hightailed it off to France. Grandpa was of the opinion that BPC was a bloody fool. Having studied Scottish history, I am inclined to agree. You can call me a Whig.

Mallaig is fairly compact so finding my hostel should have been easier. However it wasn't. I think they should look into advertising.

More predictably but also annoyingly, Mallaig didn't have a bike shop. A little Interneting revealed a bike hire place that did repairs in Broadford on Skye and proper bike shops in Fort William.  Today was supposed to be a rest day with only a ferry boat ride to Skye and a 16 mile ride to Broadford. Looking into ferry and train schedules, I worked out I would able to take train to Fort William, buy a tire and get back to Mallaig in time for a ferry to Skye.

Owing to issues with ScotRail's bike policies, I left Leonardo and several bags in Mallaig before catching the train on the utterly spectacular West Highland Line. I chatted most of the way with a Glaswegian cyclist on his way home.

In Fort William, began my search at the handy Alpine Bikes store. Unfortunately, they are mostly mostly concerned with mountain bikes and were sold out of tires of a suitable size. They pointed me in the direction of Nevis Cycles a mile or so up the road. As time was a trifle short, I phoned ahead to confirm the presence of tires, then caught a cab. The chap at shop had anticipated my arrival and had a suitable tire out for my perusal. It met my specifications with ease so after buying it and a replacement inner tube, I made my way back to the train station and caught the train back to Mallaig.

I gathered up Leonardo and my bags before heading to the ferry terminal where I could find open space to make the tire swap. When I examined the old tire, having removed the tire boot, I found that there was a distinct hole very near the bead. I therefore very glad I now have a new tire.

I took the ferry to Armadale. Some twit in a Peugeot estate wagon left their alarm on. The motion of the ferry kept setting it off. Had I a brick, I'd have heaved it into his windshield.

The road to Broadford took me up over some windswept moors. The old road ran along side the current one. A man was road skiing along accompanied by a black dog.

As I neared to Broadford, I saw the lights of a police car and a police officer in a high-viz vest standing in the road. Thankfully, all it was was that there was a car commercial being filmed (possibly for Porsche) and the road was being temporarily close off. After less time than it took to pull on my soft shell jacket, it was over and I could ride on to Broadford.

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