There are a couple little issues that first need to be addressed on the differences between the Scottish Highlands and the U.S.
First of all, the weather predictions. For instance:
- Prediction: Partly sunny
- Interpretation: Cold, cloudy and windy with perhaps the sun appearing between 5 and 10 minutes for the day, usually after the ride is done.
- Prediction: Cloudy with no rain
- Interpretation: Cold and cloudy with hellacious headwinds
- Prediction: Clouds with periods of rain
- Interpretation: Cold with torrential downpours to keep all cyclists off their bikes and hiding in the local whiskey distilleries.
Given these adversities, 24 brave hearted bicyclists dared to conquer the elements and experience the absolute beauty and culture that is the Scottish Highlands. We came from all corners of the U.S. to meet in Pitlochry to begin our Highland journey and for many of us, it was a continuation from the Lochs and Glens Scotland ride just completed.
The first ride was a loop ride around Loch Tumnel. Some of us were using this day as a rest day instead and chose to check out Blair Castle in Atholl. That evening, there was a local highlands music festival where I hear some of our crew followed a parade to the grounds where the music was to continue. Then off to Kingussie (pronounced Keen goosie), followed by the big town of Inverness. There we had the option of riding out to Loch Ness to see the famous Nessie. The next day we had a part train and part bicycle ride journey to Kyle of Lochalsh to get ready for our travels to the Isle of Skye. Wearing our pull-on arms, legs, helmet covers, shoe covers and rain gear, we pedaled on over the bridge and were then in Skye.
In the northern part of Skye we stayed in Portree and explored by bicycle, by foot and by bus. Our daily meetings were held at ‘The Isles’ pub. We then biked to Ardvasar in the southern part of the island. Finally, we ferried and bicycled to Fort William back on the Scottish mainland which also was the final location for our tour.
Our tour had breathtaking vistas, rolling hills, windswept moors and greenest of the green pastures dotted with black faced sheep and long haired highland cows.
However, make no mistake, the tour also had some challenging rides with steep grades and strong headwinds, and of course, the rain and the midges.
To sum it up: Castles, beautiful vistas, black faced sheep, long haired cows, fairy lands, waterfalls, rugged coastlines, amazing rock formations and lush green pastures, rolling hills, steep grades, headwinds, tailwinds, tweeds, whiskies, ferries, very friendly people, cautious drivers (mostly), Gaelic names and signs, awesome meals, haggis, the especially loved sticky toffee pudding, and a history that seems to go back forever. This was a very unique and awesome place for a very unique bicycling experience again brought to you by the BAC and Iron Donkey team.