Cycling Scotlands Great Glen: A Wheelie Good Time

Cycling Scotlands Great Glen: A Wheelie Good Time

Conquering the Highlands on Two Wheels

I’ll admit it, when my friend Sophie first invited me to join her on a cycling adventure through the Scottish Highlands, I had my doubts. I mean, sure, I consider myself a pretty avid cyclist, but the Highlands? That sounded like a whole different beast. Little did I know, what laid in store for us was an unforgettable journey through some of the most breathtaking landscapes I’ve ever witnessed.

Preparing for the Challenge

As we began planning our trek along the Caledonian Canal and the Great Glen Way, I couldn’t help but feel a mix of excitement and trepidation. The Bicycle Adventure Club had warned us about the “crunchy, lumpy, and bumpy” terrain, not to mention the grueling 5,000 meters of elevation gain. But Sophie and I were determined to tackle this challenge head-on.

In the weeks leading up to our adventure, we trained relentlessly, pushing our bodies to the limit. I even managed to squeeze in a ride on the Dirty Reiver, just to get a taste of the rugged conditions we were about to face. And as the departure date drew closer, the excitement started to build.

Setting out on the Great Glen

The first day of our journey was supposed to be a relatively straightforward 70-kilometer ride from Inverness to Fort Augustus. But as the Bicycle Adventure Club had warned, things never go as planned in the Highlands. After just 34 kilometers and 624 meters of elevation gain, we found ourselves in Drumnadrochit, utterly exhausted. The climb out of the town was a grueling 5-kilometer slog, and I just didn’t have the energy to push on.

As I lay there, wallowing in disappointment, Sophie was the voice of reason. “Let’s regroup and tackle this another way,” she said, her ever-positive attitude shining through. And so, we regrouped in Fort Augustus, refueled, and decided to follow the Caledonian Canal and the Great Glen Way instead, catching the train to Loch Lomond and cycling into Glasgow from there.

Embracing the Journey

The revised route turned out to be an absolute delight. We glided along the Caledonian Canal, taking in the stunning scenery and enjoying each other’s company. The Great Glen Way presented its own set of challenges, with technical terrain and breathtaking vistas around every corner, but we tackled it with renewed vigor and determination.

As we neared Glasgow, however, fate had one more trick up its sleeve. On a wet boardwalk, my rear wheel slid out, and I found myself crashing to the ground at 11 kilometers per hour. I felt my chest compress, and my helmet crumple, and I knew instantly that I had broken a rib. But even then, Sophie was there, calmly untangling me from my bike and helping me to the nearest train station.

A Bittersweet Ending

Despite the setback, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of pride and accomplishment. We may not have conquered the entire Badger Divide, but we had faced the challenges of the Highlands head-on, and come out stronger for it. And as I watched the video of our journey, I couldn’t help but smile at the memories we had created.

Sure, there were moments of disappointment and exhaustion, but there were also countless laughs, unforgettable experiences, and a deepening of the bond between two friends. And as I look to the future, I know that one day, Sophie and I will return to Glasgow, ride those last 20 miles, and celebrate our achievement in style.

After all, that’s the beauty of cycling in the Highlands – it’s not just about the destination, but the journey itself. And with the Loch Ness Shores campsite as our basecamp, we’ll have the perfect place to recharge our batteries and plan our next adventure.

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