Tuesday, April 12, 2016

First trip of the year 2016. First trip on the Africa Twin.

OK, I'm usually more than happy to share online the places we go on our bike trips, but this time I'm going to have to keep a wee secret. The original plan of going back to Colonsay on Honda Cubs was put on hold as one of the bikes wasn't ready yet, so alternative plans were made for a trip on our big bikes. Ferg, Bob, Egor and I were all going to meet at Kinloch Hourn for some wild camping but at the last minute I received a message from Egor saying the weather forecast had changed for the worse. Now, living in Scotland means you have to check where you're getting your forecast from as some seem to be far more reliable than others. Unfortunately they were all pointing to it pishing doon with rain, not the best weather when you're wild camping. A few years ago I was told about a bothy that can be accessed by bike. I was reminded about it again not long before the trip. I spoke to everyone telling them about the shite weather and suggesting the bothy. Everyone was up for it. Maps and directions were passed out and I asked everyone to bring fuel for the fire and absolutely stressed the importance of bringing toilet roll. All that was left to sort out was my bike.
I had the panniers for the Africa Twin but no frames or rails to mount them to the bike. I had told Touratech UK that I had needed the pannier rails for the beginning of April as we were planning a trip and at the end of March they we're still no where near able to give me a date for delivery. Credit where credit's due though, they posted me their prototype pannier rails to borrow till mine arrived. Mounting the rails wasn't as straight forwards as on other bikes, you need a 20mm hole saw to cut through the underside plastics of the bike. Once this was done the rails were pretty straight forwards to fit, not quite the "child's play" it quotes you on Touratech's website mind. You need to make sure you don't catch any cables while drilling a couple of big holes in your brand new, very expensive bike.
With the bike sorted I gave my new tent a quick check through. Everything was there that should be. I've replaced my old Vango Equinox 250 with the similar Vango Pulsar 300. The tent along with all my other gear was loaded on the bike and I was ready to go. I met Bob and we set off. I had planned to follow an interesting route that would take us five hours or so but with the rain pissing down we cut it back a bit. We blasted up to Crieff then over to Aberfeldy where we stopped to stock up on food, drink, bog roll and fuel for the bothy's fire. From there it was on to a popular cafe for a fry up. While we were filling our faces I got a phone call from Ferg. Him and Egor were already at the bothy. All was good but Ferg had failed to get anything to burn or anything to drink. My panniers and tankbag were full but Bob thought he could squeeze some tins into his bike, so we set off to find a shop. With supplies for the three of us on both bikes we set off for the bothy. If you recognise where the bothy is keep it a secret, no one wants it turning into a party palace or getting wrecked. The last bit of road to the bothy is a dirt road. It's a bit tight getting onto it, I was unsure of how wide the Africa Twin's boxes were but once on the track we were sorted. The bothy was great. There's a few couches in there so sitting round the fire was nice and comfy. We set our camping mats and sleeping bags upstairs and cooked our food on the camping stoves. We got the coal on the fire and gathered some fallen wood from the woods nearby. It got dark around 8. We'd brought a pile of candles up with us which were lit and put in the various holders around the bothy's room. It was a cloudy night so when we went outside it was dark. As in pitch black. The light from my headtorch seemed to be absorbed into nothing making my fears of murderers/dead people/ghosts all the more real when I ventured out for a shite. Luckily this fear was quickly extinguished by Bob demonstrating his retna burning auxiliary lights he's fitted to his GS. Deadly dark night was transformed into a sunny summer afternoon giving me a clear view of Egor crimping off a turd by a rock over the road from me. Beautiful.

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The Secret Bothy. If you know where it is keep the secret to yourself.

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View from the bothy's front door.


The evening in the bothy was a great laugh, talking shite and sitting around the fire with a couple of beers. Egor, Ferg and I all slept upstairs with our camping kit while Bob crashed on the couch by the fire. We warned him about murderers and zombies but he wasn't phased. We cleaned our rubbish up and had our breakfast. The rain hadn't let up but we'd dried most of our kit off with the bothy's rack. Bikes were repacked and we headed out for another soaking with the plan to stay at Kilchoan. We fuelled up at Fort William and Bob and I tried to convince Ferg and Egor that we should get some Big Macs at McDonalds. Luckily Maccy Dees was closed in Fort William so we pushed on to the cafe at Strontian. By the time we arrived we were all soaked. As we ate our food a wee pond appeared on the floor below us. It was still pissing down too so we decided to see if Tim at Sunart Campsite had any of his huts free. A bit more conversation and we decided that even if there wasn't any huts free we'd stay at Tim's. He has a wee room with a woodburning stove in it so we knew we could dry off all out wet gear. My jacket and trousers were fine but my boots had began to let in and my gloves were soaked. Time and time again Sunart Campsite has saved our arses from bad weather. If you are ever on a bike around Central Scotland and it turns wet (keep in mind Fort William is the one of the wettest places in Scotland) then Tim's place will sort you out. Luckily Tim had not one but two huts free. Brilliant. We barbecued a load of sausages for dinner then headed to the pub for a pint and to get some wifi to check the weather forecast.

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Bob cooking up at Sunart Camping 

As predicted by XC Weather it started to brighten up the next day. Ferg and I said our goodbyes to Egor and Bob. Bob had caught a cold and Egor had to go back for work. We set off towards Kilchoan but only a few miles in Ferg started beeping his horn and waving for me to stop. His GS had blown a fork seal so a makeshift sanitary towel was fabricated out of some old tissues and some cable ties. While Ferg was sorting all this out we could hear somebody ragging along the road like their balls were on fire. Bob had decided that he couldn't be arsed riding home, turned back and set off after us at warp speed. Reunited the three of us rode along the road to Kilchoan at the end of the Ardnamurchan Peninsula. It's only about thirty miles from Strontian to Kilchoan but it can take well over an hour to navigate the road as it snakes along the side of Loch Sunart then up and over the hills to Kilchoan. It's worth taking your time along here anyway as the scenery is stunning, the roadside birch trees giving way to great coastal views the further west you go. Once at Kilchoan we boarded the ferry to Tobermory on the Isle of Mull, a bargain at just over a fiver for the bike and rider.
Bob and Ferg spent the ferry crossing laughing at how the Africa Twin swayed with the rocking of the boat on its supreme plush suspension and Ferg and I cleared the air over a wee niggle that had been pestering us over the past wee while. I'm guilty of being a bit over enthusiastic about bike stuff, it's pretty much all I really do, where as Ferg has hobbies and interests coming out his ears. I had been pestering Ferg to commit or not to various trips while he had loads of stuff to deal with in his own life. He in return had said that I was acting like a child about life in general. What we both realised that everything was all good and that everyone has different lifestyles. Not everyone wants to spend all their time or money riding bikes or decorating houses but that's OK. You're only here once so it's important to do what makes you happy while letting other folk get on with what they want to do.
Once in Tobermory  it was a short trip along the main street to the Chippy van for some quality fish and chips. Bob was feeling a bit crap with his cold and Ferg wanted a coffee. While they done that I went for a spin round the island. the weather had transformed into a proper summers day. It was warm and I was even sweating a wee bit as I rode out of Tobermory heading To Dervaig then on to check out Calgary Bay where we'd be camping that evening. As the road climbed steeply out of Tobermory and the Africa Twin came alive. What a fucking road! Flying along the side of Loch Peallach the Africa Twin gave me great confidence. The rough road was smoothed out by the long travel suspension, the weight of the luggage easily balanced by a few clicks of the rear shock's adjustments. The front end remained positive on loose gravel and when the bike did move it felt balanced and predictable, no rabbit's nose style arse twitching at all. Then you get to the Dervaig Hairpins. Like Renton in Trainspotting this is good. Reeeeally fuuuucking goooood. Proper alpine like switchbacks. Sure the Bealach Na Ba has hairpins but not like this. I don't know if the road had been recently resurfaced or not but it was smooth as Slappy's heid and flowed so well. Like all big traillies the Africa Twin was a pendulum on the switchbacks and I really would not have wanted to be on any other bike. All this in only twelve miles. I'd forgotten how good Mull is.
Calgary Bay is just a few miles around a flatter road from Dervaig. The wild camping spot is beside the public toilets. There were a few other folk there but still plenty room for our three tents. Campsite inspected I carried on round the coast to Salen. This is a much tighter, steeper road than the Tobermory to Dervaig stretch but you get great view of Mull and over to Coll and Tiree. 
Back in Tobermory I met Ferg and Bob banging on at them about how good the road was. We got supplies in and headed off once more over the Dervaig hairpins. The good weather stayed with us at Calagary till well after dark. We got a fire going and shot the shit before some heavy drizzle drove us into our tents.

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Fixing Ferg's fork seal.

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Ardnamurchan Views

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Dervaig Hairpins

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Calgary Bay

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It was a short ride to our destination for our final night. We packed up at Calgary and headed round the coast to Tobermory stopping for a few more photos. We had booked into the Youth Hostel in Tobermory and I was dying to get in for a shower. I was pretty ripe after the previous warm day. We headed for cake and coffee at the cafe Bob and Ferg had visited the day before. I then headed along to the Hostel where the VFR riding guy who worked there (Sorry mate, I can't remember your name, Matthew maybe?) let us in early to drop out gear off and get cleaned up. Bob got a kip and a shower while Ferg went shopping and I met the famous Tobermory Cat in the Hostel who followed me up the street as I took some photos and grabbed a pint in The Mishnish pub. Ferg was soon to join me in the Mish followed shortly by Bob. What followed was a very good but quite messy night out.

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Tobermory Cat with the multi coloured Mishnish in the backgroud.

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Steamin.

We were all woken with severe hangovers. A fry up was sourced at the local bakery and we hung around for several hours until we were all OK to ride home. Bob and I took an easy run down the road saying our goodbyes to Ferg at the Corran Ferry where he headed north and we headed south. The Africa Twin gave me 200 miles to the tank even with luggage and camping gear strapped to the back.I found it to be comfy for a long journey with plenty wind protection. I did miss the BMW's cylinder heads poking out keeping my feet warm but I'm due new boots anyways. All in I'm really happy with how the Africa Twin performed over this wee trip and I can't wait to get away again next month when we head to Orkney.

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And mind, if ye recognise that bothy, keep it a secret.

Mike.

















Monday, April 11, 2016

Africa Twin. Running in and pimping out.

Honda CRF1000l Africa Twin

There's a lot of shite written in the internet about running a bike in. Ride it hard once its warm, only use so much throttle, only take it to whatever number of revs etc etc. What I do is try and go on a few runs on twisty roads without revving the arse off the bike but making sure I'm not labouring the engine either. When I picked up the Africa Twin I booked it in for it's 600 mile service 3 weeks later. 600 miles in three weeks? Easy peasy. Or it would have been if the temperature hadn't dropped making the gritters come out and cover the road in salt. A few heavy downpours washed all the corrosive badness away and I got out for a few nice runs.

Honda CRF1000l Africa Twin

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I've also ordered a few accessories for the bike. I've got the Touratech luggage rack and tankbag and panniers. I'm still waiting for delivery of the crash bars and pannier rails, this is a bit of a pain in the arse as I had a trip planned for the start of April and having pre-ordered my stuff in January I was sort of expecting it to be here by now. credit where credit's due though, Touratech UK gave me a loan of their prototype pannier rails so I made the trip, but I'll write about that all later on.
Accessories haven't been the only stumbling block. The Honda heated grips are crap and my left hand switch gear had a button pack in. Honda are on these problems though, the bike's getting new switchgear shortly and we're waiting to hear back about the heated grips. This aside the bike had been great fun, I'm getting more used to chucking it about and I've made a few minor adjustments to the suspension. It's more than quick enough for what I need and pretty comfy on a long journey. I'll let you know how I got on with it loaded with luggage and camping gear but so far I'm a happy bunny.

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More soon.


Mike

Friday, February 5, 2016

The CRF1000l. Honda's new Africa Twin

I've been reading about Honda's new incarnation of the Africa Twin for a while. There has been loads of speculation about what it will and wont be by loads of different riders. On my part I thought it would have a similar build to an XT660 but with the bigger 1000cc engine. Well a couple of weeks back I heard that Two Wheels, my local Honda dealer had one in, so Faithir and I went up for a look. The bike was out on test when we arrived but we did bump into Smillie. he'd came up to see the Africa Twin too.
After a while the bike pulled up and I went out to see it. I was surprised. It looked much better than I had thought it would. The brakes and suspension looked good quality and even in the low light and covered in road grime the bike looked well finished. I had a seat on it as Faithir and Smillie wandered out for a look. picking it up the bike felt light in comparison to my GS. Really light. The riding position felt good and we experimented by taking each other pillion. Again the bike felt good with plenty room. Ok. I'll arrange a test ride.

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Smillie enjoys his seat on the new Honda.

My test ride was for a week or so after we'd first seen the bike. I spent the week reading other people opinions on the bike, especially those who compared it to the GS. There was a fair few folk saying how the bike is underpowered, it may feel light but it's no feather weight. Full of fluids the bike weighs in at about 230 kilos. With "only" 94bhp folk were concerned. 
I rode up on my GS so I could compare them back to back. Starting up the Africa Twin there s a wee bark, the bike sounds OK but not amazing. I pull away from the shop noticing the low down grunt, the bike pulls from fuck all and that light weight drops even lower when the bikes moving. Carving through Edinburgh's traffic and road works was a piece of piss. I headed off down the coast. First thing to test was the bikes motorway abilities. Here's where the surprises start coming again. Fist up, the bike has plenty grunt. It pulls to illegal speeds easily and will happily cruise there. The wind protection is better than the GS Adventure I'd ridden up there. Now the Africa Twin I was riding was fitted with the optional high screen, but still, better protection than a BMW GS Adventure? You better believe it. 
New Africa Twin.

Next was the twisty bit. Here I though the suspension would easily be pushed into a wallowy mess but no, how wrong I was. The bike feels really chuckable and lively. Get your weight over the front a bit and you can have great fun. With my bulk on board the bike did dive a fair bit under hard breaking but everything remained composed and you can dial your own settings into the fully adjustable Showa suspension. Another surprise was the Dunlop TR91 tyres that the bike comes with. I've never been the biggest Dunlop fan but these thing are great, giving plenty feedback the more confident I got on the bike.
Wow, so this underpowered, boring Honda has plenty grunt, handles well and is great fun to ride...
I didn't see that coming. i though it was going to be OK, but just OK. Could I chop my GS in for one?

New Africa Twin.

New Africa Twin.
People admire the Africa Twin, its a much bonnier bike than the GS, even in red.

New Africa Twin. 

I weighed this up as I rode back to Two Wheels. The GS will be a better bike two up. Saying that I only really ride with a pillion a few times a year, and it felt ok when we were mucking about in the car park a few days before. Apart from the pillion issue I couldn't see any downside to the Africa Twin sure its got a chain drive and no where near the amount of gadgets that were on the GS but I was seeing this as more of a positive than a negative. More and more I've been having this impeding sense of doom about the GS's reliability and build quality. I'm hearing of more and more people who are left with huge bills after their final drive has gone, or an oil seal has blown and contaminated the clutch, or there's catastrophic engine failure, or that daft exhaust flap has gone.... the list goes on. BMW have an absolutely amazing warranty and dealer back up, the worrying part is how many people can share their good experiences. How many folk have told you about their Honda breaking down? Sure, I'd have to lube and adjust the chain but that's not rocket science. I'd no longer have the luxury of setting my preload or damping on the suspension with a push of a button. Hardly a hardship, and considering how much cheaper the Africa Twin is than the current GS I'm sure it's something anyone could learn to live with.
Riding home the BMW felt slightly dead after the Honda. Don't get me wrong, the BMW GS is a great bike but does come at a large price. 
I've been on a GS for over ten years, could I live without the farkles of BMW and ride an Africa Twin?
Well I fucking hope so, I've traded the GSA in. I'll get my Honda in a few weeks!!

at tw



Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Last trip of the year 2015.

Every year we try and get away for one final camping trip on the bikes before the colder weather comes in. This year Aidan had been really keen to get away so the usual weekend trip was chopped in for a week mid week run in October. Aidan, Faithir, Ferg and myself all had time off work to get away on the Monday, well, nearly. And it wasn't really a camping trip either.
The plan was for Aidan, Faithir and I to ride up to Ferg's in Thurso. We'd stay the night there before heading to Applecross for a night, then a night on the south of Skye then on to Strontian. We had booked wigwams and cabins for our accommodation so the tents would be left behind. All we needed to bring was our sleeping bags.
As I have said, Aidan was super keen to get away so he headed off first thing on the Monday morning. I had been on a late shift the night before so I headed off around mid day with Faithir leaving a few hours after me to get some sleep in after a night shift.
My route took me over Glenshee and the Lecht before re joining the shite A9 at Carrbridge. At the risk of sounding like a broken record if you're heading north from the Edinburgh area, or anywhere else in the south of Scotland, avoid the A9. Its shit, boring, busy, there's average speed cameras and it's shit. The other option is the A82 through Glencoe, a stunning road scenically but often clogged up with caravans, tour buses and trucks. If you get over the Forth Road Bridge and batter up the dual carriageway to Perth you can follow the A93/A939, Blairgowrie/Glenshee/Lecht/Tomintoul road to Carrbridge. It might add a wee bit extra time on to you're journey but it's far more enjoyable than sitting on the hell hole that is the Perth to Inverness stretch of the A9. From Carrbridge its just a short batter up to Inverness and then following the A9 to Golspie where it becomes a great fun section of road, following the coast up to Caithness.
I had an easy run up to Perth, confident in my highly optimistic weather prediction I had given to the rest of the guys. I was mostly right. The sun shone down on me as I headed north with only the occasional greasy patch under the trees. The temperature gauge started to drop as I headed into the hills where I had the road mostly to myself as I battered on through Glenshee and up the Lecht, Scotland's highest road. I was toasty and warm but I stopped off at the cafe at the Lecht for a bowl of soup. We have established that the Lecht is pretty high up and Scotland's changeable weather is pretty famous, so you can expect the odd rain shower. These points seemed to have been lost on the poor American guy that I met in the cafe. He'd hired a cruiser of some sort and was riding south to Cupar. The only problem was all he had as far as warm kit went was a thin leather jacket and a pair of trainers. To say he was cold was an understatement. I suggested he tried using newspaper or something to insulate himself and try the feet in plastic bags trick, but he looked at me like I was insane. I even offered the guy my jumper. I was too hot with my thermals on! The shivering hipster left, ignoring my advice to get some hot food in his guts. By the sound of things the rain had followed him all the way down from Thurso, I told him it was warm and sunny down the road, warm might be an optimistic use of the word by American standards but I figured it was better to give him something to look forwards to as he chattered his way down the road.

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GS on between Glenshee and the Lecht.

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A wee bit chilly for a wet hipster dude.

I filled myself up with soup, cakes and coffee and carried on north. The sun reappeared I had a great run to Thurso. I know I am always saying how shite the A9 is, but its only really the bit between Perth and Inverness that's bad. It's OK after Inverness and good fun after Golspie. The shellgripped corners of the Berriedale braes were attacked properly, even in the wet there's loads of grip to be found there. At Latheron I followed the A9 along the Cassiemire to Thurso as the sun started setting. This is a seriously fast road with great views over Caithness. I rolled into Ferg's just as it was beginning to get dark. A great days run.

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GS on the Cassiemyre

Ferg showed Aidan and I his various projects and Ferg's better half Lynne cooked curry while we waited for Faithir to turn up. We were joind by Ferg's parents, Ferg's Dad Beeg Bob would be joining us on the trip along with Ferg's mate, Badass Harley Riding Bob. There's lots of Bobs. 
Eventually Faithir found his way to Ferg's and we all fired in to Lynne's awesome curry and a few beers.
Bob and Bob (this is going to get confusing) joined us the next day for a load of bacon and eggs. Ferg's Dad Bob was riding his 1200GS and Bob, who had left the Harley at home, was riding his old R80RT. So at least we looked less like the GS owners club. Over breakfast we planned our route. We'd head along the north coast to Tongue before heading down the middle of the country through Altnaharra to Lairg and on to Ullapool where we'd get lunch. From there we'd follow the coast round to Gairloch through Kilochewe and Torridon then over the Bealach Na Ba to Applecross. We tend not to ride as one big group due to folk wanting to ride at different paces or stop for photos and tea/coffee at different times. This time was no different. I ended up riding with Ferg's Dad Bob after stopping for a photo at Melvich. We were flying along the north coast road when suddenly Bob pulled over. His side panel had came loose and had snapped off when the wind had caught it. Shite. It was quickly evident that we wouldn't be able to fix it. Bob bungeed the damaged panel on to his bike and we set off once more. We met the rest of the guys fueling up at Bettyhill and all rode together to Tongue where we stopped at the cafe to drain out all the coffee we'd drank at breakfast. Ferg, Bob and Bob decided to refill themselves with fluids while Aidan, Faither and I opted to carry on.

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Bob (Ferg's Dad), Bob (Badass Harley Rider) and Faither discuss the new Africa Twin.

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It was a cracking day and I was looking forwards to getting some photos. This was my first time on the A836. What a cracker of a road it is, singletrack but really fast with great visibility. We hopscotched each other down the side of Loch Loyal and through Altnaharra to Lairg. i stopped that often for photos I ended up being a bit behind everyone and was the last one to roll into Ullapool where we stopped for chips.

GS looks over Kyle of Tongue

GS between Altnahara and Tongue

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Suilven and my GS.

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Chips eaten and bikes refueled we set off for Applecross following the awesome A832 through Gairloch, along the side of Loch Maree to Kinlochewe where we turned onto the mostly single track A896 to Torridon. By this stage the group had split up again. I was riding with Aidan and Faither with Ferg, Bob and Bob somewhere behind us. The sun was low in the sky and if I hadn't had the flip down sun visor on my lid I would have been fucked as we rode west to Torridon then down to Tornapress for a nice spin up and over the Bealach Na Ba to Applecross. It had been a long, but great day on the bike. The icing on the cake for me came just after the switch backs on the Bealach Na Ba. I rounded a corner to find myself pretty much in the middle of a heard of deer. There was one in the middle of the road which I rode right up to. It didn't move until I shouted at it to get off the road and then it was just a wee trot away as a huge stag kept an eye on things. When we got to Applecross I went to the pub to sort a table out for that evening's meal and got a quick pint in with Faithir before heading up to the Wigwam where Aidan was chilling out.

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We chatted away over a couple of beers we'd picked up in Gairloch while we waited for the other guys to turn up. Once the sun was away the plummeting temperature reminded us it was October, quite a contrast to that day's summer like climate. We started to get concerned when I had got completely dark and we we're still missing Ferg, Bob and Bob. There's no mobile phone signal in Applecross so we couldn't phone or leave a message to find out how they were doing. In Ullapool Bob (Ferg's Dad) had been saying he was having ongoing problems with the ABS on his bike. Had he broken down? 

We opened more beers and waited some more.


And waited.......



bbbaaaaaaaaaw baaaaaaaaw baaw baaaaaaaw bbaaaaaAAAAAAW 
BAAAAAAW............

I heard the familiar sound of the 1150's pipe, 
"That has to be Ferg."
Sure enough in rolled Ferg complete with both Bob's. It turns out they had taken a "slight detour" to Redpoint just after Gairloch. Ferg's Dad Bob bike's brake problem had gotten worse. With the light going after their wee visit to Redpoint they had opted to go round the coast road rather than over the Bealach. Probably a sensible idea, I wouldn't fancy discovering I suddenly had no brakes while heading down some of the steeper sections of the road at the same time dodging all the deer jumping about the place.
With everyone accounted for we headed off down to the Applecross Inn for some food. A great end to a great day.
The following day there was another culinary delight in store. We got the bikes packed up and headed back over the Bealach na Ba as a group, keeping an eye on Bob to make sure he didn't have catastrophic brake failure. Once over the hill its a wee blast along the coast to the Waterside Cafe in Lochcarron, home to the challenge breakfast. Some people will recognise this place from my other posts, it's a regular stop for the 'Massif. Bob, Bob, Ferg and I took on the challenge. As we powered through the calories we (well, Ferg and me) decided we needed to address the amount of Bobs we have in the group by way of "cool" nicknames. Since Bob was a badass Harley rider with about 20 bikes we came up with "Snake". Ferg decided since his Dad was getting on a bit and liked old stuff "Vic" would be his new handle. Snake and Vic were over the moon with their cool nicknames. Honestly they were.
All four challenges were conquered and we said our goodbyes to Snake, he was heading home to Caithness while the rest of us were heading to the south of Skye, a shortish ride away.

Bob's beemer at Applecross

Old Ariel at Applecross Campsite
An old Ariel a guy on Applecross Campsite had.
Old Ariel at Applecross Campsite

GS's at Applecross.

Bikes on the Bealach Na Ba

Bob, beemer, Bealach.

Snake on the Bealach.

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The Challenge Breakfast at the Waterside Cafe, Lochcarron.

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You get a certificate for finishing. 

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Ferg's got a few of these.

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If you look closely it even says "Snake" on his certificate.

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Lochcarron.

An easy run from Lochcarron to fuel up in Kyle of Lochalsh was follower by a beer and food stop in Broadford on Skye before heading down to Armadale. Just beside the ferry terminal is Skye Forest Garden where Aidan, Faither and I would be staying in the "Forresters Bothy" and Ferg and Vic were in the "Seagull Sanctuary." Skye Forest Garden is a real back to nature eco style place and there were a few worried faces among the group when I told them about the composting toilets, especially from Aidan who doesn't have the best reputation for keeping his underpants shit free. The accomodation is basic but I loved it. Our Forrester's Bothy was hut that looked like it was made from reclaimed bits and bobs. It had a woodburner in it and a firepit outside. Ferg's smaller Seagull Sanctuary was equally nice but with bunk beds at the end. We got a wee fire going and had a look around the place. There's a pub ten minutes walk away where we decided we'd go for our meal that evening. Till then all we had to do was chill out.

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The Forrester's Bothy.

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Nice wee Robin on Skye
This wee Robin would eat out my hand.

We had a good look around Skye Forest Garden the next day. There are walks through the forest with some great views over to Mallaig and Knoydart. There's a wildlife hide where you can see otters at well, although with us crashing about the place they were all hiding that day. 
Ferg and Vic were heading home and Faithir, Aidan and I were getting the ferry over to Mallaig and heading down the road to Tim's place at Strontian. Vic was going out that evening so had set off earlier. The rest of us got a bacon roll and a coffee at the wee place beside the ferry terminal before saying cheerio to Ferg and getting on the boat.

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Faither enjoys the composting toilet. All was fine when they realised it was pretty much the same as a normal toilet.

Skye Forest Gerdens

Skye Forest Gerdens

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Skye Forest Gerdens

Skye Forest Gerdens

Skye Forest Gerdens

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Bye Skye. I'll definitely be back to Skye Forest Garden.


A familiar run along the A861 led Aidan, Faither and myself along single track roads and old forest to Strontian, a favorite stop for us. We had hired Tim's big hut which comes complete with its own shower, toilet and cooking facilities. We got some burgers and sausages for tea and discussed our plans. Originally we were thinking about spending two nights on Strontian but with our wallets taking a pounding and the amazing weather forecast to change we decided to head home the following day. Ben had planned to meet up with us on the Friday so I gave him a bell to tell him we wouldn't be staying the extra night. Instead he jumped on his GS for a quick spin up the road. We had a burger waiting for him arriving.
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A few pint were had in the pub before we headed home along the A82 which was busy with bikes and speed traps. I just took it easy and remembered that awesome run we'd had a few days earlier from Thurso to Applecross and of course, we stopped for a juice in the Winton before going our separate ways. Once home and the bike was put away all there was left to do was to do a quick beer run on the C90. After all I still had the weekend off.

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Strontian has a pretty scenic petrol station.

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Braw.


Mike.