Mini Tour of Scotland – Day 4 Kildonan to Lochranza, Arran, There’s beauty in bad weather.

Having enough of the Arran coast, I decided to take longer route to Lochranza via the Central Valley. Weather wise it started raining as I pushed off from Sea Shore Campsite in Kildonan. Oh well just a typical Scottish day. Being properly drenched I took refuge at the Arran Creamery but unfortunately it was closed. So I just dried off on their balcony before moving on. The sky cleared up a bit but still cloudy and grey. However the scenery became more and more spectacular. The route is hilly but it’s up and down and the rewards are worth the climb.

I left the coastal roads after Blackwaterfoot. A small coastal town. From then onwards the roads were constantly sandwiched between massive hills , meandering and snaking its way around them. The views were spectacular and so was the climbs. The winds started to pick up on the climb up the last hilltop just before Lochranza. But the downhill was exhilarating. Finally reach the c,ampsite at around 430 and checked in and the owner said if I had a good tent. I asked why and he told me that it’s going to be gusty tonight, winds of over 60kmh. He added that tomorrow there will be gale winds of almost 90kmh! And ferrries are likely to be cancelled. He says I can try the first ferry as it forecasted to be high winds only after 10 am.

I wondered what is the maximum wind force can a MSR tent face. Well I will know tonight. I am prepared for the worst tomorrow and likely will be trapped in Aran for one more night. Maybe not so bad since the Arran Distillery is just next door.

Tonight I got wild stags for company. First they checked out my tent and then later at night there were plenty of grunting or was it snoring?

Wild rabbits welcome you in the morning.
There is so much kelp washed ashore. Is this normal ?
Beach flowers

My campsite to shelter from the wind

Closed. But a good place to dry off

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Beautiful roads ahead
Massive amount of water. Wonder why it’s brownish.

Yippee. It’s downhill all the way to Broderick !

Baby Seal basking

Long climb awaits.

Awesome country side
A dram is calling.

Checking out my tent.

Mini Tour of Scotland – Day 3, Scotland is testing me ,Glasgow to Isle of Arran

The game plan is to see a few of the Hebrides Island and head as Northwards as possible. First Island on the list will be Arran. The closest Island to Glasgow. You will need to take the train at Glasgow Station to Androssan Harbour to board the ferry to Arran.

The morning started great with a tiny wee bit of sun. I said my goodbye to Adrian. The ride to Glasgow station was short. After getting the train ticket I was informed that the 1018am train was cancelled. Aiseh, Scotland also like Malaysia. Suka Suka cancel. Anyway the next one is 1118am so with some time to spare and hang around, I parked my bike at the entrance of a nice cafe at the station and went in to chill for awhile until time.

When the time came to head to the platform for my train, I went to get my bike and to my shock it was gone! First thing that came to my mind was it was stolen. Damn, I was staring at a disaster in the face. And it appears that my tour is over. I quickly head towards a police and told him that my bike was stolen. He calmly replied that it is likely to have been removed by train station staff for security reason. Wow, I hope that is the case. He did mention that he is sure that it’s been taken away by the train staff. I was hopeful and felt better but still anxious. The police took me up to see the train station master and told him I was looking for my bike and it’s likely taken by them. After 10 mins the staff came and took me to the store where I saw my bike ! Yay! Ride continues. Anyway they told me I was not allowed to park my bike inside the station for security reason and that is why they ‘towed’ it away.

After all the drama, I was finally in the train heading towards Adrossan Harbour. Once at the Harbour I went to buy the ferry ticket and was directly to a waiting area where there were already 6 biker waiting to board the ferry. Bikes board first. After parking our bikes we went up to the passenger deck. The ferry is huge but only because it’s carrying cars and lorries. The passenger deck is nice but only one floor. The ferry ride was about 1 hour and as soon as we arrive it started to pour. Welcome to Scotland.

Undeterred I decide to ride and headed for my camping site south west of the island. The whole day was rather grey and wet but there were some marvellous sceneries no matter. Anyway the campsite was nice and costed £9. The site is clean, there was free wifi and charging station and hot showers. Tomorrow will be heading North west and then swing back east through the Central Valley.

Glasglow Station
Train cancelled
Bike comfy inside the train

The mighty ferry to Arran
Trucks
Bicycle
Cars
Bikes first

Nice lobby on passenger deck

Kelp washed ashore all along the beaches.

Stormy but stunning.

Mini Tour of Scotland – Day 2, First taste of the Scottish Weather, Banknock to Glasgow

Hovering helicopter, light rain, fireworks, more rain, heavier rain, strong wind, flapping tent, more rain, cold, shelter, rain,shelter some more, paradise. That pretty much sums up yesterday’s ride.

It was to be a short 30 km ride to my Warmshower host home in Glasgow. Short in distance that is. Time wise it basically took me the whole day. That’s intentional as my host Adrian will only be home after 6pm. Just as well, the constant rain slowed me down. At some point I left the canal and hit the country road and then A80 all the way to Glasglow.

The ride was pretty ordinary with scattered showers here and there. I stopped at factory area to take shelter from the rain and also wait for a marathon race to pass. No rush no worries. What was interesting was I found a great place coffee. What’s great is great restaurant offers unlimited refills of Costa Coffee for £2.59 ! You can have double espressos till you drop shaking. The place is called Brewers Fayre near Stepps. Here is the link https://goo.gl/maps/ETt47huxFxu Great place for shelter and use of clean toilet and plenty of caffeine. I like.

After about 2 hours I decided to head towards Glasgow and since I have some time I decided to go to the Glasgow Art Museum. I am told all Museums in Scotland are free. This one was no exception.

My hosted in invited me to join them for dinner at home so I dropped by the grocer to buy wine and finally headed to the host’s home.

Adrian and Laura have a wonderful home. They are really friendly and accommodating and gave me one of the best room I ever had warmshowering. Wow. Nice dinner, great conversations and down comforter. Couldn’t ask for more. I was a happy tourer.

All set to get to Glasglow. Goodbye wild camp.
The day looks promising.
Then again this is Scotland.

Best place to chill. Free refills of Costa Coffee!
Glasglow Art Museum
Museum main entrance

What a wonderful room so comfy. Will have a nice rest tonight.

Mini Tour of Scotland – Day 1, And so it begins.

Bag pipers playing in the background and the whole of Edinburgh was up in the morning cheering me on. The momentous journey I am to embark is the talk of the town. No la. Where got. Dream on. My cheer team was actually the incredibly kind, generous and talented show runners of Neoone Associates and Social Enterprise Academy Malaysia. For the past 12 days I was hosted by the family of Juara and Yasmin. I thank them for their friendship and kindness. I got to know them better through this experience and I am grateful for this as our business relationship together now is s mo much more meaningful and rewarding. A real dream send off.

The weather forecasted to be great and it was. Some cloudy moments but in general the weather was perfect for cycling. Temperatures were around 15C average. My plan was to get close to Glasgow and find somewhere to camp. So really no plan but just a general direction. I followed the Union Canal most of the way. The canal was built in the 1800s and reopened in early 2000s. It was constructed to bring coal and minerals from the mine to Edinburgh. Along the way I passed by several aqua ducts which you will have to dismount and walk across. Also several locks that brings boats up and down with the Falkirk Wheel being the biggest and most impressive lock. It’s actually a massive boat lift that rotates and lift a boat up almost 25m to the Union Canal from Clyde Canal below. The Wheel is a sight to behold. It’s like a massive ferries wheel but only with 2 massive car filled with water and a boat. It’s truly an impressive engineering feat and I believe only kind in the world. No wonder there were many tourist there to watch the wonder at work.

I did not stay too long as it was getting late and also I am told it might rain in the evening. So I needed to find a suitable wild camping spot before it pours.

I found a Tesco Express in Bonnybridge to stock up for dinner. A quick dash and £3 later I scored 2 litres of water, a packet of assorted meats, small bottle of cooking oil and a nice bottle of beer.

Finding a suitable camping spot was harder that I thought. There were not many flat areas as most of them were already farmland. But finally I found one. Not ideal but if will do. The spot was full of thorny plants and bushes which I had to clear. I managed to set up my tent and cooked my dinner before it began to drizzle. Thankfully I managed to finish cooking and eating dinner before it started to rain lightly. So I just snuggle up inside my tent and drink my beer and just chilled till I dozed off. Shower? Well no sweat so no smell no shower la. Maybe tomorrow.

For details on this ride check out https://www.komoot.com/tour/46407483?ref=itd

All set to go. Yay!
Goodbye and thank you to Yasmin., Juara and Family. Thanks for sending me off.
All packed

One of the many aqua duct crossing. Bikers must dismount and push across.

Autumn is near
Canal and tunnel

The Falkirk Wheel
Bike canoe. Is this now the thing ?
The awesome Falkirk Wheel in action.
My wild Camping spot for the night. It was indeed wild.
Ok dinner is on the way.

Mini Tour of Scotland – Day 0 Biding farewell to the Conference and saying hello to Happiness.

Hello happiness. Thank you for a great week of learning and networking. Today was the last day of the Social Enterprise World Conference in Edinburgh. The baton is now passed to Adis Ababa Ethiopia. Wow. Exciting. I hope to attend this one as well 2019. Let’s see. Scheming now.

Just finish packing and I am all set to bike. First stop Glasgow. It will be a late start for me as I will need to run some errands before heading off. I have a host in Glasgow but he can only host me on Sunday. I might just cycle a slower and reach Glasgow on Sunday instead. Glasgow is doable in one day but maybe I just take it slow and do it in two. Well let’s see.

Conference all done and dusted.

Mini Tour of Scotland – Day – 4, The Big Hunt

Normally I would have brought my trusted bike for such tours. As you might know me going normal is not normal for me. And so I had a plan of either renting a bike or buying one second hand. There are many bike shops renting and selling used bikes in Edinburgh. Having a couple of days break before the start of conference gave me the opportunity to do the Hunt.

After 5 bike shops later I decided on buying a bike instead of renting. The Hunting also gave me the opportunity to experience public transport in Edinburgh and a wonderful way to explore and discover what she has to offer. Standard bus and tram fare is £1.70 per trip but you can buy a day ticket for only £4 and if will give you unlimited ride on buses and trams. That’s a great deal if you going to bus or tram around the whole day. One more thing, if you ever visit Scotland or U.K. and need a prepaid SIM card, get the Lebara one. For £15 you get 5GB of data for 30 days, unlimited calls whole of UK and unlimited calls to 44 countries including Malaysia. Wow that’s a fantastic deal. So far coverage is ok around Edinburgh but the big test would be when I head out to the country side.

Back to the biking. I took the bike out for a 40km spin the next day and it was a great day out as well. The weather was perfect and the sun was mostly out. I picked the route from Komoot with no expectation whatsoever. The start of the ride was along a nice canal and later on the way to the hills was not so great as it was mostly on busy country roads. However once I hit the hills, it became more interesting and challenging at the same time. And the view? Spectacular! I was rewarded with open fields and spectacular streams and rough country roads. Passed by at least 3 reservoirs and many many sheeps. I guess this would be a prelude to what my tour will be like. Can’t wait.

On the way home I stopped by a local pub for a light snack and beer. A pint of beer is usually around £3 or so. Not the cheapest but hey I am on holiday ain’t I ?

Back to “work” tomorrow. Will be posting another post when I start my ride out on 15 September. So stay tuned.

For route details check this https://www.komoot.com/tour/45960556?ref=itd

First bike shop that I visited. All second hand bikes are sold out due to the start of the University term. The students sapu all.
Second bike shop. Same situation
No bikes for sale here. Just for rent.
This is the shop. Bought the bike here. Not cheap but it’s a great find as the bike is robust enough for my short tour.
I am ready to hit the paths roads and trails.

The path starts next to a canal
Open fields after some town riding. Happy to see the greens

My favourite section of the ride starts. Off road ! Many gates are found along the way. Mostly to keep the livestock in.

One of the 3 reservoirs I passed.

Memories of Albania.

Some of the dedicated bike path were former rail road
Reward for a hard day of riding.

Day 16 Lake Akan to Kamishihoro 

Today I am heading towards the mighty central range of Hokkaido. I have more than 80 Km to cover and have no clue about the topo of the ride. I was fearing a tough and challenging ride. 

The ride started with a climb and I was wondering oh boy it’s going to be a long day. Actually thankfully it wasn’t. It was perhaps the best day of riding by far. I was gifted with a tremendously long and fast downhill after that and actually did around 50KM in super speed. Arrived in Ashoro at around 11am and stopped at what I suspect to be the biggest Michi-No-Eki or Roadside Station. Since there is free wifi and power points I decided to stay for an hour to charge up. 

The weather was superb the whole day and it showered slightly but stopped in minutes. At noon time it was full sun and full summer temperatures. The last 30 Km or so was harder and was hot. I arrived the campsite slighty after 2pm set up tent and went to town to shop for groceries. 

The sunset was gorgeous at the campsite and I enjoyed it while cooking dinner. My gas ran out so I wasn’t able to cook the rest of the meal which I intended to keep for tomorrow. Went to town to search for gas but all gas station closes after 7pm. Oh well I guess I have to do it tomorrow then. As I went bed I hear in the distance in what sounded like fireworks. It went on for most of the night but not loud or annoying. I wonder what festival it was. 

Tomorrow I suspect would be my hardest ride. Hoping I am wrong.