Distance: 32.67 miles
Average speed: 11.8 mph
Total distance: 132.71 miles
Maximum speed: 36.1 mph
A slight mishap with dinner last night, we’d booked in at the Boathouse, famous on Gigha, but when we walked down to it, it was closed because of ‘staffing issues’ apparently. We were a bit annoyed that they hadn’t called the hotel to let us know, they knew we were staying there. We wondered if they’d sloped off to the Commonwealth Games!
Not to worry, we walked back up to the hotel, and had a very good meal in their restaurant, including Gigha halibut for the stoker, a product for which the island is famous. We’d realised that the Islay distilleries were actually closer as the crow flies now than the Mull of Kintyre distilleries, so a good excuse for last night’s dram to be a Lagavulin (Ardbeg being closer still, but not available!). Smooth, rich, strongly peated, a perfect after dinner dram. We flaked out early, slept really well, and woke to sun streaming through the curtains. Sun! Actual sunshine!
After breakfast we had a little cycle up and down the island, which is only 7 miles long. It was bought by the community a number of years ago, and is run as a community project throughout, which sounds like it could all be a bit worthy, but is actually just really friendly and rather inspiring… It’s also amazingly beautiful, especially in the sunshine, the water around the harbour so shallow and the sand below so white that it has a little turquoise halo, like the islands of the Maldives.
The ferry was slightly delayed because its door got stuck! They managed to fix it, rather than having to turn around and have everyone reverse off, and we were soon back on the Mull of Kintyre and headed north for Tarbert.
It was brilliant cycling, a small tailwind as yesterday, and we bowled along enjoying the views of Jura and Islay behind Gigha. Even the Paps of Jura were all fully visible, none of the cloud that can reduce the view to just the cleavage (copyright S. Blashill, 2009)
We stopped at the West Loch Hotel just short of Tarbert for lunch, really friendly service and excellent open sandwiches. Refuelled, we headed off again, a little detour on a minor road took us away from the busier A83 for a while which was nice, but even when we returned to it, it was fine, the traffic gave us plenty of room. We were making fine time and enjoying the wonderful views up and down Loch Fyne.
And that’s when the trouble started. Horrible grinding noises from the rear bottom bracket, which runs between the rear pedals. We’d checked both bottom brackets a couple of weeks ago in preparation for this tour, and in fact replaced the front one. When it’s a bike you use all the time you don’t know when a part will reach the end of its life, and the rear was not showing the classic sign of wear – rocking in the housing.
It was certainly showing it now, though!
We decided to push on (gently) to Lochgilphead where we knew there was a bike shop, and sure enough Kevin the owner confirmed that the bearing had gone on one side. Unfortunately he didn’t have a replacement part, but said he could certainly fit one of we could get one to him. And so it came to pass that we had to bother the inestimable Hargreaves of JD Tandems on their day off… John has sent one up via Special Delivery, it should be here tomorrow before 1pm. Massive thanks to John and Ruth, we definitely owe you a very nice bottle of red for sorting that out on your day off…
So we’ve come the last 14 miles today in a taxi to our planned hotel, and very nice it is too, lovely location by the loch, and looking beautiful in the sunshine. We can get a bus back to Lochgilphead tomorrow at 10, and we’ve made lots of plans (well, plans A, B and C!) for what to do if the part arrives, arrives but too late for us to make it to Tobermory, or doesn’t arrive until Wednesday.