Day three – starts at sea level and climbs – although there are only 910 metres of ascent over the 100km to Kingussie – most in the first 35km.
The day started gently with a meander down into the city centre and then through the back street, climbing gently and breaking me in for the day ahead. The smell of bacon and coffee stopped me in my tracks, and after a brief stop to refuel, it was onward and upwards. Once north of the Culloden road, the climbing started more seriously into the Culloden Forest and the River Nairn. The riding here was delightful, crossing streams dark with peat and wooded valleys. The climbing became more serious, nothing too hard but enough to cause a drop in pace as I climbed up onto the plateau. Passing Moy nature reserve (no Ospreys, I’m afraid), the heavens opened, and torrential rain soaked me very quickly. I thought about sheltering, but the café at Tomatin was calling my name.
Sue joined me for lunch, and a short climb or two later, I joined the A9, or at least the cycle path next to it, for what should have been a fast downhill. It wasn’t bad, but the wind did its best to fight me. All afternoon I battled it.
A constant headwind takes it out on one’s energy levels. A delightful ride through Carrbridge and Boat of Garten delivered me to an undulating road through lovely woodland, which ended on the edge of Aviemore, where iI joined Sue in café number 2 for the day.
Back in the saddle, I followed the Feshiebridge road, which, again into a headwind, undulated its way to Kingussie, where a lime and soda and crisps at the McInnes House Hotel (and a generous donation from the staff Liz and Rowan) gave me the energy to do the last ten kilometres or so to the B&B at the Glentruim Castle. A fabulous spot in the middle of nowhere. A tiring day and a prelude to the longest ride of the trip tomorrow!