We had plenty of good advice. That is the greatest benefit of staying with Warm Showers hosts. They know the area and can provide us with tips for our route. In this case, Mally had covered the same ground just last year, and we poured over her maps together and covered the logistics.
The day started with a ferry that returned us to the mainland at Oban. We had thought it would be our last ferry, but with Mally's insights we learned that the cycle route north entailed two short ferries across Loch Linnhe just below Fort William to cycle a 12 mile stretch on the other side, avoiding a treacherous stretch of highway. That was worth knowing.
The first was a small car ferry at Corran. The boat was loading as we approached and we cycled right on board, congratulating ourselves on the perfect timing. There was a bit of a delay as we waited for it to fill, then it was a short hop over to the other side. Soon we were off cycling again, right along the shore of the loch.
The next ferry was a passenger-only boat that also takes bicycles. I'd gotten a few of the ferry times from Mally, and knew that they were infrequent. There was one at 4:35 and instinctively I sensed we needed to make that one. Taking the lead I pressed on, pushing the pace, pulling Rich along with me. The going was easy and we were making good time. I began to breath more easily as we came within a few miles of the ferry landing.
Then it happened. I saw the rock, tried to dodge it and failed. As soon as I ran over it I heard the back tire blow and it went flat instantly. In the local lingo, I had a puncture. So much for making that ferry. Rich made quick work of changing it, but by the time we reached the dock we could see the ferry approaching the opposite shore already.
For this small operation, there was nothing more than a dock, a bus shelter and a sign post. Searching out the schedule, I was stunned to see that the 4:35 was the last ferry. This was worse than I thought. However, Mally had told me that cyclists could call for the ferry and had even supplied me with the operator's phone number. With a bit of skepticism, I dialed the number. My heart began racing when I reached voicemail twice. But on the third try I got through. Indeed, he said they would come in about an hour.
How amazing! Must have felt like you had a chauffeur come to fetch you.
Absolutely! It was hard to believe, and such a relief! Great customer service for cyclists.