Scotland Tartan Cycling Tour

fraser_mod_bigIt was only a matter of time before we broadened the horizons of our cycle touring and ventured abroad.  Given our preference to cycle along waterways, avoid large cities and travel small roads in the countryside, I wasn’t surprised when I found Rich perusing maps of Scotland.  Eager to leave winter behind and set out on a spring trip, I think he was sold as soon as he learned that May is the driest month in northern Scotland.  I was quick to note that it did not say warmest.  But by then the airline tickets were already booked.

This trip differs from previous tours in other ways as well.  Normally, Rich researches the routes in great detail prior to our departure.  He checks them out with Google Street View to determine if they have good shoulders, and if in fact they are paved.  He knows where he wants to go and produces a general map that usually turns out to be pretty accurate.  Not so, Scotland.

Scotland Tartan Tour Map v3This time we know we will begin and end in Aberdeen.  That’s about it.  We deliberately chose to fly into a city north of the larger population centers.  And from there, we expect to head further north.  We will stick to the coast as much as possible and meander as the spirit moves us.  We may take ferries to the outer islands.  We may head south on the western side toward England.  The options are limitless.  The realities of the terrain and the weather will guide us.  Rich hasn’t produced a map this time, so I put my best spin on a possible route and alternate paths to explore.

The remaining logistics are pretty simple.  Loyal to the bicycles that have served us well on all our trips, we are taking them with us.  There is something comforting in having familiar equipment that we know fits and performs.  We will be boxing them up and praying that the airlines treat them with respect…  We’ve booked a room at both ends our our tour at an Inn that has agreed to store our luggage and bike boxes while we pedal our bicycles.

Having decided to forego camping on this trip, we are leaving our tent behind.  But we are bringing our sleeping bags.  The hope is to substitute hostels for the cheap American motels we normally frequent.

We have three weeks for this adventure.  And any trip worth taking is good fodder for writing material, so of course I will be blogging along the way and updating this page with my posts.  So follow along with us!

Pre-Trip Planning and Travels:

Trip Announcement: Cyclists Venturing Abroad
Getting ready  to go: Last Minute Cycling Preparations

Here are the progress reports from our trip:

Week 1
Arriving in Scotland: Tomorrow the Real Scotland
Our first day out: Scottish Sunshine and Trails
Back to our youth: Hostel Anyone?
I wanted to go to Cromarty: Beware of Molly’s Ideas
National Cycling Network: Follow that Sign!
We change direction: Go West Old Man
Local flavor in the Outer Hebrides: Hebrides Hospitality

Week 2
A rough day of cycling: Battling the Elements
It gets better: Brighter Days on Harris
From frustration to good fortune: Our luck goes Skye high
Adapting to Scotland: A New Cycling Rhythm
In awe of the experience: Can you believe we’re doing this?
Single track roads and the Isle of Mull: Mulling things over

Week 3
An unexpected delay:  That was the last ferry…
The Great Glen: I get my exercise
Back on the North coast: The Same but Different
Our final days of cycling: A Fraser Finish

Reflections on our trip
Adapting to local customs: I’ll have tea, please
The realities of cycle touring: The good, the bad and the ugly

Here are additional posts about our trip:

Molly’s blog posts – All blog posts related to the Scotland Tartan Cycling Tour, including those leading up to the trip and after thoughts.

Rich’s view of the trip – He posts to the Crazy Guy on a Bike website, which is a widely used portal for long distance cycling trips. Scroll down to the bottom of that page to Table of Contents to find the individual posts.