Our first day of riding dawned grey and drizzly. Breakfast was as Scottish as it gets, which was just fine as we would need the energy. After a short van shuttle to Bonar bridge we were ready to properly start this thing. We would not see the van for almost a week. Except for a planned boat ride we and would have to rely on ourselves and our bikes to get this thing done. I was a little nervous as the group had seemed pretty solid climbers at Learnie. Us, coming from a flat country, were struggling on the uphills. Well, especially me. TKS-1 climbs well but the Specialized Enduro is a heavy bike for her weight.
The ride was pleasant. We rode started off on tarmac in increasing rain. Apparently the weather conditions in Finland and Scotland are very similar. Everyone had proper rain gear so it wasn’t an issue. Apparently nobody had any misconceptions of the local conditions. There was some climbing to be done but the inclines were long and gentle.
It was actually a very nice introduction into the beautiful local scenery and terrain. Unfortunately we also made first contact with the local nuisance; midges. We’re used to mosquitoes in Finland and also have midges, but in small numbers. I had no idea how irritating the little vermin could be in large numbers. With mosquitoes you can at least see them and have something to aim. With midges, there’s nothing to do except keep moving.
Another interesting local speciality was the Scottish bothy. We have hundreds of these in northern Finland. I always thought it’s a bit of a Nordic thing, deriving from the generous freedom to roam legislation of the northern social democratic states. I’d seen some in the French alps in my climbing days but had no idea they also existed here. Anyhow, they were a nice way to have a break from the midges and have a bit of lunch in peace.
The ride ended sweetly. A nice long downhill single track to Ullapool. A very good day indeed. It was great to finally start this thing and also get acquainted with our group. All my fears were washed away with the Scottish rain. The people of the group were great. A fun bunch to be around.