So on to Day 2 of the Two Loch Boot Camp Challenge….
But firstly – an alert!!! Those who think these little tours organised in fine detail by the “old git” run like clockwork are in for a surprise! In fact, we were all in for a rude awakening – yes all 3 of us! So be warned – there is a bit of a calamity coming up, which ended up with me having to pay a visit to the tandem hospital! But read on!
It all started so well with my mad tandem owners refreshed after a sound sleep in the log cabin and an excellent full Scottish breakfast at the highly recommended Inversnaid Bunkhouse.
I was refreshed too after a night under my tarpaulin – and after a photo at the entrance it was time to cycle off on the second part of the challenge – a trip on Loch Katrine.
Saying a fond farewell to Inversnaid Bunkhouse.
The first part was a relatively easy 4 mile stretch from Inversnaid to Stronalacher – although perhaps there were a few warning bells for what was to transpire later, as the gears bumped and grinded a bit and the “old git” kept saying that something was wrong and accusing the “old gal” of not pedalling. You can imagine the response that got!
In less than an hour we had pulled up at The Pier Café at Stronalacher with plenty of time for a nice coffee while waiting the arrival of the steam ship Sir Walter Scott. The “old git” and the “old gal” had taken the ship down the loch before and cycled back the 14 hilly miles to Trossachs Pier – but this time they were doing it in reverse.
So we all boarded the boat at Stronalacher Pier – with the captain being impressed that he had a classic tandem on board. I even got a mention during the on-board commentary – and naturally the “old git” had to respond with a couple of blows of my horn, which got a cheer from other passengers!
On the steamship Sir Walter Scott – where I got many admiring looks for an “old lady”.
The weather was fabulous again and we all got wonderful views of the Rob Roy scenery as we sailed up the loch.
Another beautiful day for the “old git” and “the old gal” as they enjoyed Loch Katrine.
At Trossachs Pier I was offloaded, and the plan was for a leisurely tandem back down the side of the loch – arriving back at Stronalacher in plenty of time for afternoon tea, before the last four miles back to Inversnaid for the last waterbus of the day at 4.30pm back to the car parked at Tarbet.
The intrepid duo had four hours to do this – more than enough time for the distance of 18 miles – but fate got in the way!
Again the journey started well with the duo whizzing along the old water board road down the side of the loch and they even managed to navigate the first couple of hills without any problems as the “old git” was finally getting the hang of the gears. Even a sudden rain shower failed to dampen their enthusiasm.
But all of a sudden – in the midst of a forest section – there was a loud crack and a shout of “stop ! ” from the “old gal” who also doubles as “chief engineer”.
My chain had worked loose and on a gear change it had got tangled round on itself and jammed in my metal framework – resulting in the pedals giving the “old gal” a rather nasty cut and bruising on her leg.
But the “old gal” did a sterling job as I was unceremoniously dumped upside down and she tackled the breakdown with gusto. She declined the requests from the “old git” to split the chain and after about 20 minutes the chain was free. The only problem was that the duo had been eaten alive by midges and were in some discomfort.
But they gamely remounted and off we headed again – to try to catch up on the schedule. But there was obviously something wrong with my gears – and I was rather embarrassed at the clanking noises that emanated from my gear cog.
There was no option but to pedal on and we enjoyed the downhill section into Stronalacher. No time for afternoon tea however, just a quick cold drink before tackling the final 4 miles to Inversnaid.
We had an hour till the waterbus left – plenty of time to make the connection. The first section is a huge steep hill so it was a push up that before gently continuing to cycle along the flat section, anxiously listening to the odd noises from the gears.
And then it happened. Just over a mile from the waterbus jetty my gear cog broke – and I couldn’t be cycled any more. And there were only just over ten minutes before the waterbus left – which would have effectively stranded us all on the wrong side of the loch from our car.
So the “old git” decided he would run ahead, pushing me along as he puffed and panted for over a mile – straight road at first, then a crazy downhill zig-zag section.
I have to say I was highly impressed at the “old git’s” fitness (and so was he!) but it was a very strange sight for the people walking up the hill to be met with a red-faced sweaty cyclist, wearing a crash helmet, running at full pace, pushing a tandem, with no sign of a co-rider (as the “old gal” had to take a bit more time as running is not possible due to her asthma.)
As he rounded the last bend he saw the waterbus but couldn’t make out if it was arriving or leaving. A last spurt and we were on the jetty – in fact we were going so fast we nearly ended up in Loch Lomond – only to have that sinking feeling of realising that the boat had left the jetty and was heading out into the loch.
Fortunately, when the “old gal” arrived – equally red-faced – a few minutes later – she cleverly decided not to say the obvious that we had missed the waterbus!
Neither said anything for about five minutes as they recovered – before the “old git’s” planning kicked in and they thought about plan B – to avoid being stuck overnight on the opposite side of the loch from the car.
They decided that the only course of action was to find out what the alternatives were at the reception of Inversnaid Hotel. Fortunately – although the last timetabled waterbus had left, the hotel charters a waterbus to bring guests over the loch after their daily bus trip.
So the very nice receptionist spoke to the captain of the boat and told them our story. Again the gods were shining on us, as the boat was going back to Tarbet (where our car was parked) after a couple more crossings.
What a life saver! So the “old git ” and the “old gal” were able to sit in the sun for an hour while their old hearts got back to normal. And naturally (for medicinal purposes) this was helped along with a mini bottle of wine which was being saved for a celebration at the end of the Two Loch Challenge.
A very welcome slug of wine after a dramatic afternoon for the “old gal”!
It was therefore only an hour behind schedule that we all boarded our “private” waterbus transfer back to Tarbet – with their shredded nerves back in one piece. The crew were wonderful, treating us like royalty. One of them was extremely fit (unlike the old git!) and even lifted me off the boat, virtually with one hand. I thought the “old gal” was going to give him a kiss (or even more!) for his efforts, but she showed remarkable restraint!
So finally I was packed up back in the car and we headed home to Auchterarder – having had a somewhat more eventful trip than originally planned. But, as the “old git” said, it was good practice for things going wrong in France. And for once the “old gal” nodded in agreement.
And as for me – I wasn’t going anywhere soon other than to the tandem hospital to get a new gear cog.
But I have to say the “old git” and the “old gal” were very sympathetic and looked after me all the way home so I wasn’t in any pain.
I was a brave girl – as befits my age – and I will soon be firing on all my pedals again.