Well, heck, after the sun the rain eh?
We awoke in Perth to a heavy and foreboding sky, a distinct chill in the air, and fifty or so miles ahead of us.
A good forty of them uphill.
We were heading for Braemar, and on the way we’d be taking the Cairnwell Pass – with a summit altitude of 670m (2199 ft) it’s the highest main road in the United Kingdom. There’s a ski centre at the top.
So you know, steep.
We chocked up as many miles as we could in the morning, hoping the rain would hold off as long as possible.
In the end, as long as possible turned out to be around midday. And from then on it didn’t stop.
So you know, wet.
We stopped at the Spittal of Glenshee for lunch. (And by the way, say ‘Spittal of Glenshee’ out loud to yourself in a broad Scottish accent – it’s indecently pleasurable.)
Then we put our still-damp gear back on, and began the real climb up to the pass. The gradient hit 12% towards the top, and that was heading into the wind.
So you know, slow.
We stopped at the top as briefly as possible to catch our breath, and take a couple of quick photos.
Hypothermia didn’t seem entirely hypothetical so we jumped back on our saddles for the long descent.
Normally that’s the fun bit, but in heavy rain, with cantilever brakes rather than disc brakes, it’s not so much fun – slowing down is a rather slow process. On top of that, during a long downhill of any serious gradient, you’re sitting rather than cycling. So that means you’re basically sitting outside, in damp clothes, in the rain, with an effective wind speed of 20 to 30mph.
So you know, cold.
Anyway, the road levelled out and we got our legs spinning again, warming us up just enough to get us in to Braemar, where we pitched up at the hostel looking like a couple of drowned rats.
So, in summary: steep, wet, slow and cold.
But you know what?
Oh, and a little side note to the folk at Gore Bike Wear – your waterproof gloves? They’re not. I wrung them out like a spectacularly sodden sponge at the end of the ride. Epic fail.