August 31, 2016, by David Greenaway

Nottingham Life Cycle 6 – Day 12 Dunoon to Oban

Every Life Cycle I have been on throws up a perfect day. Weather, terrain, scenery and pace combine to make for a unique cycling experience. When it happens, it lives long in the memory. This time it was Day 12.

Because we were late in yesterday, and had a downtown restaurant booked in Dunoon, I did not get started on the blog until after 2200. That inevitably meant working on it this morning, which also meant I was among the last out, with Steve, Doug and Nick. Doug broke away quite early on (a decision he may regret when he sees today’s points allocation) and the three of us rode out the day together, and at some pace.

Karen, Kerry, Marion and Susan were again out; followed by Andy, Sara and Kate. We were not last out. John had another physio appointment and Stefano waited for him.

Pic 1 - Loch vistaIt was overcast and cool, but bright as we left Dunoon. Back through Hunters Quay and Sandbank (where I holidayed as a child) and up the side of the Holy Loch. We then followed the A815 through the Argyll Forest Park, and up the western shore of Loch Eck. In contrast to other days, the road surfaces were excellent and we made rapid progress to join Loch Fyne at Strachur.

By this time conditions were very bright, and the vistas truly stunning. The first of two big climbs takes you away from the Loch, dropping back down at the northern end above Cairndow.

Just by the famous Loch Fyne Oyster Bar, we reached another milestone, 1,000 miles cycled on LC6. Well done to everyone, but especially the Newbies who have never been anywhere near this. For me, it is my fifth (and last!) time. Pic 2 - Inveraray statue

The other riders were eating in the Loch Fyne Oyster Bar, we went on to Inveraray and found a nice tea shop by the Loch.

When you leave Inveraray on the A85 to Oban, you are immediately confronted by a 13 degree ramp. It is not that long, but long enough to leave you struggling to fill your lungs. After that there is a steady climb for about seven miles, then a fast winding descent over four miles to Lochawe, on Loch Awe.

The sun was out in full by now and the vistas to the north and west were astounding.

We pressed on to Taynuilt because Nick and I remembered the Robin’s Nest Café, a nice touch point with LC4. It was closed, it only opens Thursday to Sunday. So grub from the grocer’s and a seat outside the Post Office it had to be.

Pic 3 - Oban downtimeFrom Taynuilt it is just 11 miles to Oban, a bit of up and down to Connel, then a surprisingly long pull, followed by a sharp descent to the town. I have never been here before, but I will come back, it is in the most exquisite setting.

Despite this being an eighty mile day, we were all in before 1600. It had been a great ride for everyone and spirits were high, aches and pains forgotten, and everyone had the luxury of a few hours downtime for the first time in a long time.

I agonised about visiting the Oban Distillery, but decided instead to catch up on washing, get ahead on the blog and make some calls.

Some of my gel pants are beginning to break up, which is not good news. They are probably not engineered for being stamped around in the shower, wrung out, then trampled in a towel to accelerate drying. My Pic 4 - Karen and Nickwhite base layers are also telling me that some garments they share a shower with are not completely colour fast! Apart from that the washing regime is working out just fine.

On washing, I am either tired or losing my touch. Of the five garments I lobbed over the shower cabinet in the sink for wringing, only three made it. Not good.

Competition was back in full swing in the Megomnium. The first event was the Inveraray Vuelta, from Dunoon to Inveraray. Teams with any number of riders can enter. All teams, apart from Team Steve were seduced by the Loch Fyne Oyster Bar, we raced on and got there first. That’s 10 points each to Steve, Nick and David.

Pic 5 - David 1The daylong event was the Oban Giro, again open to teams of any number. Six miles out this looked as though it would be scooped by Team Karen or Team Andy. But all the other riders were seduced by the Connel Oyster Inn, and Team Steve raced on to be first in and claim victory, So another 10 points each for Steve, Nick and David.

All four Newbies get points for passing 1,000 miles, so that’s 10 each for Kerry, Sara, Kate and John. And Stefano earned himself another 10 for looking after John so well.

The leader board is starting to look a bit congested. When there is less to say about the day I will publish it in full. All I will say for now is that our pre competition favourite is still at the bottom (I bet he wishes he had not separated from Team Steve, 20 points down the pan). I am still out in front; it just shows you how you can benefit if you bother to understand the rules.

Pic 6 - Andy and the final compass point 1Today’s Life Cycle miles were in honour of Lisa Johnson (nominated by Emma Oldham), Jane Warder (nominated by Kate Radford), Liz Duckmanton (nominated by Sue Stannard) and Judith Meneaugh (nominated by Lisa Johnson).

Our fundraising total currently stands at over £538,000 and we continue to see wonderful spontaneous acts of generosity. Last night in Dunoon, Stefano went to a shop for frozen peas for John’s leg, the proprietor gave him the peas for free and a donation; at the café in Inveraray today, someone who was not even eating there came in and donated; and John bumped into an alumnus who did the same.

Our 89 miles today takes us to 1,045. Tomorrow we head for our third point of the compass, via Mull.

Professor Sir David Greenaway

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