Archive for Isle of Skye

With this short poem, the 12th century Persian poet Hafez perfectly summed up the final days of our ride. Here it is in his own words:

ورغم ان الطريق قد يكون خطيرا والوجهه النهائية الآن بعيدة عن النظر ليس هناك أي الخط الذي لا ينتهي. لا اليأس

Which, if the free Arabic-English translation website got it right, translates into English as:

Although the road may be dangerous and the final destination far out of sight,
there is no route which does not come to an end.
Do not despair.

I despaired a little anyway, but despair was inevitable. The day arrived for the price for all this fun to be paid. It was time to leave my new found paradise and start heading back to dreary reality. Sad, really.

Starting off at the crack of late morning, the race to the end began. For an unprecedented third day in a row, the rain held off. Where was all this famous Scottish misty, drizzly, lousy weather everyone’s always bitching about? Wherever it was, it wasn’t in Lochcarron. The Secret Cloud Factory, possibly on strike, must have shut down for the weekend.

Looking at my map once again, sans helpful stranger, we decided to keep delaying the inevitable southbound slog as long as possible, which was a good thing for our morale, as well as material for one final ride report. We set off for our last fun ride – the Isle of Skye.

Over the bridge and on the Isle, more incredible scenery streaked past my eyes. You’d think by this point we’d be on scenic overload, and that would be pretty much true. Sounds strange, but apparently it’s possible to overdose on this place, on too much of a good thing; and become almost numb to the never-ending display of Rhode Scotland’s finest surroundings. Rather than fail with more words, here are a few more pictures of the Isle of Skye’s ocular assault:

Abi’s Zen-like assessment succicently summed up everything we’d experienced in the Highlands. “This place doesn’t suck.”

We’ve delayed it just about as long as possible. Time has pretty much run out, it’s time to stop all this fun sightseeing and get down to the serious business of heading home. In two days time we needed to return these fine machines to their stable so some other slobs could abuse and misuse them. In three days time we’d be once again confined to a metal tube, somehow defying gravity and floating five miles over the ocean, snacking on peanuts and hoping the wings don’t fall off.

But first, one more minor detour. Why not? This wasn’t some other lighthouse. This was serious business. I wanted to stop and check out a place I’d heard about to possibly purchase and spend the remainder of my still-in-the-distant-future retirement days. Never hurts to plan ahead.

Eilean Donan Castle, perched majestically on the shore of Loch Long. Yep, I suppose that’ll do nicely. I’ll take it.

The A87 was the beginning of the end, the road that would lead to the M6 which would lead to London, and we knew it. We figured we had all the beauty of the Highlands safely behind us, and could once again point at the horizon and twist the throttle, brains safely on pause, Ipod safely on shuffle.

Once again, I was wrong. Rhode Scotland had one final surprise in store for us.

The road that led from my future retirement cottage to Fort Williams was probably the best yet. (Yeah, yeah… I know. ‘Best yet’ once again. By now it’s an overused cliché. Thanks for noticing…) More impressive mountains screamed toward the sky, and the road snaked through a mostly barren valley. It didn’t suck either. With little traffic and no side roads, this would be the perfect place for a scenery overloaded scofflaw to really put a rental motorbike through its paces, maybe even flog it a little if one was so inclined.

But I would never do something like that. Never. Especially if John from Raceway Rentals happens to be reading this.

I will say one thing though. Man, that FJR goes FAAST when it wants to!!

That night was spent in another non-descript hotel. The only thing remarkable about the place was the fact that when we checked in around 8 PM, every parking spot was taken, but when we checked out at 7AM , every spot was empty except ours. I wonder exactly what kind of hotel we’d found…

The M6 was the same long slog it was on the way up, with the additional bonus of warmth. The sun was out in force, and as the day wore on, it actually got hot enough to shed one or two of my fourteen layers. Sometime around lunch, we once again had the same idea at the same time.

“Ugh. Let’s get the fuck off this highway.”

A small yellow ribbon called the A684 seemed to cut directly east, connecting the M6 to the M1 (See? Road names make for a confusing story, don’t they? Don’t lie. You glazed right over that part, didn’t you?) While it wouldn’t help us get closer to London in any real sense, it might be fun. A sign at the start of the road confirmed my suspicions: ‘Warning. Twenty-four motorcyclists injured on the road in the past five years. Please ride safe.’ This road has to be good. I wondered if we stacked it up on this fine racetrack… err, I mean road, if they would change the sign to read ‘Twenty Four motorcyclists and Two Septic Yanks.‘ Probably not.

The stone wall lined road was infinitely better than the highway, and unraveling it was sheer pleasure. No, the A684 was not the best road ever, but definitely ranks somewhere in the top ten. The miles slid behind us with ease. Thirty miles into the ride we came upon a small outdoor festival in the tiny town of Leyburn. It was amazing to me the amount of people -including about fifty of our motorcycling brethren – all gathered together playing hooky from work. I imagine in a cloud covered country, the sunshine must increase the amount of sick calls exponentially. Scientists should look into this phenomenon – but not too carefully.

These pictures doesn’t really fit in with anything, I just snapped ’em because they made me giggle. Yes, I am five years old.

OK, hang in there. We’re almost finished here. Since every good movie has a montage, I thought I would include my random highway-inspired train of thought montage that helped me get though the boring bits of the M1 back to London. Here it is, in no particular order:

  • For inventing beer, monks rule. Good job, guys!
  • Does every person see the color red the same way I see it?
  • There are no billboards anywhere in the UK.
  • Even without billboards, I still hate highways.
  • Why are there so many sheep here?
  • Are peanuts vegetables?
  • Random restroom graffiti – ‘i like turtles and werewolf movies
  • What possesses someone to write that on a bathroom wall?
  • I don’t think I saw any sheep roadkill anywhere.
  • Can a human bladder explode?
  • Oh look! More sheep!
  • Thank you World Wrestling Entertainment for giving me this backstage pass to the world.
  • Knowing me, knowing you. There is nothing we can’t do. (The entire ABBA song, or at least all the words I know)
  • What are sunspots?
  • What do they do with all the sheep?
  • I really really really hope a human bladder can’t explode!
  • Get me off this fucking highway!

And finally, the one that recurred the most –

  • Pillowfighting cheerleaders.

After negotiating the labyrinth that is London with it’s confusing traffic signals and tearfully relinquishing our well-used motorbikes, all that was left to do was smoke a fine cigar and offer up a final, heartfelt ‘Slangevar’ to what, so far, has been the best ride ever.

The Entire 1842.8 Mile Route

Next month – We take our own motorcycles north to Newfoundland and Nova Scotland.

The Great Unsponsored Nova Scotia Expedition Ride Report can be found here.

Share/Save
Categories : Uncategorized
Comments (3)