On-yer-bike

October 2020

I wrote this piece in 1997 because of my inspirational ride to work, I wanted to share it with others. In that respect nothing has changed. I also wanted to encourage more people to cycle to their work. I was working as an Associate Instructor at Lagganlia Outdoor centre, on a part time-basis having left my full-time job at Low Port Centre, Linlithgow in 1995. I found that working part-time to be an effective way of winding down my lengthy career as an Outdoor…… pursuits, activities, education, learning ……. instructor, tutor, teacher.  Call it what you will it’s the same job. I decided to stop teaching completely in 2001(it’s a young mans job) and was able to concentrate on running our business and looking after our (then) teenage sons.

  • It’s nice to see Turus Tim (Folk Park now Museum) developing and expanding and bringing business to the area, although I am worried that local access rights are being affected. 

Yes, the Folk Park has developed a lot and is now Highland Folk Museum. Access to a huge chunk of Newtonmore woodland was lost almost overnight to the people of Newtonmore, it was fenced off without significant objection. I always found this odd as I was told the land was originally gifted to the people of Newtonmore. How much business the Folk Park brings into the village is also questionable, not a lot I suspect

  • I can see no reason the proposed Speyside way cannot come up the side of the Aultlarie.

The riverside route from Kingussie to Newtonmore alongside the Spey never became part of the Speyside Way.

  • Styropack double lorry. Where is it going?  Why does it use the old A9?  Why is it seen several times each day? 

I never did find out where this lorry was going

  • I have enjoyed watching the Duke grow from a burned-out wreck into a fine-looking building again. It will be lovely when it is completely finished.

They did indeed eventually re-build ‘The Duke’ after a catastrophic fire in 1996

  • I would like to think that some of you might be inspired to cycle to work. Do you really need to take the car every morning? Why not take the bike on the nice days and save the car for when it is raining? 

There are far more cyclists on the roads nowadays and new infrastructure plays a big part. The cycle track between Newtonmore and Kingussie was money well spent and it is so well used.

‘and so to work’

As I pass through Kingussie it always seems a bit busier than Newtonmore at that time of the morning.  I have enjoyed watching the Duke grow from a burned out wreck into a fine looking building again. It will be lovely when it is completely finished.

Once I have passed A9 junction the road becomes very peaceful; only the odd car most mornings and the Styropack double lorry. Where is it going?  Why does it use the old A9?  Why is it seen several times each day?  Answers please.  The road alongside the marshes is flat and I ride along on automatic, I find it a good time to think through any problems. As it’s so quiet there are plenty of chances to see some wildlife on or close to the road.  Rabbits, hares, roe deer, red squirrels, stoats and voles are the norm.  I take great pleasure in seeing the Whooper Swans   grazing the marsh close to the road most winter days. I often hear buzzards overhead. One morning I stopped for a small furry animal half way through its journey across the road, it was a mole and the poor thing was in severe danger of being squashed, so I carried it to the verge where I was able to follow its progress by the quaking of the grass before it disappeared downwards at great speed. Looking up from the road the views of the mountains are stunning.

My reverie is broken by the long hill up to Kincraig, at which point I look at my watch and if its 8.15am or earlier I know I’m in good time.  The hill through Kincraig and down to Spey Bridge is fast, 30mph+.   A good job there are no speed traps at that time of the morning.  In spring and summer as I rattle across the Spey Bridge I look right up Loch Insh, hoping to catch a glimpse of the Ospreys, sometimes I am in luck. The improvements to The Boathouse have been interesting to follow, and it is now an attractive building that blends well with the environment.

Now comes the hard bit to Feshie Bridge.  I am well warmed up so the hills are not too bad. Feshie Bridge is taken fairly fast so that my momentum will carry me up the hill at the far side.  I always have a good look at the river as its height will affect some of the things I do that day. Just before the top of the hill past the bridge I bear right past the gate up School Brae.  It must be many years since there was a school there.  Then it’s right again to Lagganlia by 8.30am.  This gives me about 10 to 15 minutes to change and get a cuppa before work.  The distance is 12 miles and I make no attempt to break any speed records getting there as my work needs quite a lot of energy.  The time taken averages about 50 minutes although I have done it in 36 mins (riding hard) and as long as 1hour 10 minutes (into a gale).

You may see me on the road as you pass in your car.  I always dress brightly to increase my visibility to other road users.  Please give me room when you pass, cyclists are allowed ‘wobble room’ according to the law.  If you have to slow down a little because of traffic coming towards you please be patient, I have every right to be there. Please don’t hoot at me, it will only make me jump and I might fall off in front of you. I too run a car and pay taxes and I confess to using the car if it’s chucking it with rain. Why do I ride to work?  Well, for a start, it helps to keep me fit and also saves a lot of money.  The journey would be hard to improve on, it’s almost traffic free, and the scenery is stunning and the wildlife interesting. Its also my small contribution to reducing pollution. 

I would like to think that some of you might be inspired to cycle to work. Do you really need to take the car every morning? Why not take the bike on the nice days and save the car for when it is raining. 

©Peter Main – 1997 & re-published 2020

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