Been a bit of a whirlwind week in which I have suddenly acquired a national profile. What can you do? A journalist from the Sunday Mail got in touch last Monday to ask whether I was interested in doing a feature, and if so could she set up an interview the following morning. Oh, and if I was keen, could I arrange a time and place for a photographer to come by and take a few shots. Well yes, I’m cool with that. I was actually interviewed earlier this year to offer my bothy opinions, so I vaguely knew what to expect. Though I was aware at the time that I tended to witter on, and I hoped this time I would be a little more slick.
The next day I spent over an hour on the phone, and the chat went amazingly well, and by mid afternoon I had also posed for some photos in the National Library of Scotland, trying to look bookish and learned. And the piece came out on Sunday, a centrefold spread no less.
Had a prearranged trip up to see Dr John et la famille on the Sunday, so it was great to be able to share my coup. We had a mission planned for the Monday, which was trying to get up to the Garbh Choire refuge underneath Braeriach. A simple in and out, cycling from the Linn of Dee past Derry Lodge, and on to at least the Luibeg Burn, before yomping the rest of the way. Three bothies in a day, Bob Scott’s, Corrour and Garbh Choire? Bring it on. An imagined weather window didn’t materialise, but the drizzle didn’t dampen our our spirits as we headed off from the car park. And we made good progress to the burn, where we stopped to discuss tactics. I was of a mind to quit while we were ahead, and trot the rest of the way, but John was keen to push on, and hopefully cycle right round to Corrour, bar a bit of carrying. Now this could have been a plausible option, but the thing about the path was that it has been completely over managed, with little runnel channels and stone obstacles placed what seemed like every 50m or so. We had already encountered a few of these annoyances getting from Derry Lodge, but on the path above the burn they came thick and fast.
Anyway, needlessly to say John’s persuasiveness carried the day, despite my protestations that my beloved machine was little more than a road bike. ‘Hybrid’ countered John, though the mismatch to his front suss and 29 inch tyres was quite clear to see. And what happened? I had barely got to the point where the path levelled out up the Allt Preas nam Meirleach, when I got tangled up trying to change gear, knocked the derailleur against a stone, and the hanger snapped. Bollocks. John was a little way ahead and was almost reluctant to turn back to see what was up, but my cries of ‘game over’ did eventually have an impact. Staring down at my misfortune I have to say a did have a bit of a sense of humour failure, for which I did apologise. Well in my head I did. It wasn’t so much that I was totting up the repair bill , but the fact that we were six miles from the car. And for once it had been me trying to be the sensible one.
Well we persevered to Corrour, but phased Garhe Choire, and in the end the journey back wasn’t too painful. The return to Derry Lodge was vaguely downhill, and every time I finessed a turn I imagined I was old school skier Peter Muller. And on the final stretch back to the car John had the brainwave of giving me a tow, gripping one sleeve of his Gortex on the right side of his handle bars, while I had the other in my fist on the left side of mine . It worked surprisingly well, and we got a very satisfying double take from a lone walker, who obviously wasn’t up on the latest mountain bike innovations.