Friday 29 April: A day in Invergordon. Not technically a cycling day in terms of mileage progress, but worth a mention.
Fondo is fixed. Thanks to Bruce for the sharp thinking and instant contacts, Neil for the 11 mile lift back to the nearest bike shop at Tain in the big blue van and Marcus of Tain himself, a most knowledgeable and obliging bicycle repair man.
I’m increasingly aware that this is not a solo effort. Ok, I’m on my own for much of each cycling day but there’s no way I’d get very far without the aid of many good people.
Two unreserved plugs:
1. MounTain Bikes, Cadboll Street, Tain. (I love a good pun, especially if it’s not mine)
2. The Marine Hotel, High Street, Invergordon. Perfect for those occasions when you want a great meal, well kept beer, help with your smarter-than-you-are phone, great company, a seriously good choice of wee drams, and don’t feel like driving, cycling or even walking home.
Invergordon has a fascinating past, steeped in maritime history, both naval and industrial. It has a close community feel for quite a large place but concerns over gradually declining employment prospects. Despite the uncertain future, Invergordon still has an optimistic feel.
Today, there are three large, foreign cruise ships docked, bringing enough tourists from afar to almost double the town’s population for a day. A lot of them immediately boarded the waiting coaches and set off on a tour of Loch Ness or to the splendid, more local Dunrobin Castle (home for retired thieves & burglars?). Some ambled through the streets, looking for a cash machine to draw some Scottish Stirling. The more discerning, or simply hungry, follow their noses to the source of the appetising aroma of fried onions and burgers, coming from the Invergordon Lifeboat Station, which just so happens to be holding one of its main fundraising events of the year. I know this, because I was there.
Having spent a fascinating hour in Tain watching a couple of professional glass blowers creating beautiful bottles, I then cycled the 11 miles back to the good burgers of Invergordon.
The pop-up Lifeboat kitchen was in full flow with Kevin, the Lifeboat mechanic looking as comfortable at the grille as he probably is in the boat’s engine room.
Other crew, present and past, conducted guided tours of the Trent Class Lifeboat. More volunteers poured tea, sold Lifeboat Shop gifts and gave a passing cyclist lots of useful contact details and advice about his next day on the road. Thank you Bruce, Kevin, Neil, Michael, Allan, Colin, David, Charlie and the other equally good people of Invergordon who’s names momentarily escape me.
Time to move on, before I get too comfortably settled to leave this great community and become a permanent resident at The Marine Hotel.