Saturday 3rd November 2018

A hearty South-westerly wind and the remnants of a rain shower greeted me as I woke. I immediately reached for my phone, to see what excuse Elvis would have this week for failing to make his rendezvous to chaperone the two fair maidens of Inverness on their route to Maryburgh. Ahh, the old "my alarm didn't go off" eh, only one up from the dog ate my homework.
Despite the breeze, the air was remarkably warm, and I needed to remove layers upon reaching the roundabout. I was shortly joined there by Elvis, Lynne and Donna (un-chaperoned), Debbie, El Parrot, President Ken, Iain, Toby and Dr John. A group of 10 is good going indeed for this time of year, and a brief discussion as to the route ensued. Recalling the wisdom of the old Master, "when a west wind doth blow, to Cannich we go", a decision was made. "I think Bog Cotton shuts at the end of October" ventured the Doctor John, but like much of the advice offered by Doctors, such as only drinking 3 units per week or whatever, everybody ignored it, and off we set.
Barely 20 yards from the roundabout, President Ken pulled over to the side of the road. Assuming this to be a clothing adjustment, we gallantly continued without him. A mile or so out of Conon Bridge, we pulled over, to find that not only was Ken still missing, but we had also now lost Iain. I know he said he'd just be out for a short ride, said Prima Donna, but he's taken that too far... Neither of them could be reached by phone, so Dr John went back to find them. Eventually he returned with news - "they've disappeared", he said, no sign of them right back to the roundabout.
We continued, the peleton now down to 8.
The westerly wind made it hard work on the run to Beauly, and we turned off at Lovat Bridge to miss out the Kiltarlity loop. Halfway along the Eskdale road, Elvis and Doctor John turned off to take the short route back via Struy - we were now down to 6...
Despite the headwind and the rough road surface, we made good progress and arrived at Cannich - only to find it was closed. Maybe John did know what he was talking about after all. Whilst debating our options, we made time for a selfie. For the second week in succession, one of our number managed to be smilier than an illegitimate love child of Changing Room's Carol Smilie and our very own Captain Jim Smilie - evidence attached, spoiler alert - it isn't El Parrot...
El Parrot ran through the options - Tomich Hotel? Probably not open. The Spar at Cannich? Would prefer to sit inside. The Cnoc Hotel? We're hungry, but not that hungry... Chain-gang back to Beauly for a late stop? Yep, Ok then...
Heading down through Aigas, Lynne realised she wasn't going to make it back to Inverness in time, so she summoned a support vehicle to meet her at the Lovat Bridge. Prima Donna also decided to head directly back to Inverness. Down to 4... Toby peeled off to go home shortly afterwards, so it was a mere 30% of the original group that made it to the coffee stop. Dismounting outside the cafe, we came across Lorraine and Angus, accompanied by none other than President Ken! At pains to deny he had just spent the whole morning in the cafe, he came up with a highly implausible tale about a broken crank, a visit to Mark, a trip back to Inverness to fetch a spare bike and forming a splinter Saturday group with Lorraine and Angus.
Inside the cafe, El Parrot and I both lost our bet when Debbie decided against a chilled Moretti, and instead went for tea. Suitably refreshed, we headed for home before the rain set in.
Best of luck to all those competing in the Black Isle Cyclo-cross tomorrow 👍

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