Outer Hebrides - 2007


I've usually just stuffed everything I think I might need in the car and set off, only later finding with minutes to go before the ferry leaves that I can't physically pick up the rucksack. To cycle the Hebridean Island Chain I realised that some thought and preparation might go a long way.

I can't recommend Ken Kifer's bike pages enough for comprehensive information about bike touring and life. I found the site via Google and gained so much knowledge and inspiration for cycle touring. I've even recommended them to people who don't own a bike.

Following Ken's kit lists and using my own wild camping experience, I picked out all my lightweight gear, my most windproof tent and made a list of requirements for sustaining life. I also bought some maps, books, cycle magazines and thought about joining a gym.

I read Patrick Fox's excellent online account of his 'Outer Hebrides Cycling Tour' from Stornoway to Lochboisdale in 1997. It was Patrick's advice that it would be better to cycle from south to north due to the prevailing winds that persuaded me to start in Oban.

'A few Day's in the Outer Hebrides' was a very interesting online description of Ehud Reiter's windy cycling journey from Stornoway returning via Skye, hence the windproof tent choice. I then found 'Chain Gang - cycling the Outer Hebrides' where Simon Willis cycled from Tarbert to Lochboisdale and returned to Lochmaddy by bus, thereby starting and finishing on Skye. I'd never thought of using the bus and owe thanks to Simon for highlighting this option.

My brother John kindly offered to transport me and the bike to Oban in his Renault Scenic, the plan being to return home from Inverness by train. The ability to travel back south using the bus service on the Islands however, meant that I could drive myself there and leave the car in Oban.

Training consisted of a few commutes to work with a number of longer weekend journeys. I hoped it would be enough.

First day