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Tour of Scotland

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Tour of Scotland

Post by JT on Sat 28 Jul 2012, 17:50

Now then



Me and three Mates did an anti clockwise, 5 day trip through the highlands and hopped onto a couple of Islands off the west coast a couple of weeks ago



























Write up to follow soon
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Re: Tour of Scotland

Post by stuart on Sun 29 Jul 2012, 10:16

I love the west coast of Scotland, used to go there each year & stay in Fort William for 4 days. Look forward to reading about time.
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Re: Tour of Scotland

Post by chilli on Sun 29 Jul 2012, 10:34

I get to go play on it anytime im out on the bike..




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Re: Tour of Scotland

Post by wes on Sun 29 Jul 2012, 18:17

Looks great sunny
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Re: Tour of Scotland

Post by stuart on Tue 31 Jul 2012, 08:35

Lucky sod Billy. Some class roads up there.
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Re: Tour of Scotland

Post by chilli on Tue 31 Jul 2012, 08:49

we have the victorian land owners and lairds of yesteryear to thank for the twisty roads we have here, when the roads were being laid none of them would allow the roads to go across their lands so they had to be laid following the contours of the then vast estates...we dont have a vast road infrastructure like the rest of the UK but what we do have its mainly a twisty turny delight.. scooter

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Re: Tour of Scotland

Post by JT on Fri 03 Aug 2012, 09:09





Highlands and Islands July 2012

Now then

Wee Al had organised a 5 day riding trip to incorporate the Highlands and some Islands of Scotland, for him, Ste, Dalton and myself. Lesley would travel up in the car and spend the week with Hazel in Irvine, going out for day’s here and there and doing girlie things while we toured Scotland.
I wanted to take the Blade and decided I needed more luggage space and for it to be waterproof if possible. I’d seen a solution on Haggler’s Blade off the Blade website and decided to give it a go. So I bought a second pillion seat and bolted the Givi top box plate to it. The Box looked all wrong on a sportsbike but it would do the job I wanted so I went for it. I also decided to wear my textiles for comfort, ease of use and the fact they’re waterproof.













Tues 17th July
We met Andy (Dalton) at a dry, sunny Scotch Corner services at 09:00


























while in the car park I noticed the pillion seat had come out of it’s position at the back of my bike. The front was still locked in position but the rear of it was loose and the top box was moving about a bit too much. I removed the seat and positioned it back in then we set off over the A66. Part way over, Lesley came alongside me and waved at the top box. I pulled in the next layby and the seat had come out again so I chucked the top box in the back of the Mini and off we set again. It was dry all the way as I led, followed by Lesley in the Mini and Andy on his XJR. We joined the M6 at Penrith and headed north stopping at the Todhills services just before Gretna Green for Petrol and a toilet stop. I gave Al a quick ring to let him know how we were getting on and a ‘guessed-a-mit’ time of arrival. We took the next junction west, as the M6 became the A74M at Gretna Green and travelled along the A75 to Dumfries. There was a police camera van in a layby, on the other side of the road facing our oncoming traffic which made us more aware of our mph but we were soon back up to speed on the fairly quiet road. Lesley did really well overtaking at every opportunity she had, to keep us making good progress and we were soon bypassing Dumfries and on the A76 to Kilmarnock. This road is a good biking road, especially the Thornhill to Cumnock section which has bends a plenty. We arrived at Al and Hazels just before 13:00 and Ste arrived soon after. We were all introduced to Megan, Hazel’s Mam and Dad’s dog who they were looking after.












We had a look at my pillion seat again and I’d bolted the seat up too far to meet the top box plate which had bowed the seat up enough to allow the seat to come out of it’s housing when riding along with the top box on. Al added spacers and we adjusted it here and there to make it sit right in it’s position and to add a bit of security, a borrowed Zuru link strap off Al, wrapped around the seat and seat unit so the seat would not leave it’s position, and I was sorted.































A meal and a few drinks and after Andy had showed us his ‘Ermintrude’, purple with flowers on, bike rally hat, we were off to bed to be ready for a 10 am start the next morning, the first day in earnest.













Wed 18th
I was up and about early on, so took Megan out for a walk. It was damp when we left the house but it started to rain while we were out, nothing too bad and I think Megan enjoyed her walk. Back at Al and Hazels everyone started to rise and after breakfast Ste noticed his rear tyre was flat. It was still raining so we put the back of the trumpet into Als shed while Ste fixed the tyre. It was a small nail and the hole was in the middle of the tyre so no probs to plug it.



















That done and luggage on, it was good bye to the girls and even though it was raining, I was excited to be setting off on our trip.



















A stop at a nearby garage meant we were all fuelled up and with my Sat nav on I led us out of Irvine, followed by Ste, Andy and Al as tailgunner, over the Erskine Bridge and up the A82 along the side of Loch Lomond. There was a traffic car at the southern end of the Loch but they were facing south on the opposite side of the road and didn’t seem to take much notice of us, not that we were going manic, it being wet and with nothing to overtake at that point. As we rode along the twisty section after the Bay Tarbet Hotel, it got very wet and there was a lot of water on the road, puddles right across from one side to the other, it made riding very interesting but we still managed to get by any traffic infront of us on the short straights between the tight turns, while navigating the puddles aswell lol. We had a quick stop at the Drovers Inn but we didn’t stop long because it was still raining and there was no cover.

































Off again and the road opens up and gets wider and is much less stop start like the previous section.
At Crianlarich we turned right then not long after took a left onto the A827 through Killin and followed the contours of Loch Tay. The weather did it’s best to spoil our day but I was enjoying the challenge of riding what was now, unknown roads for me after Crianlarich, in the wet and I’ve got to say my Sportsmart tyres were fantastic, filling me with confidence with every mile. The traffic was very light on this road and we made decent progress. The ride was so involving I rode straight past our turning onto the A826 in Aberfeldy. We had planned to ride along the A826 to Dunkeld then onto Blairgowrie and over the Cairngorms through Braemar and Tomintoul into Grantown On Spey where we were booked into a B&B for that night. As it was, I ended up taking us along the B898 by mistake and to be honest, we could’ve done without. It’s a road that is slightly wider than a single track road but has no white lines. We skirted the east side of the Tay Forest and it brought us out onto the A9. Three of us had water in our boots and although spirits were still high we decided at this point not to bother going on our planned route and headed north up the A9. 6 miles up the road we pulled into Ballinluig services for fuel and popped into The Motorgrill cafe for a drink and a snack. There we met two couples from Holland. One couple was on a FJR and the others had bikes of their own, the woman on a new white Triumph Tiger, respect.
Al spoke to the guy at the B&B and he put our minds at rest that we’d made the right decision not to go over the Cairngorms because the weather had been nasty all day and didn’t look like lifting so we wouldn’t have seen much at all going that route. The Dutch couples were going to Grantown On Spey for that night too, so we may see them for a drink later that night we said as they left. We were soon at our digs, Willowbank Guest House, earlier than we expected after our route was cut short by the weather and we were greeted by our host, Chris, in the car park at the rear and he pointed us to a larger than average garage size, covered parking space where we could park our bikes out of the rain and four bikes fit in nicely with room to spare. Although it wasn’t hard standing there was plenty of wood to use as a side stand puck to save looking for ours.
We booked in and they relieved us of our jackets, trousers, gloves and boots to try and dry them for us by the next morning, spot on. My top box had worked a treat and everything was bone dry in it with no affect on performance or handling in the wet. Showered and changed we headed out early to The Craig Bar, recommended by our hosts. It’s behind the high street on Woodside Avenue. ‘Connoisseur Pies Available Here’ was the sign on the front of the pub, that’ll do us we thought. Nowt too fancy, just good pub food. The landlord was pissed and I mean PISSED and it was only 17:30. There was three locals in and he didn’t ‘bat an eyelid’ at slagging them off and we didn’t miss out either lol. He wasn’t threatening, just drunk as a lord and he kept us well and truly entertained. Eoghan and Donna kept their promise of making the journey down, on the XJR no less, to come and see us and it was great to see them after so long. They both looked fit and well and were full of beans. They showed us pic’s of their two girls, who are growing up fast and they looked a credit to their parents. We decided to order food and we found out they infact only did pies, nothing else, pie and chips came on the plate and you could have sauce if you liked. Before the food arrived, the landlord stumbled upstairs as his evening staff arrived, no doubt straight to bed ha ha. The pub got a little busier as the night rolled on and the drinks flowed far too easily. The pies were very good by the way, my ‘Moo Pie’ was anyway, so good I had another plate of pie and chips, greedy b’stard lol. Eoghan and Donna left to get home before it got too dark and we had a wander to another pub. We walked into The Claymore Bar on the high street and low and behold, the Dutch couples were there. We had a drink with them and chatted a while before they left and we got chucked out the pub after last orders. Back to the digs and there was no rocking required as I went straight ‘out like a light’.

Thurs 19th
I woke to the sound of wet roads early on and so turned over for another hour before getting up and seeing a dry line appearing on the road from the traffic. Unfortunately it didn’t last and the rain soon reappeared falling quite heavy as we had breakfast in the conservatory on the front of the B&B. Unusual place for a conservatory but good for ‘people watching’ and seeing the world go by. After eating I walked up the street to an outdoor shop and bought some Seal skin socks. I have a pair at home but neglected to take them believing my Alpinestar aqua boots were water proof, mmm, they are definitely not. I didn’t fancy putting my dry feet and normal socks in wet boots to soak up the water left in them lol. My gloves and textiles are however goretex and waterproof so kept me dry and warm.












It was still raining as we filled the bikes up in town and were on the road by 10:30. Our itenery today was to ride up the A9 to Helmsdale, turn left, cutting the north east corner of Scotland out, we would go straight up to Melvich and then follow the coast road all the way round to Ullapool, our destination for the night. As we made our way out of town on the A95 I overtook a couple of cars and didn’t realise the small white transit in the layby on the other side of the road was infact a police camera van, doh ! It had it’s camera’s facing our oncoming traffic, I rolled off gently and glanced at my speedo, 66mph on the bike speedo was about 62mph on the sat nav so hopefully no ticket in the post lol.
Back on the A9 we headed north. There was quite a bit of water on the road so it had obviously been raining through the night but it didn’t hold us up. Not far up the road there was some roadworks with traffic lights. Ste and myself crawled up to the front and were first away when the lights went green. One of the roadworkers looked at us, shrugged his shoulders, lifted his arms and looked up to the sky as if to say, shame about the weather for you guy’s, we laughed and nodded and Ste went through a large puddle, about 30mph just infront of me and sent a wave of water into my chest and over the bike. I never saw that coming but had to laugh. Out of the road works we pushed on but I became aware that Andy and Al were not in sight. I slowed to allow them to catch up but still they did not appear. We pulled over in the end but there was traffic coming past us that we had all passed before the roadworks so they had stopped for something. At first as we turned round and headed back looking for them, everything was going through my mind as what could have happened but I then calmed and thought, not one car or van coming towards us was flashing or waving so I was sure they were fine. Al had been following Andy and saw something in the road amongst the spray and thought, ‘That look’s like Andy’s hat’ and then realised, it was Andy’s hat. He quickly caught him and it turned out Andy’s top bax had come open, he hadn’t shut it properly as we left the dig’s. He lost his rally hat and his phone charger but nothing else. He made sure the lid was secure and we set off again. The rain didn’t last that much longer. It was forecast to cheer up and it did just that mid morning. The roads were dry as we crossed the Cromarty Firth and thing’s looked a lot brighter. As we rode along the north side of the Firth we could see Oil platforms in the water. There is a dry dock there which fabricates and repairs the platrforms and it’s something you don’t see everyday.
We were gaining confidence in the dry road conditions now and the sun even made an appearance which bouyed our mood. We pushed on and came up behind an Audi who decided to ‘up the ante’ once he saw us but we allowed him to play for a while then passed and left him before some lovely twisties where he disappeared from our mirrors. Ste took the lead and pulled us into a layby for a fag and leg stretch stop.



















Soon after this we were in Helmsdale. We took a left, parked in a car park at the end of the street and went into La Mirage, a cafe/restaurant.





























It was created by a lady named Nancy Sinclair who was a great fan of the romantic novelist Barbara Cartland. The result is an establishment where pink is the dominant colour. Not a place your everyday biker would go but the food was good and it did the job nicely.











Back on the bikes we took the A897 which is 38 miles of single track road with passing places barring one small section about 30 miles in. At the start, as you leave Helmsdale it has high hedges and visibility along the road and round the corners is very limited but after a short period it opens up and the hedges disappear to leave open moorland with nothing to restrict your view along the road and you can easily hold 50 to 60 mph. There are lots of passing places but the traffic was virtually non existent after a few miles so we made good progress. It is very barren along this road with very little to see. Some hills in the far distance but too far away to be impressive. It felt and looked very lonely and quiet and a bit drab in places. There was one long straight, with no houses or wandering sheep who were behind wire fencing and just a wood to one side at the far end. As I came onto it I decided to open the Blade up. What a buzz, three figures on a single track road, it certainly got the adrenaline flowing.
We arrived at the ‘t’ junction with the A836 and turned left towards Tongue.



















It was great to be on two lane roads again with white lines separating us from oncoming traffic and we celebrated by upping the pace. This stretch of road was fantastic. What with coming onto a two way road from the single lane we had been on and the tarmac which hadn’t been too bad suddenly became race track smooth. The corners seemed to be all positive camber with continuous radius bends that seemed to last forever and the scenery was blowing my mind. On the right, as the road went towards the coast there was Bay after Bay and Coves with lovely looking sandy beaches and an inviting sea. On the left we had spectacular highland mountains and hills. Our senses were being battered and we were loving it. I just did not expect to be riding such a magic road with an excellent, unmolested surface at the top of Scotland and with the views thrown in, I was on ‘cloud nine’.
We stopped at Bettyhill next for petrol. The lads had said it was just a pump outside a shop but I still rode past it, I think I was expecting some sort of ‘Petrol’ sign but there was nothing lol. A Lady comes out of the shop and hands you the pump to fill your own bike/vehicle, apparently she is very protective of her pump and she even took my money and brought me my change but I think that was me being lazy lol.











We were back on the road after a short break and again riding some glorious roads with scenery to match. It is pretty much single track from Bettyhill to Tongue but like the other single track roads we’d rode today, not like single track roads I’d been on before. These are very open so you can see well ahead and can keep up a decent pace. The A836 became the A838 as we rode down to the Kyle of Tongue, riding along the hillside to cross the bridge is memorable. The road hugs the hillside and then takes you over a long, low, stone walled bridge to the other side and the view and feeling is excellent. Just before the bridge the road becomes two way and allowed us to up the pace again.















































Back to single track as we rode around Loch Eriboll and a quick toilet stop





























then hugging the North Coast through Smoo and following the road which turns South at Durness. Once passed Rhiconich on the North West coast the road becomes the A894 at Laxford Bridge and from here it is all two way for the remaining 50 miles to Ullapool. This was a cracking road to finish the day and a few miles out of Ullapool we caught a group of mostly open topped, 60’s sports cars from Europe, obviously on a tour themselves and it was great to see and hear these old motors as we nipped by them, one or several at a time on the straights between the bends, class. We found our digs,





























booked in, showered and changed then we walked out for our evening meal and a drink.









































The pub where we’ve eaten before wasn’t doing food that night, the chef was ill so we had a walk down the road to a hotel and couldn’t have been happier with the food and service we received. We had a walk to another pub for a night cap and then on the way back to our digs about 10:30 we saw three guys who looked to have just arrived on Beemer GS’s, they’re running late we thought. Anyway, a cracking day’s riding and scenery, one of the best I’ve ever had, covering 265 miles and the biggest part of it was in dry, mild conditions, superb.



These were taken at 22:10 that night















Tbc....














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Re: Tour of Scotland

Post by Haggler ®™ on Fri 03 Aug 2012, 16:48

Great so far JT...............pity about the box coming loose..........a bit more modding and it,ll be rock solid I,m sure.
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Re: Tour of Scotland

Post by bazza on Tue 07 Aug 2012, 20:20

As Haggler says... great read so far, Al, STE and DALTON are good lads to have on road trip. Looking forward to reading more ...
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Re: Tour of Scotland

Post by silverback on Sat 11 Aug 2012, 10:37

What a buzz, three figures on a single track road, it certainly got the adrenaline flowing.


You speeding on Scottish roads

I'm sitting in a crap hotel in Atyrau Kazakhstan so your write up eased the boredom, now where's the rest
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Re: Tour of Scotland

Post by JT on Mon 13 Aug 2012, 22:41

Cont.....

Fri 20th
I was up in good time and walked round to the garden at the back of the B&B. I followed a path leading down some steps and came out at the Loch side. I strolled away from the town a little way on the pebble beach and saw a lovely new house right down by the waterside, very picturesque. It was very still and quiet at 06:40 and the Loch was calm.



































I walked back up the path and steps to the dig’s and we all met for breakfast. I decided to have cereal and kippers this morning and it was a fresh one, not one from a packet, it still had its head and tail and was gorgeous. We’d put our bags on the bikes before breakfast and so paid for our nights stay and rode down the road to the port. It was quite busy when we pulled up and the three guy’s we’d seen the night before on the BMW GS’s were already there.











A knob in a car full of people tried to push in front of us but we soon had our place back and he asked us if we were in a rush ! prick. We were shown to the front of the queue with the three BM’s and we got talking to them. Turns out they were from Greece and had been on the road 22 day’s up till then having covered 11,000 km, 6,875 miles. They’d been all over Europe including Serbia, Croatia, Austria, Italy, Switzerland, France, Spain, Germany, Holland, and they had loads more planned on this trip. Last night they hadn’t booked up front and so had no dig’s and couldn’t find one either. They’d stopped in a bar until they were thrown out at 2 am then sat on their bikes until the port opened, now that’s hardcore.












We were soon all loaded and leaving Ullapool on the 09:30 ferry and sailing over The Minch, heading for Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis.
































































































It was like a millpond as the ferry took us on our way out to sea and exciting to be heading to an Island I’d never seen before. The sailing was a good one and the highlight was definitely seeing a Mink Whale which came close enough for us to see it but we also saw several schools of Dolphins. It was fantastic to see these mammals wild in the ocean.
We arrived in Stornoway just after midday and the weather was warm and dry as we found our dig’s a 5 min ride from the centre of town. Our hosts were like George and Mildred, laughing with each other on minute then falling out over nowt, it made us chuckle. We dropped our bag’s in our rooms and headed straight for a mobile phone accessory shop so that Andy could replace his lost battery charger

















then we went to a local butchers shop where they sell Als favourite black pudding. They had some unusual meats for sale in that shop











Once the lads had shopped we set off to see the Island. And what an Island. The roads are in very good condition, hardly any overbanding or signs of road patching like we have on the mainland and again the scenery was stunning. It is a very rugged landscape that has rolling hillsides and vertical mountains right at the side of the road. One minute you’ve got rough grass as far as you can see and the next Rocky mountains close enough to touch. The roads or to be more accurate, road, that takes you from Lewis in the North to Harris in the South (all one Island), folds around the landscape and keeps you engaged and alert. Wether you’re blasting through the mountains over blind crests and hugging the rocky crags or just rolling the throttle back and forward to maintain a smooth line and steady pace around the beautiful hillsides or tip toeing quietly through gorgeous villages, in the middle of nowhere, the place is brilliant. It was very quiet on the roads, which always makes the ride so much better, nothing to halt our progress or spoil our fun.






















































We made our way down through Tarbert on Harris, which would be our destination tomorrow, for the ferry to The Isle of Skye, and on until we came across a bay at Seilebost, with a beach, sand and sea view that was more akin to a tropical Island than the North West of Scotland. We stopped, sat and gawped at the view, it was breathtakingly beautiful. The sea was a torquoise see through blue and the sand a purest white, a sight to be seen and to remember.




































We decided to set off back north from this point and because there is basically only one main road from Harris to Lewis we rode the same road, only in reverse. It was just as good but with less traffic because it was after 5pm and we were soon back at our digs. Showered and changed we walked into town and ate in a steak restaurant on the port side.






























Once again the food was top notch if the service a little slow. We didn’t mind, we were in no rush. The starter which I’ve got to mention was a Haggis and black pudding tower with apple on the side, it was mega and we all had it. During the break before the main, Ste and I stepped outside for a smoke, just as the rain started. It was soon very heavy and the three Greek lads went past, I think they were still riding round trying to find dig’s and it was now after 09:30, poor buggers. We never saw them again, hope they got some where to stop that night. We had a walk to another couple of bars then I was falling asleep so walked back to the digs and left Al, Ste and Andy to carry on.

tbc
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Re: Tour of Scotland

Post by JT on Tue 14 Aug 2012, 21:35

Cont.....

Sat 21st
Al and Me were downstairs first for the morning floor show from our own George and Mildred at breakfast and they didn’t let us down, all over tea and coffee, god it was funny. We were packed and away by 09:50 and on our third run along the A859 to Tarbert for the ferry to Uig on The Isle of Skye.











It was dry all the way down and it was a cracking way to start our day riding that great road. It took us 40 mins to cover the 36 miles of fun that morning and we’re shown to the front of the queue to wait for the ferry.











































The ferry arrived just after 11:00.
























As it came in and opened up it’s front it reminded me of the ship that captured the submarines in the James Bond Movie ‘The Spy Who Loved Me’. There was a lot of cars and vans with push bikes on board, obviously coming on the island to do some excercising, sight seeing and mountain biking. There was also a cool looking VW camper van, with bikes.





































We were loaded on and the ferry backed out of it's dock at 11:50, bound for Uig, an hour and forty mins away.





























The ferry spun on it's heels and made it's way out into the sea









































It was another calm crossing and uneventful. We docked at 13:30 and rode the 16 miles to our digs in Portree. We weren’t first off the ferry and most of the cars etc were on the road by the time we got onto ‘Terra Firma’, consequently the A87, the one road heading south, was quite busy. Al had stopped at this B&B before so rode straight to it and we were greeted with a smile by our host at the door.











We settled in our rooms and Al and Andy decided to have the afternoon off the bikes and would walk into town and book a restaurant for our evening meal while Me and Ste rode some of the Island. As we were getting ready there were a few spots of rain, nothing too much and the roads stayed dry so we headed back up the A87 to Borve then took the A850 to Dunvegan. This turned out to be the worst surface we rode, on our trip. There was a lot of broken and missing tarmac and some loose chippings too but it didn’t spoil the views. We stopped at the Castle in Dunvegan for a coffee and the rain tried a little harder but again, didn’t wet the roads. We rode south on the A863 from Dunvegan, a road that runs down the west side of Skye with great views along it’s length and a much better surface. We turned left at Sligachan onto the A87 and again had great views and tarmac back to Portree. We showered and walked into town to find Al and Andy. They were in a pub funnily enough and we had a couple of drinks before wandering up the road for food. We walked past a church with a very good Saltire made of mainly coloured chippings in a flower bed
























The meal was another cracker with service to match. We saw a bit of a pathetic fight further down the road, handbags at dawn really but it made us laugh and we left the restaurant and into a pub over the road. I’ve never been able to stomach whisky but I decided to try a Talisker, a single malt whisky from the only distillery on Skye. None of the other lads would give it a go and I was guided by Al on how to approach it before even taking a taste, so added a dash of water and had a few gentle wiff’s before taking a sip. I enjoyed it, much to my surprise and toasted Al with it, thanking him for organising the trip, it being our last night before we get back to his tomorrow.











Back to the dig’s and head down for the night.


tbc.
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Re: Tour of Scotland

Post by Prunty on Fri 24 Aug 2012, 23:24

Good trip...
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Re: Tour of Scotland

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