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Goodbye to Oban
Goodbye to Oban

Oban looked better on Friday evening than on Monday morning, so I’ve cheated with the photo of the day, besides which we had no time for messing about before boarding the 08:13 Oban to Glasgow train. There was a disabled symbol on one door but no bike symbol so we had to seek out the correct door for boarding, typical of the way rail companies make it awkward for cyclists while boasting about the facilities they offer us. Scotrail class 156 units are equipped with ceiling-mounted hooks, so you have to remove your luggage and hoist up your bike to slip the hook between a couple of spokes. I’d done two of the three when the guard strolled up and informed us they must be hung from the rear wheel not the front wheel. This, of course, is even more awkward, especially on a steel tourer with Rohloff hubs. “Bloody hell”, I exclaimed in frustration, the front wheel having always been good enough for rail staff in the past. At this, the guard launched into a tirade about how lucky we were that ScotRail conveys bikes and demanded to see our cycle reservations, which I showed him while commenting about how wonderful guards vans were. I pointedly examined the displayed instructions for bike stowage, which didn’t stipulate which wheel was to be uppermost. He mumbled that that’s the way it had to be done, even though it doesn’t say so.

We sat down in the lumpy seats for the three hour journey to Glasgow, on arrival at Queen Street we pushed the bikes the short distance to Central. Christine and Rowan didn’t have long to wait for the 12:10 Voyager but I had to fester until 14:10 as the earlier one had shown only two places available when I’d booked the tickets way back in April. They later reported that no other bikes had accompanied them, presumably whoever reserved the places didn’t use them. A passenger put a large guitar case in the space.

Eventually it was time to load my bike onto the next Voyager, again no other bikes were conveyed but four  catering tea urns arrived and departed with the train.

At Crewe I had just seven minutes to catch the Voyager to Bangor, so I dragged my bike over the footbridge rather than risk a delay with the lift. It’s easier to “wing it” with just one bike, so I crammed it in with two other bikes and a load of suitcases, sat down and before long I was riding back home from Bangor station.