Back in the halcyon pre-COVID days of 2019, we took a strange road-trip. The destination was the most excellent Overland Event in Oxford (no, that part wasn’t strange). It was the journey that was a little odd, because we went in convoy with me on a bike and The Doc following in a car. (Long story – and hey, it was another great way of not having to pack up the bike with luggage…)
Since it wasn’t a Proper Bike Trip and timescales were short, we didn’t take the scenic route. We did the trip in one fairly grinding day, on motorways for most of it. I was reminded just how Not Fun motorway riding can be, and why Avoid Motorways is my second-favourite SatNav option (after I’ve gone randomly exploring and I’m now completely lost, please rescue me.).
It’s not that motorways are intrinsically scary. Nor is it that they’re especially unsafe. They’re just boring. And boring, perversely, is also tiring. It’s a constant challenge to keep up your best biking spidey-senses when you haven’t even had to change gear in the last hundred miles, let alone kick down a couple for a hill-climb or a tasty corner. The most exciting riding challenge on the M6 was – scandalously, for such a major arterial! – avoiding potholes in the surface.
In designing the Crieff Cloverleaf routes, we made a deliberate decision to avoid motorways and other dual carriageways wherever we could. It’s only Leg 1 of the Cloverleaf South route that spends any significant time on the dual (A9/M9, M80, M73, M74 – relatively scenic motorway stretches, as these things go).
Basically, between the Glorious North and the Beautiful South of Scotland lies the populous Central Belt, with its roundabouts, traffic lights, tailbacks, school runs and the like. Taking the motorway is the best way to avoid town traffic and scoot down to the Borders in time for your morning coffee stop.
You’ll be glad to know that the route back through the Central Belt mostly avoids motorways and towns – and the one short stretch of the M9 we follow on the way home passes right by the famous Kelpies. (Seen this beautiful timelapse movie of their construction?)
So rest assured – even if you have to take some motorways to get yourself up to Scotland, once you’re on the Crieff Cloverleaf, you won’t have to put up with all that motorway tedium. Enjoy!