Oban Sportive is a back country challenge making use, in large
part, of Route 78 of the National Cycle Network. Both routes make
use of single track roads and you can expect to deal with variable
tarmac and cattle grids. That said, a road race bike with reasonably
robust wheels and tyres no less than 23mm is the most suitable
type of bike. You can also expect plenty of climbing, steep descents
and winding roads. If you accept the challenge you'll be rewarded
with some of Argyll's finest landscape.
From the start you'll climb out of the harbour town of Oban emerging
at the top end of Glen Lonan with views to the East to Ben Cruachan
the closest Munroe. Back to the coast past Loch Nell and the main
road section south. Enjoy the level road around Loch Feochan but
don't push too hard you'll need your legs later. From there up
and over and ride the sweeping bends down to Kilmelford. The routes
split here and the Loch Avich riders will turn off and be straight
into the toughest climb of the day. From here on the road rises
and falls through sheep country, hill lochs and forests eventually
emerging on the shores of Loch Awe Scotlands longest freshwater
loch to rejoin the longer course at Dalavich.
The Kilmartin tourists head further south on the A816 skirting
Loch Melfort to the West and then another significant climb before
coasting down to Kilmartin. The terrain and the atmosphere changes,
the hills fall away, this area is littered with prehistoric sites,
standing stones, castles and forts. The southermost part of the
course joins the Crinan Canal with it's many locks and swing bridges.
Built in 1800 to shorten the passage to the Inner Hebrides and
Oban it's now an unexpected contrast to the wild country around.
Half way and crossing the canal we return to Kilmartin village
for the first feed station to stoke up. Heading north, the hard
work is about to begin. You are going to ride the whole length
of Loch Awe climbing and descending as you go sometimes in dense
forest and at others with views over the Loch. Some Loch Avich
riders will still be re-emerging near Dalavich and all can get
food and drink at Kilchrenan. Ben Cruachan will now be looming
over you as you climb away from the feed station and you'll eventually
descend through the ancient woodlands of Glen Nant to Taynuilt.
The final leg is through magical Glen Lonan, the back road to
Oban, this is sheep and cattle country and needless to say there
are a few ups and downs. Finally it's steep downhill through Glencruitten
and back to the finish. Well done!