Those who have listened to Terry Wogan will have heard of Mrs McKay who clears snow from the road between Cockbridge and Tomintoul, and many of the roads of The Snow Roads route have a similar propensity towards height and the white stuff, hence the name. Setting off at 7am my riding companion, the organiser of this event, and I made good time in the sun to the first climb, Cairn O’Mount. Having wrapped up well for the early morning chill we decided to stop and remove a few layers before setting off on the climb: On reaching Banchory we made for the café which my companion had assured me served a fantastic breakfast. It may have done at some time in the distant past, but the debris which littered the inside of the vacant property didn’t really take my fancy – so we made for the garden centre on the outskirts of town instead. Having wrestled past couples trying to decide between one long tangled mass of leaves and another we found our way to the café, only to find we had been transported into another dimension; a dimension where a bacon roll cost £4. We decided a coffee would suffice. So onwards towards Oyne, where we “thought” there was a café, and indeed there was. Unfortunately it was staffed by two of the slowest teenagers I have ever seen, and that is saying something. They seemed to still be asleep and pay no heed to us making coughing noises, saying “excuse me”, etc. I eventually decided to go to the toilet and on my return discovered my companion had manged to pay for a drink and a muffin, but that the “staff” were now nowhere to be seen. Bugger this, I thought, and left. Rhynie is home to “Funcy Pieces” café, or should I say was the home of “Funcy Pieces” café which now lies vacant with a “For Sale” sign prominently displayed. By this time I had cycled 125km and was in need of “something” and made for the Corner Shop (very imaginatively named) and found I had a choice of a cold pie or a cold sausage and egg sandwich; the latter won by a short sell-by date. The road between Rhynie and Dufftown includes Cabrach, the second Snow Road. Not much to write home about as far a climbs go, but in the wilderness. The type of place not to have something go wrong with your bike. Which is fine, as nothing did. The road after Cabrach and through Dufftown is long and gently undulating; and somewhat barren. Just before Tomintoul the road takes a left turn towards the Lecht, the third Snow Road, 20% at it’s steepest. Having only ever before cycled this in the dark I had never seen it “in the flesh” and was a bit apprehensive, although made it up to the ski station with surprisingly few swear words being uttered. I stopped briefly at the top to add a few layers for the winding descent: We arrived in Braemar just before 8. Excellent, the café is “Open ‘til 8”, I know this as I have seen the sign. Unfortunately, someone had forgotten to tell the staff and the café was “Not open until 8”. Having not eaten properly all day I decided a meal at the hotel was in order, and scoffed a hearty helping of macaroni and chips. Eating such a large meal after not having eaten much during the rest of the day resulted in the final 60km being characterised by me making rather strange noises due to abdominal pains. It seems to have had an impact on the local wildlife as we saw 3 herds of deer by the roadside – perhaps they thought I was a rutting stag? A winter hare also entertained us for a while by skipping along the road in front of us, before disappearing into the heather. The final Snow Road is the Cairnwell, followed by the normally screaming descent towards Spittal of Glenshee – I say “normally” as there was much braking as “shadows” skipped across the road illuminated by our lights. We arrived back at Kirriemuir a while before midnight, tired and, for me, still making strange noises. Before I departed I suggested my companion may want to change the name of the route from “The Snow Roads” to “There’Sno Cafés”.