Monday, 20 August 2012
I came home and washed and polished Ruby, she is now sparkling clean and ready for another ride.
I missed being on the bike today and missed the company of the group. I will most definitely do something like this again, and if anyone who did this trip wants to join in, even better.
Work was ok, it was so busy I hardly got time to think and if I start feeling stressed by work I will sit down, take a deep breath and think about our trip. I will also make myself laugh because Rachel reckons if you pretend to laugh eventually you will actually really laugh. However, I will only need to think of our evening in the Street Youth Hostel and that will make me laugh a lot!
I have added up a few numbers for your perusal...
Distance ridden - 998.56 miles
Total ascent - 19,994 metres (about 2.3 x Mt Everest)
Calories burned - 71,681 kcal wow!
Time in the saddle - 79 hrs 18 mins 44 seconds
Packs of Tangfastics consumed - 12 (oops!)
New facebook friends - 8 (at the moment)
Amount of money spent on WiFi - £17 - come on peeps, free WiFi is the way to go (especially the Holiday Inn!!)
Number of funny moments - too many to count, but every one of them brilliant
Number of times I cried - 3 (twice when I fell off and at the end!)
Favourite names of towns - Wormelow, Longdown and see photo below!
I will finish this blog with a quote that sums up the last two weeks
It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle. ~ Ernest Hemingway
Thank you for reading, I will finish here and hopefully start a new blog with a new adventure next year!
Sunday, 19 August 2012
We had a lovely breakfast around the big table again, and got ready to head out into the sun. The midges were pretty vicious, but once we started cycling they weren't a bother. I worked out that if you stop you have a 30 second time window to take a photo before the biting creatures attacked again!!
It was such a lovely day that we stopped for several brief photo stops, the scenery was stunning in a barren and remote sense, we loved it.
As we continued our journey the skies started to darken in that ominous way...and yes, the heavens opened. The rain continued until Bettyhill, which I arrived in a top speed as I knew there was a brew stop at the top of the hill (Betty's I presume!). After two comfort cherry bakewells we set off again, and the sun started to come out. We had a good few climbs along the north coast, but amazing views of Dunnet Head appearing in the distance. There were also many free roaming sheep on the roads and moorland which I always love to see, however with free roaming sheep come cattle grids, and cattle grids when wet are the arch enemy of the cyclist. I crossed one on an uphill section and felt my rear wheel spinning on the smooth metal, before I had chance to warn Rachel how slippy it was she was on the grid and then the bike slipped away from underneath her and she came crashing to the ground half in the road half on the grid, but in the middle of the road. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the first car that didn't even slow down and shot past rachel as she was lying tangled in her bike in the middle of the road...arse!! But I would genuinly like to thank the next 2 cars that did stop and asked if there was anything they could do. Rachel is fine, cut and bruised but nothing too serious.
We stopped for lunch at Melvich and Rachel got her cuts and bashes cleaned up, and then we set off for our final afternoon. We had a lot af great cycling in the afternoon, big long descents on wide and quiet roads. We approached Castle of Mey where we were regrouping for our arrival at John o' Groats, and also where we were adorning our helmets with a mass buy of yellow marigolds in order to be kind of chicken like!
As we left Mey, it happened again, the heavens opened...there was rain coming out of the sky on a scale I don't think I have ever seen before...it was actually hilarious. The roads became rivers, nobody's brakes were working...I couldn't have been wetter if I had been in the sea. But it was brilliant, it was memorable and we all felt great as part of a team and a big bunch of new friends! As we dexcended into John o' Groats the rain stopped, the sun came out and a rainbow appeared (this is no word of a lie) it was absolutely amazing. We had done it! 1000 miles of cycling over 14 days.
We had all the photos done and there were loads of tourists snapping photos of us too, it was a bit like being a celebrity. The Peak Tours guys had champagne for us, it was perfect.
There will be final entry to this blog tomorrow, but I am now back at home, I am tired and have to think about going back to work!!
|The view towards Bonar Bridge...starting to appear out of the rain and mist!|
Number of pairs of gloves beside the fire in the Bridge Hotel - 20
Number of cyclists you can squeeze into a small place beside an open fire - around 10, but with others trying to barge in!!
Number of pints of the Crask's Organic Lager drunk altogether by a group of thirsty cyclists - I'll hazard a guess here - 30!
Thursday, 16 August 2012
|The Pap of Glencoe|
Anyway, after stocking up with Tangfastics at the Glencoe supermarket we got our journey underway to Inverness, it was a bit of a soggy morning with a lot of low cloud so it was heads down and get some speed up time! We arrived in Fort William in about 50 minutes just as the sun came out and multiple rainbows started to appear. Our little peloton however needed a loo stop, so as Morrisons came into view it looked like a good idea. (See additional footnote).
|The Morrisons sign was a bit high up!|
We rejoined the A82 there and continued towards Fort Augustus. Nigel (Peak Tours) had a lovely layby tea stop for us at around 35 miles which was well appreciated. As we got down to the business of getting to lunch, Rachel and me started practising our time trialling techniques and got some very fast miles under our belt as we rode into Fort Augustus.
And here is where Nessie joined Ruby and myself for the rest of the journey. Ruby is now adorned with chicken feathers, a seagull feather, heather and now Nessie.
Uphill time trial time! The Peak Tour guys mentioned yesterday that the climb out of Fort Augustus was long and tough and they often used it as a friendly King of the Mountains, the idea being that we timed it ourselves and were totally honest. So we did...Rachel got 34 mins (K of the M) I got 40 mins, the standing female record was 42 mins...happy much!
We had a great descent and then started to make our way round to Loch Ness on the upper road. When we topped the hill over looking the north end of the loch it was incredible, the view was out of this world. This was also when I discovered the easy panorama button on my camera!
After a good stop for photos we descended into Inverness stopping for a Scottish Half Pint before finding our B and B's
|Enjoying some apres...|
One of the best days for stunning views definitely helped by the sun and blue skies. A fanatstic day's riding!
Weather - rain, drizzle, rain, downpour, drizzle, sun, rain, sun, sun and more sun (west coast weather at its best!)
Random toilet stops - Morrisons supermarket (today), In the Garden Hilton in Glasgow (yesterday) Abington M-way services (2 days ago), In a field that a bus drove through (last week)
Chicken - coping ok, but cut even more holes in his suit as it was soooo hot today!
Wednesday, 15 August 2012
|Loch Lomond Youth Hostel|
Monday, 13 August 2012
Looking out of the window of the Youth Hostel this morning we expected the worse in regard to the weather, however it was not as bad as forecast, and after a good YHA brekkie we set off for Moffat. Our first 10-15 miles were mostly climbing but with great views behind us of the lakes and the moody misty mountains. We arrived on a moorland plateau where there was a long straight with the wind behind; it was a great bit of road. The two most random road signs that made me laugh today were “Cats Eyes Removed” (ouch!) and “Cows Drive Slowly” (get a mooooove on then!)