Powered by Tweeted Trips

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Day 7: Drumnadrochit - John O'Groats

We awoke to bright sunshine pouring through our window and I knew that today would be a great day for cycling. Following a hearty breakfast I went out to my bike to replace the brake blocks as I had noticed unusual braking performance on the previous evening and seen that the blocks were quite worn. Upon replacing the blocks it soon became apparent that this wasn't the main issue - a crack had developed in my rear wheel rim. The poor road and weather conditions had obviously taken their toll on the ageing wheel and although it was still ridable I was glad to have a spare in the car.

Start of the day with new rear wheel
New wheel fitted I set off on my way around 10am with 134 miles ahead of me I settled in for a long day in the saddle. I soon hit the first climb of the day and was missing the lower gearing I had on the old rear wheel as the gradients hit an indicated 26%. The steep section didn't last for too long though and I met another group of touring cyclists once the road started to level off who commented that i was doing it the easy way as I didn't have any panniers! I was certainly glad i wasn't carrying the loads that they were.

View over the Cromarty Firth
The roads on the initial part of the day were delightful and with the tail wind helping me on my way I was able to take it easy and admire the views.

I thought this was Scotland? Note tailwind though :)
Kerri and I had agreed to meet in Tain for lunch and I made good time and was able to enjoy a lunch of a bacon sandwich along with the lions share of a red velvet cake. We found a nice little park to eat in and it was really quite warm to sit and eat in sheltered from the wind.

Refuelling in Tain
After an ice cream in the sun I was back on my way and crossing the Dornoch Firth. This wasn't a particularly enjoyable experience as I headed North and the strong cross wind attacked me from the West. The road continued to head North until it passed Loch Fleet and turned North East and I could pick up a tail wind once more.

View from the A9 - great road
The A9 was a much more pleasant road than I had expected and I made good progress towards Helmsdale. Despite the lumpy terrain the wind powered me on and I completed 20 miles in under an hour. The gloss was taken off this slightly when another rider passed me on a time trial bike as if I was standing still, presumably on a record attempt!

A bit Alpine
Out of Helmsdale the road headed uphill quite steeply and I was soon regretting getting carried away on the flatter parts of the route. The road also turned North so the tail wind turned into a cross wind and I decided to stop and have a quick refuel to keep me gong. With hills to the left and the North Sea to the right the scenery was once again amazing and I soon picked up the tail wind again and got back into my rhythm.

And a bit Cornwall at times
With a couple of swift descents in valleys followed by steep climbs out of them the road took on something of a Cornish coastal feel, albeit the gradients were 13% rather than 30%! With these out of the way I took one last refuelling and refill stop for a pint of coke and some more water before heading over the moors to John O'Groats.

First view of the sea from the moor roads at the end of the ride
Intially I regretted choosing the smaller roads to the finish, rather than the A99, with gravel pasted road surfaces stretching out in a straight line as far as the eye could see. I was rewarded with traffic free cycling and the only company I had were small birds singing in the evening sun and lambs running to their mums for safety. Heading North once more the wind was no longer in my favour but the proximity of the finish spurred me on. Soon over one of the many small hills the moorland views gave way to one of the North Sea and I knew I was nearly at the end of my journey.

John O'Groats at last
Racing down towards the sea was really exhilarating and probably the best part of the whole week. Shortly before 8pm I arrived in John O'Groats to be greeted by Kerri and a bleak gathering of dilapidated buildings. The run down hotel and the closed stores were unable to dampen my mood as I was elated to have completed the ride. Following the obligatory photo's in front of anything that said John O'Groats on it we headed off to find somewhere still serving food and celebrated with a fish supper followed by a drink or two.

Happy to be finished on what was a great day

Thanks to everyone for their support, especially the following
  • Kerri for driving the length of the country twice and being generally ace in supporting me throughout my training and the ride itself
  • Di & Malc for their motivational messages whose offer of support should anything bad happen was thankfully not needed 
  • Everyone at the Manchester Wheelers for their support, advice and company on my many training rides
  • Everyone who has tweeted me and messaged me on facebook with their support 
  • All those that helped me along the route with lovely accommodation and great food
  • Everyone who has made a donation to RoadPeace, it really means a lot


No comments:

Post a Comment