It’s amazing what I forget to blog about. Like I never mentioned the occasion when a wasp flew into Andrew’s cycle helmet during the ascent to Tebay and busily set about stinging him on the head as he frantically tore his headgear off!
Or the second puncture I got yesterday. After cycling offroad for much of the day and many miles on a stony forest track where it was a miracle neither of us picked up at least a puncture. I then cycled onto the campsite in Fort Augustus and pssssssh, real wheel puncture from something or other on the driveway. At least I could fix it at leisure. Ho hum. Who was sponsoring me per puncture?!
Back to today. Funny old day really, a day of two halves.
It was already warm when we set off at 8.30am, definitely shorts weather. We had always planned to take the B-road route southeast of Loch Ness and avoid the potentially busy A82. We knew this route started with a big climb. It’s a big climb. A long climb. A fairly steep climb. A big long fairly steep climb on a hot morning. By halfway up the sweat was not dripping off but actually trickling off.
We had several false summits, 250m must surely be it, it can’t go higher than 300m as there’s no more land to go to. Four hundred metres and you reach the top. Fort Augustus is at 25m and the summit is only 5miles away.
By the way, on the way up we passed Loch Tarff which had the most amazing mirror-like reflections. Absolutely gorgeous.
The top has a viewpoint, and boy what a view. On top of the world. Worrh the effort just to sit there a while and take it in. The fact you got there using your own muscle power makes it so so much sweeter.
These early day climbs really take it out of the legs for the rest of the day though. We learnt this from Slaidburn. We still had the descent to Foyers to enjoy, which also had a couple of short steep ascents too.
During the descent Andrew’s 4th spoke snapped. This time on the cassette side so no chance of a repair even if we had a spare. No choice but to cycle on to Inverness. The rims are strong though and with loosened brakes it wasn’t too much bother.
We had a teabreak in Foyers and pushed on along the Loch Ness coastline. This stretch was lovely and shaded by trees. Made it a very pleasant flat ride with occasional fab views across the Loch. We saw the monster near Urquhart Castle on the opposite bank (see photos).
It wasn’t too long before we arrived in Inverness and a bike shop to do a reluctant repair. Maybe it’s a while since we’ve been in a city but we found Inverness unpleasant and unhelpful. We left the bike and walked into town for lunch, served by reluctant and unhelpful staff.
It took an hour and a half for the bike to be done. It turns out Andrew’s rear wheel has been fitted with cheap unbranded spokes despite the shop in Oxford saying otherwise. He’s not too happy with them.
We were glad to see the back of our last city before JOG especially as NCN 1 leaves it by the most unpleasant industrial route.
To leave we had to cross Kessock Bridge. We both agreed this was scary and the worst bit of the whole journey. Why? It has a cycle track. The track is separated from the traffic by a crash barrier and nothing else. It is less than 2m wide. The other side is a fence about 1.5m tall. Beyond the fence is a very long drop into nothing. And there was a crosswind. I have never gripped the handlebars so tight and willed it to be over. Trucks whizzing by inches from your elbow, the wind blowing you and the threat of a huge drop So scary. We both hated it.
Inverness really messed the day up, delays and rubbishness. The road along Beauly Firth was nice enough but we were pushing on. After that the roads were dull and fairly busy. Dingwall still has the maddest oneway system it had last time I was there.
We decided there was no hope of getting much further at a sensible time with no promise of a campsite after Alness for many miles. So we stopped at Evanton. A little short on distance and with a northerly breeze picking up tomorrow could be a long tough day.
We want to finish at a reasonable time on Wednesday so we’re getting an early start tomorrow to make sure we get to at least Bettyhill (about 68 miles) and hopefully a bit further than that. We’re stocking up on food before we set off as there isn’t much civilisation and it’ll save us time.
So I bid you good night and wish us luck for tomorrow.
Distance : 58.15 miles
Time cycling : 5h20m
Ascent : 1577 m
Average speed : 10.9 mph