Wednesday, 27 July 2011

LEJOG - Day 10 - Arrochar to Invergarry

Miles - 96.84
Cycle Time - 7hrs 53mins
Total Time - 11hrs 50mins
Average Speed - 12.28mph

Today's cycle was the definition of a ride of two halves. The first half was magnificent, Loch's, Mountains, Lakes, beauty all around and a better advert for Scotland you will not find. The second half was torturous heavy traffic, arsehole drivers, slow, grinding progress, the reason you sack it all in and decided that LEJOG just isn't worth it.

So back to that fantastic first half, we started early and traffic was light as we cycled alongside Loch Lomond. There were no navigational hassles today just up the A82 for nearly 100 miles. I really made an effort to enjoy the views today and there was ample opportunity to take it all in. After 30 very pleasant miles we met up with the girls for some Bacon Sarnies, but had to move out of the shade and into the sun to escape the swarm of midges, a summer treat that Scotland offers up to it's tourists. So although we were sad to leave the girls, we were very happy to leave the Midge invasion in our wake.

From the break we were heading to Glen Coe, a fearsome but beautiful mountain. The riders tackled the climbing with relish. I had begun to explore the Garmin Edge and was captivated today by the info it was spewing out on the ascent and current elevation. I began to chuck the data out to anyone that would listen, I think Luke quite enjoyed the new numbers but I think the data may have filled Dad with dread. We topped out agonisingly close to a 1000ft our maximum elevation being 998ft above sea level. There was still a feeling amongst the group that we hadn't yet hit the real mountain though, with signs saying 10 miles to Glen Coe, and after the climb we enjoyed some long fast descents.

As I had counted us up the mountain I now reeled off the descent to Joe as we rocketed down towards sea level. Joe remained steadfastly convinced that a mountain of epic proportions awaited us on the other side, but as we rolled into Glen Coe we realised the 1000ft max was in fact it. Instead of relief I felt a little disappointed that there wasn't more climbing to challenge us.

As the cyclists sprawled out on the grass, the sun shining bright, mountains all around enjoying their lunch, Pete and Joe headed into town to get Pete's front wheel fixed which had lost a spoke on the way up the mountain. The repair took longer than expected and I began to get very comfy and was angling for a space in the support car for the second half. The boys returned with Pete sporting a fancy new front tyre with a yellow racing stripe, Pete's spokes were of an unusual length and so they couldn't replace it and a new wheel was the order of the day.

Reluctantly the cyclists climbed aboard their trusty or not so trusty steads as it had proved thus far and got pedalling away from the idyllic Glen Coe. The A82 that had been so picturesque now turned crowded and nasty. Pete had been warned that we would need to pull over to allow traffic to pass, the road was a windy one lane road and so passing opportunities were limited. It was hellish, the constant stopping made finding a rhythm impossible and my heart rate was going sky high and it wasn't because of the physical exertion but the stress of it all.

Joe's pulse was on a similar upward trajectory, and so when a white van man totally unreasonably beeped at us after passing us, Joe told him in his wonderful manner that drivers the length of Britain have come to enjoy over the past 10 days that he felt that the beep was uncalled for. Cue a reaction, he slammed on his brakes, and I think we were ready for our first fisty cuffs of the trip. But he was just teasing, and to the relief of Joe and the other cyclists the van raced off into the distance. The best way I can describe the stretch of the A82 from Glen Coe to Fort William is Shitty with a little bit of crappy.

Having got through the worst of the A82 the cyclists still managed to encounter more problems. I got abit ahead of the rest of the group at some rolling roadworks, cue bedlam. Joe got a puncture halfway through the rolling roadworks, the spare inner tube he had was infact an old one with a hole in it leaving me in a layby on my lonesome with the only working inner tube. O and my phone was off to conserve battery as I was using Pete's spare phone and we didn't have the charger for it. I rang Joe to find out where they were, he said he had got a puncture and they were fixing it. I hung up and turned it off happy they would be with me soon. 10 minutes later nothing, and then Luke ran up the hill saying I had to come back and they needed my inner tube. I headed back down the hill to find a very frustrated group of cyclists, I gave up my inner tube and another 10 minutes later we were heading off and back through the rolling roadworks and towards Invergarry.

The exhausted group finally made it to the hostel nearly 12 hours after leaving Arrochar and 3 miles short of the satisfaction of another century. But the relief in the group was obvious, the stress filled second half had left the beautiful climbs of the first half as a distant memory. A hot shower and the girls Spag Bol soon had a smile back on the cyclists faces and the prospect of a short day tomorrow further lifted the mood as we headed for bed.

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