Friday, 29 July 2011

LEJOG - Day 12 - Evanton to Melvich

Miles - 91.20
Cycle Time - 7hrs 27mins
Total Time - 9hrs 18mins
Average Speed - 12.24mph

As we left early from Evanton ready for our last full day cycling we were met by yet another midgie invasion. The Scotland we have seen has been stunning, but the midgies really do put you off staying.

The wind seemed to have really picked up today, and the route was exposed and so the riders were getting little shelter from the winds buffeting. Combined with the undulating terrain the riders knew they were going to be in for a tough day.

The riders were rewarded for their struggles with 'the million dollar view' at the top of a hill looking down on the Loch and forests. The riders didn't stop to admire the views though and continued on their way to Bonar Bridge and met the girls shortly afterwards for their final Bacon Sarnie stop of the trip. With plenty of miles still to go before their final destination the cyclists soon headed off looking to make good early progress.

With LEJOG nearly at an end, talk began to turn to the next challenge. I had already muted the possibility of LEJOG in 7 days in a couple of years and Luke and Pete had shown interest, but today the idea of a 24hour cycling challenge was put on the table. I really liked it and will definitely be looking at doing it soon, there is a 10 mile loop that I do round mine which goes through Eastwood, Rochford, Hockley and back through Rayleigh. The route passes close to my parents house and so would let me stop off at theirs for resupply. Pete thinks I should set off about 6pm Saturday and ride through the night and ride on through to 6pm Sunday. Estimates over the distance I would cover ranged from 200-240 miles. Look for a blog on my success or not sometime soon.

So back to the challenge at hand, which was still quite considerable with 100 miles still to go to John O'Groats. This was more challeging for some members of the group than others, Joe in particular was having struggles with his bike slipping in and out of gear leading to a sequence of collisions between a man's delicate bits and the frame of a bike.

I was struggling for motivation today, yesterday there was the goal of Evanton to look forward to and tomorrow would be the chequered flag and John O'Groats. Today was 90 miles in the most remote parts of Scotland, with few landmarks or people to break up the journey and the wind knocking the riders around. I think the other riders felt elements of this, everyone that is apart from Dad who was thoroughly enjoying the isolation from the world. Just us and our bikes, and I could definitely understand his thinking, this was what he saw as LEJOG not the busy roads of Paisley.

After 65 miles of hard slog the boys were met by the support team and took everything they had, keen to get re-energised for the final 25 miles through Betty Hill to Melvich. So the support team went on ahead to scout out our new digs whilst the riders took on the final 25 miles of the day.

The final 25 miles was a real struggle, on leaving the isolated one track road exposed to the elements we were met by the hills of Betty Hill and my weary body just didn't want to play. Our first look at the North coast of Scotland was a big boost in a tough day, but the hills of Betty Hill meant that the joy was short lived. With 5 miles to go to the Hotel my Garmin rang out of battery and the Edge was playing up so for the first time on the trip I had no sense of speed or distance, very disconcerting for a guy like me that loves my numbers.

We eventually made it to Melvich and our very nice hotel, and we arrived at a reasonable hour given the mileage covered. Under two hours of stops today with no maintenance issues and with such tough conditions nobody wanted to stop for too long on our breaks. The group enjoyed a very posh meal and went to bed knowing that tomorrow marked the end of the journey.

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