Thursday, 31 March 2011
Tuesday, 29 March 2011
Monday, 28 March 2011
Sunday, 27 March 2011
52.12 Miles, 5hr 25mins, 9.63mph Average Speed and 69.41 Total Miles
Breakfast at 8am was delicious, full cooked breakfast, locally smoked Salmon, Haddock and Haggis of course. On the road at 9am where the lovely Clachan B&B owner gave us some fudge that we were only allowed to eat when we have climbed the biggest hill of the day! The first 20 miles were relatively flat but the headwind was making it a much harder ride than it ought to have been. We had to stop once or twice to add or remove various pieces of clothing as one minute we were getting hot and sweaty going up then cold going down and into the wind. It's really tough to get the right balance in these grey conditions.
We stopped in Dunbeath for a cuppa tea and the cafe had the most amazing views looking out over the sea. After we had warmed up, we set off for some very hilly terrain over the next 15 miles. We climbed up a good 100metres before coming back down to sea level only to face a massive climb up to approx 230metres. The first uphill was a gradient of 10%, the downhill was 13% and the stonking Berriedale Braes uphill was 13% but one of the locals said it was a 1 in 4 climb which I must say it felt more like the later!
Not only did we have the uphills to contend with, but as we entered the higher grounds we were hit with terrential rain where a great big black cloud was looming. As we came out the other side into Helmsdale we were soaked and frozen. We found a tiny pub where I walked in dripping wet still with my high vis vest on and helmet only to find a room full of men watching Scotland play Brazil at football, they all turned to stare at this allien invasion.
We changed into dry clothes and had more tea and a cheese roll each. Feeling more human we set off for the last 16 miles of the day to Golspie. Thankfully it was fairly flat and it had stopped raining. It even felt like the wind was behind us for a while. We followed the coastline all the way where the trainline was by our side and a gorgeous sandy beach. When I saw the sign for the beach first I thought it said Candy then I thought it said Shandy then I realised I was dreaming.
Arriving in Golspie we found the B&B which was just after the castle and in front of the links golf course. We settled in and showered then the owner offered to drive us to the golf course restaurant for an amazing 3 course Sunday Carvery that only cost £12 a head. Again the views were to die for. As we walked back to the B&B there was a lovely sunset. In bed at 9pm and it will not be long before we are lights out! What a day.
Saturday, 26 March 2011
10.6mph Average Speed
We unloaded the bikes and luggage off the train in Inverness where we took it in turns to mind the bikes and take in the sights of the City. We trekked over to the Castle and took in the views of the river. We had a 2hour wait until our train to Wick departed. We went through the palaver of loading the bikes on the train again, mounting and dismounting the panniers time and time again. We found our seats and settled in for the 4 hour journey.
Now this journey felt longer than the 11hour ride from London! If the train were to have a GPS attached I am sure it would produce a map that resembles spaghetti junction or at least the star of David! Arriving at Wick at 3pm we were just in time for our booked taxi which was not there to meet us. We made a call and waited in the freezing wind until he arrived, we were searching our bags to put on all the warm clothing we could!
Loading the taxi we soon realised only 2 bikes would fit on the rack so dad was left behind to call another taxi firm who famously said they would be there in 10mins! 40mins later dad was picked up and we all met at John O Groats, finally! The wind was bitter in our face and it was spitting. To top it off, everything was closed out of season and the well known Lands End John O Groats sign post had gone! The white post was there put the sign was missing. There was a note to call a guy who keeps the sign at his house and he would charge £10 to bring it for that key photo opportunity! I called, he was out for the evening!
Also, we had nobody to take our picture as nobody was there to brave the elements! We had to pay the very old half blind taxi man £5 to take our picture! You can see how good he was, never mind his driving! We all rang our bells and mounted the bikes and set off heading South. The first 2.5miles were up hill which warmed us up then we were cruising to Wick with the sea to our left. Again it went quick because of the beautiful scenery and the sun was setting.
We arrived at our B&B at 6.30pm, stuck the bikes in the greenhouse and were shown to our lovely rooms. We all had a well overdue shower and walked 5 min up the road to a hotel for dinner. We were turned away as fully booked and walked another 5mins into town to another hotel. We were asked to wait in the cocktail lounge while the table was prepared.40min later I complained and we were seated to eat seconds later. The food was lovely and we realised we had not eaten hardly a thing all day. Managing to escape without being charged for drinks, we crashed back at the B&B.
Friday 25th March 2011
After half a day at work we did some last minute packing leaving behind a few bits that now the bike is fully loaded we realise we don’t really need to carry! A slight adjustment to dads gears turned sour and we rushed his bike up to Halfords for a quick last minute health check. Panic over we loaded the bikes, said our farewells and cycled into Gravesend. We met Sam there and were pleased to see she had not had a change of heart.
As we were ahead of time we managed to jump on the earlier train which was the fast train up to London St Pancreas. Before we knew it we were walking the bikes in Central London to Euston station where we had an hour and a half wait which flew past with a cuppa tea. In the meantime we dodged a thief stealing a handbag, put Soya milk in our tea by mistake and refused to pay 30p to spend a penny!
Thankfully we could load our bikes and gear on the sleeper train 45mins before it left. We had to hang the bikes vertically in the guards cabin then me and dad hiked up to the standard cabins while Sam drew the long straw and ended up in 1st class! Dad and I shared a bunk which was quite small but cosy and comfortable. We all sat chatting until 10pm then tried to get some sleep aided by the rocking motion of the train.
Dad and I met Sam in her single cabin at 7.30am to eat her cooked breakfast then we had a 30 min rest in the lounge cabin to take in the views which were spectacular but we could not help but notice the dark clouds, the mountains and the large patches of snow! How does it manage to be raining on our standard class window but not in 1st Class?!
Saturday, 19 March 2011
Saturday 19th March 2011
Today was our final training ride before we leave for Scotland. With more blue skies and the sun shining Dad and I met up with Sam at Cobham Church to start our planned ride to my brother Mark’s house in Folkestone. We set off through Cobham to join the Cuxton Road and then took the old A20 which is the road we followed pretty much all day. One long straight road is always a bonus with my navigational skills!
We took our first rest break after 15 miles at Aylesford on the bank of the river Medway. We managed to locate a sweet shop that sold my Dad’s favourite Eccles cakes which went down well. We continued on to take another break after 22 miles in the grounds of Leeds Castle. The next stop was in Charing having done 31 miles where we found a pub that was open as it was now lunch time. A few power bars, a Shandy and a hot chocolate later we cracked on.
By this stage my dad aged 59, being very nearly twice my age, was leaving me behind! Both Sam and I were trailing behind but Sam had an excuse as she was cycling her bike fully loaded with 4 panniers and a bar bag packed with all the gear she is taking on the trip. My Dad and I on the other hand were cycling with two panniers and a bar bag stuffed with fleeces and dressing gowns! Not quite so heavy, or organised but at least we would keep warm if need be!
Sam and I were struggling for the last 5 miles where we were hit with a few hills. We stopped on the roadside at a roundabout where I attempted to regain some feeling in my bum. We arrived at Marks and enjoyed a nice cuppa tea having cycled 50miles! Mum had met us there to load the bikes on the bike rack and drive us home. Unfortunately, only two bikes would fit on the rack so my bike Betty was left behind in Folkestone. I shall consider fetching it one night this week as we leave on Friday! I can not imagine doing today’s ride again tomorrow and the next day, and the next day for 3 weeks!
Saturday, 12 March 2011
Saturday 12th March 2011
Today was our first training ride with all three of us together. The sun was shining and we were blessed with blue skies, perfect riding weather.
We set off to Eynsford then followed our noses through to Kemsing and Wrotham before arriving home approx 4 hours later with 36 miles under our belts. Of course we had a couple of cheeky stops at a sweet shop and to pet Derek and Madge the donkeys, as you do.
We made it to the highest point in Kent a few times during the ride and it certainly felt like it! I am sure the entire ride was up hill! Its only two weeks before we leave and have set ourselves a target of 50 miles a day each day for 3 weeks with the only planned day off to climb Ben Nevis.
Today the weather was amazing but this morning we all watched a BBC news weather report that showed a huge blanket of snow right the way across the north! Nightmare, fingers crossed it clears in the next two weeks! Come rain, wind, shine or snow we will make it, im sure! It just may be a bit of a shock to the system as to date I have only cycled in sunny countries and for Sam and Dad this is their first cycle tour. One of the major concerns is directions, we are going to be lost with out Kris to follow!