126 miles 9 hours of cycling, 11 hours on the road.High mountain passes - yep
Blazing sunshine - yep
Friendly people with funny accents - yep.
I'm obviously in the Pyrenees not Scotland.Today has been tough both emotionally and physically. I had a lovely breakfast cooked by Keith at Kinkell House, packed my bag, got my bike ready, then said goodbye to Keith and Clare, who were lovely hosts. I started off slowly, spinning rather than grinding the pedals as I knew I had a long way to go and a decent amount of climbing to do. From the moment I left Inverness till I arrived in Glenfarg I hardly saw a cloud in the sky. 4 times I applied factor 50 suncream, but still my face is burnt. Glad that I put my arm warmers on to save my arms getting burnt.
I was doing well, so at Cairn I stopped to take photos of the waterfall, then, not realising I was only 4 miles from my intended stop at Aviemore, I went across the road for a cup of coffee and banana cake. As I was finishing my coffee, a biker in black leather asked if he could sit at my table. For the next 20 minutes we chatted about my challenge, why I was doing it and we shared our stories about Prostate cancer. Suffice to say, Alan was a genuinely lovely guy and I had more than a tear in my eye chatting to him and for the next few miles. Cheers Alan, I hope you enjoy you time up in the north on your steel horse.
I had thought after about 50 miles that the climbing had been done for the day. How wrong was I... I had about another 20 miles of climbing or flat roads. When the downhill came, I suffered my first puncture of the trip. It was own fault, going down the rough cycle path as if I was on a mountain bike, should have been mote observant. Still it gave me a few minutes rest while I changed the tube and pumped it up.
Travelling down from Inverness I started going through so many towns that I remember from my childhood camping/caravaning in Scotland. Blair Atholl (photo to follow), Pitlochey, Killiecranky... again very emotional.
As I approached Perth, my Garmin had a "moment" and decided to send me down the A9 for about 4 miles, I thought London was bad, nowhere near as scary as the A9 on a Saturday evening in Perth. Glad that's out of the way.
This evening I am staying in the Glenfarg Hotel, also I had dinner here. rather late at 9.20. After that I went through to the public bar and had a pleasant chat to Wayne who is up here from Durham, as he is about to have a 4hour learn to fly experience. A few pints of Guineas later and it was tome to come up to bed.
Tomorrow I head down to the borders at Gretna. Not expecting too much, as I would imagine Gretna to be quite a dreary place. We will see. At least it is only 114 miles tomorrow, gives the legs a rest :-S 3 days and I shall be in the Midlands whoop whoop!
First of the big days today, 112.85 miles.
Unfortunately it doesn't appear that the photo uploaded is working for blogs, so I will have to add pictures in a few days when I have access to a pc.
Breakfast today was HUGE, so much that I couldn't finish. Cereals to begin, cooked to follow. Not the best, but it filled a hole.
I set off today with the weather changeable, so put my rain jacket on just in case and also to keep warm. However, after about 40 miles it was too hot, so I took it off and strapped it to my bag. From about 50 miles on, I hardly saw a cloud, it was beautiful. I've never done the north east of Scotland before, but cycling down the coast brought a few tears to my eyes with the sun out as Dad would have loved to have taken hundreds of photos on a day like today. Not quite as nice as the islands on the west coast, but a close second.
I cycled on the A99 followed by the A9, but as I was making good progress, I decided to cut inland and take the smaller c road over to Alness, through the forest. Sheltered from the wind, but with the sun beating down, being on my own for miles at a time with no traffic, its hard to beat being on the bike in Scotland.
Once I arrived in Alness, I asked a lady if there was a cafe or pub where I could sit outside. Her response was"this is the first sun we've had for 5 years..." I took that as a no, so bought a milkshake and mars bar and sat on a bench in the high street, watching the World go by.
Arriving at my b&b for the night, I was met by one of the owners, Claire, who asked me fill out the necessary form, before showing me up to my room. Once inside my room, she took great delight in showing me how she had decorated it especially for my birthday. The pictures will speak for themself when I upload later :-) I then went downstairs to sort out my bike and Keith, Claire's partner invited me for a glass of wine later in the evening, which of course I duly obliged. It was lovely talking to Keith and Claire, if you are ever in Inverness, check out the Kinkell House b&b, thoroughly recommended. on their recommendation, I had dining at Riva restaurant which over looks the castle, a very nice meal, more than my budget for the day, but it is my Birthday :-)Tomorrow is on to Glenfarg, my biggest day of the JOGLE, both in distance and also altitude climbed. Could be a late night. At least most of the climbing is done in the first 50 miles, before about 25 miles of downhill. If I have time, I may take in the Highland games in Blair Atholl.
After 22 hours I finally made it from Eastbourne up to Wick, before cycling for 1hr40 in winds of up to 40mph up to JOG. After getting a fellow tourist to take my photo, I quickly got back on my bike to cycle back. No point in hanging around in the cold at JOG...
Over 18 hours on trains can get a bit boring, luckily I was in the privileged position of being given my own sleeper birth rather than having to share. A good nights sleep was had before being provided with several cups of coffee and shortbread by carriage host David at 7am. Looking out the window whilst drinking said coffee, was not inspiring. As we were going through the Cairngorms a blizzard ensued, which although the mountains looked fantastic, it doesn't bode well for the next couple of days.
Tonight I am staying in the Harbour House B&B in Wick. Very comfy room, no ensuite, but a private bathroom across the hall, so not so bad. I have been to the local Weatherspoons for food, chicken wings to start followed by chicken curry, all washed down by a couple of pints of beer. £1.85 a pint, I love Scotland :-)
Tomorrow it's breakfast in bed at 7.30!
hope to get a few miles in before 2nd breakfast, looking forward to getting up Berridale first. A few big bridges to go across tomorrow which I'm really not looking forward to. Ho hum. Onwards and downwards.
17 miles done. 55mins.
On the train to Wick, I've seen snow, rain and sun today so far. Typical day in Scotland....
So I've battled across London on the bike, it's actually a lot quicker than in a car, but even more scary.. :-S Cabin has been found for the night and already met another JOGLE'r who is doing it in 11 days. Time will tell how much sleep I can get, not exactly much room in this cabin.
So, just one week to go until I catch the train up to Scotland to start on my JOGLE. I must admit nerves are starting to kick in, as well as excitement and anticipation. Early forecasts are for the weather to be lenient on the first couple of days, but as we all know, that is likely to change between now and the 23rd May. I have done a trial run of packing my bag and although it is going to be a tight squeeze, it looks as though I can just about manage to get everything in with a little bit of squashed room for food each day. I might have to have my non cycling shoes wrapped in a bag and strapped to my Carradice Nelson Longflap though.
A couple of weekends ago I had the pleasure of going to the Enigma Bikes open day in Hailsham and what a thoroughly enjoyable day it was. Lots of cakes, coffee and beautiful bikes. Not only did we get to see how the bike frames were made, but I also managed to grab a ride on the new Equinox. Just need to find about £5K to spec it to how I would like….. Sean Yates was there also. For those of you that are not really into cycling, Sean is one of the greatest British riders of all time. He has won stages at some of the biggest cycle events in the World; Tour De France – to wear the Maillot Jaune, Vuelta a Espana and also Paris-Nice. Not only that, but he was part of the team last year that coached Bradley Wiggins to win the Tour De France. Not a bad Palmarès.
I have been out on a few longish rides over the last week or two, but will probably let the legs rest a little between now and next week, just a few laps of Beachy Head and other local rides. The bike has been checked over, chain oiled, gears indexed, brakes adjusted, just need the engine to be filled with food ;-)
Same again tonight as I did my favourite ride around Beachy Head. 2 seconds quicker than last night I might add. As Dave Brailsford would say, it all adds up (or subtracts, whichever way you want to look at it).
I have a decision to make about Saturday, go for a long ride or go to the Enigma open day. I know I should do the long ride, but Enigma are showing off all their frame making skills which sounds fascinating and something that you don't get to see normally. Also, they have former Yellow Jersey wearer and stage winner at the TdF and Vuelta, Sean Yates, turning up for a two hour ride in the afternoon. Will have to give them a call tomorrow morning to see if I can borrow a demo bike for the day. I could always do a couple more hours afterwards.
This time in 3 weeks I will have completed the first 17 miles of my JOGLE.
3 weeks today I shall be on the train up to Scotland to start my JOGLE. The weeks seem to be flying by as I get closer to the start date, nerves, apprehension but also excitement is starting to creep in. A cheeky little 16 miles were done tonight as I aim to ride every day this month. Strava has a challenge to cycle as many km's as possible this month, I'm aiming for 3000+ :-)
It's the end of April, which means that I am just over 3 weeks away from starting my JOGLE. As the long rides increase, I am getting a realisation of just how hard this is going to be to achieve in just over 8 days, cycling from the top of Scotland to the bottom of England. 121 miles were cycled yesterday with the last 40 miles into a strong coastal headwind, it may have been flat, but there was no escape. I struggled to get the speed above 10mph at a few points as I became tired and bored of the wind.
I have booked a few "me" days over the next couple of weeks so that I can add in extra training without affecting family life too much. Next weekend I should be able to do about 200 miles over Saturday and Sunday, have Monday as a family day, then another 100+ miles on Tuesday. If all goes well over the weekend, it will add a good confidance boost...
It's also time I started to seriously think about exactly what I will be taking with me. A few basic tools need to be included, spare cycling clothes and a few clothes for the evening. I need to leave enough space in by bag for food though which I will be buying as I go along. Lots of Bananananananas and Mars bars methinks.
A nice ride today with Ian and Jez. I cycled over to Polegate to meet up at Ians house, then we went on a 35 mile loop around the Sussex lanes in the Sun. Yes I did say Sun!! Not a cloud in the sky for the whole ride, although it was still quite cool. After we arrived back at Ian's I thought I would go the long way home up to Beachy Head to add a few extra miles and a few hundred more feet of climbing. An afternoon at the golf with Caleb followed by going out for an Indian topped off a lovely day. I'm looking forward to riding about 100 miles tomorrow.