Monday, 22 February 2016

Day 12 penny farthing LEJOG

It was another grey and damp start to the day. We ate another excellent breakfast and soon made our way outside. It was raining heavily again today but we had no choice but to carry on.

The roads that followed the shore of Loch Lomond were undulating but all perfectly ridable. Although the weather was shocking we were making good progress and I was averaging 12 mph for the first time on the trip.

The main road we were following, the A82, was providing some beautiful scenery through a very remote area but shops and food stops were going to be few and far between. So we stopped and stocked up on food as soon as we passed one. The weather was still bad and we were about to start climbing so there was every chance the rain could turn to snow.

We forced down some cake and bought other food to take with us, if we were going to get caught out in a snow storm at the very least we didn't want to be without food.

Fortunately as we started to climb the mountain road towards Glen Coe the clouds started to break up. Although we were gaining altitude the gradient of the road was not that servere and I was able to ride 90% of the time.  We were making good progress, it was such a releaf that the weather has changed for the better. I can imagine that this part of an end to end ride could be awful in bad conditions but today it was looking good.

The scenery here is fantastic, there were signs of recent snow on the mountain tops which made for some great photos.

As well as stopping to take plenty of photos we passed the time by planning how we were going to get home once we reached John O'Groats. Now we were getting close we felt confident enough to book something for a particular date. We decided our options were either a train journey or one way van hire.
We came to the conclusion that one way van hire from wick airport was our best option and as soon as we found a place to stay that night we'd Google our options.

Back to the riding and it was just beautiful mountain after beautiful mountain. The best part was I was able to ride all of the time. The road snaked its way past the biggest mountains and although we were climbing for a large part of the day the gradient remained shallow and rideable.

We'd been cycling for about 4 hours and we'd not seen any other cyclists, then on the horizon I could make out a figure on a bike.
As the rider got closer I couldn't believe my eyes, it was superman! Or to be more accurate it was super cycling man and he had just started his adventure.. He was aiming to be the first person to ride around the world while dressed as superman. I bloody love stuff like this! What a hero! As I type this, almost a year after I finished my ride, superman is still on the road and he still keeps in touch with me. People like this guy make the world a better place. 

I waved superman goodbye and we wished each other good luck for the rest of our respective journies. After many hours of gradual climbing we crossed the summit of Rannock moor and started to descend

The only thing that was slowing our progress was the constant stops to take photos. For me, this is the most beautiful part of the whole 1000 mile ride.

Mickey was also enjoying today, the lack of town traffic and nice quiet roads  made for a relaxing day. It was easy for us both to ride at our own pace and not run the risk of getting lost as there is literally only one road. We decided that we would try to end our day in fort William.

If you get the chance to go to this part of Scotland you must. Words can't explain how beautiful it is.

It was hard to believe that when we set out this morning the weather was dreadful. For most of the day we had bright sunshine but the weather had one last laugh at us late in the day. As we cycled off the mountain road it poored with rain, Mickey was ahead of me as I had to keep my speed under control on the descent. We had planned to split up on the downhill and then regroup at the first petrol station that we passed.

By the time I caught up with Mickey I was frozen, my gloves were soaked and I couldn't feel my hands. Fortunately this petrol station had a toilet and that had a hot air hand dryer. I spent about 10 minutes warming up under this while Mickey bought us a coffee each. The final thing I did before cycling on was to take some of the disposable gloves they provide at diesel pumps. My gloves were still soaking so I used the disposable gloves as a liner, it worked to a point and was certainly better than doing nothing.

At long last we rolled into Fort William and set about finding somewhere to stay.

We picked out a prime spot on the road into the village. We decided to stay at the clan macduff hotel. We had stayed here before on our first end to end in 2003 and it was lovely. Good food, good beer and a fantastic location.

Just look at that view from the bar!

So the day was over, looking back on the journey now we both agree that this was the best day we had. It started out in grim weather and we were uncertain how much progress we would make. It finished up being a thoughly enjoyable day in beautiful scenery.

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