or, The One With the Invisible Hindrance(s)
After a decent night’s sleep it was another relatively early start to the day, and I was out on the road (and the only road for the day!) by half past eight. Before nine o’clock two days running?! Woo!
Before leaving the hostel in Crianlarich I’d taken the opportunity to look at the mountaineering weather report. Disappointingly, it forecasted North or North Westerly winds; up to 15mph. Damn you weather gods!
A relatively flat first five miles got my legs ticking over quite nicely, and I started to think that perhaps it wouldn’t be such a bad day after all…I could be at Loch Ness by half five.
Then I turned a corner and hit the wind. And the first climb of the day. Just what you want at the same time…
After struggling my way up, the road rounded a corner; trees offering shelter from the wind. It was here I noticed the chill in the air and stopped to get my leg warmers out…no point being cold all day!
As the road dropped the views were spectacular. High peaks all around and valleys plunging down to pools of water. It was all very Jurassic Park like, and I really wouldn’t have been shocked if I’d seen a herd of Diplodocus grazing in the distance…
…I didn’t of course. That would be dilly. Although it’s so unpopulated up in the Highlands there could be that happening just over the next mountain and nobody would ever know!
Back up to a thousand feet and across a desolate moor offering no shelter whatsoever, the wind was picking up. I’ve got used to putting effort in on the inclines but pedalling downhill?! I didn’t sign up to that!
It was on the descent back down to sea level that I hit a crack in the road that I simply did not see at all. The jolt through the bike and the handlebars was shocking, and I’m pretty sure my yelp of pain was probably heard back in Edinburgh (similar to that of a dog if you tread on its tail, if you were wondering…).
The shock was bad enough but it was the ‘clank clank clank’ sound that I heard afterwards that worried me more. Stopping to have a look I saw that I’d managed to break a spoke…
…with a bodge to hold the spoke in place, but with the wheel already slightly out of true I realised I was going to get another opportunity to see inside a bike shop. Sigh.
I carried onwards, scanning the road surface ahead with eagle eyes – the last thing I needed was to hit another bump and have the wheel collapse on me…that would be a disaster!
Around fifteen miles later I reached Glencoe and, as if by chance, saw a sign at the side of the road advertising cycle hire and repairs. No answer on the phone, but there was an address so I went searching.
Found the place (not too hard, most of these places are pretty small up here!) just as the proprietor arrives back on his bike…explains why he didn’t answer he phone.
Unfortunately he didn’t have any road bike wheel spokes in stock, but recommended I try Nevis Bikes up in Fort William. After looking at the damage he cheerfully exclaimed; ‘aye, that’ll hold. It’s only sixteen miles or so’.
Stopping at the village store for some food, I gave Nevis Cycles a call and explained my predicament. They said they were busy but should be able to fit me in as I was heading in this trip.
I made good time reaching Fort William (still scanning the road surface ahead with eagle eyes!) and left my bike in the hands of Joe as I went off for a wander.
On my return, his opening sentence of ‘you have a small problem’ made my heart drop, before he followed up with ‘we only had silver spokes so you’ve now got an odd one’ and my heartbeat levelled out…! I thanked him for fitting me in at short notice and got on my way, the unplanned stop-offs having cost me around an hour on my day.
After setting off from Fort William I somehow made good time despite the head wind that was picking up once again. Whether it was because I’m getting fitter as the back to back days continue or simply because I was desperate to finish for the day I don’t know. But I got to the hostel at half past six…only an hour later than I’d thought I would as I set off for the day.
The place is lovely, but very basic. I somehow secured myself a solo room (with a Loch view!), which is a bonus in regards to getting some quality sleep. It’s also another opportunity to apply some Deep Heat overnight to try and keep my legs ticking over nicely.
Tea was a Soreen Malt Loaf with strawberry milk…what a mature diet, and, after a wander down to the ‘beach’ for a few photos, I spent a while in the common room overlooking the Loch chatting to other residents for the night.
Now I’m nearing the end of my journey (wow, first time I’ve got to say that!) and the route you can take is less variable than at the start I’m starting to see a few more cyclists. There’s been a couple heading southwards and there’s a four in this hostel (three older guys, one solo and a pair, who are doing it over three weeks unsupported; and a Scouse guy with his mate as support who’s doing it over seven days and is finishing tomorrow! To be fair, he does triathlons for fun and has finished the Ironman…!).
Tomorrow’s also the big one for me. Up to Tongue and with the twenty mile an hour Northerlies that have been predicted, I think it’s going to be hard work…
A liberal application of Deep Heat before bed and I was soon drifting off with a gentle song rolling round inside my head as it had been for a while as I approached Loch Ness…
You can knock it,
You can rock it,
You can go to Timbuktu,
But you’ll never find a Nessie in the zoo.
Stats for the day
Distance for the day: 94 miles
Time in saddle for the day: 7hrs 2mins
Average speed for the day: 13.3mph
Maximum speed for the day: 29.8mph
Total distance to date: 872 miles
Total time in saddle to date: 65hrs 24mins
Average speed for trip to date: 13.3mph
Route for the day…
Route profile for the day…