Sunday, 26 September 2010

Brora - Dunnet Head - John O’Groats

Miles today 86.9
In 6hrs 06 mins burning 2581 Kcal climbing 4140ft

Miles total 1353
In 91hrs 54mins burning 41841 Kcal climbing 60713ft
Most miles in a day : 106.2

Miles For Year 5917
In 371 hrs burning 199395 Kcal Climbing 233123ft

Sorry for the delay in this last post which was due to lack of internet access. This blog relates to last Sunday.

Last day today. It was a dull, cool start as I came out onto the A9 and headed North East. Just a few yards up the road I get flashed and beeped at by an oncoming car. They wave, they know where I am heading and what I am doing. It is touching.

Twenty six years ago I had ridden Land’s End - John O’Groats, and had gone straight up the A9, so this time would be different and I would take the A897 from Helmsdale to Melvich. So just over 3 miles in I turned left up a single track road to cut the corner off and started a 7 mile 1200ft climb up Glen Loth. It felt immensely remote.

Joining the A897, I turned north and with a south easterly tailwind made good time on a long slow ascent beside the railway line. It was single track with passing places all the way, and there were maybe 8 cars on the whole road. I slowly climbed out of the farmed and lightly treed area, up onto the heather moor. It stretches as far as you can see. Over the watershed and running on back towards the north coast. The railway turns east to divide for both Wick and Thurso.

This is an A Road

I can see the sea! There is nothing north of here for thousands of miles. Turn east. Then commences a 44 mile ride into a cross headwind that grew in intensity. I knew as I rode it that it was up and down, but the profile shows how much so. I was tired and hungry. Denise kept feeding me every 10miles or so. I can see the Orkney, and finally Dunnet Head comes into view. It is rather high, and I am going to have to go up there.

Dunnet Head
Through Thurso, and 1300miles into the ride, and I get the one last idiot, and indeed only one, who decides to blast his horn beside me, and swerve the car from side to side as he passes. I salute him in the customary way.

Finally a rest from the wind as I turn north onto Dunnet Head. This single track road is remarkably busy, as people drive up to the lighthouse. I arrive, Denise runs over and hugs me with a big bee. People look bemused, much as I feel. I am not there yet.

Dunnet Head

Pictures and hugs over and it is back down the hill, dodging the tourists, and back onto the main road. I continue into the wind. 14mph is my friend it seems. I notice the sat nav says 7 miles to go, and it occurs it is the last 7 miles. It seems that this ride is not going to give itself up to me easily, the wind increases, the sky spits water at me, I grind on. I am not stopping. They will have to take me away in an ambulance for me not to finish. I'll carry the bike from here if it breaks down.

Duncansby Head Lighthouse

John O’Groats, but this is not the real finish. A lot of official finishes are in the car park, by the visitor centre, but the furthest point is the lighthouse at Duncansby Head, another 2 miles on and up another hill.

I arrive to bee laden hugs. No big fanfare, just the knowledge that I did it, I did it all, 16 consecutive, windy, wet, cool days, no walking, no tucking in behind others, no one to talk to when it got hard on the road. Just me, my bike and a bee.

No comments:

Post a Comment