Stats for day:
- 82 miles, 6 hours 10 minutes
- Total ascent 3,890 feet
- Calories consumed – 4,794 (really starting to put day one into perspective)
- Saddle sore status: 5 – Gary Cooper (getting there, but not quite John Wayne)
- Felled tree impressions: 1
- Motorist altercations: 351 – whole day on the A82
For the first time on this trip, the sun was shining when we woke up. Good, but a quick foray outside to test the temperature showed that the wind had returned, a 15mph westerly. The first 40 miles today would be heading south west, along the banks of various lochs, so it looked like another tough day in prospect.
After the usual frenetic round of packing the bags, loading the route into the Garmin (should have been done the night before, but we got back so late from dinner having waited 45 minutes for our food - when I complained they claimed it was only 40 minutes - well pardon me!), tracking down keys, breakfast (self-catered this time), loading the bikes, we managed to head off by about 9am.
We made good progress down to Fort William, despite the wind and the first few of the heavy showers that homed in on us throughout the day. I guess out of the exhaustion we’re starting to get a bit fitter. Fit cyclists or exhausted heaps of skin and bone at the end of this; time will tell.
We had great views all day, the best so far. Bowling along past Loch Oich (left), Loch Lochy, Loch Linnhe, Loch Leven (above), many snow-capped peaks, we had to stop for photo opportunities quite frequently.
We ran into (metaphorically) a group of “youngsters” north of Fort William. They are doing JOGLE in 15 days, four days more than us. They were already on day four, so we had made up a whole day on them. But then again the guys had heavily loaded bikes, with front and back panniers. They had a female osteopath cycling with them. They had met up in John o’Groats and found out they had more or less the same route planned. I suspect the guys might have made a few adjustments here and there! Just as well they had her along, as one of them had messed up his knee.
We cycled behind the three of them for a while, then stormed past, so we felt quite proud of ourselves. Only to be brought back down to earth later in the day when we met guy in the hotel who takes groups of novice cyclists, trains them up through a winter, and then leads then on a 5 day Land’s End to John o’Groats endurance challenge. He thinks we’re mad to be doing it this way too. He says all he has seen the five or how ever many times we has done his ride is the grimaces of cyclists coming the other way battling into the wind. Still, if it was easy we wouldn’t be doing it. Hmm...
About 10 miles after Fort Augustus we turned east and enjoyed a tail wind for the first time in three days. This made the 1,200 foot climb up to Glencoe and Rannoch Moor relatively easy - payback at last.
In case you’re wondering about the “felled tree”. This was Charles forgetting to unattach his SPDs when we stopped half way up the climb to take the umpteenth waterfall picture of the day. The result was a surprisingly graceful sideways fall onto a raised walkway by the side of the road. This sort of fall more commonly occurs at traffic lights and ends up with the cyclist lying on the bonnet of a car with bike wheels pointing skywards. Charles’ variant was perhaps less embarrassing but probably slightly more painful.
After a fun descent from Rannoch Moor we had one more climb up to 1,000 feet. I’d forgotten to tell Charles about this one, and tackled the subject apologetically when the road, snaking upwards, appeared in front of us and there was no denying it.
Steffi and Cara had most of the day off from support vehicle duties, and had a nice time at Loch Ness. And yes, Cara did see the monster and took a picture. They appeared just at the right time for mid-afternoon tea and sandwiches on top of Rannoch Moor.
We’re staying at the Crianlarich Hotel. It’s a nice fairly large hotel with a hunting lodge feel. There is a huge group of hill walking pensioners from Essex staying in the hotel, and apparently occupying about half the rooms in the whole of Crianlarich. They are walking all the way up to Inverness. Good on them.
Tomorrow we head through Glasgow. Pouring rain is forecast and a strong westerly wind again. Just another couple of days and we are promised sun and 22 degrees. But don’t worry if you’re thinking you’ll miss the blog complaining about the weather; hot weather will bring a whole new range of things to whinge about.
To view pictures of Day Three click here