The Ride Diary

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Saturday the 15th of July

The first ton

Up early because Dad was complaining that we needed "to get cracking". We took some route advice from our very friendly landlord and set off. Putting our arses in the saddle today was an unpleasant experience and as each of us sat down, it was accompanied by either a scream or a moan.

Some way down the road, Matt felt that his fingers were too long and tried to remove the ends by putting them in his front spokes as we cycled towards Inverness. He claims that he was trying to adjust the sensor on his cycle computer but I'm not convinced, I reckon it's a finger length and vanity thing.

Dan, Edward and Matt at the 100 mile mark

And then we clock our first 100 miles. We take a few pictures at the 100 mile mark and then continue on our way. Our plan was to cycle through Inverness on the A9. We were delayed by Matt as he stopped to rescue a pheasant on the dual carriageway on the approache to the Black Isle. Before he was able to pick up the bird, a Mondeo put it down. It was a nice thought though Matt. While mourning the bird, we bumped into another cyclist who advises us against cycling the A9. On his friendly advice we re-routed towards Dingwall and Beauly, heading for Loch Ness.

Edward and Gary at the 100 mile mark

Well what a swine that cyclist turned out to be. He sent us on some killer climbs that our original route was designed to avoid. On the upside, we were cycling through some stunning countryside and this aesthetic compensation was more than worth the climbs.

We decided it was time for a mid morning break and upon reaching the Ord of Muir we found a hotel and enquired about a cup of tea only to find that they wouldn't be open for another hour or so. We asked for directions to a cafe only to be told that we shouldn't worry, they'll open up the hotel lounge for us. We thought this to be overwhelming hospitality.

Continuing our journey towards Loch Ness we travelled across more stunning country side and up some rather severe hills until we arrived at Drumnadrochit where we enjoyed the benefit of climbing with a mile or so of downhill cycling, some of it steep enough to be a tad scary. We met up with Bryn and had lunch.

We left Drumnadrochit to the sound of a solitary piper. What a racket, Iím not really a fan of bagpipes. Before long we sighted our first glimpse of Loch Ness and then Urquhart Castle. We cycled down the shores of the Loch for the next couple of hours or so. The A82 isn't the most cycle friendly of roads and the traffic movement did get a little hairy at times, but in spite of this, it was quite a pleasant ride.

Urquhart Castle and Loch Ness

At Fort Augustus we crossed a bridge under which flowed a river worthy of taking a picture, so I pulled in to retrieve my camera and Dan became the first victim of a stack. In an act of pure comedy, he found himself unable to remove his feet from his pedals, came to a stop and just keeled over.

As I took a picture I heard a shout of "Mate!" and turned just in time to see a teenager commit an act of Kamikaze like bravery, jumping out of a tree into the river about 40 feet below him. There seemed to be a pool between the rocks that was deep enough for some high jumping. It was a blistering day and I have to tell you that I was quite tempted to give it a go.

We then cycled the stunning shores of the amusingly named loch, Loch Lochy. So good they named it twice.

Todays ride seemed to be never ending. By the time we arrived in Fort William we were ready to give it all in. But passing Spean Bridge where Bryn waited to wave us past and Ben Nevis, we knew that we were just a few miles away and were lifted just enough to complete the day. Especially as the last few miles were mostly downhill.

The restaurant and pub next door to our B & B was good enough to keep the kitchen open for us after being notified that we might be a tad late. The food being excellent with beer to match was a most welcome close to the day. We bumped into a family of Brummies in the bar and found that we didnít live too far away from each other. They accused us of being nutters for attempting the trip by cycle, but were a good bunch. And that opinion was reinforced the following day . . .

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