Saturday, 15 May 2010

Today has been a mixture of Brilliant, Not Quite so Brilliant, and Awful. I’ll start with the Brilliant.

The scenery today was brilliant and varied. I came down out from Golspie and crossed over Loch Fleet and followed the southern shore on a single track road with almost zero traffic. It was flat and smooth and wonderful all the way through Dornoch and onto the Dornoch bridge. The bridge was busy with fast traffic - it is the A9 of course - and I peeled off into Tain. Soon after that, the Awful started ........

Much later, I followed the southern shore of the Beauly Firth, again perfect and single track and deserted. Actually, the whole route from Muir of Ord to the Kessock bridge was brilliant.

Snow-capped mountains, hills heather and gorse, sunlit water and lochs, all filled my eyes wherever I looked.

Chopper and Trailer performed brilliantly - even me too! I couldn’t get over the amount of cars, vans, busses and lorries that sounded their horns and waved as they went past. Perhaps they do that to all the End-to-End’ers, but it made me feel rather special and I wondered if they read this blog!

Not Quite so Brilliant consisted of some fish and chips I had in Alness. The fish was ok, but the chips left a lot to be desired - underdone and firm.

Also, because I followed the signposts from North Kessock to Inverness - the cycle path ones - I ended up on the right hand side of the bridge. That left me having to turn off to the right and follow roads though endless industrial estates. Garmin showed me the way back to my intended track, and looking at my path, I wasn’t too far out of my way but it wasn’t enjoyable at all.

Awful was entirely the fault of the wind. I left Golspie in soft balmy breezes, and even all the way to Tain it was sweetness and light. The wind, though slight, was cool but gentle. As I turned west after leaving Tain and dropped down to the northern shores of the Cromarty Firth, the wind got up to a frenzy and full in my face. All the way from the roundabout south of Tain until I turned east at Muir of Ord I had a battle on my hands. This battle lasted from the 24 mile mark until the 52 mile mark - that’s 28 miles of it!! I was slow and frustrated. I saw other E2E cyclists going the other way with broad grins on their faces. I wasn’t sure if it was the sight of me on a Chopper, or just that they were enjoying the free ride!

The last and most awful bit was the Kessock bridge. This was awful for two reasons: the roar of the traffic, and the horrendous cross winds.

Don’t get me wrong, today has been a success. I’m happy and I’m tired, I’ve just scoffed Haggis, Neeps and Tatties down at a local pub and had a beer or two. Here I am, typing this sitting up on my bunk. I’ve covered 65 miles today - a record for a Raleigh Chopper I reckon!

By the way, I took some photographs and a couple of movies.

Quite a show of gorse flowers, eh?

Kessock Bridge

I'm here logged on courtesy of SYHA Inverness, but I had to pay £3 for an hour. They know how to charge here! I can't complain really, because at Edinburgh the counter kept resetting itself back to the hour. (This one doesn't seem to be.)

Off to Pitlochry tomorrow and it's a long one right over the Grampians. 80 odd miles, and I hope the Wind Gods will be favourable this time! The bit I'm looking forward to is the 20 miles of downhill into Blair Athol. This is possibly the longest continual downhill in the UK.

See you again soon, but I don't reckon I will get WiFi at Pitlochry hostel, I may have to go to a pub! (Oh no! Not another one!) If there's no WiFi, it'll have to be a double update in Edinburgh.

Today's route

Stats for today:
65.42 miles
8:35:36 total duration giving an overall 7.6 mph.
Moving average speed was 9.9 mph - surprising because of all that wind!

Total mileage from JOG - 136.97 miles.

Thanks for reading, and I'm enjoying reading all the comments.

Regards to all,


  1. Another fabulous update, I'm getting into this :-) The scenery is stunning, completely stunning. Inverness is on of my favourite parts of Scotland to stay for a holiday, and your photos have brought back some very happy memories. Keep up the good work, and I'm really routing for you for Sundays ride.

  2. Great to read of your progress Mick.

    Looking at the stats for the day, considering your 28 mile stretch with a monster headwind (aboard a Raleigh Chopper), I'd say you deserve another beer tonight, or failing that an extra one tommorrow after the 80 miler :>D

    Hope the wind is kinder too!

  3. Mick

    Good update. Forecast looks good for next week.

    There cannot be many others that have ridden a Choipper 65 miles in a day, surely !

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