Day 1: thurso to john o’groats to lairg

Today was the longest I’ve ever spent on a bike. We cycled just shy of 120 miles and it took us about 10 hours. It was hard.

The day started with breakfast at 7 and then we set of for what I has been told was a shortish ride to john o’groats. Shortish turned out to be 20 miles and instead of the forecast sun we had thick fog, freezing temperatures and a vicious head wind, it was not a very fun start to the day.

Once we got to the start/finish line in front of the derelict john o’groats hotel I showed my complete lack of coordination and, thanks to my new and largely untested, cleats took a heavy and graceless tumble. What a brilliant way to start the ride! However once we got started the wind dropped and eventually the sun came out to turn what had been a miserable day into an absolutely glorious one and we covered the 60 miles to bettyhill relatively quickly, unfortunately here we turned and were again heading straight into the wind, even going down a quite steep hill required us to pedal, demoralising in the extreme.

We reached altnaharra, apparently where the coldest ever temperature in the UK was recorded, and by now were only about 40 miles from lairg. With about 15 miles to go I completely ran out of energy, I’ve never ridden more than 100 miles so was in completely uncharted territory, I couldn’t appreciate the weather or the scenery, I just wanted a large meal, a sit down, and the toilet. In no particular order.

So now we are in a very nice b and b south of lairg.

Tomorrow we head for grantown on spey which is just on the edge of the cairngorms. A ride of about 95 miles, I think its going to rain. Hopeful there aren’t too many hills.

Some stats:
Top speed: 63 kmh
Total ascent: 1630 m
Total distance: 189.2 km

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