The all singing, all dancing blog of Alex Guite

Friday, September 07, 2007

The route

Just made a full clickable google map of the route here.

Includes reviews of all the youth hostels and bed and breakfasts I stayed at, warnings about dangerous roads or poor surfaces and comments about the route. Will add more as I remember.


Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Day 10: Tain to John o'Groats

Distance: 154.1km
Total: 1690.4km
Time: 7hrs 11mins
Average: 21.4kph
Maximum: 60.6kph

I guess it was right that the final day should be tough: a reminder that getting from end to end shouldn't be as easy as yesterday's ride. I had the wind in my face again today and some tough climbs along the coast road. Ken P texted me in the morning to warn me about the hills out of Berriedale and it turned out rightly so: it was a steep climb.

As I pushed further north the gradients decreased but the wind increased and I found it harder and harder against the 25mph gusts. I can't complain much about rain since somehow I didn't get a full day of rain in one of the wettest summers on record, but the sharp showers today were very heavy.

I stopped in Wick and seriously considered just getting a B&B and cycling the final 25km tommorrow instead of continuing in the wind and the rain. For some reason I persuaded myself to carry on: the rain eased up although somehow the wind got even stronger.

Those last kilometres seemed incredibly long. This isn't some abstract comment about the last part of a long journey always feeling like the longest: it was simply exceptionally difficult to make progress against the wind. Out of my saddle and in the lowest gear I was able to creep up to around 15kph.

My arrival into John o'Groats was a bit of an anti-climax. I wasn't expecting cheering crowds, but really, there is nothing there. I got my log book stampted in the hotel, took a picture in front of the sign and then headed the final five kilometres to the hostel. To be honest I was more relieved to get into the warmth than I was to have finished.

With no pubs near the hostel and not fancying venturing back out into the cold night I celebrated with several plates of pasta and no beer.


Day 9: Fort William to Tain

Distance: 170.1km
Total: 1536.3km
Time: 6hrs 44mins
Average: 25.2kph
Maximum: 64.9kph

This was an awesome day of riding: after two days with the wind against me I finally had it pushing me along today. Sped out of Fort William up along the Great Glen to Loch Ness. I made some monster checks but all I saw were rocks sticking out of the water. I cut away from Loch Ness at Drumnadrochit to take a short cut past Inverness. There was a steep climb out of Milton, but once up in the glen it was fine and I continued with good pace down to Muir of Ord.

I joined the A9 for the final 30km up to Tain, where I saw the first sign to John o'Groats: 104 miles to go. The last hour was fantastic with what had become a very strong wind behind me I cruised into Tain at well over 35kph, regularly pushing 45kph on the flat.

As there were no youth hostels around I had booked a bed and breakfast on the outskirts of town (not that Tain is a particularly big place anyway, so outskirt is probably not the best word).It was so good to sleep in my own room, without anyone else snoring around me or coming into the dorm at three in the morning. I stayed at the Morangie B&B, found the place to be very plush and although expensive compared to a hostel, excellent value I felt at £35 for what I got.

In contrast to my accomodation, I found the local pub food to be pretty lacking and the service even worse. Oh well, can't have everything.

Nonetheless a great ride and a good setup for the final day.