LEJOG Day 9: Inverness to Strathnaver
5h 36m 4
61h 43m 4
Other Daily Stats You May Be Interested In
Average Speed: 25.3 km/h
Max Speed: 68.4 km/h
Average Power: 147 watts
Max Power: 701 watts
Average Cadence: 77 rpm
Max Heart Rate: 161 bpm
What a lovely start to the day, the entire restaurant to myself (I was the only loon that chose a 6:30am breakfast), and this was my backdrop across the river overlooking Inverness. It was also fresh, dropped down to 7c overnight, so needed to rummage around for the leg warmers, hadn't needed them so far but they were going on their first outing today. I was so enamoured by the colours painted across the sky, that I forgot that old rhyme..how does it go again - "...red sky in the morning...". I was about to remember, but first a lovely ride up and out of the city.
The view from Kessock Bridge looking over Inverness, stunning, and what a way to temporarily wave goodbye to the city. From there it was, you guessed it, climbing for the first hour or so out of the city and into some more rural destinations - Needless to say, it didn't take long.
Just before a lovely bit of downhill, where I hit my fastest speed of the day (see above) was this view. What made it even better was that this farmer, instead of leaving all his hay bales randomly scattered at odd angles all over his field, had got his shit together and sorted it out - I like this farmer.
But what you can also see is the sky starting to grey up a little, that was to get worse, but in the interim I contemplated whether the person who painted the below bicycle on the bike path, had seen a bike before? Or whether this was one of those push-me-pull-you ones.
Until the weather changed completely, I did enjoy some amazing scenery, for example:
...and this one (some lovely rivers around this part)
...and of course, who could forget this one.
From there, after skirting the bank of Cromarty Firth, I headed cross country towards Bonar Bridge. It was getting darker and darker, and the pace was quite slow as I was dealing with a hellish crosswind, and the majority of today's climbing was in the first half, but it wasn't raining yet, the sun was fighting a losing battle with the clouds, but it shon every now and again - plucky little guy.
I saw a castle on a hill, which looked lovely sat in its surrounds, but my mission this afternoon was to try to beat the rain. I could see it all around, but not where I was, or at least not yet. I had four climbs in today's ride, and with three down, the biggest was yet to come. Starting at the foothills, you come out into a wide, baron expanse of land, you could definitely imagine this area being closed in winter. It was the physical representation of the word bleak. I went through a place called Altnaharra, this (I believe) currently holds the record for the lowest UK recorded temp at -27c. I can see that.
This went for mile after mile, still climbing and climbing, and by this point my legs were crying a little. Little bit further legs, then some lovely downhills, some undulating sections, and stop. I finally got to the top of the climb, more of a plateau than a peak, and by this point the wind had picked up. I had made it 105km into my ride, but I wasn't going to hold out much longer. So in preparation, waterproofs on, and let's get cracking.
The downhill sections were treacherous, I was really looking forward to disconnecting my brakes and brain and flying down them, but that was not to be. The cross wind had picked up and was pushing me across the road, I literally had to lean into it to stay in a straight line. The roads were wet from a previous shower, and I could now feel the current one tapping on my helmet and sunglasses. By the time I got to the bottom of the first little decent, I was very wet, and in desperate need of a hot beverage to warm the innards.
The road the flattened out and skirted the edge of Loch Naver. When the sun is shining, I can imagine this being a beautiful ride, but today wasn't that day, not long now I would warm up in my glamping pod (yes, you heard right).
So my penultimate day is done, only 100km and 1000m of climbing stands between me and that white post in John O'Groats. It hasn't sunk in just yet that it is almost over, or what I have done over the last 9 days, but once I get there and touch it, I am sure it will start to sink in then.
Remember I am not just doing this for fun, I am also raising money for charity, which you can use the link on this website. If you have given already, thank you and I am eternally grateful, if you haven't...I can wait a couple of minutes for you to rectify that. All donations gratefully received, so please share as much as you like.
Sleep now, for tomorrow I ride.