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Sunday 9th September 2007: “Horizontal rain”

Today was one of the toughest days of cycling I have ever endured. When I set out at 10am it became clear that I would have to fight a fierce 25mph wind for the entire day. Later in the day this wind was joined by cold, horizontal rain. I struggled to achieve speeds above 10mph and at times had to forcibly cycle downhill just to keep going.

The route was relatively flat at first but then I was forced to make a succession of steep climbs that gradually reduced my moral and motivation. Today the Fiat Punto, which had felt more of a liability yesterday, was a lifeline. With no shelter and closed shops (they take Sunday’s seriously up here) the only chance of a rest bite from the elements was to sit in the car for a few minutes to warm up.

We had lunch at the site of an abandoned clearance village (one where locals had been sent to, not cleared from) and it was obvious why these residents didn’t stick around for long. This really is a bleak, miserable place and we felt a very long way from home that day.

As the rain worsened we escaped to a pub for a while and gorged ourselves on a cream tea but soon after it became clear that the rest of the day would have to be written off. After a stoic hour’s cycle in the driving rain to Golspie we called it a day and escaped by car to one of the most innovative hostels I have ever had the pleasure of staying at; a converted British Railways passenger cabin outside a railway station at Rogart! Here the mundane tasks of cooking and using the shower were fun and novel so the day ended on a high.

Ride Statistics

Started: 10:00 hours
Finished: 19:15 hours
Distance: 59.23 miles
Cycling time: 6 hours 12 minutes
Top speed: 24.5 mph
Average speed: 9.5 mph
Odometer: 76.2 miles

Entering Sutherland
Cooking at Rogart Hostel
Rooms at Rogart Hostel
Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Day 4 Day 5 Day 6 Day 7
Day 8 Day 9 Day 10 Day 11 Day 12 Day 13 Back to the map

Copyright © John Collins