980 miles in 9 days. On a bike. Those figures are enough to send most people into a corner to have a quiet word with themselves as they contemplate what that will do to their bum. But this is exactly what 700 odd riders, including yours truly, is going to be riding over the next 9 days, as we travel from John O’Groats to Land’s End! Blimey!
Photo opportunity at a price
John O’Groats is one of those places that you never expect to go to, and probably won’t, unless you’re cycling down to Land’s End or coming up from there. How many times have you seen a mate standing proudly next to their bike, underneath a white sign pointing the 900 odd miles down to Land’s End or up to JOG? Well, did you know that they would have to pay for the pleasure?
Indeed, shock upon horror, I discovered that it’s a commercial business, and you’ll have to pay a tenner for the pleasure. Fair game to the chap that runs it, but bloody hell – it’s a sign!
Where has the sign gone?
So imagine how vexed I was this morning, when I woke up at 7.15 (1hrs 45 after the official reveille) for the start of the Deloitte Ride Across Britain to discover that half the riders had already left and that by the time I rolled across the start line, the sign had been removed?? My own fault for being late, because I had used a set of ear plugs that were so good, I didn’t hear any of the zips, farts, chat, music, etc that was surrounding me. Nothing! Zip!
Having only decided to ride the whole 9 days on Thursday, it may come as a bit of a shock to you, as it did me, to discover that I’d only cycled 260 miles in the last 6 months – 180 of that 3 weeks earlier during the London Revolution. I was in for a hard ride!
However, I needn’t had worried on the first day, because as we rolled past stunning lochs and snowcapped mountain peaks, I was so mesmerised by the scenery, that I forgot about my lack of cycle training.
As I started the day on my own, playing catch up, I had to be careful not to go off too hard. I’ve never ridden 980 miles before nor done a 9 day multi-stage race, so I’m not too certain what will happen!
But it didn’t take long until I caught up some of the earlier waves and luckily a chap who was going at more or less the same speed as me. The first checkpoint came at 32 miles, where I managed to gorge myself on various pasties, chocolates and jelly beans. However, that was basically my breakfast, having managed to miss the one at the start.
And then, we hit the most amazing stretch of road. A massive loch on our left, rolling hills in the distance, the sun was out, everything was perfect. By the time I got to CP2 at the 80 mile point, everyone was talking about how brilliant it was.
With only 30 miles to the finish, I rode much the last stage on my own, keen to get back to camp and get a massage before everyone else! Bliss!
The weather at the start of the day was a touch on the chilly side – a total contrast to what the basking sunshine I’m currently enjoying as I sit outside at our basecamp in the Kyle of Sutherland. It’s simply glorious! And to think that we’re only 100m or so away from a massive loch – not a midge in site!!
Just like any of the races I take part in, this one is also on commission. I’m here with two caps on. The first is to do some inhouse social media stuff for Halfords, who are supporting the event with 18 mechanics. The second is to write a feature for Outdoor Fitness.
The latter is certainly easier, because unsurprisingly, there is very little in the way of 3G or mobile signal in the remotest part of Scotland! So sending tweets, updating Facebook, etc. is a little tricky! I’m having to be resourceful. In fact, I’m not even sure if this post will upload!
Do follow the Halfords Cycling account @HalfordsCycling as well as my own @tobiasmews for updates, signal permitting!
Tomorrow, we’re cycling 114 miles down to Fort William, 24 miles of which along Loch Ness! Apparently, Day 3 is the one that ‘s going to hurt!