When I saw the shingle and jagged slate sections I was considering just walking the whole way. It then dawned on me that it would take me an eternity to get to the cakes at the castle at the bottom if I walked the whole way (and Keith would have eaten them all) so I jumped on my bike and engaged Freddie Fondriest’s inner gravel bike setting.
The descent was most excellent – whizzing along. I wasn’t entirely sure how reactive my brakes would be with so much weight on the bike. I decided not to go full tilt which was just as well since the sheep were lurking on the edges of most of the roads ready to leap out unexpectedly at any moment.
As you can see, I wasn’t exactly aero (I added extra gear to make others feel better about their set-ups), but I was wearing my UV protected lucky shirt (vital for tropical Ireland) and had managed to get myself and all my gear to the start line – so it was going very well to this point I thought.
Arriving at Trinity College next day (in time for breakfast) we hung out in Dublin, went to briefings and I met some of the other women riders, Laura, Meg, Phillipa, Rishi and later Jenny and Karen. All that was left to do was retire to my room to make final adjustments, fix the light I’d already managed to break, and try to sleep in the knowledge that I really had no idea what I was getting myself into.
I was feeling a little apprehensive but, as soon as I started pedalling, the nerves soon passed and I was enjoying being on the road with just my bike (affectionately known as Hamish), my mascot Harry (a heilan’ coo) and my tent!
Day 8 – Helmsdale to Inverness! / 70 miles Weather – dreich. Total elevation for whole trip – over 27,000ft apparently! Took the A9 all the way… Read more “NORTH COAST 500 – Day 8 (last day!) – Helmsdale to Inverness Castle”
Day 7 / Thurso to Helmsdale (via Melvich – cycled back) Stayed in Customs House, Shore Street, Helmsdale, KW8 6JZ – was terrific. 60 miles and another… Read more “NORTH COAST 500 – Day 7 – Thurso to Helmsdale”
‘It’s just cycling then cycling a little bit more.’ Day 6 – Durness to Thurso 70 miles c.1700m climb Headwind 20mph (pretty much all day!) Saint Mark… Read more “NORTH COAST 500 – DAY 6 – Durness to Thurso (70 miles)”
Warning – picture you may find disturbing! Day 5 – 57 miles / 1700 m of climbing today. Accommodation tonight – Mackays Bunkhouse – really good. Shared… Read more “North Coast 500 – Day 5 – Clachtoll to Durness”
To Clachtoll campsite – really good (and they stayed open for me when I was a bit delayed too!) ELPHIN TEAROOM – Go there – lovely people… Read more “North Coast 500 – Day 4 Lael (nr Ullapool) to Clachtoll”