Friday 30 August
What had taken us six days on the trip so far took us the best part of a day to virtually match in a southbound direction. Friday was a long, hard slog, the biggest riding stretch, which would pay dividends in avoiding two drawn out riding days.
Since leaving Scourie, we had a quick pitstop for breakfast at a ‘kiddie book corner’, encountered an innately grumpy old man, who asked us ‘Who felt their toast was burnt?’ upon bringing out fresh toast, which was comical. We then circumnavigated our way up to the top of Scotland to Durness, came back around and down along the almost never-ending A9 to Inverness. Past Inverness, we refuelled the bikes and our empty bodies with some nourishment, and pressed back on the road.
Hideous wind continuously pushed on the side of our front wheels, driving rain smacked against the visors and a damp cold in the air tried to chill our bones – our longest day proved testing and wearing on us all. Glencoe was the saving grace of the day; we rode through an incredible entrance into the village with intimidating mountains making us feel insignificant and small.
Gone 7.30pm, we finally made it to Tyndrum again. I was flooded with relief when the group opted for two wooden, heated cabins over a couple of grass pitches for the tents. Just prior to entering the campsite, I gently dropped Pearl when turning her around in a lay-by; lost my balance along with every last grain of strength in my body and down she went. I was cream crackered, tandrum-prone and some!
We celebrated this epic day in all weathers by treating ourselves to another tantalising fish supper and glass of chilled ale. A perfect end to a momentous trip.
It warmed my heart when the chaps all confirmed that I rode better in the difficult conditions that day than I had done all week – keeping the pace on the entire way. I smiled realising that Friday was the first day I had listened to my music, which had obviously relaxed my riding style giving me the extra confidence I needed to ‘get a wriggle on’
Thursday 29 August
Woke up to the sizzle of bacon and eggs; after a hearty breakfast and walk along the cliff edge, we rounded off what was a brilliant but surreal twenty-four hours. I could not have orchestrated or foreseen such a random chain of events, it was a unique pleasure to be invited over and got the impression we were the first group to have done so when Ian asked JK.
One of the day’s highlights had to be my victory up JK’s loose, steep and rocky driveway. At a 35 degree angle, I was chuffed that I rode Pearl all the way up without leaving a scratch or scuff on her. It felt good to turn down JK’s offer and manage to successfully deliver by myself…! With everyone’s eyes boring into me whilst stood on my foot pegs, apparently my expression was a picture – so serious in deep concentration, hah ha.
By the morning, I had clocked over 900 miles since leaving Nottingham. Thursday was a great ride for gaining a bit more confidence on the long, sweeping bends. I dipped ‘my big toe in’ again and found out that at 60mph, Pearl loves gliding around corners. We saw and rode past the Isle of Ewe and finally eneded up in Scourie, our northest point reached so far.
The landscape was levelling off a little, however, still notably impressive. Thursday gave us great riding conditions, it was fairly bright and I felt that the trip had not yet peaked at that point; namely, we were around twenty miles from the northest point we desired to achieve. Another mental note was made to visit Glen Brittle Forest.
The group dynamic was strong and mix of humour kept us in fits of laughter most of the time. It felt like I had established my place in the group, become ‘one of the boys’ and carved out my own little niche.
Once we had dined on another portion of tasty fish and chips, Ian swore it was the best batter he had ever tasted, courtesy of a local fishbar in Ullapool. We went onto a place called Ardveck to glimpse a set of ruins, the old remnants of a castle, which looked steeped in history.
The pleasant breeze deterred every local midgie and low level sunlight made for a very inviting place to pitch up for the night. We noted the gem of this location but headed to a campsite a little further down the road instead as shower and beer needs took a greater priority. Fair enough.
The feeling of contentment and satisfaction from a stunning day’s riding left me feeling happy and full. What more does anyone need at the end of a day?