Where's Brian, End to End Trip Log

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I also will be updating this site with additional trip log postings and within the next two weeks, upload photos from the trip as well.
 
 
July 16, day 1
The theme for the day could be rain, rain go away or oh no not another flat!

Last night we arrived at the B&B pretty late and it was foggy, so this morning when I woke up and saw poor visibility, I figured it was fog. Got up, washed than headed out to assemble my bike, then I got hit by the rain. I was just short of pouring. But the back of the truck was open and Fred and others were already taking bikes out of the boxes and putting them together. It was a bit cramped assembling the bikes there, but it was better than outside in the rain.

It was a while till everyone had their bikes ready and Alan had the route instructions passed out.  We headed down to Landís end for the start. We snapped photo at the Land's End signpost and were on our way.

Alan had bad luck with a couple of flat tires within the first ten miles. After a short stop in Penzance, we were we were off again. Penzance has a harbor that has such tidal changes, that when itís out, all the boats are beached. It was strange seeing all the small boats on the mud flats lying on their sides waiting for the tide to rise.  

As we moved on the rain tapered off and the sun almost came out. We had to learn not only to keep to the opposite side of the road, but how to navigate the many traffic circles or round-abouts. Itís not too bad taking the round-abouts, but itís an indication of heavy traffic, something that we would like to avoid.

We finally arrived in Bodmin at 7PM after 66 miles.

click here for all the photos from day 1

 

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July 17, day 2
The theme for the day was, just 10 more miles, just 10 more miles!

This morning we arrived at the meeting place at 9AM to get the briefing for today and to put our bags on the truck. It was cloudy, but had potential to be a very nice day. Based on the maps, we could tell that it would a very hilly day, but we really didnít have a clue how hilly it was going to be. Unlike last year on Cycle America ( a commercial tour company) we didnít have the route scouted the day before. The maps showed several arrows on the route through Dartmoor National Park. The arrows indicate a climb of greater that 10% grade, typical roads are graded less than 6%. Our first major hill was 10 miles into the park. We could tell that the climb was going to be long and steep. I needed to shift all the way down to my lowest gear to get up the hill. I really donít how long it was, but it took what seemed to be almost an hour to get to the crest. All the other riders we already at the top of the hill when I looked at the sign for the drivers going in the opposite direction, the grade that we had just come up was 12%!!! VERY, VERY steep!! This was followed by descent and another climb, each one gaining more altitude.

35 miles from the start, we finally got to the middle of the park, Two Bridges, by 3PM where the plan was to have lunch. The problem was that lunch was not served after 2PM. So we had high tea instead. There were 12 of use sitting around of a very stuffy hotel in our bike clothes gobbled down finger sandwiches, pastries and gulping tea. I think that they were very happy to see us go. But I donít expect that Iíll ever have the opportunity to again have high tea on a bike ride.

Now to get to the theme of the day, at the tea everyone was exhausted. The mountains had taken its toll and it was just starting to rain. If we could have gotten a hold of the SAG wagon, we would have had them pick us up, but we were out of cell phone range. It was agreed that we would bike to the top of the next peak and try to get a cell phone connection. We got to the top of the next ridge and then decided to try for one more hour, maybe 10 miles. We encountered more climbs and descents most of them in the drizzling rain.  We even had a 16% grade to climb.

Even though it was getting late, we then decided to get to the first town outside the park then call for the SAG wagon. By the time we got into town, we were only 15 miles from the end and the decision was made to finish up the ride. Jim Young practically dragged the bunch of us to the end. We got to Butterleght by 8PM. Checked into the two B&Bs and had dinner in the only PUB in the village. The food was great and I got back to the B&B by 11. Weíll all meet for the morning briefing by 9AM with hopes to be on the road earlier than today so that weíll finish the ride earlier.

click here for all the photos from day 2

 

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Day 3, July 18, 2003 - Friday
The theme of today was; tailwinds good, rain bad.

Stepped out of the B&B today after a very filling English breakfast, only to find it drizzling again. We needed to get to the other B&B for a morning briefing. After slipping and sliding down the country road we met in the Barn at the B&B. The ride was scheduled to be easier than yesterday, shorter miles and fewer hills. We were on the road before10AM.

However, at about one mile into the ride we hit a 20% grade! The hill was short, but of all the riders, I only know of 3 that made it to the top, and I wasn't one of them.

From there to the 20 mile mark the rain continued. It stopped just in time for our coffee break at 11AM. We stopped in the town of Taunton at a cafť called Sally Edwards. Since the rain had stopped, we were sipping our cappuccinos on the tables on the sidewalk watching the traffic go by.

We then headed off to Glastonbury, about 25 miles further, to have lunch in a town deeply steeped in the history of King Arthur. The Glastonbury Abby is there. This is supposed to be where King Arthur was buried. The Abby itself is in ruins, but the remaining walls and grounds are very impressive.

We arrived in Wells by 5PM, our destination for the evening. Wells is the home of the cathedral that in the evening light just glowed. We got to the B&B, showered and headed into town to meet with the rest of the group for dinner and a briefing. Tomorrow it's off to Bath with a final overnight stay in Stroud.

click here for all the photos from day 3

 

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Day 4, Wells to Stroud,
The theme for today; good things come to these who wait.

This morning we woke up for the first time with no rain. Overcast yes, rain no. Today I was riding with Jim, Lauri, Nancey, John, Robin, Erika and for a short time Andy. Less than Ĺ mile out of town, we hit a hill that seemed to go on and on and on.  Must have been a 2-mile climb and pretty steep.

Itís on a hill like this that you just gear down and try to keep you pedaling cadence up. You find yourself in a meditative state where thoughts flow in and out without a lot filtering.  I find myself doing this often throughout the day.

As we reached the top of the hill, it flattened out and you could feel a tailwind. The goal was to get to the town of Bath as soon as possible.  We had understood that Bath was a beautiful city and there were lots to see.

We got there about 11AM and headed to the heart of the city where the Abby and the baths were. It was Saturday on a warm sunny day and the crowds had packed out the place.

Bath is a city that has wide pedestrian plazas, shops, coffee shops and restaurants for as far as the eye can see. We took the tour of the baths, which trace back 2000 years to roman times.  After the tour it was time to grab lunch before heading off to Stroud.  We stopped in a shop and got some sandwiches and ate them in the park. We probably back on the road by 3PM. 

We had taken route advice from a local, who was also a biker, to try a route to Stroud that would avoid most of the major roads and would instead put us on the back road lanes, mostly single line paved roads.  The only two drawbacks; we would have to make a steep climb out of town and the roads had no route numbers to follow, it would take more time to navigate.

The new route was worth the extra effort. Once we got up on the Cotswolds we caught the tailwind again and enjoyed the trip with few cars and many open farm fields with crops, cattle and sheep.

The afternoon stop was at a roadside pub, Iíve forgotten the name, but the intent was to have some coffee. However we soon decided that I half pint of beer would work as well.  We have some pictures of us outside the pub at picnic tables under the trees taking a break. A set of hikers walked by. They were doing the end to end as well, but on foot!! They had started were weíll end up, and finish up were we had started at Lands End.

The rest of the ride went fairly smoothly with the group arriving in Stroud at about 6PM. We check into the hotel and had dinner.  We didnít have much time to explore the town, but the town center was a set of store-lined streets.

click here for all the photos from day 4

 

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Day 5, Stroud to Bridgenorth

The theme for the day was: High ho, high ho, it's off to the cathedrals we go......

Today is the first sunny morning that we've had, perfect day to start a trip. We left after our full English breakfast of cereal, juice, coffee, toast, eggs, bacon and sausage. When I'm home, I never have this much for breakfast, but on this trip you burn a bunch of calories quickly.

We decided to try the back roads again this morning on the way to Gloucester, about 20 miles. More climbing was required, as we needed to clear a ridge. What we didn't know was that after we cleared the ridge, there were several deep and steep valleys that we needed to traverse as well.

Gloucester is a much larger city than we were expecting. We got there fairly early so that traffic on the roads was light. It may have helped that it was Sunday as well. The reason for the stop was we had heard that the cathedral was impressive. We also found out scenes of the Harry Potter movie was shot here.

We were soon back on the bikes to Worcester were we had heard that we just had to see their cathedral as well. I'm just amazed by the number of cathedrals that we've seen as well as the number of stone churches that we pass.

On the way to Worcester, we passed a farmers market at just about noon. We stopped and picked up pastries, bread, fruit and apple juice. It was a great snack.

The weather was very cooperative today, sunny mostly. Sometimes threatening to rain, but holding off. The wind was to our backs and blowing at a pretty good pace, which of course helped us out quite a bit. The roads were never flat, it seemed as if we were either climbing or dropping. It seemed that we did more climbing that dropping.

In Worcester, we made a picnic lunch of bread, cheese, wine, lattes and grapes. We had it on a war memorial in front of the cathedral.

We had to start making better time on the road, it was about 3PM and we were still 35 miles from Bridgenorth, our destination for the night. In the town of Bewdley, we ran into Nancey as she was trying to find a stranded rider. She had elected not to ride today and instead drive the SAG vehicle.

After Bewdley, we still had about 10 miles to go and it was after 5PM. With the late hour and all the hills that we still had in front of us, I was ready for the ride to be over. No matter how long a ride is, it's always the last 10 miles that tends to drag a bit. We finally got to the B&B by 6PM. Since it was Nancey's birthday today, we had a small party in the B&B's PUB.

We have two more days of riding until we take a one-day break. It'll be nice to explore a town longer that a single short evening.

click here for all the photos from day 5

 

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Day 6, Bridgenorth to Hale (July 21)

By the time we left Hale, the sun had come out and the first destination being a bike shop that Alan (who has arranged this trip) uses. With one week into the trip and several bikes need attention. The bike shop is about 12 miles into the ride.

It seems that England doesnít have even a mile of flat road. Itís up and down, up and down and up and down. Mostly rolling hills at this point, but some times a bit steeper. It was on one of those steeper climbs that my chain snapped. We picked up the pieces and called the SAG wagon for the bike and me. The plan called for the wagon to pick me up and take me to the bike shop for the necessary repair. The rest of the group biked to the shop.

On the way to the shop, we stopped at the Iron Bridge. The bridge was the first iron bridge made and itís very impressive still. As you can see in the photos, the bridge is just beautiful!

At the shop I had the chain and rear gears replaced and after the pouring rain passed we headed to Newport for lunch. Most everyone headed to a pub for lunch. Iím not sure if weíre just hungry from all the exercise that weíre getting, but at every place weíve stopped to eat, weíve been pretty happy with our selections.

It was threatening to rain all day and we did get sprinkled on one or twice, but we figure that we were pretty lucky. Several times during the ride we came upon areas that were just drenched with water and almost flooding the road in places, but it seems that the rain moved on before we got there. Just lucky.

In the afternoon the roads became less hilly and wherever possible we were taking the single width country lanes.

We arrived in Hale, just south of Manchester, by 6:30 after traveling 80 miles.

click here for all the photos from day 6
 
 
Day 7, Hale to Morecambe (July 22)
The theme of the day is; Different routes, different paths.

There are several different types of roads on the maps. The M roads are equivalent to the interstate roads in the US. The A roads are smaller and typically a single lane in either direction may have small shoulder and are pretty busy. The B roads are typically less busy that than the A roads but usually don't have shoulders. Finally there are the country lanes; they are unmarked roads on the maps. More often that not, they are a single lane wide and usually paved. Our preferences have been for the country lanes, followed by the B roads and lastly the A roads.

Jim has gotten very good at finding routes that make maximum use of the lanes and today he mapped us west of Manchester on the yellow B roads were we stopped in the small town of Orrell where we found our first lattes of the trip. All six of us hand one round of lattes and they were so good, we had seconds..

We then followed the B road 5253 to Farrington where we got advice to take a bike path into Preston. Preston is a pretty big city in our path and really didn't know how to get through it 'cause the maps we had didn't have the necessary detail, but because of some local advice we took a different path.

It dropped us off within a couple of block of the town center. We went into a bakery and picked up some bread and picked up fruit, cheese, and salmon and had a picnic lunch right in the town square.

Jim got some advice on the route out of town and after riding in packed traffic on an A road we by accident, had discovered a canal path. So again we got off a busy road and this time jumped on to a canal towpath. It reminded me of riding the Eire Canal last summer in New York. It was nice to ride along the water, but our speed on the path was only 7 MPH, so after a couple of miles, we got back on the roads again.

Just gotta put this part of the day in the journal. We were getting closer to Morcambe, maybe 10 miles out and were making pretty good time on a fairly quiet winding road as we turn a corner we see an Ice Cream stand as part of a dairy operation. They must have had 20 flavors and all of them made on the premises. I've forgotten what everyone else had, but mine was raspberry swirl. Ummm ummmm good!!

We took our last path diversion about 5 miles out. Erika got some advice from a local that placed us on a winding bike path and over a footbridge into Morcambe.

We got there about 6:30 the distance was about 74 miles.

We found a laundry service and dropped our clothes off to be cleaned. We'll pick them up tomorrow on our day off.

click here for all the photos from day 7

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Wednesday, July 23, 2003

Day 8, Day off

Today is our day off until we head to Scotland. The group has taken off to the Lake District in the mini van. Iíve needed to stay to try and get my bike taken care of. Since Iíve had my chain replaced a couple of days ago, occasionally the chain has slipped a couple of times on my front middle gear. I may need to get that replaced as well. Iíve visited 3 bike shops in town and they havenít had one in stock. Iíll have to get one on the road.

Iíve also need to find an internet connection to upload the log as well. With the late hours that weíve been arriving to our destination, itís been impossible to find an Internet cafť to update the site.

Iíve also been attempting to use an AudioBlog to phone in my daily log, but so far it hasnít seem to work. So in the future, if you see a "db" icon on the journal page, click on it and see if it works.
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Thursday, July 24, 2003

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Day 9, Morecambe to Longtown (July 24)
The theme for today is; Rock walls, winding roads and Brigadoon

Today was scheduled to be the longest day yet, at least 90 miles depending on the route taken. We had decided to get a jump on the day by leaving early, before the B&B even served breakfast and eat on the road. The luggage trunk was open by 7:30 and after some coffee, from the local coffee shop and muffins as well as day old scones and cheese, all consumed on the sidewalk, we were off.

As has been typical for the last couple of riding days, it was cool and overcast. It was only a couple of miles into the ride when the rain started to fall. The combination of cool temperatures and rain doesn't make for fun riding. I stopped and put on my rain jacket and booties and sure enough, within 5 minutes the rain had stopped.

Today's route got us off the main roads pretty quickly and we didn't stop for breakfast until the town of Kirby Lonsdale, about 20 miles into the ride. We had breakfast in a small shop. With 10 riders we pretty much filled the place up. I had the full English breakfast, 2 eggs, bacon and toast. Other riders had lighter breakfasts.

The route to lunch was along winding roads lined with stonewalls. You can look across the open fields and see that they used the stones that they cleared from the fields; they used to build all the walls.

The low laying clouds and the rolling mountain peaks gave the ride almost an eerie feeling. Andy stated it best when he compared it to Brigadoon.

We had lunch at the 40-mile mark, about halfway, at a pub. We're all getting a healthy respect for pub food. It's good and fairly inexpensive. It's better than I had expected.

After lunch, I left the group and headed to Penrith to have a chain ring replaced. A couple of days ago I had a new chain put on and should have had the chain ring in the front replaced at the same time. I peddled into Penrith to a shop that had been recommended by a shop in Lancaster and within 30 minutes I was back on the road! The sun had even come out and it started to warm up a little bit as well.

I took a main road north (A6) and after 17 quick miles, no major climbs and wind to my back, I was in Carlisle. I had chance to enjoy a latte. It was about 5PM, closing time for the stores in the shopping district. One by one, the stores locked their doors and pull down the shutters and security gates and by 6PM the entire shopping district was empty of people.

I headed out of town toward Longtown, only 8 miles away, there were several traffic circles. They call them round-abouts. In New Jersey, where I grew up, we had many traffic circles, but over the years they have been replaced with traffic lights. Here in England, they've raised round-abouts to an art form. With the proper set of rules and road markings, the round-abouts work much better than lights. As bicyclists we become fairly comfortable with navigating the round-abouts. The cars have been very tolerant of allowing us to mix in with their traffic flow.

Well we're entering Scotland tomorrow and have reservations in a town directly south of Edinburgh called Peebles.

click here for all the photos from day 9

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Friday, July 25, 2003

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Day 10, Longtown to Pebbles (July 25)
The theme for today is; Bonus Points

Woke up this morning and looked out the window, it was drizzling. The hotelís breakfast was good and it was kinda hard to leave the warm dining room for the wet ride in front of us. At least the rain wasnít cold. That would be the worse, being cold and wet. Put on my rain jacket and shoe booties.

Within a couple of miles we had crossed the Scottish boarder. Just like last summer when we were riding across the US, new boarder sign, stop and take pictures of us crossing it.

About 10 more miles, we came upon a line of cars that was being held up by a traffic cop. The town ahead had a celebration going on and the traffic was stopped going into town because the streets were block with parades of  horses, bagpipes and marching bands. It was a celebration marking Scotlandís boarder. We were there for about 2 hours joining in as the rain drizzled on and off. We also found a small cafť we ordered up lattes.

After 2 hours we left the town, we started a series of climbs. There wasn't a lot of places to eat when we came upon the second bonus of the day, a Tibetan monastery in the middle of nowhere. As we arrive some other riders leaving and we found out that we could eat lunch there. We walked the grounds a bit and then had a very good vegetarian lunch.

The rest of the ride consisted of long climbs and beautiful green fields. In several places we could spot forests that had been extensively managing for lumber. In many areas the trees are grown in rows like giant fields of corn. Other places you could you could see where the tress had been harvested.

We entered the town across a white foot and biked up a steep cobblestone street into Pebbles.

click here for all the photos from day 10

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Saturday, July 26, 2003

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Day 11, Pebbles to Sterling (July 26)
The theme for today is; Short bread and punctures

Today we got on the road as soon as possible so that we could spend some time in Edinburgh which was on the route to Sterling. We had understood that Edinburgh deserved as much time as possible. We followed the roads almost directly north and in about 2 hours we were in Edinburgh. The roads were fairly nice as they climbed and dipped and the sky began to clear from the morningís cool overcast conditions.

Lauri had noticed that her rear brakes were wearing down so we stopped at a bike shop (Bicycle Repair Man) to have both her and Jimís brakes replaced. Afterwards we wound our way into the center of town, just below the Castle in the "new town". As we had done a couple of times before, we stopped and picked up the ingredients for a picnic which included baguettes, cheese, turkey slices, apples and wine. Jim also spied shortbread cookies, 3 packages for 2 pounds, and keeping in line with the traditions of the Scotts, how could he pass it up? Besides, whatís a couple of extra pounds? We certainly werenít pedaling enough miles. There were way too many cookies for lunch and he got ribbed about not being able to pass up a good deal during the picnic, but he would have the last laugh later in the day.

Edinburgh is a very lively city. We hit Edinburgh just as was ramping up for the Fringe Festival. I'm not sure how to describe the Fringe, but it's something you've got to experience. While watching the bikes Jim and Lauri got carried away and started dancing to the street musicians playing the Blue Danube.  Ordinary street musicians they weren't and Jim and Lauri got applause.

We finally started to get on our way by 3PM and had not even pedaled on to the street when Erika noticed that her tire was flat. In the middle of town with busy pedestrian traffic around us, the tube was taken out, tire inspected and a replacement installed. However the replacement leaked as well and the entire procedure was repeated. It must have taken about 20 minutes to finally get going. Oh yea by now it had started to shower as well.

It took us while to find the way out of town because of the twisty streets, but using the bicycle map that Jim had purchased in the bike shop we found our way through the town and on to the local network of bike trails.

On this type long distance ride we donít use mountain bikes with their fat tires, for speed we all are using road bikes with the very thin high tires. The tires are specially designed to allow easy rolling on asphalt roads. The casing of the outer tire are typically strong light fabric belts covered by rubber less that 1/4 of rubber tread. The resulting tire is lightweight and durable against road wear. However road debris can result in punctures. On this trip weíve found thorns, glass and metal pins in our tires.

Today I found out how much debris was on the road while leaving Edinburgh. As we were cross over a stone bridge and my rear tire went flat. A thorn hand worked its way into the tire and popped the tube. We swapped in a new tube as Jim patched the old tube.

We worked our way to the large suspension bridge that we had to cross next. The bridge was huge. I would guess that itís almost as big as any other bridge Iíve had to cross in a car. Luckily this bridge had a wide bike path that made the crossing fun. Then a couple more miles and I heard a hissing sound from the rear tire. Rats! Another puncture. As we were fixing the flat, glass in the tire this time. Lauri broke open the unfinished shortbread cookies. By now it was getting late and we were getting hungry so the cookies tasted great.

Nine miles from the end of the ride we stopped at a gas station for water; we had been empty for a while. We were about to leave when I noticed that my rear tire was flat again. Everyone thought that I was joking. By now we had the routine down pretty well and was able to even us the stationís air pump to inflate the tire instead of the hand tire pump. 

About 4 miles from the end of the ride, near a cricket field, and.. POP Hissssss... another flat in my rear tire. I think by now we were out of new tires and we needed to use one of the tires that Jim had patched earlier in the day.

We finally peddled into Sterling University by 8:10 for a total of 65 miles for the day.

click here for all the photos from day 11

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Sunday, July 27, 2003

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Day 12, Sterling to Tyndrum (July 27)

Here are the numbers for today: 2, 1, 2, 50 and 1

My bad luck with tires didnít end yesterday, I blew out front tire within first 50 feet of the ride today. I went over a patch of road that had claimed at least two other tires today. Someone must have dropped a glass bottle on the road recently. Well with the practice from yesterday, we were ready to go in about 10 minutes, including repairing the blown tube. No telling when weíll need it.

As we left Sterling University we turned left out the gate and head
out. It had rained hard the evening before and the roads were shiny wet. The air was chilly. It reminded me of fall mornings in New England. Cool, crisp with a promise of warming up later.

As we rode this morning, we had the opportunity to ride some time with some local bicyclists. Craig and Louise took time out of their ride to direct us to the woolen mills and to suggest that we try the bike trail network that almost stretched to our destination.

In this part of Scotland, woolen mills are the main attraction. We visited two of them and had some lattes and scones before heading on to the bike trail. At one of the mills they had a cow with the longest hair I had every seen.

The trail was a bit rough for our road bicycles; the narrow high-pressure tires werenít really suited for the trail. We were enjoying the road so much however we stayed on the road for many miles.

After we jumped back on the main road we made some really good time finally stopping at a pub for lunch. We relaxed outside under an umbrella where the weather ranged from sunny to a short rain shower. By the time it cleared, we were back on the road.

Leaving the pub we encountered a 4-mile climb to the top of a mountain pass. Though not terribly steep, 4 miles can be very tiring. The reward came as we dropped down the backside.

About 9 miles from the end of the ride, Erika had the second blow out, that making it a total of 2 for the day. The rest of the ride was uneventful as we finished up the ride at 4:30 with a total of 50 miles

In summary:
2 woolen mills
1 back road trail
2 blowouts
50 miles
1 great day!

click here for all the photos from day 12

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Monday, July 28, 2003

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Day 13, Tyndrum to St. Augustus (July 28)
The theme for today; go fast, go far

Woke up this morning and good news, no rain! Today was so cool that I put on my bicycle tights as well as my jacket. The trip was originally scheduled to be about 80 miles today, but Alan offered an alternate, the route would bring us around a loch adding 20 miles to the ride. So I decided to join the group and make it a 100-mile day, a century.

As we left town we encountered our first climb. I donít know the grade, but it seemed to about 5 to 8%. It lasted about 2 miles and followed by about 2 miles of down hill as a reward.

I may not know much about geology, but you could really tell that we were riding in valleys that were carved out by glaciers. The valley floor was fairly flat with the walls of the valley as "U" shaped with the walls curving up sharply.

We soon came upon another 2-mile climb, followed by anther 2-mile climb. As the road switch backed to the top, you could here bag pipes in the distance. Upon reaching the summit, at a scenic overlook, we found a lone piper playing. There must have been 10 riders listening to the pipes and taking photos of the piper in full dress attire. The sounds of the bagpipes in this remote setting were almost mystical.

After the summit we turned around the next corner to find more climbing, at a gentler slope. We had a wonderful down hill glide into the town of Glencoe where stopped at coffee shop / gift store for lattes and scones while getting warming up from the morning chill.

Alan had suggested a route that would make todayís ride into a one hundred mile day. It involved taking a ferry across the Loch Linnhe and adding 20 miles to the route by following the road on the far side around Loch Eil before rejoining the original route north of Fort William. Alan promised that is was going to be flat, more or less.

Since we had a lot of miles to put in, we didnít take any breaks as we raced around Loch Eil. For most of the loop, I had become separated from the rest of the riders. There was a group in front of me, though out of my view and a group behind me also out of view. So most of my thoughts were on keeping the pace up and judging how far I was traveling by looking across the water to the other side of the Loch.

I stopped at the 66-mile mark for lunch in the small town of Corpach, by this time Fred, Justin and Robin had caught up with me. As we left lunch we bumped into Jim and Lauri. Turning the next corner we ran into Josh, Alan and Erika.

The nine of us cycled north for about 10 miles and came upon a memorial for the WWII commandos who trained in this area. After a brief stop, we pretty much raced the final 20 miles into St Augusta. The rain held off until we reached the hostel slightly before 6PM with a total of 100.12 miles.

click here for all the photos from day 13

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Wednesday, July 30, 2003

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Day 14, St. Augusta to Tain (July 29)
The theme for the day: ride a little, taste a little

Leaving St Augusta we had a choice to either take a road around Loch Ness via a low flat road or a high winding road around the other side. Of course we ended up taking the high road. We were warned how steep it was going to be, but when we were 1/2 up the 4 mile climb I was having second thoughts, but the views were outstanding!!! We were keeping our eyes out for the Loch Ness Monster, but Iím sorry to report that we cannot confirm the existence of Nessie.

We rode along the Loch for almost 30 miles. Our high road route was on the east side of the Loch and the morning sunlight caused the far side of the loch to glow. The RAF also used the mountains to practice their low flying skills. Two times we saw low flying fighters do low passes through the valleys.

At the top of the Loch was Inverness, a town much larger than St. Augusta. Some folks stopped for lunch here, but we decided to push though and have lunch after crossing the suspension bridge on the far side.

On the far side we were stuck on a busy "A" road for several miles. Generally we tried to stay off the "A" roads, but in this case it was our only option. We were finally able to find a wonderful winding unnamed lane. We even found berries on the side of the road, both blackberries and raspberries. We stopped for a little while to taste them.

We were getting pretty hungry at this point and stopped in one town that had a diner attached to a gas station in the small village Tore. It was not very impressive and our expectations we not very high as we stared at the menus, but when the food did come we were all very pleasantly surprised. It was delicious. I had the roast beef and it really help to fill my stomach.

We arrived in Tain by 3:30. Jim and I headed off to do Whiskey tasting at the Glenmorangie Distillery. We had the chance to taste several different types. It was similar to wine tasting. If we got there a bit earlier we could have taken the distillery tour as well.

click here for all the photos from day 14

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Thursday, July 31, 2003

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Day 15, Tain to John OíGroats (July 30)

All good things must come to an end....

As we woke up on the last day of riding it was an overcast sky and a bit chilly. I put on my lightweight windbreaker before heading on out with the rest of the group. At the start of the ride we rode past mud flats on either side of the road and then started to climb up a hill where stopped to remove my jacket. The road weaved up and down.

At the town of Brora I stopped to call in yesterdayís audio log at a pay phone and got separated from the group I was riding with. Pretty soon however members of a group that started later came riding through town. I really didnít know where the first group went, so I headed off with the new group of Fred, Justin and Robin and eventually met up with Albert, Cor and Renius.

We stopped for coffee in Helmsdale. We had some lattes and scones. By the time we were departing Helmsdale the original group of Jim, Lauri, Andy, Erika, Alan and Nancey came cycling through the town. We all joined up and continued on our way.

As soon as we left Helmsdale we hit a set of very steep inclines. At least one of them was a 13% grade. We may not have seen climbs like this since the second day of the ride in Dartmoor; of course I have photos to prove it. The worst of it was over by the time we hit the town of Berriedale about 10 miles later.

We were ready for lunch by now but couldnít find a restaurant or cafť, so when we found a butcher shop in the town of Latheronwheel, we stopped and grabbed some ice cream and an apple pie (yes ice cream and apple pie at a butcher shop).

We finally stopped in the town of Lybster. After a quick lunch at a small restaurant the entire group of maybe 9 or 10 of us started out again. The time must have been about 2PM.

We had a chance to stop in Wick for about 30 minutes where the choice was lattes or Ice Cream. We picked the ice cream and it was only about 16 miles to the end. We pretty much road the final miles as group.

As we were making the final climb of the entire trip, with only 2 more miles to go, Lauri got the final flat of the ride. We finally road to the hotels and found the rest of the group already celebrating in the hotelís pub. After the entire group assembled, we traveled en-mass down to the waterís edge.

       
       


Total miles for the day 86 miles

click here for all the photos from day 15

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8/20/03