Doesn’t time fly by when you’re enjoying yourself, as this was 10 in a row for me! Weather was unusually fine on the drive over to Kinlochewe, dry, mild, light wind. But, the sting in the tail hit us when we arrived and got out the car. Midges, billions of them, and all very hungry! A weird sight of folks waving their arms around and diving between car, hall, cafe to get some respite.
Everyone seemed keen to get moving and team Wheelers all set off at various times, as you need to time it to arrive at the foot of the Bealach for 11am when it opens for the cyclists and closes for the cars. I waited until 9:15 and set off with Brian from the Thistle and Rod from CoG. Rod set the pace up the first climb and we picked up wheels as we sped along to Achnasheen and the right turn to Lochcarron. A nice group, all working,if slightly erratic, and unfortunately a touch of wheels just in front of me saw 3-4 riders hit the road (didn’t look too serious as they were all up and moving).
Bang on time, hit the Bealach climb at 11am, getting good at this timing malarky! The group inevitably split, with my usual tactic of taking it easy on the climb, saving something for the 2nd half. Up and down, all in one piece and with no scary moments this year. As I rolled round the magnificent Applecross bay I saw the unmistakable orange jersey of Brian a minute or two up the road with 3-4 others. So I pushed on to join up, only took me 10 miles! Almost immediately after tagging on to the group the cramp started and I had to sit up and let them go.
The lumpy bits to Shieldaig were pretty awful as I had to ease way back to avoid the cramp in both legs, and I almost came to a stop on a few occasions. Finally made it to Shieldaig and then the last climb before Torridon.
The legs were in a world of pain as I pushed on as best I could for the last 10 rolling miles. Rather surprised to see the orange jersey up ahead and was slowly closing the gap. With about 3 miles to go finally caught Brian who dragged me and the top lady finisher to the line at a fine pace. Finished, well and truly finished.
Weather wise a great day, one of the best.Views stunning. Route,one of the best,challenging runs you’ll get anywhere. Well organised. Good food at the end too.
My time was 4:58, considering the last 30 miles were cramptastic, happy with that. Soon other Wheelers arrived with battle scarred faces and tales to tell. Everyone always says “never again”, but that soon wears off and you look forward to next year 🙂
Garmin route and info –