Sitting here, legs aching from my big weekender – two sportives in two days! Friday night saw Brian and I heading up to Ullapool. The further north we got, the heavier the rain, and the stronger the wind. I never knew it was possible to feel sea sick in a stationary campervan! Not a lot of sleep was had as the storm raged outside and I had visions of the bikes being blown away. Saturday morning came with no sign of the storm passing – surely the sportive would be cancelled. No such luck, so off we set in the rain and wind, heading north out of ullapool. 10 miles on and we turned left, winding our way behind Stac Polaidh – even in the rain it looked stunning. First feed station at Lochinver was very welcome. The road thereafter was horribly similar to the Applecross route, only worse! Relentless up and down, with the wind just making things even tougher. By now I was beginning to lose the will to live. Finally I was back on the main road – yet more climbing, but at least these were longer, steadier hills. It was a question of head down and just keep pedalling. Never have I been so pleased to finish an event. It had been a long, lonely run. The best part of the whole thing was that it turned out to be only 83 miles, rather than the 88 miles on the website!
Well done to Angus who flew round (please can I have some of what he’s on), and to Brian who survived a near death encounter with a cycle hating motorist (who was left in no doubt who was at fault).
Having had the hardest day of my life on the bike, I was praying that Brian would suggest we head home. But no. On to Fort William, wondering how I would manage to pedal 10 miles, let alone 115 miles the next day. More torrential rain overnight, but at least no sea sickness!
Sunday morning looked pretty grey, although there was a hint of blue sky out west, where we we heading. I knew a different mentality was needed to get round the course – tourist speed, enjoying the sights along the way. And so it was, that I had one of the best days ever on my bike! The scenery was spectacular – helped by some sunshine between the showers. The route was relatively flat (compared to the previous day) and the feed stations were brilliant – including tea and coffee, which is a first for me at feed stations. Even Brian seemed to be enjoying the novelty of stopping at feed stations! The last 20 miles were hard going – Fort William was temptingly close (only a couple of miles across the water), but a long way round by road. Thanks to Brian who did the hard work on the front of our group of four – the three of us flagging by this stage. It was a great feeling to cycle back into Fort William – a very different experience to the previous day.
This is the first time that No Fuss Events have run this sportive, so numbers were small, which in some ways made it all the more enjoyable. It’s a spectacular route – but one that needs to be enjoyed. It would be a shame to race round it and not take in what’s passing by.
Tired, tired legs tonight, but a real sense of achievement after an epic weekend.