Day 12 – End of the road

Woke to one of the sunniest mornings of the trip. Quite possibly the nicest in this part of Scotlands meteorological history. Knowing that we only had 38 miles remaining added to its sweetness.

We stopped in wick for the obligatory pastry or two and continued along the near flat roads to John O’Groats.

The weather was still clear as we went over the crest of the last hill to see John O’Groats sitting before us. Giving us a nice downhill straight into the visitors parking.

We congratulated some other cyclist  when they arrived. We found out later that they hadnt even started, they were doing JOGLE. Dave was in gloating heaven!

A short stop at Dunnet Head followed.. the official most northerly point of mainland Britain. Then continued to Thurso for celebratory beers and maybe a deep fryed Mars bar or two… phew!!

2012-07-26 11.41.58

Day 11 – To Brora and beyond

The day started with a camping bikers breakfast, porridge with honey, nuts and raisins, a cup of tea… and three hard boiled eggs each.

The eggs were still being digested when we hit our first hill… what a little beauty she was… ten minutes in and still climbing with no end in sight beyond the next bend and the last egg trying to escape back out the way it went in… the downhill was almost worth it though, happy days.

We made rapid progress thereafter hitting the 50 mile mark until the previous days familiar ‘ping’ sounded again… another spoke down on Dave’s bike. Ant (aka Mr Perfectionist) looking highly perturbed and Dave (aka Mr Let fate play its course) pointed out there were still plenty of remaining spokes left.

Rapid progress continued, even with one less spoke and having had time to enjoy a nice cold roadside hagis pie (neeps and tatties all included in the pie!)… by 2.51pm we were at our originally planned destination… and yet strangely Dave was hungry for more (to Ants bemusement). The overlord google was consulted and another campsite was located a mere 26 miles away… little did we know then two beast almighty hills that awaited us at 90+ miles in… Ant not best impressed shall we say!

Alas though dear readers your heroes of the hour are now writing this in the comfortable surrounding of a restaurant overlooking the bay, a full 26 miles down the road (98 miles done in total)… our third nice ale on order, possibly the best sticky toffee pudding ever consumed and a dizzying array of single malt night caps… plus best of all though John O’Groats a mere 38 miles away… surely the remaining spokes will last out?!

Day 10 – Loch Less Monster

Leaving the picturesque village of Glencoe we re-joined the A82 next to a near perfect reflection of the surrounding mountains in the loch.

We stopped briefly at Fort William for some supplies (including some strangely nice cold chicken/ turkey burgers) before taking a slight detour into the mountain B roads to give us a break from the traffic.

It had rained slightly and the clouds clung to Ben Nevis with mystical enchantment but today we had better luck with the weather. We re-joined the A82 heading towards Inverness in perfect biking weather. Cycling along the banks of Loch lochy and Loch Ness provided us with a near flat ride we got up to an average 18 miles an hour including hills… we must be starting to get fit!

We did have one glitch today where Dave’s rear spoke randomly snapped (yet still not a single flat tyre)! The wheels now as crooked as a dog’s hind leg but its still revolving (just)… giving Dave all the excuse he needs to ignore it and carry on.

Tonight we are back in the tent (pint was in hand at 3.09pm though!) and the weather tomorrow looks good. Is it too early to presume we can now pack away the waterproofs for good?

Day 9 – Ant & Dave vs The Elements

The elements won…

We’re currently shacked up in another hostel, drinking Daves hot broth while waiting for sodden clothes to dry. This wasn’t meant to be the case. The plan was to camp.

The day started wet and stayed that way, it didn’t even hold off for a minute. By dinner we took refuge in a tourist information office but we spent so long trying on novelty ginger wigs that the already wet clothes had started to make us cold.

To make things worse the afternoon was colder and wetter… then the wind started. The scenery was absolutely majestic, grey mist smouldering against huge backdrops, but equally it was 8 degrees with a hammering head-wind that gave us a serious wind chill. It was only a short ride today (63 miles) but it was what this trip is all about for us taking on the mental battle of extreme adversity and coming through it… mentally though today’s supposed ‘easy’ ride was perhaps the toughest yet!

Please can we have some dry weather tomorrow. We’d much rather moan about the midges.

Day 8 – A30 + M5 + M6

Our muscle aches tell the story, we have now completed there entirety of the A30, M5 and M6 combined… quite a feat now we think about it. We’re sat in an old country house converted into a YHA alongside Loch Lomond, drinking some rum we’ve sneaked into the place (it’s like a monastery in here!)

We have good reason to celebrate, today was actually our longest day, 92 miles in all and it has to be said despite the wind, nearly 20 miles continuous rolling hills and the disappearance of our fine weather the miles were kicked out with almost military rigor… now we’re two thirds done and getting stronger by the day it seems as though only a bike problem or raging diarrhea can stop us now (if fate is to play a devilish hand let it be the bike problem ;-).

Roll on John O’Groats we sense you in our sights…

Day 7 – More midges

Woke up to a glorious blue sky on the banks of Ullswater in the Lake District. This also made for a stunning view across the lake and into the mountains.

Setting off in high spirits we soon started climbing out of the lakes.

We followed a very long, straight road to Carlisle, and an unceremonious entrance into Scotland: I was ecpecting bagpipes.

Stocking up at Dumfries, Dave made me carry 10 bottles of beer on top of my already hefty luggage.

Made it to Glemidge that certainly lives up to its name.

Weather is supposed to get better over the next few days. Im sure the terrain is about to get a lot worse!

Day 6 – Midges with chips

It rained all night so we were pleased when it cleared before packing up the tents.

Started the day on some hideous A roads through Preston and Lancaster, we made good pace though and when we hit the lake district it was only 12:30 so a celebratory pie, sausage roll and ice cream was had… plus a cup of tea with bag left in (northern stylee)!

Riding into the lakes has given us some of the most gorgeous backdrops, plus inevitably an increasing intensity of hills. 75 miles in and we hit an immense climb between Winderemere and Ullswater… ouch! Was very harsh after such a long day, but hitting over 40mph on the downhill on the other side made up for it all.

We seem to have hit midge country early, so going to need to buy some repellent soon… the midge bite-off to see who gets most has begun.

P.S why is post entitled midge and chips… just mentioned the midges but also these greedy northerners seem to eat chips with everything!

Day 5 – Myths and Truths

Short day today after a 12 mile head start from where we camped last night. Mainly A-roads around Warrington and Liverpool. A little rain but nothing like the past downpours.

So since there was less excitement today, instead we thought we’d give you a few myths and truths about life on the road that we’ve learnt (the hard way)

1) Hills get easier once you’ve done a few… fundamentally not true!
2) It’s not your bum aching you need worry about (that goes by day three/four)… It’s the chaffing!
3) You get a better nights sleep in a youth hostel dorm than in a tent.
4) Rain can be categorised by its soaking potential…its all just as wet!
5) Ant eats more bananas than Dave because he’s hairier.
6) Cycling from John O’Groats to Lands End is downhill.


1) Going commando saves washing!
2) The bit between the bottom of your testicles and leg chaffes painfully if you don’t apply savlon!
3) you can drink beer every night and not get a beer belly or hangover… just do a 80 mile bike ride each day 😉
4) Greggs do a fantastic sausage, bacon and egg bap with capuccino for £2
5) Nipples do not get sore through cycling…No vaseline required
6) The first and the last hills of the day hurt the most… plus Dave takes three hills to get up to full operating temperature!
7) A southerly wind makes cycling Lands End to John O’Groats easier.

Day 4 – Don’t burn the toast

Dave started the day by almost causing an evacuation of the entire castle at 7.30am. Luckily he managed to fling the smoking toast out the window first before the ceiling smoke alarms started, just as panicing staff rushed in.

The days riding started wet and it steadily got worse, an ensuing deluge was epitomised as a lorry driving the other way left ant gargling road water… great entertainment for Dave. The weather eventually cleared though and 88 miles got completed all in all today… Plus a free nights camping has been thrown in due to the owners being charitable/ feeling sorry for us!

Just for the record/ for those of interest we have to eat 5000 calories a day… today’s food for dave was muesli, yogurt, english breakfast, toast, apples juice and coffee, banana, chocolate bar, pain au chocolate, rollo cookies, steak pie and chips (bizarrely the pie topping had a naan bread consistency?!), ice cream, bombay mix, crisps, 2 beers, burger, jacket potato and salad (just for a healthy touch)… P.s yesterday we had a cornish pasty for breakfast too… Happy days but may need to go on a diet when we get back.

Day 3 – Aches and pains

The weather today was good. The terrain and the wind on the whole were in our favour. So Dave’s gripes today are aches and pains (all mid-thirties gents like a grumble 😉 ).

Achey knees upon waking up were soon overtaken by achey thighs and calves, but gradually during the day, achey tendons won the award for biggest gripe followed closely by achey backside (goes without saying buy equally it goes numb after a while anyway).

Anyway, gripes aside, a good day was had… 90 miles done.

Tonight Dave made an excellent tea of rice and macaroni risotto with tomato curried eastern european tinned sardines. Plus grated cheese sprinkles…bon appetite!

We’re staying in a magnificent 400 year old Norman castle. Our dorm is called The Hanging room!

A quarter of the way through and going strong. Tomorrow, after our english breakfast we head to Shrewsbury, albeit possibly in yet more rain!

2012-07-17 20.15.55