August 26, 2012, by David Greenaway

The VC’s Life Cycle 2 Blog: Day 2 – Inchnadamph to Inchbae

For the second day running we woke to a glorious morning: bright, sunny and still. The only fly in the ointment is that’s ideal conditions for midges, and swarms of them were out for an early breakfast. The jungle spray I bought at Birmingham airport did not do what it said on the tin and I now have polka dot legs.

As always everyone was well marshalled by the Support Team and charged up with food and drink before we set off. Nick takes the view that the emphasis on porridge and slow release carbs is overdone. So, as you can see from the picture, he settled on a carefully assembled breakfast of super foods to set him up for the day.

We departed from Inchnadamph in three groups: Chris R; Andy, Karen, Kate, Gavin; Mike, Steve, Nick, Neville; Chris J, Penelope and me. Chris R pressed on to complete the run in one stretch, the other four stuck together, the rest of us grouped, split up and regrouped at various points.

Weather conditions for the entire ride were perfect. The landscapes were never going to hit yesterday’s spellbinding highs, but the stretch between Inchnadamph and Ullapool came pretty close. The ancient volcanic peaks are magnificent, and beyond Strathcannaird the landscape gradually changed as we moved into more heavily forested areas.

The first sign of the coast comes at Ardmair, a lovely fishing port, followed by a steep climb then a descent into Ullapool. This was my first visit to Ullapool, if you go, arrive from the north, the view over the town and Loch Broom is as fine a view as I have seen and I can now see why Ullapool is such a magnet for visitors.

I rode in with Nick and almost everyone had stopped at The Frigate on the waterfront, a splendid café with mega cakes and scones. This is a busy port, which services the islands. It was also evidently a major centre for moving people, or people moving, during the clearances.

When we arrived, a group of our team were chatting to some tourists from France, in English of course. I think the team were surprised and more than a little impressed, when I spoke with the visitors in French.

I left Ullapool with Steve, Neville and Nick, in close formation. I am pretty sure I heard someone ask whether we were the GB Pursuit Team. We obviously looked the part. We stayed together until a stiff climb at Braemore Square Country House, where Neville stopped to pick wild raspberries, then the climbs and descents strung us out and we arrived in Inchbae individually.

Everyone was at the hotel by one thirty. For the only time on this trip we had a spare half day, so we went to the Glen Ord Distillery in Muir of Ord. It is now one of a number of top malts owned by Diageo. Glen Ord’s signature malt is The Singleton, the entire annual output of which is exported and almost exclusively to South East Asia. Mind you, only 15% of their total output is single malt, the rest goes to blending.

The distillery has a good exhibition centre and a very informative tour. Our group was made up entirely of the LC2 team, plus two visitors from France. Gavin was so impressed with my French in Ullapool, he suggested I act as interpreter.

The visit provided a welcome bit of light relief, though in Mike’s case he lingered a bit a bit too long trying to get extra free samples and missed the return bus.

Now we are getting into more populated areas (though that remains relative) we are seeing more interest in what we are doing. Actually, that started at breakfast when the waiter asked why we were doing it. Karen pointed at me and said ‘help the aged’, which I thought was a bit uncharitable. Interest in Ullapool in our real cause resulted in a number of spontaneous donations.

One of our two principal corporate supporters is Lucozade. As well as a significant financial commitment, they provided 1,000 bottles of the drink, which we have been getting through at quite a rate. Chris R has found a novel purpose for reusing the empties. He is a great fan of green tea, but does not have his tea flask with him. Lucozade empties do the job just fine.

All in all an excellent day. Like yesterday, some demanding climbs and some long and very fast descents (with Andy hitting 45 mph at one point). Happily there were no mishaps; remarkably there were no punctures.

Charitable act of the day: Paul found a sachet of salad cream for Steve to replace his special cream.

Shock of the day: Penelope rode with Chris J all day and said a good part of it passed in ‘companionable silence’.

We have had extraordinary support for what we are doing and funds raised now exceed £180,000 which is just fantastic. On behalf of the team I would like to thank everyone for their support. I would also like to thank readers of this blog for the interest they are taking and for your comments, the team enjoy receiving these, so do keep posting them.

At just 50 miles, this is the shortest day of Life Cycle 2. Apart from the Lincoln to Nottingham leg, every other day is 80 miles plus, starting tomorrow, with the ride to Spean Bridge. Weather wise the first two days have been perfect. That may now be changing. The wind direction has shifted to northerly and temperatures have dived. Moreover, whilst we were at Glen Ord Distillery, spirits were dampened by sudden and torrential rain reminding us just how quickly things change in this part of the world. Tomorrow could be a different proposition.

Professor David Greenaway


Posted in Life Cycle 2