August 27, 2012, by David Greenaway
The VC’s Life Cycle 2 Blog: Day 3 – Inchbae to Spean Bridge
One of the most sensational results in Scottish football is Berwick 1, Rangers 0: the Scottish Cup in 1967. Today Rangers were again at Berwick. This time because the Glasgow giants are in the Third Division, having been demoted from the Scottish Premier League to the bottom tier of Scottish football for financial irregularities. This time they did better and came away with a draw.
Inchbae Lodge Hotel is really quirky in all sorts of ways, but was comfortable and we were well looked after by Jeanette, who served us dinner, ran the bar and was there to serve us breakfast at 7am. The Lodge had a simple pricing policy: all dinners were £8, all drinks were £3, whatever you had.
We left Inchbae before 8am, in a 1-3-5-3 formation: Chris R out first; then Andy, Gavin and Mike; followed by me, Karen, Kate, Nick and Neville; and finally Chris J, Penelope and Steve. Happily, conditions were again good, breezier than we had experienced so far and a colder wind-chill, but bright and sunny with not a hint of rain. Unexpectedly we have had ideal conditions for the first three days.
The first part of our journey took us south on the western end of the Black Isle. The terrain is fairly flat and the land used predominantly for arable farming, principally barley (much of which goes to whisky production). We passed through Muir of Ord and then on to Beauly, which I have visited a few times whilst on vacation. Legend has it that Mary Queen of Scots gave the town its name in stating ‘Quel beau lieu’ when she first visited, and it is a lovely place. (I had to slip that in to impress those in the team who remain in awe of my command of French).
We resisted the temptation to stop, having set a target of 35 miles for the first stretch, to take us to Drumnadrochit. Not long after Beauly we had an eight mile climb to 900 feet up over the high moors. We crossed Moniack Moor. The descent back down to sea level takes place over about a mile. It is very steep with sharp turns and a broken surface, treacherous and a really scary ride.
At Drumnadrochit, famous for its Loch Ness monster exhibitions, we were joined by Chris J, Penelope and Steve for a second breakfast. While we were there a group from the Grampian Motorcycle Club asked about what we were doing and made a donation.
From Drumnadrochit to Spean Bridge we had to use the A82 down the north side of Loch Ness, very different cycling to the last two days. This is the main east-west artery, a winding single carriageway which is fast and with a high proportion of oversized vehicles of one form or another. Drivers were overwhelmingly patient. Sadly a few were not, intentionally coming close at speed, or just yelling abuse. On an incline after Fort Augustus Nick was bumped off the road into some road works. Fortunately he was unhurt, but disappointing to see such negligence and wanton disregard for safety.
Today’s other mishap was with Mike, a spoke snapped and his front wheel immediately buckled. Though on a slope, he managed to retain control and avoided coming off. Fortunately it happened just a couple of miles from the hotel so he was able to walk his bike in, but now needs a new wheel.
There is always an upside however, two in Mike’s case: he gets to have the pink bell on his bike; and he only has to go back two miles in the morning to start Day 4.
Our final stop before Spean Bridge was at The Commando Memorial. This is sited on a rise facing Ben Nevis. It is a stunning setting and a moving and fitting tribute to the Commandos who lost their lives in World War Two. With Ben Nevis cloudless, it was a perfect day to see it.
Although Chris R was first out he was third in, Andy gets the yellow jersey for being first. He and Gavin covered the 78 miles at an average speed of almost 18 miles an hour. That is pretty impressive. Actually we all made good time, which meant being at our destination to give us maximum recovery time, as well as doing essentials like washing cycling kit.
Amazingly no punctures again. Though I now know why. Last year’s puncture stars, Nick and Karen have both fitted puncture resistant tyre. Nick finds they are slowing him so much he is going back to regular tyres. Watch this space.
At 78 miles this is our longest day so far and takes our total mileage to 186. Although the first aches and pains are appearing (my lower neck and shoulders have started grumbling) everyone is in good shape and excellent spirits. Steve’s gait increasingly resembles John Wayne’s. So I put a call in to see if his special cream could be released, but they are still testing it for banned substances. Just as well given the way he has been laying bets on hill climbs.
Andrew Burden has been with us filming since Cape Wrath and sadly leaves us here. It has been great to have him along. We are joined by our first leg rider, Carl Fey, Dean of the Business School at the China Campus. Carl will be with us for the next two days.
Tomorrow we head for Cairndow. The weather forecast looks grim, heavy rain and headwinds, a cyclist’s worst combination possible.
Professor David Greenaway
Great blog – pity about Rangers, although it could have been worse. If it’s any consolation we could only manage a draw. I nearly drove the car off the road in Argyll when Tevez scored!! I’m sorry I didn’t get the chance to say goodbye properly yesterday. Thanks for a wonderful opportunity, it was a real privilege to be with the team. Hope the weather holds or you. Good riding.
I hope you realise that hard fought draw nowputs Rangers in a play off spot, promotion to division 2 is looking like a real possibility!!!
Another great blog today – I’ve found myself checking the web to see when the next one is in – keep them coming. If it’s any consolation it’s wet and a little windy in Nottingham right now. Hope it hasn’t been too horrible today and that if it has been windy I hope it’s been a tail wind, nothing worse than pedalling and going at half the speed you know you could be doing if it was a still day. Enjoy the food tonight and say hello to everyone for me. Becky
The blog is already becoming quite addictive and it is only day 3, looking forward to the next one. I am wondering whether Nick wants to revert to normal tyres not for speed but rather as he has his eyes set on the pink bell.
Sorry to hear that the traffic was heavy and disregarding the safety of cyclists along the Loch Ness Road. Glad to hear nobody was hurt. Here’s a joke that turns the tables!
A pedestrian stepped off the curb and into the road without looking one day, and promptly gets knocked flat by a passing cyclist.
“You were really lucky there,” said the cyclist.
“What on earth are you talking about! That really hurt!” said the pedestrian, still on the pavement, rubbing his head.
“Well, usually I drive a bus!” the cyclist replied.
Hope the weather is not too bad for you tomorrow.
All the best Lynda
Sorry to hear about the idiots on the road and hope Nick is unscathed in every sense! The images of the memorial took me back to earlier holidays -we’ve seen so much yet it sounds as if there is still so much more to see. Hope the neck and shoulders are not as sore as the huge blister on the sole of my foot – London is exciting but hard on the feet! Sounds as if some of you are really getting your toes down at 18mph – do watch out for the speed cameras! Have fun tomorrow with much better weather to set you on your way. Love Susan x
Great to be kept up to speed with Lifecycle 2 through this blog, although not too happy about husband bring forced off piste!In Troon tonight with Nick’s family and looking forward to seeing you all on Nick’s home territory tomorrow! Wishing you safe cycling with consideration from other road users .