September 2, 2016, by David Greenaway

Nottingham Life Cycle – Day 14 Strontian to Beauly

We had our first midgie attack today as we were getting sorted out to depart the Ben View Hotel. They were out in force. When they swarm in such numbers they are almost impossible to deal with. Received wisdom is that ‘Oh So Soft’ is better at keeping them at bay than insect repellent. I think the midgies have worked that one out, it did not seem to make much difference.

Before reflecting on our day, let me start with a fundraising update. We are at almost £540,000. That is a huge tribute to the efforts of all involved: the team on this endurance ride; those who cycled ‘Way of the Roses’; those riding in the Community Day on Sunday; the organisers of all the bake offs and other events. Thank you to all of you.

It is also a tribute to our corporate supporters and the generosity of those we meet every single day on this challenge. Tonight that included a large number of patrons of the Lovat Arms in Beauly.

This all has a purpose, changing the life chances of those affected by breast cancer. Today our Life Cycle Miles were in honour of Mhairi Fleming (nominated by Emma Oldham); Pat Huxley (nominated by Susan Anderson); Jen Davis (nominated by Alex Taylor); and the late Jenny Hazelgrove (nominated by Linda East). We are grateful you allow us to do this in your name.

Pic 1 - Blog writingI had terrible problems posting the blog this morning, because of a lack of connectivity. By the time I had given up, everyone was on the road apart from Susan, who had waited back for me.

Pic 2 - Bikes on ferryThat forced an immediate change of plan. Rather than cycling up the west side of Loch Linnhe to cross from Camusnagaul to Fort William, we took the ferry from Ardgour to Corran, in the hope I could secure internet connectivity there. If so, we would then proceed up the east side of the Loch on the A82 to Fort William.

After a bit of hit and miss, I finally got the blog away to Lisa in my office, and we were on our way again.

It was a wet start. I was soaked through after 15 miles. The internet challenges had an upside though, I got a complete change of clothing in Corran, then on to Fort William and beyond. In the meantime, the other riders had crossed to Fort William, on a much smaller craft and a more exposed area of water. It was evidently a very choppy crossing.

Pic 3 - staying dry on the ferry Pic 4 - Small boat ferry crossing

Doug and Andy passed us just before Spean Bridge where we stopped and ate with them, and Nick who rolled in shortly after. Nick, Susan and I rode out the rest of the day together.

Pic 6 - the busy A82 Pic 5 - Spean Bridge

From Spean Bridge we headed up alongside Loch Lochy, through Fort Augustus and on to Loch Ness. Despite the forecast, the weather remained dry and increasingly bright. The A82 along the side of the Great Glen is fast, busy and winding, and you need to keep your wits about you when riding it.

We stopped at the Glen Rowan Café in Invermoriston, just off the north shore of Loch Ness, and met up again with Doug and Andy. It is owner managed and well worth leaving the main road to search out, a terrific café with superb home-made food. Stefano and Sara also found their way there before we left.

The final 26 miles split neatly into two halves: 13 miles to Drumnadrochit, and 13 miles on to Beauly.

The first half continued on a stretch of the A82 which climbs above the Loch and snakes down to Urquhart Castle. The second half starts with a steady climb out of Drumnadrochit, then turns sharply. You are faced with 1.5 miles at an average gradient of 15% and peaking at 21%, and it twists and turns.

The memory of coming down this hill on LC2, is very fresh. I was clear before I got there, I was not even going to attempt it. On gradients that steep and which go on for so long, there is risk you go so slow you topple over. It has happened to me before, and I was not taking the chance.

Everyone else had a go, and four riders made it to the top without stopping and walking. A great effort. They all deserve 10 points for that, and I get deducted 10 for not trying.

The final 10 miles to Beauly went in a flash. It is almost all downhill, fast and on good surfaces. Top speeds recorded going down were reported as 47 mph. It was a great end to a challenging day, and everyone was in by 1800.

Tonight, at the Lovat Arms Hotel, I ran a LC6 auction. This involved all riders, Support Team and Susan (Greenaway) who has re-joined us. It had a range of lots I bought or had donated: cycling and whisky related books, garments, framed pictures from past Life Cycles, soft toys, and other bits and pieces. It raised another £1,200 for our cause.

It also provoked a number of sponsored challenges, so tomorrow, Susan will be riding in a pink tutu, Kate and Sara will be sporting false moustaches, and Stefano will be in shorts he wore on LC3. They might be riding on their own!

Today we added a further 92 miles, taking us to 1,188 miles. Tomorrow we have an eighty mile plus day. I have not yet looked at the route map, I think it reverses a stretch of what we completed on LC1. Weather forecast is again not encouraging.

Professor Sir David Greenaway

Posted in Life Cycle 6