John O'Groats to Land's End - Wick to Inverness

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Wick to Inverness

Tuesday 27th July 2010

I awoke at 3:35am. I needed the toilet and tried in vain to ignore it and go back to sleep. After about half an hour I gave up the battle and began the first challenge of the day - getting myself out of my sleeping bag cocoon. I trod across the damp cold grass in bare feet covered in a plastic pair of overshoe covers that you find in swimming pools. I returned to the tent and struggled back into sleeping bag. I put my head down and closed my eyes but I was now fully awake. I decided that I might as well get on with the day. It was already light outside. Getting dressed proved to be as much a challenge as anything in the tent. Trying to avoid touching the damp sides of the tent and keep myself dry while I tried to find and put on clean cycling gear took an eternity.

It was nearly 6am by the time I had finally got everything sorted, tent packed, bottles filled, trailer loaded and final toilet trip done. I wheeled the bike through the camp site to a rear gate. There I cycled along a path by the side of a small river towards the railway station. On through the sleeping town until I reached the A99 and turned south. Within half an hour I was getting warm and stopped to remove my waterproofs. The weather was much improved and though there was still the occasional shower they were light enough to plough on through.

A99 towards the sea

One aspect of the weather that hadn't changed was the headwind. It is unfortunately the price you pay for doing the Land's End to John O'Groats ride in reverse. Often a gust of wind would catch my laden bike and trailer and I would feel a sudden deacceleration. Keeping any reasonable momentum going was hard work. Perversely, going uphill in the lea of a hill often provided a welcome relief from the headwind and I knew I was about to crest the summit by its return.

Just before reaching Helmsdale the road descends steeply into a valley and then ascends as steeply on the other side. Going uphill pulling the ladened trailer was too much for me and I was forced to get off and push the bike. This was the first of many times that I would be forced to walk with the bike before I reached Land's End.

At Brora, I caught up with three cyclists doing JOG to Land's End who had stopped. I continued but they quickly caught and overtook me. They were on road bikes without any luggage and all I learned was that they were aiming to get Fort William that day. They were set for a long fast ride and my progress must of seemed pedestrian by comparison.

A9 Road Sign

Navigation in this part of the world is very straightforward!