Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Highland Trail 550 - Part 1

Ever since I first completed the Highland Trail in 2014, Tom has wanted to ride it also. In 2015 we had a go, but were thwarted by wet and windy conditions. At Easter this year we had another go, but the weather was too wintry for our lightweight setup, and we baled after only two days.

If you look in Lee Craigie's book "Joining the Dots" about her Highland Trail experience you will see at the back of the book that Tom was aiming to be the youngest rider at 12 years old. We were committed to do this sooner rather than later.

We found a reasonable weather forecast, then booked train tickets to Tyndrum for a 3rd go.

The night before we set off we bumped into Dave and Jamie in the pub in Tyndrum. They were also planning on setting off on the route the following day. Their goal was similar to ours, that was to get round inside 8 days in order to see the riders who were setting off in the Grand Depart at 9am on the 27th of May.

Day 1

Tom and I left Tyndrum at 5:40 am, the sun was shining and the trails were fairly dry.

By 10 am I was actually hot and needed to take a top off. Short sleeves weather.

Tom fills up our water bottles as we head towards Ben Alder.

At Loch Ericht, Dave and Jamie caught us, we chatted for a bit, then they rode away. Presuming that would be the last we'd see of them.

We enjoyed the empty trails.

 At Culra Bothy we stopped for a bite to eat.

 Speaking of bothies, our plan was to get to at least Melgarve as we had on our previous two attempts, or maybe to Blackburn on the other side of the Corrieyairack pass.

We arrived at Melgarve at 7pm. We both felt good, and we decided to head on up and over the pass. First though we needed food. We'd been eating lots of sweet stuff, so Tom suggested eating some emmental cheese. I asked "How much do you want?" "Half each" says Tom.

As we neared the zig zags on the pass I was overcome with a wave of tiredness, and felt nauseous. I quickly realised that eating a big chunk of cheese shortly before climbing up a steep hill was the cause of this.

Tom was feeling grim too. A few moments later all his cheese and other sundry stomach contents were delivered to the grass by his feet. He was careful not to spew on his shoes though. A couple of sips of water though, and we were again heading up the hill.

Once over the Corrieyairack we rolled down the hill to Blackburn. Just before we got there we saw Dave and Jamie.

Once in the bothy we lit the fire and ate a couple of Firepot meals which were just what we needed after a long day. 90 miles done, a good start.

Day 2

We awoke reasonably early on day 2, and it was raining. A posh pork and beans Firepot meal for breakfast and then we descended to Fort Augustus. We spied Dave and Jamie's bikes outside a place that they were having breakfast. We stopped for a pot of tea and a chat before continuing North.

We took some shelter for a sandwich at the ruin.

As the day progressed, the wet conditions were taking their toll on my brake pads. An oversight meant that I'd not brought spares. I did know that just off route was Square Wheels in Strathpeffer. It would be a challenge to get there before closing time though.

At 5:20 pm my phone indicated that it had network.Tom told me the type of pads we needed, I phoned the bike shop to check that they had them in stock, and to say that we were on our way, and that we might be a couple of minutes after closing time. We raced from Orrin dam to Strathpeffer.

A full set of pads each and a couple of spares purchased, we stocked up on food and then rejoined the route. The plan being to replace the pads at Oykel Bridge the following day.

We rode until dusk and camped along with some midges in a forest.

No comments:

Post a Comment