July 5th 2011
We thought yesterday was difficult but, when compared to today, it was a doddle!
Things started well: a nice lie-in followed by a leisurely breakfast cooked by our hosts Susan and Jim Smith, owners of Lawriestone Guest House, who were extremely welcoming and helpful throughout our short stay. We left the house at about 9.20am under a cloudy sky and against a mild breeze. Less than half a mile down the road Alex clipped Tom's back wheel and down he went. The picture opposite shows the painful scrapes to knuckles and thigh and, more importantly as far as Alex was concerned, the hole in his shorts! The bike was fortunately not severely damaged, although the brake levers and handlebar tape took a bit of a battering, and Alex very impressively just dusted himself down, did some quick repairs and within twenty minutes we were up and running again.
Our troubles did not end there. We had over 3500 feet to climb in total today and every one of those feet was against an energy sapping wind. Such was its strength that, even when we crested a ridge and started on a downhill section, we were lucky to reach 12mph when we might have expected to achieve speeds 10mph faster than this.
There was, however, one high point to the day: we were delighted to be able to meet up with cousins Anne and Sandie and Nick who came to cheer us on at Bridge of Orchy. We were so tired at this point, only thirty miles into our journey, that we were very happy to spend a liesurely hour and a half having lunch in the Bridge of Orchy Hotel in the hope that the wind would have abated by the time we had finished! Unfortunately that wasn't to be and we spent the rest of the day with the wind in our faces until about 5pm when it suddenly improved and we were able to pick up some speed.
At one point we had serious doubts that we would be able to do more than 60 miles all day but the boys were wonderful and, with the conditions slightly better, we managed ninety. It was at this point that Jono noticed that we were going to end up close to Dunblane and after a quick phone call from him to Jean at the Ciar Mhor B&B, where we stayed on our first night on the way up to John O'Groats, he came back with the welcome news that she had our same rooms available. How lovely it was to see her welcoming face when we finally pulled in at around 7pm.
We have just returned from a lovely evening meal at the Westlands Hotel owned by Eve, who does all the cooking, and ably assisted by Mike. Eve and Mike could not be more friendly and the food is delicious.
We have decided to try and get an early start tomorrow to see if we can get going before the wind starts up. Jono has bought some 'cuppa-porridge' (that's not what it is really called but it comes in cups and you just add boiling water), so that we can get something warming into us before we set off; we will let you know what it tasted like!