We last left our intrepid reporter at Cawdor Castle, about to hop on her bike for a 48 mile road cycle to Fort Augustus, having just completed a seven mile trot from the coast at Nairn.
Oh I’m doing this report in third person as the cycling section felt like an out of body experience, Except without the dark tunnel bit or a loved one telling me to stay away from the light.
The cycle section on the first day was on road and a bit hilly. Kerry’s legs couldn’t handle hills. To be honest, they would’t have been able to handle staying on the pedals if it wasn’t for the fact they were physically attached.
After two miles, Kerry really felt like quitting but didn’t as she believed this wouldn’t have been accepted by the other two.
Turns out after two miles Sean also thought about suggesting Kerry should quit.
What I am quitting is the third person reportage, it’s annoying me.
On we plodded and I do mean plodded. Most hills I couldn’t cycle up and had to jump off and push.
Sean got a bit grumpy, unfortunately there was bugger all I could do about this I had to concentrate on pushing one foot down after the other. After an hour or so I decided that eating something every 15 minutes would be the way forward. So I packed up my new crossbar bag with energy gels, carb bars and jelly babies. The 15 minutes dragged by but every bite seemed to help. I then resorted to a jelly baby every 5 minutes, letting one of the little sugar filled suckers dissolve in my mouth.
This seemed to do the trick.
By that I mean I kept moving.
There was some confusion about the distance as we thought we had over 20 still to go when we saw a sign saying only 18 miles to Fort Augustus. We had been warned that there was a good hilly stint before that but knowing that 30 miles had been done gave a much needed psychological boost.
The final hilly bit was f’cking awful. The downhill afterwards was f’cking awesome. Sean reckons he clocked over 30 mph and it was certainly several miles of steep down that had all of us on the brakes at points. The bestest bit, and yes I know that’s not actually a word, sue me, was that the course was four miles shorter than stated. Sean and Fiona had stopped to take photos and I kept going, wanting to make the most of the advantage that momentum would give on the next inevitable up.
Except there wasn’t one.
I swung round a corner and saw lots of Rat Race banners and a marshall pointing off the road. I stopped and asked if that was it. They said “yes”. I didn’t believe them. Not all marshalls lie but it you believe that they do it leads to a lot less disappointment. However it was true. The bike drop off was a couple of hundred yards away, all we had to do now was drop bikes, run to the kayak point, kayak a bit and run back to the finish.
Which we duly did. Well we bimbled. Our support driver informed us that there was a wait at the kayak point, and as one of the team rules is no running towards a queue, we ambled. The kayak was fairly unremarkable, about 500 yards across a flat loch. I was teamed with Sean, and Fiona was paired up with a random fellow, Scouse*, competitor. During the paddle I apologised for being pants, Sean apologised for being grumpy. I also acquitted myself well by not overreacting when we got by a bow wave and not capsizing the kayak. We were going to run to the finish but we caught up with some fellow racers who did the Wall and we had a bit of a chin wag. Sean then got hailed by a random stranger who turned out to be a colleague of his physio.
So we left him chatting and headed up the hill to the finish point for the day, which was handily in a pub car park. Timed out for the day, we decided a pint was in order. During a visit to the pub bathroom I discovered that my eyes had been watering so much with effort during the cycle that I had dried salt crystallised around my eyes. Nice.
One comfort break and half a pint later, there was still no sign of Sean. A scout was sent out and he was discovered sitting at the bottom of the hill, having totally forgotten that he needed to cross the finish line for the day. He eventually made it up and we decamped to the hotel for food and rest.
Oh and to catch the weather report that said, and I quote verbatim
Sunday, Severe Weather Warning for all of Scotland
*There is always a Scouser doing one of these, it’s some sort of universal law.