I set of north from Oban on day 8 after a very tasty breakfast, but feeling sluggish and preparing myself for another long one on the bike. It was looking like 100 miles, or just under, up the lochs, so I had my head down and tried to let my mind wander a bit to get into a rhythm. Great weather for riding, just slightly overcast but with a few sunny patches and perfect riding temperature in the early - mid teens. As I chugged on, I saw these 'Airy Coo's' having their morning swim in the Loch...such big beasties!
A couple of hours later, I found myself on the edge of this beautiful loch with the road running up the side....but on taking this photo:
...realised something was wrong. The road should not be on this side of the Loch. It should be on the other. When was the last time I checked the map? Over an hour ago...oh sh*t...and it was worse than I'd imagined. In my morning daze, I'd missed the 2x2 meter sign saying "<--- Fort William" and biked straight on by it...more than 10 miles in the wrong direction! Bianca mkII had even tried to warn me...at one point resorting to viciously lashing out at my leg:
But I'd missed the signs, and as a result, had more than 20 miles extra to add to my journey today. I was already fatigued so this was not good. After much peddling to get back on course, and a fair amount of berating my stupid mistake, I realised there was no point focusing on it and tried to take some wisdom from my Mum [See: you get a second mention!] of living only in the present moment. The present meant dealing with the extra 20 miles and getting my ass back on target. The only way to do this was to get in more energy than normal and spend more time on the bike.
So onwards, past "Stalker" castle (this is the one from "The quest for the holdy grail" )
Past the beautiful Glencoe Valley
Up Loch Linnhe & finally getting to Fort William for a late lunch at 14.30 and with 114km/70 miles on the clock already. Found my wife, and some Pasta for lunch, which helped perk me up a little bit, though I was still dreading how much further I knew I had yet to cover today...so couldn't hang around long.
After lunch there was a fair hill climb past Spean Bridge, which afforded great views of Ben Nevis
Then a long straight run above Loch Lochy which was the prettiest of them all today.
The afternoon went on into the evening. I only saw a couple of other cyclists and had to battle through my body long ago telling me to stop. The section next to Loch Ness was particularly tough when a head wind kicked up in the evening and I'd past the 100 mile mark. It took me forever to cover the last 20 miles into Drumnadrochit, and I was fighting in particular an ongoing problem with my ankle.
Exhausted after a 202km/125mile day, I had just enough energy to ice up the ankle, stuff some food down...and crash. Hoping I dont make the same scr*w up navigating on day 9!
The plan from here
Heading to Lairg today for day 9...which should be a short day, and time to clean the bike, clean myself...and prepare for the final 100 miler to John O Groats. I'm going over the top of the highlands rather than the traditional coastal route via Wick. I hope the swollen ankle improves as its still very sore. Strong westerly winds are forecast for day 10 which will make the final 50 miles along the North Coast a final hurdle and will need to be in reasonable shape to get through this.
In the meantime, here is another 'airy coo: