Saturday, July 15, 2017

July 15, 2017 Betty Hill to John O Groats

The forecast was for rain starting at 9:00 am and getting harder as the day went on.  Breakfast was not served until 8:00 am so there wasn’t going to be much riding done before the rain started.  I was ready to roll at 8:55 Am and had decided that I was heading straight down the highway to John O Groats.  This would cut 3.5 miles (5 kms) off the official route which took a few back roads and paths and shaved 280 ft (85 m) climb off the official climb of 905 m.   With heavy rain, temperatures of only 13C and winds gusting to 20 mph (32kms) as a quartering head wind every mile was going to be precious.

Right out of the chute we hit the first of five big climbs of 3.2 miles (5kms) and   550 ft (170 m).  At exactly 9:02 the rain started but I wasn’t putting my rain coat on until I got to the summit.  I probably should have stopped a little earlier but I knew that long before I got to John O Groats I would be soaked and frozen any way and getting the first big hill out of the way without a rain coat was the way to go.   My twisted foot/ankle from the other day was a problem in that I could not put any down force on the right pedal.  I could pull up but could not push down as this was too painful.  It  was a significant handicap in the hills and only got worse as the day progressed.  At one point I had to stop and could not pull my foot free of the clip. 

First hill down and four to go and the rain has increased significantly. There was so much water on the road that at times I was riding through water flowing 2 inches (5 cm) deep across the road.  The big hills are all in the first 30 miles (48 kms), so the strategy is to just go for it.   By time I get to the 30 mile mark (48 kms), everything is soaked and stopping would only have resulted in freezing so I blew through lunch and headed for John  O Groats with only 21 miles (34 kms) to go.  With less than a mile to go Agnes passes me and pulls into the John O Groats ferry terminal which is the official end of the road.   Agnes and I sit in the van until Jos and Patrick show up a few minutes later. 

A few pictures in front of the John O Groats sign post, a quick change into dry clothing and into the van. Jos buys a half price tartan tam in the souvenir shop which looks crazy but he pulls it off.  We spray the bikes with cleaner and let the rain clean the bikes as we drive.

We were driving down to Invar Gordon where we are staying in an old Manse, built in 1730 and has been converted into a luxury B&B.   It is pretty deluxe.

Tomorrow is a big drive day into Cambridge where we are staying in condo for two R&R days before flying home. Patrick and I plan on sleeping in the back of the van. 

Today was a pretty hard day in the rain with 51 miles (82kms) and 2700 ft (822 meters) of climb but everyone pulled it off and had a lot of fun.  Today will go down in the annals of biking legend (and no smart remarks about legend in his own mind). 



Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing another great cycling tour Terry. Congratulations on a strong finish in difficult conditions. The tour is not quite over yet and looking forward to a few more adventures before we all depart. A big shout out to our wonderful and very patient van driver, Agnes. She did an awesome job, we couldn't have done this without her - thanks so much Agnes. And Terry, an amazing set of tour blogs and photos - how you have the energy and inspiration to complete these every day after a hard day's riding gets me! Looking forward to the next tour! - Jos

Earnie said...

Well done to Tour Director;Jos, driver; Agnes, blogger;Terry and probably the long suffering recipient of every one elses problems and complaints, Patrick; for finishing an epic ride. Later, Earnie

Mike Brousseau said...

Wow! What a trip, what conditions! My hat off to you.

Anonymous said...

Terry, Jos, Patrick and Agnes, congratulations on completing another grand tour. Many challenges met and conquered. Lots of great scenery and historical sites.

I think there should be a new tradition; that the tour director wears a tam when not wearing a helmet!!

Best wishes for a safe drive and travels home.

Ken C.

Jurg said...

Congratulation to the whole team! Well done ! What an adventure. Tough guys. My full respect.
I have not noted any comments in your blog about other cyclist on the road. This means you were the only crazy guys, correct ???!!!
You definately deserve relaxing now

Jim said...

Wow. What an adventure. Congratulations for enduring some really tough days and challenges!! Today is our last ride day in Canada. Fabulous here. 😊

Anonymous said...

Fabulous blog Terry! What a ride! I'm not jealous! Hi to Agnes!


Cynthia Bergland said...

I figures the biking gods would not let you get to JOG without some cold rain. You have once again proved your toughness with the bad ankle and all. Big Congrats..!!

Anonymous said...

congratulations all of you on a tough tough tour.