Snow, Rain and glorious scenery

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Regular readers will have read our earlier reports of Dave Cooper's and Monique Hollinshead's 8-day cycle ride from Land's End to John 'o Groats over the Easter week.

Their chosen charity for the ride was the Teenage Cancer Trust and their target was to raise £5,000.

Shortly after they had finished cycling, and on their return to Coxbank, Audlem Online asked if we could share their experience with a more detailed report than Dave's Tweets which we used in earlier reports.

Monique has now sent us a Day by Day summary. We have already published details of their ride as far as Biggar in the Southern Uplands of Scotland. It's now north for two days through Scotland in terrible weather. 

#Day 6
The day with the snow! We set out in full waterproofs, and in heavy rain. As we climbed through Dumfries and Galloway it started to snow. I wouldn't normally choose to cycle in this weather. I was pretty chipper though as at least it had stopped raining.

We descended into Whitburn where we met another End to Ender who had done 20 miles and had decided to stop for the day. Three days later we saw him pushing north as we drove down from Inverness so the weather hadn't beaten him.

We had pre-booked hotels and a time scale so had to press on. Fortunately the little cafe in Whitburn was staffed by the nicest ladies you could meet and told us to dry all our stuff off on the radiators, they even dragged Dave up the ramp from the toilets when he was falling about in his cleats. Only lentil soup would do.

Dave's Mum and Dad weren't far away and joined us supplying us with dry clothes and latex gloves to go under the other gloves which meant Dave was now wearing 4 pairs, but it did the trick.

Above Linlithgow, Dave blagged the use of the poshest toilets ever; in a steak restaurant, they were flowery mock Victoriana, very nice. I suppose they were concerned we might wee in the car park!

We did photos on the Forth Road Bridge which is disconcerting as it vibrates as the lorries rumble past. Our lunch stop was just past Cowdenbeath in Kelty- eggy bread, yum!

We had to ask directions in Milnerfort as the road is a bit tricky there — luckily it was the local SNP MP Sandy Baxter who, unusually for a politician, told the truth.

Onwards through Perth after which we were on the busy A9 and it was rush hour — not nice. We tried out the cycle path which I have to say was more irritating than the snow, only fit for mountain bikes and a time scale of several weeks. So we hopped over the central barrier back onto the A9 to finish in Pitlochry for the night.

Because of the snow delaying us and the fact that most towns stop doing food in Scotland after 8.30pm, I missed my run.
Distance 114.5m, riding time 8.43, avg. 12.76mph, ascent 5246 ft

#Day 7
We were starting to feel fit, and not feeling any worse for the days done so far. But this was the longest day in terms of miles on the trip.

After disappointing boiled eggs for breakfast (the yolks were hard) we were off towards Aviemore. This was one of the best days of the trip, spectacular scenery, not too much wind and a dry start for a change.

I think the number 1 cafe of the trip was Ralia about 20 miles south of Aviemore — a fantastic muffin, decent sized pot of tea, free wifi, warm and art on the walls. Lunch in Aviemore. A cyclist we rode with for a bit  recommended a café but it was full. We ended up in Papa Rock diner and I had hot chocolate with all the trimmings.

The rain had started for the day, the descent from Schlod summit was wet and cold and the most unpleasant part of the journey was through Inverness during rush hour. I had to eat a whole bag of foamy bananas to get over the experience.

Overnight stop was at the excellent Carnegie lodge in Tain. Any hotelier that puts a dish of sweets in your room gets my vote, plus we could ramp up the radiators to dry the kit.

A short run round Tain, legs feeling a bit more tired on the run.
Distance 122.9, riding time 8.44, avg. 14.07 mph, ascent 5403ft.

More tomorrow — the final stretch to John o' Groats.