And so it was that we had an early breakfast this morning in order to make our final assault on John O Groats. 17 miles to go from Wick... And arguably the most difficult 17miles of the whole journey.
From the guesthouse window, the weather appeared a bit drizzly but otherwise fine. However, when we loaded up the bike and set off out of town, leaving the shelter of the tall buildings we were hit by a stiff north easterly wind. Precisely the direction we were heading.
Despite being fully fuelled and fresh legged, the 20mph+ headwind made the going slow. We were pedalling hard but could only just manage 13mph downhill.
Cycling into a headwind makes the downhills feel like flats, flat roads feel like climbs and climbs feel like vertical ascents. The hour and three quarters it took to get to John O Groats felt like the hardest spin class we had ever been to. The relief at reaching JoG was divine.
We cycled out to Duncansby Head, the most north easterly point of mainland Britain. We admired the cliff formations and lighthouse and the headed for the finish line.
Back at JoG we met another group just finishing and discovered the classic sign to be missing, now a money making scheme for a bloke in a kiosk, so we had our photo taken at the sign on the harbour wall instead. We got our log sheet stamped (we remembered at this end) and headed for Thurso to catch our 1:05pm train. We had 2 hours to cover the 21miles to the town. With the wind more or less behind us, and the motivation to make town in good time to get lunch, we covered the distance in a little over an hour, doubling our usual average speed.
The train arrived on time, but the conductor delivered the bad news that we could not bring a tandem on board. Faced with this information our dismay must have been apparent, after much sucking in of air and tutting, he agreed to let us bring the bike on. Provided of course that we remove both wheels.
Relieved we strapped the dismantled bike in and took our seats for the 4 hour journey to Inverness. As the train took us south it retraced the previous two days cycling, only this time we had a view of the previously mist covered hills (and we weren't sweating, panting and swearing...).
Now in Inverness, we have found a real ale pub serving a decent meal and have proceeded to make use of said facilities. With full bellies and slightly woolly heads we will soon be heading to bed. We have an 8am train home to catch, followed by a 13 hour journey. Somehow I think this will be more arduous than the previous 13.5 days...
Grandma and Granddad One final thought from us for your blog. In the 2 or 3 years we have known you, Adam, we have realised how lucky (or discerning) Ruth is to have you. The latest talent you have revealed to us is your flare for writing interestingly. Maybe you'll find an outlet for it. Bien fait.
Sep 24, 2010
Rachel I agree with grandma and granddad. Although I think I have always known it, probably since our first journey down to Somerset!! Hope you enjoyed being back in your own bed. Looking forward to seeing you later. X
Sep 25, 2010
Mum/Rosemary Well done you two!!! I still think you are mad, but look forward to hearing all about it soon. I guess you are down at Ironbridge rowing on this fine morning...and the grass still needs cutting. X