After cutting it fine last month, I thought I'd get April's bivvy in early and mix it up with an attempt at a 200 mile ride the following day. After my lovely wife took the kids down to Glasgow for the weekend, leaving me free and easy, I sneaked out of work an hour early on Friday and jumped a train from Aberdeen northwards. 6 and a bit hours later, I escaped from exchanging shanter with some pissed up yoofs from Wick and hopped off the train at Forsinard.
I had the shortest ride to my bivvy spot possible, in the hope I'd get plenty of sleep in advance of the big ride back to Aberdeen the following day. Instead, I messed about outside, trying to get pictures of the skyscape, despite the high winds...
I was camped out in an amazing bird hide, which due to it's spiral shape, pretty much funneled the wind to wherever you lay. Still, not a bad view to wake up to.
Quick bite to eat and I set out about an hour later than I planned, after savouring the spot too long. 203 miles to go, starting with some boardwalk!
Enjoying the sun and the headwind, I headed South to the first proper climb of the day near Kildonan station. I assumed it had been warm enough that the snow drift warnings wouldn't apply!
It was lovely up top, but I didn't look in great nick for someone with 180 miles left to go!
A few miles were eaten up on a fast and rough descent, followed by a quick stretch of A9 to Golspie, where I had second breakfast by the sea.
After Golspie, I crossed The Mound and headed inland again to keep to quiet roads up Srath Carnaig, eventually dropping down again to Bonar Bridge.
A short section along the main road took me to my next climb up Struie hill, to stay high for a while before descending again to pass Alness, Evanton and Dingwall, before finally making it to the Kessock bridge and Inverness for my halfway feed!
A pit stop at McDonald's with an apple pie in the back pocket to go, left me feeling greasy and un-energetic as I mainly followed the national cycle route up towards the Slochd summit and Carrbridge. Next stop was Nethybridge where I had another snack and composed myself for the next bout of climbing.
As i climbed up to the main road to Tomintoul, the rain started to make its presence felt, so I put on all my wet weather gear, figuring it was only going to get worse as I got higher - unfortunately I was right! Bridge of Brown passed and then Tomintoul, leaving me with what I 'd been dreading all day - the Lecht. I'd done it before, but never with 150 miles under my belt. It got dark just as I started the climb and I plodded up the steepest section fighting as much against the river flowing down the middle of the road as gravity itself. I saw the ski centre on the horizon and was almost disappointed I was going to make the top without being reduced to a blubbering walking mess.
Luckily, the mild temperatures extended up to 700m, so there was no issue in letting rip as far as my lights could see on the descent down to Corgarff and then Strathdon, before wiggling my way across Aberdeenshire on the quietest roads I could find back to home and a nice cuppa.