Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Highland Trail 550 Race Day 5

I first woke at 6. I was tired. I roll over and go back to sleep.

I wake again at 7, I am still tired. Very tired.

I decide there is no point continuing the race. A front wheel on a rigid fork cannot possibly survive another 300 miles of mountainous terrain. It'll break, probably breaking my face too when it does.

That's it I've made the decision. I'm going to scratch.

I lie in my sleeping bag a while longer. There's no rushing anymore.

My mind wanders. Hey it'll be good to get back to see my family.

Then I remember a ride with my lad aka Minipips in winter, when he was only seven years old.

He had joined me doing the Rapha Festive 500. On the first day he got cold and wet, though I've alluded to that before elsewhere, the fact is he got very cold. Things were on the verge of turning very nasty.

The following day though, in spite of his experiences the previous day, he came upstairs and woke me and said get up we are going riding.

What would Minipips do in this situation?

I packed my stuff, got on my bike and rode past the sign highlighting possibly not the most fun ever you'll have with a bike.

Then into the wind towards Oykel Bridge. I would nurture the bike, ride slowly and hopefully not break the wheel before the end.

There would be no giving up.

I like pictures that show the route heading off into the distance like this one.

After following over the brow to the bottom of the hill I check my GPS. See that red post by the first bend? That's the way the route goes. :)

I coax my bike to Ullapool for a fish sandwich. Here I see Nik. His blisters finally got the better of him. He was sadly on his way home. I think he'd done well to get there, to say he'd had them since Day 1.

From Ullapool the front wheel grumbles along the road. It'd soon be quiet though as the first obstacle to the Fisherfield traverse was just ahead.

The hill central pictured below might not look steep, but it was a step up, brakes on step up type ascent. My fell running legs didn't mind too much though.

No pictures of the descent over the other side, down to the A832 probably because the riding was so fine.

More up then down towards what had been in my mind the crux of the trip. Much has been written on various forums of the river crossing at the head of Strath na Sealga. The wide river crossing is near the entrance to the Loch na Sealga. The crossing can vary in height from ankle deep to totally impassable dependant on rainfall etc. The river itself is maybe 100 feet wide, but it's proximity to the loch makes it feel much bigger.

Looks scary eh?

This is how deep it was, and the current was slow. No biggie.

Once over the river I rode some North Shore. The route needs some EU funding for more of this. ;)

I swerved the emergency shelter nearby, and instead found this spot to spend the night.

A good day in spite of a maudlin start.

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