Monday, April 28, 2014

Day 7 Lands End - John O'Groats - Lands End On A Honda C90

I woke to the sound of rain hitting the tent, not a great way to start the day, I checked the weather forecast on my phone and they reckoned it would clear by 0900.

So not wanting to get wet before I started decided there was only one option, stay in my maggot, doze, plan my route and drink coffee.

The forecast for once was right and it did start to ease off, so gradually I managed to get packed up and ready for the off without getting wet.

Today was going to be a bit ambitious, but worst case scenario it would be either a camp site or wild camping. Best case I would make Tongue where I was expecting to stay in a hostel.

This for me was really where the journey starts with spectacular scenery or so I hoped!

As it was, I was not disappointed, but it did come at a cost!!

I headed off passing through Crainlarich and towards Tyndrum. I stopped at "The Green Welly Stop" which is a famous truck/cafe stop on the way into the Highlands. 

Coffee and a bacon sandwich and a chat with an American tourist over on holiday. He had completed in the "Iron Butt" back in the states, and thought I was mental! Just a bit of info for you the "Iron Butt" Rally is billed as the toughest rally in the world, 11,000 miles in just 11 days.

Now to hear that I was mad from a guy who had completed the "Iron Butt" was a serious compliment!

The wind had started to pick up, but it was dry. In exposed places and when you least expected it you would catch a gust of wind which does have the effect of your arse cheeks grabbing the saddle rather rapidly!

Heading towards Glencoe the wind was howling and to say I was all over the place was an understatement. Riding in these conditions no matter how amazing the scenery is, is just no fun!

I made it up through Glencoe and pulled into a layby, one of many as it was exhausting trying to keep the bike up right!

The next layby I pulled into, all though I was only going very slow, it was a gravely surface and with the combination as I later found out of 70mph gusts of wind had me off the bike and sprawling on the ground.

The problem being my left foot was trapped under my rear pannier and pointing in the opposite direction!

Clearly this is not correct and it did bring a tear to my eye along with some rather colourful language!

I really did not know that a foot was capable of bending that far round without snapping!

At this stage a couple of people had came to my aid and lifted the bike from me releasing my foot. I managed to get the bike on it's stand and surveyed the damage!

I had managed to bend my wing mirror and front axillary head lamp plus my left hand foot peg was at a slight angle. But thankfully that was it.

However after a very short space of time I realised that all was not well with my ankle and worse my knee. It had taken a right twisting and I really do not know how nothing popped or broke.

After being checked over by a couple who I had met and chatted with in a previous car park I saddled up and moved on. The wind was extreme and I had a job to hold it together as by this time my knee was throbbing.

Down the other side of Glencoe and I pulled into the petrol station to refuel and assess the damage to my ankle and knee.

Things were not looking good, changing gear was agony, but what could I do but to continue.

Swallowing more than I should of pain killers, off I went again.

I stopped in Fort William car park, as the pain was severe. I really should of gone for medical attention, but me being me, decided against it.

Once again I  met up with the couple in their camper van who offered me a brew, I knew if I stopped I wouldn't get going again, so checked my route and headed off, following the A82 towards and past Loch Ness.

I pulled into Fort Augustus, and needed a break and fuel. A group of hardcore bikers on race bikes pulled in not long after me, and gave me a few dodgy looks. I think it was a mix of "are you for real" and "your soft in the head".

Eventually one of them came over for a chat, and that broke the ice, once one knew what I was doing they all came over and were a real friendly lot.

One of them had a C90 which he was very proud of as he was showing me his pictures of it, considering he was riding a Ducatti Panigale 1199 at the time, was a big deal! Everyone loves a C90!

My charity box on the front of my basket was once more being filled with change - brilliant!

With a very sore knee and ankle and after waving the lads off I was left to repack "Lucille" and I was away.

Their exit was nothing short of spectacular as they powered away, a bit of a contrast to my wobble as at low speed she is a bit unstable!

Riding along the shore of Loch Ness I saw no monster's, but with the wind still strong I must admit to keeping my eyes more on the road and my mirror than looking at the loch!

Above is actually Loch Lochy, which is just before Loch Ness.

This is Loch Ness. Onwards towards Drumnadrochit where I left the Loch behind me and headed towards Beauly and Muir Of Ord.

Now the road into Beauly was the first real test of gradient, a 15% gradient saw us down into 1st gear and some high revs which pulled us up and over the hill. "Lucille" performed exceptionally well - why do I doubt her?

A brief stretch on the A9 and then off and towards Bonar Bridge (where I nearly had another off due to high winds) and onto Lairg.

The final stretch of the road lay before me. Lairg to Tongue. Thankfully I had the foresight to book a hostel at Tounge, and I can tell you it was the best decision of the whole trip!

At this point with just over 40 miles to go, the weather changed for the worst, up till now I had only had to deal with the wind gusting at 70 mph, I now had rain and sleet to contend with, along with single track roads which were very exposed. It was a nightmare!

10mph, both legs out and still nearly blown off the road. When it did stop raining the sun would come out and it would be rainbows every where!

Up ahead you could see puddles on the road, a gust of wind and you could see the water picked up and hurled at you drenching you instantly.

It was some of the worst conditions I have ever been in, let alone rode I bike in! The last 40 miles took me the best part of 3 long and torturous hours!

I finally located the Hostel in Tongue which was right down by the waters edge and I have never been more relieved to arrive somewhere.

I was to put it mildly in "Shit State" I could hardly walk, I was cold, tired, wet, shivering and to be honest was bordering on being on the edge of hyperthermic!

The owners couldn't of been more welcoming and helpful. "Lucille" had a dry garage to stay in, I was led into a warm and comfortable room. I quickly changed and got as much hot fluid into myself as possible, along with some home made lasagne and garlic bread.

I didn't even do my checks on "Lucille" she could wait tonight.

Plenty of pain killers, and straight into bed. I had some deep freeze cream which I liberally applied, but I was in agony. My knee was swollen badly and so was my ankle. I did have my walking pole which I used as support. It was murder to put weight on my left leg. 

After speaking to Kiera she wanted me to go to hospital, but I wasn't sure I could make it, so I did find out there was a local doctor's surgery and I even considered checking out my travel insurance. I decided to see what the next day brought.

Was this the end of the trip?

The journey continues - or does it????...............................

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