Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Asthma UK Loch to Loch day 2

I woke on Sunday morning, feeling surprisingly good. The temperature hadn't dropped too much over night so it was quite comfortable in the tent, and sleeping on the ground seemed to have helped stretch out tired muscles. There was an option of a sports massage the previous night, but I don't think I could handle one. I am so ticklish I even laugh when I put my socks on!!
I was a little concerned when I put my head out of the tent at the amount of people wearing mosquito net hats around the camp, but soon became jealous of them as the little blighter's sought out fresh blood. A quick spray of repellent, which seemed to effect the others in the tent more than the midges, helped to get across the field to the main tent for breakfast. The food was once again fantastic, and there was plenty of it. I chose to have a sausage and bacon butty, and a bowl of authentic Scottish porridge (with salt YUK!)

After breakfast we got ready for the days ride, and I took advantage of the free mechanic service, and added a little lube to the chain, as the previous days rain had done a good job of removing any signs of lubrication! We were optimistic that the rain would hold off for a while, which it did, well for about 15 minutes! As we lined up to leave the camp site I felt a little rain in the air, so I decided to put on my Rain coat. This was a god idea, as we turned out of the road from the camp and turned to head north to Kilmartin the heavens opened again and the Sportful Hot pack was put to the test again, and it didn't let me down. I did however get wet feet as it didn't seem worth putting wet overshoes on. We tackled the first climb of the day and were treated to a fast sweeping descent to the coast and then as the rain had stopped and the sky cleared  I was able to stop and take some scenic pictures!

Salmon Farm at Kames Bay

I even managed a smile for the Official Photographer!
The first stop of the day was just before Kilmelford and we were treated to some more great cake! I think I will need to go on another diet to compensate for all the chocolate goodness!

Ken and I ready to burn some post cake calories

From the cake stop we rode on towards our northerly destination, again surrounded by stunning scenery.

The lunch stop was at Kilmore, and this time we were offered some more gourmet sandwiches, I chose Duck in hoisin sauce! really tasty and probably the last thing you would expect on a bike ride.

Loch Nell
The next part of the ride was similar to some of the Welsh lanes we ride in. It was a single track with some steep inclines. The view at the top of the road was stunning, once you got past the grumpy looking bull stood at the top of the climb!

On the descent one of the group hit a large pot hole and cracked his frame. A real blow to his trip, but credit to him, he waited for the support vehicle, took the pedals off his bike and fitted them to a spare (hybrid bike) and completed the ride! To add insult to injury, Warren had been the fastest finisher the day before!!

We skirted behind Oban and then started following the Sustrans number 78 route. For the majority of the route we followed, the surface was better than the road, and obviously there was no threat from traffic. There were times when I think I would have been faster on the road, and maybe safer, as there were some leaves and moss on the path under the trees, and a couple of the group did fall on slippery bridges.

We had been told that there was a surprise stop in the afternoon, and as we had suspected, David was waiting in a lay by 15 miles from the finish with his now infamous Cheese Board. A luck tourist cyclist happened to be passing and was welcomed to join us in a little al fresco dining!

Wild Fox Events vehicle of choice to carry the Cheese Board!
The view across Loch Linnhe was stunning as the sun began to break from behind the cloud.

We followed the cycle path for a little longer,and as you can see from the photo below, the surface was great in places.

After a little detour due to a collapsed bridge on the path we made the final descent to the banks of Loch Leven, and it was all over! I couldn't really believe it was finished. We received our medals and champagne from the Asthma UK team, and then started thinking about getting ready for he return journey to Balloch.

The journey had been great, the company was fantastic and the organisation was brilliant. There was a real sense of achievement within the group, from the seasoned riders to the first time adventurers, everyone had worked together either on the road, or at the stops to encourage each other on and motivate tired legs and bodies.

The Bikes were loaded onto the van for the return journey, Ken and I made sure they understood how important the bikes are to us and what may happen if there was any damage in transit. But true to the form they had set over the weekend the team delivered our bikes back to Balloch safe and sound. 

The location of the finish was stunning, surrounded by high hills and right at the end of the Loch. a fitting place to share our stories from the previous two days.
As we drove through Glencoe and headed south Ken and I discussed that we could have stayed for a night at the hotel where we finished, and then ride back to Balloch. It sounded like a good plan, but these things always do in principle!

We arrived in Balloch just ahead of the bikes, but we were met by Mrs Palefish's Cousin who lives near Stirling. It was nice to see a friendly face and have someone to share our exploits with over a fish and chip tea!

After a good nights sleep and a hearty breakfast we loaded the car and headed back down south.

I hope that Asthma UK decide to do another event like this next year as it was by far the best delivered event I have taken part in so far.

Please consider sponsoring me, as that was the point of taking on the challenge: http://www.justgiving.com/palefishbikes and thank you so much to every one who has sponsored me so far.

Day 2 Route: http://app.strava.com/rides/20694180

For the official photos from Wild Fox for the weekend please follow this LINK

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