Friday, 21 September 2018
Thursday, 20 September 2018
After our encounter with Storm Ali yesterday, we finally made it to our overnight stop at the Helmsdale hostel, which we discovered we had to ourselves for the evening. Ged indulged us by setting a roaring fire, and in the warm and cosy surroundings of a newly-renovated hostel, over food and a few drinks (obviously required to revive our spirits), we examined what awaited us in the morning. All of the forecasts suggested high chance of rain for much of the day and continued gale force winds, so we steeled ourselves for more of the same.
Except, it didn't quite turn out like that.
The morning brought blue skies and relative calm.....the wind was only around the 25mph mark! The riding was hard work into a constant head wind, and it's not often that you have to pedal to go downhill, but the rain, whilst constantly threatening never quite managed to put in an appearance.
Mike decided to do his own thing and explored every harbour and community along the route, so if anyone wants to know about Helmsdale, Brora, Golspie, Dornoch, Tain or Invergordon, then Mike is your man.
The landscape and scenery along this stretch of coast are much less dramatic than earlier sections of our route, but diversions to Dunrobin Castle, Glenmorangie distillery and the oil rigs lined up in the Cromarty Firth kept us interested.
Much of the NC500 route follows the main A9 trunk road, and as it gets further south the traffic gets much heavier, so south of Golspie we diverged from the main (car) route and followed roads less travelled. An unexpected highlight of the day on these minor roads was watching grey and harbour seals basking in the sun in Loch Fleet...we enjoyed the moment and the reminder of one of the reasons why we all get out on 2 wheels and put up with the Storm Ali's of the world.
We finally arrived in Evanton for the last night of our tour and realised that this was the very first day with no rain...
Wednesday, 19 September 2018
Today we are promised lots of rain and a strong winds. Great.
The worst of the wind will pass south of us, but we are still forecast headwinds of 30mph average, with gusts up to 50mph this afternoon for our ride from Wick to Helmsdale.
As I write this, it's very and calm outside. Up to now the forecast hasn't been totally reliable, so we will make a decision based on how it turns out. If it's really bad, we can get the bikes in the car, or even get the train to Helmsdale. Let's see.
Tuesday, 18 September 2018
Well what about an autumn day's ride to Chichester with ye olde Midweek Wayfarers (22 degrees and sunny)
"Where does that track go?"
"Dunno, nobody's ever come back."
If you"ve ever visited, (and who hasn't?), you'll know the Durness bike shed is, well, a shed, held down against the wind by thick steel cable guy ropes.
From our Raasay correspondent;
The official SYHA history has this from me:
I think I can date the (Durness) bike shed. It’s had its fair share of knocks. I arrived at the hostel at noon. ‘Where’s the bike shed?’ I asked the warden (a Glaswegian carpenter?); he pointed to pile of wooden panels.
Later on he suggested that we assemble them. It soon became clear that they’d arrived ahead of the warden. So for several hours we sweated, swore, pushed and pulled, and eventually four sides were bolted together. My bike had a bed (if not a roof) for the night. On the radio was Scotland v England at Hampden Park; Steve Coppell scored the only goal so the date of birth can only be 20th May 1978.
Any chance you could re-stage the hostel photo to include the shed and (I presume) the manager?