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Friday, 29 July 2011

Day One - Thursday 21st July. 63km

Having packed the trailer the evening before, I think we both had an inkling that it was going to be like hauling a wild boar across Scotland. The boarding routine was established - bikes on, wheel off trailer, both haul the trailer on to the train and find somewhere to store it out of the way. Easier said than done!

At Kyle of Lochalsh it took a little faffing around before we were ready to head up to the Skye Bridge, our starting point for the trip. Sven kindly lent me a pair of lycra shorts complete with shoulder straps. Without my TK Maxx wickable t-shirt on top you'd be forgiven for mistaking me for an amateur wrestler!

After persuading a passer by to take our photograph - possibly the only person I've met who genuinely looked frightened at the prospect of using a camera - we keenly rocketed off down the bridge and onwards into our journey, the trailer fishtailing behind me.

Not long up the road I had to stop having learnt that in proper cycling-land one doesn't wear one's underpants under one's lycra. Ouch! So I snuck up a little track and took off the t-shirt, allowing me to take off the bib-shorts allowing the removal of underwear. So now standing pretty much in the buff, watching the roofs of cars speeding past the other side of the bush, it was then that I heard the unmistakable sound of a large vehicle. Yes, a coach and it's tourists saw more of Scotland's wildlife than I think they were prepared for as I struggled to step back into the lycra shorts.

I was surprised at how much the trailer really changed the handling of the bike. Although the centre of gravity was lower than if wearing a rucksack, it really felt like the frame was flexing under the weight and sideways force. I managed to tow our possessions up the first ascent before having to admit defeat and swap bikes with Sven.

Having completed our first climb of the trip, albeit small and smooth in comparison to the off-road climbs we were soon to endure, we tucked in to some of Sven's fantastic Norwegian flat bread rolls filled with Norwegian goats cheese. I'm not a fan of goats cheese but these were special and I could have quite happily lived on them for the whole week. Yum!

Then came the biggest climb of the day. Sven rhythmically stormed up the winding, hillside road whilst I stumbled, panted and wondered what that tinkling sound at my back wheel was. It was a spoke! A matter of hours into the trip and I had broken a spoke in the back wheel. The nearest bike shop was Strathmashie on the other side of the Corrieyairack Pass and we weren't crossing that until day 3! Oh well, onwards and upwards.

The descent was smooth and fast as I tried to discipline myself into not shooting ahead of Sven who, nevertheless, was making good speed with the 60lb trailer making the most of gravity. The kilometres (I happily adjusted to metric for the trip) went flying by and following a flat section with only a few short climbs we pitched our tent a few kms from Corran and enjoyed the view of Skye with it's jagged peaks in the distance. It was tomato pasta, oats and midges amongst other bits and pieces for dinner. My stomach was happy for the sustenance and my legs, well they were just ok!


Here's some video clips of day one:

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