The legs were a bit tender after yesterday’s Ben Nevis climb, so I felt I deserved a slightly later start than usual. Full with porridge and over-poached eggs, I headed out of Fort William, towards Inverness.
The simple route would have been to head straight up the A82 but, soon after leaving town, I veered onto the B8004 to avoid the traffic. The road ran adjacent to the Caledonian Canal but, when it climbed a little, I had good views of the lower parts of the valley. It was a cool, misty day which was a complete contrast to yesterday’s flawless weather and I was glad I’d put the extra effort in on the bike in the morning which afforded John and I to make the quick hike up to a very rare cloudless summit of Ben Nevis.
I stopped quickly at the Commando War Memorial, which dominates the landscape near Spean Bridge, before I rejoined the A82. The A road took me alongside Loch Lochy into a stiff headwind and towards the drizzle. A quick call to invalids in the car gave me two surprises. Firstly, they were awake and had left the B&B and, secondly, they were actually 10 miles further along the route than me. They’d possibly passed me when I’d stopped at the memorial. Maybe they were feeling a little guilty for only catching up with me on mile 44 yesterday? We met soon after and I sat in the back of the car, out of the rain, whilst I was fed bananas and flapjacks and my bottles were replenished. Great service!
At Fort Augustus, the route ducked off the main A82 and onto the B862. The first job was to tackle a long, steep climb up to 1,242ft. I passed a couple of mountain bikers who were struggling but got the top in one piece and was rewarded with great views across the quiet valley. After a such a hard climb, I was hoping for a good, fast decent but, unfortunately the wind was into my face so the best I could muster was a lousy 35mph.
Close to the town of Foyers, I saw a Google Streetview car and gave it a big wave, hoping that I’d get on the next update.
The road passed the Falls of Foyers and descended back down to Loch Ness. At this stage, the constant rattle of the invalids’ diesel engine as they followed close behind was starting to bug me, so we agreed they’d go on ahead to Inverness. This left me with a 20-odd mile pootle along the shores of Loch Ness and, as I sang the theme tune to The Family Ness and looked out across the glistening water to try to spot Nessie, it occurred to me that one way of catching the monster would be to use all the road kill I’d seen on the day’s ride as bait.
Our night’s accommodation at the Inverness YHA gave us a chance to appreciate the diversity of the human race (that’s a polite way of saying that the guy in the dorm’s 4th bunk was a weirdo) and we headed into town for a well-deserved feast.
Garmin stats for day 12:
3,530ft ascent. 3,530ft descent. (bizarrely the same!)
Fastest speed 38.1mph.
Average speed 14.2mph
Average Heart Rate: 120bpm
Max heart rate 174bpm.
Average cadence 73rpm