Today, the invalids made it out of bed just in time to wave me off at 10.30am and, as I headed out of the city via the Beauly Firth Bridge, they headed to Morrisons to find breakfast at the café.
It wasn’t long before I disturbed them from their soggy bacon rolls. Just 9 miles into the day’s ride I heard a ping and looked down to see a rear spoke had broken! I pushed to a safe area to wait for the car, whilst phoning round various bike shops in the Inverness area to see if they were able to fix it.
We locked the bike up on the spot, threw the wheels into the car and headed to Dryburgh Cycles in Dingwall, where my wheel was fixed within about half an hour. Thanks guys! The invalids then dropped me back to the bike, near the Village of Munlochy, and saw me on my way. All in all, I’d lost about 2 hours.
I continued on the A832 (to avoid the main A9) and, in the distance, I could see the Cromarty ferry, which I was due to catch, nearing port. Although the ferry ran regularly, I didn’t want to miss it because of the morning’s delays, so I increased my speed. I was enjoying a nice 35mph descent towards the town and swung round the final left into the Cromarty itself at a decent speed – straight into the path of a funeral cortege walking up the hill on the opposite side of the road! I slammed my brakes on and sheepishly drifted past the mourners.
I had a 20 minute wait for the ferry to, so I stocked up on drinks and put in a call to the invalids. They told me they were walking hand-in-hand along the beach but would be with me soon. Not soon enough, it turned out, because they missed the ferry by minutes. I gave them a “friendly wave” from the top deck and enjoyed the quick crossing to Nigg where I continued northwards.
When the invalids did get the ferry, the vehicle turntable on the deck caught them by surprise! Drivers must drive onto the ferry and park. The marshal then flicks a switch and the car turns to face the stern. Although this is all quite freaky if you’re not expecting it!
I rejoined the A9 at Newfield. It was a lot quieter on this section and I’m glad I did a detour to avoid the busy stretch north of Inverness.
I crossed the Dornoch Firth Bridge and continued north past Loch Fleet and Dunrobin Castle. (The invalids had time to stop at the Castle). The road stuck to the coast and there were good views across the water and I was glad that it wasn’t as hilly as I was expecting. 8 miles from the finish, I stopped at a grass verge for a breather and to try and regain feeling in my feet but was immediately swarmed by midges, so I was quickly back on the bike to Helmsdale.
We stayed at Kindale House B&B which had the best shower in the world and headed into town for possibly the fastest fish and chips I’ve ever eaten; the midges devouring us as quickly as we were scoffing the chips.
After a pint to “take the edge off”, it was back to the B&B to see who could get the most bandwidth out of the B&B’s lousy WiFi.
Garmin stats for day 13
2,507ft ascent. 2,464ft descent.
Fastest speed 36.4mph.
Average speed 16.7mph
Average Heart Rate: 127bpm
Max heart rate 160bpm.
Average cadence 78rpm