Day 12 – The Last Straw (Helmsdale to John o’Groats)

This is being written late at night from a hotel in Glasgow, after cycling to John o’Groats, and then driving half-way home for 6 hours. So out of necessity it’ll be short.

But the important thing is that we made it. 55 miles into a strong headwind (that later turned into a strong crosswind), 20 of which was in driving, stinging rain. When it wasn’t raining, there was a thick mist that obscured the view beyond around 20 metres. It wasn’t pretty, it wasn’t pleasant, and it wasn’t really enjoyable, but it was dealt with with a minimum of fuss in four and a half hours. Team A arrived first, with just enough time to sign the register of End-to-Enders (the first for the day!), before heading out of the tourist office to see Team B arrive. The support team arrived a few minutes later, as they had to take a circuitous route along 40+ miles of single-track road to avoid a blockage caused by a large truck stuck in a hairpin bend in a pass.

After the photos, and a quick lunch, it was back into the cars to start the long trip home. It was a little surreal driving back in a single day through all the placed we’d cycled – Helmsdale, Pitlochry, Perth (at which point we parted ways, as we’re driving down through Glasgow, but cycled up through Edinburgh). It made me realise what one misses when driving by car – there is just so much more time to mull things over and focus on the details when cycling. Such as a signpost at a crossroads pointing to Skelbo one way, and Badninish the other. One is a Scandinavian name – the -bo ending indicates “living in”, but I don’t know what Skel is. The other is Celtic/Gaelic in origin – the -inish ending indicates Island, but I don’t know what Badn means. I managed to spend about 15 minutes contemplating that on the trip up, but it passed in a blur on the way down at 70mph.

Anyway, over the next few days, I’ll hope to get a few things sorted out – the last few maps of where we were, a summary of distance and time, and all the stats that people like me thrive on. Until then, just a note to say thanks for the comments (such as they’ve been) – I really appreciate the support. If you have the time, head over to Big Bike Ride on Facebook – you’ll see more news and photos there. The other good news is that we’ve raised over £1,000 for Mercy Mission – most of it here, but a lot in the old-fashioned paper money way too.


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2 Responses to Day 12 – The Last Straw (Helmsdale to John o’Groats)

  1. Karl says:

    Congratulations Nick (and the rest of the team too).

    I’ve been following your daily updates. And as somebody who feels near dead after a gentle incline on a bike, or just a couple of miles, I salute your determination and achievement.

  2. Brad Nixon says:

    Congratulations, Nick and all the riders and support team. A great accomplishment. Thanks very much for the effort you made to post the daily updates. Truly enjoyable. And thanks for the bonus etymology notes.

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