Day 1 – The Ultimate Highland Cycling Challenge

Inverness Castle to Loch Torridon (100 Miles)

After last years ‘absolutely the last time I’m riding a bike’ tour through Italy, Miles had his own Steve Redgrave moment and foolishly agreed to “just one more” – happens a lot when in the pub with Gary.

The Covid-19 situation meant that an overseas trip was out of the question, so thoughts turned to what the UK could offer. A gentle tour of the Norfolk Fens, perhaps? An amble around the sleepy villages of Surrey and Sussex, maybe? No, not for these heroic masters of the saddle! They soon decided to take on the awesome North Coast 500, an epic route around the wild North West of the Scottish Highlands, an enormous wilderness of lochs, mountains, appalling weather, and the ferocious blood thirsty highland midge. What could possibly go wrong?

Having worked out the basics, Miles and Gary soon realised that they would need to assemble a crack team of special forces operatives as a support crew, so the call went out to Miles’ brother Sean, who then ordered 20 ordnance survey maps and a highlighter pen. The team was bolstered further with some novice first-timers, Derek Beaumont and Andy Mair, and Sean brought along Pete “Coffee Monday” Williams, Chief barista, and motivational guru (with his loud hailer).

Having made their way to Inverness for the start, the boys woke up on Sunday morning to blue skies, no wind and the promise of a great days riding across to the west coast. Just over 100 miles, but with an absolute brute of a climb at the end of the day – the fearsome “ Bealach na Ba” or “Pass of the Cattle”, over 2000 feet up in 6 miles, with the final mile a succession of hairpin bends at a gradient of nearly 20%. After a straightforward morning (just 67 miles) to loosen the legs, and having ridden into the Highlands proper, the boys stopped for a well-deserved lunch at Loch Carron Golf Club and Café, an idyllic spot that lulled the lads into thinking that Scotland was a bit flatter, warmer and easier than they had imagined. How wrong they were! The next 8 miles included the first stiff climb of the tour, but that was to prove just the hors d’oeuvre to the main course of the day – the fearsome Bealach na Ba!

Our heroic quartet assembled at the bottom of the climb, took a quick photo, and headed up. The unrelenting climb took nearly 2 hours, with the descent into Applecross taking just 15 minutes at speeds of up to 45 mph! The reward? Fish and Chips at the famed Applecross Inn, and the prospect of another 104 miles to Ullapool tomorrow.

Click to view the AB Sundecks Day 1 Montage!

The team are completing 500 miles in 5 days to raise much-needed funds for Candlelighters and Cancer Research UK.
All donations would be greatly appreciated https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/Team/HighlandCyclingChallenge