Durness to Altnaharra (95.6 miles)
The penultimate day of the NC500 challenge was to prove to be one of, if not the hardest days cycling the boys have ever had in over 10 years of challenges. The weather in this remote part of Scotland can change very quickly, but the difference between the end of Day 3 and the morning of Day 4 was dramatic to say the least.
A strong wind blowing north, single temperature and driving rain almost prompted Miles to postpone the day, but luckily the rain eased off a bit and the guys decided to give it a go, on the understanding that they were unlikely to finish the mammoth 105 miles in a single day that the route demanded. The wet weather, headwind and some vicious inclines soon started to take their toll, with average speeds dropping to around 10mph and the support crew having to measure out precise distances between stops to allow the boys to refuel, rest and try to keep warm.
The route was especially cruel, tracking the north coast for 50 miles, with long drags up steep hills where the many rivers cut their way down to the coast. The coastal scenery kept spirits up, with many beautiful white sand beaches and clear blue sea giving the impression of Cornwall or the Caribbean…. apart from the weather, of course!
At one stop the boys were given a warming cup of gourmet tomato, lentil, and basil soup with some sourdough bread to dip. Sounds great, but in their weakened condition they probably would have preferred a Cup a Soup – “It’s got too many lumps in it”, they cried. There are virtually no villages or towns in this leg on the ride, so lunch was more “pasta alla primus”, eaten in the back of the steamed up van, which by this stage was looking like a school changing room after a wet football match. Stinking of wet clothes, gloves, and hats everywhere!
The awesome foursome battled on, 13-mile sections at a time, until, at 6.40pm, they had to call a halt in fading light and plummeting temperatures. They had ridden an incredible 95.6 miles in atrocious conditions, a testament to the grit and determination they have displayed from the start. Well done lads! One more day to go!
The team are completing 500 miles in 5 days to raise much-needed funds for Candlelighters and Cancer Research UK, all donations are greatly appreciated. https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/Team/HighlandCyclingChallenge