Nigel Smith is taking part in the inaugural Deloitte Ride Across Britain after winning a competition in Cycling Plus. He's among 600 riders riding from John O'Groats to Lands End and aiming to raise £1M over four years for ParalympicsGB. We'll be following his progress throughout the event.
A long day, up at 5.00am on Friday flight to Edinburgh and then an 8 1/2 hour train journey to Wick. Growing numbers of cyclists join along the way at Wick and the excitement gathers. Driving rain and gale force winds get everyone chattering nervously, but what were we expecting? This is Scotland!
Up at 5.00am the next day, 5:30 breakfast and some last minute adjustments to my Boardman (part of my prize!) from the Halfords team and we’re off to the sound of bagpipes and 1,000 miles ahead of us. It was still too wet and windy to stop for a photo of the JOG sign and it continues like this for another 50 miles or so through the winding roads that take us through Thurso. The first pit stop is a welcome relief and it’s the best stocked pit stop of any event or sportive that I’ve been on. I mean, chicken and sweetcorn tortillas – fantastic!
Everyone is taking it relatively easy as we all know we have nine days to go. Having done 50 miles mostly on my own, I then join up with two others and we stay together for the rest of the 104 miles which made it much easier. We turn south off the coast at Bettyhill and the last of the wind is behind us. Even through the rain, the wild windswept scenery had been literally breathtaking. It gets even better another twenty miles on through the Strath Naver Valley to the second pit stop at the Altnaharra Hotel. The rain finally stops and the sun even tries to make an appearance!
We take the long climb after Altnaharra in our stride and we then have the most fantastic long and gentle descent which just goes on and on. Our speed gets up to over 25mph and the excitement really started to get the better of me as we blasted alongside Loch Shin along deserted roads with, as a welcome relief from my local Surrey Hills, no potholes!
Before I know it we’re in Deloitte Ride Across Britain city again. There are literally rows and rows of tents which are already set up with our luggage delivered and waiting for us – the organisation here is flawless. A shower and one powerful massage later (it was tougher than the ride!), I feel normal again. A sleep, dinner (the food is incredibly good) and then off to the giant tepee to watch England draw 1-1 against USA! As a Scot, it’s a shame to see Mr Green catch our national disease!
Only 98 miles tomorrow past the Black Isle and through the Great Glen, maybe I’ll see Nessie!
Nigel was the winner of our Deloitte Ride Across Britain competition, winning a place on the ride and a Boardman bike. Follow Nigel’s journey throughout the week.
More more information on the Deloitte Ride Across Britain, please visit: www.rideacrossbritain.com