We stayed at the Coire Glas Guest House in Spean Bridge last night, which was pretty good as have most of or stops.  We ate at the Old Station, which as the name suggests used to be the railway station for the town.  We chose the special which was pasta amitriciana which was excellent. and really hit the spot.

On to this morning.  We are rather predictable - firstly - cue a deep Geordie accent - we say "Dee twelve in the 'ouse"  and then a bit later we start singing the Madness song - the day outside is cold and grey, so begins another weary day ay ay, so begins another weary day".

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After the traditional breakfast, Ian started to try and true his rear wheel. It had been pretty bad yesterday.  After trying for a while, the wheel was getting worse and was now shaped more like a road bollard than a wheel.  It was so warped it was hitting the frame as it spun around.  Ian had to take a brake block out to allow the whhel to turn, which was not great as he already had his front brakes loosened - so had very little stopping power today, hence the title today.  

We checked and there was a bike shop in Dingwall so we decided to make it there and get it sorted.  We set off and after a mile was the famous Commando Monument.  I stopped to look while Ian carried on.  It really felt atmospheric to me and I could imagine the Commandos training here during the 2nd World War, the snow patches on the mountains behind kind of reinforced this feeling.  I sat and looked for a while and then high tailed it after Ian.  

I was feeling good so I really pushed on.  It was a lovely ride alongside firstly Loch Lochie (I think the ancient Loch namers must have been bored by the time they got around to this one) where we were right at waterside and then Loch Oich.  We rode through forested roads and then crossed the Caledonian canal a couple of times.

We had a brief stop at Fort Augustus and had averaged 15.5mph for that 22 mile stretch.

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We cracked on and then rode alongside Loch Ness for quite a while.  It was a lovely ride.  Many people had told us not to travel the A82 as we'd be dodging coaches and lorries etc, but we found it to be absolutely fine.  Maybe in the summer when it is busy I may have other ideas of course.

For the last few days we have been overtaken by a convoy of Dutch vehicles, mainly landrovers and similar.  We seemed to be leapfrogging them.  We stopped at the Urquhart Castle and ended up chatting to a Dutch couple.  They said there were 60 of them in 25 vehicles.  They were nice people and as seems usual, they spoke great English.

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We had our lunch stop at Drumnadrochit.  The guy at the cafe seemed a miserable guy and we were betting on whether we'd get our drinks bottles filled with water.  Soon as he saw us walking over with them, he started the tap and filled them, whilst having a friendly chat with us.  Just goes to show....

Here we had to come off our route for the last couple of days (A82) and follow the A833.  Our book had the following to say "The road is steep, narrow and twisting which provides a gruelling testpiece after the morning's lakeside cruise.  As the gradient increases to over 20% only the determined will remain in the saddle".  We had steeled ourself for this test but in reality whilst tough, we had climbed worse and both made it comfortably.  The picture shows the hill we were about to climb from the cafe.

The wind had begun the day with hardly any power, with the wind turbines hardly moving.  It picked up a bit as we passed along Loch Ness and became noticeable and in our face for the final miles into Dingwall.

We found the B&B, the Fairfield, and Ian went straight to the cycle shop.  The guy was brilliant and sorted Ian's wheel so it should get us to the end.  He also trued his front wheel and mine as well - all for a tenner.  What a guy - cheers mate.

Oh today I rode without my helmet for a couple of hours today as I was worried I was beginning to look like a pint of Guinness - the lower part of my face was slowly going very dark whilst my head was staying white.  It felt good but I put the helmet back on after a while as the sun had been strong all day.

Off for a curry and watch the second leg of Barcelona vs Real Madrid tonight.

Only 2 days to go :)

3/5/2011 03:48:28 am

Darling you are such an inspiration to all!!! Still my hero

p.s. I think it's time you finally sat and wrote that book we've always talked of you doing

UK.....PAH!!..... Love you more than the world x x x

not long now wooohoooo!!!!!!!

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Chris
3/5/2011 04:05:59 am

It's getting hard to think of new superlatives to use for you both! I'll just have to say well done and enjoy your final two days on this adventure! xx

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Mum
3/5/2011 04:11:09 am

as chris say's what new things can i say you would have done well Martin if you had followed your first idea & gone into journalism, you have a great way with words mumxxxxxxxxxx

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Dad
3/5/2011 04:13:21 am

It seems not only your riding but your writing is getting better by the day. I think Wendy is right and you should write a book maybe together.
Luv,Dad

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pauline wendys mom
3/5/2011 04:34:11 am

i am so excited for you .only 2 days left and your home,so proud to nearly call you son.in.law.lol go safe xx

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Simon
3/5/2011 05:28:48 am

Good work Martin. Would loved to have riden those hills with you... nevermind.

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literary fan
3/5/2011 05:50:00 am

Uncle Martin, I am qualified with my English degree to applaud your writing, you're a natural. Do enjoy the final stretch. Good luck.
Em x

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Anna
3/5/2011 06:44:25 am

If I'm not mistaken didn't we used to go to Dingwall as children?

Amazing pictures, can't believe you've nearly finished it!

I wouldn't worry about your tan Pa (or lack there of), surely your hair will hide the differences? ;)

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Ur favourite niece ;)
3/5/2011 09:02:57 am

Haaha An!!! So yes u've painted quite a picture....with ians kind upload by the lake...tan up to knees, White thighs, tan up to eyes, White head....more like a zebra crossing than guiness!!!!
COME ON NORRIS', UR CLEARLY GONNA MAKE IT YIPEEEeeeeeeeeeeee

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