Friday, April 7, 2017

Day 5 (slow drag)

Shortly after I got going on the morning of day 5 I tipped over and hit the ground pretty hard.  Knowing that I was not going to make my self-imposed finish time goal, hurting a bit and surprised from the crash and just general exhaustion I now lowered my expectations and mentally let go of the race.  In retrospect this was the end of my ‘race’.  My sense of urgency to push on moderated from high to medium.  From this point onward I didn’t take as many pictures, I stopped more and more, and in short I was cooked and just riding out the miles to the finish.  The weather was perfect, the scenery fantastic and basically I took a mental deep breath and transitioned to a ‘I-am-on-vacation’ mode and proceeded to enjoy the remaining miles from a more relaxed perspective.

I soon arrived at Kinlochewe and kicked myself once again for pulling up short the night before as I realized I could have spent the night at the small Kinlochewe Hotel. 

Gurr, Missed staying in this cool little hotel by about 2 hours…..

On the other hand I had gotten a fairly good night, under the stars in the Highlands, so maybe that was better.  

Took a rest inside this little bothy, and unlike in this web pic, the sun was out, the day presently warm, the legs tired and even though it was only 9:00am I actually took a short nap on the floor of this cute little bothy.  Its more of a day rest hut than sleeping hut. The sun and big windows had warmed up the small room, I easily could have stayed 2 hours but after 30 min I still had enough ‘race’ in me to move on.  

Soon I was riding again with Karl Booth (he had gotten a room that night at the Kinlochewe Hotel, slept in a bit and seemed to be pretty chipper) across the fast & fun Achnashellach singletrack.  Once again wishing I had bigger tires with a bit more traction.  By the gate at the end of the steep technical section Karl was gone and I made no attempt to catch back up.

The next 10 or so miles to Strathcarron were flat and easy pedaling along a sealed country road. Many times I find these type sections 'easy road riding' the hardest going as I tend to let up, relax, get sleepy, start to feel each ache and pain etc.  By the time I rolled up to the intersection at Strathcarron I needed a break. Got a nice lunch, one of my few real meals, even had pie for desert.  I tried to sit off by myself as I am sure I stank a bit but was treated nicely and left refueled from a meal and the little post office, I was now somewhat refreshed.

Strathcarron Hote & Restaurant

I leisurely made my way on to Dornie arriving about 4:30.  Took pictures of the 'tourist' castle and then sat next to water and ate some snacks from the post office. I remember being tired, content and in no hurry to get anywhere, yup I was feeling the vacation mode….

The route passes by the Eilean Donan Castle

Soon after leaving Dornie the route returned to the backcountry and does so with a steep sharp hike-a-bike climb.  The climb got me going again plus I wanted to finish off any singletrack before dark.

Cool ruin right before the hike-a-bike begins.

I passed by the Camban bothy around 8:40 pm but couldn’t quite bring myself to stop.  There was still daylight and I pressed on for 3 more hours.. At 12pm shart I camped up right next to the road in some lonely pine trees.  It had been a long, slow 20 hour day with only 75 miles to show for it.  At this point in the race I was still putting in the hours but really just riding out the remaining miles and taking in the sights.  A little disappointment going from a 'race' perspective but 100% satisfied from a vacation point of view.

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