Day 17 - Melvich, JOG, Wick

Posted by: Rob on 05/06/2024
Appalling / Sun


55.54 mi
05/06/2024 06:42 BST
10.71 mph
31.72 mph
10013.32 Btu
0.09 hp
Elevation Gain
Elevation Gain:
2532.81 ft
2646.98 ft
Elevation Range
Elevation Range:
341.86 ft
-30.84 ft
70 °F
36 °F
1129.41 mi
325.40 mi
1129.41 mi
325.40 mi

I made it!

I was nervous when I woke up. The weather had made it so hard yesterday and I was pretty sure I was in for more of the same today.

It had rained and hailed quite a lot during the night. When I dragged myself out of my tent, there were little piles of hailstones making no effort to melt in the cold morning air.

At about 6.40am, the weather was favourable, so I set off into the gloom.

I had another concern - my brake pads were severely worn. I knew this as I've had to keep adjusting them throughout the tour. Steep hills and rain is a recipe for rapid pad wear - especially with all the weight on the bike. Anyway, I'd inspected them last night after they'd had another solid workout yesterday and decided they were fine, but for emergency use only!

I managed to not touch the brakes at all for the first 12 miles. Only eventually using them to bring me to a stop under a tree when it started chucking it down!

I was only a few miles from Thurso, so when the rain seemed to ease, I got back on it. Obviously the rain had turned to hail now and by the time I got to Thurso, I was a shivering wreck!

I stopped at a Co-op and got a whole bunch of food (including the obligatory PACs and PARs). I ate it all and then it started raining even harder!

I sheltered in the shop entrance along with many of the locals. Even they were complaining about how bad the weather was!

Fortunately, the weather was moving fast and it looked to be clearing up. But for how long, I had no idea.

I was feeling very cold and pretty rough. Worried about the next section to JOG.

It's not as if you can just dive into the nearest pub or café. Even if you did find somewhere, they're almost as bad as the French when it comes to opening hours up here!

So I had a word with myself. It went something like this:

Me: Have you ever been in a situation like this before?

Me: Many times.

Me: Are you still alive?

Me: Yes.

Me: Shut up and get on with it then!

So off I went. Fortunately I had a long draggy climb out of Thurso. This meant I could warm myself up a bit. My hands were freezing though and were all but useless. I fixed this by cramming as much of each hand in my mouth and breathing on them! Then I'd put that hand in my jacket pocket and do the other one. This worked remarkably well!

After a while the sun came out properly and I warmed up quickly. I was constantly looking behind me to see if it was light cloud and sun or murderous black cloud. At last I saw nothing but sun and a few whispy clouds! It looked like I would make it to JOG in the sunshine!

So I got my head down and battered out the last few miles. Leaving the brakes well alone at all times of course!

It crept up on me very quickly and all of a sudden I was there! And very pleased I was too!

I went to the sign and there were a few people there taking pictures. All of them had clearly arrived by car and had most certainly not started at Land's End!

Anyway, I shuffled up to the sign to take a selfie, then a kindly Dutch lady offered to take my photo for me.

That done, I went for a celebratory coffee and a slice of cake.

Then it started raining again! At least I got my photo in the sunshine!

I decided to stay at a campsite in Wick and get the train in the morning. It was too late by now to get the train to the barmy warmth of Inverness down south! It takes quite a few hours on the train.

Anyway, I just rode the last 20 miles straight off without stopping. And without touching the brakes - obviously!

I got to Wick, phoned the campsite, went to the station and booked myself onto the 06:18 to Edinburgh with a change at Inverness.

The campsite is very nice. There's a little shelter from the wind with surrounding trees and it's a short walk to town.

I shall go and get some supplies in a minute, then head to bed early. I have an early start, but with a train to catch, I'll have plenty of motivation to get packed up early. The forecast for the morning is even pretty good!

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Simon on 05/06/2024 22:12:37
Great work, you can now officially bask in the glory! Hope you get/got a good night's rest and you have a good trip down to Auld Reekie in the morning!
mikej on 05/06/2024 18:49:03
Well done Rob!! Unlucky with the weather at the end but at least your camping in the sun. Hope the train journey is nice and relaxing. I'm pretty cheesed off - John Lewis let me down and didn't deliver the washing machine and are not coming until Monday now. Enjoy the rest of your hol.
Rob on 05/06/2024 19:31:46
Oh no! You must have a big pile of washing to do!
Karen on 05/06/2024 18:22:49
You made it - Well Done! Fantastic achievement! The weather sounds pretty grim so I hope you enjoy a well deserved rest on a dry and hopefully warm train tomorrow.
Rob on 05/06/2024 19:33:01
Ta. The cold was the worst part - been unseasonably so, even for the far north of Scotland!