I took to heart today the advice I received from Julian Hutchings: Eat before you’re hungry; drink before you’re thirsty; carry food even if (especially if) you think you don’t need it. I also vowed to cycle well within myself at the beginning of the day, and together these measures made for a great day. Rob tells us that it is his favourite leg of LEJOG, and I think he likes it in the opposite direction too. Maybe the only disadvantage of heading south rather than north is that one reaches the Crask Inn before lunchtime, although this does mean that their excellent selection of cakes is available…
But I am getting ahead of myself. The hotel in Bettyhill stands over a beautiful beach which, if it were on the south coast of England rather than the north coast of Scotland, would be packed. But it’s not, so it’s deserted. This was the view that met us as we set off this morning.
On leaving Bettyhill we turned south, and the landscape was breathtaking. We tonked along pretty quickly, with just a gentle climb, for about 25 miles. The first target was the Crask Inn at 32 miles, but before then we came across a private bridge across the River Naver, intended solely for the use of anglers, according to the sign. Many of us, however, padded our way across the muddy field nearby to look at the view from the bridge, which was impressive.
Soon after we set off I realised that I hadn’t taken many photos of my fellow cyclists, so as a first step I took one of Jamie Pocock (who gave me the video in Prologue 2) as he crested a hill. Jamie is one of the strongest cyclists among us (and the youngest).
I got to the Crask Inn at about noon, and following Julian’s advice I had a large slice of cake and a cup of coffee. By this point we had gained some altitude, but the gradient was so slight that we didn’t feel tired at all. It was then lunch at Lairg (carrot and parsley soup) and yet more beautiful scenery.
Five miles on, and we arrived at the Falls of Shin, where, having made their way to the rivers of their birth, we could see salmon making their way upstream to spawn. It was quite a sight, and here is a movie of one of the fish battling its way up the falls.
After the Falls of Shin it was a matter of girding the loins for the climb to the hills over Dornoch Firth. This was no joke (my Wahoo showed a maximum gradient of 12.4%), but we all managed well, and here is a photo of Rob bringing up the rear (he was Lantern Rouge today) and of Sonjia preceding him.
The views over Dornoch Firth were pretty spectacular, and they inspired us for the final run into Evanton, which I reached at 5:05. We checked in, and I showered and went through my usual post-ride rituals.
This was a good day for me as a cyclist. I am not a super-enthusiast, but on finishing today’s ride I found that my Eddington number had increased to 50. I discovered this from swinnynet, who explain that a cyclist’s Eddington number is E if she or he has undertaken E rides of at least E miles. The idea for the Eddington number came from cyclist and astrophysicist Arthur Eddington. It is not to be confused (and is unlikely to be!) with the other Eddington number, NEdd, which is the number of protons in the observable universe. Eddington originally calculated this as about 1.57×1079, but current estimates make it closer to 1080. Scientists of all persuasions will see similarities with the H-index, where H represents the number of papers you have published that have been cited at least H times. In this case H is Jorge Hirsch, an American physicist.
And finally, stats. Here is the route, and you can see the gentle climb during the first part of the day and the more challenging ascent later in the day.
We covered 123 km, climbed 994 metres, and I used 1898 calories. Average speed was 23.3 km/hr, I cycled for 5 hours 17 minutes, and my average power was 100 W. Perhaps one other piece of data: maximum speed was 60.6 km/hr (37.7 mph).
See you tomorrow!