'Where's the Brew Stop? The off-road cycle touring website'. About off- road cycle touring routes, cyclist’s cafes, off-road cycle touring, local group events and good photos. For cyclists who love off-road leisure cycling in Northern England
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Cycling touring articles by Pat Lloyd and other folk
The Agony of Cape Wrath by Miriam Trickett My tale of woe took place on the 22nd of July 2005. I know that because it was my birthday. I may otherwise have repressed the memory! Let me qualify now that I am not a ‘cyclist’ but I can ride a bike. My father, Brian Parkinson; member of ‘The Rough Stuff Fellowship’, keen and saddle hardened cyclist, took 2 bikes on our family holiday to the highlands of Scotland with a view to cycling from John O’Groats to Cape Wrath over a number of days as we (family) travelled from campsite to campsite. On account of the gradely Scottish air, I took it upon myself to cycle the 33 miles between the Kyle of Tongue and Durness. This was on the 20th of July. Sadly, it was not legs or lungs that hampered the going but my bottom ( not to put too fine a point on it). Anyhow, having made the 33 miles, my dad thought it would be a great experience for me to joint him on his pilgrimage to Cape Wrath. I dubiously agreed. After all, I still wasn’t sure if I could put my tender nether regions down on a saddle again so soon, but I was reassured that after the first hill (which was to be punishingly steep) the rest was, and I quote, “ virtually flat”. So, with a piece of strategically placed foam I set off, frankly in pain from the outset, but determined to have an adventure. As if by change, at the ferry point, my father met up with Bryan Lynch another hardened cyclist from his club who would be joining us. ‘No pressure there then’ I thought ( note sarcasm please)! So, having departed the ferry on the other side of the loch and having said goodbye to my husband, daughter and mum I embarked on an 11 and 1 half mile of, well frankly, punishment. The first hill didn’t seem so bad out of the wind until, having not mastered hill starts in 1st gear (not a problem in my car), I lost my footing and had to push the rest of the way! After this, my experience was just a roller coaster of feelings: Feelings exhilarated by the barren, quite exposed landscape and the odd glimpses of deer and heath land birds: Feelings every single stone bump in the road (if you can call it a road); Feeling left behind by 2 brightly coloured specs in the distance; Feeling narked at my dad for his rather deluded concept of ‘virtually flat’ (and to be frank, even undulating would be understatement for the likes of me), and feeling absolutely exhausted by the relentless headwind (which can be interpreted head, body and bike wind if in Scotland).... But, after all that, I made it! Yes, there were even tears along the way. It was like sitting on an enormous bruise. It was agony, but strangely, it was worth it. The scenery at the lighthouse is breathtaking and the sense of remoteness quite consuming once there. I’d probably do it again in a year or two. I shall consider it like childbirth... The pain will be forgotten sooner or later!