A Pain in the Bum
I slept for a few hours and decided on some personal care before I set off. The next section of the ride shouldn’t have been too challenging, and so I wanted to make sure I was as comfortable as possible. After the skin chaffing issues from the Beattock road (Day 3), I had covered the especially sore areas with blister plasters. I had used these successfully in the past, and they are supposed to stay put for a few days until the ‘blister’ heals. When you are ready to remove them, you simply soak them off in a bath. This works fine when there is only a single sore patch, and when you are not then sitting and peddling for hours on end, day after day. The end result was that by this time, they had started to crease and were I thought, beginning to cause me more issues that the original sores themselves. There was nothing for it, they needed to come off, and be replaced if I was to continue. But, they were stuck on really firmly. I carefully attempted to prise them off – not an easy task with no running water, and in the confined space of a very full van. In the end to fully remove them, I had to pull!!!!! It brought tears to my eyes, and I can only imagine how red and sore the patch had become, thankfully I couldn’t see, and it was a duty that I decided to spare Del from. He on the other hand, was sensibly outside cleaning my bike.
Eventually, I cleaned the affected area carefully, applied some Lanacane, added new, larger blister plasters and vowed not to remove them again until I could have a really good soak. But, I knew now that I was going to be suffering today.
I was on the road again by 7:30. The sun was shining, and instead of the planned route through Inverness, I had decided to retrace the Beauly route that I had followed going North. Unfortunately, I was trying to go from memory, not the best of ideas after 6 sleep deprived days of riding. I made a few wrong turns and found myself heading back towards Inverness at one point. It was yet more time wasted, but once on the right track, I was on my way again, following along Loch Ness again. It was now the bank holiday weekend, and everything was suddenly busy. There were campervans everywhere, and tourists had swarmed to the small villages along the route. Dotwatchers had started to appear again for the first time in days, with a few cars beeping at me, and cheers from the roadside. It was great to not feel quite so alone again. Despite all the support via Facebook, it was beginning to feel very solitary again.
My sores began to cause me real problems, and I was really struggling to sit on my saddle. Despite now being wide awake, my pace was a crawl as I was unable to just keep on peddling. I needed to freewheel as much as possible due to the pain. This was supposed to be my last day with Del’s support, but a dotwatcher who learned of this, offered to take over support for a couple of days and see me through past the Lake District with her mobile home. Better still, she was the same clothing size as me, and wore the same brand. She said she would bring all her clothes with her, so that Del could wash all of mine in Fort William. We hadn’t been able to wash anything since Lancaster, and it wasn’t helping my saddle sores, or my freshness much. An extra set of clothing also meant the luxury of being able to wear two pairs of shorts, something that was to aid my ability to sit on the saddle considerably later on.
Before reaching Fort William, I decided to take a moment to reflect at the Commando Memorial at Spean Bridge. I had spotted it on my way northbound, and it seemed only fitting – and it was a good opportunity to get off my saddle for a few minutes. I shared my thoughts for the dotwatchers on a Facebook live. You can see this below
A superhero brings me a touch of luxury
We met up with Nicky, Labrador Meg, and her 5 star mobile home at Glencoe and hit it off straight away. I had a snack, changed my clothes, now wearing 2 pairs of shorts and made my way through Glencoe leaving Del and Nicky to do a handover (including newly laundered clothes). I was sad to wave goodbye to Del, but also very happy to have a new support crew, with a shower, oven, microwave and double bed. Nicky was amazing, and nothing was too much trouble. I had to remind myself though that I was on a world record attempt, and not to get too comfortable. We were on a mission to clear the mountains (again) before stopping, and I wanted to finish the day somewhere near Loch Lomond.
Nicky parked at the top of the first of the Glencoe climbs, with food and refreshment waiting for me. A jacket potato had been craved since Day 1, but this was the first one that had been available to me. It was the best jacket potato I had ever tasted. All my snacks and bottles were topped up and I went out to ride towards the sunset. Feeling relatively comfortable again for the first time in days, I completely enjoyed the climb up through the mountains, I may have even squealed with joy as I descending towards Loch Ba, and then Loch Tulla.
Once more I had reached these mountains at sunset, and once more, it was stunning. But this time there was no stopping to lap it up, I was already so far behind, and the temperature was dropping quickly. It was going to be a cold night. I was able to ignore the cold for a while, wrapped up in several layers, but with a 6 mile descent ahead of me, I found that I couldn’t control my body temperature. I was cold and tired so when I spotted Nicky just past Crainlarich, I knew it was time to stop. It had seemed like a long day, but I was one of my shortest distance so far at only 135 miles. The pain and sleep deprivation from the last 3 days had caught up with me, and I was wasting huge amounts of time. I showered (bliss), and slept well.