Much promise of fine weather from our resident Michael Fish-Griffiths today. 30 degrees and the odd shower. Well, partly right, the odd shower, but nearer to 15 degrees and sunshine. Yes, patchy sunshine! A new way to view Scotland and a first for us.

First up, last night and menu recommendations for Inverness Premier Inn restaurant. Best recommendation is not to eat there. If you have to, order in a take away or eat a Snickers. Either way you’ll achieve a better result. Service bad, food worse, I think the last meal arrived at around 10pm, for our 8.30 booking. Just what we didn’t need after exertions yesterday.

Anyway, Day 2…

Joined by Gareth Bevan from Red Sub, we set off at 10am. Luxury or what? It took us a little while to negotiate an exit from Inverness as the Garmins (our bike computers) got a little confused and were clearly not coping well with the Scottish language translation.

Thereafter, today can only be described as breathtaking, spectacular, probably the most beautiful cycle ride I have ever done. Despite getting wet on occasion, the scenery was just amazing. Words can’t really begin to describe, the photos might help.

15 miles or so cycling along side Loch Ness made me realise just how privileged we are to be doing this ride. Sure there will be ups and downs (no pun intended) and the odd falling out, and yes we have almost one thousand miles to cycle, but the chance to see some of the places we have seen today from the saddle is beyond value – if you ever get the chance to cycle near Loch Ness – do it….oh, ‘on a sunny day’ of course.

Particularly memorable was the rewarding view at the end of this rather challenging climb. Our longest and hardest so far. A category 4 climb (flippin’ long and steep to you and me).

A sweeping long descent followed bringing us out at Loch Lochy Loch Loch (I think that’s what the sign said) at which point the Garmins gave up again. Now, the house rules state that ‘the Garmin maps are always right…..until they’re wrong’. This was one of those times and Terry (our friendly support van driver), got a map out. It’s a kind of colourful thing in a large book, often with the initials AA printed on the front, and mostly used by people aged over 50. (FYI – Terry assures us he doesn’t have a drink problem) Anyway, he didn’t plug it in and there was no screen but he still managed to use it to help us navigate our way out of crisis. So the house rules have had to be changed to, ‘the Garmin is always right, except when Terry’s maps have got a better idea’.

Neil, a founding member and lead singer of the ‘bladderettes’ (we think of miles per hour, he works on stops per hour) introduced us to another of his many talents when James was having problems with his cleats. These are the clips that hold your feet on the bike pedals. If you’re a pro rider like Lewis or Neil, these allow you to pull up on the pedals and ‘go faster’….cool!? To most amateur cyclists (us) they offer massive potential for road junction and traffic light comedy moments as you fail to manage to unclip in time and gracefully keel over and fall flat on all of the bits that hurt. Anyway, James’ cleat problem was that he couldn’t, clip in. With James sat on his bike on the side of the busy A82, Neil (the farrier) was seen to be working on James’ hooves. We discovered later that James had trodden in significant amounts of Haggis poo and has Neil to thank for expertly scraping it off and reconnecting him. It’s the little things that make these days!!

A descent into Fort William, with Ben Nevis as the back drop was just….you had to be there. Ben, is the tallest mountain you can see in the photo, slightly obscured by cloud. The triumphant arrival at the (guess where) Premier Inn Fort William was somewhat marred by the ‘No Bikes in this hotel’ policy. James, using his legendary wit, charm and negotiation skills managed to completely wind the manager up in an attempt to get our bikes into the hotel. In the end she gave up and shouted ‘bring your bikes in then and don’t worry if I get sacked’ (I might have left a couple of words out) – so we did! She was still on reception as we quietly filed through later on. I guess the Premier Inn HR department doesn’t work weekends.

An incredible day for scenery, great riding by new member Gareth and at last some sunshine! Tonight we’re off to the local Indian and Simon G is in charge of the bill negotiations. (Please see Eastbourne blog for Lands End to London for previous Griffiths negotiation form!)

Roadside news

Puncture x 1 Jules

Chain Incidents x 1

Dead sheep x 1

Re shoeing x 1 (James’ hooves)

Ruth’s Rolls – Cheese and Tomato – Award winning

3 men filmed for forthcoming Hollywood blockbuster….