Thursday, 29 August 2013

Our Euro Tour Day 8,9,10 and 11

Saturday 24 August 2013.
The Gotthard Pass

Airolo - Andermatt 16 stonking miles
Today has been absolutely awesome! Mind you it started off with the usual rubbish breakfast. On the table there  was a bowl full of eggs and a warning label attached saying "raw eggs" nice, there was some kind of device that I think was meant to cook the eggs so I put a couple in and pressed the button expectantly, nothing happened. Then I noticed it wasn't plugged in, there wasn't even a socket near it so Marguerite took it across the room to where there was a socket and we tried again. This time the device did little more than squeak extremely loudly, much to our embarrassment, so we abandoned the eggs and ate whatever else was available. Little more than cereal, yoghurt and some bread and croissants that had been keeping the flies amused for some time.

The ride today though was absolutely memorable. A big, big climb for a reluctant tandem as we ascended switchback after switchback climbing over 3000' in 7 miles to the highest point we will reach on the tour at 6950'. The weather was considerably cooler too, whereas we'd thus far been used to temperatures in the high 20s low 30s we were now down at 16C and it was getting a bit drizzly. More like a Scottish day really.
There were quite a few little shops and restaurants etc dotted around the summit so we had a look around and I had a really delicious bratwurst before the cold got to us and we began our descent.
Another thing that tandems are not particularly good at is stopping. I was acutely aware of this as we headed down the steep road eying the approaching bends with some nervousness. If you let gravity take charge and the speed builds up, very quickly you reach a point where it's impossible to get the speed down sufficiently to take the next corner resulting in carnage.  The disk brake was applied pretty much full on just to stop us going supersonic and the front brake was being used as well to get our speed down for the corners. I tried not to think about the heat build up on the front rim and didn't dare thing about how that heat can build up until the tyre explodes probably killing us as we crashed off the road. We did have a couple of brake cooling stops but I was aware that even stopping the bike in a safe place required a huge amount of braking.
We got down though, but now the weather had really changed and it was pouring down, we were both freezing too so it was very lucky we'd booked a hotel here so we could get in out of the weather. Very lucky indeed as it proceeded to rain for the rest of the afternoon.

Sunday 25 August 2013

early morning traffic

Andermatt - Affoltern 58 miles
Another fantastic day in the Alps with ten miles of awesome if white knuckle descending. Bloody freezing though and we were layered up like we were back in Scotland.
It was a kinda strange morning though as I was having (and not for the first time) an ongoing battle with the garmin gps. I wanted to go directly to Brunnel from Altdorf but the gps was insisting in a rather blasé fashion that we should take an 80 mile detour over the 6500' Klausen Pass instead of the flat 15 mile lake side route. Erm, helloo, get real, it ain't happening. I refused to believe what the gps was telling me, ie that there was no possible bike route along side the bikes forbidden lake road. So it was with some trepidation we munched our lunchies and headed out lake side.

I needn't have worried though, there was an excellent bike path complete with dedicated bike tunnels all the way along a really lovely route so up yours Garmin!

So that was the Alps pretty well done, only a couple off wee foothills in the last 30 miles of the days ride as we purred along Lake Zug until we cruised into Affoltern.
Here though we found we'd got ourselves a booking in a completely bizarre hotel. Seemed to be a combination of hotel, bar, Thai restaurant (closed of course), and some kind of house of ill repute with ladies wandering about all over in various states of undress. can't remember this feature being described on
Never mind, us travellers have to take these things in our stride and we got on with all the usual chores of bib short washing and bum callous attention that was daily aspect of normal life these days.
Once freshened up we had a bit of an explore of the town and identified suitable and unsuitable watering holes before settling for yet another pizza. I never thought I'd find myself getting sick of pizzas but I don't think I'd mind if I don't have another. At least till get back and make one of my own.

Monday 26 august

Affoltern - Basel 55 mile
Difficult to say much about today, certainly where the ride was concerned. It was non eventful and fairly mundane riding after the Alps. The scenery now was very like the North Yorkshire Hills round by Osmotherley for those who know it. Mind you the ride did manage to throw in a fair number of unexpected stiff climbs along the way to Basel. The traffic in Basel was a nightmare, very, very busy and intimidating to ride in. Even with the gps it was difficult avoiding getting onto roads that we weren't allowed on and it was a relief to finally get to a nice hotel in the middle of the city.

Even later after we'd settled in to the hotel and we had a walk round the town we were in imminent danger of getting squashed by trams. they hurtle along and trying to guess which track they're on isn't always obvious. It was worth it though for the lovely Chinese meal we had. A nice change from pizza and pasta.

Tuesday 27 Aug

Transition Day to Bonn
one of many trains
There was always going to be a transition day on the journey as we just didn't have time to ride the whole way and we decided it may as well be today. The plan being to get as far north as would leave us with enough mileage but not too much to complete before the ferry departs from Amsterdam on Saturday. On paper today should have been fairly straight forward. All we needed to do was get us and the bike onto the 12:20 train from Basel to Bonn. The station was literally half a mile from the hotel too. So, it was a nice leisurely breakfast enjoyed and we strolled round to the ticket office. This is where things became apparent we might have a leeeetle problemo. There are various types of train in Germany, the super fast ICE trains (no bikes) the fast national trains (that we wanted to get on) and regional trains that stop everywhere.
While the ticket office man was incredibly helpful he could not get us on to a fast train as the bike compartment was fully booked. All we could do is string regional trains together and take an eight hour journey involving six different trains and much humping of fully loaded tandem around six different stations.  So that's how we spent the day, people watching on slow trains. One particularly interesting chap was reading his magazine when a couple of pages fell out and landed on the floor. He proceeded to jump up, stamp up and down on the pages like they committed a personal affront on him. He then placed the magazine in his bag and then beat the hell out of his bag. Thankfully this dubious character got off at the next station.
We did have some good luck on the journey though. One of our changes was a four minute window. Our train was running late and we assumed we'd miss it. This would have meant we'd get to Bonn an hour and a half later but there was a train on what I thought was the right platform. There were masses of people on the platform and we fought and pushed our way through and flung ourselves onto the train just as it set off.
Once underway though, doubts crept in. "Are you sure we're on the right train?" I tentatively asked Marguarite  "No I'm not sure, not sure at all" she said. I tried to deduce where we were headed reasoning we were following a major river, probably the Rhine so that was good cos as far as i know all major rivers north of the Alps flow north. Also tv satellite dishes all face south so I new we were going north but it was quite a while till we got confirmation from the conductress that we were ok.

Monday, 26 August 2013

Our Euro Bike Tour Day 6 - 7

Thursday 22nd Aug.

41 miles Novaro - Bellinzona

Much better breakfast today. Loads of cheese, meat, bread, fruit, even scrambled egg and bacon (cold). Pasta was available too and the Bardiani guys were making good use of that. Cold un-sauced pasta for breakfast though, hmmmm, not sure about that.
We reluctantly set off after breakfast, both of us feeling like we could have gone back to bed but the road was beckoning. Again though it was outrageously hot and our first job was to deal with a series of uphil switchbacks. During the climb my GPS decided it might be good to try some off roading and we found ourselves attempting to ride a precipitous rough farm track. Some rapid deselecting of certain route choice options had us back on a sensible route with little harm done. After this initial steep climb over about three miles, the route settled in to a reasonably easy gentle climb. The main issue again was the heat. Our speed had dropped because of the gradient and as we had a slight tail wind we were cooking for most of the time. Italy spat us out in style though with a fantastic descent on very fast, long switchbacks. We reached our highest speed of the tour so far on that descent as we hit 48mph and dropped down to Lake Lugano and the border town of Ponte Tressa.
The rest of the ride Was relatively straight forward with a gentle climb but nothing too formidable and we were in the hotel at a nice reasonable three o-clock. Mind you the hotel was pretty rubbish and damned expensive too at 120 Swiss francs but that seemed to be the way in Switzerland, expensive.
 Anyway, it was a quaint little town with lots of old picturesque stuff to look at on our browse through the town. A nice looking restaurant caught our eye and we decided we'd eat there. Bad move, the food was awful, at least mine was. A yucky starter of aubergine, courgete, peppers and cheese on the most bitter lettuce I've ever eaten. That was followed by a bland pizza full of tasteless rubbery seafood and we were plagued by flies. All for the equivalent price of £31 each! Grief they know how to charge in Swizerland.

Friday  23 Aug  2013

37 mile miles Bellinzona - Airolo

My, the price of stuff in Swizerland continues to be outrageous. You can't really get a room for much under £100 and often that gets you a really rubbish one. The one we spent last night was pretty poor. Decor a la Bates Motel, even the breakfast was stingy. 
Still, the ride made up for it with lovely quiet roads and a constant but gentle uphill gradient, still damned hot though. In fact, the further we road the more I started to feel the Alps were toying with us, lulling us into a false sense of security and making us think we were going to just breeze through barely noticing them, hmmmmm. We got to around 20 miles in pretty good time and bought some lunch from a supermarket and sat and ate it on the path by the car park. After lunch though the character of the route changed dramatically as we started doing some proper ascent. Tandems really do not like climbing and we laboured slowly but steadily for the next 15 mile climbing some 3000' amid breathtaking scenery up to the village of Airolo, a pretty little outdoor activity village with tremendous mountain views.
It was curious as we were riding along the valley road. Looking up the mountains and seeing houses built up there. I mean, why would you build a house several thousand feet up a mountain accessible only by a tortuous mountain track that meant a major expedition just to by a baguette? Don't get it!
Airolo was to be our launching point for the crux of the entire journey, a long steep series of switchbacks taking us up to the tour high point of just under 7000' but that could wait for tomorrow.
For once the hotel was actually really nice albeit very expensive as usual but we had a private balcony with spectacular mountain views. We took a strol round the village looking for eating options before settling on some booty from the coop to supplement our meal in the hotel restaurant.
The meal turned out to be excellent, three course for the bargain price of about £18. Even the hitherto surly waitress managed to crack the odd smile or two, eventually.

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Our Euro Bike Tour Day 4-5

Tuesday 20th August

55 mile. Asti to Novara
Today started off with a pretty crappy breakfast of a single chocolate croissant and coffee. Oh, and we had to sit in the hotel lobby to have it for some reason. Still, it gave us some sort of fuel I suppose as we set off into yet another scorcher of a day, 30 odd C for the most part and an annoying nagging headwind thrown in. At least there were some interesting villages on route to keep us amused. Why, oh why though were they all on top of bloody massive hills? They were steep too,  consisting of several switchbacks that caused the speed to fall away and for the full intensity of the heat to hit us.

At least coming out of the villages gave us some nice but all to brief downhills. It's true to say that today took a lot out of us. I wasn't particularly the distance that got to us, just the unrelenting heat and headwind that combined to dehydrate us. In addition our water was warming up in the bottles, yuck yuck yuck! In fact towards the end of the ride we were stopping for drinks and I was feeling thirsty even as we were setting off again.
We had a few dicy incidents with Italian motorists today too. Some of them pass way too close. I was trying to make myself feel a little better by thinking "hopefully they know what they're doing". I tried not to notice how many cars and trucks had big gouges down the side, clearly indicating they hadn't a clue what they were doing.
I seem to be a magnate for all the nasty bitey stinging things here to as I'm getting covered in lumps of assorted sizes and degrees of itchiness. At one point I think I got stung on my leg by a wasp. It stung like mad for ages and ages but I braved it manfully. I'm an ultra runner after all, have I mentioned that?
Tomorrow though, I think we both need an easy day and that means keeping the mileage down to maybe 35 ish as we'll be getting into the Alps very soon now.
Anyway, back to the moment in hand we easily found a reasonable hotel in Novara and after getting sorted out we went for an explore. It's a really nice little place but as we were to find out it has very few eating places. Whats worse is it would seem we've picked the week where so many places are closed down as the owners have swanned off on holiday. Now look, we're the only ones allowed to do the swanning. After much searching though we did find a little back street restaurant that served us very nicely indeed with some delicious pasta meals.

Wednesday 21st August

37 mile  Novara - Varese
  Well today's breakfast was another rather disappointing affair. So far in Italy the hoteliers have all been rather mean with their offerings at breakfast and we left feeling a little under fed.
A much easier day today though for a few reasons. Firstly the head wind was much less of an issue, it was cooler (only in the high 20Cs) and it was shorter.  Hopefully this will have gone some way to helping us recover although today did turn out to be largely uphill. 
  We did however give ourselves a bit of a scare by descending a big hill then thinking we'd made a mistake as we couldn't find the hotel. A bit of detective work on the Internet soon got us sorted. Was great to get into what turned out to be a really nice hotel. The room was really good. One of those motel style rooms that open at the front so you can park your bike outside.
  Now that we're here though we can wave good bye to any form of flat riding. Tomorrow the Alps begins. I've got absolutely no idea what the terrain will be like from now on, it's not something I normally research. We'll take whatever is thrown at us though. Guess we have little choice :-)
  Interestingly we're sharing our hotel with the Bardiani cycling team. Dinner gave us a chance to look at team hierarchy in action. All the racing guys on one table , team management on another while medics and mechanics occupied a third.
  The riders were unbelievably skinny though, can't see they've eaten much cheese recently. Most of them looked like they'd loose hands down in a fight with a six year old.
  looking forward to proper hills now though

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Our Euro Bike Tour Day 1-3

Saturday 17 aug 2013 Home- Nice.

What a mammoth journey. It started with a three hour drive down to Newcastle Airport then the stressful business of getting the bike box checked in and then the relief of seeing it disappear down the chute of the outsize baggage counter, somebody else's turn to worry about it now. Another three hours later was the relief of being reunited with it in Nice and discovering it to be undamaged in transit.
Rebuilding the bike, Nice  Airport
It always seems rather bizarre opening a huge box in a busy airport concourse and starting the rebuild job of a big tandem all under the watchful gaze of machine gun totting army security men before brazenly abandoning aforementioned box and skiddaling of down the darkening streets of some European city, in this case Nice. I really hope we've never caused a security alert with our abandoned suspicious packages that we've randomly abandoned here and there around Europe.
Despite the hour being late we were very well looked after by Margaret and Bernard and were soon in their flat devouring copious quantities of cheese, pate, bread, and Margaret's excellent home made rabbit  pie before turning in for a well earned kip. Only problem being the outrageously hot temperatures (well for us folk from the frozen north it was bloody hot anyway)

Sunday 18th Aug 2013 Nice - Cuneo

let the journey commence
So this morning after a leisurely breakfast came more travel stress as this time we switched our travel mode to rail. Nice to Ventimiglia in SW Italy. We'd been assured by Margaret and Bernard "don't worry all the trains will be quiet on a Sunday afternoon you'll get yourselves and the tandem on no problem, aye right, I have never in my life seen such a busy train station and subsequent train. Ok there weren't people riding on the train roof like in more exotic countries but every possible space was taken up with hot sweaty humanity all eyeing our large tandem with distaste as we completely ignored their disapproving glowers. What was worse though was we had been cast into the wilderness, so to speak and were well and truly on our own.
Now, we new we were going to have to blag our way onto the next train as we knew that tandems were not particularly  welcome on Italian trains. I was also fully aware that my knowledge of the Italian language consisted pretty much of two words, bellisimo and pizza. I knew this would severely impact on any meaningful blagging so restricted myself to a less subtle approach and kinda barged my way slowly but forcefully onto this equally packed train and concealed the tandem from any nosy officialdom by surrounding it with hot, tetchy Italian fellow travellers.
  Remarkably, and with little trouble all things considered and against all the odds we have now reached Cuneo, the train ride having offered us loads of mountain views just interrupted now and again by tunnels. Of course being now in Italy we felt compelled to eat pizza, anti pasta and all that Italian good stuff before heading back to the hotel room for a well needed rest.

Monday 19 Aug 2013 Cuneo - Asti


65 miles

Had a fairly lazy start to the day fannying around on FB and a leisurely breakfast. One of the reasons we delayed was we really weren't sure where we were making for that day. I sort of had 50 -60 mile in my head  but it really depended on the weather ie how hot it was and what the terrain was like. I thought it looked fairly flat but it remained to be seen.
Once on the road though it was pretty level, at least for the first 25 mile and we covered that quickly, in fact we were bowling along on flat smooth roads for ages with a cross/tail wind that had us eating up the miles. Until that is we reached Fossano where we hit some hills.
They were proper switchback hills too and it was bloody hot,  32C and little wind. The scenery here was the best of the day though with villages full of ramshackle buildings that looked impossibly old. Some great descents too where we reached our highest speeds of the day, just short of 40mph (68kph) on lovely smooth roads with wide sweeping bends so no braking was required.
We inevitably hit the flat again though as we swiftly moved on towards Alba. Sadly it proved to be a bit of a dump and we were neither of us too keen on staying there, particularly as we'd got there in good time and didn't feel any need to stop. So we headed off again aiming in the general direction of Asti. On route though the weather was changing and starting to get pretty wet. We first tried a nice little village hotel but it was shut so moved on to the strangely, randomly named, Fairy Queen hotel. This was a weird place, it was actually closed, the hotel and restaurant shut for a holiday? In August?, ok then. We were offered a room though and the hotelier assured us there was a place to eat only 20 metres away down the road. The thing was though we felt like we were reenacting The Shining in the deserted hotel. cries of "Here's Johny" could definitely be imagined.
What with that, no Internet access and as we subsequently found out no nearby food we decided to leave. This excited the hotelier no end and we were subject to a barrage of anti-English abuse and threatened with the police unless we handed over 20% of the room rate which would have meant handing over €18 which we didn't and just to annoy him we smiled and told him we were Scottish not English, a wee lie but seemed to score a point for us. We pushed on another five miles or so and got ourselves into a hotel in Asti (Genoa Hotel) that turned out to be a gem. Thoroughly quirky and with excellent food in a lovely, if oddly and randomly decorated restaurant we were fed with what, to us seemed to be a really authentic Italian meal of ratatouille followed by beef in wine sauce served with salad. It was really delicious and capped off an eventful day.

Monday, 5 August 2013

Devil o the Highlands and Pasties

Devil o the Highlands and Pasties
OMG! OMG! cried Sarah, you’re running the Devil tomorrow! Sure enough it was you know, the day of reckoning had finally arrived. Tomorrow I would line up with 150 other runners all intent on running the 43 miles along the West highland Way from Tyndrum to Fort William climbing some 6000 feet over mountain track and bleak, lonely but beautiful wilderness. The journey to here as many will know has been plagued by injury having been out for over a year with knee trouble then after getting back for four months only to be hit by an Achilles problem. So getting in seven months of good training that has got me to the start line has been a huge achievement in itself before the run even got started. Huge thanks are due to Amanda for being my training buddy and for keeping my legs in good shape with her magic hands.
The week prior to the run had been pretty fraught. Tapering doesn’t sit well with me and I stressed about every little sensation in my legs and even managed to catch a cold at the start of the tapering week, then finished off the week by breaking a tooth and having to make a hasty visit to the dentist. The final pre-race run with Sarah and Helen though confirmed I was good to go and firing on all cylinders. I knew I’d had great training and got the long runs in, I was feeling fit and had even been on the wagon for a month and probably more importantly my head was in the right place figuratively speaking so I was confident about how it would go.
Friday night was a bustling scene at BTW campsite as everybody started gathering and the atmosphere was buzzing despite the wind and rain periodically hammering the site. So glad we were in our cosy chalet. Amanda and I arrived first followed by Helen and John. Then, after much cajoling and abuse came world champion ultra-groupie Sarah herSelf (see what I did there SarahJ ) followed by our new buddy, Ewan. A happy hour of banter and chatter followed before we all turned in for what we knew was going to be a short sleep.
The condemned man ate a hearty breakfast, shot at dawn were all analogies that seemed vaguely appropriate as I got myself out of bed although unlike the man to be shot at dawn I didn’t have the luxury of staying in bed till dawn as the sound of runners rousing at 4am began filtering through into my unconscious bliss and cries to the effect of “kindly elevate yourself from your place of slumber” from Sarah got me up and about (she might have worded it slightly differently). I had decided on cheese on toast for my “condemned man’s” breakfast. Somehow over the last few months I’d arrived at the conclusion that cheese was my rocket fuel and would see me float effortlessly across the line in FW, more about that later.

Finally we all vacated the chalet and headed for the registration at the Green Welly where it was great to finally meet the big bearded wonder that is David Etchells. By now the wind was howling and the rain was lashing. Much as it was going to do for much of the day in fact. The clock marched on though and soon there was no avoiding the fact that it was time to go out in the rain and get some running done. Strangely I have no recollection of the actual start itself but it must have happened because I found myself running out of Tyndrum and up the West Highland Way thinking “OMG! OMG! I’m doing it, I’m doing it!” (I say everything twice when I’m panicking for some reason). Now don’t panic DON’T PANIC! (see), keep your pace down you’re not running a 10k you know” I did settle down though, eventually seeing both Noanie and Amanda gliding along and running comfortably. I wouldn’t see them again till the end as we all ran our own races.
I soon settled down though and began running smoothly myself and started enjoying the sights and sounds of people doing pretty much the same as me, heading out on an adventure. On rounding a corner I came across a surreal site of five gentlemen standing randomly positioned on the hillside all having a pee but looking for all the world like a group of meerkats. Still, needs must but I thought it was only the ladies that went together.
The run down to Bridge of Orchy was lovely and seemed effortless and I was surprised how soon it was we arrived at the checkpoint. Loved seeing all my Daftie friends there, this was a real surprise and the fact that they kept popping up all over the place was amazing and lifted me up no end. In fact on leaving the village I had my first of many emotional blips I was to have during the day as I trotted up over Mam Carraigh.
The run over Rannoch Moor was wild but if I thought that was bad there was much worse to come. At least on there I had the wind behind me as I trotted along on my way to Glencoe chatting with folk as we ran together briefly on our journeys. Arriving at Glencoe I was actually ahead of my predicted time which was more to do with my lack of experience in estimation than any surprisingly high performance. Once again there were plenty of Dafties on hand to ensure a lovely welcome as I met up with my support team for the first time. I munched on my err.., wonder food, a cheese and onion pasty and guzzled some coke and water and then carried on my way. 
starting up Devils Staircase
The next stretch was the run through Glencoe where the wind became a headwind and the ferocious rain really hit hard as I arrived at the start of the Devils Staircase greeted by Tim Downie, Ringo and John Munro. The big climb was the place where the weather really gave me a beating. On the summit and down toward Kinlochleven it poured down, the wind was fierce and the rain often turned to stinging hail.

So far though I didn’t feel like yielding although throughout the run I was questioning whether or not I really was going to finish. I kinda felt that if I got through KLL I’d go on and finish and when I did get there I knew for definite I’d make it. I was feeling ok at this point and David Moonie and John cheered me in which gave me a great lift as did seeing my fantastic support team of Clark and Adrienne what with Clarks customary abuse and encouragement J and Adrienne searching frantically in my bag for items that in my imagination I had packed but in reality had forgotten. The only disappointment was I’d forgotten Sarah was going home at Glencoe and she was soo missed at the KLL checkpoint and I missed the big hug I had for her. It’ll keep though Sarah, I owe you one. Also I felt a bit sad for David Meldrum who I knew was itching to run a few miles with somebody but to be honest, when I’m suffering I just need to run alone. My spirits were a little low now, punished by the weather as I had been, even my cheese and onion pasty was limp and soggy but hey, it was my wonder food and will power me unstoppably to the finish right? Erm…. 
battling across Lairig Mor
And so came the big climb out of KLL a long, twisty, steep and energy sapping climb that gave me a texting opportunity although I think it was at this point that the wheels started to come off. If I thought it had been raining thus far, I found out at the top the weather had only been toying with me. As I crested the top of the climb the headwind was incredible and the rain was driving into my face. I could barely run at all now and sort of stumbled and blundered my way across Lairig Mor feeling very sorry for myself. Jeff and his rescue vehicle was a wee oasis half way along and I briefly chatted and drank irn–bru while he reassured me I wasn’t last despite there not being another soul in sight in either direction. All the while I was eyeing up the end of the Glen where it swings right and the wind would come onto my back and willing it to hurry up. Although then, the desolation caused by timber extraction and the foul conditions were just adding to my feeling of misery just briefly lifted by seeing John at Lundavra who told me Helen was still going fine and not far behind.
The overriding memory of my last seven miles on the race was the growing and inescapable feeling that perhaps my beloved pasties had deceived me. Over the months of training they had built up this belief within me that like Barclays Bank they would always be there. When the going got tough they would come to my aid. Alas I was deceived; their promises were built on sand. Soon I found myself in the mire both physically and metaphorically. Energy levels had plummeted to a level below an AAA battery that’s been powering the Wallace Memorial flood lights for a week. I simply couldn’t run. I kept trying but the legs just would not go. The journey down through the zigzag forest tracks was a nightmare. I could not understand why my body was shutting down when I hadn’t got to the end yet. I couldn’t even run downhill and could only walk. A couple of miles from the end Helen flew past me like a thing possessed and asked me how I was. I said I was mobile but couldn’t run. I couldn’t even jog in with her. I marvelled and envied how lightly she could run after traveling so far and how soon she would be at the finish. I just had to dig in and carry on but there was no way I wanted her to wait for me. She had achieved what she had set out to do and I was so happy for her.
Yes I'm crying. Raw emotion. Pain, relief, joy!
the finish
The track seemed to go on for ever as I slowly closed in on my goal but eventually I hit the road leading to Fort William and then came the final interminable walk in to the finish. On rounding the final bend though I saw a group of people standing by where I knew the finish was. They put up a cheer as I saw them and I responded with a wave back to them. At this stage I thought they were just random kindly people at the check point but as I got closer I realised it was largely my Daftie friends. Noanie, David Mooney, Julie, Amanda, Clark, Adrienne, David Meldrum, Helen, John and many others who I knew from fb too. The tears were barely controllable as I got closer and impossible to control as I crossed the line having achieved a dream I once thought had passed me by.
Little further of note happened that day. A slight problem ensued at the leisure centre when it appeared I’d lost my trousers but Clark was able to reunite me with them as I sat shivering in the changing room. The finale to the day was to wearily pick up a takeaway Indian and get home to enjoy my curry with a long awaited glass of wine to end a thoroughly memorable day.

The coveted reward

Thanks to John and anyone else whose pictures I've stolen, hope you dont mind :-)

The Stats