Friday 9 September 2011

A looong ride, rain, Nimis Est.... and motivation.

Pants forecast today and I was still in bed ignoring the small boy bouncing on me at 8am. I could have stayed there and hidden indoors all day but I've got some tricky friends to live up to as examples.
One had a knee op that took a year to recover from a few years back. A couple of weeks ago she came second solo female in a 4 day race (foot, bike paddle and swim) Coast to Coast across Northern England and then a week later 3rd in the Helvellyn triathalon. It's hard to stay sedentary when you see your buddies doing that......
So what to do? Another pal of mine (a teacher and outdoor instructor.... one of the best educators I've ever met) has a motto; Nimus Est Numquam Satis. Roughly translated this comes out as 'excess is never enough'- he lives by this in work, play and the consumption of gin and red wine. So if I'm going to play I'd better go totally overboard.
I'd never done it but I know its possible to cycle a loop around Ardgour: from Glenfinnan you follow the east coast of Loch Shiel, then a pass to cross, drop down to Strontian and on round to Corran and round the head of Loch Eil. A not very close look at a map makes this seem to look about right.
It's bucketing down, I need to refit my bike computer.... it would be so easy to give up.... my in laws are 70ish and still in Mountain Rescue teams, taking holidays to tramp in New Zealand or walk the John Muir trail (carrying everything of course), leading as hard as me on rock and when they come to my house they always do more DIY on each visit than I ever have.... better not let a little job stop me.
Glenfinnan seems an awful long way from Corpach and the traffic is not the most cycle friendly on the Mallaig road. I've been soaked to the skin since half way to the monument... I could just do a wee day out to the electric bothy and go home.... But I was introduced a couple of years ago to one of the 2 guys who decided to run the Bob Graham, drive to John o' Groats, cycle a tandem to Lands End and then get driven to the start of the Devizes to Westminster kayak race to do that- it was all for charity of course (see the No short cuts there. Best got on with it hadn't I.
20 km fast off road down Loch Shiel- awesome. Ahead of me 300m climb in 2km. I could turn around to avoid that climb and reverse my route. But I saw a paralympic competitor with no legs speaking on TV this morning. He said you just had to play the hand you are dealt and get on with it.... of course he and the other athletes like him choose to not just play the hand but bet their shirts on it making the most of everything they've got. The climb it is then.... and no you can't rest however long it goes on or steep it gets.
Whizz down the far side to Strontian and its still raining. Committed now, got to keep going. Crank up the tunes, use the bits of old road and enjoy the home bakes from the Sunart Cafe.
Corran ferry. Time for a break. Could take the ferry and go via Fort William- that would be shorter. I call Jane and let her know what I'm up to. "You're doing what? How far? Do you want a lift?" I've never met Karen Darke but a friend rode his bike with her as she hand cycled 1400km through the Himalayas. I reckon I've got another 50km in me.
Quieter road now I'll keep the speed up around 25km/hour and look its stopped raining for the first time all day.... 90km....100km....110km... a night heron every 2km for 20k, keeping up with a buzzard flying ahead and just above me down an avenue of drooping birch. But its pouring again...I'm at the junction with the busy main road. I could call home for that lift.
Or I could just fix a silly grin on my face and enjoy being soaking wet, covered in gravel, having a butt that feels like I've been kicked by an elephant, being cut up by cars and lorries that undoubtedly view me as a right nuisance and knock out the last 11km home.
We only pass this way once... may as well make it count eh? :-)


Anonymous said...

Inspirational stuff; impressed with ride and commitment to get out there and do it. As I often say, 'if it's easy, it's not worth doing'!
Works for me, seems apt here too.

Enjoy and keep it coming...winter approaches

Rog said...

Superb post Al.

Anonymous said...

good on ya mon! keep on keeping on!