615 miles down / 343 to go
29,786 feet of climbs, equivalent to 102% of Mount Everest (at 29,096 feet)
We were ready to go around 0930, we loaded the bikes onto the car and Katie dropped us off in Great Orton and we were soon ready to go. We donned the waterproofs, rain was forecast and it had already started to drizzle.
In my tired state I'd not set up the Garmin properly (our satnav) so we got off course pretty quickly. Brendon as ever kept us on track by navigating using the iPhone and a OS map! Before too long we were in Scotland.
There was a sense of relief that we'd made it, although in reality it was only just over halfway. To greet us, the rain started to pour hard - lovely!
To keep ourselves entertained we took turns to hum tunes whilst the other guessed what was being hummed. A silly game but then you need something to take your mind of the ride when the miles tick over quite slowly (about 1 every 4 minutes). As the rain poured even harder still the games gave way to us putting our foot down to try and get to the first food stop at 46 miles as quickly as possible.
Effectively you're riding on your own in these circumstances so you need to turn your attention to something else to pass the time. I sang along to myself (I never normally do this) and played games with the mileage, counting down multiples of 10, multiples of the journey to our rest stop, anything I could think off to break the journey up and keep the carrot waving in front of me so I kept pushing on.
We arrived in the small village of Auldgirth where the girls had found a small store and tea rooms. We were doing well time wise so indulged ourselves with a cooked breakfast - I decided for the works which included haggis, and it was polished off in no time. If you're passing by, I recommend you stop in, Kava is a great host and made us very welcome!
So far there was no pain other than the usual aches and niggles and we were well on track for a good time. It's always tricky to get going after a stop though and the legs were stiff as we pedalled off. My achillies was painful in both legs which hinders me as we push on for the rest of the 40 mile climb (yep, 40 miles of climbing!) through the hills between Dumfries and Kilmarnock.
Thankfully the rain eased off and stopped so as we pedalled on we play silly sods again. As we passed one field I 'mooed' loudly to the cows, quite excitedly they ran alongside us for a while until a wall halted their progress. They looked on disappointed as we continued on our way, it was tough going with the constant climbs so it was nice to have a little bovine support!
The scenery was impressive, but I wa running out of batteries on my phone to take pics, sadly the rainwater had swamped my extra battery which decided not to work. Here's the best I could do.
Fingers crossed it's back online tomorrow as we head up to Inverary!
The feed stop on 76 miles could come soon enough (a recurring theme), I was flagging badly and the constant aching of both achillies meant that I was incredibly keen to get off the bike. Add to that the free Scottish massage we were having en-route - there are several poor sections of road where we just juddered along the tarmac, it slowed progress and added to the discomfort.
The girls were waiting for us at 76 miles and looked just as tired as we are. Nevertheless they rushed around getting us drinks and treats to perk us up again. We struggled to move off and rested up a little longer than planned - there's something about the level of weariness, we knew it wasn't good for us to hang around but we just couldn't help it, these brief windows of rest were a delightful oasis in the painful trek across Scotland.
We had just 18 miles to go until we hit the outskirts of Kilmarnock and the end of the day's ride. A glorious descent from the 40 mile climb lulled us into a false sense of security as several long and step climbs followed. We stopped for a quick pic outside a Robbie Burns monument before we pushed hard and time trial rode the last 10 miles at a good pace. Before long we were loading the bikes on the car and heading back, both stiff, both aching - dinner and bed beckoned - one more ride until rest day.
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