What a day! It's been 5 hours since I got off the bike and I'm still dizzy with exhaustion. Today started at 05:15 on empty stomachs and in the pouring rain, and when I say pouring rain I mean absolutely torrential. We needed to get the 07:30 ferry from Tartbert (Harris) to Uig (Skye) which meant an undulating 33km pre-breakfast.
The sore Achilles that I developed toward the end of yesterday was beginning to appear again which was irritating but ultimately entirely down to the fact that this year we are both severely underprepared in terms of fitness. Despite that, Nick kindly dragged me to the ferry on time and has been a star all day taking the brunt of the the extremely strong headwind whenever possible.
I would love to say that we thought Harris was beautiful and at times we noticed that there was clearly potential but all we were really able to do was squint sufficiently to allow us to see the road ahead (just) but keep as much of the driving rain out of our eyes.
Upon arriving at Tarbert ferry terminal we greeted a pair of female cyclists who had a very happy baby in tow behind them... They then informed us they were on a three day camping-cycling tour! Nick and I we open mouthed, both immediately imagining our wives reactions if we suggested a holiday in Scotland camping, cycling with our babies. I mean the situation is beyond unimaginable. Needless to say we were extremely impressed.
The crossing gave us a couple of hours to compose ourselves ahead of the 93km journey from Uig to Mallaig via Portree RNLI station. The wind that had been so helpful yesterday was now pointing straight at us and made our average speed drop from 40km/hr to just above 13km/hr while exerting significantly more effort!
I'm racking my brain for some interesting details from today but all I can honestly remember is 4-5 hours of extreme discomfort, cold and towards the end a serious deficiency of energy. We had the dilemma that if we stopped to eat, we'd get semi hypothermic. Yet if we carried on, we'd risk our energy levels dropping to the point that we'd be cycling like idiots. Our solution was to eat in short 2 min breaks while grabbing a photo or too.
The road running along the Northeast edge of Skye was also far busier than we'd like, which coupled with pouring rain and strong winds is not ideal. Fortunately however we are on much quieter roads tomorrow. There were points were despite the weather a small part of me could vaguely appreciate that we were cyclingn through beautiful scenery but this thought would quickly be replaced by how sore my arse was.
We did bump into an equally glum looking cyclist who made it a party of 3. We rode together for 15km or so but on one ascent, Nick clipped his wheel, giving him a puncture. A quick inner tube change was needed and within a few mins we were back on track... as a duo again, but colder.
Sorry. Did I mention that it rained today? Or that there was a strong headwind?
Eventually we arrived at the ferry terminal that would take us to Mallaig, our final destination for the day. We gorged ourselves on food. Sandwiches, crisps, coke, rice Krispy fudge things it was eye rollingly delicious and we ate a pace that would put me in serious trouble at home. Soon enough the energy returned, our hands stopped shaking and we got ourselves into some dry clothes for the ferry trip.
We always knew that days like today would happen but it doesn't make them any easier. It'll be early to bed for both of us.