Numero Uno!

Sunday 24th July: John O’Groats – Tongue

I like things to be well oiled and smooth. My bike, my plans, my groin, etc.. And the first day of riding was exactly that. Kind of.

From the beginning then.

An early-ish start with a fantastic cooked breakfast from our host allowed final adjustments to clothing, equipment and chamois cream, and when all of our duties had been completed we made our way to JOG for the start of our epic  adventure. We got to the car park and found that, bar a couple of other cyclists, it was deserted. The JOGLE road-sign, so very prolific in all the photos, had been removed to prevent it from being stolen (to be fair, I understand this action totally; my intention was to nick it), so we ended up waiting for the resident photographer to arrive and take our picture.

After a little time had passed, the fella turned up and spent a good three hours telling us exactly what each island was, how old the local rowing boats were and other JOG-related trivia. After prising ourselves away from him, we registered our JOGLE trip at the café, and set off with the storm clouds gathering.

The first twenty miles were a piece of piss. As Chris from Cycleworld had suggested, it was a nice flat run along a coastal road, with a fair headwind, but nothing we couldn’t handle. We rolled into Thurso an hour and a half after setting off and surprised Meg who pulled into the car park at Tesco’s for supplies. A little retail therapy followed (batteries, bananas, lunch) and we set off to complete the remaining miles buoyant and content.

From Thurso onwards, everything was up. The roads went up. The headwind was up. My bib was up. My crack, that is. Despite this, we continued to plough on and made very good time. Our policy of rehydrating every half hour combined with little bits of food regularly, was paying dividends and we scorched on past a number of other JOGLE groups towards the final destination of Tongue. During this time, Meg had been seeking out little spots for breaks, and managed to find an amazing beach in a cove close to Bettyhill, and so was getting her fill of beautiful scenery. This is very important – if your support driver isn’t feeling fulfilled, you’re screwed big time. Down goes the sandwich making, the friendly beeps as they drive by, and the encouraging words. Plus Meg grinds my nuts when she’s unhappy.

Towards the end of the ride, J and I decided to engage in a ‘Top Speed Challenge’ (TSC). Very little explanation is needed for this; suffice to say, J edged the challenge with me a fraction slower. This situation will be rectified soon. We rolled into Tongue four and three-quarter hours after setting off with a fairly respectable 13.9mph average, considering the terrain.

Laura’s knee has started to give her a bit of grief, but she has twice the balls I have so continues to grind out the miles. My shoulder is fairly knackered by still attached, which is good. J is so chirpy I want to hit him with a mallet until he stops twitching.

Yup, we’re all good. Roll on tomorrow.