|Wasn't able to do justice to the early morning light unfortunately|
Thursday, 15 August 2013
Can't believe I forgot to mention this, but I completed the gold level of Maggie's monster bike and hike with 2 great friends in May this year. I was really looking forward to it as an event since the turn of the year, but a chest infection in March, which knocked me for 6 had cast a fairly big shadow of doubt over my participation. In the end I got some fairly powerful anti-biotics and was better with 3 weeks to go... not the greatest ever training program. Fortunately my team mates agreed to a trial run 2 weeks out from the event and Finlay planned a circular route from Callander, which included 2 hours cycling in the rain then a hike from Callander out to Balquidder and back over Glen Finglas to Brig O'Turk, before hitting the road along the South side of Loch Venacher back to Callander.
I think we learned an awful lot about ourselves on that - and it dawned on us just how big an undertaking the Monster was going to be... The only thing to do from then on was diet carefully, do a bit more cardio work without overdoing it and concentrate on stretching for strength & flexibility.
For the event we cycled from Fort William to Fort Augustus on a glorious Saturday morning, after having seen it lash with rain for all of Friday. It had snowed overnight and Nevis Range was as stunning a backdrop as you could imagine as we followed the Caledonian Canal footpath for about 20 miles, before getting into 5 miles of reasonably challenging & occasionally technical mountain biking - with not a few moments of utter joy free wheeling down through forestry tracks.
After parking the bikes at Fort Augustus and donning the walking gear, the rain started and stayed with us for the next 6 hours as we trudged up the West side of Loch Ness. Chatting with our fellow 'competitors' though was entertaining and inspirational as we heard so many stories of people who had recovered from cancer and were walking or those who were doing so in tribute to friends or family members that had lost their battle with this awful disease.
From Drumnadrochit to Inverness was an overnight adventure through forestry trails and about as strange a thing as I'll ever do. Who wouldn't be touched by the kindness of the volunteers who were manning tea tents in the middle of nowhere. Walking from the darkest part of the night towards the lights of Inverness and a slow breaking dawn was a high I'll never forget, and 23 hours 21 minutes after setting off, we crossed the finish line to the slight whiff of bacon butties in the distance and the satisfied feeling of a good job, well done.
You can still donate to the cause here.