Day 8 – Five hours later, and I was ready to go. Kinlochleven was dispatched easily, and then I started the long walk up the dam access road, and then the West Highland Way. I was in no position to pedal, my legs were in bits, so walking became my only option on the steep start to the climb. I reached the top, and then slowly began the descent. I was careful not to be too over-exuberant on the ride back to the Kingshouse, conscious that a mechanical would have been disastrous for my week of riding. I would have cried if I’d have broken my bike at this late stage!
The Kingshouse, as tourist friendly as ever, were full of tourists but unwilling to serve food of any sort, nor any cans of Coke or any other such delights. I started on one of my last flapjacks and pressed on. Glencoe ski resort loomed, their café being recommended by another rider. The climb up to the car park just seemed like extra ascent that I really didn’t need, so I missed out on the opportunity for a good feed and kept going.
That climb I so loved at the start of the race became a lovely descent, walkers moving out of the way to let me descend at a decent pace, and Rannoch Moor was soon dispatched. Inveroran and Bridge of Orchy were passed through, and I only had the last few miles to go. Once I’d crossed under the railway line, I knew I only had one challenge left – carrying my bike over the fence closer to Tyndrum.
That challenge came and went, and then all that was left was an uphill push, and then a doubletrack back into Tyndrum. I was conscious that my friend had abandoned his West Highland Way ride at this point with a fall, but I just kept rolling down the hill at speed. The track got close to the road, and I knew I was nearly at the finish.
I got to the village hall at Tyndrum, it being a welcome sight after a week out in the wilder parts of Scotland, and then it was over. No fanfare, no welcoming committee, just waiting around for a few minutes for the Spot to register my arrival, and then down to the shop to commence the refueling process.
7 days, 4 hours, 15 minutes.
I did meet up with another rider, Alan, who had been in Tyndrum for a few days after crashing out on day 2 in Fort Augustus. We got in a couple of pints and a hearty lunch, and then that was my Highland Trail Race over… for this year anyway.
He did get a photo of me by the finish – I don’t look too destroyed here, but I felt it!