Someone switched the sun off overnight! After two days of wall-to-wall sunshine and 25 degree temperatures, we woke in Ballater this morning to overcast skies and single figure temperatures.
Instead of sun-screen, today we had to put on layers of clothing to keep warm! Neil had asked us to go out last and not to leave until 9.30 so that we wouldn’t get to the morning coffee stop until 10.30ish. It was 21 miles! And amazingly, thanks to a good group sharing the work, we did it!
The Feughside Inn had put on a great spread and donated all the proceeds to UCAN. There were bacon rolls, hash-browns, cakes, tea & coffee. Forty hungry cyclists got stuck in, it was delicious.
However, from the Feughside we would be tackling the Cairn o’ Mount, and quickly it felt like the bacon roll wasn’t such a good idea. But it did taste fine!
We made it up the Cairn, stopped quickly at the top to put on jackets to keep warm, and bombed it down the descent. Some of the guys were absolutely flying down! Me? I made it down safely, but it was still a nervy descent. I’m getting better / more confident slowly.
Lunch was at Fettercairn, where it was Gala Day. The local cafe was quickly packed with hungry cyclists, with soup the order of the day to warm us up.
Then it was chaingang time again, the scenery changing from the majestic tree-lined roads of Donside on Friday to the open farmland of the Mearns. And the wind blew! It felt like a constant headwind and in the chain we were taking short turns on the front to keep the pace high.
Soon we were at Auchenblae, where our group split on the steep climb out of the village.
Scott, Stan & I rode steadily back in to Stonehaven, picking a couple of people up on the way. Scott & I were doing long turns on the front, although my left achilles was causing me some pain.
We’d agreed to rendezvous at the Station Hotel in Stonehaven so that we could all ride to the finish together. Being amongst the first people to get there, we finally indulged in a cheeky pint. We’d earned it.
To round off the event, all 40 of us rode together down through Stonehaven town centre, which was great fun, to the outdoor pool where a reception was laid on for us.
We’d cycled 220 miles, 160 of them in glorious sunshine. For some it had been easy, for others the challenge of a lifetime. We’d met some lovely people, enjoyed some great dinners, and told tales of our adventures. Most importantly we’d raised over £50,000 for UCAN.
A great few days indeed!