Tuesday, October 4, 2016

JOGLE Day 2, Thurso to south of Helmsdale

from my trip diary originally posted at Crazy Guy on a Bike http://tinyurl.com/h6mf2fu

Day 2, Thurso to south of Helmsdale

Tuesday September 6, 2016, 73 miles (117 km) - Total so far: 115 miles (185 km)

People say I'm hardcore... and all I have to do is try to remember this.Got off about 8 a.m., bought a few grocery items first. My Mapsme app works offline, except without internet you cannot search. Also it tells you where you are and how many more miles to a point--as the crow flies. Also my cyclometer doesn't always matchup to the Google direction I've printed out. AND another observation: there is no berm or shoulder beside the road. When you share a busy road with cars, you are absolutely in their lane. They can pass close or wide depending if they want to be a jerk.
I headed toward Melvich on cycle route 1, which eventually dumped me out on A836. Where I climbed up and up and up. I had to get off and push. I reached A897 and then the wind began. It got worse and worse, as well as a climb started. I passed a man walking in Forsinard, what looked like the top. Winds were then at 35 miles an hour. The man was big but had to lean into the wind to make headway. In Forsinard, not really a town or hamlet there was a bird preserve. A young woman came out into the gale and helped me get inside the visitor center. She definitely thought I was in trouble. She couldn't image cycling in such weather. It wasn't raining, in fact the sun was brilliant. Just extremely windy. I sat, had a tea and tried to regroup.
If I made it to Helmsdale I would be shattered. I was only at best doing 4 miles and hour. I had to pedal just to go downhill. All I knew was I would go on till I couldn't and then find a place to camp, though I didn't relish setting up or trying to rest in such wind.
I continued to climb for another 2 miles. The hills all around me were barren, windswept. I was above any treeline. The sky was a brilliant blue, with only a few clouds. I was getting a tan--or wind burn. Eventually I began to go down. What a great ride, and sometime around 3 pm I noticed there was no more wind. I continued into Helmsdale. 61 miles.
I ordered a fish and chips, ate half and thought I'd finish it at my campsite, supposedly only a few miles down the road.
Well it was BUSY A9, folks coming home from work, AND LOTS OF UPHILLS. Not what I needed. So I rode and rode and probably passed the campsite. A couple walking their dog told me there were several campsites outside of Brora. So I kept going, going. Then I saw a sign. I was tired, 73 miles so far. I turned down and regretted it, dirt roads, steep downhill, but I was headed to a seaside campground. The path got narrower and grassy and then I saw what looked like a camper, but when I got closer it was abandoned beside a brick ruin of some kind.

So wild camping by the sea in a place forgotten.
wind-swept sea
Sutherland
bright and sunny day
the road up
where is the camping? 
  

sunset by the sea

wild csmping

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