Saturday, 31 May 2014

Leg 5, Day 1: Oban- Tobermory- Oban- Castlebay, Barra


We pulled into Oban railway station at 9:30pm but it felt much earlier with the sun going down later further north. It was a beautiful evening, calm water, a light breeze and a warm evening sun, quite different to departing from Oban a year earlier in the pouring rain. 

We cycled the couple of hundred metres to Oban RNLI lifeboat station and was met by John, a crew member at that station. He gave us a quick tour of the station, gave us a key and let us unpack our gear as today was an early start. 

We departed on the 07:30 ferry from Oban to Craignure, on the east coast of Mull. From there we had a very simple out and back journey up the coastal road to Tobermorey, a small fishing village famous for its row of colourful houses and star of a certain children's TV program.  It was some of the best cycling we've had all Tour- great roads, no wind, sunny weather. 

34km later we arrived at a steep decent into Tobermorey and after getting our mandatory photo of the RNLI station, we popped into a bakery for an apple strudel and had a sit down for 10 mins by the very scenic if slightly manufactured village. 

The 34km return journey was interrupted with a variety of unmissable photo opportunities but we had made good progress so was not too concerned about making the 12:30 ferry, which was in any case delayed by 30 mins. This time we were safe as our connecting ferry, taking us back past Tobermory (without stopping) and on to the Outer Hebrides. 

Before then we had a very enjoyable lunch with my mother and the Fabricious', some family friends who just happened to be moored in Oban as part of their equally impressive sailing adventure from Falmouth to Oban via Dublin! They have been loyal supporters of the Tour of Britain in the past both via generous donations and in terms of interest so it was a fitting lunch indeed. 

We left lunch to jump onto the 4 hour CalMac ferry from Oban to Castlebay which is a town on the southern end of Barra, which is in turn on the southern end of the Outer Hebrides. 

We are making a conscious effort to ensure we relax and enjoy ourselves - with so many ferries to catch some of which only occur once a week, we really don't want to let the trip feel like a continuous series of days where we are panicking hit deadlines. Imagine a week of hat feeling you have when you're running late for a flight! 

In short today was a relatively light day- 64km in good weather. I am, however slightly concerned with how tired we are, clearly the lack of training is showing already! Oh well, not much we can do about it now but have another beer!


Friday, 30 May 2014

How time flies...

Nick and I started this fundraising challenge young and free- admittedly we were constrained by annual leave which meant we couldn't do the entire circumnavigation in one trip, but this was a blessing in disguise in many ways. We were forced to spread the trip out over a number of years which meant we actually are raising a great deal more money- initially our goal was to raise £25k, this has now nearly doubled to £40k and we are already 75% of the way there! Thank you to everyone who has donated so far!

What we didn't quite imagine when we started was how we would change over the years. Our jobs have both become more demanding making finding a week we can both make that much harder. We now both have young children and yet again, both of our wives are pregnant. Any father out there will appreciate that leaving home for 10 days while we mess around fundraise on our bikes for a week and a half leaving a pregnant wife and toddler at home is a big ask and we are really very grateful to them for letting us do this year after year- perhaps the most generous 'donation' to our cause yet!

And so, another year has passed and I find myself on the East Coast Mainline up to Scotland for Leg 5 of The RNLI Tour of Britain. We start our journey where we finished off last years trip in the gateway to the Highlands and Islands- Oban*.,+Argyll+and+Bute,+UK/Inverness,+Highland,+UK/@58.6380539,-3.6355006,10z/data=!4m84!4m83!1m75!1m1!1s0x488941d0d2ddf1c1:0x83dd4aff818fc237!2m2!1d-5.471047!2d56.415157!3m4!1m2!1d-5.9790716!2d56.5350657!3s0x488bef19bc45a36f:0x544693465640820a!3m4!1m2!1d-5.4526398!2d56.4348759!3s0x4889678f02ce7e73:0xe9f5ae3a89e5ac2f!3m4!1m2!1d-7.4912711!2d56.9429351!3s0x488cbb95adedcd45:0x9df73095982fa901!3m4!1m2!1d-7.3869265!2d57.2395477!3s0x488cc2a98e2c01d9:0x1760e7999cc746d1!3m4!1m2!1d-5.5837438!2d57.6909774!3s0x488e65f200cc7ce9:0x9f16d1ecf63412c!3m4!1m2!1d-5.1474769!2d57.895633!3s0x488e482c5b2ae68f:0xd4be3e90b2071c18!3m4!1m2!1d-6.385488!2d58.2074444!3s0x488df7d46ee7ca97:0xc08324a659130157!3m4!1m2!1d-4.9408583!2d58.4484677!3s0x48902d94c999ca11:0x29081cffdf237cc8!3m4!1m2!1d-3.620226!2d58.6031269!3s0x489abeb6dac13737:0xa6f2e07c8f877d0e!3m4!1m2!1d-3.2958522!2d58.9620428!3s0x489afa0ef2c28fbb:0x35958c63838e7333!3m4!1m2!1d-3.2041161!2d58.8508743!3s0x489ae4dd65cb7c6b:0x2677058146625c5d!3m4!1m2!1d-2.9064424!2d58.9130272!3s0x489b049e4a40199b:0xa6389f2293c10ef5!3m4!1m2!1d-3.0751574!2d58.5794103!3s0x489ad91997bc4459:0x7e5c80ff8afdbcb2!3m4!1m2!1d-3.1163652!2d58.6386286!3s0x489ade909a0c06e1:0x526f40d4488bb28f!1m5!1m1!1s0x488f715b2d17de2b:0x624309d12e3ec43d!2m2!1d-4.224721!2d57.477773!3e0?hl=en

From Oban, we visit the Inner Hebredes the Outer Hebredes, the Highlands, the Orkney Islands and finish this leg in Inverness on the East Coast of Scotland. An estimated journey of over 1581km (983 miles), the vast majority of which is cycling. The rest, as you might have guessed, is on ferries and we have fortuitously been provided complimentary travel on every ferry service we require, which we are very grateful for. Despite being contractually obliged to do so, I am not the slightest bit apologetic to publically thank CalMac Ferries, North Link Ferries, Orkney Ferrys and John O'Groat Ferries. These companies are inundated with charitable requests (supposedly 10-20 per day!) and understandably can't help everyone so were are very grateful that they decided to help us. 

We must also express our thanks to a couple of others, firstly, the RNLI head office support staff, particularly Natalie Fischer who has been extremely helpful with our numerous requests over the past few years. We recently came to understand that she is leaving RNLI and we'd like to wish her well in her new role at Diabetes UK.

Secondly, I'd like to thank David Palmer of for our fantastic new kit (photos to follow) and his assistance in getting the recent publicity push.

my favourite method of weight saving.

Our bikes are serviced, our bags are packed, weight has been saved wherever possible (see above) other than our our fat reserves which have been diligently built up over the last 12 months. All that remains is to begin our journey of a thousand miles which as Bilbo Baggins- Lao Tzu famously said, must begin with a single step... or pedal... nevermind.  

Supported by a variety of Apple products, where possible we will Tweet, Vine and Blog our progress and really appreciate any comments you have. In return it promise to keep the posts as interesting as possible thus suppressing my desire to describe in intricate detail the particular qualities of the Tarmac or how my cadence changed with the varying gradient, instead opting to post as many amusing photos as I can, with the holy grail being one of Nick half dressed in dubious Lycra garments applying chamois cream to his nether regions. 

On that bombshell of a visualisation, I shall depart. 

*no idea if it is actually referred to as this but it seems appropriate and it sounds good.


Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Big publicity push...

Some great publicitiy coming through from BikeRadar website and regarding our 5th leg of the tour of britiain which begins on the 30th May this year.
Enormous thanks to David Palmer from OnYerBikeSeat who have also helped enormously with our new branded cycling tops which not only look amazing but feel fantastic. If anyone reading this has a need for custom branded bike seat covers, backpacks or cycling apparel look no further than them!
With only a couple of weeks until leg-5 begins, watch this space for a pre-trip blog about the week of adventure on the west coast of Scotland that lies ahead of us.