Le Tour de Lee Day 1 - John O'Groats to Brora (64 miles)

First published 6th July 2014
Mike Palmer and I were boarded in Brora overnight so we had to travel an hour and half to the off at John O Groats. That made for a late-ish start and I left the signpost in the harbour at 11.45am. The trip up had made me aware of the beauty of the surroundings - and also a few testing climbs, one a Category 3 which was 13% for about a mile.

Despite the gloomy projections of three days ago, it was sunshine all the way up and the views across to the various islands surrounding the north east tip of Scotland were fabulous. After posing for a picture by the sign saying 876 miles to Land's End - as the crow flies - I set off. I was wearing the polka dot Tour de France King of the Mountains jersey that was sent to me when I was receiving chemotherapy with the prayerful desire that I would get over the hills of treatment and eventually do the End to End.

The route to Brora hugged the coastline, sometimes coming very close, and there was a stiffish easterly breeze at my side throughout. The lovely weather held all day in Brora but sadly not further north and the temperature dropped from 68F to 58F in a few miles with a downpour which required a rain cape. (Not the sou'wester type you may be relieved to hear!)

Mike played catch up and overtake, allowing me to get about 10 mies along the route before parking up at a lay by before I went past. It worked well and ensured that I could signal if there was a problem. Funnily enough in the first 2-3 miles I thought there was a major problem. My knees felt like they would not last 10 miles let alone nearly 1000! As you will imagine this was a bit of a shock and something I committed to prayer. The good news is that by 10 miles or so I seemed to 'find my legs' and the form I had a couple of weeks ago returned. Phew!

We may be doing this 'in style' by staying in guest houses or modest hotels but today I was reminded that kit needs daily washing, and the bike regular maintenance. It is not all getting on my bike and pedalling!

Mike and I have been heartened by the steady increase in money donated but it is clear we have a long way to go. Time to cajole - I mean encourage - friends.

Tomorrow looks a very wet one from Brora to Aviemore and the hills get more serious...


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