Well that was hard! We woke up this morning to the rain beating on our hotel window. Whilst we were at breakfast the rain all but stopped, allowing us to make our start just before 8am from the Edinburgh office without being drenched. However, the severe weather warnings on TV didn't promise great things weather-wise.
And so it was that at 8.15 the rain was heavy and we had the first puncture of the day from Norman. We quickly changed the tube and we were onto the Forth Road Bridge without too many problems. Another puncture on the bridge from Norman, and he decided to change wheels from the service car.
The going was ok to Dundee, but having ridden into a headwind for almost 4 hours, my legs were trying to tell me that we had done more than what our computers were telling us. What do legs know. When they tell you that they can't go on any longer, it just means that they can't be bothered. Pain is a good sign - it is weakness leaving the body. Or so I tried to convince myself.
We were not quite half way yet, and the wind was picking up and if anything the rain was getting harder. From Dundee until Arbroath the wind was on our left hand shoulder - a cross headwind. A slight turn in the road at Arbroath and we were to have a block headwind for the rest of the way. The rest was really a blur. At some point I was aware that Norman had stopped coming through. At 55 he is a former multiple Scottish champion at both road and time trial events. I have never in 6 years of riding with Norman experienced that. Norman said afterwards that today is the hardest day of riding that he remembers - and he has been racing since before I was born!
The end didn't ever seem to come and I was getting tired. Then out of the spray I saw three other cyclists - in shorts! The relief was overwhelming. The thought of being able to sit on fresh wheels for the last 5 miles was bliss. A big thank you to David Marshall, David Scott and Craig Duncan for coming out to meet us. It was a huge help at a time of great need. Thank you.
The arrival at Johnstone House was surreal - thank you very much to everyone who came out in the rain to cheer us home. Thank you very much for the food (which was a life saver) and the hot drinks.
Report from Day 2:
It is a good sign that I have nothing but good memories of Friday!
Given the forecasts, we decided to cycle from Inverness back to Aberdeen. Setting off from the Inverness office at around 10am, Sine and John from the Inverness office joined us for the first 5 or so miles out of Inverness. After the two wished us well, we headed off into some absolutely beautiful countryside. The route saw us on small side roads all the way to Alford. The route which we finally took was: Inverness; Croy; Ferness; Dava; Grantown; Knockando; Dufftown; Cabrach; Lumsden; Alford; Aberdeen.
What on paper was supposed to be the tougher of the two days, turned out into an altogether enjoyable affair. We were never quite dry though - the frequent showers made sure of that. But at least the wind was more on our side. We also had added firepower in the group in the form of Alister Watt, a member of our team who had managed to join us for the second day with fresh legs.
After some 120 miles and 4000ft of climbing, we arrived back in Aberdeen. Again the welcome was brilliant. Thank you to everyone who came out to welcome us back, and thank you very much for the warm soup and bread which went down a treat.
The weekend also turned out to be successful for the team. Whilst I had a fever by Saturday and decided not to race on Sunday, Norman and Keith both raced, Keith winning the Aberdeen District time trial championships.
Most importantly, we have now raised close to £1,500 for Cornerstone. A big thank you to everyone who has contributed.