Stomaching Assynt

From Durness I headed south. After that fierce west wind during the last days, I believed, I would have it easier from now on. How very wrong I was. No matter which turn the road took, the wind always came up front. I felt really mad. Additionally, I did not feel well. Stomach ache, weak legs and a queasy feeling in the abdomen. At first, I believed, that my second pint the night before, had been the one pint too much. But it quickly became evident, that this was not the case. There was something wrong with my water. Whenever I took a sip, my stomach cramped up even worse and I felt sick. I had already quit lunch, as I did not feel up for eating, and now I had to stop drinking as well. Without being able to eat or drink properly, I called it a day after 50km, and set up camp in Scourie early afternoon. I had just laid down for a nap when it started to pour down. Good for me I had set up camp so early.

©IRo
Campsite in Scourie

After a two hours sleeep I felt fit enough to try out the camp’s bistro. Most Scottish campsites don’t come with kitchens (I was clearly still spoiled from Norway, where the camp sites almost always come with fully equipped kitchens) and I would have no chance of preparing myself a tea in this rain. I got lucky, though, as the bistro not only had chamomile tea but also served a hot vegetable carrot soup that night.

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Loch Unapool

It had rained hard throughout the night, but fortunately cleared up in the morning. After a meagre breakfast of half a dry toast and chamomile tea, my stomach still feeling upset, but continued nonetheless. I had planned to take the more scenic coastal route on B869 to Lochinver and was encouraged to do so by some fellow cyclists I had met earlier on. Altough they had complained about some steep climbs, they had emphasised its beauty, so I figured I’d give it a try.

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Loch Unapool

The road was very beautiful indeed, but I hardly appreciated it while sweating, puffing and cursing my way along it. I truly had not signed up for murderous ascends of up to 25% elevation. Funnily enough, these were only signposted for descending; a forewarning at the bottom would have been rather more helpful. Nevertheless, these climbs were NOT manageable with a fully loaded bike, although admittedly, I tried at first (and almost fell off). Thus, I was left with no other alternative than to get off and push. But, mind you, pushing almost 60kg uphill is no fun either. It’s actually worse than cycling. After an hour I had progressed only 5km, and I knew that this stretch would still continue for more than four times as long. With a look at the time I decided to turn around.

©IRoAn hour later I was back at the same junction from where I had started out two hours ago, my legs like jelly, my stomach queasy and all energy spent. What a waste of time and energy. Lochinver, my today’s destination, was still over 25km and who knows how much upwards elevation away. The next mountain pass was already looming large right ahead of me and I felt I could not put in another pedal stroke. Halfheartedly I held out my thumb, trying to get a lift. But with my bike and all the packs, it would have been a long shot to find someone to be able and willing take me along. Sure enough, the two cars that had passed me during the last twenty minutes had not stopped.

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Mountain road

Then I saw another cyclist slowly moving up the road. It was Frederik, a German cyclist I had met two days ago up north. He took pity on me and suggested to tag me along, making it easier to do the ascend together. He was very persuasive and so I took him up on his offer. We set off and together we slowly ascended the ramp up to the pass. I tailed him all the way over the plateau and slowly found my rhythm again as I reached Loch Assynt on the other side. It was still over 18km to Lochinver and I groaned at the sight of each climb. Survival mode kicked in, freeing the hidden energy reserve that is stored deep inside me. Cycling on autopilot I finally reached Lochinver.

©IRo
Loch Assynt
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