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Day Eleven – Martin’s Challenge

The day began with a 2 mile climb from right outside the front door of the b&b. We both could still feel last night’s climbs in our legs.

We saw the construction of new power lines going on where the helicopter work of draping the cables along the new pylons was very impressive. The climbing went on and on though and, to be honest, when we finally reached the A9 after 25 miles with still 55+ to go I think we were the most tired / daunted we had been for the whole trip.

That continued for a while as we travelled along a very average A9 cycle route but once we reached the summit at Druimuachdar things started to improve. Most notably at Dalwhinnie where Andrew’s brother Martin and his family met us for lunch again. Many thanks to them once again. The cafe had a dart board which could not be ignored, with game shot and the first (& only) leg going to Rayner! We then had a great run all the way to Aviemore where the 5th and final gold post box photo shoot took place.

But all that was just a prelude to the luckiest part of the whole trip. With still about 12-15 miles left in the day, my right pedal just broke away from its mount (this wasn’t even the pedal I had had trouble with earlier in the trip). Fixing it was not an option, so given that we were in the middle of nowhere. I decided to just crack on with one pedal and a small stump on the other side. I got a bit of rhythm going but it was going to be a slow slog until, following the unlucky break of the pedal, we had the greatest of lucky breaks when we went past a b&b that also advertised cycle hire & REPAIRS.

It was gone 6.30 by this time but the guy stepped up for us and sorted two new pedals and fitted them for me complete with reapplying the toe clips. He was quite a character and following his extensive bicycle questioning we can’t really believe we have made it this far with our poor knowledge of all thing bike!!!

Anyway he saved the day and we did the last 10 miles of so to the b&b. A quick mention to Mark Woodward from Bury who is staying at the same b&b tonight and tomorrow for some final leg moral support – oh and he is playing some Scottish golf too!!

Weather looks ok for tomorrow but the rain is threatening to move in before we finish. John O’ Groats looks quite near on the weather map now but we still have the equivalent of most of the way from Manchester to London to go.