It’s Not All About the Bike Part III

22nd May was the 19th Nairnshire Challenge but I’d only heard about it last year.   It’s a duathlon – 10 mile run / walk and 20 mile bike ride (or so I thought).   Julie who I’d met on the way home from Tiree had told me about it – sounded like good fun and not too far from my parents so I could visit them at the same time.

I’d previously taken part in the Highland Cross a few years ago – 20 mile run / walk and 30 miles on the bike – both events are similar in that they are a trail / hilly run and the bike ride is on road – the Nairnshire Challenge is just shorter and therefore easier,  I thought!!

I camped in Nairn to make it easier to get to the start in the morning – sleep was interrupted though by the scary German bikers (ask my Mum) camped beside me – if they could scare by snoring these guys could!


I walked the 3 miles into Nairn,   dumped my rucksack and tent,  etc and registered before getting on the bus that took us to the start.   A wee bit chilly when we got off the bus,  then the sun broke through,  then it threatened to rain – jackets were on and off and back on again before the race had even began.

Finally we were off – I thought I’d be able to run the whole “10” miles but not a hope – the first 3.5 miles is uphill and undulates after this.   You start at the 30 mile mark and the markers go down as you run and cycle – I actually prefer this – psychologically it seems to help – well it did until I got to the 20 mile marker – ie I’d run 10 miles and there were no bikes and more running to do – another 2 miles more running before we got to the transition point – the challenge as it turns out is 12 miles walk / run and 18 miles on the bike.

The bike section is tough – more uphill which I’d been warned about – you think you have got over the hardest section but then it goes uphill again and for the first time ever I took cramp while cycling – and boy was it sore – I couldn’t move my left leg – I was trying to pedal with my right leg and keep my left leg extended out to the side – this does not make for good cycling – luckily it sorted itself out as quick as it came on and pedalling with both legs resumed.

I find it easier to judge how long it will take to do a road run but not a hilly trail run,  especially when I’ve not done it before.   The bike ride can vary hugely as well,  especially if it is windy.   I had a guesstimate of getting to the finish line in 4 to 4.25 hours,  so I was really chuffed when I got to the finish line in 3 hours,  32 mins and 25 seconds – but disappointed that my parents weren’t there to see me as they were still driving to the finish – I’ll need to make a better guesstimate next time.



Would I have got a better time if I’d had a better nights sleep and / or not walked the 3 miles to the start?   Who know’s but will find out next time – not next year but definitely will be doing the Nairnshire Challenge again.

Would thoroughly recommend this event – really well organised and fantastic support from all the marshals and volunteers.

What’s In the Name of My Blog Title??

Things mostly go to plan,  possibly more by good luck rather than good management  – more like a kind of by the seat of my pants / kind of wing it and hope for the best kind of planning but usually it all falls into place.

But things do go wrong and normally classically so – to the extent an old work colleague used to call me Ditsy.

So Thursday evening kind of gives a clue to the title of my blog and the sort of things that go wrong.

I made it to work by bike as usual on Thursday morning and managed to get there with everything I needed for the weekend – one pannier full of stuff;  one rucksack containing, amongst other things,  a tent,  sleeping bag,  sleeping mat and spare clothes;  and my handbag with train tickets inside – it’s not the first time I’ve forgotten the tickets – and losing my passport is another story altogether.   I was heading up North to Dingwall  by train straight after work, staying at my parents on the Thursday and Friday night and then camping at Nairn on the Saturday night.

I left work on time,  which is almost a miracle in itself;  caught the train to Perth where I then changed onto the Inverness train – all going well so far.   The train into Inverness was a little late but they had held back the connection to Dingwall so this wasn’t a problem.

The train to Dingwall largely follows the shores of the Beauly Firth and I was enjoying the views as the sun was going.   As we approached Dingwall I started to gather my stuff together – well 3/4’s of it – the rucksack,  bike and handbag – but no pannier!   I didn’t even look for it – I knew straight away that it wasn’t with me – it was still on the Inverness train – oops – mega oops – pannier and contents are needed for the duathlon I’m doing on Sunday!!

Dad was waiting on the platform,  with arms out to give me a welcoming hug – I didn’t reciprocate – I launched my bike at him with instructions to hold it,  while I ran to the other end of the train to explain my situation to the guard and get a phone number for lost property before my pannier is sent back to Perth or worse – the main office in Glasgow.

After a few phonecalls,  alls well that ends well and the pannier is safe and well in Inverness and being looked after until I collect it the following day.

Once collected Mum asked how I could have forgotten something that big – “If you’ve forgotten something you don’t know to go looking for it” was my logical (I think?) response – the size wasn’t relevant.

It’s Not All About the Bike part II

P1180196 (1024x767)
Thank you Sharon for great photos

Last Wednesday evening saw me huffing and puffing up Dumyat – this time as part of Dumyat Hill Race – it’s been on the tick list for a number of years but either sense has prevailed or I’ve not been around to it – this time sense didn’t prevail,  I didn’t have an excuse not to do it and I’d already coughed up the grand total of £7.10 to enter,  so needs must and all that.

It was a beautiful warm day and I was already sweating by the time I cycled to the start point at the University – was this really a good idea.   However I’d got there in plenty of time and by the time the race headed off it was a perfect temperature for running.

Before entering I checked out the slowest times from the previous year – I believe it was someone dressed up as a minion –  they took 1hr and 51min – based on this I knew I wouldn’t be last unless something went very badly wrong!  I also knew I wouldn’t be first – the fastest time stands at an incredible 32 min and 23 sec!

Dumyat is a great wee hill and only 4 miles from my house so I regularly cycle out to Logie Kirk,  abandon the bike,  and walk or run up it – usually a mix of both.   The route I take is about 1/2 a mile short of the race route and I’ve got it down to just under 1 hr and 4 minutes so I’d reckon I’d be all right on the night.

As you can tell there are some (in fact lots) of incredibly fast hill runners doing this race – by the time I’m about 3/4’s of the way up they are already flying back down towards the finish line – they must have nerves of steel.

Well I huffed and puffed up and teetered back down and made it in 1hr, 7 mins and 2 secs and hope to do it again next year – and all good practice for the Nairnshire Challenge (duathlon) next week.

I was back up Dumyat yesterday – took a slower pace and got a few photos on the way up and a nice blether with a couple at the top.



It’s Not All About the Bike

The last weekend in April / beginning of May saw me in Applecross with the Ochils Mountaineering Club (OMC).

I hired a car for the weekend so that I could visit my folks on the way there (aka Dinner, Bed and Breakfast) and it meant that I could bring my bike with me.

Weather permitting I was hoping to cycle the Bealach Beag route one day and follow the route of the Applecross Duathlon another – depending on weather and how the legs were faring would determine what I did on the last day, before heading home.   The forecast leading up to the weekend was for snow and wasn’t looking too promising – not having driven at all this year I was a little concerned that I wouldn’t even make it to Applecross!

It snowed heavily over the tops on Thursday night but getting to Applecross posed no problems – I loved the drive and the views were stunning.

View from the top of the Bealach-na-Ba

I was first to arrive at the hostel and had pick of the rooms and time to get my stuff sorted before I headed out on the bike.   I’ve done the Bealach Beag route twice now but I’ve never managed to cycle the last section of the Bealach-na-Ba – both times I’ve had to push the bike up the top third.   This time I was doing it anti-clockwise and would descend the Bealach-na-Ba (if I got to the top in the first place) – the incline is meant to be a little bit easier this way round and the wind direction is more likely to be with you.   I was already planting doubt in my own mind though – was I strong enough,  did I have enough time,  would the weather change,  would my hands be warm enough,  etc,  etc – it’s not enough to have the legs,  you need the right mindset as well to get up this beast and I didn’t have either.   It started off grand and I was enjoying the ride,  taking it slow and steady and I was making good progress.   I had to stop for a couple of breathers though.   I made it to about 3/4 of the way up and had to stop again – I had a couple of goes to get going again but unless you have really good bike control,  on this kind of incline,  it’s almost impossible to get going.   I could have pushed the bike to the top but didn’t want to do this – not again!   One day I will make it to the top with purely pedal power – maybe I need to move Applecross to train???   Anyway I still enjoyed what I did and the downhill was great!


Saturday morning the weather was more mixed.   I’d come across the Applecross Duathlon completely by accident a few Septembers ago – cycling north from Applecross  towards Kenmore I’d started seeing some of the cyclist with their race numbers, coming towards us – the wind was with us at this point but the duathlon riders had a fight on their hands going into the headwinds – ever since then I’ve wanted to take part but I’ve never been in the right place at the right time so I decided to give it a bash myself this weekend. I drove to Arinacrinachd (Arrina) and left the bike there,  returned to the hostel where I had an extra breakfast and changed into something more waterproof (having driven back in a few showers).    The run section starts pretty much outside the hostel and follows the Kenmore Path – it starts quite gently on a good track,  before narrowing and gaining height quite quickly, passing a wee gorge – it plateaus out from here and isn’t the most exciting of views but a few miles later on you gain some more height and the views again – the descent to Kenmore is great,  not too steep and views all the way – the final mile is on the road back to Arinacrinachd and this is toughest bit of the run.   Thoroughly enjoyed the run and feeling quite chuffed that I have actually made it the right place and that my bike is there waiting for me.   The bike ride back to the hostel is tough (but worth it for the views) – I flew down the first downhill and stupidly thought I would be back at the hostel in no time – I’d forgotten about the headwinds!!   The road snakes out in front of you – the wind varying as you go along but mostly against you – at times pedalling furiously downhill to keep momentum – luckily not too many side winds though!  All in all a good day out – one I would definitely do again and should hopefully stand me in good stead for the Nairnshire Challenge duathlon that I’m doing in a few weeks time.

Sunday started off mixed again.   The previous day OMC friends had walked from Upper Toscaig to Uags Bothy – all had raved about the walk,  the bothy and the views of and  from the Bothy so this is what I did on Sunday.   Instead though I left the car a little further away at the jetty at Toscaig – this was a navigational error on my part but so glad I did as I was lucky enough to see an otter from the jetty.   If you are not already bored here is a link to a wee article I did for the OMC newsletter about my walk to the bothy.

Uags Bothy

A great weekend cycling,  running and walking – oh and can’t miss out great food and company in the Applecross Inn.