Right, where do we start? What a day... Ok, well maybe it is best I start at the end... dum, dum, dum... We did make it to Braemar – so however bad it sounds, we did make it, alright? You got me? Good! Now back to the beginning ……
We woke up in high spirits, to proper porridge (you add the milk after) and went to the Town Centre. We picked up an RAF Physical Training Instructor called Andy and the senior endurance cyclist David (Both joining us thanks to Colin. Thanks, again Colin). Literally 50 metres into the day a lady called Anna hopped on – it is so lovely that people just decide to drop everything and join us for an adventure into the unknown.
It was after about 3 or 4 miles that the bracket holding up the universal joint started to rattle (I know I sound like Terry Pratchet but this is serious mechanical language). We popped a ratchet on it, used a tin can to cover the sharp edges, and applied actual medical bandages. This kept her steady up some very sharp, very quick 1:5 hills (that is a 20% gradient to you and me) out of the Bridge of Brown; it was at this point that I nearly died, but I saw no white light, no long tunnel, only a pick-up truck with 3 RAF personal who had heard the call for help from Colin and threw their hats into the ring – we were saved!
Expert cyclist David thought it was best to sort out the loose bracket before the whole thing fell apart. He called some welder’s he knew and we headed a few long, clanky miles to Tomatuil where Miss CoBi had the first of the days many ‘once overs’ from Charlie Skeen. Now ‘fixed’ we began heading for the Lecht - Scotland’s highest ski resort. I think everyone felt nervous, David took on the role of Meryl Streep in ‘River Wild’ and talked us through the terrain. My stomach lurched, and so did Ed’s, so we took 2 rolls of loo roll and went for a poo in the woods, I think we are well and truly bonded for life now. If I had lost all but one finger in a freak cycling accident, then I could count on one hand the number of people I have shat in the woods with.
Then we began the climb – this was serious stuff, we were actually taking 200kg of bike up to a ski slope using only our legs and the powers of our mind. Just as we were about the reach the summit, and I am talking only about 10 metres away, the bracket which had been worrying us all day snapped off and the universal chain buckled. We had to get off and push.
This could have been a disaster for the trip. But luckily remote ski slopes need welders, and we found just our man, Nick. He yanked Miss CoBi up with a chain (she likes the kinky stuff) and he grinded her, screwed her and welded her. I began popping Diacalm for my stomach; it was full of morphine and made me feel much more optimistic.
Once we got Miss CoBi on the road she seemed like a new woman. My god she went well, and as we came off the Lecht, no word of a lie, we got her up to 40mph. We thought that was it, the worst over, but for the next three ours we climbed and fell more times than an arthritic monkey. By 4pm we were only just over half-way... Would we make it to Braemar (well you know we did because I told you at the beginning, which was actually the end before the beginning).
At last we came out of the hills and onto what senior cyclist David called the long 9 miles into Braemar. It was long, very long, and it was flat, very flat. David started performing Pete and Dudd sketches, and I sang Monty Python songs. This spurred everyone on to the finish, so we would shut up.
The 2 mile gap between the welcome sign for Breamar and the centre of Breamar demonstrated how the Scots like to take the p**s! We were welcomed by a piper (this is actually true and there are pictures and a video to prove it).
We said goodbye to the RAF guys and girls, and bowed before cycling legend David (Who, it must be remembered, is going to be cycling 400km on Saturday). We then met Stewart and Derek the next day’s riders – sometimes it is as if we have 100’s of Dr Who’s regenerating everyday... One rider turns into another and so on.
We camped in the tourist information centre’s garden. Sometimes you just have to set-up your tent and sleep.