Getting ready

Okay - everyone else is doing it - so I thought it's time to try my hand at blogging. So what on earth am I going to write about?  Well at the moment, my mind is pretty much occupied with my forthcoming trip to the Hebrides.

My plan is to cycle the length of the Outer Hebrides (the wrong way it turns out) and then travel onto Skye.

I guess I made the decision to go up there on this year's holidays about 3 months ago.  I also decided I wanted to do it by bike.  So the challenges to overcome were that my bike(s) were not really suited to touring, I had never toured before and I did not own much camping gear (as I had also decided that it would be better fun to camp!).

So, over the past three months I have spent many hundreds of pounds on lightweight camping gear, been on several weekends away to test everything and generally got used to the ideas of cycle touring.  Luckily I didn't have the room (or money!) for another bike as I would prefer something a little more flexible.  I am using a Cannondale Bad Boy 8 and it is a great bike.  However, it is greatest around town as it's stiff and light and very nimble (especially with 23mm Continental Grand Prix 4 Seasons on).  As it is the only bike I have that would work for the trip (my Brompton really wouldn't be ideal!), then I have had to adapt it to the purpose as best as I can.  I've added a rear rack, Schwalbe Marathons and (for this trip at least) lowered the gearing with a larger rear sprocket.

Cannondale Bad Boy loaded up

So, I am now a week away from going and I am pretty much ready (and really looking forward to it all).

I get the sleeper train to Inverness next Thursday night, wake up Friday morning and I am off.  The rough plan is:

  • Day 1 - Inverness to Ullapool - looks pretty hilly and a long day at 60 miles
  • Day 2 - Ferry over to Stornoway - look around the town etc.
  • Day 3 - Up to the Butt of Lewis and back down to Shawbost - about 50 miles
  • Day 4 - Down to Kneep - get to see the Carloway Broch and Callinish Stones (can't wait!) - 32 miles
  • Day 5 - Down to Rhenigdale - 52 miles
  • Day 6 - Rhenigdale to Leverburgh - 31 miles
  • Day 7 - This will hopefully be a highlight of the trip - if the weather is good, I will be going across to St. Kilda - this island looks truly amazing and I am very much hoping this happens.
  • Day 8 - get the ferry over to North Uist, staying at Rushgarry - but will cycle around the island (about 45 miles)
  • Day 9 - Rushgarry to Howmore - 40 miles
  • Day 10 - down to Erisky and then the Ferry onto Barra
  • Day 11 - Explore Barra and Vatersay
  • Day 12 - back onto the mainland - ferry accross to Oban and then staying about 25 miles up the road to Fort William
  • Day 13 - Ride to Fort WIllam and meet my girlfriend.

From here, plans are still a little in the air - but essentially, 5 days on Skye where I will also hopefully meet up with my brother and his girlfriend.

So that is the plan - let's see how the reality works out!