My plan of camping higher up certainly worked with keeping the midges away, but it was a very windy night and I did not sleep that well. I was woken early with a strong sunrise, but managed to finally get to sleep again and actually slept until about 9 - which is quite late for me on this trip.
It rained quite a bit overnight, but I couldn't hang around as I was going to get the first ferry across to Berneray and onto North Uist. There was another cyclist staying at the hostel and he was getting the ferry as well. He was a retired German gentleman - he was spending a number of weeks in Scotland traveling between hostels mainly by bus (you can put your bike on a bus apparently!) and then cycling around the local areas.
Boy oh boy, was I excited when I got up this morning - I was going to St Kilda! I don't know how long I had known of St. Kilda - but it felt like somewhere I had always been aware of and this was just too good an opportunity to miss. Although it was quite expensive (£160 for the day), it really is a unique place that not many people get the chance to visit.
A great morning promising sunshine. However this of course meant the midges were out in force again. So after a quick shower, I very quickly struck camp and headed off. The fast descent into Rhenigidale meant that my first job of the morning was climbing out of there. It was tough, but not as tough as coming in (and I don't think that is just because I was fresh compared to the previous night).
Woke up to a beautiful sunny day - much better than yesterday. Sadly, the wind was back! The ride back along the B8011 was just as enjoyable as the ride in yesterday - staggering scenery. I was rather hoping that I'd have a tail wind for part of it (having battled in horrendous head winds yesterday), but it seems that the wind was not on my side and decided to give me a fight back along the road.
Awoke to pretty good weather and was itching to get out of Stornoway and into (what I hoped) would be the more remote parts of the islands. It was also a Sunday - and things are very different on a Sunday here in Lewis! There is almost universal sabbath observance here - EVERYTHING is closed. Not just shops and restaurants, but also visitor attractions etc. I was aware of this, so I had prepared myself and ensured I had enough food on the bike for the day and night.
So - here we go - my first ever big cycling and camping trip! Day 1 is a slight cheat as it also includes the previous evening and night on the Caledonian Sleeper to Inverness from London! I finished work and whizzed home to check everything was in order and then loaded up the bike and rode over to Euston. Went via St Pancras for a tasty burger for dinner and then back to Euston to get on the sleeper train. Was a first trip on the sleeper for me, so I was a little nervous about it all - but it was all great.
Coming back into London this morning, I was certainly filled with fear and trepidation - not just for all the stuff I knew would be on my desk and I have to clear before I jet off next week to the US for a conference, but for all the crazy stuff that goes on here - how busy, dirty, hectic etc. it is. My ride home certainly proved those fears. I suppose I will get into the swing of it all fairly quickly though. However, I will not forget that trip as it will live with me forever. I am looking forward to writing about it, just to remind myself of the great time I have had. I know a blog is ideally meant to be a spontaneous, stream of consciousness and here I will have to write about stuff that happenned 2 and half weeks ago - but I will do my best. I wrote a lot of notes whilst I was away - so hope I can write 'in the moment' and express my feelings at the time without anything that happenned later in the trip prejudicing that.
I will have so many photos as well to go up on my Flickr site.
It's going to take a while - so be patient!
Only found out about this through the (rather geeky)(but that suits me just fine)) BromptonTalk Yahoo group It certainly puts my little trip next week into perspective.
So, if you were planning to ride around the world, you'd probably choose some kind of expedition or touring bike from someone like Thorn , or certainly, I think I would.
This chap, however, is choosing to go around the world on a Brompton!
I was impressed the other week on the Dunwich Dynamo with people riding 120 miles on a Brompton (and secretly thinking I will do it on my Brompton next year!) - but around the world??!?!?!?
He looks to have a pretty cool set-up with a trailer etc. and a double chainring (manual) up front for the hills.
I think my biggest concern would be spares and the rough stuff. A lot of stuff on a Brompton is pretty unique - for starters, there's the wheels. If you've got a 26 inch wheeled bike - you can be almost anywhere in the world and find a tyre, a rim or even a whole new wheel. Not so easy with 16 inch wheels!
Cables are really odd on Bromptons - they have to be exact lengths (mainly because of the folding) - so I guess if he's not planning to fold it then he'll be alright.
Just to highlight the problems with spare parts, here's an article in the Financial Times stating each bike has 1200 parts of which 70% are unique to Brompton.......
And then it's going to be a question of what happens when the going gets rough? A Brompton is lovely on smooth fast tarmac. Even on London's less than smooth, rough tarmac however, things can get a little jarring and hard work! He might have a Pantour hub fitted - I do hope so, or he's going to have sore arms!
Anyway - I don't want to put him down at all - he's clearly a braver man than I and all the best of luck to him! He's writing a very complete blog at the moment and it's worth a read. I look forward to him getting further into his trip.
Have a read - all very interesting