Monday, 12 July 2010

Day 1 - John O'Groats -> Dornoch

Knitwits Yarns

We had an impossibly slow internet connection last night in Dornoch so I'm writing this on the side of the A9 on Monday morning.

Yesterday dawned grey and damp in JOG (I think the Scots describe is as "dreech" or something like that - Marvin will correct me if I'm wrong) - not the kind of weather we'd hoped for but, hey ho, nothing could be done about that so we ate the full Scottish breakfast (we'd spent the night in the Seaview Hotel, not the van - last night/first night treat, which ever way you want to look at it). Then we motored down to the start - which isn't the most salubrious spot in the world, it has to be said!

Whilst the boys fiddled with bits of bikes, tyres, water bottles etc, I cast on:

and then we set off to the official start line:

check out the truly hideous building in the background! Come on Tourism Scotland (or whomever) - surely you can do better than that! Then the knitting had to have its official photograph taken:

(the alert amongst you will note the Cornish colours of black and gold)
and then there was me:

and then we headed to the signpost but it was too early and no-one was there to put the signs up! Can only assume they don't leave them up as they'd be nicked (you can just make out the Orkneys in the background):

and then they were off and I sat and did some knitting and then sorted out the van and had to turn the fridge off gas and on to engine battery. We weren't sure how effective the gas fridge would be but I discovered that it's actually very effective indeed. So effective that, if you leave 4 cans of coke in the freezer department overnight this happens:

Yes, that is Coke cans quite literally exploded. So, whilst I sorted out that little mess the sun had, amazingly, come out (definitely not in the forecast) and the boys were cycling on:

This was taken by FB on the move!

T in motion!

There was one particularly hideous hill which we'd noted the day before so we agreed to meet at the top of it. The poor old camper even struggled to the top and this is what FB looked like as he came in:

To be honest, FB didn't really want that photo included but I said it's important for people to realise just how difficult this really is. If we only have photos of happy, smiling cyclists bombing along, everyone will think it's a doddle - which it isn't!

So far we've met two other sets of people doing it - a bunch of 8 lads from Lymington Rowing Club who I met at the top of that nasty hill and a couple on a tandem who are either "The Blonde and the Blind" or "The Blind and the Blonde" - we can't remember which but you can check them out on-line too as they're doing a daily blog as well and were on Radio 4 recently. The guy on the back of the tandem is blind and the girl/lady on the front is the blonde - they're raising money for blind children. All the men in our party declared her to be fit and hot - I have no idea what that means.

After lunch and that hideous hill, things deteriorated horribly as the wind suddenly blew up. I don't know how strong it was but it was certainly gusting up to 100mph. I met the boys on a bridge and they were, literally, crawling along on their hands and knees as they were terrified they were going to get blown off. Poor T did get blown right over at one point (as G kindly put it - he kissed the tarmac!) and was really quite shaken as he didn't even have time to un-cleat but was vertical one moment and horizontal the next. He's OK but it was very, very hairy and everyone was praying that the wind died down for today - which it has.

The scenery was glorious though:

We spent the night in Dornoch, which is a very pretty town right by the beach and the lovely campsite owners deducted £5.00 off the price when they realised who we are cycling for. Too windy for a bbq so we cooked in the van which was very, very cosy. Not sure how 6 people in here would manage!

On the knitting front, I've now finished the first ball of wool! I had my usual panic of whether I was going to run out of wool or not but one ball knitted about 12" and the front/back of the sweater is about double that so I reckon I should be using 8 balls and I have 10 - panic over. Today I start the slow, coloured and moss stitch bit - oh dear.

Today we're heading for Loch Ness and will be keeping a constant eye out for monsters.


  1. Thanks for posting! Big congratulations on getting through the first day, both the boys' team and the knitting fairy :-) Keep going, it is tough but we're rooting for you all!

  2. Well done all of you! There is nooooooo way I would even get on a bike, let alone cycle all that way so I really do take my hat off to the boys! Keep up the excellent support work Julia ;)

  3. I am just loving reading your blog Jules, I think you should publish it on
    your return to Kernow. Well done all of you and we just hope you have
    some good weather up there for the next leg.

    Keep up the good work and trust the bums are not too sore.

    Love and best wishes, Jill Marv et al xx

  4. That horrendous hill is Berriedale Braes - the most worrying thing about it is the number of signs telling you are told to check your brakes.

  5. Considering I am setting off to do the same thing in only a week the whole thing is terrifying. Am now packing plastic bags, thermals and, possibly, wellies. Sun cream has been chucked out. I will keep a careful look out for dead foxes.
    But ... well done, it can only get better.
    Keep pedaling and keep knitting, I'm wondering if I should have opted for the latter rather than the former.