The air was cold rolling down the road out of Tyndrum. The Highland Trail Race was done, but the riding wasn’t over until I’d got myself back to Ewich House. Having the prospect of a bed for the night was useful incentive to finish the race that evening.
I was too late for food in Tyndrum so had to make do with what I had left in my bags and whatever I could scavenge from the car. Half a packet of crisps, two pieces of stale malt loaf, one flapjack and a large supermarket cookie. Not quite the reward I was hoping for, but together with 120g of Torq Recovery powder, it was going to have to do.
In the bathroom, I stripped out of my cycling kit and inspected the wounds sustained from my crash: two grazed ribs, a skinned elbow and a large bruise appearing on my right hip. The pile of clothes on the floor appeared to be moving, resembling a seething mass of something alive. Back in the bedroom, the curtains appeared to flutter as if moved by a breeze from the window. More hallucinations. It was time for bed.
7:00am appeared to come around in an instant. No chance of getting back to sleep. I was too hungry for that. A long shower and set of clean clothes later and I was ready for breakfast. Tired legs and stiff joints were eased down the stairs and into the dining room. A bowl of cereal, a serving of yoghurt, and a bowl of fruit salad for starters. Ian appeared from the kitchen to congratulate me on the ride and bring me a cafetierre of coffee. He paused to say he hadn’t brought the breakfast menu, but before he could go and retrieve one I said
I’ll have everything
I had another bowl of cereal while I was waiting. A Full Scottish Breakfast appeared, and after a full four days of Full Scottish Riding it seemed the fitting culinary conclusion I was looking for.
With breakfast nearly done, I munched on three pieces of toast while I checked in on Twitter and looked to see the whereabouts of the people still racing. Aidan had come in 11 hours ahead of me, but despite that I was still so unbelievably chuffed to be second home. I’d preserved my 1 hour gap ahead of Alan Sheldon. Forth place was still undecided, but Rob Wixey was coming over the top of the Devil’s Staircase and would be in by about 10:30am. I finished up my coffee and gathered my kit together to go up and meet him.
The sun shone brilliantly in Tyndrum as a very weary Rob crossed the line. The smile on his face said it all. The elation of finishing, followed by the surprise to learn he was forth back. We rolled down to the Real Food Cafe just as it opened. Another cup of a coffee, a piece of cake and not one, but two small tubs of ice cream. The body craves what the body craves, and who was I to argue?
We chatted for a bit about various parts of course. It was Rob’s light I’d seen descending into Fisherfield at the end of Day 2. He’d stayed in the Shenevall bothy before attempting the river crossing in the morning. With the rain that had fallen between 2:00 and 6:00am that morning, what was a thigh deep crossing for me was a well over waist deep crossing for Rob. We concluded that this was by far the toughest and most sustained ride we’d ever done, and almost anything else was going to seem easy by comparison.