It's been extremely difficult to put this adventure into words, to express what it meant to me. I feel so honoured to have had the privilege to appreciate the beauty of Scotland whilst riding some of the best singletrack in the world.
Just before summer with my class I was modelling acrostic poems and had a light bulb moment (ish) What better way to try and sum up the Highland Trail 550? I'm not a writer or a poet and I do teach little ones (sorry for any grammar mistakes) but here are my thoughts of a trip back in May.
Hope and excitement as we rode out of Tyndrum in preparation for an exploration beyond our daily recognition.
Into Fort Augustus we raced for pizza, eating like wolves in the cool, chilly evening.
Gradients increased, pedals turned, trees whizzed by and at long last Oykel Bridge pub came into vision. Stop that teasing it was time for pleasing!
Hundreds of tears dripped gracefully down as goodbyes were said, a scratch for one and a grunt of determination for the other.
Looking ahead into the mist of the eerie northern loop, a lonely separation followed by an hallucination of a sea, waves, ice-cream, faces and singletrack?
An energised body and two for awhile (Nick) scrambled up and down rocky singletrack to a Loch in the fading light with welcoming campers Rob and Chris.
No more sleep! Crunching wheels on a pebble beach woke my Paddington beast and off we went for a nice cup of tea, cake, cooked breakfast... in the bustling town of Ullapool.
Dreaded COFFIN trail evaporated from my memory as solitude hours passed spent in a Fisherfield dream, encaptured by it's devilishly red causeway and mystical mountains.
Two friendly bikepackers and then more and more as we were spitted out of the claws of the Postman's path into the sunshine filled Whistle Stop cafe.
Rollercoast riding on the Torridon trails with drops, drainage bars and swooping corners. What more can you ask for Alan? I just don't know!
Affric climb sent me a little loopy with Stuart C's Jen ride song regurgitated in a breathless encore of wanting an electric bike again and again and again.
Indecisive times as a few of us sat in the bothy. Should we sleep or ride? Decision made then off as a flash until sleep drifted teasingly upon my lids whilst the brisky air seeped into my bones. It was time to sleep.
Long miles, windmills, hills and the thought of the canal dazed me as I sprawled smelling like a tramp on a bench in Fort Augustus with a Red Bull dangling aimlessly from a dirty non-compliant hand.
5 days and energy sapped yes it's time to snooze. Not again! Wheels crunching woke me from my soothing thoughts, I sprang onward and up along a thrilling ice-cream I mean trail to Kinlocheven.
5 o'clock came and went as the air cooled on the devil's staircase, definitely not a path to hell. Dusk appeared as I rolled into Tyndrum with a cheer, a beer and a tear.
0 regrets, thank you Highland Trail 2016 you gave me an inner feeling of calm and peace I'll never regret. xxx