May 19th 2006 - Day01

Wick - John O'Groats - Helmsdale

Route - A9

Approximate Mileage - 73 miles

It's official, everyone in Wick is two foot tall and cannot sing. We went out last night and found a karaoke bar where everyone in there was no taller than 5 foot and all looked very similar!

Today has been more eventful than the train journey. I had a couple of disturbing moments starting with the first at 5am when I slowly opened my eyes only to see Keith staring back at me. The next came when Keith decided to let us know that he had only brought 1 pair of underpants with him. Hmmm, not looking forward to seeing the swarm of flies around his bum.

After a hearty breakfast we set off on our way to the start line. Just 18 miles to go. We left our bags at the bed and breakfast so we could have an easy ride there and back. We had pics taken and sent some post cards, then set off back to Wick. By now we are starting to get worried about Keith and his affection for sheep, we have given him the nickname shepherd!

When we got back to Wick we loaded up our bikes set off for the second half of the first day's ride and could really feel the difference with the extra weight. Just on our way out of Wick I spotted my favourite place name so far, Hill o' Many Stanes.

Whoever said that this route was flat was a fool. The wind started to pick up and every hill was steeper than the last. Not what you want with 2 stone extra on the back of your bike. The worst hill was a very long 13 percent gradient. No steeper than our training rides but it was very, very long.

Well after several more ups and just as many down's we finally came to the last hill of the day. Looking down into Helmsdale the views were fantastic. We stopped a few times to take some pics but when we had to get back on the bikes, although the bums and groins were telling us not too. There was a huge decent into Helmsdale. Got up to 37 mph but had to break for a corner.

We are staying in a really nice B&B tonight and we are looking forward to breakfast. It sounds awesome. I'm definitely off to bed early tonight. Enjoy the pics.