Long distance winter UK ride - advice needed!

Discussion in 'The Bike Cafe' started by Matt84, Sep 14, 2012.

  1. Matt84

    Matt84 New Member

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    Hi everyone,

    I have had a bit of a crazy idea, and I'm looking to you who are in the know to tell me if it is just too crazy!?

    I want to cycle from London to Alness (near Inverness) in December.

    Its about 640 miles and I would like to do it over 8 days. = 80 miles per day.

    I have not done loads of cycling over the last few years but I am fit, do lots of sport and go to the gym every day.

    After a bit of research I think a 3 month training program could get my cycling fitness levels to where they need to be, and I will slowly increase distances over that 3 months.

    But there are a few factors which I am not sure about...

    80 miles in a day doesn't sound too bad, but does 80 miles per day for 8 days straight sound do-able? Would I need some rest days in between?

    Am I mad to be attempting this in December? Will the cold destroy me?

    I would be doing it by myself and staying in B+Bs along the way.

    Any advice you can give me would be gratefully received.

    Thanks in advance.

    Matt
     
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  2. swampy1970

    swampy1970 Well-Known Member

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    You're not mad...
    f**king stupid maybe. ;)

    And that was the mild version of my initial thought. /img/vbsmilies/smilies/ROTF.gif

    Winters in Scotland are a wee bit more severe than 'down south'. If you fancy the thought of 70+ mph winds and the driving rain, sleet and snow that might be coming at you from the North Sea at what feels like Mach 1 then have at it. That's if you're going the coastal route via Aberdeen. You might get lucky with the weather. There's always the route straight up the A9 through the hills but the thought of being on that road in slush when it's hovering around 0C with drunken Scots folk around Christmas is about as safe opening bars/pubs 5 hours before a Liverpool FC game.

    Why that time of year? There's some really nice riding to be done up there - but not during winter. Even in March it can be brutally cold and desolate - weather that made the stuff I used to ride in around the fells of NW England and the Peak District seem like childs play.

    If you really do go up there by yourself at that time of year, try and figure out if your cell phone provider has coverage up in the remote areas and contact someone who has knowledge of the area for advice (scottish mountain rescue) and check the weather forecast at every rest stop on route. It might seem extreme but from personal experience the weather can, and does, change brutally fast and rarely is it for the better. When it gets really bad people tend not to drive their cars. All of a sudden, 'only' 15 miles to the nearest town turns from a 40 minute ride to a question of will I become hypothermic before I see the next car? I've been that way up there in March - but I was with 5 others and the 15 minute period between seeing our VW camper van go up the road and have the weather change and then have to ride upto the van, seemed like an eternity. The driver, in the nice warm van didn't realize the temps plummeted in addition to the rain and "a bit more" wind.

    The further north you get in Scotland you start to notice that what appear to be small towns on the map are really 4 houses that were deserted during WW2. Check your route with google maps and street view or something similar.

    If you're going to go that far, you might as well go an extra few miles from Inverness to Bonar Bridge and probably the best Youth Hostel on the planet - Carbisdale Castle... but you'll likely need snow shoes in December.
     
  3. bigpedaler

    bigpedaler New Member

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    Okay, let's see....

    1. Not an experienced bike tourer.
    2. Planning on/set on 80 miles per day.
    3. Going from southern England, NORTH, deep into Scotland...in DECEMBER.

    MIGHT just be a little bit:

    [​IMG]
     
  4. CAMPYBOB

    CAMPYBOB Well-Known Member

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    ...but the thought of being on that road in slush when it's hovering around 0C with drunken Scots folk around Christmas is about as safe opening bars/pubs 5 hours before a Liverpool FC game.

    I raffed!

    The further north you get in Scotland you start to notice that what appear to be small towns on the map are really 4 houses that were deserted during WW2.

    What's the best cleaner to get Coke off a monitor screen?

    Are the Euro hostels still full of drugaholics? AYH/hostellinghas largely collapsed in my AO.



    OP...December? Really? Ima thinking you should take the train that goes under the Channel and then hop a high-speed to Lyon. Throw a leg over and head SOUTH for the Italian Med.
     
  5. swampy1970

    swampy1970 Well-Known Member

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    So,

    Was the ride done or was the body of a frozen cyclist uncovered during a snow melt.

    Campybob,

    Whilst I normally do f#$k around with some posts, that one was actually serious. The place is farking bleak and it seems as though that those folk that are responsible for updating maps have no clue about what shit is really up there. Going from Scourie to Bonar Bridge was probably the worst ride I've ever had in my life. We'd figure on 20 minutes to the next 'town' - and that would be somewhere to stop, warm up and eat, only to find out there's three houses with no windows and a hotel 900 yards down the road that doesn't serve food to non-guests. Needless to say the owner was a bit taken a-back by 9 cyclists booking one room to get lunch...

    For coke problems... Tom Boonen is your man. He's cleaned himself up from that shit it would seem.
     
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