Monday, 16 June 2008

Day 14 – Dunkeld to Dalwhinnie 47 miles – Mutiny on the Bike

Sunday 15th – Father’s Day. It was a mutinous day and the first genuine challenge to Jonathan as ‘Supreme Bike Commander’. It took some delicate negotiations. The team had now realised that Jonathan’s positive approach and unrelenting upbeat attitude was wearing thin...Tony now recognised that Jonny’s ‘spin’ was the chosen method of managing the team. Regardless of the distance still to be chewed according to Jonathan it was still ‘not far lads we will have this bad boy cracked in no time’...The team had seen through the presentational front; their patience had now run out!
Breakfast was superb, delivered in the Army cookhouse. We were so fortunate, a typical full fat boy’s breakfast was to prepare us for our day’s cycle. Bike was prepped, vehicle was packed and the route entered into the support vehicle GPS. Ali took the team on their warm up before departing the TA Centre. What a top stop over, WO1 Wallace, WO2 Biggar and Sgt McGowan were fantastic. The food was outstanding – thanks fellas, if your reading this – your support was very much appreciated.

The cycling was tough going and almost deceptive. Looking at the road it seemed to be a descent yet the whole day it felt as if we were pulling ships chains or cycling through treacle. Every turn of the pedals was an incredible effort. One begins to think that someone is not pulling their weight. Those who crack a gag or say something, if they don’t sound out of breath one immediately considers that they are slacking. Ali’s leg was better but still recovering. His morale had improved but the suspended leg on the bike was a distraction to the team as the bike pulsed forward and back. Tony shared the driving effort with Ali. Both lads are top drivers. It is an exhausting job and the most demanding position on the bike. The pressure on the arms and hands is considerable and requires the team to pull into a lay-by every 10-15 miles.

The scenery was yet again outstanding. The air seems so clear and fresh; colours so crisp. You can’t help but feel healthier here. We were now entering the proper highlands. Tony clearly had some mental block about this...’Fellas, are we actually in the Highlands?’ Jonathan replied ‘Yes Tony we’re been in then for the last day or so’...we suddenly passed the ‘Welcome to the Highland’s sign’ Jonathan spin had been yet again exposed! Mutiny was stirring on the SS Sheila...

Mother phoned her boys as we pulled into a lay-by allowing the lads to pass on their regards to Daddy Reg on Father’s Day. The hills did not stop, progress was extremely slow and the team was tiring. Jonathan’s increasing frustration on the ‘requested bike stops’ was becoming more evident. He would continually attempt to push the bike – that little bit further. Patience was running was only a matter of time. Meanwhile more road kills were logged with the team cataloguing possibly the trip winner...’Bambie’ whose rear end had been hit. Ali scrutinised it with relish, visually dissecting it..hmm nice.

Yet another lay-by stop to relieve the driver’s arms and hands and some immaturity with a Layby 69 sign. Jonathan burst into life. ‘Ok Tony I’m going to have a go at driving...I’m mean how hard can it be?’ Tony and Ali looked at each other. [Comment consider that these fellas had been driving this bike for approx 3 months now and yet Jonathan considered he could pick it up in a flash on the A9 – Road of death!] Ali exploded ‘Jonny now way mate, I’m seriously not happy with this, you will get us killed...just now way’ Jonny replied...’Just listen to yourself mate, such an old woman, just get on the bloody bike and lets go’ Tony..’Jonny I’m sort of agreeing with Ali, Its not easy mate!’ An emotion filled exchange lasted another couple of minutes until Ali agreed to get back on the bike. Jonathan was about to assume the task not only of Supreme Commander and driver! Ok lads...3 – 2 – 1 go, the bike slued to the left, then the right the team hung on, the end of the lay-by approached. Suddenly the brakes were jammed on bringing the bike to an abrupt halt. An ashen looking Jonathan turned to the rest the team ‘Lads I was proper freaked by that!’ Tony get your arse into this seat’ The team burst into relief filled laughter. Jonathan’s driving experience had lasted all of 15 metres...Both Ali and Tony were delighted. They were the true drivers. ‘Jonny stick to reading your map mate’ the team pressed on. Mutiny had been avoided but thankfully before we all became a picture of Road Kill. Tony chucked to himself for over 10 miles. He had forgotten the pain in his hands – he was amused and privately indulged himself in another chuckle. Jonathan remained quiet for some time...

At 1430 hrs we pulled into Dalwhinnie (twinned with Las Vegas) and into the Inn Hotel. What a fantastic hotel, it had a cult almost iconic feel about the place. The team made a beeline for the huge leather sofas in the centre of the room. Everything about this place was great, the music, the staff, the surrounds and top beer and food. We met Ian the local game keeper, who looks after 23,000 hectares of estate (mainly deer with some pheasant). He told us main a tale of when he has the military to go shooting ‘Bloody rubbish shots, even those specialist ones especially in their mustard and red trousers.’ He was a top guy who gave us £10 for our charities; after a pint he left. [Thanks Ian] The lads settled in, yet Jonathan was aware that our intended daily destination was Kingussie approx 15 miles up the road. Ali can only be described as ‘hyper’ ‘lads do you realise where we are..Dallwhinnie – home of the famous whiskey’ It was great to see him like that after some days that he has been very down. The boys settled into their large sofas, their eyes and legs got heavy. Once again mutiny was in the air, extracting the team from here and onto the bike would be one hell of a leadership challenge.

Meanwhile we met Amy (Student from Glasgow studying Psychology and Computing) she had arrived 3 hours earlier and had just started her summer job. She is seen here using a ewbank (wow last seen in the 70s]. She and the rest of the staff (Adidale from France) were so friendly. Ali looked at Jonathan, ‘Hey mate what is the chance of staying here tonight?’ Jonathan realising that he was looking down the barrel of bike mutiny agreed to ‘see what he could do’ He had a chat with Calam (the owner) and Tracey who were planned a huge music festival for next week. What a top fella – Calam agreed to put the whole team up in one of their 5 bedded family rooms for £15! [It should have been £35 per head] He might have ralised that these UK Record breaking team like put some money behind the bar...and he was right.
The afternoon was one of those opportunistic moments that will go down in tour history books. The beer flowed and we had such a laugh. This was what the end2end was all about. We raised a glass of beer to Dad (The Ox) on this Father’s Day, he would be proud to see his lads now; he would have loved this. With the team now accommodated, Jonathan completed yesterday’s blog and Ali sorted his knee out. The rest of the afternoon was a blur! We met a lovely couple Barbara and David who now live in Glasgow but looking to settle in the East of Scotland. He was a Vietnam vet...with the whitest of Father Christmas beards. Tony and Barbara discussed their shared passion for genealogy!
At 1020 hrs the bar was shut and the staff settled in for a drink we got chucked out and ended up residing in the hotel reception. Top night but tomorrow we will have to make up the lost ground, with or without a hangover.

What a great day, Inverness here we come!

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