The riders gathering before the start, waiting to be piped along Fort William High street by the local pipe band, no wonder everyone raced up the steep hill on the first stage!
The river crossing in roughly the middle of the event was one of the highlights and all thoughts of removing socks etc. were forgotten as our feet were totally soaked by that time anyway!
This sums up the rough track across the highest part of the track, lots of water, lots of bog and lots of rocks!
The race was an experience not to be missed, whether I'd ever do it again remains to be seen! The first 20 miles were relatively straightforward until we reached the descent to Kinlochleven which is just sheer madness! Whats even more impressive is the fact that quite a few of the riders actually cleaned it, I found even walking some of the sections a challenge trying to hold on to a bike. This was where Baz suffered a puncture and almost blew a gasket when the valve on his replacement tube broke in two. After we eventually managed to repair the pinch puncture in his original tube we'd lost nearly 30 minutes, but a lesson learned, always carry 2 spare tubes on a long event (and keep your cool!!)
The second half of the event was definitely the toughest, with after the river crossing, a 2 mile "hike a bike" over terrain that was difficult enough to walk over without the addition of a bloody bike as well!
The total climbing amounted to over 5400 feet with one of the highlights for me, at least, being a 3 mile descent back down a fire road at breakneck speed!
One of the final timed stages seemed to have been devised to finally finish off anyone who had survived the rest of the course but somehow we survived and looking back it must be the toughest yet..............but we DID IT!!!!!!!!!