Scottish 4000ers attempt on bike and foot
25th June 2010
Sam Hesling

Thursday. 21:45, Spean Bridge, head swimming with thoughts of tomorrow. 22:25 Bike stashed in woods by Nevis Range, midge hell, lift hitched with Spanish Gas Gas motorcross team to Fort Bill. 00:30 Walk up Glen Nevis complete via chip shop in Fort Bill, stomach full, happy. 03:30 Open eyes, broad daylight, panic, must have slept in, look at watch, close eyes. 04:00 Alarm sounds, out of sleeping bag, things packed, go.

04:15 Hit the path, altimeter set, head still fast asleep. Start the clock.

01:15, Ben Nevis, vis only a few meters, head off summit. 01:27, two near tumbles off north face, on Carn Mor Dearg arrete. Running slow, tackle ridge direct, scrambling awesome. Run off CMD slow. Hit coll, climb, hit Aonach Beag, hit Aonach Mor, going fast. Head due North, don't deviate, hit ski runs.

03:28, mountain bike red run decent, ridiculously quick running. Cycling gear on, grinning ear to ear, wolf down food, hit road. Cycling tough, not enough training, straining to make pedals turn, maintain pace, forehead creased with effort, don't give in. No wind, mountain tops clearing, chinks of blue emerge over Cairngorms.

08:01, stash bike in walkers car park, bumbag packed. Hit road then path from lower ski carpark. 08:58, tap Cairngorm summit, trace route to Ben Macdui. Feel strong across plateau, keep eating, keep drinking. Reach Ben Macdui, start descending, bus size snow slabs, go canny. Reach Dee, cool legs, contemplate climb, weather hot.

Hands and knees. Cling to heather to maintain momentum, Cairn Toul summit close. Head swimming, thought patterns confused, body battles on. Summit reached, lob off. Pass bemused walker. Climbing strong, Angel's Peak tapped, race off. Rounding Braeriach's Corries, going steady, more bemused walkers. Braeriach summit, hallelujah shouted. Sub 14 hour thoughts, keep moving, two taxing short climbs, need to loose height. Stick to path, running getting better, cross Allt Druidh, stiff climb to Chalamain gap. Scramble over boulders, loose concentration, bloodied shins and hands. Do not stop.

After 13 hours and 41 mins I'd finally made it back to the bike. All that was left was the descent down the ski center road and sprint to Glenmore Lodge. After downing a quadroupal strength shot of energy drink I hit the road. It had just been resurfaced and the loose chips made 110psi tyres track like a drunken sailor staggering along a pier. The 10mph speed limit must have been tripled at least with stone chips flying left right and straight into my face - highly unsafe and awesome fun. Glancing up the Glenmore turn off came into view. Out of the saddle and pedaling like a madman the next few minutes passed in a blur witnessed only by a young couple who must have thought me completely demented. Finished !! Wolfed down a massive meal at Glenmore and then cycled to Aviemore train station, well fed and content with the days efforts.

Scottish 4000ers, Glen Nevis Youth Hostel to Glenmore Lodge, completed in 13:52:10, solo, unsupported, on bike and foot and entirely by public transport (and the kindness of Spanish strangers).

All splits are based on memory, and hence could be +/- a few mins with the exception of 3 hours 28 mins from Glen Nevis to Nevis Range, 4 hours 33 mins for the 70ish mile cycle and 5 hours 51 mins for the run over the Cairngorm hills and the dash to Glenmore.

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