The last thing I expected to be doing in the middle of April was cycling a very long way on a very cool route and setting a Fastest Known Time (FKT) to boot.

It all started a couple of evenings earlier when, mid-ride, my pal Stu phoned.

I was expecting him to ask if he could join me on the trails, however he had something slightly bigger in mind…

“Fancy riding the West Highland Way on Friday to celebrate the easing of lockdown restrictions?!”

Three minutes later, I was continuing my ride with a big grin on my face wondering what the hell I’d signed up for and how on earth I was going to get prepped with a handful of spare hours between the call and the ride.


On reflection, I’m quite glad I didn’t have more time to think about it as the reality was I’d never ridden for longer than seven hours and most people who do a ride like this plan for it for a long time!

Stu and I ride together a lot though and are both fit. I have a lot of experience in stage racing too, so I figured the worst that could happen would be a mega bonk or a mechanical. Both things already in my wheelhouse.

THE CHALLENGE

The West Highland Way is 96 miles of rocky, gnarly, awkwardness, plenty hike-a-bike, not so plentiful zippy gravel sections, and nearly 3600m of climbing,

Traditionally completed over 2-5 days, we’d be attempting to do it in just one.

I love an adventure though, especially a last minute one like this and it felt like a very cool way to finally be allowed to go further than your own local authority.

So aye, that’s how I found myself in Milngavie, Glasgow setting off in minus four-degree temperatures to ride and hike 96-miles to Fort William.


With no idea how long it would take we packed a ton of food, water and tools and by chance learned there was a tap at Inversnaid. After that we planned to stop at The Green Welly in Tyndrum.

I think I spent the whole ride grinning at what a cool country I live in. Going from the biggest city in Scotland through the most stunning, imposing and beautiful landscapes Scotland has to offer is so special and quite overwhelming by bike!

The route has everything. You’re soon pushing your bike up Conic hill, which rewards you with stunning views of Loch Lomond and properly gnarly descending. Loch Lomond has a mix of really fun single track to really awkward hike-a-bike.


After this, it feels like you’re picking your way towards ever growing mountains. Rannoch Moor feels so desolate and far away from everywhere and before you lays the iconic Devil’s staircase. All places words can’t match in beauty and ruggedness.

You really have to ride it to feel it and see it and the hike-a-bike sections keep on giving.

We must have paced our ride well as at the 10-hour mark I was shocked we were still going just fine and more shocked when it seemed we would complete the route in sub 12!


It’s hard not to get a little competitive when a good time is on the cards so we picked up the pace a little and on cresting the final climb below Ben Nevis, it was one cool descent into the centre of Fort William.

I didn’t actually know what the FKT was before riding and - although I knew we’d had a good ride - my finishing time of 11 hours 46 minutes took over three hours off the previous FKT by a female rider. SUPER COOL!

Our actual pedalling time was around 10 hours 40 minutes and it is one of the best and most memorable days I’ve ever had on a bike.

It makes me very glad to have pals with have daft ideas, who know they can probably rely on me to get involved too. 

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