I squirm in my bivvy bag and try to pull the fabric up over my face completely, thus limiting my ability to breathe, (on the down side), but, (on the plus side), protecting me from the swarming midges. I eventually resolve that the midges will not allow me any more rest, and I have no choice but to pack up and get back on the bike.
I can’t fathom how a person can move through an environment like Fisherfield smoothly and with ease without first stopping to doff their cap in admiration and awe. Omit this humble gesture and a wild place remains intimidating. A bike rider can charge on if they wish, and slip, slide and stumble their way through somewhere like Fisherfield but there will be tears and stubbed toes. Personally, I don’t think racing this way is faster but, perhaps more importantly, it feels pointless and really hard.
In just over a week, Jenny Graham will be setting out from Berlin on the journey of a lifetime, attempting to break the women's round-the-world record. But as we all know, the journey to the start line is often far more challenging - so we caught up with Jen to see how her final week of real life is going.
Huddled together in a Pyrenean mountain shelter with blue lips and clattering teeth, the four of us knew the 20km descent would be bleak. We contemplated a brew on our stoves but that was just a stalling technique – this sleet and rain was here to stay and we needed to clock those final miles to honour the efforts of all the kids at home who had committed their time to matching our miles. It was the least we could do to end on a high…
Okay, well its description includes things like “they don't come much tougher than this” and “the legendary 24 hour mountain bike endurance event”. Not to mention the fact that the event takes place in the middle of the Scottish winter. So why did I do it???
This weekend Lee, Rickie, Jenny G and Jenny T will unveil their gorgeous new Shand bikes at Bespoked (The UK Handmade Bike Show in Bristol), and then launch our 2018 team by riding #Southbound for one week, encouraging schools across the UK to follow their progress online and collectively match their daily mileage...
It's hard to believe that this time last year Lee and Rickie were still planning and preparing for the Tour Divide, writing and re-writing their kit lists, obsessing over footwear choice and route profiles, and wondering if their relationship would survive the strain as each of them settled into their own unique brand of mid-expedition squalor. Now, less than 12 months later, you can watch the film of their grand adventure, and witness this squalor for yourself...
Sign up to our schools Match the Miles Challenge between 22nd and 29th April and win a screening of the film Divided with Lee Craigie and Rickie Cotter.
In July 2016 we headed to Kyrgyzstan to rediscover our former nomadic life and explore the Alay-Pamir mountains between Osh and Tajikistan. That first day in Osh we constructed our bikes and a familiar species of bicycle nomads emerged from their bunks to watch. I was embarrassed by the shininess of our bikes, the cleanliness of our clothes, our recently cut hair and our pasty skin.
Last year the TransAtlanticWay was my first long-distance bikepacking race and thus a steep learning curve. With low expectations I managed to finish in a week and just over 11 hours: first woman and third overall. With this experience I felt pretty smug, thinking that I had some time-saving tips up my sleeve, such as using caffeine tablets to reduce time wasted on coffee stops, spying out places to sleep on Google Streetview, and chewing gum to stave off sleep.