The drive up to Applecross had been an uneventful jaunt through that amazing Scottish scenery we aften take for granted. From Fort William onwards the rolling mountains and lochs had become a bit like the background in The Flintstones – a never ending carousel of scenery. We’d gotten so used to travelling through the mountainous terrain that I thought I’d be underwhelmed when we finally got to the Bealach, but it was an impressive sight.
During the drive up, the climb over the highest mountain pass in Britain had three distinct sections, to me. The first is a long, steady climb that eventually comes to a right hander. As you round this corner you see the next stage rising to the left in the distance. Both of these parts matched anything I had attempted in training. The final reveal comes after another sharp right hander. It’s there that the sheer scale of the Bealach Na Ba comes into focus – the road climbs off into the distance, snaking it’s way up the mountain side with the summit out of view. If it were an Indiana Jones movie there’d be a lost temple at the top – that’s how ridiculous the road up there seemed.
I gasped at sight of it, my heart sinking at the prospect of trying to ride up the same road the following morning. Alec in Helensburgh Cycles had told me that the Bealach was tough, but it was the saw tooth series of climbs later on in the route that would really take it out of me. As our well laiden car struggled round the final hairpin bends in 1st gear, I begged to differ. If I made it over this I’d be lucky to have anything left at all.