West Highland Way – epilogue

I failed to include a few things when I wrote this up originally, specifically around kit choices both good and bad, and things I’d do differently.

On the train back, I discovered the only casualty of the trip on the bike – a broken spoke. I reckon the back wheel needed tensioned anyway as it feels quite soft in use, irrespective of tyre pressure. It’s like the wheel flexes in use and it’s not the frame, axle or cassette. That’ll be a cheap and cheerful fix anyway, and something to kill time in front of the TV. Might even be an excuse to buy a truing stand.

In me terms, my feet are in bits. My choice of Shimano MT91 boots was the right one to make for the amount of walking, but when the elastic on your socks is rubbish it means that grit gets in them and goes down to your ankles and rubs. I emptied out my socks several times on the route but it wasn’t enough to stop me rubbing my ankles raw. It’s agony now in anything other than short socks, but it’s just a lesson to be learned and not a regret.

I did however forget to bring sunglasses and sunscreen, the latter meaning my biker tan has got off to a good start. Razor sharp tanlines on my arms from my base layer and watch, but the lack of sunglasses has at least kept my face devoid of the normal lines and patches of tan.

I think I carried just the right amount of food, as I was able to eat the night after from my supplies. I would have liked to have had a couple of gels for emergency bonk purposes, but a pack of Dextro energy tablets helped in that respect.

As I was carrying my full overnight gear, I was happy to have discovered Blizzard bags, and even happier to have not used it. They weigh less than a bivi bag, but are insulated, and are good for emergencies. I think taking a tent, even my Laser, would have been a step too far as it’s a bulky item that might or might not have been used.

My Rab synthetic gilet came with me, a brilliant piece of kit that gets stuffed into a drybag any time I’m out in the hills and is a quick booster layer. It didn’t get worn at all until the day after as I wasn’t stopped in the cold long enough for it to be of use.

As ever, I wore Icebreaker merino, this time a 260 weight zip top which was almost perfect if not slightly too warm. I favour merino as it’s warm even when wet, and in particular Icebreaker as it’s a tight weave that doesn’t itch.

Time-wise, I think the midnight start is definitely the way to go as the easy stuff at the start is better done in the dark than the Devil’s Staircase. Even with decent lights, you’d need to slow down and that piece of trail needs to be ridden as quickly as possible!

From a recovery perspective, my regime of drinking PSP22 through the whole day has meant that my muscles are completely fine. I used to drink only water in my Camelbak and get my carbs from food, but I now think the energy drink is the way forward. I never fail to drink but have been known to bonk quite badly in the past through low blood sugars, so I think that ditching my water-only approach will help me on LeJog.

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