A little way up the hill out of Tongue I met another cyclist. Although I chat to cyclists by the side of the road, I'm never really wanting to interrupt them when they are cycling. As we climbed the hill I overtook. On the way down she overtook me. I overtook again on the next climb. Realising we were going to keep leap-frogging, I said hello. Establishing that she could tell me to clear off if she didn't want to talk, we had a little chat as we cycled along.
She was Ciri, a nurse from Alaska. She had been on the road for three weeks and was mountain biking through Scotland and Ireland. She was an awesome person who works hard for stretches of time then goes off on different adventures. She told me she'd been walking in Iceland not too long ago.
Having established that we were both heading the same route until a bit after Durness, we knew we were going to keep bumping into each other.
As we reached Loch Eriboll we stopped to take in the view. Coming up the hill were Phillip and Mike. Ciri found it amusing that I chatted to them too and asked them if I could take their picture. To Ciri, I was a crazy British person who was really chatty. We both pushed on and let each other pass on the bits we each found easier. I stopped near the bottom of the Loch to chat Sylvia and Peter who were from Switzerland.
Eventually I caught up with Ciri again near the north west side of the Loch. We stopped at a cave and then rode into Durness together. We bought food in the shop and ate it in a little park until the midges found us. We were in the north-west-most corner of Scotland and we were a day early for the Highland Games.
The rain started as we rode south up and out of Durness. We had about 10 kilometres of slow uphill. It was a grind but the view was great. At the top there was a little lay-by and we decided to stop for a rest.
I heard from behind. Who knew my name here? I spun around and there was Paul, the Australian man I'd had a brief chat with on top of a hill near Scarpa Flow a few days before. He was really chuffed to have bumped into me again and invited both me and Ciri to have a cup of tea. This time I got to meet his wife Greti too. They gave us tea and a scone with jam. I hadn't expected a tea party in a van, on top of a hill, with people I'd just met on the road. Lovely.
Ciri found this all very amusing and noted that my random conversations with strangers might not be so crazy if it could result in unexpected scones.
Unfortunately the midges arrived en masse and cut our tea party short. Ciri and I said our goodbyes and rode down the hill. At the splitting of the A838 and A894 I said my goodbyes to Ciri. She was off inland to do a mountain bike trail. I headed on to a campsite at Scourie.
In the little shop I saw a sign boasting that something was only 12 calories. What kind of use is that to a hungry cyclist?