Munro bagging record holder Donnie Campbell has switched to two wheels for his latest impressive Fastest Known Time (FKT). The 36-year-old athlete rode a 200-mile trail from Glasgow to Inverness in less than 20 hours.
Donnie endured unseasonably cold temperatures and torrential rain to complete what is known as the Badger Divide.He rode the ScotDURO version of the route.
Donnie, of Inverness, said: “It was a whole new level of suffering. It was cold, wet, muddy and hard going.”
The running coach started the ride at Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow at noon on Sunday before cycling out of city on the Kelvinside Walkway, along the banks of the River Kelvin, to join the West Highland Way.
Donnie’s route then took in Aberfoyle and on to another established trail, the Rob Roy Way, followed by the Great Glen Way to reach the finish at the Highlands’ capital city.
Riding a Cervelo gravel bike, he clocked 19 hours 56 minutes and eight seconds for the 327km (203 mile) Badger Divide route. Total elevation was 4,923 metres. His average cycling speed was 16.4 kilometres per hour (KPH).
Some 16 hours of the ride was completed in rain. He was supported in a vehicle driven by his wife Rachael.
‘It was very wet and cold on Badger Divide’
Donnie said: “Physically I was fine, but it wasn’t that enjoyable mentally. It was a sufferfest to be honest because of the conditions.
“I am usually a fair-weather cyclist and, while riding the route, I kept asking myself why I am driven to do these sorts of challenges; I wondered why I appear to be wired differently to other people.
“I confess, there were many times when I wanted to give up and just get in the car and go home.
“But I just pushed on. For some reasons I would not give in even when I was really cold and miserable. It does feel good to have ridden a fast time for the route though.”
The Badger Divide was created by Stu Allan. There are several versions of the off-road route, including the Ride With GPS Badger Divide route (337km; 5292m of total elevation); one recorded on Komoot (around 340km and 5060m total elevation) and the other by the Racing Collective’s annual ride, the ScotDURO (the one that Donnie followed).
The FKT for the Badger Divide, south to north, on the Komoot route is 23 hours, 36 minutes (23:20 for the opposite direction).
A big challenge: Plan A, B and C
However, a recurring injury means Donnie has been cycling rather than running in recent months.
His Plan B was to ride the longer An Turas Mor route from Glasgow to Cape Wrath. But, shortly after starting at 20:30 on Saturday, a wheel spoke snapped.
During a detour trip to Dales Cycles in Glasgow for a wheel change, Donnie came up with Plan C – to ride home to Inverness on the Badger Divide.
He said: “An injury has stopped me running for a while and so I have been cycling more. I had been hoping to run the Cape Wrath Trail this month.
“Instead, I was looking for another challenge on my bike and I came across the An Turas Mor route. I have long wanted to go to Cape Wrath and the cycling idea seemed like a great plan B. But then the spoke snapped and I had to think again.
“I was already aware that a band of wet weather was coming from the south and I had really hoped to be faster than the rain. I was not – and that meant I rode in 16 hours of rain, sometimes torrential.”
Donnie believes a faster time is possible. He said: “The wet and cold meant I had to spend time in the vehicle trying to warm up. I also stopped to change my clothes and put on waterproofs. Plus, I had a puncture at Aberfoyle.
“The saturated trails made it harder to ride the route and I am sure that a time of 17 or 18 hours is possible.”
- Donnie believes he has set an FKT for the Badger Divide (Scot DURO) route. If anyone else has a fast time please do tell me.