Fortunately, the bridge did still exist. Shortly after crossing it, I took another brief rest. When I was about to continue, I was told that 15mph was my target for the final 105 miles, which would beat the record by 2hr 30 mins. That seemed reasonable, and so I pressed on.
The road to Tain is a bit boring, but I managed to keep the speedo over 15, so remaining 'on track'.
There then followed the historic moment when I did the dirty trick of crossing the new bridge over the Dornoch Firth (including an unconventional negotiation of the roundabout at its south end). Crossing this bridge effectively cut 7 miles off the total distance for the End-to-End. As it was only opened in 1991, I was the first person to use it.
It is obviously worth 30 minutes off the record, but in reality the new route misses a large climb as well. With this in mind, I had decided beforehand that I needed to take well over half an hour off the previous record, to feel that I had actually done a better ride.
When riding over the next stretch earlier in the year, Golspie had seemed quite a long time coming. However, on this occasion, perhaps with slightly better conditions, it appeared sooner than expected.
Conversely, I had remembered the ride from Golspie to Helmsdale as being quite brisk and simple. After riding for two days, though, I started making heavy work of the light undulations.
Suddenly, a problem developed in my left ankle. For a while I panicked, and then tried the exercises which I remembered from my previous Achilles problem. By the time I reached Helmsdale, the pain had subsided, but there was a definite swelling.
I had planned, and was looking forward to, a triumphant romp up the climbs of Helmsdale and Berriedale. However, this clearly wasn't on now, and I had to pussy-foot my way along, in case I aggravated my injury. My helpers tell me that I looked fine, but I know that I took it easy!
At the top of Helmsdale, mist closed in, and visibility fell alarmingly. I guess that I experienced the start of my delusions here. After several miles, I believed that I had been through Berriedale - but had somehow not noticed it. This idea was soon ditched, as the road suddenly dropped away and I started to accelerate.
I had forgotten that my brakes would be wet. You can imagine my alarm as I approached the escape-lane, and couldn't stop. After a short time, naturally, I was able to slow. As with Helmsdale, the climb was carefully done. I was chatting to Roger Hughes (who was running) as I went up the hill. He says this was the last sensible conversation I made until after the finish.