Went down on the Saturday afternoon and saw a lot of cars with road bikes heading in the opposite direction after the sportive. Event camping was in Selkirk. After weeks of rain the weather forecast was true and good and after a cold clear night where the temp in the car got down to 1 degree C – the blue skies and May sun woke the riders up and set the tone of the rest of the day.
After the ride got off at ten o’clock with the Championship riders leading the field out it only took a little more than three and a quarter hours till the leading championship riders came back into the event village.
Highlights of the race were the scenery in general and the sections of trail centre singletrack at Innerleithen, part of the renowned 7Stanes network. This part of the Scottish Borders is stunning, with rolling hills as far as the eye can see, gorse in full golden flower, and a superbly remote feeling. I do however have a gripe – being mid field some of the technical single track sections were really bogged down up to 20cm of mud and quite unrideable. Hate to think what the riders 300places back would have thought.
Feel that they could have had multi sections were another option was opened after the first 250 riders passed through … a minor gripe and just that i would have loved to ride it all instead of having to walk 3 sections.
there was also a section where the 70km (actually 60km if I had another moan) came back to join the 45km lot and there was a hill that i didn’t see anyone ride – up to 22% according to the Garmin … again think the organisers should have picked a gentler route this late in the ride as it is the people on the 45km course that they really should encourage to come back and a 600m walk will not help them do that … Then a lovely descent – most people like me just riding down the side of the heather … a few of the full course 85km guys came flying past as well … then the water pic above – need to buy the Hires version for vanity reasons ….
Lastly the finish and another t-shirt which i said No to. The race must appeal to people that care about the environment and then they give out cheap horrible t-shirts that no-one with any fashion sense would wear out … they should copy the marathon and run events and give out small medals instead …
Must say that the greatest post finish bit was the routine …
1. WASH THE BIKE
2. WASH MYSELF
3. Get a physio
4. Eat … and Eat again. 4300calories leaves a dent.
It was windy and colder than I thought but the ride to St Ninian’s Islewas lovely. They always say that Shetland was bad to cycle in because of wind and hills and today I had both.
the ride from Hamnavoe started straight into the wind – the ride I was doing the day before let me keep a steady 30km/h but this was a painful 24km/h. They say that wind is the enemy of roadies and finally after years of mtb I understand … it is a slog and was irritating me until I made the conscious effort to ignore it and enjoy the scenery.
the end of the ride was the most irritating as I attempted to decipher some directions and find the relative’s house ……
I was eventually welcomed into the destination with a plateful of sandwiches a mug of coffee and some rock cake …. superb.
With an imminent work trip to the Middle East trip scheduled, I said goodbye to the lovely lady and the kids who were headed north to Shetland for a holiday. Mmmm a few days before I go so I could either work on the showreel, go kitesurfing with Ed or go for a bike ride or two.
Jolene was on the ferry already when she texted to say that Tom was going walking and camping on Arran for a few days. His wife and kid were also on the ferry so it was a case of 2 dads banishing the boredom.
So a plan was hatched catch the 8:40am train from Glasgow to ardossan, get the ferry to Arran and then head north to try and find Tom. Now the thing about Tom is that he is low maintenance – happy to rough it, happy to exercise, happy to change plans. Now there is the rub that he might change his mind and campsite and he doesn’t use a mobile phone so the chances of tracking him down are slim.
Well he is planning to climb Goatfell and the only campsite is in the north of arran at lochranza right opposite the Arran malt distillery…. The distillery was the last bit of temptation I needed and hastily packed. I thought that I didn’t find him I could catch the last ferry home at 8pm after a nice 100km cycle, but if I did find him there was the matter of camping … He had a small tent so should I carry a sleeping bag and try squeeze in to his tent. ‘Mmmm no’ so plan b was hatched that if I found him I would also try get a room nearby and just go out for a drink or two. Arran is also home to the Arran brewery with some very fine ales but more on that later.
So up and packing I realised the time was going past a bit quickly – no time to change the flats over to clipless pedals. I sped out the house down to the station and bought a ticket with just 40 secs to spare .. Whew a bit close that was a bit stupid as the next train was an hour away. This train is great gets you to the harbour (ardrossan) with enough time to wander over to ferry terminal and buy ticket (subsequently found out you can actually buy a joint rail ferry ticket at the train station)
The ferry was fine – loads of French schoolkids and more than a few day-trippers and road cyclists.
Headed north on the road to Lochranza and it was mighty fine. I was on my Klein singlespeed geared 32:14 cruising nicely at 22-25km/h with a camelbak HAWG stuffed to the gills mainly with raincoat and spares for the morning. After 25ish min the road suddenly goes uphill which is all fair but on the singlespeed it felt a bit brutal at times.
Had to stand and stomp pushing so hard that I saw the handlebar flexing. One roadie passed me spinning happily as I neared the top. Over the top the descent back 200m to sea level. Great to blast down this but road surface pretty crappy so glad now not to be on roadbike bu rather my schwalbe big apples (I think they are 1.5 or 1.75).
Got down to Lochranza looked at the castle and the little keelboats marooned at low tide…
Then carried on to find the campsite. ‘you’ve already passed it mate… ‘ so spun back to try locate Tom. ‘yes there is a tall blond chap here .. And yes he does look Norwegian’ so penned a note which the site manager promised to give him then hopeful for accomodation went to the Lochranza hotel. £55 they wanted from me as only a family room left – that was taking the piss so took a number and decided to try my luck further along.
2 miles on came to catacol hotel ….
– basic but clean and let’s face it I would be wearing the same cycling shorts tomorrow.
Left the heavier items from the bag (great I packed a shock pump for an adventure on a rigid bike) then carried on down the west coast of Arran. No midges to worry about and cycled on the road as some paddle boat steamed up the coast.
Stopped for a bite then headed back to hotel for shower but was in such a daze I cycled straight back into Lochranza – divine providence and ended up at the distillery having a mosey and buying a small bottle of malt didn’t want to carry a litre bottle with me back to the ferry.
Got back to hotel had a shower (no en-suite here) then read for a while before heading back to campsite in Lochranza to hunt down Tom.
Was having a bite to eat when ‘woops there he goes’. Heckled him from the door and he seemed hugely surprised. He quickly dropped his kit bit on discovering the crap choice of beer at the local bar/ hotel we proceeded around the corner to my hotel where we had 2,3,4,5,6 err 7 pints of Arran brewery (can’t even remember which one – not Arran blond, dark or witch on) played a few rounds of pool – Tom is even worse at pool than me which is pretty funny.
‘meet you at 7:15am’ for that was when we would meet to cycle back over that hill and to the ferry.
The next morning it was howling and pissing down.
Met up at campsite then headed off to ferry – the Lochranza hill from the north wasn’t so bad – the misery of the rain and wind was quite funny. Over the top and Tom was a few hundred metres behind so decided to wait at the bottom where there was some tree cover .. Tried to coast but the wind was bringing me to a halt (on a downhill) but once on the steep bit I tucked down and tried to get a good speed.
Once down and Tom had caught up came up with a plan to slipstream north… I told him to call speed he was happy with and I would do it and take the wind … He was dealing with panniers, a tent all on a heavy kona smoke bike.
Pretty coast road then ferry and train back to Glasgow …
Tom was looking a bit tired after his Munro climb (or corbett) double bike adventures and said he was going home to sleep. I had football that night but that’s another painful tale to tell……..
Total Shock and Awe on a bicycle. Quite possibly the best biking weekend of the year so far – went down Friday after putting the girls to bed. The team were registering so I didnt have to and after one dropout we had to rejig teams so i was put in a team of 3 with two other teams of 4 taking part.
Staying in something called Conifers – a mtb’ing owner so friendly reception.
My nice teamates made more than a few comments about the big front wheeled 96’er ‘clown bike’ was a bit harsh I thought …. but i was to be vindicated.
After the crappy internet entry and bad updated website the No Fuss organisation for the day was good, top course and perfect enduro setting and then the rain really started.
It rained – it was muddy – the loops off the regular trail broke up immediately and slithering and OTB was the order of the day for most on the downhill sections – saw an ambulance (or 4) take away the badly injured and that doesnt count those had to get taken to A&E to patch up by their mates. Ramon after getting a bright pink bandage on his first lap – baled again on the second – hit the same spot but this time made a whole right down to under muscle.
Great mortals just let rip across the routes and mud and somehow made it to the bottom (in most cases). The race was cut short by an hour due to deteriorating conditions and after certain sections had been closed – so i had to miss my 3rd lap and instead have a massage and a beer while john was still out on the course. This did not detract from the challenge or the sense of achievement.
Nick came in for the team of 4 with only 10seconds left on the clock – they had done 7 laps along with the other team of 4 and we in the team of 3 had only managed 8 laps in the 9 hours.
Carver did me pride as the clown bike survived 2 foot drops into mud potholes without flipping me over the bars like all the regular riders. Never bailed once just one clumsy sidefall on mud and a few dabs on the course. Respect though to a singlespeed 29’er and a mad man on a cyclocross bike.
Stayed a night down there but even my bike was a bit damaged as the Rohloff cable was fecked by the mud.
After a lot of to’ing and fro’ing on the subject of gps for the bike and debating the pro’s and cons between iPhone apps and a dedicated unit like the Garmin Edge series …. I have finally made a decision.
Prompted mainly by the fact that I could get a Garmin Edge 305 incl HRM belt and cadence meter for £129. It’s older has no colour screen and can’t take maps but none of that is important for what I want it for.
PRO’s (the reasons I went for it)
Waterproof and tougher than my iPhone
Has dedicated HRM (almost no iPhone app has this)
Simple clear display
Attaches to stem – securely
Barometric Altitude (more reliable than the flaky GPS signal I sometimes get)
Good Battery Performance
Cons (only the one)
Cost more than a 59p app
I know I cant play music – well I never have so I don’t think that is something to worry about.