my 3rd etape Caledonia

I feel like i have done this event now – my first year was 2014 and the weather was fine and last year was in the pouring rain and howling wind and yet I was finished in nearly the same time.

This year I trained more and went on more rides and with good weather forecast I was hoping to smash my time.

But it my girlfriends mums 60th and a big house was rented and fine food booze and food was consumed. To top this off I left late in the morning to drive up and was stuck in traffic going to event parking when i should have been at the start line getting ready to head off.

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the course is a good one with 130km of riding around a pretty loch and then a wee ascent (about 1200m in all over the course)

6:30am and the elite and VIP’s head off. I should have started in Wave A with the faster boys but by the time I made the start wave C was heading off so for the first 20mile I was completely solo hoping to find a small group that was going faster and I could work with.


Until a man caught up – he had punctured at mile 2 and had lost everyone so we worked together for a good hour. At one stage 4/5 people were tagged on behind but only we two were taking turns at the front so he drifted back and I heard him yell ‘I don’t mind you guys taking the wheel but take a f***** turn a the front’ 

That caused all but one to drop off and that person definitely took his turn from then on in.

Just before the climb I recognised my friend Carla who had started on time (8min in front of me) and we said hello and then the climb up Schiehallion started. I took this easy as I had been working pretty hard up to this point (in fact my slowest ascent of the 3 times)

The downhill was as lovely as ever …. and then into the back of a big group around Fortingall on the narrow singletrack road. The wind was unseasonal and Easterly so the last leg was into the wind but i was quite sheltered in a large group of 30 – never really making it up through the bunch to make a turn at the front.

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The thing about groups like this is that my speed is so much higher than normal with the massive slipstream benefit and after all my solo rides this year the time (miles) passed quickly.

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Average speed 33.6kmh (imperial says nearly 21mph) average.

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so my best time but not the sub 3h50/3h45 i was hoping for.

At the end a medal and a text with my finish time according to the tag on the bike ….FcertA4.tmpl-347-YRNJ

Etape Royale next – 100miles ….


New Year Resolution and How did I do in 2014

Looking back this was my list in 2013 (for 2014) those i completed i put in Red (for those browsing on mobiles apps you might have to change to browser or desktop)

Here are my new years resolutions, reinforced with a lovely Talisker 10 year old malt (or Scotchliscious and those west of the water would say) and captured with screen grabs and a leap of faith.
Invest in that touring bike and plan some trips to make it really count. BUILT THE BIKE AND HAD SOME Great RIDES BUT NO TRIPS     1/2 point

Increase or improve my Strava KOM and PR status (but not if i have to finish a segment inside my own home) Had 5 KOM last year (not that they stayed) 1 point

Not shy away from the Sufferfest turbo sessions LESS maybe – no points

Complete the eTape Caledonian and Pennines with proper training under my belt Completed both but not with training yet I beat all the friends i was with so 1 point

Have a bikeFit – to make sure that I improve position, power delivery and comfort Err this year

Do at least one mountain bike marathon race this year with close buddies and do the longer distance option (normally 85km and 2000m+ of climbing) Err this year

Remember not to be a bad name for cycling (red lights etc) Done 1 point

Campaign and lobby for our two wheeled lot and complete the free Bike film I promised  Done 1 point

Sail up the inner hebrides over summer.  boat sold – wrecked resolution 

Don’t leave the organisation of that sail until the last minute.  boat sold – wrecked resolution 

Kitesurfing – don’t always jump on port tack only – embrace the learning curve of jumping to starboard (and the occasional smack down)  Done 1 point

Ride more. Kitesurf more. Sail more. Run more Road same kitesurfer more sailed more until boat sold and ran less 1.5/3

Ride more…..Ride more…..

SO 7/12 …… Pahhhhh


So What for 2015

  • Backpacking trip on the Fat Bike – Cairngorms or the Western Isles (bonus if i do both)
  • Do eTape Caledonia quicker (hard with last years 33km/h average)
  • Do Mountain Bike Marathon (Selkirk 85km is the week before the eTape – good training or bad taper)
  • Do more kitesurfing
  • Do more Stand up Paddleboarding


Post eTape washing day blues

Still reliving the race sorry sportive. I think 130km is a good indictor if clothes are working and I must say I am so impressed with the Rapha gear. That is 3 months of riding and not one niggle – everything well made and works. The bib shorts in particular are up there with assos and the better Castelli stuff – the pad is really comfy. Whilst I am a MED rapha top – the MED bib shorts are on the small side of medium – think the bibs are more Italian sizing (like Castelli in which I have a large – as I am a 31inch waist) but still comfy and almost has a compression quality for the legs.

My whole setup is good now – the only niggle is in the shoe dept. think I need to invest in better shoes – the entry level shimano shoes I start to feel every part of the sole after 60+km. But still alright at the moment.

eTape Caledonia 2014

very rare medal - only 5000 riders have this
very rare medal – only 5000 riders have this

So Chris Boardman was along at the event but I didn’t even know or wouldn’t have probably seen him as I was carrying my bike above my head trying to get into my starting heat past the 5000 so riders who had completely clogged up the road. I started in a heat 1 or 2 behind where I should have. I tore off and it was 40min before I decided that riding with a heart rate above 160bpm would probably ensure that i blew up at some point. I then started working with 3 other riders and making sure I was loading in the carbs ……

map of route
map of route

It was my longest ride ever but i loved it. there was a small sprint section thrown in for fun but i had no hope there as I just pulled off the front of the train as I saw the section start and my legs needed their 1 min recovery time at the back of the train. I also blew a small timed KOM section when my chain dropped off – amateur error DOH

stats from Strava
stats from Strava

I was chuffed at the end having averaged a smudge under 33km/h for the 4 hours it took me and best off all – I beat most of my friends (the doctor did 3h50 incl the time it took the rescue Mavic car to come replace his wives bike after she broke her seat post …) So I have left him off the chart below for being too fit and included Sir Chris Boardman instead who thrashed everyone …..

friends and a certain famous person
friends and a certain famous person

Doing the eTape Pennines one later in the summer which is supposed to be harder … so I better train for that one.


Pack wet stuff – weather forecast for the etape caledonia

MAYBE it will be dry for the first half of the race – but then it won’t be. Assuming a 4h30-5h00 race

Changed my tyres as well – love the continental GP4000s that were on the bike and touch wood no punctures in 3500km. So more of the same except gone from 23mm tyres to 25mm. The wear indicator on the old ones wasn’t looking great. Looking weathered too.

Another day – training slows now for the 130km eTape Caledonia Sportive (not a race hahaha) on Sunday

Last little ride to try crash train into being ready for the eTape on Sunday.

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One thing I do like about Strava is the ability to analyse segments and see how fit you were compared to times in the past when you had better conditioning. You can see it on a segment here – I went up the Crow Road in 18m 30s the same time August 2 years ago but heart rate now (tired and less fit) was 145bpm compared to a very low 116bpm 18 months back ,,,,, eeeek

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Maybe i just need those extra 3 months of summer rides to get back to speed …..