Ochil Hills 100

How the other half live πŸ™‚
Still no idea why, but Jamie and me were members of the Brewin Dolphin Velo Club for this event, so VIP all the way, and you could get used to it.
We arrived to our private Club Members car park and private registration marquee for Members only where they were serving up bacon rolls, pastries, coffee etc and proper toilets!
We were all called together and brought to the front of the start gate and set off as a group with a ride leader at a very social pace – for a while anyway.
Weather was ideal, warm, cloudy and no wind.

The ride leader kept us together for the first 5-10 miles and then a few shot off the front, which we joined and a group of 10-12 of us then picked up the pace. Social had now become less so πŸ™‚ I wasn’t feeling too great, so hung on, hoping it would pass, which it eventually did. The first 40 miles or so were pretty straightforward, no big climbs as such, but the second half of the course was back loaded with some killers! The first major obstacle is the climb out of Dunning where we stayed pretty much as a group over the top and sped down towards Yetts O’ Muckhart and double back to head towards Auchterarder up Glendevon. It was here a cry of “on your right” was heard and a group sped past. So what else can you do, we joined up and did through and off UP Glendevon at a ridiculous pace.

This group pretty much stayed together through Auchterarder and back to Dunning where we fractured on the awful Dragon climb with it’s pitches of 16-20%. The road to Path of Condie and finally back to Milnathort is a slog of up, down, up down and our legs were feeling it. As we went through Kinross, only Cleish hill to go – thankfully as we were bust by now. Managed to catch one of the original group on the descent, the three of us working as best we could back to the finish.

Once we dropped off the bikes and got changed it was back to the marquee for food – great choice of hot foods, drinks, snacks, really was pretty good. Free massage available too. There were also the guests of honour – Dean Downing and Mark Beaumont being interviewed on stage with lots of tips around all sorts from nutrition, to training, to gearing to saddle sore tips! They really did look after you.

The best stash of goodies from any event I’ve ever done, and possibly worth the money to be in the Club – t-shirt and medal for all, but we also got a cap, Le Col jersey, socks, razor(?!), as many gels and bars as you could handle –

Goody, goody, goodies!

A well organised event. A good, challenging route on mainly quiet roads. There is a choice of 3 routes, the 100 mile and 6,000+ feet of climbing we did but also 75 mile and 42 mile loops too. Would recommend it.

The Garmin stats for me (official time of 5:15):

Sportive Kinross 2018

It’s 5 years since I last did this event and it has grown into a very well organised and supported event, a credit to the Kinross club. Theer are a choice of 3 routes : Black is 89 miles, Red is 68 miles and Blue is 44 miles.

Wasn’t sure who from the Wheelers was doing the Black route so was prepared to go solo, but bumped into Deeside Thistle’s Steve Cunningham at registration and joined a group of his club mates and Perth United at the start. We set off at a good pace, with 12 or so working well dodging the inevitable pot holes and passing the slower groups. Unfortunately after only a few miles one of the Deeside guys punctured, but apparently it was every man for himself and his club mates left him to it , so I carried on too πŸ™‚

The rise up to Leslie saw the group split with Deeside Steve in good form as we hit the first climb up Lomond Hill. I decided there was no way I fancied trying to keep this pace for the next 80 miles, so sat up and Steve disappeared never to be seen by me again. We regrouped at Falkland and was a good bunch working well on the flatter section to Newburgh and on to Wicks o’ Baiglie. The group split on this tough climb and from here on to the finish I was pretty much on my own!

The middle section of the route is very undulating as we go over Stronachie, Pathstruie and a number of unnamed short sharp shocks before the technical descent to Dunning. The climb up Dunning is the longest of the day and a good test, but by now my legs were pretty shot so it was steady as she goes for me.

The weather was non too pleasant now with rain, hail and then a really heavy downpour, so pretty cold and wet through. Bad for the riders, must be even worse for the marshals on the course (big thanks to them all). It’s a slog from the bottom of Dunning to the finish. The route climbs up to Knockhill then a blast down to the last climb of the day at Cleish. Tried as best I could to get in under 5 hours, but the headwind for the least 5 miles saw an end to that.

A tough day on a tough lumpy course, would recommend it.

Good setup at the end with plenty of free food to choose from and showers etc too.

Very well run and marshalled with a load of folks at pretty much every junction. The event raises aΒ  lot of money for various charities, so supporting this event helps a lot.

My time was 5:03 for the 89 miles and about 7,000 feet of climbing for around 16th quickest overall and 4th in my old man age category. The results for the Wheelers over the 3 routes are available, click here – http://dundeewheelers.co.uk/phpbb/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=395&sid=b9cb3d162e4751fc94d93abe11aff0f0
Here’s my Garmin stats:

 

Roubaix Challenge 2018

The conventional wisdom say to hit the cobbles hard and fast, best way to ride them. What they don’t tell you is that it is really really really hard to do that. Think the hardest turbo interval sessions you do, 5-8 mins in length. It’s that kind of effort while you are being violently shaken and trying to steer any kind of line and avoid other riders, debris being launched off bikes as they dance all over the cobbles and pot holes. Then repeat 28 times. Mentally and physically exhausting.

So the day began very early with a bus ride out to Busigny for the start of 172Kms, 28 sections of pave over 55Kms (we miss out the pretend last one) and 6000 riders! Weather could not have been better, warm, dry, a south east wind. Met Ciaran and Jamie at the start which is not crowded (we were all on different buses), and you set off whenever you like. So perhaps not as big a razzamatazz as some events with mass starts, but a lot less stressful than starting with thousands of others!

The plan was to get round, we didn’t care how long, just finish in the velodrome. So no racing around, a long day planned, save the legs for the pave, stay together and help each other.

After a nice 11k warm up we hit the first section of pave, my first ever, and what a shock to the system. Nothing prepares you for the bone and bike rattling and how difficult it is to maintain any kind of speed, your legs burn. You try and pick a good line trying to stay on the crown, but that’s not easy with everyone else having the same plan. Then you need to pass slower riders and try and judge the best route to stray off the centre and swing round them as the rougher sections are even harder to ride.Β  Going slower is not an option as that just makes things even worse! After 2.2Km it was over, first section conquered. It was awful and it was only *** (sections are rated 1 – 5 stars), there are harder and longer to come, and lots of them!

There are 3 timed sections and the first of those is early on. Ciaran and I came to the end to find Jamie missing. So we waited and waited and then after 20 minutes Jamie appeared – 2 punctures in the same section. We all thought the same things, is this the start of things to come for us all?Β  Thankfully not, as these were the only punctures of the day and other than Jamie shipping a chain once, no other mechanicals! We were very very lucky. The whole route is littered with folks changing punctures, bikes in bits and sadly the aftermath of a few bad looking accidents!

We made our way round, taking it easy on the tarmac, slogging through the cobbles. By the first feed stop (6 sectors down) my hands were raw with blisters and bruises (how do you even get bruises on your hands?!).Β  Thankfully Ciaran had some tape and I taped my hands under my mitts to stop rubbing – pretty sure without it I would not have made it round.

The pattern of taking it easy on the tarmac and slogging through the cobbles continued relentlessly. I confess I did get goosebumps in the ride up to Arenberg as we passed the old mine, but was so pleased once it was over.

The rest of the ride was just a slog, after any initial enthusiasm, the love of cobbles had well and truly gone and we just wanted to get round. Sectors, villages and tarmac came and went as we ticked them off, counting down to the end. The last ***** section is Carrefour de l’Arbe, 17Km from the end. Get through that then surely we will finish okay. It was awful, legs and mind tired, trying to find a line in the gutter on the edge, I touched the side and down I came, narrowly avoiding taking Jamie out too. Thankfully I was not going at Sagan speed and was more like the slow motion fall at the traffic lights we have all done! No harm done, me and bike okay, lets get this over with!

After the last section, we were home and dry, just had to navigate through the traffic jam in Roubaix (no closed roads for us) which was a bit hairy.

Then, there it was, the Roubaix velodrome and we cycled in the path of all of the greats, it was utterly amazing. We rolled round the track and crossed the line together. I was in bits, physically and emotionally.

Slumped on the track, the ever wonderful Team Wheelers DS Lindsay went off to get the beers in. It tasted fabulous. As we sat there we all said the same thing – thank god we all finished it as there is no way we are ever coming back to do that again.

No official time for the event, just the 3 cobbled sections, but those that had working Garmins, tell me it was 6:26 riding time and 7:28 elapsed time. Couldn’t care less what the time was, we all finished πŸ™‚ The only century ride I have ever done all in the big ring, but one of the toughest ever!

Organisation was fine, although not in the same league as some of the other events I have done. It was well marshaled but no food and drink at the end and closing (or coning off a lane) of the road for the last 2-3Km would be a lot better. You should try it, just the once, just to appreciate it, as no words or video or TV can truly explain the feeling. It is like no other bike ride, truly unique. Many times we said, how on earth can you race on this, it is phenomenal what the pros do.

Was deeply saddened to hear on Monday of the tragedy that struck and the death of young proΒ Michael Goolaerts. Such a sad reminder of how tough and sometimes dangerous our sport can be. Thoughts are with his family, friends and teammates.

Reliability Season 2018 Round 5 – Dundee Thistle

After our own Round 4 Trial was cancelled due to Snowmageddon, it was a lovely morning that welcomed the end of Reliability Season with the Thistle event. As per all the Reliability Trials there are runs and groups of various lengths and speeds to suit all. The fast group is for those that want to have a “good go” but the others are more club run social pace.

The fast group set off and was fairly swift from the off, surely won’t keep this up for 70 miles! The fast group does split as folks drop off, get mechanical issues etc and is usually a whittling down process as the run goes on. The first split usually happens in the run up Little Glenshee and this year was no different. However it was good to see the “comfort break” at the ford (which was calf deep after the snow and rain) was reinstated and we regrouped and sped down towards Bankfoot. The Little Gelnshee road is hairy at the best of times and the snow and rain hasn’t helped, as it is now a loosely connected series of potholes and boulders. Best avoid the puddles as don’t know if they are 2 inches or 2 feet deep!

A turn left at Bankfoot and a brisk climb up Waterloo and right at the top of Birnam Braes where we passed the steady 50 mile group looking like they were having a more relaxing time πŸ™‚

The next test is the rolling roads towards Clunie where the young whippets got a slight gap that we just managed to close before the turn towards Blairgworie. The group was down to about 12 now and the pace hadn’t slowed any as I clung on at the back by the skin of my teeth! The bunch did split on the road to Newtyle and up Pitnappy where my legs finally gave in as 4-5 left me trailing. Did manage to catch Scott Taylor (Thistle) around Auchterhouse and we came home together.

The buffet was fabulous, great effort by the Thistle. The other groups soon arrived with various tales of mechanicals, punctures and sore legs. Sounds like a good job of marshalling on the other rides kept the groups together.

Thistle Reliability – DONE

Strava says it was the fastest Thistle Reliability since they changed the route a fair few years ago, my stats were –

 

Reliability Season 2018 Round 3 – Perth United

The traditional middle weekend off is no more with this new event hosted by Perth United CC.

Some idiot (me) had the bright idea to suggest riding out to the start at Murthly. A fair few Wheelers met at Millennium Hall at 9:15 for a social ride out and sign on at the Uisge Restaurant at Murthly. There were long and shorter routes for faster and steadier groups, catering for all. Time for a coffee and then just before 11am the fast group were called out to the start. PUCC had a very nice start clock and an official flag waver set us off bang on 11am.

A fairly frenetic pace as we sped along back towards High Kettins and the first slope of the day saw some shelled out the back. The group then pretty much stayed together all the way round at a tempo, but not brutal, pace. Route was good, rolling rather than monster hills, just the usual state of some roads to contend with. We kept it steady over the lumps and all were working well to speed us along back to the start and a wee dig at the end to see us over the finish line.

Thanks to PUCC for hosting this event, all went very well and hopefully be a permanent fixture on the calendar. They even managed to organise fine weather for a February morning.

The steady groups then all came home safely as we enjoyed the post event buffet of soup, sandwiches and big cakes πŸ™‚ Have to say the ride back wasn’t filled with joy as we battled sore legs and a headwind at a relaxed pace. If I suggest riding out next year, talk me out of it or organise a bus back πŸ™‚

Garmin stats (include sitting around at the start and end, so around 2:53 moving time @ 19.9mph for the actual reliability run):

Reliability Season 2018 Round 2 – Kennoway

Possibly the best weather I’ve ridden this one πŸ™‚
The lack of the usual howling gale seemed to keep the pace sensible at the start, still not hanging about, but not the usual frenetic sprint along to St Andrews. The bunch pretty much stuck together all the way to St Andrews, then out past Guardbridge. Glad the now familiar (and my opinion far better) Tayport Byapss was the route going to Balmullo – St Michael’s and the back road to Wormit rather than negotiating through Tayport and Newport main streets.
The rise to Gauldry is the traditional spot where the cracks start and this year was no different with 8 getting away on the sharp climb and drag out to the Grange descent. I’m sure the surface of this will be good practice for the Roubaix cobbles in April! The rolling road to Cupar is where the next attack was made and 3 got away leaving 4 of us trying to close the 20 second gap as we hit the bottom of the Hill of Tarvit. It was all I could do to hang at the back on the climb and the drag back towards Kennoway and have my 3 companions to thank for dragging me along. Got a bit of a second wind in the run in and was able to contribute as we sped back to the finish. A good run out and thanks to the other guys for sticking together.

There seemed to be even more food than usual back at the hall, all excellent as we carb loaded to recover πŸ™‚ The rest of The Wheelers all made it back in good time and another good run under the belts.

Thanks to Kennoway Club for hosting us and the army of helpers that made the event go very well.

Reliability Season 2018 Round 1 – Fife Century

Definitely comes round quicker every year – yes it’s the early season Reliability Rides (also known as people who race trying to pretend they aren’t racing πŸ™‚ ).
First off is the Fife Century run on Feb 11th. It was a very cold morning, with ice patches on the main roads, so no surprise that the route was changed to avoid the worst of the conditions. Numbers seemed down, but the arrival of Team Spokes en masse swelled the numbers of the fast group to around 25. Off we went on the A92 from Freuchie to Parbroath and then down to Newburgh. Pace was tempo rather than full gas and even managed to chat at one point! All that changed as we hit the climb of the day at Glenfarg where the decision seemed to be to ride uphill faster than we had been riding on the flat. This had the unsurprising effect of splitting the bunch as the climb dragged on longer than I remembered. I was in no mans land, solo. I pressed on as best I could as now had a tailwind as we headed back along the main road toward Strathmiglo. It was here that with the help of the cars managed to get back to the bunch. Back to Melville Lodges and then Cupar and a left turn for the drag back toward Parbroath where we lost a few riders. It was through and off time back to Melville Lodges for the 3rd time -I could barely make out 28mph on my Garmin through the tears. My legs were shot and it was all I could do to cling on at the back. The final stretch back to Strathmiglo and then the sprint back to Falkland finished me off. The run was just a shade under the 60 miles in 2:45 at about a 21.5mph moving average so a bit quicker than my usual Sunday Club Run! It’s all worth it for the buffet though and this year didn’t disappoint πŸ™‚ Note that there are rides and groups to suit all, you don’t have to be in the fast group, so I’d recommend it for everyone.

Presentation Lunch 2017

Around 60 Wheelers and guests had another fabulous Presentation Lunch at The Woodlands Hotel. The scene was set with the prizes and the raffle all ready for the post meal presentations.

Glad to see so many folks made it out on a cold afternoon.






After a lovely meal we were presented with the extended trailer for the film “Roadworthy – Life on Two Wheels“, that Rising View and 81 Films have been making of the Club. It was fantastic and showed off the Club and Scotland very well. We cannot wait for the finished film in 2018! We then had a round up of the year from Niall Elliott again highlighting all the amazing things the members have got up to this year on and off the bike and a plea for more selfies, even if it’s just to keep Mike T from posting them all πŸ™‚

Then the official business of the prize giving. All the well deserved winners were (apologies for having my grinning mug in all of them):

Fastest 10-mile Time Trial with a time of 23:03, fastest 25-mile Time Trial with a time of 58:29 and fastest 50-mile Time Trial with a time of 2:17:30 all awarded to Jim Petrie in recognition of another amazing year.

Hill Climb Award (Male) awarded to Ciaran Hannon with a time of 7:52 on the Rait hill climb.

Hill Climb Award (Female) and the Sportive Award (Female) awarded to Gill Peters with a time of 10:25 on the Rait hill climb and 176 miles in 2 sportive events.

Cyclocross Award – in recognition of his efforts in racing the cyclocross events across Scotland this is awarded to Jim Foulis. Jim was unable to pick up his award as he was on Mull, doing what he loves, racing cyclocross!

Tourist Trophy awarded by the Club Captain to Ian Anderson for his continued great work and support of the Club in all areas and for his knowledge and experience on the Club Runs.

Sportive Award (Male) with 898 miles in 12 sportive events and the Bob Kilhooley Most Improved Rider 2017 (voted by the Club Members) both awarded to Brian Barr for his great improvement this year and all the events he rode to raise money for charity.

Club Member of the Year 2017 (voted by the Club Members) was awarded to Gillian Elliott for her great work as our Social Convener, leisure clothing organising and all round support for the Club.

There was also a special award to Frankie Daillie nominated by the Club Captain Ian Simpson as Inspirational Rider of the Year. A much deserved award for Frankie who continues to help and inspire the club members. There was even a special video message from Round the World Record Holder Mark Beaumont to congratulate Frankie and to wish the Club well.

Well done to all the recipients.

Then the raffle was held where an array of wines and chocolates found some new homes before the official lunch was closed and the unofficial drinking competition started.

Thanks to the Woodlands for putting on a great lunch. Thanks again to Dale and Steve for a wonderful film. Once again, thanks to Gillian, Niall, Ian Anderson, Ally Mills and everyone who helped organise and host the lunch.

Bealach Mor 2017

Doesn’t time fly by when you’re enjoying yourself, as this was 10 in a row for me! Weather was unusually fine on the drive over to Kinlochewe, dry, mild, light wind. But, the sting in the tail hit us when we arrived and got out the car. Midges, billions of them, and all very hungry! A weird sight of folks waving their arms around and diving between car, hall, cafe to get some respite.

Everyone seemed keen to get moving and team Wheelers all set off at various times, as you need to time it to arrive at the foot of the Bealach for 11am when it opens for the cyclists and closes for the cars. I waited until 9:15 and set off with Brian from the Thistle and Rod from CoG. Rod set the pace up the first climb and we picked up wheels as we sped along to Achnasheen and the right turn to Lochcarron. A nice group, all working,if slightly erratic, and unfortunately a touch of wheels just in front of me saw 3-4 riders hit the road (didn’t look too serious as they were all up and moving).

Bang on time, hit the Bealach climb at 11am, getting good at this timing malarky! The group inevitably split, with my usual tactic of taking it easy on the climb, saving something for the 2nd half. Up and down, all in one piece and with no scary moments this year. Β As I rolled round the magnificent Applecross bay I saw the unmistakable orange jersey of Brian a minute or two up the road with 3-4 others. So I pushed on to join up, only took me 10 miles! Almost immediately after tagging on to the group the cramp started and I had to sit up and let them go.

The lumpy bits to Shieldaig were pretty awful as I had to ease way back to avoid the cramp in both legs, and I almost came to a stop on a few occasions. Finally made it to Shieldaig and then the last climb before Torridon.

The legs were in a world of pain as I pushed on as best I could for the last 10 rolling miles. Rather surprised to see the orange jersey up ahead and was slowly closing the gap. With about 3 miles to go finally caught Brian who dragged me and the top lady finisher to the line at a fine pace. Finished, well and truly finished.

Weather wise a great day, one of the best.Views stunning. Route,one of the best,challenging runs you’ll get anywhere. Well organised. Good food at the end too.

My time was 4:58, considering the last 30 miles were cramptastic, happy with that. Soon other Wheelers arrived with battle scarred faces and tales to tell. Everyone always says “never again”, but that soon wears off and you look forward to next year πŸ™‚

Garmin route and info –

 

UCI Gran Fondo World Championships – Albi 2017

No medal. No goodie bag. No hat. No t-shirt. Just very sore legs.Β  This is a race, not a sportive and there are World Champion Rainbow Jerseys up for grabs!

The 3 Team Wheelers who qualified and signed up for the Amateur World Championships set off for Albi as part of a massive Team GB representation. There were around 2,400 riders from 53 countries, with Team GB by far the largest. There are in fact 18 races across all the age categories for male and female riders! Each category has a mass start, with commissaire car and moto support with 7 minute intervals between each race. The largest race was my group of 50-54 year old males with 340 participating. There was also a special 100 year+ category with a 106 years old male rider who looked amazing for his age :-0

Sign on and race brief was on Saturday, all very easy and smooth. Suggestion was to park at the finish and ride the 3Km into Albi for the start and they even put on shuttle buses for the support crew to cheer you at the start and finish. Race brief made a point of emphasising the riders responsibility for doping control! Turns out you have to check at the end to see if you are one of the random checks and failure to turn up results in positive result and a 2 year ban from the UCI!

Look it’s me

Team Wheelers

Even with a reasonable start time, we were still up at 5am for breakfast and set off from our hotel at 6am! Parked up at the Albi Race Circuit where we finish and get ready before we ride into Albi to the start area.

The glamour of riding the Worlds

Each age group sets off at specific times, so Jamie bids farewell and off to his pen, Karen’s last off so probably still in bed at this time πŸ˜‰ We then have some fantastic French organised chaos. Could get some lessons on start protocols from the other euro events! Somehow we all manage to get to the line at our allotted time. My age cat has the biggest number of all with 340 in a mass start.

Ready for the off

The first 2.5Km were apparently neutralised behind the commissaires car and outriders. It was carnage! Almost wore out my brake blocks as the peleton was squeezed, sprinted, stopped, repeat. The first crash of the day was in the first 2Km, there were many more! The speed was not very neutral.

At the km 0 sign the flag dropped and hell was unleashed. It was fast, very fast and unrelenting and not my usual Sunday run! I have no idea what the route was or what the scenery was as I saw nothing but the wheels in front as we made it to the first climb at 35 miles in 1hr 25. The race then blew apart. Found myself in groups for the lumpy section as we all pushed on as best we could.

The middle section was hilly and then the sun came out. It was way too hot for a pasty Scot. Temperature apparently was 35-38 degrees. It felt like riding in a sauna with a hairdryer blasting your face. Reports that they ran out of water at the second feed stop, which is just unacceptable at any time, never mind the heat we had. So the last 25 miles were torture as cramp set in due to excessive heat and excessively sore legs! I limped home, barely able to hold any wheels that passed.

Did get a bit of lift towards the end with help from a kind Aussie and then the final run in as we turned onto the Albi Race Circuit for the last Km on the race track. I didn’t trouble anyone in a sprint and rolled home, burst.

So fast you missed me πŸ™‚

The greatest thing of the day was the lady with the hose showering you as you finished – bliss. Caught up with Karen who had a superb ride and Jamie who like me had a tough day at the office.

The greatest shower ever!

Positively glowing

This was definitely not your usual sportive, a different class of rider, which you’d expect with a Rainbow Jersey on offer for each age cat winner! Was a great experience though and seeing all the various countries in national colours was great.

The results for Team Wheelers were:

  • Karen 2:55 for the 97Km route for 13th in her age category (winner was 2:37)
  • Jamie 4:52 for the 155Km route for 150th in his age cat (winner was 3:53)
  • Graeme 4:45 for the 155Km route for 216 in his age cat (winner was 4:02)

Nothing left but to relax and a well earned beer or two for us and the support crew.

Cheers

Even the DS can now relax

Qualifying ride is Ayrshire again for the 2018 Worlds being held in Varese, would recommend it, great experience.

The Garmin stats and route are: