King of the Mountains Sportive 2017

Can you remember when it wasn’t windy every day, I can’t?

Sign on at Aboyne Community Campus / School was all easy and quick. As I was a solo Wheeler (Brian Barr was there doing the 100K route) I hung around the start like a real “billy no mates” until a group of Deeside guys set off and I tagged along.

Nice steady social pace, a long day ahead. Then after 13 miles they stopped for a comfort break and I carried on. The next 30 miles was just me and 2 or 3 others making progress as best we could over the Suie climb and on to Cabrach. Bit of a slog as the wind was quite strong. Going over Cabarach the guy I had been with unbeknown to me got a mechanical and I found myself alone for the next 65 miles!

The stretch from Dufftown to Tomintoul will live long in my memory as one of the worst 18 miles I have done. It was brutal. Slog into a fierce headwind, it sapped all my energy and will to keep going!

Quick pit stop at Tomintoul for water and then on to a really tough 20 miles. Up over the Lecht (from the “easy” side, aye right) then drop down to Cockbridge. The side wind was swiping me and I felt really uncomfortable getting blown about, so on the brakes most of the way. Then the next 2 climbs really finished me off and I was crawling up Gairnshiel, with the only comfort that it is the last major obstacle and the last 20 miles were mainly downhill.

I pushed on downhill, past the Queen’s wee house and the back road to Aboyne. I was passed by a couple of guys, tried to hold their wheel for a bit and the effort just didn’t seem worth it. I did manage to get from the top of Gairnshiel to the finish, about 23 miles in an hour and I was empty. Official time was 6:26 for 35th overall and 10th in my old man age category.

Turned out the forecast was spot on – cloudy, mild and WINDY!! I am longing for a run where it is isn’t a constant wind, hopefully soon.

The event is basically the Etape Royale with added miles (110 v 102) and extra climbing and a fraction of the price. Okay, you don’t get a goody bag, but did get a nice mug. It’s not closed roads, but it is the middle of nowhere and I hardly saw a car all day! There was food at the end and as it was a community sports facility, changing rooms and showers too.

Nice mug

Here’s the Garmin route and stats:

 

Tour of Ayrshire Gran Fondo 2017

The inaugural Tour of Ayrshire Gran Fondo in Kilmarnock is different from the usual sportives. First off it is the closest to a European style event in the UK that I have taken part in. Second, it is a race at the front, you need a Full British Cycling Race Licence to sign on and enter the Race Pens at the start (split into official UCI Age Categories). The Sport riders (usual sportive rules) set off in start pens after the race pens. Thirdly, it is a UCI approved event and is the only Scottish qualifying event for the UCI Gran Fondo World Championships, being held in Albi, France in August this year.  Added bonus, closed roads. All very new and a tiny bit exciting 😉

The 3 C’s, that’s Ciaran, Costello and Carruthers set off at the crack of dawn – so much for the late 10am start – still trying to eat breakfast at 5am!  Getting there was no problem and getting to the VIP Parking was well sign posted (long story but Ciaran was a VIP for the day and we all went in one car so used his parking voucher). Sign on was dead easy as it was still very quiet as we were very early!

Hanging about for an eternity, there were some stalls to look and a fine display of old bikes – Vic and David McC would be in their element! The start pens opened at 9am, but nobody was up for standing in the freezing wind for any longer than they had to, seeking shelter in the school Event HQ, behind vans, anywhere. So at 9:45 the organiser basically called us all to the start – to then tell us there was a 15 minute delay as there was a house fire and fire engines on the course!

Eventually, the first 3 age groups set off in wave 1 – bye Jamie. Five minutes later the next 3 age groups set off – Ciaran and myself included. BANG!! From 0 to 25 mph in the bat of an eyelid and we were going uphill! A bunch of 150 soon thinned out as bodies shed everywhere. Basically Ciaran and me hung on for about 4 miles then with the thought of another 65 miles at this pace decided to sit in the second bunch instead.

The group we were in then stayed pretty much together for the next 40 miles or so. The course was rolling, no major climbs, just constant up , down, turn around. A fair few of the surfaces were pretty awful too – seems a common theme across the whole country! What was a constant factor was the god awful gale wind that never seemed to be at your back – always seemed to be headwind or side swiped!

Need to look at my Garmin to see the route, as I really have no idea where we went. The joys of closed roads, didn’t have to look at signs or know where to go! There were great crowds on the roads, lots of the villages were busy with cheering and cow bells – was all very good.

About 50 miles marrk, going over a particularly exposed section with brutal wind, I was nearly taken out by someone who rammed my back wheel. I stayed up, he went off road into gorse and mud. It was just then I spied a solo Jamie a few hundred metres up the road and with a burst of rage and adrenalin (post ramming) I set off to catch him, dragging a few others with me.  What was now a group of about 8 then tried working together, not always successfully, over some last lumps. The last few ramps seemed to take their toll and I pushed on with one other guy and when we looked back the rest were distanced. So with 5 miles of mainly downhill and at last a tailwind we worked well speeding to the finish and over the line. He did easily beat me in the sprint, but as he wasn’t in my age cat I didn’t care 😊

Finish was all set-up well, good crowds cheering you and a medal to all finishers along with water and alcohol free beer! Soon Jamie came home and then a few minutes later we were joined by Ciaran. It was then time to set off for some food and await the results.

We were joined by Karen and Steven Knight (surprise late entrants) and watched the podium presentations. The top 3 in every Race age cat were awarded prizes by the Kilmarnock Mayor who does seem a bit of a character (in a nice way). The podium presentations were an eye opener to how good some of these folks were – in every category. Once all the podiums were concluded it was time for the results to see who qualified for the World Championships. As you can see below, four of us did – Karen, Ciaran, Jamie and myself and we picked up our UCI Qualifier’s Medals. So we can head off to Albi in August and represent Team GB at the World Championships :-0

The event was well run, tough course, very tough weather and as usual pretty shocking roads. Would recommend it. There was a Chrono on the Saturday for the testers who want to go to the World Championships too, not just for roadie’s.

The times for the Wheelers were:

Name                      Time        Cat Position
Graeme Carruthers 03:33:56 15th
Jamie Costello         03:42:19 24th
Ciaran Hannon        03:42:47 27th
Karen Knight           04:15:33 2nd !! – very well done, especially as “I’m not doing any events this year” 🙂
Stephen Knight       04:15:34 52nd

The route and stats on my Garmin:

Ride It Callander Sportive 2017

After years of looking, we found the worst “road” in Scotland!

There were 8 Wheelers signed on for the Saturday version of the Evans Ride It Callander Sportive on a fine, chilly morning. Seemed slow to get registered, but eventually we rolled away at 9am with the plan to be social and stick together.

So we spun round as you loop around Thornhill from various angles. A first for me, we even stopped at the first feed station, more of a “comfort” break, but would have been rude not to have a tray bake or two 🙂

It’s around the 35 mile mark at Cambusbarron that the really lumpy bits start and the really rough sections start coming thick and fast. Unfortunately Kenny got a p*ncture, though not a surprise, the surprise was he was the only one!  After some more lumps and bumps, Kenny and Ian S decided we should leave them and so the 6 of us headed off to Carron Valley. It was a bit of a lottery here, some surfaces were velvet smooth, then for no rhyme or reason that stopped and were followed by god awful rough sections.

There were a couple of added tweaks to the route from previous years, I assume to get the mileage up to 85 miles and the highlight was the track after Fintry. This was the worst surface I have ever tried to cycle on, a cross bike / mountain bike would have been more appropriate. Thankfully everyone was being sensible, would have been carnage in a bunch trying to go at pace. You had to carefully pick your way through holes and gravel to try and find a safe way through it. Kenny p*ncturted here too, again the real surprise he was the only one of us! I think they may have taken this section out of the Sunday run, which would be a very sensible decision.

After the climb to the Top of The World it’s a descent and flattish run to Aberfoyle. We stopped to fill up bottles (and some more tray bakes) before the climb up Dukes Pass and the blast to the bottom to regroup.

The last 8 miles after Dukes we upped the pace a wee bit and lost Brian and John C as we blasted back to the sports hall and the finish.

After a quick shower, it was time for food, but as the poor soul serving had been up early, they stopped taking food orders, thankfully just after I had got mine, but unlucky for Gill, John and Graeme 🙁

I have done this run a few times now, and the roads aren’t getting any better. The goodie bag (well bottle) before and after are good and it is well organised and a spectacular route, just those roads that spoil it.

They run the same event the next day and Yorshire Rob and Brodie were doing it then (if anyone else was let me know).

The results for the 86 miles and 5,500 feet of lumps were (including p*ncture and feed stops):

Gill P – 5:34
Graeme D – 5:34
Ciaran H – 5:34
Graeme C – 5:34
Brian B – 5:35
John C – 5:37

Kenny and Ian S took a wee shortcut, but still around the 74 miles for them in around 5.5hrs.

On Sunday the times were:

Brodie – 5:00
Yorkshire Rob – 5:03

The route etc, from my Garmin –

 

 

No Excuses Sportive Falkirk

Not sure 4 hours sleep and a hilly 80+ club run the day before is good preparation for your first sportive of the year, but here we go. Plan was always to bimble around and enjoy it and that’s exactly what I did.

This is a new event with a unique twist. If you pay your money and turn up you get it back – so ride for free! Or donate it to charity. It is a good idea and worked as the event was sold out and the place was pretty busy.

Starting at Falkirk stadium, so plenty of parking, it was very well organised. Sign on was quick and easy and the signage on the road probably the best of any event I have done, marshalls at key points too. The route was really good and a decent early season challenge with some tough little climbs and rolling all the way – having great weather did help. Pretty much out in the open countryside with great views and quiet roads most of the day.

As per my plan, I did it at my own nice social pace, pretty much on my own the whole route, but wasn’t lonely as always passing riders on the road and never felt I was out on my own.

Decent goody bag and medal at the end, considering it was “free” to enter and some soup and food available too. I would recommend it and look to do it again if they run it next year. The organisers do have another couple of events in Scotland this year and if they are of the same standard then I’d be signing up for them.

My Garmin went to sleep at the start so missed the first 10 miles or so, the official route is here  – https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/1532895473 My time for a nice run in the sun was 3:32.

 

 

Presentation Lunch 2016

Another successful Presentation Lunch at the Woodlands on December 11th 2016, with over 50 Wheelers, partners and friends.

lunch-2016-2

lunch-2016

After lunch it was time for the prize giving.

the-trophies

Club President Bill McLennan was the master of ceremonies, ably assisted by the club legend that is David McCallum.

bill-2016

First award was to Joe McFadyen as the 10 Mile Time Trial Club Champion for 2016. Unfortunately Joe was unable to attend, so no photo!

Then Jim Petrie was awarded the trophy for the 25 Mile Time Trial Club Champion for 2016 and also he was voted by the Club Members as the Bob Kilhooley Most Improved Rider 2016 for his return to competing in time trials after a few years absence 🙂

jim-p-2016

The next award was for the Tourist Trophy, which was awarded to Graeme Davidson for his help and guidance on the Club Runs.

graeme-d-2016

The next award was the Male Sportive (Male) to Rob Howarth for the most miles completed in sportives in 2016 with 445 miles in 5 events.

Sportive Award (Male) 2016

Sportive Award (Male) 2016

Karen Knight was then awarded the Sportive Award (Female) for 2016 after completing 628 miles in 7 sportives in the year.

Sportive Award (Female) 2016

Sportive Award (Female) 2016

The final and most prestigious award is the Club Member of the Year, again voted by the Club Members. This year Gillian Elliott was the worthy winner for all her efforts in organising the social events, the club weekender, trip to Mallorca, the Presentation Lunch,  curry night and for even getting us club leisure wear.

Club Member of the Year 2016

Club Member of the Year 2016

Well done to all the winners, all thoroughly deserved.

David McCallum then said a few words in memory of Peem Brewster who we lost in 2016, but also recounted how it was now 45 years since Dave, Jim Petrie and Jimmy Millar set the Scottish 10 Mile Time Trial record! Doesn’t time fly.

dave-mcc-2016

It was great that all 3 were at the lunch to relive that great achievement.

Scottish 10TT Record Holders 1971!

Scottish 10TT Record Holders 1971!

The raffle was then held with some luckier than others 🙂 thanks again to everyone who donated prizes.  And that wrapped up the official proceeding for the afternoon and the serious drinking could begin 🙂

Thanks to Gillian and all who helped organise and make the day go so well. Thanks too to The Woodlands for another fine lunch.

Bealach Mor 2016

After last year’s near perfect weather it was never going to be 2 in a row!

Forecast was wet & windy so was surprised to get up on a lovely sunny calm morning. All that changed in the drive to Kinlochewe as it got grey and then wet and then even wetter! Didn’t even dampen down the midges which were out in force helping themselves to lovely bare legs for their breakfast!

Signed on and met Karen who had ridden the 9 miles form the hotel to the sign on and was already cold and soaked before the start! Steve wasn’t well and had to be a DNS, but was on hand to bring some dry stuff for Karen. No sign of other Wheelers and numbers seemed down from previous years. Perhaps a combination of it’s been running a few years now, more and more events every week and the weather, have made this less popular then it used. But it is still a great event and one of the best routes, I’d recommend it.

Karen had already set off when I left at 9:15 and hit the first climb after 1/2 a mile. It was miserable, wet and headwind and I was solo. Over the top, did manage to get in a wee group of 5-6 trying to work our way to Achnasheen and the right turn into the block headwind and driving rain! This section was pretty brutal, trying to get any kind of working group was hard although did have a tandem working with us for a while which was great to draft! Reached the level crossing, whose tracks claim victims every year and this year it was almost me. I have no idea how I stayed upright as my bike flapped about like a fish out of water until after what felt like an age, but was probably less than a second, the wheel gripped again and I had control again. Phew that was close.

Pushed through Lochcarron and up and over the testing hill and down to Kishorn where out of the blue there was a voice I recognised – Yorkshire Rob was doing the event! Got to Tornapress and the weather was starting to clear, so I disposed of rain jacket and set off up the mountain! Done this a fair few times now, so l know what’s coming and the wind was fierce at times, so it was steady over the first section, grind up the horrible middle section and push on through the hairpins to the top and it’s all over for another year.

The descent is very technical at the start and in the strong crosswind, wet greasy roads and poor visbility it was on the brakes from the start. Screeching round the real horrible corners, where the ambulance usually sits, it wasn’t there and it crossed my mind that I hoped it wasn’t needed somewhere. Then my bike had a fit and tried to throw me off, pitching left and right and sliding towards the wall and a rather long drop! Again, no idea how, but it gripped again and I got control back, and slowed to a stop. Must have given the lady behind me a real fright. I then descended so so slooooooowly just making sure I got down in one piece.

The run from Applecross to Shieldaig is well know as the toughest section and was a tale of 2 halves. The first was fast (ish), tailwind assisted, but the second half was brutal as wind and hills took their toll. At least the weather was now bright and sunny. I was pretty much solo all the way from Applecross to the finish (40 miles), with only a 5 mile or so section with anyone else working with me. Seems we all had the same story – just no groups on the road to help each other! My near misses were playing on my mind so even though the roads were now drying out I was still very very cautious on all the descents.

After Shieldaig and then the last couple of horrible hills to Torridon, it’s a draggy 10 miles to the finish, but just couldn’t seem to get any decent speed and felt like a headwind at times. The last 3 miles are downhill and time to empty the tank and blast to the finish as best I could.

The post event is always good, hot food and more cakes than you could eat and trust me I tried 🙂 Soon Rob and Karen arrived with similar tales of solo slogging and glad it was over.

The fastest time was 4:50 this year, and the Wheelers were:

Pos Name Time
6th Graeme Carruthers 05:05:16
33rd Robert Harworth 05:37:45
47th Karen Knight 05:48:04
174th Jonathan Mack 07:07:16

Well done to Karen for finishing 2nd female on the day. Even though not my fastest time, given the weather, very very near “misses” and the fact the majority was under my own steam with no groups to help, I am more than happy 🙂

The stats from my Garmin:

Madonna del Ghisallo Pilgrimage

An icon of Italian (World) Cycling and on my To Do List for a long time, the pilgrimage to the patron saint of cycling –  ticked off 🙂

Having seen it so many times on the Lombardia / Giro and read about it in so many books and pored over numerous pictures I still was surprised at how tricky a wee climb this was.  Got a nice wee ferry ride to Bellagio to the start of the climb. You immediately climb out of Bellagio on fairly steep 8-10% ramps until you get out the town and into the climb proper – it was here the unofficial “start” line was painted on the road after a mile of climbing!

The climb is in 3 sections. The first section is about 4.5 miles of steady, steep climbing through trees and rapidly gaining height. Then the road levels off and even goes downhill slightly for the next mile. Time to spin the legs and get the average speed up. Then the final mile is steep again – where you’d make your attack!

It was so familiar as I turned the last corner and could see the summit with the church on the left – all the greats over all ages of cycling have raced up here and it was a privilege to follow them  – albeit half their speed 🙂

The church itself is amazing with memorabilia from Italian World Champions (and a few non Italians) over the years. Spent an age soaking it all in. There is now a museum on site too (5 euro entry for cyclists) which is well worth a visit. You could spend all day looking at the multitude of donated bikes, jerseys, newspapers, books, videos detailing the history of cycling and the riders.

All that was left was the blast back to Bellagio and a gelato by Lake Como to remember all those that have passed this way.

Thoroughly recommend it for everyone and even the non cyclists in my group who drove up enjoyed the history, church and museum.

Some pics which don’t do it justice…

Coppi’s 1 hour record bike

The Garmin stats:

Gran Fondo Stelvio 2016

After last year’s Etape du Tour Heatstroke Hell, the main decision this year was how much winter clothing do we need in June?!

Three of us (Ciaran, Jamie and Graeme C) had signed up for this event sponsored by Santini and Mr Santini himself is there to wave you off and home (if you’re fast enough, he doesn’t hang abut in the snow for too long). Starting in Bormio and taking in the fearsome Motirolo and finishing 2,760 metres up on the Stelvio.

We decided to do a wee warm up climb the day before and so we climbed the Gavia, a mere 25Km climb, topping out at 2,652 metres. As we climbed up and up the weather changed to rain, then the snow comes, lying thick either side of the road. By the time we got to tthe top there was no visibility, it was freezing and you could ski! And tomorrow the Stelvio is 150 metres higher! The descent was awful, absolutely freezing, shivering, hands barely able to break. A real eye opener for tomorrow.

Lovely June day

After thawing out, we went to register and pickup the goodie bag (which was actually pretty good) and then the race briefing. As the 2 hosts chatted and joked away, we were understanding nothing of it at all.Then I realised half was in English, the tannoy was just so bad you couldn’t understand a word 🙂

There was a thousand checks of the weather and lots of decisions what to wear, at least I didn’t have to descend the Stelvio at the end as Lindsay was coming to the finish and would drive me down. Ciaran and Jamie dropped off their clothing bags that they take to the finish so you can change into dry, warm clothes for the descent. We were in different start pens, but as I was in pen 1, Jamie pen 2 and Ciaran in 3 there was every chance we would all meet up as they caught and passed me. Usual hanging about waiting for the off, but the weather was fine.

The first few Kms are neutralised behind the race car, which was “interesting” as people sped up to get behind the car only to then slow down, a concertina start / stop as folks all shouting and brakes screeching. The car peeled off and then all hell broke loose. The pace was stupidly fast (for me) and as it was mainly downhill and with a big day ahead I really took it easy, just spinning and keeping safe.

After about 30 miles you go through Bianzone and hit the first real climb. On the event profile it is a mere blip, in reality it is a 3 mile climb at 9%+ average! After so much descending it was a shock to the legs and I spun up keeping it steady. Half way up is a really steep ramp going through a narrow arch and was a bottleneck but at least nobody in my group had to get off so we made it through and up to the top.This is where Jamie caught me and we stayed together on the descent and the flattish section until you get to Sernio hill (only 2 miles @ 5.1%).

After 50 miles and 2.5 hours we hit the Motirolo – 7 miles @ 11% average. It was, as expected, brutally, unrelentingly tough for the first 5 miles. Some of the ramps are 15-20% and go on for what seems like an eternity. I was managing it okay, trying to keep out the red and just slowly getting there. Jamie had pushed on and disappeared. Then you hit a flattish bit, just enough to get the legs spinning and get ready for the last 1.5 miles. It was around here Ciaran caught and passed me in his usual mountain goat style. Then bang, with a mile to go, you hit a ridiculously steep, rough, cobbled, wet section with ramps 25%+. It is very narrow, very steep and being wet your wheels spun – so almost everybody gets off and walks and you pretty much have no choice with the traffic. Walking was harder than peddaling it! Then get back on for the final push to the summit. It had taken me 1hr 25 to go 7 miles! I filled my water bottles and set off.

The fearsome descent was less so and wasn’t too bad, was expecting worse and even I was passing some folks – unheard of. After 9 miles of downhill, pass through Tialo Basso, a town at 677 metres, and then the realisation you still have 32 miles and 2,000 metres ascent to go and it is all uphill from here.

The next section was a slog, on my own, crawling along and constantly thinking “I still have the Stelvio to climb”. It was nice getting back to Bormio with the crowds cheering and knowing there was just 1 more hill. But what a hill, 21Km and 7.1% average.

Time to engage bottom gear and enjoy it as best I can. After 2 Km I saw Lindsay by the side of the road – it was closed to cars and she couldn’t get to the top! Oh dear, I have to descend at the finish and no warm clothes for me….. I actually enjoyed the climb, it is spectacular,weather was great and views amazing. It did take a longgggg time, but eventually with 2-3Km to go the snow walls start and the scene turns from warm summer to winter again. Finally crossed the line at a crawl and was handed the coveted Finisher’s Cap.

Was worth it for this 🙂

As I put on my summer waterproof the hailstorm started! Quick message to see if Jamie was still at the top (no answer) and I set off. It was bloomin freezing again. After 2-3 Km I saw Jamie coming up – no idea how that happened or where I passed him but the confused look and my frozen brain were struggling to understand! (We reckon it was when he stopped in Bormio for water that I passed him) Thought at 1 point my brake / shifter was broken and then realised it was because 2 fingers were so numb I had no feeling.  After 19K of downhill I met Lindsay where the road closure was and shivering, changed into my warm clothes. Turns out the road closed at 9:3am, but the Police were very nice and even gave Lindsay some of their lunchtime wine while she waited :-0

So that was it – GF Stelvio DONE. Great event, well organised, well marshalled and a very tough iconic route. Highly recommend it, and Bormio is a nice wee town too.

The results for Team Wheelers were:

Ciaran – 7:03 (300th and 56th in age cat)

Graeme – 7:18 (348th and 70th in age cat)

Jamie – 7:31 (464th and 76th in age cat)

The winning time, was a quite frankly ridiculous 5:19 and in total, 3,100 took part.

 

3 Pistes 2016

So, so much better than last year – it’s all about the weather!

Last year this event was horrible, brutal wind all the way round and soul destroying, so this year had to be better, right? The Italian Mob (Jamie, Ciaran and me) were doing this as a last “social paced” warm up before we head off to Italy next weekend. We were also joined by Guest Rider for The Day Wee Phil. Sky’s looked ominous on the way up, but forecast was dry, sunshine and most importantly – no wind. After the usual faffing about at sign on, dropping bags, getting ready the 4 of us set off at 8:35 – fairly social time for these events.

Nice and steady up over the Moulin Moors and the weather was already fine. We were joined by a wee group, most of whom were too shy to go near the front 🙂 The rolling roads to get to the first Piste of the day are a bit sapping, but we were sticking to our reasonably social paced plan. The climb up to Glenshee was fine, but we had lost Phil so we had a quick pee stop at the summit and then the blast down to Braemar.

Just before Braemar we were passed by a group and latched on to their train, working well on the miles to the next climbing section. From Crathie to Tomintoul is 3 climbs of increasing difficulty! As we climbed the first sharp section, the group split and we agreed we would not chase the faster guys all the way to Aviemore – yeah right! The group did all stay together over the next climb and fast descent and on to Cockbridge for the brute that is The Lecht!

The wall of tarmac that greets you is impressive, as is the noise of everyone changing in to their smallest gear! No two ways about it, it is a grind for the first bit – get up it any way you can. Then it “flattens” out, get your breath back, next ramp, flattens out, one more final steep ramp before the faster section to the ski station. This is where we stopped for water and waited for Wee Phil to get back on.

The descent is nearly worth all the effort, but is over all too quickly. The 4 of us made our way to Tomintoul where the train from earlier caught us and we latched on once again. The pace was now slightly above “social”, but with a good group and a wee tailwind the effort was just about manageable. The blast back after Bridge of Brown all the way to Coylumbridge was a bit fierce and the thought of the last climb was looming large.

As we hit the main drag to the Cairngorm climb our social pace at this point was 95 miles in 5 hours and with 2 of the 3 pistes done! Then there was an almighty bang and much looking around to see who was the unlucky one – it was Ciaran – rotten luck. The group then fractured as the initial steep bit of the climb took its toll and we were all strung out everyone doing their best to get up. It does get slightly easier further up, but legs were bust by then and it was a slow drag to get over the line. A smiling Karen (and Steve) who had set off early, were there to greet us, as was Fiona D waiting for Alan who we had passed before Cockbridge looking like he was having a “fun” day.

Was a cracking day, weather held which made all the difference. Bring on the Wheelers Weekender where we get to do it all again 🙂

Turns out later in the afternoon there were thunderstorms and flash floods and the event was stopped for 45 minutes with 200 riders stranded at Nethy Bridge! So even on a good day in Scotland you’re never far away from winter!

Times for the 4 Wheelers were:
Graeme Carruthers 5:44:55 (13th on the day)
Jamie Costello 5:46:03 (14th)
Ciaran Hannon 5:49:29 (17th, including puncture stop!)
Karen Knight 6:40:20 (1st in category and 4th female overall)
 

And for our Thistle friends :
Phil Morris 5:59:09
Alan Davidson 6:41:57
Steve Knight (couldn’t find time in the results?)
 

Garmin info / route etc –

Mallorca 2016

A wee update on the latest annual holiday training camp to Mallorca.

DAY 1 – Travel / Formentor

After the usual no sleep to Pollensa all night travelling, which all went seamlessly thanks to Jamie and Gillian for organising the buses to Edinburgh and Pollensa Park it was the now traditional afternoon leg spin to the lighthouse at Formentor. Weather was fine, run was all good and the goats were in good form. Then it was quick turnaround and the return leg where we split into a couple of groups as the rolling road took its toll. Re group at the top of the last climb for the blast back to Peurto Pollensa and the first (of many) stops at Tolos.

My stats for the day : 28.2 miles and 2,850 feet of climbing – https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/1143001648

DAY 2 – The Mountains!

A lovely morning saw us all head out in one group towards the mountains. Over the bumps and on to The Orient. A wee bit of early jostling saw the group split on the first climb, but we regrouped at the bottom, a pattern for the day. Then it was the climb of the Orient / Col d’Honor where the real “fun” started and the descent down to Bunyola for a much needed lunch.  Suitably refuelled and having waved Jerry and Gary off, we headed for the Soller climb, where we had agreed to “keep it sensible”, which we actually did. Got a nice tow from a local club and the climb is one of my favourites and doing at a pace we could talk made it all the more enjoyable. The descent down to Soller town is less enjoyable for me, far too technical, until you get down to the main road and a real blast for the last couple of K’s. 

Then on to the big one, Puig Major, not a favourite, but has to be done. Again we kept it sensible, tapping a pace that wasn’t too taxing, even more sensible given it was now the hottest part of the day. Eventually getting to the top and through the tunnel for the descent to the viaduct, our agreed meeting point. It was a wee while before we were all together as some stopped to take pictures, etc – what do they think this is a holiday 🙂 As the clouds were looking ominous some of us headed back as others recovered, splitting in to 2 groups.

The rolling roads from the viaduct back to Lluc are a real leg sapper, just what you need after 3 big mountains! But we did all manage to get down together and the speedy run in back to Pollensa. A cracking day.

My stats for the day : 84.6 miles and 8,050 feet of climbing  https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/1144279168

DAY 3 – Wash Out

So the plan was to go to Randa and then swing past Alcudia on the way home for some of us to register for Saturday’s 312 event. Well the best laid plans….

It was raining, hard, and nobody wanted to go out! We waited and waited until it eventually looked like it was stopping. Suitably wrapped up, we all set off for Alcudia. It started raining heavy again. Roads were slippery and Gillian came a cropper, thankfully at slow pace and no major damage done. We decided we would skip Randa and just head to the event registration. Unfortunately that didn’t open until 3pm! So after some shopping and hiding in doorways to get warm, we headed home, gingerly, cold and soaken. A day to forget!

My stats for the day : 16.2 miles and 112 feet of climbing https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/1145647343

DAY 4 – Lost!!

Weather better, we decided the best tapering for the 312 would be to do some hills!

So off we all went to Selva and the climb up the beautiful Sa Batalla climb. A fair pace set by the drink fuelled Ciaran was just not what was needed 🙂 Regrouping at the cafe at the petrol station we then headed to the viaduct (except Ciaran who decided having ripped our legs he was heading off). After the viaduct is a sharp climb to then descend Sa Calobra. What a stunning descent it is. Technical and you do have to watch out for cars / riders in both directions so makes sight seeing tricky. Once at the bottom we decided to head straight back up and regroup at the viaduct as I still have painful memories of trying the climb on a full stomach. It was a lovely climb, steady, not too windy or hot and fantastic scenery. At the viaduct some of us decided to head to the Puig and on to Valldemossa. As we started climbing up to the Puig, Ian Anderson turned back as he decided to head home with the rest. This left Jim F, Joe McF, Jamie C and myself to crest the Puig and the best descent on the island, 14K downhill to Soller for some lunch.

After lunch we set off at a social pace to Valldemossa – possibly the best road on the island. As we made our way to Deia we saw what looked like a Wheeler coming towards us?  It was Ian Anderson, but how?? We carried on the climb and it transpired that Ian had changed his mind again, decided to carry on up the Puig to catch us. He then set off up to Valldemossa and turned back as he didn’t know when the climb ended! As we finally got to Valldemossa, Ian said he was about 200 metres from the top when he turned back, oops!

The fast descent and team time trial saw us arrive at Santa Maria after 88 miles for a final coffee stop. After discussion, we agreed Ian’s “it’s only 95 miles” from the previous night was a tad optimistic and we still had 30-35 back home. NOTE – some may dispute this next section and there’s no blame attached as I was just following wheels 😉 Setting off there was a shout from Joe to turn right, this was our first mistake as we headed off towards Sencelles and then towards Sineu where Ian A shouted right (second mistake) and we set off towards Sant Joan and round to Petra and then back to Sineu! It was now dark, we had no food or drink and we found a supermarket for some fuel. Ian A and Joe did now know where we were and we set off on the correct road for Llubi and Sa Pobla. It was then over the bumps in the pitch black, with the helpful drivers honking their horns and shining their full beams at us to remind us we had no lights!

Thankfully the roads are in good condition as god knows what would have happened if we hit a pothole as we made a fast track back to Pollensa and then back to the hotel. It was now 9:30pm, dinner missed! Turns out we did 52 miles to get home from Santa Maria and if we had taken the direct route it was <30, oh well you live and learn. I learned I NEVER want to cycle in the dark with no lights again and that even after 140 miles when you can still hit 25 mph when you’re desperate to get home!

My stats for the day : 140.8 miles and 11,100 feet of climbing https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/1146946845

Day 5 – Not the 312!

After yesterday’s 140 mile taper and no dinner, I was up for breakfast at 5am as this was 312 Day. Met Jim B and Oonagh and after seeing the forecast and the fact it was already raining, decided to bail. REALLY didn’t fancy the descent in the wet with 4,500 other riders and the risk of serious damage just too much. So back to bed and then up at 8am for a second breakfast.

We sat about waiting for the rain to go off, which it did around 11am and Ian A and Davie Ross and me set off for an easy, flattish day. Out to Alcudia and then on to Arta and loop round to Manacor where we found what looked like the only open cafe in the town (don’t like Manacor always looks desolate and shut!). Thankfully we had stayed dry but as we pulled in for coffee the rain did start again. Coffee and cake were great and we got chatting to a Finnish former pro ice hockey player who bought us some rocket fuel brandy!

Jackets on we set off home, and quickly had to remove jackets as it turned out nice 🙂 Back to Can Picafort where we were passed by the biggest rally of motorbikes I’ve ever seen – must have taken 15-20 minutes for them all to pass! As the 312 was still going ahead and it was closed roads, there was some fun and games getting back to Alcudia, but the last few miles on empty traffic free roads was great.

As we approached the 312 event village we went off the main road on to the parallel side road, only to find we were actually on the finishing straight. Very sheepish and red faced we crossed the official 312 finish line to cheers and clapping and the official photographer 🙂 We even got tickets for our finishers t-shirt and pasta party!

Back through Alcudia to home the traffic was a nightmare going the other way as the event closed roads caused some major issues! We rolled home in empty roads back to Tolos. Considering the weather and skipping the event, turned out a pretty good day.

My stats for the day : 80 miles and 2,650 feet of climbing https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/1147808223

DAY 6 Randa (at last)

We awoke to more wet, unsettled weather and a sombre mood as this was our day to commemorate the passing of Jim Brewster 7 days earlier. We all donned black armbands in memory or Peem as we set off on a cold, wet morning towards Alcudia to pick up Brian and OCD. It was freezing and very wet and we hid in a bike shop trying to get warm, we didn’t. Then off through Alcudia where I was still shivering while cycling even with 4 layers on! Decided that if things were no better once we turned towards Sa Pobla I was heading home! Turned out things did changed and soon the sun was out, and started to get warmer, just as well as we waited for Joe to fix a puncture then another!

Spirits lifted, we did a Brian magical mystery tour to Inca and then somehow we split into 2 groups?!? We all knew where we were heading to eventually so we carried on to Sineu, Montuiri and then Randa for the climb to the monastery – where we met the other group.

After lunch we got a photo of us all, a mark of respect and memory for Peem and set off towards Petra, Sineu and home. Once again, after a miserable start, the day turned out well.

My stats for the day : 100 miles and 3,660 feet of climbing https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/1149741218

DAY 7 – Leave it all on the road day!

This year was no different from previous as the various levels of fatigue and desire takes its toll on what everyone plans for the last day. But, as the weather was now the best it had been all week and it was the last day, the plan was to head out flattish and then some can head for the hills or home. We all set off to Selva, where the first split happened with some heading up to Lluc / Sa Calobra and the rest of us heading on to Santa Maria for coffee and cakes. Then the second split happened with everyone bar Jamie and me heading back on a flat run, leaving us to go to Valldemossa.

A cracking run saw is keep it very social over Valldemossa and the descent to Soller for lunch. We then managed to get lost in Soller’s 1 way system, taking 3 miles of back roads / mazes to finally get out and on to the climb. A first for us going the reverse to the usual way. It was another cracking climb, steady, no steep bits and lovely weather. After the technical descent the straight downhill back to Bunyola is a real fast blast, yeeehaaaa.

Now with a lovely tailwind and the sun on us, it was a blast back to Inca and then Selva, where we decided we hadn’t done enough miles and went on to Campanet and Sa Pobla (okay we missed the turn and took a long way home). Back home over the bumps was a bit of a slog as we now had a full on headwind but it didn’t spoil what was a cracking day.

That was it, no more cycling time for beer and ice cream. My stats for the day : 107 miles and 6,100 feet of climbing https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/1151083117

So that’s the cycling from my perspective, see Facebook for all the other non cycling shenanigans 🙂 And if anyone wants to get me an alarm clock for Christmas it would come in handy!