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:

 

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.

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:

Deeside Loop

Copied from Andrea’s post in the Wheelers Facebook page so the non Facebookers can read about our fab day.
Absolutely brilliantly awesome day! Twenty cyclists left Baldovie Toll at an unsociably early time on a Sunday of 8am. The pace was brisk as we flew past Monike, up to Brechin where Fergus joined us and along to Edzell and Fettercairn. It was just past here that the weaker sex decided they needed a pee stop and we also lost Kenny and Fergus as one only had a half day pass and the other remembered he was missing his helmet – either that or they remembered the joys of Cairn O’Mount 😉
Gillian and I took full advantage of this and made quite possibly the greatest breakaway in the history of the club and carried on upward! The guys, trying to hamper our progress feigned concern as to our whereabouts and rang us on our ascent not once, but twice. However it didn’t work and we duly arrived at the top of the hill, breathless, very sweaty and before any one else☺. It wasn’t long before the real QOM, Rachel appeared followed closely by Ciaran, Graeme and Jamie.

Top of Cairn O’Mount

We caught our breath then started the fast descent down into Royal Deeside. My fastest descent ever at a scary 47 mph and still I was dropped! We refuelled at Aboyne where the guys decided the pace had been a bit brisk. Joe kept a brilliant pace on the front and we mostly stayed together along the banks of the Dee and into Braemar. At this point, whilst the rest of us were refuelling, Gillian had insider information of a strong southerly blowing through Glenshee and as her family just happened to be in Braemar she decided to call it a day leaving 18 intrepid cyclists to continue.
Buoyed by the first breakaway success I managed to persuade Robin to leave early and off we went, onward and upward once more. The ascent to the Cairnwell was long and rolling, not helped by the strong wind or Gillian waving to us from the car! Still we managed to get there in time to see the look of pain on Graeme C’s face as he raced Rachel and Ciaran to the top (or what turned out to be not quite the top according to Strava).
Wind cheaters and arm warmers on, and off we went down, down, down. The remaining 40 or 50 miles is a bit of a blur, we had a spell of losing people, but always regrouped and there was a lot of hanging on to the wheel in front. Home via Blairgowrie, Iron Bridge and Pitnappie!
Scenery was stunning, weather was fantastic and company outstanding. A brilliant day and one to remember for a long time!

Here’s my Garmin to show the route etc:

Fort William Weekend Day 2

Waiting at the meeting point with blue skies, sunshine on our back and amazing views over the loch would have been fantastic, so you can just imagine the mood as we sheltered in the wind and rain, tired with a few hangovers waiting for the stragglers to get to the start of day! Some left before the last man standing turned up to try and get warm, which meant we had a nice 25 mph sprint out of Fort William led by Jerry to catch them once we did leave.

The mood didn’t really pick up in the first section, a combination of sore legs, rain, wind and a very busy road which had us strung out in single file all the way to the first stop at Tyndrum. We did try a few steady through and off, but that didn’t seem to work too well and we struggled to find a rhythm that suited all. It must be compulsory for it to be dreich, with hill tops covered in cloud as you go through Glencoe as all the times I’ve been there I don’t think I’ve ever seen blue sky and today was no different! As we passed Bridge of Orchy, Mags and Gary were sitting outside having coffee and it is here that Fiona called it a day leaving the rest of us to go up over the long drag to Tyndrum for a welcome break. Robin, who had been having a struggle called it quits here and with support car full Gary and Mags headed home – thanks for the support, much appreciated.

So the 16 left headed out, with the rain now off, down to Crainlarich and a tailwind to Lix Toll before the climb over Glen Ogle. Then a fantastic descent down to Lochearnhead on a smooth sweeping road with only maniac caravan drivers to worry us…. Now things improved dramatically as it was warm, sunny, blue skies and Joe sitting on the front tapping out a great steady pace all the way to Comrie. Smooth quieter road with spectacular views that we could now appreciate. A final stop at Comrie for a last top up of coffee and cake and we could actually sit outside in the sunshine 🙂

Having slogged along towards Madderty into a block headwind a few times, what a pleasure to go the other way with a tailwind and we made good time to Perth, and on to Balbeggie, before up over Tully for a final blast back to Muirhead. A longer return leg of 125 miles in 6:55 @ 18 mph average – no bad for day 2, well done everyone.

Overall a great weekend, but the weather does make a difference. Thanks to all the support crews for your help and encouragement. Well done to all the riders, some major PB’s again for the weekend.

My Garmin stats which shows the route etc:

Fort William Weekend Day 1

A lovely warm and sunny morning as 33 of us left the Hall, 19 for Fort William and 14 day trippers coming with us to Pitlochry. A nice social pace as we head out to Meigle and then the Hill of 3 Cairns where we did split and regroup at the bottom. Then up over the Moulin Moors and a fast descent into the first cafe stop of the day at Pitlochry. This is where we split, the cafe couldn’t cope with us all, and after a less than warm welcome it turned out okay.

Suitably fuelled the 19 then had the fun middle section. The first event was Jim B hitting my wheel, bouncing off and then just missing taking Karen out as he hit the tarmac – great bike skills by Karen to stay upright! No damage done and we were soon off again. We then hit the cycle path section which was interesting. A fair old mix of road surfaces, twists and turns, saw 4 punctures in the group and Cairan quite correctly deciding to hit a ditch rather than me 🙂 We all made it out safe and to the second stop at Dalwhinnie.

It was here that Gary decided having did his longest run of the year so far it was time to help out in the support car, leaving 18 to ride the last section. After a wee sharp dig, the rest of the next 45+ miles were surprisingly flat to downhill, on smooth roads and we made cracking time without really trying. After 117 miles we arrived at Fort William to meet up with the support crews, pick up our bags and head off to the various places as we are spread out over the town and beyond!

A cracking run, weather stayed okay and all set for the return leg tomorrow. Time for dinner….

Before the off:

Ready to go

My Garmin stats for the day:

 

Springwatch….!

If anyone is interested there is apparently a new species of mamil which can be seen in and around the Dundee area. However one must be prepared to get up very early to catch a glimpse of the new mamil but reports have it they look something like this……

Mallorca 2015 Day 7 – San Salvador

Its not all fun in the sun here, as we woke up to thunderstorms and gales! A lot of milling around with “who’s coming?”, “who’s not coming?” questions and eventually 13 of us headed out under a grey sky and damp roads.
Out to Alcudia and a change of original plan as weather dictated a route away from the mountains. On to Manacor and then the picturesque Porto Cristo for lunch. The rain had blown away now and we had blue sky again, still gales though. On to Felanitx and another disaster for Fergus as for the second time this week a spoke broke – the rear wheel was just about ride-able, if a bit wobbly. So when we arrived at the climb to San Salvador Fergus and Jim F headed off for coffee leaving the rest of us to tackle the last climb of this trip.
After regrouping at the bottom we set off to find the advance party – much wandering around a deserted town, phone calls and “where are you” and as we set off for Petra they found us! On to Petra battling the wind and a last serving of massive cakes and coffee – just about enough to fuel us for the run in.
It was route 1 home from Petra via Santa Margalida, Can Picafort and the usual blast from Alcudia along the bay back “home”. My OCD got the better of me and with 97 miles on the Garmin headed along to rack up the century.
That’s it for this year’s Mallorca trip, another great week of cycling.