Etape Caledonia 2014

Another event, another ridiculous alarm call at silly o’clock! Trying to eat breakfast at 3:15am, as your teenage son is just coming home from a night out is a strange experience. Met at Jim’s to ride the VW with style with Joe, Fergus and Sean. No problem getting to Pitlochry and pitching up in the event car par (i.e. a big field), did feel sorry for the poor wee guys holding the tape to mark out the field. We all busied ourselves getting ready, and the 5 star luxury that is Jim’s VW provided changing space and a kettle for porridge and coffees.

We headed up to the start around 6am and started bumping into others as we milled around waiting for the off. The weather was pleasant – cool, dry and calm – ideal conditions. We started in Wave D at 6:36am on the dot and the fun began.

The idea of a Team Wheelers Time Trial started well enough with us blasting out the start pen and the joys of closed roads enabling us to push on the wrong side of the road. A wee group started to form and the pace was already “I can’t keep this up for 80 miles” high! Then a few more blasted by us, just as we approached the start of the lumpy bits to Queen’s View and as I got on their wheels, thinking I was bringing Jim and the rest with me. The pace up to Queen’s View was very fast (for me) and when I could eventually look round realised none of my team were there. So I let the group go and waited, then thinking I saw Jim approach pushed on again, to then discover it wasn’t him. And that was me for the day, now in a large group haring along at a fair old pace.

I’d like to tell you how great the route is and how lucky we are to have an event in such fabulous scenery, but I have no idea where I was, what the surroundings were or anything else other than the look of the wheels and road immediately ahead of me in a blur. There was no room for mind wandering as you “race” through narrow roads in a large group passing other large groups!

The miles flew by with little obstacles once past Queen’s View until the main Schiehallion climb, which has a timed KoM section. The group split into pieces on the climb, which wasn’t as long as I remembered (but it never gets easier, you just get faster and still have sore legs by the top). On the descent the group reformed and stayed that way until we picked up even more with about 15-20 miles to go.

The last obstacle is the ramp at Logierait which must cause some accidents as some hit it over geared and then start to go backwards! Then the last 5 miles of lumps before sweeping back on to the main road and the sprint for the finish which was thronged with cheering supporters.

Shortly after Jim arrived then Joe, Fergus and Cairan (who did stay together). It was a fast day with the right conditions and a new course record of 3:26 was set.

Etape 2014 done!

Overall, Team Wheelers did fantastic, with PB’s all round and everyone (who escaped mechanical issues) seemed to enjoy the event. The official Wheelers times of those I saw are below, along with the times for the Sprint and KoM competitions. Apologies if I have missed anyone, drop me a note and I can include you too. I know Sean completed it in around 4:20, but can’t see his name / time in the results.

A note on Scott and Peem. A mile after starting, Scott had mechanical issues with his seatpost which resulted in him and Peem turning back to Pitlochry and getting the bike shop to fix it (enough for Scott to continue). Scott then “restarted”, Peem decided not to, with Scott getting round in 4:12 (a new PB for him).

Pos Forename Surname Race# Total Time Gender GenderPos Category CategoryPos SPRINT Rank KOTM Rank
48 Graeme Carruthers 605 03:35:31 Male 48 M45-49 6 00:01:40 782 00:07:06 76
78 Jim Foulis 706 03:39:17 Male 78 M45-49 15 00:01:31 127 00:07:54 295
127 Joe Mcfadyen 1215 03:42:00 Male 126 M50-54 10 00:01:35 469 00:08:01 340
130 Ciaran Hannon 4255 03:42:02 Male 129 M50-54 11 00:01:38 656 00:07:41 211
132 Fergus Dargie 610 03:42:03 Male 131 M50-54 12 00:01:38 628 00:08:07 381
161 Andrew Blythe 20 03:42:59 Male 159 M45-49 33 00:01:31 116 00:07:16 109
568 David Ross 871 03:59:07 Male 558 M55-59 18 00:01:45 1240 00:08:52 839
641 Jamie Costello 5019 04:01:33 Male 627 M30-34 73 00:01:46 1298 00:08:43 744
887 Alan Davidson 2238 04:10:05 Male 860 M50-54 99 00:01:38 664 00:10:11 1897
1012 Karen Knight 2313 04:13:45 Female 34 F50-54 2 00:01:44 1072 00:09:57 1679
1894 Martin Sinclair 1989 04:37:19 Male 1798 M35-39 277 00:01:44 1094 00:10:47 2425
2337 Andrea Baker 2261 04:49:09 Female 154 F45-49 26 00:01:56 2313 00:12:08 3249
2478 Scott Mccord 444 04:54:19 Male 2306 M25-29 118 00:01:40 757 00:10:07 1845
DNF James Bewster 442 DNF Male M70+

My thoughts on the event as a whole as it has been 5 years since I last took part (the infamous Tack Attack year).  It is very well organised, registration was fast and I can appreciate why they ask you to pre-register the days before (all the bigger events do). On the day went without a hitch, well run, well marshalled and no issues with closed roads and lots of supporters lining the route cheering you on. But. You don’t get much for your £68 entry fee other than a nice medal at the end. There is no goodie bag, no free anything and the Event Village is nowhere near what you see in the bigger events abroad (you’d think with 5,000+ captive cyclists you could organise a few more stands and suppliers to display their bling).

On the whole, if you ignore the cost, it is a great day out, with a fast course, fantastic scenery (if you manage to look up from the road) and a good feeling of being part of a big cycling community.

Majorca 2014 Videos

I took some video on my GoPro while out in Majorca. For those that were there it will bring back memories and for those that have never been it will hopefully give a flavour for what it’s like and how beautiful the island is (try to watch the scenery and not just the rider and road as it can be a tad dull, I’ll maybe try and add some music to liven it up).

Day 2 we went up over Sa Batalla to the petrol station cafe / meeting point. Then over the lumps to the viaduct where we headed down to Sa Calobra.

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Day 3 we went over the climb to Soller and then on to the Puig Major and the fabulous descent past the blue lakes before stopping for a late lunch at Lluc.

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Day 7 saw four of us go to Valldemossa (very nice), up and down to Deia and on to Soller (fantastic, beautiful road and scenery) before the climb of the Puig (again) and the final stretch from Lluc, over Femenia and the descent to Pollensa.

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