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.
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).
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.