Where to begin…. I will undoubtedly have forgotten a lot, so please everyone else feel free to add their thoughts, comments and memories too. I will post up videos and photos over the next day or two and if anyone else has photos either link to them in the comments below or send to me and I can add them.
A cracking crowd gathered at the Broughty Ferry pier where we had some photos taken with the castle as the backdrop before we set off. Lots of well wishers to see us off which was really nice.
Unlike normal club runs we actually left on time at 8am, with a group of 30+, swelled by some folks coming to Dunkeld. Have to say the peleton looked magnificent as we swept through Dundee with the vast majority in the new club kit, all looking fabulous.
Up the Kingsway, over Tully, to Coupar Angus where we even had a crowd cheering us on (okay it was Ciaran’s nephew with a sign, but it was great). Out to Dunkeld where a few who weren’t coming all the way turned off, leaving about 25 to head down the A9 and on to the first cafe stop at Aberfeldy. So far so good, everyone in good spirits even though the weather was a wee bit dreich it didn’t dampen the mood. Only wee snag was “losing” Lionel coming in to Aberfeldy, so he did some extra miles going to Kenmore and then back to meet us.
The second leg to Tyndrum was next, with the 22 who were going all the way going along the north side of Loch Tay before the descent into Killin where we had the first puncture of the day. At least the weather had picked up now. Setting off past the Falls of Dochart, Jim F punctured. So as the group “toddled along” a few of us waited to help pace Jim back to the group. Once the puncture was repaired Jim then enjoyed the chase as he set off at team time trial pace, dropping us all and only a traffic jam slowed him down 🙂 A nasty accident between Crainlarich and Tyndrum had the road closed, but we managed to cycle down past the 3 mile queue of traffic. We then did some off road hill walking through the woods, on to a gravel path, past the accident and back through the trees to the road to cycle past the 3 mile queue of traffic heading towards the accident! We climbed up the drag to Tyndrum and all arrived safely at The Green Wellie for lunch number 2.
As we left Tyndrum and turned left towards Oban, the road closure behind must have opened as a lot of traffic was now all heading to Oban at the same time, so it was a busy stretch. Unfortunately Gary (I think) punctured after a couple of miles and again a few of us waited as he got fixed with the rest once again “toddling along”. Jim then again set off like a rocket as we blasted along trying to catch the steady bunch. Then disaster as Jim punctured for the second time. As he fixed it, some decided they would get a head start as the time trial pace was fast leaving 4 (?) of us now to chase back on. It was a blur, but we eventually picked up the bunch and a lot of traffic just before Connell Bridge – about 30 miles of us hammering it to catch them (it was great fun).
As the road was very busy we split into groups and even pulled over a couple of times to let the traffic clear. So we rolled into Oban just after 5:30pm and along to the Youth Hostel, while some took a scenic detour to the harbour to see the boats before joining us for the official “we made it” photos.
My Garmin had a little over 127 miles and 7hrs of riding time, with some cracking spikes during the “chase”.
We all checked in to our various accommodation, got changed and met up for a few beers and pasta. The Hostel was very good, all very modern with toilet and showers in each shared room of 6 bunks. We had a relaxing evening of tiredness, cramps and a couple of beers but particular highlights were Room 202’s encounter with Father Jack (also known as Lionel’s Night Terrors) and the quite frankly astonishing Olympic standard snoring from Ian Anderson and all within 10 seconds of his head hitting the pillow- chapeau.
Breakfast the next morning was great and we all stuffed ourselves ready for day 2 – except perhaps Matthew, something he may have regretted later on when the knock was rapidly approaching – he’s young and learning 🙂
As the next door church bell rang out 9am we were rolling along once again – on time two days running… The climb out of Oban woke the legs up! We pushed along at a steady / brisk pace, mainly single file to let traffic past. A few lumpy bits going east and a few climbs that I must have passed in a blur on the way out. We soon arrived back at The Green Wellie in Tyndrum in no time. Even though I was still full of breakfast, can’t pass up the chance of more cake!
The middle legs is the hardest as John Oz often says 😉 as we set off to Crainlarich and the Lix Toll turn off for Kippen. Still keeping good time and the weather was very pleasant too. Out through Kippen is a fairly long climb where we had some fun and regrouped at the top. Ian Stewart, who had torn his achilles a couple of days ago and really shouldn’t be cycling at all, was, after 200+ miles starting to feel it! We helped nurse him along on the mainly downhill stretch to Kenmore where we cut through the estate. Jim F once again punctured and he tried to out-sprint physics by speeding towards the cafe stop at Aberfedly before all the air had left his tyres – he’s good, but the air just won and he had to pull over! Cafe stop at the Wishing Well in Aberfeldy was great, we even got to sit out in the sun. Sensibly Ian S called time and hitched a lift in the support cars.
So with 90 miles in the legs we set off from Aberfeldy for the final stage back home. There were some very tired legs, but we kept it together as best we could on to Dunkeld and then retracing our way from Saturday back to Coupar Angus. Decision was made to go back via Newtyle, past Camperdown and on to the Kingsway. Sweeping down the Kingsway in formation, with the Tay and the Ferry below us brought a smile to my face and the realisation of what we had all achieved. Into the Ferry, led home by the 3 ladies, and along the front to the start / finish.
It was great to arrive back to the Brought Ferry pier with a cheering crowd to welcome us home. We had an official “made it back” photo in front of the castle, including a fabulous framed print of us all taken before we left on Saturday (thanks Reg, I hope we can find somewhere to hang it and do it proud).
My Garmin for the return leg was 128.5 miles in 7.5 hrs, thankfully at a steadier pace all day with no mad chasing required!
Thanks to Gary and Dave P’s wives for their help, support, cakes, water and I’m sure the photos will be great too. Thanks to everyone who helped support the event, donated to the charity and came along to cheer us on. As for Team Wheelers, what can you say, a magnificent effort by everyone – it was emotional….
We have smashed our fundraising target and once some offline donations are added we will hopefully be closer to the £2,000 mark for our chosen charity – well done everyone.
Same time next year, but where to next?