This is one of my favourites events as it is very well run by Hawick Cylcing Club (I tend to find the best events are the ones run by cycling clubs rather than commercial ventures). You get full use of the Hawick Rugby Club for sign on and post event meal, changing rooms, parking, all very well done and the feed stops are legendary. I kind of know the route now, but the signage is also good with signs before and after any junctions that aren’t marshalled. The route is a belter as long as you’re not looking for any flat roads! It is in beautiful scenery (on a good day like today was) and the roads are very quiet.
It was a chilly, but bright morning with light breeze as we did the traditional mass start behind the lead car, complete with blaring announcements – no chance of a lie in for the residents! Having been here a few times before, I stayed close to the front as it can be pretty hairy with 500 riders en masse jostling for position winding through Hawick.
The route is basically a succession of hills, none particularly steep, but it is the speed and number that eventually wear you down. I stayed with the lead group of about 15 until the descent to Langholm (40 mile mark) when their skills, nerve and speed are far better than mine and the gap opened, never to be closed. That left me with 3 others to work well together all the way round. We kept the climbing sensible and cracked on when we could on the descents, and even though I said I know the route, I still managed to forget the last climb and drag over the moor – ouch! The last 8-9 miles back to Hawick are mainly downhill, at pace, on the worst roads in the whole route. Bone juddering bumps are not what you need when you’re spent and cramping up, shame as the rest of the route is great.
At the finish you are welcomed back by the announcer on the PA, collect your medal and then head off for a shower and post race meal that’s provided.
Jerry and Ian A did stop at a feed station and took it at a more sensible pace, especially as Jerry’s gears were playing up and he had to grind up the climbs in the big ring! Jim B was helping a friend round – even though he did say he may only do the short route as his pal hadn’t put many miles in, they were obviously enjoying themselves and so they did the long route.
Would recommend this event and one day I will stop at the feed station and fill my face with all the food they provide 🙂
Times for the Wheelers were:
My Garmin stats for the route: