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:


Archie into Space

A twist to the usual sportives as this was a fund raising event run by the Carse of Gowrie Velo in aid of the Archie Foundation a very worthwhile local cause, details here  The event aim was for everyone to do as many hill repeats at Abernyte as possible and try and pass the 100,000 metre mark, the height at which Archie would be in space!  Registration was £15 and you attached a counter to your bike and after each loop you had the number marked off and the organisers kept a running total.

The loop was a 5.4 miles up and down, and up and down, repeat – you get the idea… I counted 11 Wheelers and we must have completed 100+ laps between us so a good contribution to the overall total. The CoG organisers were very appreciative of the our club’s efforts to turn up in numbers and support their event and have subsequently emailed the club and posted a thanks on our Facebook page too. So big pat on the back to us for being nice 🙂

The event was very well run, good vibe and plenty of cakes and drinks for everyone, which were delicious. I found it strangely okay, thought the repeat would be mind numbing, but was fine as you chatted and smiled to folks and just spun the morning away. Flew by very quickly.

Archie did make it into space as the total everyone climbed was 123,847 m and raised over £1,680 too.

Special mention for Jill as she tried to duck out the hill repeats by arranging to have her rear mech shear off on the first climb! However a bike was hastily arranged and she did have to take part after all 🙂

The Archie Loop

Here’s Archie after his journey to space and back

Archie resting after an exhausting trip to space


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……

3 Pistes Sportive 2015

The weather forecast leading up to this event was horrendous and as it turned out, it was!

The second year of this event and it’s a wee bit different as it is not a loop but you leave from Pitlochry and finish in Aviemore, so they lay on buses for those that need to get back to the start / finish. Registration is open the day before, which means you can get an early 7am start, its 8am for those registering on the day.

It was definitely quieter this year with the weather no doubt putting a few off, including a few Wheelers who were absent (rule #5 folks, although in good company as only half of those who signed up actually started).  There were 4 Wheelers at the later start at 8am, Andy Blythe, Andy Abel, Ciaran and me and joined by Steve from Deeside Thistle as  we set off at 8:33 and it had stopped raining! You immediately climb up and over the Moulin Moors where we became a group of 8 who worked well together driving the pace through the wind and now rain as we hit the next climb up Cairnwell to Glenshee Ski Centre. It was a drag followed by a longer steeper section than I remember and the group inevitably split. The descent to Braemar wasn’t as quick in the wind and rain, but the pace was still pretty good with a 19mph average for the first two hours as I hit Braemar and on to Crathie, where a group caught me, including Ciaran and we hit the next climbs.

The next section is the hardest as you have 3 climbs at Crathie, Gairnshiel and then the big one the Lecht! Ciaran and myself (joined by a fit young pup) took it steady over this section with the wind picking up. As you turn at Cockbridge the road rears up at 20% plus for a few hundred metres and there were a few walkers with the rest of us grinding up at a punishing 5mph! It then settles down to a hard slog and this is where the full brunt of the headwind hit and our “group” of 3 strung out into survival and get over it mode! The wind was blowing us all over the road, pity anyone with deep sections! As I went past the ski station I looked back to see Ciaran a little behind me and carried on, expecting him to catch me up on the descent and run to Tomintoul. The descent was hard, into the wind, pedaling – no reward for the brutal climb! On my own until just before the turn for Tomintoul, Ciaran caught me only it wasn’t him but a group of 6 other riders – hard to tell when everyone’s wearing rain jackets!

The group soon became me and my new cycling friend Rory as we hit the climbs / slog out of Tomintoul towards Bridge of Brown. The wind was brutal, no hiding place, as the 2 of us spent the next 30 miles trying our best to work together and keep any pace (15mph was good going).  Even the 10 mile run in towards Coylumbridge was a real slog and if Rory is reading this, no you weren’t holding me back, I was as gubbed as you were!

Finally we hit the last climb up to the Aviemore ski centre and I have never climbed it so slowly, the tank was empty, the wind was still brutal and I was praying for the finish. So after 6:14 I crawled over the line, 30 minutes slower than last year and I pushed harder this year! I reckon the wind must have changed direction as it was a headwind almost the entire way round. General consensus among those I spoke too was it was about the slowest they’d gone on a bike!

Then it was off for some post event pasta / banana / water and change out of wet clothes! Managed to see young Mat, Karen and Stevie and I believe OCD was there too (as was Martin from the Thistle). Of the Wheelers, Ciaran was next home, then we met Andy Abel too as we all recovered – never saw Andy B from the foot of Cairnwell!

It is a well organised event, a tough route, can’t be faulted (cannot pass comment on the feed stations etc as I never stopped, I just wanted it to be over).

Looking forward to the start of summer, and if I had the choice I’d have taken the snow and rain instead of that wind.

Results for the Wheelers and friends (apologies if I missed anyone):

Race No First name Last name Gender Age category Net time Pos Cat pos Hill Climb Time
398 Graeme Carruthers Male Over40 06:13:59 13 7 00:23:30
137 Ciaran Hannon Male Over40 06:28:39 23 11 00:26:48
396 Andrew Blythe Male Over40 06:50:33 57 28 00:27:43
2 Andrew Abel Male Over40 07:09:36 104 48 00:27:09
183 Martin Lawson Male Over50 07:15:15 121 21 00:26:26
658 Matthew Carse Male Over20 07:29:36 156 46 00:26:12
175 Karen Knight Female Over50 07:35:26 170 2 00:29:57
176 Stephen Knight Male Over50 07:37:20 180 28 00:30:03
369 Jim Walker Male Over40 07:37:21 181 86 00:29:59

My Garmin stats, showing the route and 8,500 feet of climbing: