3 Pistes 2016

So, so much better than last year – it’s all about the weather!

Last year this event was horrible, brutal wind all the way round and soul destroying, so this year had to be better, right? The Italian Mob (Jamie, Ciaran and me) were doing this as a last “social paced” warm up before we head off to Italy next weekend. We were also joined by Guest Rider for The Day Wee Phil. Sky’s looked ominous on the way up, but forecast was dry, sunshine and most importantly – no wind. After the usual faffing about at sign on, dropping bags, getting ready the 4 of us set off at 8:35 – fairly social time for these events.

Nice and steady up over the Moulin Moors and the weather was already fine. We were joined by a wee group, most of whom were too shy to go near the front 🙂 The rolling roads to get to the first Piste of the day are a bit sapping, but we were sticking to our reasonably social paced plan. The climb up to Glenshee was fine, but we had lost Phil so we had a quick pee stop at the summit and then the blast down to Braemar.

Just before Braemar we were passed by a group and latched on to their train, working well on the miles to the next climbing section. From Crathie to Tomintoul is 3 climbs of increasing difficulty! As we climbed the first sharp section, the group split and we agreed we would not chase the faster guys all the way to Aviemore – yeah right! The group did all stay together over the next climb and fast descent and on to Cockbridge for the brute that is The Lecht!

The wall of tarmac that greets you is impressive, as is the noise of everyone changing in to their smallest gear! No two ways about it, it is a grind for the first bit – get up it any way you can. Then it “flattens” out, get your breath back, next ramp, flattens out, one more final steep ramp before the faster section to the ski station. This is where we stopped for water and waited for Wee Phil to get back on.

The descent is nearly worth all the effort, but is over all too quickly. The 4 of us made our way to Tomintoul where the train from earlier caught us and we latched on once again. The pace was now slightly above “social”, but with a good group and a wee tailwind the effort was just about manageable. The blast back after Bridge of Brown all the way to Coylumbridge was a bit fierce and the thought of the last climb was looming large.

As we hit the main drag to the Cairngorm climb our social pace at this point was 95 miles in 5 hours and with 2 of the 3 pistes done! Then there was an almighty bang and much looking around to see who was the unlucky one – it was Ciaran – rotten luck. The group then fractured as the initial steep bit of the climb took its toll and we were all strung out everyone doing their best to get up. It does get slightly easier further up, but legs were bust by then and it was a slow drag to get over the line. A smiling Karen (and Steve) who had set off early, were there to greet us, as was Fiona D waiting for Alan who we had passed before Cockbridge looking like he was having a “fun” day.

Was a cracking day, weather held which made all the difference. Bring on the Wheelers Weekender where we get to do it all again 🙂

Turns out later in the afternoon there were thunderstorms and flash floods and the event was stopped for 45 minutes with 200 riders stranded at Nethy Bridge! So even on a good day in Scotland you’re never far away from winter!

Times for the 4 Wheelers were:
Graeme Carruthers 5:44:55 (13th on the day)
Jamie Costello 5:46:03 (14th)
Ciaran Hannon 5:49:29 (17th, including puncture stop!)
Karen Knight 6:40:20 (1st in category and 4th female overall)

And for our Thistle friends :
Phil Morris 5:59:09
Alan Davidson 6:41:57
Steve Knight (couldn’t find time in the results?)

Garmin info / route etc –

Mallorca 2016

A wee update on the latest annual holiday training camp to Mallorca.

DAY 1 – Travel / Formentor

After the usual no sleep to Pollensa all night travelling, which all went seamlessly thanks to Jamie and Gillian for organising the buses to Edinburgh and Pollensa Park it was the now traditional afternoon leg spin to the lighthouse at Formentor. Weather was fine, run was all good and the goats were in good form. Then it was quick turnaround and the return leg where we split into a couple of groups as the rolling road took its toll. Re group at the top of the last climb for the blast back to Peurto Pollensa and the first (of many) stops at Tolos.

My stats for the day : 28.2 miles and 2,850 feet of climbing – https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/1143001648

DAY 2 – The Mountains!

A lovely morning saw us all head out in one group towards the mountains. Over the bumps and on to The Orient. A wee bit of early jostling saw the group split on the first climb, but we regrouped at the bottom, a pattern for the day. Then it was the climb of the Orient / Col d’Honor where the real “fun” started and the descent down to Bunyola for a much needed lunch.  Suitably refuelled and having waved Jerry and Gary off, we headed for the Soller climb, where we had agreed to “keep it sensible”, which we actually did. Got a nice tow from a local club and the climb is one of my favourites and doing at a pace we could talk made it all the more enjoyable. The descent down to Soller town is less enjoyable for me, far too technical, until you get down to the main road and a real blast for the last couple of K’s. 

Then on to the big one, Puig Major, not a favourite, but has to be done. Again we kept it sensible, tapping a pace that wasn’t too taxing, even more sensible given it was now the hottest part of the day. Eventually getting to the top and through the tunnel for the descent to the viaduct, our agreed meeting point. It was a wee while before we were all together as some stopped to take pictures, etc – what do they think this is a holiday 🙂 As the clouds were looking ominous some of us headed back as others recovered, splitting in to 2 groups.

The rolling roads from the viaduct back to Lluc are a real leg sapper, just what you need after 3 big mountains! But we did all manage to get down together and the speedy run in back to Pollensa. A cracking day.

My stats for the day : 84.6 miles and 8,050 feet of climbing  https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/1144279168

DAY 3 – Wash Out

So the plan was to go to Randa and then swing past Alcudia on the way home for some of us to register for Saturday’s 312 event. Well the best laid plans….

It was raining, hard, and nobody wanted to go out! We waited and waited until it eventually looked like it was stopping. Suitably wrapped up, we all set off for Alcudia. It started raining heavy again. Roads were slippery and Gillian came a cropper, thankfully at slow pace and no major damage done. We decided we would skip Randa and just head to the event registration. Unfortunately that didn’t open until 3pm! So after some shopping and hiding in doorways to get warm, we headed home, gingerly, cold and soaken. A day to forget!

My stats for the day : 16.2 miles and 112 feet of climbing https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/1145647343

DAY 4 – Lost!!

Weather better, we decided the best tapering for the 312 would be to do some hills!

So off we all went to Selva and the climb up the beautiful Sa Batalla climb. A fair pace set by the drink fuelled Ciaran was just not what was needed 🙂 Regrouping at the cafe at the petrol station we then headed to the viaduct (except Ciaran who decided having ripped our legs he was heading off). After the viaduct is a sharp climb to then descend Sa Calobra. What a stunning descent it is. Technical and you do have to watch out for cars / riders in both directions so makes sight seeing tricky. Once at the bottom we decided to head straight back up and regroup at the viaduct as I still have painful memories of trying the climb on a full stomach. It was a lovely climb, steady, not too windy or hot and fantastic scenery. At the viaduct some of us decided to head to the Puig and on to Valldemossa. As we started climbing up to the Puig, Ian Anderson turned back as he decided to head home with the rest. This left Jim F, Joe McF, Jamie C and myself to crest the Puig and the best descent on the island, 14K downhill to Soller for some lunch.

After lunch we set off at a social pace to Valldemossa – possibly the best road on the island. As we made our way to Deia we saw what looked like a Wheeler coming towards us?  It was Ian Anderson, but how?? We carried on the climb and it transpired that Ian had changed his mind again, decided to carry on up the Puig to catch us. He then set off up to Valldemossa and turned back as he didn’t know when the climb ended! As we finally got to Valldemossa, Ian said he was about 200 metres from the top when he turned back, oops!

The fast descent and team time trial saw us arrive at Santa Maria after 88 miles for a final coffee stop. After discussion, we agreed Ian’s “it’s only 95 miles” from the previous night was a tad optimistic and we still had 30-35 back home. NOTE – some may dispute this next section and there’s no blame attached as I was just following wheels 😉 Setting off there was a shout from Joe to turn right, this was our first mistake as we headed off towards Sencelles and then towards Sineu where Ian A shouted right (second mistake) and we set off towards Sant Joan and round to Petra and then back to Sineu! It was now dark, we had no food or drink and we found a supermarket for some fuel. Ian A and Joe did now know where we were and we set off on the correct road for Llubi and Sa Pobla. It was then over the bumps in the pitch black, with the helpful drivers honking their horns and shining their full beams at us to remind us we had no lights!

Thankfully the roads are in good condition as god knows what would have happened if we hit a pothole as we made a fast track back to Pollensa and then back to the hotel. It was now 9:30pm, dinner missed! Turns out we did 52 miles to get home from Santa Maria and if we had taken the direct route it was <30, oh well you live and learn. I learned I NEVER want to cycle in the dark with no lights again and that even after 140 miles when you can still hit 25 mph when you’re desperate to get home!

My stats for the day : 140.8 miles and 11,100 feet of climbing https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/1146946845

Day 5 – Not the 312!

After yesterday’s 140 mile taper and no dinner, I was up for breakfast at 5am as this was 312 Day. Met Jim B and Oonagh and after seeing the forecast and the fact it was already raining, decided to bail. REALLY didn’t fancy the descent in the wet with 4,500 other riders and the risk of serious damage just too much. So back to bed and then up at 8am for a second breakfast.

We sat about waiting for the rain to go off, which it did around 11am and Ian A and Davie Ross and me set off for an easy, flattish day. Out to Alcudia and then on to Arta and loop round to Manacor where we found what looked like the only open cafe in the town (don’t like Manacor always looks desolate and shut!). Thankfully we had stayed dry but as we pulled in for coffee the rain did start again. Coffee and cake were great and we got chatting to a Finnish former pro ice hockey player who bought us some rocket fuel brandy!

Jackets on we set off home, and quickly had to remove jackets as it turned out nice 🙂 Back to Can Picafort where we were passed by the biggest rally of motorbikes I’ve ever seen – must have taken 15-20 minutes for them all to pass! As the 312 was still going ahead and it was closed roads, there was some fun and games getting back to Alcudia, but the last few miles on empty traffic free roads was great.

As we approached the 312 event village we went off the main road on to the parallel side road, only to find we were actually on the finishing straight. Very sheepish and red faced we crossed the official 312 finish line to cheers and clapping and the official photographer 🙂 We even got tickets for our finishers t-shirt and pasta party!

Back through Alcudia to home the traffic was a nightmare going the other way as the event closed roads caused some major issues! We rolled home in empty roads back to Tolos. Considering the weather and skipping the event, turned out a pretty good day.

My stats for the day : 80 miles and 2,650 feet of climbing https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/1147808223

DAY 6 Randa (at last)

We awoke to more wet, unsettled weather and a sombre mood as this was our day to commemorate the passing of Jim Brewster 7 days earlier. We all donned black armbands in memory or Peem as we set off on a cold, wet morning towards Alcudia to pick up Brian and OCD. It was freezing and very wet and we hid in a bike shop trying to get warm, we didn’t. Then off through Alcudia where I was still shivering while cycling even with 4 layers on! Decided that if things were no better once we turned towards Sa Pobla I was heading home! Turned out things did changed and soon the sun was out, and started to get warmer, just as well as we waited for Joe to fix a puncture then another!

Spirits lifted, we did a Brian magical mystery tour to Inca and then somehow we split into 2 groups?!? We all knew where we were heading to eventually so we carried on to Sineu, Montuiri and then Randa for the climb to the monastery – where we met the other group.

After lunch we got a photo of us all, a mark of respect and memory for Peem and set off towards Petra, Sineu and home. Once again, after a miserable start, the day turned out well.

My stats for the day : 100 miles and 3,660 feet of climbing https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/1149741218

DAY 7 – Leave it all on the road day!

This year was no different from previous as the various levels of fatigue and desire takes its toll on what everyone plans for the last day. But, as the weather was now the best it had been all week and it was the last day, the plan was to head out flattish and then some can head for the hills or home. We all set off to Selva, where the first split happened with some heading up to Lluc / Sa Calobra and the rest of us heading on to Santa Maria for coffee and cakes. Then the second split happened with everyone bar Jamie and me heading back on a flat run, leaving us to go to Valldemossa.

A cracking run saw is keep it very social over Valldemossa and the descent to Soller for lunch. We then managed to get lost in Soller’s 1 way system, taking 3 miles of back roads / mazes to finally get out and on to the climb. A first for us going the reverse to the usual way. It was another cracking climb, steady, no steep bits and lovely weather. After the technical descent the straight downhill back to Bunyola is a real fast blast, yeeehaaaa.

Now with a lovely tailwind and the sun on us, it was a blast back to Inca and then Selva, where we decided we hadn’t done enough miles and went on to Campanet and Sa Pobla (okay we missed the turn and took a long way home). Back home over the bumps was a bit of a slog as we now had a full on headwind but it didn’t spoil what was a cracking day.

That was it, no more cycling time for beer and ice cream. My stats for the day : 107 miles and 6,100 feet of climbing https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/1151083117

So that’s the cycling from my perspective, see Facebook for all the other non cycling shenanigans 🙂 And if anyone wants to get me an alarm clock for Christmas it would come in handy!