Can you remember when it wasn’t windy every day, I can’t?
Sign on at Aboyne Community Campus / School was all easy and quick. As I was a solo Wheeler (Brian Barr was there doing the 100K route) I hung around the start like a real “billy no mates” until a group of Deeside guys set off and I tagged along.
Nice steady social pace, a long day ahead. Then after 13 miles they stopped for a comfort break and I carried on. The next 30 miles was just me and 2 or 3 others making progress as best we could over the Suie climb and on to Cabrach. Bit of a slog as the wind was quite strong. Going over Cabarach the guy I had been with unbeknown to me got a mechanical and I found myself alone for the next 65 miles!
The stretch from Dufftown to Tomintoul will live long in my memory as one of the worst 18 miles I have done. It was brutal. Slog into a fierce headwind, it sapped all my energy and will to keep going!
Quick pit stop at Tomintoul for water and then on to a really tough 20 miles. Up over the Lecht (from the “easy” side, aye right) then drop down to Cockbridge. The side wind was swiping me and I felt really uncomfortable getting blown about, so on the brakes most of the way. Then the next 2 climbs really finished me off and I was crawling up Gairnshiel, with the only comfort that it is the last major obstacle and the last 20 miles were mainly downhill.
I pushed on downhill, past the Queen’s wee house and the back road to Aboyne. I was passed by a couple of guys, tried to hold their wheel for a bit and the effort just didn’t seem worth it. I did manage to get from the top of Gairnshiel to the finish, about 23 miles in an hour and I was empty. Official time was 6:26 for 35th overall and 10th in my old man age category.
Turned out the forecast was spot on – cloudy, mild and WINDY!! I am longing for a run where it is isn’t a constant wind, hopefully soon.
The event is basically the Etape Royale with added miles (110 v 102) and extra climbing and a fraction of the price. Okay, you don’t get a goody bag, but did get a nice mug. It’s not closed roads, but it is the middle of nowhere and I hardly saw a car all day! There was food at the end and as it was a community sports facility, changing rooms and showers too.
Here’s the Garmin route and stats: