Fellow pedallers and tea drinkers, like myself, here I am recovering from my latest attempt at a Sportive. Yes, last weekend I took part in the Scottish Stage of the Tour of Britain Sportive” and it was excellent, long and lumpy, but excellent.
Irene and I travelled down on the Saturday and I had a wee spin around the countryside of Peebles including a trip to the start to see them erecting the Gantry. There was no optics on it so, I carried on riding.
I’ve cycled through this area a number of times and it really is a beautiful part of the world, with the added bonus that drivers around here are used to cyclists and at least appear to be a little more patient with us. In fact there was a local Sportive just finishing in town and I had a look. As I arrived one of the officials came up to me and asked if I was the last to arrive (cheek, but he obviously was aware of my capabilities) Yes, he must have thought looking at me, there’s a Lanterne Rouge if I ever saw one!!!! Anyway I explained that no, I had just come for a look, to which he turned round and said as he stared me into the ground, “of course, you can’t be, we wouldn’t have allowed you to ride, you don’t have a helmet on” and stuck his nose in the air, turned around and walked away.
Let me assure you all that normally I always wear a helmet but, in my rush to get out I had come out of the Hotel and left it in the room.
Sunday dawned, well actually it was still dark when we dragged ourselves up and breakfast plans went completely pear shaped as the kitchen was locked. Never make plans with a Landlady who, to put it mildly was as drunk as a Lord!!!!! To make it worse in my effort to be “organised” I had forgotten all my bike food!!!!! So, I stuffed a couple of bananas down my throat and Irene drove me to the Start. Luckily I met an old pal who gave me a couple of Gels.
Irene delivered me to the Start in good time. It was very foggy and a little nippy but, I managed to get started at 07.00 with the first bunch. Nice steady pedalling for the first few miles and although I had got away smartly and had no intention of racing it, just enjoying it and so, I tried to get into a rhythm, low gears, high revs, cadence, cadence, cadence, continually repeating itself in my head. As we approached the first hill the fog lifted and the sun broke through and it was to remain like this for the remainder of the day. “Up, up and away” I sang as it seemed my front wheel was never going to come back down to the same level as my rear one. Nevertheless, I got to the top and thus followed a brilliant downhill and some more steady riding until we started ascending again.
We had been warned at the start that the descent off this was peculiarly nasty and to be careful. They weren’t wrong it was single track, twisty, covered in grit with water washing across it and extremely steep. Try and watch the Pro’s do it in the T of B, it will be very interesting to see how quickly they go down it. I’m pretty reasonable at going downhill but, really held back on this hill, my main problem being that I couldn’t feel my fingers. It was surprising how many, who had passed me going uphill quite easily were slowed down on this and even off their bikes and walking.
Just a few more miles and we were at the first feed which was excellent with water, energy drinks, a choice of energy bars and Soreen fruit cake, unfortunately, no tea.
But, steady away and another hill before the ascent of the Devils Beeftub which I have to say was not as bad as I thought it would be and the descent into Moffat more than made up for it. Another equally good feed where I met some Glasgow South that I had passed coming down the hill. I have to say that this was possibly the friendliest Sportive I have done. I think of all the folk that passed me and I have to say, there was a lot, only 3 or 4 didn’t speak at all. I have to say though that there breathing appeared quite laboured at the time!?!?!?!?
After Moffat it was another 30 K to Dumfries and then another 70 K loop back to Dumfries. This was all steady rolling countryside with a few short sharp hills which, after the softening up of the big hills were actually quite hard. But, the countryside and views are brilliant and more than make up for the hardship.
Eventually all good things come to an end and there I was going under the Gantry at the side of the river in Dumfries to pick up my well earned Medal and Goody Bag. It was a really enjoyable day even with all the aches and pains. Apart from a dry chainset that sang to me for the last 70 K. I had no mechanical, and it wasn’t as hard as I had expected. In fact, some fellow riders agreed with me that it was not as hard as the “Ken Laidlaw” which is always my benchmark.
So folks, on to this weekend and it is Pedal for Scotland which I hope some, if not all of you are going to do. I hear that they are still accepting entries so, come on, it’s a great ride and I look forward to seeing you all on the Start line.