Beat the Ferry 2017

Saturday 24th June saw the first ever edition of Beat the Ferry, a cycle event organised by the Beatson Cancer Charity which involved chasing a ferry around several islands.

It was an honour to be asked to front this event by Kirsty from the Beatson Cancer Charity. That said it was disappointing that on the day we could only muster 3 Whitelee Warriors riders to take take part!

Stu Russell
DC Stu, the guy behind the Whitelee Warriors.
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Stevie Potter
Team Rider
Official Team Puncture Repair guy.
Hugh Whitelaw
Team Rider
Work colleague of Shaun and member of Whitelee Warriors.

Ally Menzies was sadly a late call off due to injury.

Originally I had considered cycling down to Ardrossan and cycling back after the event but after consulting with Google maps it turned out it was a 40 mile trip each way! Considering we would need to leave at 5:20am when travelling by car, cycling to the ferry terminal would’ve meant getting up at a crazy hour in the morning!

Hugh made his way over to mine on the Saturday morning for 5:15am and Stevie duly arrived a short time later. Stevie was going to be the designated driver today as I had just changed my car and the new rapid fitting kit I need to fit my bars on the new car was on back order with the supplier. We loaded the bikes onto the cycle racks and off we set for Adrossan where we met up with Kirsty, the rest of her team and our fellow participants for the day.

On the Ferry we were given our event pack followed by a debrief. The first leg of the journey would be 14 miles from Brodrick to Lochranza. This would be a very important leg, a leg which everyone needed to make the first ferry, either that or you had over an hour to wait until the next one! There was a contingency plan in place where the support team would pick up any rider who they thought weren’t on schedule to make the first ferry and help them up the steep and long climb of Lochranza.

The ferry docked and off we set with the Whitelee Warriors leading the way. The three of us worked well together taking turns on the front and as what is pretty norm these days I missed a turn and lead us in the wrong direction! Thankfully the errors of my way were spotted fairly quickly and we turned around and chased down a couple of riders who’d now taken the lead.

Working well together we soon made it to the foot of Lochranza where the group started to break up. Stevie started to struggle and as a result dropped off the back. Hugh and I crested Lochranza and continued on with Hugh then stopping to remove some clothing as he was overheating…….. that was all I needed, I was off! Lol It wasn’t really like that I just kept going and Hugh never caught up due to the fact he ended up puncturing during his chase to catch up with me.

Have to admit I’d forgotten how tough the Lochranza climb was! From the start at Brodrick we were flying along at 20 odd mph then turned the corner to not only be met with the Lochranza climb but also a strong headwind to boot! Just to give you an idea of how strong the headwind was, you had to pedal to get down the back of Lochranza!!! Usually it’s a lovely fast smooth decent but not today it wasn’t!

It was tough riding into that wind on my own but I pushed on, rounded the corner and there was the Ferry terminal at Lochranza, the first leg was now complete! I was the first of all the riders to reach the ferry terminal but didn’t have long to wait before fellow cyclists joined me including Stevie and Hugh.

It was now a 30 minute ferry journey from Lochranza to Clonaig. The good news was that everyone made the first ferry, some needing a little assistance in the van but we all made it.

10 miles was the distance of the next leg which would see us cycle from Clonaig to Tarbett where we were met by a familiar face out to support the Warriors and the rest of the Beatson riders, none other than Beatson Cancer Charity Ambassador Caroyln McAlpine. If you remember back in October myself, Stevie and Alan met up with Carolyn during day 8 of McAlpine’s Mega Marathon challenge, 15 marathons in 15 days. The route that day would see Carolyn tackle the Eaglesham Moors, a climb we’ve done many a time…….. but NEVER running it! Anyway Carolyn very kindly repaid the favour and headed out in her local town to show here support to the Warriors and everyone tackling the Beat the Ferry challenge.

Tarbett would also be the lunch stop. We were provided with a packed lunch consisting of sandwiches, juice, piece of fruit and a large slice of crispy cake to fuel us up for what would be the toughest leg ahead.

After catching up with Carolyn we grabbed our lunch bags and headed round the corner to the ferry port to eat our lunch and wait for the next ferry. We were greeted by a lovely hand made sign wishing us all the best from Carolyn’s niece and her fellow classmates at the local nursery.

After demolishing our lunch and a short wait the ferry arrived which we boarded to take us from Tarbett to Portavadie where the longest and toughest leg awaited us!

Before long the 25 minute ferry journey was over and it was time to tackle the 19 miles from Portavadie to Colintravie. We disembarked from the ferry and set off on our merry way. As predicted, this was the longest and toughest leg of the day. We battled through the wind and at points rain and again our group of three broke up. I powered on in front then had to take a short break at one of the junctions to check which direction I was turning. The signpost showed a ferry port to the left and also one to the right, it was a 50/50 chance and with my track record I was bound to get it wrong so I consulted the route on my phone and discovered it was right I needed to go and head towards Colintravie. Off I set again then about a mile up the road got caught by a group of strong riders who I’d chatted to earlier in the day. They told me to jump on their train and we worked together for a good few miles. It was with about a mile to go we turned the corner onto a climb and my legs started to get heavy, I struggled to keep up with the group and dropped off the back.

I was now on my own again working into the wind on a climb. Battling on I rounded the corner and arrived at Colintavie and into the ferry port. After a short while Hugh rounded the corner and joined me. We didn’t have too long to wait until the ferry came into view and eventually docked. A short time later it started to load but with no sign of Stevie it was looking like we’d need to wait for the next one. Just as they were about to finish loading Stevie rounded the corner and we boarded the ferry. A close shave but made it all the same.

The crossing from Colintravie to Rhuboddach took a mere 5 mins and then we were off on the final leg of the day, Rhuboddach to Rothesay, a nice short flat 8 miles to finish off the challenge! With the final leg completed it was time to head to the chippy to claim our free supper, with all of us opting for the Fish Supper. I can honestly say it was the biggest fish supper I’ve seen in my life and never finished it!

Once we’d finished eating what we could of our fish suppers we headed to the ferry terminal for our final ferry of the day.

That was it, the Beat the Ferry challenge has been tackled and completed! A well organised event with great support from the Beaston Cancer Charity. Met some great people along the way all out doing their bit to help raise vital funds for the Beatson Cancer Charity.

Originally the plan was for Stevie, Hugh and myself to cycle the 20 miles back from Wemyss Bay to Ardrossan but on the way back on the ferry Stevie and Hugh weren’t up for it. As much as I tried I couldn’t convince them to tackle the 20 miles back to the car. Instead Stevie jumped in a taxi with 4 other riders from the event back to Ardrossan to collect the car while Hugh and I went to the railway station pub for a few pints while awaiting their return. I say we had a few pints but in fact it was just myself as Hugh had the car parked at mine. We met up with some fellow participants and had a good chinwag while enjoying a few drinks.

Really enjoyed the event and looking forward to next year when hopefully the event will be returning or a similar event organised through the Beatson Cancer Charity.