Ian had decided to organise an end of season finale weekend which would consist of the Five Ferries Challenge on the Saturday (21st Sept) followed by a BBQ hosted at their new houe on the Sunday.
It was another early start on Sat as Ian, Stevie Potter, Chris, Willie, John, Fraser (Willie’s mate) and myself set off for Ardrossan. We were meeting at the ferry terminal at 6:30am which meant my alarm was set for 4:30am to allow time to get kitted up and fuelled up for the 77 miles a head of me.
Stevie arrived at 5:30am with Chris looking like a Rapha model, albeit one that wasn’t fully awake! We packed my stuff into the car and attached my bike to the roof and set off for Ardrossan. It was pitch black and a tad on the chilly side, but at least it was dry, well it was at that moment. As we arrived at the ferry terminal at Ardrossan I was amazed at how full the car park was. We jumped into the terminal building while it was quiet and purchased our Zone 4 and Zone 5 hopper tickets. As we left the terminal building the the sky was a lovely colour of red as sunrise had begun.
After purchasing our tickets Chris, Stevie and I headed back to the car to get kitted up just as the other car loaded with Ian, Willie, John and Fraser arrived. Once on the ferry we headed straight for breakfast bar where two rolls and links was the order of the day for myself, while Chris and Willie opted for the full breakfast, surprise surprise!
With the 50 or so minute crossing out the way we set foot or should I say, wheels, on Brodick ready to attack the first leg which was around 14 miles long to Lochranza. We set off from the ferry terminal in Brodick and took a right, opposite from the way we usually go which was a pleasant change as turning left out the terminal you hit a steep climb straight off! We set off more like Team Sky than the Whitelee Warriors as Ian set a 20+ mph pace! Well that was until we hit Lochranza then that rapidily dropped to 16.4 mph! I was fourth up the Lochranza and that would be the format for the rest of the day, beaten by an Ironman and two firemen, or to be PC, fire fighters. I’m sure Willie may well keep me right on the correct terminology!
I felt pretty good climbing Lochranza, don’t get me wrong it was a tough climb but I was pleased with my performance. After regrouping at the top we set off on the long winding decent. Hitting speeds of nearly 40mph John decided to give me some material for the blog. As we were descending down the back of Lochranza, or the front depending on which side you call the front, we were doing around 35mph when Willie shot passed me and John hit a bit of water and as you do, or as John does, hit the brakes causing a slight skid into the left side of the road, onto the gravel and grass and just managing to catch it before somersaulting over the handlebars and into a ditch at the side of the road! I yelled out to the rest of the boys that we had a man down, and slammed my brakes on, trying not to lock the wheel and join John in the ditch. I checked that John was ok which thankfully he was despite a bang to the head and a battering to his self esteem! I looked up and saw Willie approaching and upon seeing John lying in the ditch with his bike wrapped around him said, “Oh it’s only you John, thank god it’s not Stu!” Lol
By that Willie was relieved it wasn’t me lying in the ditch as he thought he’d clipped me while flying past me at high speed. We pulled John out the ditch and made sure he was ok before continuing with our descent, John a little more cautious that before.
With the Arran leg now conquered we had a 30 min wait for the ferry to Claonaig for the 2nd leg. The short ferry crossing was spent giving John a ribbing about his acrobatics on Lochranza. Arriving at Clonaig we got off the ferry and I was chittering with the cold, so we set off and picked the pace up quickly to warm up.
Again we arrived early at Tarbert so stopped off at a wee cafe just down from the ferry terminal where Willie treated himself to a yum yum as we all watched him make a pig of himself! Lol After the cafe stop and a one way chat from a local who seemed to know everything about cycling, we headed to the ferry terminal to catch the next ferry to Portavadie.
The next leg consisted of 19 miles of up and down hills to Colintravie where we boarded the next ferry for the 10 min journey to Rhubodach for the 9 mile cycle to Rothesay. At Rothesay we mingled with the proper cyclists as the cycling festival was on. Stopping off at a cafe for lunch I had the best milkshake I’ve ever had, I had a long wait for it mind you but it was worth it. We all had a bite to eat kindly cooked by the chef which looked like he didn’t have a hygiene certificate.
After we were fed and watered we took a relaxed pedal along the sea front to pass some time before the ferry was due and stumbled onto the Time Trial route with cyclists who looked the part flying past as part of a two man team. Somehow managing not to get too much in the way we headed back to the ferry terminal where we boarded for Wymess Bay to complete the final leg of the Five Ferries Challenge.
With the 40 minute journey out the way we made our way to Ardrossan taking in the final 18 miles of our journey. At this point the clouds had opened and we were getting battered with the rain as we pushed on working together in the peloton, well that was until Ian, Willie and Fraser realised that Xfactor was about to start and put the foot down blowing the peloton apart with a 25mph sprint! We regouped just before the ferry terminal at Ardrossan and completed the final 2 miles together.
We had finally arrived back where we started several hours and 77 miles earlier. A great day was had by all and my jaw hurt from all the laughs we had during the day. Some tough climbs over the 77 miles but very happy with the days efforts.
End of Season BBQ
Ian and Tamara had kindly offered to host the end of season bbq at their place with Willie offering to cut the grass. Now I though Willie was joking until I turned up to drop off some drink, popup gazeebo and camping chairs, only to find Willie out the back with the lawnmower.
A great day was had at the bbq with fellow Warriors and their partners. Ian then called for hush while he presented me with a Whitelee Warriors clock for all the organising I did throughout the year. It was totally unexpected and had me lost for words, which is a hard thing to do. Lol
I decided to wait until Monday when the drink would have worn off before tackling my kitchen wall with the drill while hanging my new awesome clock.
And there we have it, the season has ended and it’s now time to concentrate on the winter training.