Friday night, the night before my biggest cycling challenge to date I loaded myself up with carbs mostly in the form of Pasta, then hit the sack at 10pm as it was a 5am start the following day.
My alarm clock went off at 5am and I got myself kitted up. I had looked everything out the previous evening to ensure that I didn’t forget anything. I treated my stomach to a couple of Weetabix for breakfast then loaded the car with my kit, energy bars, water bottles and of course my trusty stead, my 2010 Cube Agree GTC Pro!
As I headed out the door I turned the key in the lock while running through my head what I needed to take with me……. then realised I had left my cycle shoes in the kitchen!
I set off at 6am and arrived at Glasgow Green around 6.20am and parked the car roughly a mile away as Gail was coming in to pick it up and bring it through to Edinburgh for the finish. I got my bike off the roof and got my numbers etc and timing chip setup and headed for Glasgow Green. I gave Stevie a phone when I arrived at the People’s Palace, he would be with me in about 15-20 mins.
I then decided to head to the start line as we were being ushered there by the stewards. On arriving at the Monument I sent Stevie a text and said I’d meet him here. It was at this point I decided I’d have a wee sip from my water bottle……… I went to grab the bottle and the two cages were empty! Doh!!! I had left them sitting in my car! So my warm up consisted of a sprint back to the car and then back to the starting line to meet Stevie!
The first 25 miles went well, cruising along at a decent pace, we arrived at the first feed station at Loudon Academy and I was greeted by my mum and dad who’d come along to support me. After stocking up on energy bars, banana’s and refilling my water bottle we set off to the next feed station 30 odd miles away.
Around the late 20 mile mark I got stuck behind a group of riders and Stevie squeezed passed them, so I waited until it was safe to pass by. After a steep climb I hit a decent and thought, this is where I’m going to catch back up with Stevie, but found my route blocked by two riders sitting side by side going slowly down the decent. After a short while they spotted me and moved in, I then shot passed them and hit a rather large pointed stone and BANG! I blew my front tyre! This was to be the start of a disastrous 5 miles!
A puncture didn’t seem too bad considering the guy in front of me was flying then hit the bend, skidded, then wrapped his bike into the wire fence catapulting himself into the field, breaking his leg in the process!
As I repaired the puncture I noticed that the tyre had suffered a 6cm laceration straight through, which turned out to be a real problem later on!
I got the puncture fixed and wished the guy with the broken leg a quick recovery and set off on my merry way. I had hardly covered half a mile and my tyre punctured again! I replaced the inner tube with my last one and set off again to be met with yet another puncture! This time I had to repair one of the damaged tubes and continued along and yet again I punctured and finally my fith puncture! I was now out of inner tubes and patches! The 6cm laceration on the tyre was making the inner tube visible so any time I hit a rough bit of road the tube blew!
My final puncture happened just past the entrance to Drumclog motocross dirt track. It was at this point that I’d had enough and was going to chuck it! Only 35 miles into my 110 mile challenge but with no more inner tubes and the nearest feed station 25 miles away I’d all but conceded defeat on my first attempt at doing 100+ miles!
As I turned and looked back the angels had arrived in the form of the Mobile Mechanic Van! How lucky was that, just as I had turned round he had pulled into the side of the road 100 yards away!
Cameron, the owner and mechanic of Cycle Tech Glasgow sorted me out with a new tyre and a couple of inner tubes doing all the hard work while I stood around and watched him at work while chatting away! Very nice guy and he rescued quite a few people that day!
With my new tyre on and my spirits running high once again I continued on my way trying to make up the hour or so I had lost with the punctures and tyre change. As I hit Muirkirk road I was battered by gale force winds which slowed me down! As I was now on my own I had to do all the work myself and had no-one to share the load with. I did reel in quite a few people on that road but they were struggling and going too slow for me so I just had to get the head down and work hard!
I arrived at the 50+ mile mark and the 2nd feed station at Douglas where I quickly grabbed a banana and a sandwich, refilled my water bottles and set off again. Oh that was after I had sent Stevie a text to let him know what had happened as he had left several messages on my phone checking I was ok. He was oblivious to my 5 punctures and was starting to get a little worried. I told him just to continue as I had lost just over an hour.
At the 77 mile mark the organisers thought it’d be funny to throw in a climb of 23% over roughly half a mile! Man that was a killer!
The furthest I’d ever cycled before was 70 miles and that was to Loch Lomond and back which to be fair is a pretty flat route, so I was now in unknown territory!
I arrived at the final feed station at Carnwath 88 miles in to find that they had ran out of water! Not good considering I still had 25 miles left and less that a quarter of a bottle left!
Next followed a tough climb along the A70 into a strong head wind with very little water!
It was when I hit the 100 mile mark than I realised that I was actually going to make it and complete a tough challenge! I know I still had 20 miles left but there was no way I was going that far without completing the distance now!
I arrived in Edinburgh then had around 5 miles to reach Murrayfield Stadium stopping at what seemed like every traffic light!
At last Murryfield was in sight and we were sent passed it and came in the back end, cycling through the stadium itself then back into the grounds outside to the finishing line and was greeted by Gail, my two boys and my mum!
I have to say that despite the early tyre incidents I thoroughly enjoyed the day. The 113 miles took me 8 hrs to complete, that’s actual cycling time with an average speed of 14.1 mph which I’m chuffed with. If you’d told me 6 months ago that I’d manage to complete a tough 110 mile cycle I would have laughed at you, but plenty of hard work and determination proves that anyone can do it if they put their mind to it and put in the hard work!
Many a time I was cruising along at 20 – 30 mph on great surfaces then for some bizarre reason the organisers made you turn off that road and onto the back roads to climb some steep hills! Was there any need for that???
I was surprised and pleased that at 90+ miles I was still able to push it and hit speeds of 28 mph on the flat and on small inclines and reeled in a surprising amount of fellow riders! As the inclines became a lot steeper I had to drop the gears tho! Lol
All in all I was really chuffed and proud to have completed my first 100+ miles……. 113.62 miles to be exact!
Well that’s all my Sportive’s finished for this year…… time to plan ahead for 2013, rally the troops round again and get stuck into the winter training!