Graeme Obree Sportive 2013

Sunday the 4th August had arrived and the Whitelee Warriors were heading down to Ayrshire for the Graeme Obese Sportive. Last year Chris, Gilly and myself tackled the 48 mile route, this year the Warriors peloton numbered 5 with Chris, Gilly, Stevie P, Ian and myself tacking the 68 mile route.

Saturday night was a quiet night with cheese, chicken and bacon pasta being the order of the day! With the alarm set for 5:30am I looked my out kit and prepared my Gatorade for the day of climbing ahead.

Heading to bed around 11pm and mucking about on Facebook etc, it wasn’t long before my alarm was ringing in my ears marking the start of what would turn out to be a long day.

Surprisingly I got up out my bed on the first attempt without the need for several presses of the snooze button! Funny how during the working week it takes a min of two presses of the snooze button before I get my lazy arse out of bed.

Breakfast consisted of a sesame seed bagel laden with nutella.

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Sesame Seed bagel laden with Nutella

With that out the way Stevie Potter arrived and we packed the car and got the bikes loaded onto the car and made our way to Ayr. Being one of the first to arrive we got the pick of the parking spaces and got registered without having to wait in any queues. We headed back to the car to get kitted up and bumped into Ian who’d just arrived, shortly followed by Gilly and Chris.

Heading to the start line Ian, Stevie and myself waited for Gilly and Chris to arrive, which took an eternity.

It wasn’t long before we were under starters orders setting off in groups of around 50. We were in group three and were soon called to line up. I managed to get a spot near the front of our group and it wasn’t long before the count down started and we were off.

We set off past the timing chip, registering the start of our 68 miles, there was no turning back now! We swung a quick right and started on a quick decent. After around 500 yards I heard a bit of commotion behind me with people shouting that someone had lost their saddle bag. Sadly that someone was me! I’d been out the week before and my saddle bag decided to introduce itself to the tarmac after hitting a bump in the road. After super gluing the broken bracket I thought we were good to go again, obviously not!

After nearly causing a 40 rider pile up I pulled into the side and waited for the peloton to pass before. Gilly passed by me, turned out that was the last time I’d be in front of him that day, shouting, “that’s going in the blog!” That’s great I thought, that means Gilly is going to write a blog post. As I write this, some days later, on my holiday, I still await Gilly’s write up!

Anyway, back to my blog post, and the stray saddle bag! After waiting for the peloton to pass I ditched the bike and walked back up the hill to retrieve the offending article, then headed back to my bike where I re-attached it back to my bike.

Now playing catch-up I continued on my merry way and managed only a further 100 yards before I hit another bump in the road sending the saddle sprawling across the road once again! Thankfully this time there wasn’t a 40 strong peloton behind me!

Again I ditched the bike and again I walked back to retrieve my saddle bag. This time after a few carefully chosen swear words, I emptied the contents of the saddle bag into my jersey pockets and threw the fecking thing into the bushes!

Now I really was playing catch-up! A wee pattern is forming here with me and riding sportives solo! Think from now on I’m going to enter them as an individual as I usually end up riding them as an individual.

So that was me, riding solo again with no wheel to sit on, and with no-one to share the load!

Now they weren’t joking when they said the 68 mile route was a tough route with loads of climbing! At one point on the start of a climb I cycled up beside a guy and started chatting to him. He asked me if I’d done this route before, which I replied I hadn’t but I had done the 48 mile route last year. He said that he has done the route several times as part of his training for the event and that we would be spending the next hour climbing! I thanked him for telling me that! (Sarcasm) then got my head down and left him while making my assault on the climb. He was right, I did spend the next hour climbing and climbing and climbing. There was some fantastic views on offer!

At the 39 mile mark, on a flat stretch of road, I got out the saddle to put a bit more power into the pedals and at that point I was hit with cramp in both thighs at the same time! I eased off the pedals a little and tried to stretch but it wasn’t doing much good.

I was now running very low on water and had stupidly forgot to check out how many mile into the ride the feed station was, fortunately it turned out to be only a few miles away. As I approached the feed station I spotted Chris and Stevie and joined back up with them. It only took me 42 miles to catch back up with them! Gilly and Ian were nowhere to be seen.

After a quick fluid top up we left the feed station straight into a lengthy climb, fancy that eh! As we climbed we were joined by another guy who hugged our wheel all the way up the climb before asking if we didn’t mind him tagging along with us. Stevie and Chris were now also starting to suffer from cramp.

We managed to get into a nice peloton of around 8 of us with everyone taking a turn on the front, including me!!! We were going along well then one of the guys took to the front after the group pulling him along for sometime, then shot off blowing the peloton apart. With 6 riders now left we plodded on, dropping another couple on the way. It was now the turn of the guy who hugged our wheel up the first climb after the feed station to take the front and lead the pace. After several miles I took to the front to take my turn and cursing along at 20mph we dropped the wheel hugger and were now down to just the 3 of us.

With around 8 miles to go and on yet another climb I cramped up again, and being out of gels asked Stevie if he had any spares. Stevie passed me a gel and I checked twice with him that he still had some left for himself, to which he assured me he did.

Having popped the gel we plodded along taking in yet more hills when Stevie cramped up quite bad. He went to his pocket for a gel only to discover he given me the last one! He had to pull in and stretch while Chris and I carried on slowing right down to allow Stevie to rejoin us after stretching.

With 3 more climbs left over 4 miles, Chris and I dropped Stevie and painstakingly fought through the cramping thighs with every pedal stroke. With light at the end of the tunnel and the final climb started I turned to speak to Chris only to discover that he’d dropped off, so I continued on, cresting the final climb and seeing the finish line in sight. As I crossed the finishing line I spotted Gilly and Ian waiting and applauding our efforts.

Chris crossed the line shortly after me followed by Stevie. After collecting our medals we headed back to the cars where Gilly arrived with his hip flask and we all enjoyed a cheeky malt to celebrate.

Enjoying a well deserved cheeky wee malt.
Enjoying a well deserved cheeky wee malt.

All in all it was a great but challenging event with loads of climbing! Thoroughly enjoyed it and will be back to tackle it again next year!

Whitelee Warriors
Whitelee Warriors at the end of the Graeme Obree Sportive – photo courtesy of Hansel

Stevie dropped me off home where I had a quick shower, packed the bags and headed off to St.Andrews where Gail, the boys and I enjoyed a weeks holiday. You can tell how much I enjoyed my holiday as I started writing this blog on the Monday after a few bevvies at the caravan pub and wrote a little more every night after the pub and have only just finished it tonight! Lol

Time to get back into the training as I have the Strathaven Round 50 this Sunday then the Pedal for Scotland 110 mile event on 8th Sept!

Stu

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