Now that the dust has settled on the 2014 Pedal for Scotland, Glasgow to Edinburgh 100 mile Sportive I thought I’d eventually get my blog written up about it.
Last year Stevie Potter and myself took part in the same event and this year we managed to enlist Gilly, Chris and Shaun, which would mean a Warriors peloton numbering five. This was going to be the pinnacle of the season, the main event, the season finale, but would be no stroll in the park.
Saturday arrived, the day before the event, and I hit the slopes of Xscape in Braehead with my eldest Callum as I’d promised I’d taking him skiing. Maybe not the best thing to do the day before a 110 mile sportive, but hey ho life’s too short and all that jazz! Not only did I hit the slopes but I also hit China Buffet King after it! To be fair I didn’t do as much damage as I’d have liked to, Chris Hunter would have been ashamed of my efforts!
With all the bad stuff out the way I picked up a pasta dish, bananas and porridge for tea and the mornings breakfast. Having got all my kit looked out and polishing off my pasta I retired for an early night all set for the early rise the following morning.
Hardly felt as though my head had hit the pillow then the alarm went off, it was 4:30am!!! I got myself dressed and headed down for breakfast forcing as much porridge down as I could. I’m not a fan of porridge but with 100 miles a head of me I ate as much as I could.
Chris, Gilly and Shuan were travelling o Glasgow Green together so I picked Stevie up from Stonehouse and headed for the Green where we got kitted up and Gail took my car back home for me. As we were kitting up I got a phone call from Gilly asking where we were, to which I replied we were just kitting up and would be with them shortly. Ramming as many gels and bananas down my throat as was comfortable we headed into Glasgow Green on the Hunt for the rest of the Warriors. Stevie needed a pee so we headed to the registration building where he did the necessary. It was at this point that I received another call from Gilly, now sounding a little agitated inquiring to our whereabouts as the race was about to start! Now first of all it wasn’t a race and secondly the 110 mile riders were setting off between 6:45am and 7:20am, but you know how competitive Gilly is, he wanted to be at the very front! Lol
Stevie and I found the rest of the Warriors and also met up with Alan, aka @OnTheHoods from Twitter. Alan had mentioned he was doing the PFS 100 mile route for the first time and that he was doing it alone, so we invited him to join us.
Gilly was now off, he had ants in his pants and had now made his way to the start line so we let him sweat a little before joining him. 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 and we were off! We headed out of Glasgow Green straight into a long line of red traffic lights! Every set of lights we came to were at red so it was stop start and all you could here was the beeping of Garmin’s pausing and restarting, followed by the sound of cleats being clicked into pedals.
We headed along Pollokshaws road and out of the City Center encountering some digs along the way if the shape of hills. As we moved further away from the City Center the more the riders spread out as we dropped rider after rider on the climbs, including Shaun at one point, who then managed to catch up with us.
We cruised through the first 23 miles to the first feed station at Galston where we pulled in to replenish our water bottles and take on some energy bars etc. Prior to arriving at Galston Chris had hinted at skipping the first feed station, not like Chris eh! With the second feed station being at the 60 mile mark, some 40 miles away we decided it would be silly not to replenish out water bottles.
Several of the boys, including myself, headed for a quick toilet break and as I returned the ants in Gilly’s pants were working over time as he was ready to go and told us to head off…. I hadn’t even had a chance to fill my bottle! I quickly filled my bottle pouring half my powder on the ground instead, opened a cereal bar and ate it on the move. Off we went!
We were not hitting the first load of proper climbs. As we reached around the 30 mile mark I suddenly got all nervous and slowed down, we were now approaching the scene of last years disaster where I slashed my tyre open followed by 6 punctures! I cautiously passed by the fence where last year the rider in front of me missed the bend and hit square on catapulting himself into the field and breaking his leg in the process! I had now passed the scene of last years incident without any repercussions and made my decent catching up with the rest of the Warriors.
We were now on Muirkirk road and for those of you who know Muirkirk road, it could be the hottest day of the year and you’d still get battered by gale force winds on that stretch! Last year I tackled it solo as I’d lost over an hour due to the six punctures. It was a hard slog tackling on your on and being battered by the wind and the rain. Thankfully this year I was not alone and the rain had decided to stay away. The 6 of us managed to get a great set of wheels which consisted of around 7 riders up front who were more than happy to do all the work into the wind, and likewise we were more than happy to let them do all the work! We really blasted our way along Muirkirk road thanks to the set of wheels leading what was now a 20 rider strong peloton.
After around 10 miles we dropped off the peloton as thy started to push a speed that was really making us work, and with around 50+ miles to go we thought it better to travel as a pace we were comfortable with.
As we made our way to the second feed station at Crawfordjohn (60 mile mark) Chris, Gilly and myself dropped Shaun and Stevie, with Alan falling away a short time later. Working together in small peloton’s we arrived at feed station number two where we tucked into pasta dishes, caramel wafers and other goodies. Stevie and Shuan arrived as we were tucking into our food with Alan arriving just as we were about to leave. We offered to wait for Alan to get something to eat but he told us just to head off as he was happy plodding along at his own pace.
With full bellies and water bottles we set off straight into another hill, thankfully we were heading away from the radar station and not towards it! Before we knew it 75 miles had past which meant only one thing…….. the Carmichael Hill was upon us! The Carmichael climb is a very steep climb which the organisers decide to throw in after 75 miles! Last year I made it half way up before I had to get off and push like many of the other riders around me. This year being two and a half stone lighter and a lot fitter I was determined to tame the beast! Chris, Gilly and myself who had again dropped Shaun and Stevie, got our heads down and started our assault on the Carmichael beast. Many a rider had given up and started pushing the bike before they’d even started on the steep section. They’d just taken one look at the hill and chucked it! Not us we were determined to conquer it. With every last bit of effort I managed to make it to the top just behind Gilly, shortly followed by Chris. We had done it…… we had tamed the beast and you can’t imagine how chuffed I was, likewise so was Chris and Gilly. Chris didn’t think much of the hill as he kept asking me where the big climb was! Lol
With the major climb out the way we carried on our merry way and got into a nice we peloton taking turns on the front. As we were speeding along nicely a couple of young lassies pulled up and slotted into our peloton but didn’t seem to keen to participate in the through and off we had got going which was working well until that point. After taking my turn on the front I pulled out to let the others come through and one of the lassies wouldn’t let me slot back in behind the rest of our group so I had to speed to the front and slot in behind the other lassie. At this point we nearly missed the left turn as the sign was part hidden, in fact Gilly did miss the sign and shot straight on only to realise his mistake as we shouted on him. During the melly and the last minute turn, I heard the sound of bikes clattering together behind me. It turn out that with everyone slamming the brakes on, Chris and ran into the back of Stevie’s bike and somehow manged to jump off the bike as Stevie rode away with his bike still attached!
We regrouped, checking everyone was ok, Gilly and I had managed to avoid it all as were at the front. Setting off we regrouped the Peloton which now numbered around 15 riders and started on a quarter mile through and off which was working well. We were hitting a good average speed which I continued when I took my turn on the front until the 79th mile where out the blue with no warning my right hamstring decided to cramp up! The pain was unbearable, I indicated my intention to stop and the pursuing peloton passed by me as I spent the next minute trying to get the knot out my hamstring! After a good long stretch and a Powerbar gel the cramp ceased and I set off again. I set off trying to catch up with the peloton which now had a minutes advantage on me, trying to push myself but trying to avoid triggering cramp at the same point. I eventually managed several miles later, to catch up with the Peloton a few miles outside of Carnwath, which housed the final feed station.
The three of us cruised into the final feed station some 87 miles into the Sportive where we stocked up on gels, bananas and refilled our water bottles for the final push. With 23 miles left I reminded Chris and Gilly that all we had left was a Wednesday night pedal!
Heading into the last section we were going well until at the 99 mile mark my right hamstring decided to cramp up again forcing me to pull over, stretch and pop a gel before playing the catch up game again! I could see Chris and Gilly in the distance and was determined to catch them before crossing the timing chip line 10 miles from Murryfield Stadium, but was unable to do so. I did however catch up with them just inside Edinburgh thanks to a set of traffic lights! Funny how I was cursing the red lights at the start of the day and was now grateful to them at the end! Lol
With Gilly, Chris and myself now reunited we cruised into Murrayfield Stadium crossing the line together with Shaun and Stevie coming in several minutes behind.
Feeling much fresher than I did last year, I now had another 110 miler under my belt with Chris, Gilly, Shaun and Alan getting their first 100+ miles under their belts! Really chuffed for the boys getting their first 100+ miler under their belts!
Everyone did really well with Gilly and Chris looking particularly strong, climbing well. All the months of training had paid off for us all.
My mum commented on how fresh we all looked after completing the 110 miles!
Was really chuffed with my efforts on the day with the exception of cramping up twice! Was re3ally chuffed to have climbed Carmichael hill without getting off and pushing like I did last year. 110 miles with an average speed of 15.2mph and 8,507 feet of climbing and I managed to knock 42 minutes off last years time!
At the end we found a spot on the grass just down from the finish line where we placed our bikes. I decided to remove my Garmin from my bike and place it in my goodie bag for safe keeping. That nearly back fired as I asked my dad to take a photo on my phone of the 5 of us and placed my goodie bag on the grass. After the photo’s my mum and dad headed off while I said to the boys to give me a sec while I headed to the toilet, at which point I realised I didn’t have my goodie bag and ran back to check if my dad was walking away with it….. he wasn’t! Panic settled in until I found it lying on the grass! Now that certainly would have been a goodie bag for someone ad they got my Garmin!
We headed back to the cars which Stevie and Chris and dropped off in Edinburgh the night before, passing by riders still coming in from the 47 mile Challenge event never mind the 110 mile Sportive! Arriving back at the cars we packed up, said goodbye to Edinburgh and headed home to collapse on the couch! I was in my bed for 9pm!
As I write this I’m preparing for 70 miles chasing ferries tomorrow in the Five Ferries challenge before letting my hair down at our end of season BBQ!