Pedal for Scotland 2014

It had finally come round, the end of the season was upon us, well for some of us anyway! Some people’s season hasn’t event started! Lol

All numbered up and ready to go

The grand finale, the Pedal for Scotland, Glasgow to Edinburgh 110 mile Sportive. Our numbers were down from last year with just Stevie P, Shaun and myself stepping up to the plate and pulling on the yellow jersey of the Beatson Cancer Charity.

Spoke to Gilly during the week and he said that he was working overtime so wouldn’t be able to do the event, he was never a definite anyway, was waiting to see how the weather was doing. Anyway Saturday I follow Stevie through to Edinburgh to drop his car off and bring him home and sit down and check Facebook on my phone to see a post from Gilly showing his ride stats from his morning ride with EK Road Club, literally that second my phone rings and it’s Gilly on the other end saying he had a confession to make……… the guilt must’ve got the better of him! Lol

alarmAfter tucking into a big bowl of cheesy pasta and packed the car, I looked out my kit and headed for an early night. 10pm on a Saturday night and I was in my bed with my alarm clock set for 4:30am.

I found it hard to get to sleep as I was buzzing for the day a head! How can you be excited about sitting on a bike for nearly 8hrs I hear you say! I’d hardly dozed off when I was rudely awoken by the dulcet tones of my alarm, signalling it was time for me to step up to the challenge on go smash the 110 mile cycling which lay in wait for me.

Breakfast consisted of a bagel with peanut butter and banana, a weird combination I know, but laden in carbs. With breakfast out the way I headed over to Blantyre to pick up Shaun for 5:30am, then through to Stonehouse to collect Stevie. With the team for the day collected and bikes on the roof it was time to set off for Glasgow Green and onto the start line for what would be a challenging day a head.

Being an early morning start there was a chill about the air but as we were kitting up the sun was starting to break through the clouds and it looked like it was going to be a lovely day. With that in mind I ditched the gilet and popped the arm warmers into my jersey pocket just in case. With my jersey pocket bulging with energy gels it was time to head to the start line. Our timing was spot on as we arrived at the start and literally had 30 seconds to wait before setting off into the quiet and quaint city. It was only quiet and quaint as it was so early, had it been 4 hrs earlier the streets would’ve been awash with drunks fighting over taxis, spilling out of local kebab shops, eating their take-a-ways then promptly bringing them back up!

Rolling up to the start line we get a position at the front of the grid which prompts the announcer to give a shout out for the Beatson Cancer Charity as he spots our t-shirts.

The countdown starts and we’re off……. just 110 miles to go! Or maybe not…… more on that later!

We head out of Glasgow Green and along Pollokshaws Road past my work. One thing that annoyed me was the amount of cyclists jumping red lights as we made our way through Glasgow. OK it was 7am in the morning and fairly quiet but the fact of the matter was the lights were at red! No wonder cyclists get a bad name!

Heading out of Glasgow we’re faced for a couple of climbs to get the heart lungs and legs working, and they also help to space out the peloton. On one particularly long 7% climb when my legs were feeling it a little I got a text message which thanks to the latest firmware update to my Garmin now displays the message on my Garmin. The message was from my mum saying she was proud of me…… impeccable timing! This text pushed me on and brought a new lease of life to me.

With the 1st feed station scheduled 23 miles in at Loudon Academy we got our heads down and powered on. The peloton was now 20 or so strong with Stevie on the front and myself tucked in behind him (nothing changes I hear you say!), we are working well and flying along at around 19 mph when I look up and see a sign welcoming us to Kilmarnock! Having done this event for the past three years we’ve never been taken into Kilmarnock! We continue on for about half a mile then with the distinct lack of route signs come to the valid conclusion that we’ve missed a turn!

Having done the Kilmarnock route on many an occasion with Stevie we knew where to go and managed to cut back across through Galston and back onto the route, missing the feed station at Loudon. We could’ve doubled back and made the climb up to Loudon Academy for the feed station if we really wanted but with it only being 23 miles in and everyone having enough food and water on them to last until the next feed station at 57 miles we decided to carry on.

Now I’ve always said I’d go the extra mile for the Beatson Cancer Charity and today we went an extra 4.7 miles!

I was feeling strong on the climbs and powered up them on my way to the 2nd feed station. By now the sun had burst through the clouds and it was getting warm.

We arrived in the sunshine at the 2nd and main feedstation of the day in Glespin, a change from the usual location of Crawfordjohn. We were now half way through the ride. Resting in the sun we feasted into bowls of pasta, flapjacks, gels, tunnocks caramel wafers, milk and banana’s before topping up our bottles and setting of on the 2nd half of the ride.

Halfway through the ride and at main feed station
Halfway through the ride and at main feed station

Having topped up our carbs and hydration levels it was time to carry on and make our way to the beast of a climb that is Carmichael. The Carmichael climb is a fairly long steep climb coming in at 15% that the organisers deem fit to through in at the 75 mile mark, unless you’ve taken a detour, then it’s at the 80 mile mark!

Carmichael Climb
Picture of the Carmichael Climb. Not me in the pic just one I found from the day showing the steepness, and that was only at the halfway point!

As we turn the corner we’re greeted by the Carmichael sign, our fate awaits us, there’s no turning back or no going around this beast, there’s only one way and that up and over it! I get my head down and make my way towards the foot of the climb. Thankfully the hill is quiet with only 2 other people on it as I arrive so no getting held up. One of them is pushing is bike up it and the other is zig zagging at a snails pace. I quickly catch up with the zig zagging snail and pass safely before wipes me out. I’m a thirs of the way up now and my legs are tiring as the incline increases, I need to get out my saddle to have any chance of taming this beast! There’s a photographer half way up the hill so there’s no way I can stop and get off the bike now, not that I had planned to anyway.

As I reach the half way point of the climb and level with the photographer he congratulates me on reaching this point and encourages me to keep going. With every push of the pedal my thighs threaten cramp but thankfully the cramp stays away. I’m nearing the top of the first section now and it’s taking every ounce of energy I have to carry on and move the bike in the right direction. A glance at the Garmin show 15% incline!

I’m now approaching the 90° left hand bend and swing out wide to reduce the steepness a little. The farmhouse at the top of the first section of the climb is now in view and I give it my all to reach it. The next section isn’t as steep but still offers a challenge as the legs are really screaming at me now. Thankfully I successfully crest the climb without stopping! Well chuffed!

I’m not going to lie to you, that was a real challenge and took every ounce of energy and determination I had to get there. I was even shouting at myself during the last section to ensure I never gave up! As the legs tired and the incline got steeper I kept thinking of Paul Sheerin and all those fighting a real battle with Cancer, that spurred me on as I remembered why and who I was doing this for!

With the big climb out the way we made our way to the final feed station of the day where we topped our bottles up for the last time, and refuel with bananas and more Tunnocks Caramel wafers!

We now had the equivalent of a Wednesday night pedal left, 23 miles. As we worked together to cover those last miles the legs started to tire and every little incline was felt.

As we rounded the corner we were met with the Welcome to Balerno sign, a sign that we were all pleased to see. Swinging a left to into the car park to stop the timing chip and back out again to hit the hustle and bussle of Edinburgh City Centre where we seemed to get stopped at every set of traffic lights!

Eventually we arrived at the end point, Murrayfield Stadium and made our way in. Having made a pact to stay together for the whole route we lined up three abreast and crossed the finish line as a team! It was great to see my mum and dad at the finish line offering support and congratulations to the three of us.

Mission Completed!
Mission Completed!

Today was a challenge, but an enjoyable one at that. Our goal was to raise money for the Beatson Cancer Charity, a charity very close to our hearts and at the time of writing this blog we are sitting at £2,480.00 with a little more still to come in. That’s over £7,000 we raised in the last 3 years! Something that we’re all rightly proud of!

With the task of the day accomplished it was time to head back to the car and head home. As we made our way out of Edinburgh Stevie told me to take a look in the back……. the day had been a little too much for Shaun and he’d fallen asleep! Lol

It was all too much for Shaun!
It was all too much for Shaun!

Stevie dropped me off at Glasgow Green where I collected my car and headed home for a well earned beer and a soak in the bath. Nothing like a nice chilled beer in a warm bath!

A well earned beer! Thought I'd spare you the photo of having a beer in the bath! Lol
A well earned beer! Thought I’d spare you the photo of having a beer in the bath! Lol

After my bath and beer I settled down on the couch to a Pizza Hut pizza and another 2 beers before calling it a day and heading to bed at 10pm! Another early night!

If you’d like to make a donation to this wonderful charity you can do so by one of the following methods:

  1. Hand donation to a member of our team, all of whom have official Sponsor forms
  2. Online via our JustGiving Page
  3. Via text – Text WWBC77 £xx (donation amount) to 70070 text-donation
  4. Stu