With the Etape Caledonia only 2 weeks tomorrow it was time to test the climbing legs and what better way than with the Radar Station climb!
Funnily enough there weren’t very many hands raised in the air when I suggested tackling it, just mine and Chris’s to be precise! Gilly and Stevie Potter are off the hook as their wife’s had provided letters of absence as they were on their way home after spending a week in Mallorca cycling in sunshine and on smooth roads! Doesn’t sound fun one little it!
The morning started dull and a little chilly which I could’ve lived with it had stayed like that. After getting all my bits of kit together and ensuring I hadn’t left anything important like my cycling shoes or helmet I headed to the garage to fill the car with petrol before heading to Hamilton to pick up Chris and head on our merry way to Crawfordjohn where the pain would start.
The closer we got to Crawfordjohn the more the sun disappeared and the clouds, rain and wind gathered, just what we bloody needed as we’d be climbing a fair height. We parked up and Chris climbed out the car then jumped back in announcing that he wasn’t going out there as it was bloody cold! Lol
First port of call was to empty the bladder but with no public toilets we had to settle for the back of the community building. Now I was thankful for two things at this point, the first being that I was needing and pee and not a number two! The second thing I was thankful for was that the community centre wasn’t filled with old dears playing bingo! To be fair Chris made a very valid comment, all the times we’ve been at Crawfordjohn we’ve NEVER seen a human being!
We had a big decision to make, yes it was chilly and raining slightly but with the amount of climbing we’d be doing we’d warm up very quickly. I opted for the my 3LC kit with arm and leg warmers along with my new Whitelee Warriors team gilet, Chris on the other hand was showing his macho side and opted to flash the bare legs.
The time had come, we couldn’t put it off any longer, it was time to set off in the direction of the Radar Station. Things started off ok then as we reached Mennock Pass we were treated to a strong head wind, a drop in temperature and some light drizzle. Sadly the valley of Mennock Pass offered little shelter from the elements and the strong head wind made it a tough climb. Even on the flat sections we were forced into lower than usual gearing.
I found the climb through Mennock Pass tough going and Chris fresh from an illegal blood transfusion session started gaining space on me. The legs were feeling heavy and didn’t like what I was putting them through but on I plodded through the treacle like roads and closed the gap on Chris as we crested the final climb of Mennock Pass, or maybe Chris had just eased off the pedals, saving himself for the real challenge ahead.
Arriving at the gates marking the start of the Radar Station climb we stopped, took on some fluids and an energy gel and psyched ourselves up for the pain that lay ahead. It was now pouring, freezing cold and the wind had got up again. Visibility was very poor, around 20 yards but we had come this far and there was no turning back!
The pain was about to begin. Now this section is by far the toughest climb I’ve done and the last time I did it the weather was kind to us, not today! Today we were taught a lesson. Eventually reaching the summit, although you couldn’t actually see it until you had arrived it was that foggy, I was delighted to make it to the top. Chris had powered on and reached the summit first. We had arrived, on top of the world, or so it felt with all that climbing! The conditions at the top were horrendous, we were soaked, frozen and knackered! Standing 20 yards from the golf ball we couldn’t even see it! I took my phone out to take a picture of Chris and myself at the top but even the phone refused to work in those conditions, or maybe I’d broke it with the last selfie I took!
Being that cold we didn’t hang about for long and started our decent, only to discover that both our brakes weren’t working! It was taking about three or four revolutions of the wheel to actually feel them grip! Very bizarre, must have been the conditions. This malfunction along with the wet roads and poor visibility resulted in a very cautious decent back to the gates at the bottom.
Arriving back at the gate we made the decision as we were frozen and wet, to go right instead of left, knocking around 15 miles off the route. Our goal for the day was to get the Mennock Pass and Radar Station climbs in so it was mission accomplished!
Arriving back at Crawfordjohn we changed into warm dry clothes, packed the car and headed home Although a brutal day in the saddle it was good to do it. King of the mountains jersey went without a doubt to Chris today, displaying some great form and climbing well in the tough conditions.
I can honestly say that today’s ride in those conditions was brutal! Thursday night / Friday mornings drinking session at the Beatson Cancer Charity Annual Sporting Dinner probably didn’t help my case any!
Although it was a brutal day in the saddle I’m sure I’ll feel the benefits for it and more importantly I just think about why I’m doing it and who I’m doing it for!
When you look at the elevation chart on the Garmin file link below you’ll get an idea of how steep the climbs were. It was a huge mountain to climb but when you think about the true heroes, the men and women like Paul who we met at the Sporting Dinner on Thursday night, the mountain we climbed was more like a speed bump compared to the mountain that these guys climbed!
Please help us to help others climb and conquer their own mountains, their battle with Cancer, by making a small donation to our fundraising efforts for the Beatson Cancer Charity. It doesn’t matter how little the donation as it all builds up. I’m sure you’ll not miss even £1.00 for such a wonderful cause.
You can make a donation on of the following ways:
- Through our Just Giving Page
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