Although it was a tough day climbing it was a thoroughly enjoyable day.
When I set out with the challenge the thinking behind it was to have a goal to aim for that would get us out cycling throughout the winter, in weather which we’d normally never go out in! That box has been ticked as we have been out in sun, rain, gales, hailstone and snow…….. and that was just in one day!!
When I put my idea out to the boys I wasn’t expecting much of an uptake and was delighted when they all jumped aboard.
It’s been a great few months, meeting new friends and getting the miles under the belt. We’ve had fun, laughter, blood, sweat, tears and spat dummies along the way but it’s been good fun.
I’m probably hated amongst the WAGS or as they would probably call themselves, “Cycling Widows” as at weekends we have been away on the bike for hours at a time getting the miles in and 3 members have bought new bikes, Chris bought Gilly’s boy’s bike off him, Alan bought a new Carbon bike which didn’t arrive in time so he had a £2500 demo bike, which was just as well as he decided to see what happens when you crash into a ditch, and Gilly met the love of his life!
And a huge thank you to the whole team for helping raise an amazing amount of cash for the Friends of the Beatson. At the time of writing this post we are at £2,077 with gift aid still to be added and more donations still to come in!
After several months of hard work and training in all weather, the Scottish Bike Show Sportive was finally upon us!
On Sat I met Davie and his daughter Sophie and headed into the Scottish Bike Show for a wee gander. My work had a stand there so I managed to blag a couple of parking passes and armed with our Free passes for the show the day cost us nothing! Davie and I came to the same consensus that the show wasn’t up to our expectations, apart from my works stand obviously! The highlight of the show was watching some short and overweight middle aged guy try to climb onto a penny farthing and fail miserably! He did however draw a large crowd armed with mobile phones catching his embarrassing moment, which is no doubt on YouTube by now!
Sat night consisted of a large pasta dinner to get stocked up on the carbs followed by checking the bike and packing my kit, not being sure what the weather would bring us in the morning.
After an early night the alarm clock woke me at 5am. I had wheetabix for breakfast then got the bike onto the cycle rack and headed to Busy to pick up Ally. Once we got Ally’s bike loaded onto the cycle rack we made off for Loch Lomond.
We were the first to arrive at the car park at Lomond Shores at 7am, then minutes later Chris arrived with Gilly and Alan, followed by Wullie who was riding solo. Ricky and Davie arrived next followed by Stevie and then Les. We got the bikes off the cars, got kitted up, the brave or daft ones wearing shorts, Alan, Ally and myself, and attached our numbers to the bikes. Just for a change the Bennets were running on Bennet time! We later found out in the pub the real story behind them being late………. something to do with keys for the cycle rack being left on the mantle piece.
Once we were ready we headed the 1.5 miles from the car park to Balloch Castle which would be the start and finish of the Sportive. Just as we were ready to set off Andy and Si arrived to join us.
Just before we strted I decided to jump behind a tree on the grass and do a pee. As we lined up and were about to set off I tried to clip into my pedals but the cleat wouldn’t click in, which I soon discovered was due to the cleat being covered in mud from my pee stop! I frantically managed to clear both cleats just as we were given the all clear to set off.
We set off out of Balloch Castle and fell victim to what we said we wouldn’t do……… we got caught up in the hype of things and hit a pretty rpaid pace for the first 8 or so miles. AS we came to our first serious climb and I mean serious climb as this bad boy was a long and steady hill, I took the decision to slow down a little as I was never going to be able to keep that pace up for 65 miles. It was at this point that Les, Gilly, Chris, Wullie and Alan distanced themselves from me.
We met up again at the first food stop and it was at this point that I saw a massive mountain to the right of us and said to the others “I take it we’re not climbing that mountain?” Unfortunately the answer I received was not the one I was looking for, yes we WERE climbing that mountain, that was Dukes Pass!
We all left together on our quest to climb the mountain that was Dukes Pass. Now that was a tough climb! I had to stop half way up to pop an energy gel and get some fluids on board before carrying on to the top where Alan, Chris, Les, Gilly and Wullie were waiting for me. The views from the top were awesome, and so was the decent!
After just 5 miles from the last feed stop we approached the next where we all took on more food and fluids while Wullie filled every hole, and I mean every hole, with gels, bananas and literally anything he could get his hands on!
We then left heading round Loch Katrine. Stevie started to struggle a little with cramp after 25 miles and I was starting to worry that he wouldn’t make it round, but fair play to him he made it!
We took in some lovely views, some lovely descents and some not so lovely accents! We passed round Glengyle and Loch Lomond and Then Trossachs National Park while heading back to Aberfoyle to the first and also the final food stop. Funnily enough their wasn’t any gels left, well not at the food stand, Wullie had them all tucked into his shorts! The looked like a kid in a sweet shop with a big cheeser while saying “Hey that’s 30+ quid worth of gels for nothing!”
Alan, Gilly, Chris, Si and Les then headed off on the last 18 miles while Wullie and I stayed for another couple of minutes. We then headed off on the final 18 mile route, retracing our route back to Balloch Castle. As we hit the 10 miles to go mark Wulle and my self were starting to feel it on the long climb back up to Drymen. I cramped up in both thighs half way up the long climb and had to stop to stretch my thighs and pop an energy gel while Wullie continued on. With every push of the pedal my thighs cramped up and I seriously though I wasn’t going to make it, then the energy gel kicked in and all was good!
I rode the last 10 miles solo and made it back into Balloch Castle and to the finishing line in 4hrs 49mins (riding time) where I was met and congratulated by the Chris, Alan, Gilly, Si, Les and Wullie who had already finished, and my mum, dad, sister, Scott, Alfie, Gail and my two boys! It felt good to cross that finishing line.
We waited there for Stevie, Andy, Ally, Ricky and Davie to finish and congratulated each other on our achievement! For most of us it was the longest cycle we had ever done. I have done a 70 miler before but that was several years ago but this was the hardest ride I’ve done!
We then headed back to the car park, packed up and headed home, later meeting at the Monty for a couple of pints before heading round to Spice for a well earned Curry!
All in all it was a challenging but very enjoyable day and the weather was kind to us!
We have all come away from this challenge fitter, lighter and with a love for cycling!
There’s still time to make a donation and help out our chosen charity by going to our Just Giving Page.