The day started very early with my alarm going off at 4.45am, which is a bit of a shock to the system on a Sunday morning. First task, open the curtains and check the weather. Pitch black. Oh yeah still night time! It was dry so that was good and I could see the stars, so no cloud, also good. Next task breakfast although I still felt a bit full from my dinner the previous evening.
With all my stuff gathered and Dolly safely ensconced in the boot of the car, I headed to meet the Galls and Catriona for our team trip to Glasgow Green where the race would start. We had to be on the start line between 7.00/7.45am and I think we crossed about 7.20am. Game on!
The route and elevation etc is here.
The weather in the West was also fair but slightly on the chilly side, so was thankful that I had put and extra layer on. The sportive race is a timed race and your time is recorded by chips (not the French fry type) that you attach around your ankle which activate when you cross a magic line. In this race this was activated once we got out of Glasgow city and before we hit Edinburgh city limits, so that the times did not include long traffic light stops.
I was desperately trying not to think of what lay ahead as we pedalled our way out of Glasgow, it only kind of hit me how far I was from home when we cycled past signs saying "Welcome to East Ayrshire".
At the first feed station I was feeling ok, but still in denial as to how far we still had to go. I munched on some of Beth's amazing flap jacks to refuel and we were off again.
The weather was still holding, cloudy but no rain, not too hot either but the wind was gathering. At some points it was in our faces or blowing us sideways which was not so pleasant but thankfully it was a south westerly wind so was going to blow us home in the final stages. Happy days.
At lunch we were over half way, tiredness and a few aches were starting to kick in but spirits were high. After some food and Ibuprofen we were off again.
By this point for me it was all mind over matter, I had already cycled further than I had ever done before so what difference was a few more miles going to make! At some points it was coping with the dreadful road surfaces that was more of a challenge than the actual pedalling. Too many of Scotland's roads are made with the tar and huge chuckie stone combination. This makes for a very bone rattling ride and interferes with the speed and pace of your cycling, or at least it does for me.
At this point I have to mention the fact that the very excellent cyclist that is Beth Gall, aka Victoria Pendleton, managed to complete a fairly long and very steep 1:16 hill without stopping. This hill appeared on the route about the 80 mile mark, so fresh legs we did not have. I was close, but ran out of gears and power, so no cigar for me. Major Kudos to Beth, you are AWESOME!
Last Pit stop at Carnwath and we could smell home, the wind was with us and it was just a matter of keeping the head down and thinking about my dinner, my tin of cold cider in the fridge and my bed.
We all made it to Murrayfield in one piece and in good times, under 8 hours for actual cycling time. We were all very proud, if not slightly aching, but a good day was had. There were no punctures, breakdowns (mental or physical) and thankfully no extra miles due to taking the wrong turn.
I would thoroughly recommend the event to anyone. The organisation, marshalling and signposting was fantastic. I would also like to mention and thank a chap called Kenneth with very lovely orange socks, who I played cat and mouse with for most of the day. Well done to you too. Other mentions must go to my Dad for my supply of Haribo, which along with the flap jacks are the best fuelling system around.
Forgot to unzoom!
The 3 amigos.
Map and medal.
All photographs by Caroline Harvey.