This is my second year doing the pedal for scotland charity ride. Last year, I was in the Challenge ride, a 47 mile ride from Glasgow Green heading up to the north and across to Edinburgh, finishing at Murrayfield. This year I decided to up my game and go for the 110 mile sportive, and the way my legs gave up on me at the end of the 47 mile challenge ride last year I must have been crazy!
At the beginning of the year I missed out on the Dunfermline sportive due to illness and signed up for the 100 mile Scottish Bike Show sportive instead, which was really tough, and I managed to finish in just over 10 hours. So I had an idea of the distance I had to cover and the time I definitely had to beat.
I started the sportive with George, who, has been cycling for far longer than me, and is much better at it (for now anyway!), but I stuck with him on the way out of Glasgow, but as we started heading down to Kilmarnock, inevitably I slowed up from his pace (he finished 22nd), my pace with George, was a little faster than I should have been doing, but I slowed up a little, but was still overtaking loads of people, which is always nice.
And So It Begins
The route took us down towards Kilmarnock and the start timing beam was about 8 miles into the ride and there was a reassuring beep as I crossed it, so I knew it was working. I spent the next few miles to the first feed stop leap-frogging people, then duck in behind for a rest, then get some speed on again, maybe to get some momentum for getting up a hill, or to get some speed going downhill. It was a good solid cycle to the first feed stop, at which I stopped, probably more out of it just being there than me needing a stop, but had something to eat and then got cracking again. The second section had quite a few long uphill sections, and if I can't use momentum to get me up those hills, then I'm stuck in first gear, grinding away at 6mph, so frustrating! It was a fairly tough section for me, but towards the end I got stuck in with a few of the Lenzie cycle club boys and followed them into the second feed stop. Before that though, technical problems were beginning to creep in though, I noticed that my handlebars seemed to be a bit lower, and a solid shove on the bottom bars confirmed that they were loose, I was just hoping the feed stop would come soon, otherwise it could be a bit messy, there were a few fast downhill sections there, and following centimetres off the back of someones wheel, when you are not sure if the brakes will be there when you reach for them is a bit disconcerting, but its not the first time I've had to deal with it so, not too much of a problem. This actually was my first experience riding in a group though, and it was fantastic, the speeds were really good and I wasn't really working too hard, a lot of it was freewheeling, I'm going to have to get in with a club!
After tightening up my bars and second feed stop over, as we were in a valley, the obvious hill started the third section. It wasn't as bad as I had thought though, however, this section was long, with lots of hills and descents and I wasn't sure how far the next feed stop was, I thought I had missed it, and as they were rationing out the water (crazy, as much milk as we want but one bottle of water per person!) and I was running low. This section was my worst, a real slog, with some heavy headwinds, really bad road surfaces and hills. Finally I reached the third feed stop, and made sure I took a couple bottles of water (don't care if it was rationed!), and as much food as I could and then got on with it again. I was conscious of the fact that, the longer I waited, the longer my time would be, but more importantly, the worse my legs would be, and by now they were beginning getting weak.
Downhill to the finish
The last section was fantastic, if getting a little spread out, we had a tailwind for most of it and the vast majority of it was a nice downhill into edinburgh, was getting a good speed and overtaking people, which at this point in the sportive, is really nice! :)
My legs were sore, my knee was a bit more painful than I would have liked, but I thoroughly enjoyed it, much more than the SBS one at the beginning of the year, although, that may have been something to do with me coming third last! They said they added more hills this year, and added 14 miles, don't know what it was like last year, but I enjoyed it this year.
Points I've taken away from it...
- My bike is awesome! :) (appart from handlebar mount)
- Main part of my cycling I need to work on... HILLS!
- Will I do it next year... YES!
Dailymile entry and map for the ride (as long as the battery lasted that is!)
Hopefully you've found this interesting, if you been reading this far, and if you don't cycle, get on your bike, its awesome fun, and there is such a sense of achievement in doing something like this I can't really describe it.
Thanks for listening and be safe on the roads!