Been quite a while since my last post, mainly because I just wanted to take a break away from all things cycling, as I tend to do at the end of my racing season. I find it is good for both a mental and physical break to take some time off the bike. Currently, I've just been chilling out with some mates, doing a bit of cross training (running/hill walking) and weights to break out of the "cycle" as it were ;-) I'll be getting back into my routine at the beginning of November, so already looking forward and planning for that.
As promised, here is the wee write up on the Ullapool Sportive event by the guys at Hands on Events which I did a few weeks ago. Really enjoyed this - despite the awful weather of wind and heavy rain, it was a real nice wind down to the season. I've stolen a pic from someone else's site (hope they don't mind!!) so here is me in all my low-intensity glory en-route!
Myself and fellow Hebridean CC rider, Roddy Murray left our B+B and rolled up at 7am to the Sign in Station at Ullapool Village Hall. I also managed to get myself interviewed by the BBC so you might yet see me on the BBC adventure show next screening! (Blatant plug)
We rolled off the start together at around 7.30am, with daylight just approaching. Initially, the roads were dry, but that didn't last for long, as once the rain hit, it didn't stop until I rolled over the finish 130miles later! Given 12000ft of climbing, I decided to pace this one out on my own, so rolled away from Roddy and found a nice rhythm. At around the 20mile point, a bunch of around 20 riders caught me so I jumped onto the back and decided to see how things would go. Up one of the first major climbs, and over the top, the lads at the front were setting a fair tempo. It wasn't exactly Lactate Threshold but pretty firm given the distance! I decided to follow anyway and see how things would pan out. To my surprise, I looked around at about the 50 mile point and realised I was one of only 4 riders left at the front! Everyone must have been dropped on the big climb.
After that, I decided i'd had enough of "racing" for the year and wanted to fully enjoy the event so dropped back and settled into my own pace again. After a few miles, I could see I was gaining slowly on another rider up front. "Ideal" I thought, someone to pace with. I caught the other rider, and we worked together, sharing the headwind and chatted away through the endless winding roads and climbs. We didn't see another rider for quite some time, so I was fairly confident we were near the head of the group, bar the 3 riders i'd let go up front. Eventually, we caught another 2 riders, who decided that they would make use of our rhythm. One of the guys (on a Cervelo) came across a bit arrogant, and wouldn't work with us, but the other decided to help out, great! Not long later, the ratty guy on the Cervelo got dropped (no loss there!), and we were down to three.
I got chatting with the new guy as we battled past the second last feed station, who turned out to be a school teacher. Not long after our water stop, my initial pace mate waved us on as he had decided the pace was too much. I looked down at my odometer, and it read 40miles to go. That was a long 40 miles, let me tell you. It felt as if we were climbing for all of it, although it was probably just heavy legs. As we approached the finish, I was beginning to feel a sense of achievement, as we passed lots of riders come home on the smaller 65mile route who had well and truly hit the wall. Hitting the peak of the last climb, my friend and I (can't recall his name!) shook hands and hammered the descent to the finish. As suspected, my mate tried to hammer away but it appeared I had more left than he thought as I was still on his wheel. On the last run-in to the finish, I went for the sprint and won! A nice sporting finish to a great day on the bike (all 7 hours of it!) - and in plenty time to make the 5.15pm ferry back to Stornoway.
As it turns out, I actually crossed the line in 6th place, which wasn't too bad considering I didn't even race! Perhaps next year I will go for it and try and take the win. My friend Roddy did real well, coming in an hour later than me, and also a great effort from other Hebridean CC riders, Gavin Earons and Steve Liddle who completed the 65mile Route in respectable times. I might mention that Gavin beat Steve to the finish too, not bad for a Grand Vet! :-D
Anyhow, that's enough writing for the evening. I'll keep you all posted on my winter progress, so check back soon. 1deg C today with hail and high winds on the Isle of Lewis - the winter is definately here - oh dear :-(