You know you've done a long ride when you sit at your PC for half a day and can't work out what to write about the ride
. I've got that pleasantly dazed feeling that only a really long ride can give. But here's some random thoughts anyway -
It's a great route. Lots of places I've been before, but a few nice twists and just being on a longer ride makes it feel different - you know, sitting in Galashiels in the sunshine thinking "this time yesterday I was in Braemar". Also good to hit familiar roads at different times of day, though I have to say that Cairn O'Mount after 150km felt an awful lot harder than it did just the week before, when we'd only a nice wee warm-up before it.
Spent some time on the bike thinking about how the scenery would look to visitors who don't know Scotland that well. I think Graeme has done us proud on that front, there's lots of tremendous scenery. Deeside is looking great just now, the Lammermuirs had great open vistas, the Eastern borders lots of lovely villages, the central borders some great hills. Loch Earn was looking good but I think Ben Lawers and Glen Lyon will probably have the greatest visual impact. The Lawers climb from Loch Tay is pretty brutal at the start, but higher up it zig-zags a bit so you get plenty opportunities to look at the view.
It's a hard route. Ever day features a number of big climbs/descents, so groups can easily get split up, then flat sections where you're at the mercy of the winds and could do with being in a big group. We had mostly beneficial winds and still found it tough. If there are serious headwinds on the calendar event I think a few folk will end up either out of time or just knackered. I don't think I'd have got round without Tinez and OtherDave keeping me company and doing more than their fair share of the work.
Good of Tim to meet us outside Blairgowrie with biscuits and juice. He was coming down hill towards us when we saw each other, at which point he veered across to our side of the road and stopped. I spent a few seconds thinking "WTF is that big guy on the mountain bike doing" before I realised it was Tim. Never seen him on an upright before. Braemar to Fordell is quite a long way but Tim's digestive biscuits gave us a great wee boost - didn't even need a meal in Perth. Shame we missed Tim & Martin B in Glen Lyon, they were a tad too optimistic on how fast we'd be going.
Martin F joined us in Musselburgh for the Saturday section of the ride - fresh company and local knowledge for the routesheet checking. I suspect he might have set a new record by riding almost 300km of a ride he'd DNS'd. We stayed pretty dry for most of the ride, but Saturday evening was when we eventually got caught by the stormclouds. Massively heavy rain for a couple of hours then it cleared again. Pretty cold for June. Coming out of Kirkliston on the way back to the control we saw Phil & Ken at the side of the road with a car. Ken had crashed and seemed a bit dazed, so we all hung around while the ambulance came. Once the paramedics decided to take him to hospital I called Graeme and we waited a wee while for him to come get the bike. We'd had a good run up the Lang Whang so it was a bit of a downer to see another cyclist getting carted off to hospital. But he's fine now and that's the main thing.
The climb from Braco over to Comrie was made interesting by a marathon being run in the opposite direction. Spent so much time saying hello to runners that I almost didn't notice the climb at all, it was really painless. Breakfast in Comrie was the highlight meal of the event, with the Pizzas supplied by Graeme in the hall a close second.
The wee sting in the tail (a 70km loop up to Falkland) was started at about 11.30 last night and finished at 4am this morning. A cold, dry night with very little wind, we took it gently and had a very mellow meander. OtherDave almost had to pack with a failed free-hub at 30km to go, but luckily after a few km of riding "fixed" it started working again. This morning it was free in both directions so it could have been much worse.
I'm clearly just rambling now so I'm going to stop. Good night all.