Sunday was going to be a long day in the saddle.
I understood this, but somehow I didn’t expect it to be so long. My derrière is letting me know that it was miserable being next to my saddle for so long.
My alarm set at 1 am (then changed to 1:15 am) that extra 15mins was going to be needed.
Beep beep I am up, after 3hours slumber.
Creep about the bedroom and get out and stretch without waking the boss and the little bed hoppers, (even in a super king size bed the little boys manage to take up all the space).
Get my new team kit on and grab my 2 bags, feels like an expedition, not days Cycling.
So your wondering why I am up at this crazy hour, well I foolishly said I would do the graveyard shift on Mark Beaumont’s Cycling challenge for STVAppeal.
Mark set a goal of Cycling 450 miles in 24 hours, also with a total target of 2400 miles Glasgow to Africa ridden by more insane folk. I had the slot of 2am-4am I was pleased to do this time at the time of sending the tweet, not so much at 1 am.
The event was held within the showroom at Infiniti Glasgow, with the support these great people show me it was an easy thing to agree to.
I get there and I see that I am not alone at this early hour, some guys are on the bikes keeping Mark encouraged and all importantly keeping the miles ticking over.
There was an info wall, giving you everyone’s pace and accumulative mph, to hit the target the aim was 100mph, info showed they were sitting at 107mph, looks like the target was on and the pace was good. The map was on Italy with the tracker dot making its journey south, down to the sole of the boot as the country looks.
So now I can claim I have ridden in Southern Italy.
Well, I get going and it’s apparent I am going to get hot, Mega hot.
15 minutes in and I am soaked through with sweat, think my skin must have a leak, I am drinking water yet it’s just coming straight back out and pooling on the shiny floor.
Mark is on fine form, keeping an even pace even though he’s 12hrs in. Chatting away nicely too, making it look so easy, while we’re a mess on the bikes. Other guys are due to finish soon, we wonder who the next victims on the watt bike sauna will be.
Not sure if anyone was booked in or if they just didn’t fancy getting up before the dawn chorus, some of the guys who had done their stint stayed on to turn the pedals over and chip away at some miles. Great effort to do that.
Get through the first hour averaging 24mph not bad going, then it’s a case of tick off the 15mins blocks for the last hour, I don’t know if I have the mental attitude to sit for any longer, 24 hours must be hell.
Get to last few minutes of the hour, try to up the pace, though being distracted by watching YouTube videos of guys in wing suits jumping off the Alps. Think I will stick to the bike!
My 2-hour stint is up, I manage 44.5 miles, happy with that though I would have done the 45 if it wasn’t for YouTube distraction.
Would have loved to have hung about and maybe done another hour, but I had to shoot off with a long drive to Kirroughtree Bike Center, Galloway Forest.
So say my goodbyes to Mark and wish him well with the remaining 10hrs. Wish the lads on the other bikes all the best as the put in a tough shift.
So my second part in the saddle was going to be at Galloway Gallop.
A quick change of top in Infiniti carpark, armed with hot coffee and a slice of cake I muster a plan.
Set satnav with postcode, point the car in the right direction, off I go. The main thing is I have plenty of time to get there so no mad rush as usual.
Rock up to the drive through and order my Double Sausage Egg McMuffin to be told “Sorry Sir breakfast is served from 5 am” What Da Funk!!
So all that salivating over my hashbrowns and morning coffee were crushed. Ok Mr Bad News hit me with a Quarter Pounder meal, yes it will be large!
Hit the M77 with my Dinner (burger and chips are not breakfast) I get to Kilmarnock and all is well, see on satnav I have to take a left soon. To my horror I notice the battery on my phone/satnav is exhausted more than me. It needs some CPR. Cool, I have got this. Wrong! The car charger is not working and the phone gives in. nooo!!!
From now on it was a guess when to turn left! F@#k it, I will turn in Maybole. Should have a sign somewhere! I know its Newton Stewart I have to head near. Can’t be hard.
Well those roads sure are tight and winding, this route takes you through some interesting hills, would have been quite a scenic route in the daytime, not at 6am with the full beam on, mad hare’s running in the road. Dashing in and out of the cars headlights, I know there fast, but there were starting to hold me up. Fingers crossed they weren’t racing any tortoises up ahead.
Eventually, I make it to Kirroughtree bike centre, after a few more wrong turns and plugging in my external battery charger for the Satnav/Phone to spark to life and help me out.
Meet up with Kevin Pugh, he’s not long arrived. Though I think his journey was a lot simpler. This is what can happen, Bryan. If you prepare! Or look at a bloody map!
We get to the sign on tent receive our numbers and a sticker stuck to our helmet. This will record our time around the course. Help ourselves to energy bars and gels, then get our free cuppa, well I get mine but the guy who signed Kevin up didn’t hand over his beverage card, must be saving them up and going to overdose on Earl Gray once everyone was out on the hills.
The course for today will be a nice little 67miles with over 5100ft of climbing or as my Garmin told me 5500ft. There was not so much Galloping going to go on today I think.
I have never done a Sportive, so this organised adventure cross was all new, I normally just hit the hills with the aim of getting home at a reasonable hour without injury. We roll up to the start line with another few people from Kevins Club, Walkers Cycling Club from Ayrshire, we get a quick briefing then were let loose on the course, we start off going up a few little switchbacks then into the woods, this is pretty much the way the rest of the day panned out, upwards and onwards.
Weather is favourable, no rain but no blazing sun either. We get to the first feed station. Stock up on gels and bounce bars, then tuck into the sandwiches and cakes. I hear the guy say “fill up with gels and energy bars” being the typical Glaswegian I head back and fill my bag.
Understand why it is called feed zone, the dreaded midge has been invited and there out in force having a banquette of arm and leg.
After eating and being eaten were back on the trails, it has became apparent that the bikes of choice are 50/50. Cross bike, Mountain Bike.
There is pro’s and con’s to both bike set ups. Me and Kevin being on Cross bike seem to be making up time on the flats and hills, whereas the MTB folk are spinning like crazy going uphill, getting nowhere fast (think Chris Froome on a chunky bike, stuck on the same spot)
MTB’S would then zip past on the few downhill sections due to extra weight, but the crucial thing is having the shocks to deal with ruts and stones on this terrain, making for a more confident downhill experience.
Halfway round now I can feel the back wheel start to bounce, now I am riding the rim of the wheel rather than nice cushion of air, I have now received a puncture thanks to a bump in the road. AAAAAHHHH, I dig in my bag and pull out an innertube for my road bike, NAW!
“Parts of this are underwater”, we were told at the start. Mate, it wasn’t parts of it, it was all of it!
This is what Adventure Cross is all about, beating back the grass, surfing those muddy puddles, riding those hidden gems of disused trails.
Final feed station, the mud is acting as a barrier, keeping the midges at bay, long enough for us to grab some sandwiches, cake. Kevin fills up his water supply in his bag, I try to drain mine so I can squeeze more energy bars and gels into it (do have a few races coming up so it’s all needed). Back in the saddle and were off, we did hear chat about tarmac, nice smooth tarmac, would be a great relief on the old buttocks. This little bit of joy comes after a few more hills and tons of gravel.
The joy is short lived as now were into a nice headwind, we draft each other and pick up a fellow cross rider, work as a trio to pick the pace up the only galloping we will do today. Soon another hill appears back to spinning in top gear again. After this hill the only hill we want to see is a downhill, we were going to find a nice little surprise with a mile to go, a little lane covered in pine needles with the added bonus, an incline of about 20%, Think Kevin has enough of the hills so jumps off and gets some running practice in for the for 3 Peaks Challenge. Where I struggle on, zigzagging up trying to find grip in the needle nest. Manage to crest the last of the hill, then it was a few trails and roads back down to the Kirroughtree bike center, Under the inflatable banner, across the finishing line. 6hr 44min since we left off.
Get my first ever cycling medal (well everyone gets one), head over to cafe fo a hot strong cup of black coffee.
Cleaning process goes like this: Removal of soggy socks, use for wiping the muck off legs, chuck the manky bike in the car. Done!
Now for the journey home, wish Teleportation was real. For now I will just have to drive the 2 half hours home.
Once home and in the land of Wifi, I go on twitter to find out how Mark has done with his record attempt and STV Appeal, well he has just smashed out 470 miles in 24 hours. Some effort to get those miles clocked up and congratulate you on the attempt, and new watt bike record.
Massive well done to Arron at Infiniti, he was there for all the setup, the whole event, along with the odd hour on the challenge too. Well played Sir. Alastair from Team Cycles, was the man with the plan, making sure data was all correct, doubled up as the event setup guy too. Wasn’t sure how long their shifts were but I am sure it was a record attempt as well.
Long hot shower and fueled by pizza it’s time to get comfy on the sofa, Let the recovery process begin. Well for a little bit, long day out on the bike but had such a great day spinning about in the new kit.