Archive for the ‘Training’ Category


Saturday, July 3rd, 2010

The route is planned, the bike nearly tuned, and a few long distance days are under the belt, so Dad, Mel, Pete and I are all set for our mammoth bike ride from the depths of Cornwall to the farthest reaches of the Highlands. We’ve given ourselves 2 weeks, which means an average of 70 miles a day, and as the accommodation is booked, there’s no escaping it.

This planning for long days in the saddle is all well and good, but saying you’re going to do 80 odd miles in one day is not the same as actually doing it. So, I picked a trial route, covering 82 miles to match the longest of our days. I even thought it would be quite easy, starting from the Rest and Be Thankful pass, it would be a good long downhill, before some nice coastal cycling down to Campbeltown, with a nice little ferry journey thrown in.

I got off to a bad start, not only starting at 10am, but also being faced by a cheeky climb, before dropping down some quite steep roads. The aptly named Hells Glen was just around the corner, in my case so named as it involved climbing to almost the same height I started from! Fortunately there had to be a downhill somewhere, and in no time I was at sea level, and then storming along the road, with a healthy 14 mph average speed.

Easy pickings, I’ll be there in no time at this rate! The roads were quiet, the sun shone, and all was good in the world of cycling. Then the corner turned, and I was in hill country, the road kept on going up, and eventually I was at the 2 mile marker for the ferry, which must be down hill, as most ferries are at sea level. Alas no, yet more climbs before a long run down. The ferry trip was a good chance to soak up some sun and rest my aching back – a bad sign since it’s only half way!

Tarbert was the last chance to stock up on water and pies before heading along the main road to the final leg – the back road down the Argyll peninsular. After the long climb over the moor to the coast, a steep hill warning sign set the tone for the rest of the ride, with hair-raising descents followed by grueling granny-cog ascents that just seemed to repeat endlessly. That elated feeling of battling to the top of the current hill, just to grab a marvelous vista of the next seemingly vertical climb, brings on what can only be described as cyclist tourettes, aimed mostly at road builders and their inability to keep it flat and follow the coast.

This carried on for the next 30 miles, my strength maintained by several sausage rolls, and the company of whatever my iPhone thought fit to play, until Davaar Island rolled into sight, and with it the temptation of the end. My rough calculations always assured me the next hill was the last, which it invariably wasn’t, until I was at the end of Campbeltown loch, and a rainbow shone over the fair town proving there is always treasure at the end (well, a hot shower in my case), and the job was done.

Not sure that little practice has improved my confidence. Whilst it’s proved my legs can just about do it, there was an awful lot of pain, and in contrast to LEJoG there’ll be no resting the day after, so I’ll have to take solace in the 6600ft climbed, 82 miles cycled, and 6000 calories burnt. Oh yes, epic indeed…