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Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Cold comfort

After 10 days of being laid tragically low by a summer cold (not had one of these for many years) I found I could no longer cope with the lack of exercise and the amazingly good weather... so I decided on a bike ride.

(I'd already tried yoga but the upside down postures just caused the copious amounts of "cold gunge" to go straight to my head almost causing me to drown in snot. And one try-out run was impossibly slow and possibly dangerous.)

Now proper cyclists that I know will probably laugh when I tell you that I "drove" my bike to Aberfoyle for a circuit of Loch Katrine and the Duke's Pass. But I wasn't feeling up to the extra miles from Bearsden. I'd been ill, OK? And I've hardly been on my bike for months. OK?

While I'd heard plenty of people raving about this route I'd never actually got around to doing this ride and, boy, have I been missing out. Undulating in all the right places, with a few opportunities for hill efforts plus the ascent, then incredible descent, of the Duke's Pass, as well as the ice cream stop at the pier and stunning scenery all added up to a fantastic outing.

I was pleased to find that my thighs, which had been burning a little on the uphills throughout the circuit, were almost fine the following day. And the ride seems to have almost completely knocked my cold into touch. Now it’s back to proper running again – and maybe I will throw in a few more bike rides with summer suddenly making an incomprehensible return to Scotland.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

You awesome Bealach Mor riders

...So normally I'd be the one up for a mega challenge but the 90-mile Bealach Mor Cycle Sportive is so notoriously tough that I decided to, aherm, marshall and race report at this event! To be honest that was exhausting enough. With a streaming cold and pretty much zero cycle training over the last few months I'd have been lucky to make it through the first 5 miles on the flat, let alone 90 miles with a total ascent of more than twice the height of Ben Nevis. And that included a 6 mile haul up the UK's biggest road pass from sea level to 626m.

Some 380 cyclists set off from Kinlochewe on a mega-raining day on Saturday, most with wide but rueful grins. Of these only around 40 didn't complete, either due to bike failure or exhaustion. The final times ranged wildly from Andy Strathdee's mind-boggling 4hrs 35mins to the final rider at 8hrs 39 mins. As this event is billed as a sportive, it is not a race. But, of course, most riders were out to get their best time. They had battled rain storms, side winds, head winds, thick cloud, terrible visibility and the arduous, mountainous course but still almost everyone was smiling as they finally crossed the finish line.

The comments were all upbeat: "Awesome route", "Amazing course", "stunning scenery", "fantastic organisation", "I totally loved it", "Hard and tough but amazing".

This is another fab event from the highly organised Hands On crew and now that I have seen it in action I might have to get into the saddle for next year. This event is so popular, though, that riders need to sign up within 24 hours of entries opening. Keep an eye on their website. In the meantime there's another awesome cycle challenge to round off the year, the Ullapool Sportives 130 miler or 65 miler on September 26

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Summer whizzed by

And so I have been waiting for the rain to stop. And for an Indian Summer to head to Scotland instead of lingering smugly over the south of England. But no such luck. I have also realised that while I've been waiting for the return of summer (didn't we have something that vaguely resembled that concept for a week in June?) that I have been too busy to keep my blog up to date. Shame on me!

So... over the last month or so I have climbed Munros, mooched around with Little Miss Outdoors on her school hols, climbed another Munro, surfed and body boarded in glorious Welsh surf with great pals G&T and Little A, climbed more Munros, run a few smaller hills, climbed another Munro or two, squeezed in some work, climbed more hills, become a yoga addict, summitted just one more Munro - and generally got wet in Scotland's great outdoors.

I'm struggling to recall a day/evening in many weeks when it hasn't rained on me as I've walked, climbed and run but still I've had a fun so-called summer.

This weekend I'm off to do some marshalling and a race report for the mad but popular Bealach Mor cycle challenge organised by the first rate Hands On Events. Then I might take another opportunity to fuel my new Munro bagging addiction.

And maybe, just maybe I'll see some sun before Christmas is suddenly upon us again!