Sunday, August 17, 2008

Cycle Sportif

I had never heard of a Cyclosportif or Cycle Sportif, hell I don't even know the correct name for it.

Saunders and Jean pointed me in the direction of the Loch Ness 360 website as they were doing the 360 MTB and the 180 MTB, I then saw the bit about the road cycle and decided I wanted to do it.

I wish I had taken my camera but I didn't want to carry any more weight than I had to.

All I can say is that it was an amazing experience for me. I had done a few 10 mile time trials years ago but had never ridden in a group of riders. The first 2 miles were in a neutralised zone as we were led through Inverness by a 'pace' car.
I soon noticed cyclists in front of me pointing this way and that and soon realised that they were pointing out drains, hydrant covers and pot-holes. When we reached the Holme roundabout the horn sounded and we were racing. Well some were racing I was just trying to keep pedalling !

I spotted someone in front of me and decided it would be easier to be with someone else rather than alone. I caught up and realised that this was the guy who had sold me a pair of running shoes in a shop in Inverness a month earlier, small world eh ?

We soon caught someone else and became three, then four. We continued 'chaining' along for about 20 kilometres. We then joined another group who then speeded up and our wee group got strung out, I was alone again. I then knocked my pump of when returing my water bottle and had to go back for it.

At 33km in there was a short hill climb and at 40Km a nice big downhill I reached speeds of 73.7 kph ( 46 mph )

I felt great at Fort Augustus but when we turned around and I started to climb back up the hill that old devil called cramp came a calling. I had to dismount. I had several attempts at climbing but the cramp wouldn't go away. I eventually topped out but I had wasted valuable time, I still felt great though.

So here we go. I got down to Fort Augustus in 01:44 but it took me 02:33 to get back with my crampy legs.

Important bits are as follows
Dist 94.15Km
Time 04:17:04
Av Spd 21.9 Kph
Av HR 80%
Max Hr 101% Ouch
Calories 3609
Total Ascent 2063.5m

Oh and here's the profile with that scary hill.

More strength training needed for next year !

Monday, August 04, 2008

7 Stanes Tour 08. Glentress.

Glentress please please us !

Oh boy, the 7 stanes hadn't set the heather on fire yet and this was going to be our last chance to get a buzz.

Sol, Saunders and I had a go at the shortened blue route and I was immediately aware that these trails were a considerable cut above the other two.

The Blue trail had switchbacks, something they forgot about on the Ae blue, and jumps BLOODY loads of jumps. Sol was very impressed.

Things were looking good for when Saunders and I returned to do the Red the next day.

Well they've done it. The trail seemed to have everything but the kitchen sink, two features I didn't even do, a nasty root section and a big chute. The Glentress Red route beats Golspies Red for shear scale and variety, oh and nice views

The highlight would probably have to be the Spooky Wood. You can tell something good is going to happen with everyone congregating at the top and savouring the building excitement of what is to follow.

Oh yes we shall return, but only to Glentress to do the Black, and Red and the Blue. OK we'll do the Green too !

It was a bit messy though.

Glentress only 9/10 because I'm saving that extra point for when I go back.

7 Stanes Tour 08. Ae.

The next Trail centre we tried was Ae.

All the kids went with us on this one so we had a go at the Green route. It was very nice and all the kids seemed to enjoy it. Sol also got to go on the Blue route with Saunders, Jean and I but as explained on the website it's just the green route with some forestry road added in, very disappointing.

Saunders and I had a go at the Red route, at 24 Km with lots of ups and downs it was quite demanding, but it was also quite boring and annoying.
No section of the trail got a laugh out of me like many other parts of other trails have. A lot of the trail, in particular Granny Green Luv, is extremely rough aggregate in a twisty line through the woods and that's it !

There were detour signs which took us up through a barely walkable and extremely muddy hillside.

The occassional nice view.

An more mechanical mishaps when my crank fell off, probably due to the annoying trail surface.

We eventually reached a massive heed which was quite impressive and then entered Omega Man which was supposed to be good but was too little too late.

Ae gets 5/10

7 Stanes Tour 08. Mabie.

Well, three out of seven ain't bad ! It was wet wet wet.

We arrived on the Wednesday and stayed at Barnsould farm. On Thursday we went to Mabie and did the red route.

I'll cut right to the chase and tell you that the trail was instantly forgettable apart from the tyre split.

I got my first puncture on my way to a wee bridge across a burn. Conditions were almost tropical.

Less than fifteen minutes later I had another one on a fairly innocuous stretch of track, and it was loud. Something wasn't right and a closer inspection by Saunders found that problem.

This later photo shows the cause. A split tyre.

Well we were deep in the tropical Mabie forest and needed a fix to get us home. I suggested a wrapper of some kind and Saunders said he had a Gel, so we scoffed it and patched the tyre.

When we got back to the van we decided that we had to go to the skills area in order to get some excitement out of the day. That's when we had our another memorable moment. Saunders chain snapped.

So all in all the fairly forgettable Mabie gets 4/10.