Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Tour de Ben Nevis:- Kinlochleven back to Fort William

Mark approaching the feed station after the first climb from Kinlochleven, this was followed by an even steeper climb on a rough Landrover track, at one point we had to pull a rider up out the bushes after he fell off the track and he couldn't unclip from the pedals. Hilarious, though for some reason he didn't seem to think so!

Baz doing the river crossing which was just before the 2 mile hike a bike. The river was well down on last year (god knows how with the summer we've had) but still bloody cold. Nobody bothered changing into dry socks as there was plenty of water, muck and bog to plough through on the bike push which was still to come.

Mark arriving at the timing point after what he must have felt was "Hell on Earth", the 2 mile hike a bike followed by some of the roughest terrain imaginable before eventually reaching the feed station situated in the middle of nowhere! Two young guys barbequeing sausages without tongs etc. which they'd forgotten to bring   but never did sausages taste better, even if we weren't sure if they were properly cooked!

The final leg along the cycle path to Fort William let us get a photo opportunity with Ben Nevis in the background, though as usual there was a cloud hiding the summit!
Would I do it again? Don't think so, that's twice I've done it now and twice I've been really lucky with the weather on the day, I think it would be tempting fate to try it again, I don't fancy getting stuck up in the wilderness section in a howling gale and torrential rain.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

The Tour de Ben Nevis.. the weather couldn't have been better!

Our crude but effective living quarters for the event!

Posing confidently(?) before the start...

The tracks so rough at bits you have to stop to take in the views like this.

This view takes your breath away, and no rain either!!

If someone ordered the weather for the Tour De Ben Nevis they couldn't have made a better job! The morning started with a sharp frost and mist on the mountains but cleared by about 8.30 am. by which time we were in Fort William looking for breakfast. Unfortunately so were another 300 or so mountain bikers so the cooked breakfast was substituted by sandwiches and coffee/tea. After being piped along the High Street of Fort William by the local pipe band it was all systems go and the climbing started almost at once. It's amazing how many folk start near the front of these events and get off to push at some of the first hills they encounter. The route along to Kinlochleven takes in the West Highland Way and the scenery is breathtaking though the track is so rough that you have to keep your eyes on it the whole way. The actual final descent to Kinlochleven is manic, with drop offs, water drainage crossings and every conceivable thing to induce punctures the whole way down, but somehow the three of us, Baz, Mark and myself made it without one between us, the strategy of tyres at high pressure paid off! The last photo shows the view back down from the climb back up the leg killer from Kinlochleven, just about makes it worthwhile!
More another day!!

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Last ride and the bikes started playing up (as usual!)

Tonight at the top of the Seven Steps just before Maidens Cleugh descent.

The last big(ish) ride tonight before Saturday's event at Fort William and as usual the bike starts playing up! The drive train,as I feared, is on its last legs and started to jump about when its on the big chain ring up front and the smallest at the back! Luckily these gears wont be used a lot this weekend and as there isn't time to order new bits and pieces I'll just have to nurse it round the course, wont be the first time (or probably the last!)
24 miles tonight to round things off before the Tour!

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Last big ride before The Tour de Ben Nevis

Top of Allermuir in a gale with Edinburgh in the background.

Setting off back down Allermuir, fantastic view, (if you've time to look at it!)

Mark and Baz going over towards Glencorse reservoir.

Smallest dog I've ever seen, think it was a miniature, miniature Yorkshire Terrier!!

Horses hold up progress back over the viaduct.

Bad start to the last big training ride before next weeks event, Baz slept in and was severely reprimanded and warned as to his future conduct!! It did give Mark and me time to have another cup of tea mind you and eventually we got going at 6.30am. Right up Castlelaw then Allermuir, nearly getting blown of the top with the wind. Back down to descend the loose surface of the Castlelaw north side with my brake fluid boiling by the time we reached the bottom, (must see about that this week). Then the long hard grassy climb back up again and along to Bonaly gate then down to Glencorse reservoir with no offs this week! Back up the road to the Howe and we decided to cancel the trip to the Skyline, it was raining by this time and things could have got a bit tricky high up and on the descending back down from it. On up the valley, down the Balerno Bonkers tar road, round Threapmuir and Harelaw reservoirs back up the seven steps and a fast and furious descent down maidens cleugh, Mark setting a new record on one of the segments!
28 miles today and if we're not ready for next week we'll never be!!

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Getting colder each week!

Mark and Roger change Rogers front tube (still in daylight thank goodness)

The days are getting shorter every time we go out and luckily for us (if its ever lucky to have a puncture) it was still daylight. A bit disappointed that Mark didn't keep up his 100% over the bars record last night, though it was a close run thing coming down Maidens Cleugh in the dark near the end of the trip. 24 miles last night and possibly one more big hard ride before the Tour de Ben Nevis and then taper off, at least that whats we're told the professionals would do!! 

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Baz's birthday bike ride

Top of Allermuir at 7am this morning, pretty chilly at this point!

Baz sets off down the steep descent on the north side of Castlelaw, you don't want to come off at speed down here.

Baz doesn't quite get this ditch crossing right!

The best view in the Pentlands.....

Baz's birthday tomorrow so he got to chose the route this morning (with a few suggestions from me) and it turned out to be a tough 30 miler with over 3000 feet of climbing and some good descending thrown in as well. Four of us out, Clive, Baz, Mark and me. Mark kept up his 100% record with a nifty over the bars on one of the descents but managed to escape with nothing more than a cut pinkie, not much to show for a spectacular somersault! Two weeks to go till the Tour de Ben Nevis and the training's going well (apart from the odd crash)

Thursday, 6 September 2012

13000 miles reached and Mark comes to grief (again)!!

Roger comes down to the gate after another bit of trouble on Castlelaw!

Mark in recovery mode after bouncing off the cobbles on the overflow!

Another milestone(?) reached last night as the Trek passed the 13000 miles mark, nearly all off road and probably mostly up the Pentlands. It looks good for a few thousand more yet with a bit of TLC.
Roger, Mark and me out last night for a 26 miler and Mark kept up his remarkable record of coming off every ride he's out on just now with an acrobatic slide and bounce as he came off on the algae covered overflow out of Threapmuir Reservoir! At least there was a bit of blood to show for this one unlike his last off when all he's got is sore ribs which no one can see!  

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Is this divine retribution?

My shin after a large stone came up off the front wheel and made contact with it.

Baz mounts the bridge.

Baz's backside's still oversize as it doesn't quite fit the "throne"!!

After indulging in a bit too much alcohol at a birthday party yesterday I was a bit nervous about how I'd react on this morning's ride. However Baz and Clive took it easy on me (thank goodness) and we did a fairly sedate winter loop ride with a little extra thrown in at the end as I seemed to be faring OK!
Only mishap was a fairly large flat stone that got twanged up by my front wheel and cracked me on the shin, accompanied by a loud curse. Luckily it drew blood or there would have been very little to show for the pain! I was wondering......does someone up there punish you for straying from the straight and narrow the day before or .....was it just bad luck? Any hows it's bloody sore!