Easter Challenge

I decided to take advantage of the two Bank Holidays at Easter and set myself a challenge of completing 300 miles on the bike over the four days. The aim was to take it as a shortened trial run and to see how I would cope with getting on the bike and doing decent miles for a few days in a row.

Friday was a late start as I had to do some IT work for one of the LEJOG sponsors, Adam Laurie Properties, so I set off  just after 2:30pm hoping to get some good miles in on familiar roads with some decent hills.  Things were going well as I headed through Bathgate, over the top of the “Bathgate Alps” into Linlithgow and onwards towards Winchburgh when the rain started. I ploughed on through Ratho and up into Balerno. At this point I turned into the strengthening breeze which was now carrying the rain, it was getting hard going.

Rain, rain go away . . .

I fought my way down the A70 almost to Carnwath before turning back for the final 15 miles, wind behind back to Livi. What a contrast to the battle outwards.

Day 1 : 65.36 miles; 4hrs:4mins:39secs; av speed 16.0mph. Garmin link

Saturday meant an early start as I had to be in Glasgow at a decent time as Julie and I were off to Big Al’s 40th party in the evening and I had some big miles planned. The morning was still as I headed off past my golf club, Harburn and out on to the A70 towards Carnwath (been here before?). I continued on past Carstairs towards Douglas. I was really enjoying the good quality road surfaces of South Lanarkshire but the legs were starting to grumble a bit on the uphill sections. As I passed under the M74 I joined what will be part of our LEJOG route (Day 6, Lockerbie to Balloch) which put a bit of life back in the weary legs and got me to thinking about just how big a challenge we are undertaking. Just after Muirkirk I turned off the A70 and on to the rolling B roads towards Galston. The ups were short and steep but the downs were great fun; fast and flowing making the miles fly past. After a short stop at an exotic lunch location in Galston (my Facebook friends will know what I mean) I headed through one of Scotland’s best know villages . . .

I'm in a hurry to keep cycling . . . so Moscow!

By this stage I was in North Ayrshire and cruising through some familiar towns and villages; Fenwick, Stewarton, Dunlop and Lugton. The road up to Barrhead was lovely (honest!) my speed was up and I was flying. A train passed on the line up from Kilmarnock with Celtic scarves hanging out of the windows and a loud rendition of Championeeeeees. I chuckled along and my inner song was set for the rest of the day! The roads down into Glasgow flashed by and before I knew it I was doing a quick round the block in Shawlands to tick over the 90 miles for the day.

Day 2 : 90.17 miles; 5hrs:40mins:19secs; av speed 15.9mph. Garmin link

I took it easy-ish on Saturday night at Al’s 40th in Bishopton. A few bottles of Magners but nothing significant . . honest!

Sunday morning was an even earlier start but meant some company for the day with a couple of my LEJOG chums, Big J and Turbine(?). I cycled the 6 miles to our Renfrew meet up and off we went on one of our familiar routes round Renfrewshire (and Ayrshire?). The wind was up and we headed out to Bishy; my legs were happy for me just to sit on the back of the line and let the two fresh boys take the strain. The first slight incline and I was dropped . . . the boys waited for me to trundle up the first couple of hills and we soon regrouped in Greenock. As we headed up the Old Largs Road I heard the dreaded sound . . . ppssssssssssssssssssssssssttttttttttttttt! A puncture up front and the lads headed back to help me repair it.

It was nice to have some chat while we cruised over the tops. As we descended into Largs the drizzle started, I was getting used to this. Next came the bit I had been dreading most, The Hairy Brae. How would my legs cope with this beast, 3 miles with the first mile and half of gradient 8-12%. Again the other two shot off and I settled into a nice rhythm but a lot slower than normal. Before i knew it I was arriving at the top . . no dramas. We settled into the train, 0.5 miles each at the front, wind behind . . . we were motoring. The last climb of the day out of Lochwinnoch soon arrived. Again, I trudged up; again the boys waited for me, this team thing is quite good, actually. The final 10 miles from Bridge of Weir were the highlight of the whole four days . . we hammered along in formation averaging 25mph swapping every 0.5. Back in the Frew . . I was done. A great team day out and I took an easy cruise back to my lovely Easter lunch courtesy of my Bro-in-Law, Brian and family.

Day 3 : 76.31 miles; 4hrs:44mins:19secs; av speed 16.1mph. Garmin link

Monday . . the final day . . back on my lonesome . . did I have motivation for this? I enjoyed a long lie after the late night finish of The Masters and a leisurely breakfast with Julie and Aiden whilst I mulled over a route for today. I needed roughly 70 miles to achieve my goal of the 300 total for 4 days. Where to go? I then remembered Big J talking about how nice the roads are in the Borders . . and quiet too. I thought back to the tough route of the Bethany Sportive  last June; I would muster something together from that.

So I’m on the M8 almost at Edinburgh . . . argh . .the Garmin is still attached to my PC at home. Doh! An even later start . .

I’m off and running with a couple of miles on the A7 to loosen the legs and it’s back into the wind as I head up the first climb; it’s long but only 3-4% and them I’m freewheelin’ into Innerleithen. Time is getting on so I decided to stop for a late lunch . . . toastie and a coffee . . . lovely. As soon as I step out of the cafe it start raining . . heavily. Again upwards and then downwards and upwards etc etc. Is there any flat on this route? I turned left on to one of my favourite climbs, The Swire. It’s a couple of miles, it’s steep but the scenery takes the mind off any pain.

View from The Swire

Top of The Swire.

The remainder of the route is VERY rolling. By this stage my legs are pretty done and I’m relying a lot of getting out of the saddle to get up the hills but I made it back to the car and the goal of 300 miles was in the bag!

Day 4 : 74.05 miles; 5hrs:3mins:31secs; av speed 14.6mph. Garmin link

All 4 days in numbers : 305.89 miles; 19hrs:32mins:49secs; av speed 15.6mph; elevation gain 5204m; calories burned 11,452.

All that is left for me to thank Julie and Aiden for their love, support and understanding whilst I went awol for 4 days over the Easter holidays! xx

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Posted on April 10, 2012, in General, Sammy, Training. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. well done mark it’s a bit harder when you need to get in the saddle the next day over and over again well done for not gettin mingin at my party wish i could say the same sore head .com on sun .Keep up the good work

  2. You are a legend, big fella. It was an honour to escort you around on Sunday for a bit. Too intimidated to check if you have eclipsed me for the year this far.
    Maybe, I’ll just have a wee peek……
    Crackin’ work though, chappy.

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