When it comes to writing blog posts Ian is straight out of the blocks. For the rest of us, not quite so good. So here is the training entry for the Sunday that Ian was going to be doing until he was alerted to the condition of his tights – ripped.
Me, Sam, Tubs and David and the route was as the previous week. Tubby was upset at the blog title – “Rolling with the Big Beasts”, so he came buzzing ready to give it some welly. He also took the sheen off David’s new shiny bike with a new trimmed down steed himself.
The whole Duke’s Pass ride is a beauty on many levels. It splits into comfortable, manageable sections.
Section 1 – Rolling to Aberfoyle. Come July, 7 of us will be looking to sit tight together and share the burden of riding 100 + miles every day for 9 days. Keeping it together and learning to conserve energy in the pack is a must. The first 18 miles to Aberfoyle from Strathblane easily allow everyone to sit together, rolling at a nice pace and taking turns at the front. This was only David’s second time riding amongst a group and I’m sure he appreciated this mainly flat, pacey section.
Section 2 – The Duke’s Pass. A lovely hill enjoyed by all. Why? Is it the generally fine road surface (a bit gnarly at the bottom but
really smooth further up)? The welcoming flat sections after having to push? The nice scenery? The general absence of cars? Probably all of the above. Tubs, Sam and David pushed on up the hill and I came up behind them. I passed and Sam came along with me most of the way to the top. The big fellow remembers last year when he tried to stick with “the G Train” (Gio) up here and died a thousand deaths come the finale (don’t mention the fact that Tubs crested the Crow road before him that day – prickly). Not long before David and Tubs joined us at the top.
Section 3 – Rolling up and down all the way to Callendar. Again some great, quiet roads along lochs Achray and Venachar and before you know it we’re in Callendar. All the team looking good and feeling fine. (We really could have done with Ian along – he usually has some kind of issue, be it falling off or puncturing or having a bonk, which makes for more interesting copy).
Section 4 – Callendar to Kippen has a bit of incline. David’s feeling it a touch and falls back a little. After a quick regroup at Thornhill we push on for the last few miles before the next challenge of the Kippen hill. It’s a straightforward 2 and 2 here. Me and Sam push up followed by David and Tubs. Big Sam looking good – as usual he mentions baked beans. Apparently, he’s carrying 20 cans of baked beans on his back that I’m not – I should try it some day. Perhaps instead of me bringing the beans along, he could try and leave them at home for a change? Whatever – Sam and his beans make it the top and in good shape. There’s a bit of breeze getting up now and it’s getting cold so we push on to Fintry and wait there. Tubs rolls up and David a little bit later. All set for section 5.
Section 5 – The Crow Road. The wind is beginning to whip up now. Waiting at Fintry a couple of riders go by – targets. They get a good lead on us and it might be a push to catch them on the Crow, but I’ll certainly be giving it a go, by George. At the bottom of the Crow, Tubs isn’t even interested in pushing on and Sammy shouts “too rich for me” at the first steep incline on the bend. I’m on my own with the two riders ahead. I give the legs a good squeeze (feeling much more energised that last week when the Crow was a real toughy) and pass one then the other with plenty to go. Really windy now and a heavy fog up the top of the hill. The average speed coming down the hill is a good 10 mph slower than last week. All because of the wind.
Section 6 – Lennoxtown to Strathblane. The last 5 which can be lovely or a bit torturous depending on your form. It again ends up with me, Tubs and Sam with a couple of targets to pass. Sam goes past me on the front, but I take over again on a little uphill section. He assumes that I have gone to the front to look the bees knees as we pass the ladies in front – not so. Just using a bit of spare energy for the incline to help my fellow riders.
And so to a frenetic last mile as Sam powers on down the hill trying to show a little dominance. However, Tubs and myself are wise to his game and it ends with the 3 of us pelting along almost side by side down to the final roundabout just by the Kirkhouse Inn. David rolls up soon after, and another team 60 miler is in the bag. Now for the cake stop (lacking the elegance of Ian’s Saturday stop). Some of Julie’s (Mrs Sammy’s) mighty fine carrot cake and the always wonderful For Goodness Shakes. Bring on the next run.