The greatest physical challenge of my life


black_route

Yesterday I took part in the Kinross Sportiv Black run.  88 miles (my clock read 91) and 6561 feet of climbing (1.5 x the height of Ben Nevis).

See those red boxes?  They’re the hills and they are very cleverly spaced out so as to just about allow you to recover from one before you hit the next.

Of course some are worse than others.  Just like waterboarding is worse than the rack or having fingernails extracted.

But you think the ascents are bad?  Well, on three of them, having reached the peak you see this.

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And those signs are there for a reason.

I had ho’d and hummed a lot the night before about whether to put the new brake blocks I’d just bought onto my (not very) trusty Willier and eventually decided, after removing them and scraping them, that they’d suffice.

Well, they did.  Just.  But that was after recording my top speed, so far, on a bike (38mph) on a not dangerous descent.

Going down those bad ones was a test of nerve – and one that I abjectly failed because my arms ached at the bottom of each of them with the sheer effort of clamping those 2cm blocks of rubber to the rims of my wheels.  At times I simply had no idea if the brakes would last out.  Feathering them was rarely an option as the descents were so brutal, the second you let go the bike would just leap forward at horrendous speed.  Clamping was the key. So, the next time you watch a descent on the Tour de France consider the risks these guys are taking.

Towards the end of my six and a bit hours in the saddle (we had three stops for punctures and two for food on top of that) I was in a state of complete exhaustion.

Maybe it was the half pint of Guinness that we had in Dunning that did me in.  As the barmaid said “Oh, you’re the first cyclists we’ve had in three years that had a drink!”  But it certainly helped us up the 900ft climb, that is Dunning Common,  that we faced the second we got back on the bike.

As I sit at my computer at 9.30 the next day I feel fine.  Had I done an equivalent feat by running I’d have been in agony for at least three days.

So, vive le cycling.

 

So good I did it twice


On Saturday I cycled this route (initially in the rain as dawn broke – well 7am) with a couple of pals.  It took me to a lovely little, one pub, village called Torphichen in the hills between Livingston and Linlithgow and through the Beecraigs Park.

Quite hilly, it proved almost too much for one of our group and it was a leisurely 4 and a half hours before we set foot back on Queensferry soil.  But the route was fantastic, much of it on car free single track roads so I thought, what the hell, I’ll go out again this afternoon and see what time I can do it in.  Two hours on the dot and with 63 miles in my legs idea preparation for the freshnlo Pedal for Scotland Glasgow to Edinburgh bike race on 9th September.  You can register here.

By the end of the second run though my thigh muscles were starting to groan and a long bath was called for.

Monday was a work from home day with meetings in Edinburgh both in the morning and in the evening.  Consequently I put another 52 miles on the clock.  So a good few days all in all.