Braveheart Ride 31 October 2009

My first real proper road cycling event! Not a race as there were no official times or prizes, but essentially a charity ride on behalf of the Braveheart Fund. There were two route options:20 miles or 44, and since I haven’t actually done more than about 30 miles in a session, I opted for the 20 miles. I had already done a practice run to get myself familiar with the route (and to see if I could cope in a decent time) and was feeling OK about it. On the morning, however, I woke up feeling shitty, mostly because it had been so crappy weather the day before and it was looking not a lot better at 7am. Went back to sleep and by the time I surfaced at 8.15 the rain had stopped, the wind had dropped and the sky was not so ominously black. By the time I got to the start point at St Joseph’s school in Kilmarnock there was actually blue sky. As I drew into the car park, I couldn’t help notice that it was full of very serious looking cyclists and goodness knows how much money must have been tied up in the array of bikes, clothing and other sundries on display. At this point I felt a complete fraud and could easily have turned round. That was until I saw the fat lad with “Wide Load” on the back of his cycle jersey across his more than ample posterior. Ah well. If he can do it, so can I.

In an attempt to make sure I didn’t come in last, I tagged alongside what I thought would be slow riders – some giggly girls and a young lad of about 9 and his mum. While I had played the right hunch about the giggly lassies, how wrong I was about Cameron the 9-year old! He rocketed away from the start line and left us standing before we were even out of the school gates. By the time we got on to the road, he was nowhere to be seen. Mum Teresa just told me to go ahead which I did.

And so out on to the route itself. Not overly challenging – undulating rather than hilly but with a couple of “interesting” bits around the village of Waterside, where I am pleased (well OK I’m immensely smug) to report that I overtook some blokes – on a hill too. The good thing about the route was the bulk of the “up” was on the outward leg which should have meant that the return would be a doddle. Not quite. A strong headwind actually gave me a slower return leg time than on the practice run, but I had bettered the outward leg by a good few minutes. Back at the event base, I met back up with Cameron who had all the resigned attitude a 9-year-old has about the fact that his mum was conspicuous by her absence. “Don’t worry” he said. “I’m used to waiting for her”. A cup of tea (what’s that? No, nothing with it. Well OK a small piece of caramel shortcake), a wander round the sales area and a bit of an oggle at Philippe Gilbert, and it was time to head back off home.

And overall I was pleased with how it felt. Inclines I’d struggled up on the practice ride were significantly less bothersome. The overall time was as I thought pretty similar to the practice run, and I’m sticking with the headwind excuse! I’m well chuffed! Next year it’ll be the 44 miler.

Islay cyclists

My cycling friends from Islay

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The serious riders arrive

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Proof that I've been certified?

Coy me

looking coy. And also a bit sweaty

brian and Sean

Brian from Islay shares a joke with Irish legend Sean Kelly

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My next bike? Bet you don't get BOGOF deals on these!

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