Etape Loch Ness or Monsters V’s Cyclists…
The day had a chilly start in Inverness, rolling to join the back of the start crowd. There was minor argie bargie at the start – there always is. Some guy called Simon trying to get past to get to his correct wave… lol. I started well enough, bleep! The lead out to the loch is a bit like Whitelea Road only much longer, so it strings the peloton out, but not as much as you would think. There was a bit of drizzle near the end of this rather dull drag. I thought oh oh here we go – this is going to be the wet run I had just not wanted. Thankfully, this was the only damp patch on the run. I am With Dave and Craig. The road to Drum’ was rolling, and the pace quite high – somewhere here I lost Dave. There is a depressing bit as you approach Drum’ where you can see the exit climb and all the wee dots wobbling up the hill in their uber bright cycling gear. The climb from Drum’ was just not as bad as I had feared ( I lost Craig) and the lumpy bit from there to the Fort’ again not so bad. On one of the flatter sections, I got drafted by a guy in a red jacket. This went on for a few miles. Now you know how much I hate it when people don’t take their turn on the front. So, I started to weave road edge to road edge. Still the limpet stayed, ah well nothing for it but to put the hammer down (on a down hill section of course) – never saw him again.
The climb out of the Fort’ began. Bleep. It goes on and on and on for about 4.9 miles there are two flat/downhill sections on the hill and lots false summits. At the base of the last kick up, there was a very effervescent marshal, dressed in green, dancing and encouraging everybody – great effort! The higher I got on the climb the air temp was dropping – inside my jacket however the steam release valves were blowing as hard as me. There were a couple of guys behind me on the climb who I heard say “ah well here come the whippets” I laughed out loud . Cresting the hill, bleep, with the piper on the top I pressed on down, a descent as far as the eye could see, then down the twisty bit in to Foyers. I was thinking only two significant hills to go. At the top of the first one a guy from Inverness CC said “just one to go, and is a short one 100m or so” (Dave Stewart – notable because he had had 2 punctures on the big climb). Cresting the second hill, the last for the day, there was an ambulance sitting and a cyclist lying on the verge wrapped in bacofoil – I hope they were ok. It was somewhere around Dores there was an enthusiastic supporter jangling a cow bell. This just made the hair on the back of my neck tingle.
The final run in to Inverness was fast. Just as I got to the round-a-bout, for some industrial estate, the marshal shouted “GAP!” right in my right ear – how rude I thought. Then it clicked there was nobody behind me and the traffic were going to be let across the round-a-bout. I caught the guy in front going round the round-a-bout (I had the racing line) and pressed on, I caught a few more in that last bit to the finish. Clearly doing bigger runs had paid off. The run to the finish was on cobbles… Roubaix Roubaix Roubaix… ah ah ah ah ah ah… Bleep. Run complete, medal on, goody bag received and call made to the support crew of one. My support driver said “if you get the finger out you could get breakfast back at the hotel and have your shower before we have to check out”. I had my shower.
Looking back to the run, I don’t think I have ever seen so many punctures or cyclists having a wiz at the side of the road. I wish I had noted the number of the guy in tweed waist coat, plus4s and had a brooks handlebar bag… pure class. The lowest number I passed was 77… what were they thinking! Another low number I passed, had proportions that made me look like a whippet 🙂