Tayside Challenge

The day dawned bright and the dilema was how many layers to wear. I went 1 too many had as a result had an extra layer stuffed in a pocket all cycle.

Cycled out to the start and joined the queue to sign in. Must have taken a good 20 minutes to reach the front but this gave me time to shout encouragement to Simon as he set off in one of the first groups. Then it was my turn. Unlike an Etape the start groups are just a mismash of whoever is loitering at the start and is ready. Off we set and before we had even left the green a whippet was storming off. By Moneydie i’d already past 2 punctures being fixed and another cyclist fetching his saddle pouch from the middle of the road. (no it wasnt BP) Managed to dodge the sunday paper brigade in Bankfoot and onto Birnam. Now the route instructions were adamant that we had not to cross the A9! So we were onto the cycle path past another doomed cyclist who when asked if ok said yes but cleats has sheared off their shoes! Then into the station carpark and down a set of steps before getting into Birnam! There was a bit of confusion over route signage as in addition to our event there was also the Dunkeld Enduro today and their cyclist signage. The next detour was onto another path and under the A9 on a narrow path and then a sharp right up a tree root covered path. Now we were back onto a proper road. Caught up with a couple of guys who had passed me earlier and chatted for a bit. Turns out one had never cycled further than 5 miles previously. His buddy was wearing Angus Bike Chain gear the amusing twist was the 100% Angus “branded” onto the lycra rump. Leaving them behind Amulree approached and with Amulree comes the face stinging Hail! There had been a tail wind up to Amulree now it was a gusting head wind and the need to pedal all the way down the sma glen. At the Buchanty turn I caught a group i’d spotted setting off earlier. One of the girls must have been frozen as she was just wearing shorts and what looked to be a hoodie you could see her legs were stinging bright red.

At Buchanty the route headed to Fowlis and Keillor for some extra miles. This section was reminiscent of the Etape Caledonia Fortingal loop where you disappear round a loop only to come back out nearly within sight of where you turned off! Oh and it some nasty sharp climbs. I could have sworn this as an Andrew route as this is the kind of thing he would throw in for some “off highlighter” mileage. This is where i have my only niggle about the route direction signs. We came down a steep twisting section and then had a sharp left at the bottom. There were no warning signs of direction change or sharpness in the approach to this turn. I’ll be providing feedback to the organisers.  Back onto the GlenAlmond road and more headwinds. The finish was getting close and like it does most Sundays i was passed by a bloke on a black and red specialized just at the Pitcairngreen 30! I didnt take up the offers of free massages but had the free coffee to warm up before being back on the bike to cycle home. I was just about to leave when the guy who had never gone further than 5 miles arrived and then the frozen girl did too.

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6 Responses to Tayside Challenge

  1. Simon Evans says:

    What to wear, the great conundrum ? Do you believe the weather forecast or not ? I really wasn’t sure, but kept on the extra layers, and decided to keep the thicker gloves on….luckily ! At the off passed David waiting to register, which was a wee bit chaotic. I had the other Simon with me, and off we went into the unknown. A fast pace to start with, and seemingly going well, when Si said his back and stomach were beginning to play up. (He has a history of both ailments). All ok until the hill up Glen Quaich, and what a hill……I had no idea what I had let myself in for !! Si had to get off and walk, and I said I’d wait for him at the top. It was at this point, that the sleet/snow started to fall, whipped up by the increasingly strong wind. This was more December than May, and very unpleasant. No way could one stop at the top, as there was no cover at all, so waited at the bottom. The minutes ticked by, and I was getting colder and colder. Luckily Si appeared, and we continued, but after another 5 miles or so, Si said he just had to stop. Having pulled over, he whipped his gloves off, and stuffed his hands them down his shorts to try and find some warmth, and then knelt down and was sick. I also had little feeling in my hands, and my feet were freezing. He decided a few minutes later to continue, and we slowly made our way down to the feed station at Amurlee. As any transportation was going to be at least half an hour, we set off again, and somehow made it back, into the wind and hail !! Once back, into his car, with a sweet tea and the heater full on, the uncontrolable shivering stopped after a wee while. I have to say, a bit scary, but luckily ok in the end. Have I been as cold on a bike before ?, and was it really fun leading Si into the wind/ sleet/ hail/ snow ?, not really at the time, but……now for the Caledonia !!

    • David says:

      So Glen Quaich how does that compare with the Bealach and the end of Loch Ness and Etape Pennines i’m thinking a degree or 2 worse. I’ve only driven it from Amulree and that was bad enough. The folks at the Amulree stopped and looked to be trying to shelter from the elements when I went past so it must have got worse and I got let off lightly. Hope you have thawed out and that Si is ok. One thing I have now remembered from having my head down to avoid all the stinging hail is that they have numbered all the potholes up there! 121 was the last number I remember.
      Hope Caledonia is better weather.

  2. Alan says:

    Well done David. Fancy a wee run next Sunday? forgot to say it is 81 miles starting and finishing in Pitlochry starting at 06.42 thought you would love a wee cycle! JA has shingles, the things you get when on holiday in Banchory, poor lad. Let me know if you fancy it?

  3. Ashley says:

    I was also in Dunkeld as Michael was doing Enduro – had a we wander on my bike to meet a few lost participants in the Tayside Challenge. Better signage next year and maybe different day to Enduro? Michael loved Enduro and came in a respectable 94th overall. Well done to you all.

    • David says:

      Well done Michael, i saw some videos of one of the Enduro stages. Pure Mad Fun 🙂
      I spotted a couple of MTB’ers at the end of the Bankfoot road looking a bit lost and trying to figure out the signage and the signage after the underpass out of Dunkeld i dont think was great to point people back to the main Amulree road.

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