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.