Etape Loch Ness

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If you happen to be new to cycling or a fledgling sportive rider then I can point you towards this event with security that you will be well looked after and blown away by the scenery once you stop chewing your handle bars on the lengthy king of the mountains section.

The profile is a mix of flat, undulating and challenging terrain based effectively on the principle of you riding a lap of the Loch.

Registration the day before the event is painless though this unavoidable necessity meant I had to forego the Rovers Falkirk game. With no wifi in our Strathpeffer digs I acknowledge my thanks to BBC Alba for their coverage.

A 6.17am start means I am on the road for the ridiculous time of 5.20am wondering if I should have foregone the whole thing and joined the Kilmarnock fans in the hotel bar the night before to seek solace at the bottom of a pint.

Ultimately I’m glad I didn’t, I meet my mate with ease and we talk Rovers for the first 30 miles before he shoots if to try for the best possible KOM time. I hang back for fear of being disqualified as I am riding with my wife’s race number having got my kit ready in the dark. A later check and I got it about right taking an extra 10 minutes just keeps me out of the results for the top 40 female cyclists.

I had 2 excuses planned if caught;
A) I am in the early stages of gender reassignment
B) the full sleeve tattoos, hairy pins and 5 o’clock shadow are commonplace for lady folk where I come from given I live a stones throw from the Bowhill miners club I’m not sure which of the 2 may have been more believable!

I settle in to the last 35 with a group of riders from; Chester Road club, Cog Velo and Kinross cycle club. Feeling decent I have a go at following the wheel in front in earnest and true to the science it sees a similar pain output reflected in a much faster speed. I even put in a Jens Voigt style last 5 mile to help a guy break the 4 hour ride time he was aiming for.

My own ride time justifies the efforts to be there as without hammering it I sneak in with a decent time. Cheers to my pal Alex for the banter and the volunteers for a great day, the ice cream at House if Bruar on the way home was much needed.

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