Day 5 – Gateway to the Highlands Sportive

This was a road cycling sportive for the Easter Meet (and open event) organised by West Lothian Clarion. I cycled from the guest house in Stirling to the start at Cambusbarron. Signing on was really easy and well organised, as was the start, in groups of about a dozen riders at 5 minute intervals. We were in group 3 and I found myself at the front as the starter counted down. I went off pretty quickly and very soon there was only myself and a rider from West Highland Wheelers from our group. We started picking up the tailenders of the earlier groups and as we started heading upwards at a place called Duke’s Pass I left the WHW guy and started passing guys on the climb. I have to say this climb is perhaps the prettiest I have done, with pine forests and mountains as the backdrop, and a relatively good road surface. One guy on the climb had what looked like a wooden bike, although I was told later that was just a paint job, so who knows. The descent from Duke’s Pass was spectacular, and here was the one and only time I was passed.

At the bottom we hit the foodstop, and WHW guy left before me, and I left before the guy that had passed me on the descent. I caught WHW guy at a place called Pike’s Road, which was a long, straight, exposed, drag upwards with a poor surface and really was hellish.

The guy that had passed me on the descent finally caught me and after 40-odd miles of riding alone I had someone to ride with. An ex-Fenland Clarionista now living in Scotland, Paul had started in the group behind me so had made 5 minutes on me. The rest of the ride was a rolling series of ups and downs and some really quite poor road surfaces, but in stunning countryside.

We finished 12th and 13th riders and enjoyed the audax-like spread laid on afterwards. I don’t know what my official time was, and my overall time included the bimble to and from the guest house. Although billed as 100km we actually recorded 70miles, and Paul had recorded an average speed of 18.8mph, and as I took 5 minutes longer than him that puts my average speed at a creditable 18.3mph.

The most scenic Sportive I’ve ever done so chapeau to West Lothian for the route and organisation. Simply excellent.

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