You may have read my blog post about training for the #etapelochness, a 66 mile closed road cycle ride around Loch Ness in the highlands of Scotland. Well the ride happened last weekend and it was amazing! It took us 15 hours to drive from Devon to Drumnadrochit, arriving eventually at midnight to be met with an amazing warm welcome from our host Fiona at the Glenkirk B&B , despite the lateness of the hour!
A comfortable night and an incredible full Scottish breakfast later, we spent the next day registering for the event with 5200 other riders, eating plenty of pasta (!) and doing a recce of the route. The views and breathtaking splendour of the Loch and Glens were just what we had come for, and by now I was really looking forward to the ride.
6.35am on Sunday, and here we were, amongst thousands of riders in the deep chill of a spring Highland morning. Setting off in our group of 260, there was a thrill of anticipation and excitement, and a little bit of trepidation, mostly centred on ‘the climb’ , a 5 mile monster with gradients up to 17%, 34 miles into the ride.
I’d been practising this climb in my head over and over for days (maybe weeks) , seeing myself at the top of the hill, triumphantly fresh and smug.
The reality? I made it around ¾ of the way up the steep first mile and a half, and then stayed on my bike for the rest, really pleased with myself having passed hundreds of riders walking their bikes up the hill. At the top was a piper, and on the way up the very last part of the climb, I was distracted by the magnificent sight of 5 stags running down across the glen. To be honest, I didn’t even notice I was going up a hill as I watched these beautiful animals in full flight, a reminder that it wasn’t my legs giving up, it was my head!
Finishing the ride was a great moment! I’d done it! 66 miles is a long way…….
Now when’s the next ride?