Defying Gravity on the Skye Mor

Cyclists make a pact with gravity. We battle against it on the up-hills, then on the other side, it helps to speed us downhill. It didn't work that way on Saturday's Skye Mor.

At one stage, I was in bottom chain-ring and a small cog, pedallng hard, to go downhill. Eh?


As a kayaker you'll apprecate this. Gordon later told me it had been blowing a steady Force 6, gusting Force 8.

Swinging into a head-wind was like colliding with a massive, invisible cushion. It completely stopped me in my tracks.

However, side gusts were worse. There was a constant danger of being blown into traffic, squeezing past on Skye's narrow roads.

Downhills (not into the wind) should have been a delight. Instead they were terrifying, as I never knew when a side gust would lurch my front wheel two foot to the side. I understand some lighter women riders quit because of this.

Then there was the condition of the road surface. Does the RAF practice bombing Lybia on the roads around the Trotternish peninsula? We were not dodging potholes, we were avoiding craters! These were deep enough to take a front wheel down almost to the axle, resulting in what my friend Alastair calls, a "Captain Starfish impression" over the handlebars. Still, once behind me the wind was good.

Here are a few numbers.
* Two weeks ago, on the Etape Caledonia, I rode 82 miles in less time than I rode 62 miles on Skye, a function of the wind and the hilly course.
* The 95 mile course was 94.2 mile on my GPS.
* The fastest rider did it in 5hrs something, while I was 7 hours 16 mins.
* There were around 120 riders and, when I finished, 28 had still to arrive, but they could have started after me.

And I did smile at the "route" card given at registration. Sensibly, it had emergency contact numbers of the back and space to fill personal details like next of kin. If someone was found lying in a crater organisers would know who to call.

This is the reverse. As well as the intimidating gradient profile, it offers 'Useful Gaelic Terms'.

Visitors might think the people of Skye wouldn't understand English. Actually it was probably a neat way to access additional funding.

Forgive the lack of accents, but particularly appropriate were:
Carson a tha a'ghaoth an-comhnaidh nar a-aghaidh? (Why is there always a headwind?) and Tha mo thoin goirt (My arse hurts!).

Yet the one which fit the day best was this: Bha siud miorbhaileach! (That was fantastic!)

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