With less than six days to the Etape Caledonia it's no wonder my usual 'long ride' was busy this weekend.
The Etape, a closed-road event for non-professional cyclists, is 81 miles with 1,949ft of ascent, while my local loop, around the lochs, is 81 miles with 3,665 feet of ascent.
I'm hoping it's an ideal training loop for anyone riding the Etape. If I can set a good timeon my own on hilly, home ground, I hope I'll be all right on the big day.
Heavy rain Sunday morning persuaded me that a, short afternoon hill session would be better than a full-day ride. As I was battling up Glen Tarbert, into a fierce headwind, a pack of riders cruised alongside.
"Hop on the back", I was told. It's so much easier drafting in a group slipstream. Still, these lads from Stirling were going fast.
At the cattlegrid, which marks to top of the climb, I usually slacken off to recover on the downhill. Not this time. To (try to) keep with them I was pedalling downhill at my tempo pace. Too much for today. I was dropped.
Sticking to my plan, I turned around at the bottom, and climbed the hill again from the other side, only to meet yet another peleton at the cattlegrid. This lot didn't seem quite so grimly determined.
For both Liz and me, cycling comes third place behind sea kayaking and running a business. I have been training and trying to loose weight, but I've not been particularly successful on either count. Nevertheless, I'm looking forward to the Etape.