Angie's here and taking over the crib - how you all doing out there peeps?
Steve and I lost our virginity to the Tour De Ben last year, it's run by the fantastic people at No Fuss Events, for anyone who hasn't attended one of their weekenders they are extremely well organised and always a whole load of relaxed fun. However 'relaxed' was not the name of the game for this year's race, far from it, I felt like I was being chased by a pack of howling wolves hot on my tail!!
The all important riders' meeting
We rocked up to Fort William on the Friday and got all signed in, it suddenly feels very real when you are handed your number board and dibber! After a good night's sleep in the van we woke up early raring to go, the start of the race was really utterly genius; everyone lines up at the end of the town and then a group of bagpipers lead you through the cobbled street before the whistle goes and you all fight your way past each other up the first hill climb, exactly how cool is that?!
The first stage was the best, a steep rock-strewn track over drainage ditches down to Kinlochleven, I had my tyres pumped up super hard which lead to me hitting some of the turns speedway style. This cued a huge smile on my face after the 'whoop'-filled run and a quick "Hello" to my mate Gary Mac's parents and his 'wor lass' at the bottom!
The next stage started from a wee wooden bridge and was 80% uphill, a total lung and thigh buster! I won't talk about this stage as I don't remember much of it apart from the heavy panting and that's not very lady-like! Not long afterwards we hit the river crossing, thankfully it wasn't that deep it marked the halfway point with 35km done and another 35km to go, bring it on! This also marked the start of Stage 3 AKA the 'hike a bike' section which took me about an hour of flipping hard work and a lot of swearing! I got cramp in my thighs here the same as last year, jinxed I tell you, jinxed, but pushed through it, I knew I was in need of some salt intake to combat it.
The steely eyed determination....
I met up with Helen and Sarah at the Laraig bothy where the marshalls were serving burgers and sausage sarnies, I didn't have the stomach for any of that so pushed some peanuts in my mouth and kept on going, I really needed the salt. I didn't see the Gruesome Twosome after this, thought they would have caught up but later I heard that they were having a snooze track side! From this point Steve started having a bit of an epic, his legs were cramping up big time and he was practically having to crawl bits, it's a bit of a shame since the first half was going really well for him. Poor blighter.
Steve (and Helen) getting set to get on it....
The last stage was part of the Witches' Trails and by this time I was knackered but knew that I was so close to home and that the track that lay before me was a heap of flat out laughs! I overtook a few people down here, it was a man-made trail centre type track but pretty steep with some sweet swooping sections, awesome fun.
After this I pushed hard on the pedals all the way to the end, and thank feck for that!! Most of the time I was riding I was hating it and asking myself why the hell I was doing it but as soon as crossing the finish line I was so happy, buzzing ear to ear and simply can't wait to do it all again next year. That's what it's all about!
I cycled into the town and Steve met me with a big hug! I got 4th out of 14 girls so was pretty happy with that.
See y'all at the next one!