The 81 Mile Road Sportive
The burn around the North side of Lochs Tummel and Rannoch was pretty lumpy in places, but there were plenty of fast wheels for us to latch onto and we were on target.
Before we reached the end of the loch for the return down the south side, my training buddy fell back and instructed me to leave her. I spotted a couple of girls ahead and I was keen to try and catch them, but I was concerned that I was going too fast and in danger of blowing up. Between my gasps for oxygen I shovelled a stodgy cereal bar into my mouth and gulped water. I decide to keep going and see what would happen.
After the loop that sent us past the ancient Fortingall Yew and to the mouth of glorious Glen Lyon, we took a hairpin turn that pointed our noses back towards home.
I knew we had a long, fairly flat stretch here and I was determined to hold onto the fastest wheel I could. Cycling past the brilliantly named village of Dull (twinned with Boring, I kid you not), we reached the 70 mile mark at a good pace.
With only 11 miles to go, I knew that I could start to push really hard. My time was pretty good but I wasn’t sure it was going to be good enough for a PB. I decided that there’s no point in finishing with anything left in the tank, so after the calf-popping and mercifully short climb out of Logierait, I gritted my teeth and rode for all I was worth.
I found I still had energy reserves, and there was no hint of cramp. In my heart of hearts, I realised that if I’d got this much left, I probably should have used some more of it up by now! There were just 5 miles left to ride and I was desperately trying to do the mental arithmetic to figure out if getting under 4 hours and 20 minutes was even possible.
With less than a mile to go, I discovered that it blatantly wasn’t. I saw 4.20 appear on my screen and I growled out loud but I wasn’t going to give up. As the minute passed, I was powering my legs as hard as I possibly could and the crowds were lining the high street, cheering loudly.
At 4.21.12 I whizzed over the line with a grimace on my face, gasping alarmingly. Wobbling to a halt in the timing chip area, I climbed off my bike and hung onto it as I bent double, gulping uncontrollably for air. I had done it, and I was relieved.