Monday, September 26, 2011

Tour de Ben Nevis 2011

Did the Tour de Ben Nevis on Saturday. It’s a 72km loop round the Ben starting and finishing in Fort William; fantastic mountain biking terrain with a really tough descent down into Kinlochleven.

I was very happy with a time of 5 hrs 4 mins but, not so chuffed when I discovered that I’d been demoted from 18th to 53rd as result of my woefully inadequate descending skills on two 8 minute special stages. To me (not that I know anything about MTB events), the special stages make the other 4hrs 45mins of mad thrashing somewhat irrelevant. I suppose you just need to be really good at riding planks of wood covered in chicken wire as well as everything else. Team mates Mike Devlin and Hamish Irvine (who have excellent descending skills by any measure), suffered a similar fate in the final results

Winge over..... A great event, well organised and inspiring terrain. Need to practice on those planks before next year.


Video thanks to David MacMillan of

This is what Mike Devlin of Mikes Bikes had to say.........

Mountain Bike “racing” 
Before I start, this will include a rant!!! Three intrepid (okay old) athletes, Mike Devlin, Hamish Irvine and Andy Hyslop entered the MTB enduro event “Tour de Ben Nevis” at the weekend. As a group they all suffer from a minor affliction, and a major misconception. The major misconception being, “1st over the line wins “, Hamish & Mike should know better, 
having “competed” in the Merida mountain marathon which produces no results. Anyway, what follows in Mikes account of this gentle mountain bike race Warning: This article includes some rambling.  
Hamish, Mike & Andy arrived on the start line in Fort William on a very cold and wet Saturday morning (Forecast was wall to wall sun!),after a long and cold chat to Steve Broadhurst, Catriona Brown, Peter, Duncan Clark etc, we were piped (bag) along the high street………….and then it started. 
Stage 1
Immediately, we got stuck into a long hill climb, and quickly the 300+ thinned into 20 ish  racers. Riding alongside Hamish, I felt good even great!! Cue 1st attempt at dropping him.  After 30mins or so it got a bit rougher, and I promptly fell off!!

(our hard tyre policy was all wrong!), the bete noir (Hamish) over took me (on my Merida 29er XT edition), & I quickly lost sight of him over a long, arduous, rough track to Kinlochleven. 

Stage two began, oh joy (v technical down hill, big drops, all rock and steps), despite being well warned I rode it all on 1st sight, a combination of extreme skill (modesty is over-rated), 29er & luck! I did it “sight unseen “and stayed upright. The highlight of the descent was passing (avec smug grin in place), the black beast (Hamish), who had decided to walk! We then hit the hill to Mamore Lodge (mega steep honest), and I was delighted to have dropped Hamish on the down hill (not that I am competitive). This delight had a very short shelf life, for at the top of the hill, a familiar “hello hello”  was proffered from the big man as he cruised past!! At that point both of us were overtaken by the 1st woman, so our god like status dropped somewhat. After a very long and sore Land Rover track, I caught sight of Hamish in front and Andy behind!  After fording a river, the “walking” section commenced, yes I did write “walking”. Now hill walking is not my favourite activity, especially in Shimano Carbon soled race shoes, whilst carrying a (big) bike. I saw Hamish drawing further away, and Andy drawing nearer on his Merida 96 carbon full suss. My resolve failed! I sat on my bike at the top and fell over, Andy & Hamish rode away. On top of this ignomy, I lost my chocolate bar ( the subject of a long dream on the climb). I thought,”oh well” a long slog to Fort William now, how hard can that be!!
Actually, very hard, after 4.5hrs of hard riding, a nice man told me I was 20th out of 300+, and that there was a “short
technical section” ahead.(Translation: short technical section-try world cup XC course. Given I had worn my rear brakepads to the metal, a technical section was not my ideal finish. Halfway down, I got off and ran(or was that walk gingerly)! It was safer. Somewhere in the woods two DH demons overtook me (so fast I missed one of them), and one with a smug podium smile. (Damien Forster, ex owner of off beat bikes, so he knows a bit about the trails. Finally, I reached the finish alone in 22nd place after a mind numbing 5hrs 11mins & still thinking about my chocolate bar.  The team did well for old men Hamish Irvine (12th), Andy Hyslop (18th) Mike Devlin (22nd).overall………..or so we thought This is not the end of the story………… we were unaware of the “rules”, which meant that “style” points were awarded for various sections DH, UH (that’s uphill) etc. Personally I don’t get it, but in this world of equal ops for all, it must have some logic! Steve Broadhurst reckons that if Mike etc actually read the instructions it might have worked out. The key appears to be, ride very slowly for 75% of the time, fix your hair at the top of the DH (if you have any, I would polish my helmet) and bomb it down, then return to riding slowly, till the next style section! 
Sore loser! You bet!

Friday, September 02, 2011

The Big Loop

Took 12 hours 10 mins (ish). Went anti clockwise. Cafe stops at Pitlochry and Braemar. Distance: 160 miles with the 4 big climbs.

  • Inshriach 6.50am
  • Pitlochry  10.20am
  • 40 min Cafe stop ( 2 sausages, bacon, scrambled egg, toast, coffee)
  • Spitall of Glenshee 5 min leg stretch
  • Braemar 13.50pm
  • 40 min Cafe stop ( Cheese & tomato toasty, tea, caramel slice, can of beer)
  • Cock Bridge 5 min leg stretch
  •  Tomintoul 16.50pm
  • 10 min butty break ( 1 x cheese/salami)
  • 17. 15pm Brig O' Broon energy crash and another 10 mins butty break ( 1 x cheese/salami)
  • 18.10pm Nethy and a tow home from Pat
  • 7.00pm Cairngorm Hotel Aviemore for beer and chips
I took HighFive Zero electrolite tablets for the water bottle but refrained from any other energy products.
Pat tows home from Nethy

View Cairngorm Road Loop in a larger map