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                      THE HIGHLANDS AND GLENS 1200 AUDAX 2017
Dec 19, 2016, 8:34 pm

    An extract from Robin's Scottish ride report. The full report can be read in the grand tours page shortly.


Though the ferry times had altered, and Mark did keep us in suspense as to the exact start time from Craignure, most people made the 9:30 ferry from Tobermory. Earlier we had all caught the 7:30 ferry to Mull where we were briefed about the ride by organiser Mark Rigby but then we'd rode the first leg at an unnecessarily quick pace and spent a chilly half hour waiting in Tobermory. Thankfully the ferry was warm and so it was a pleasant crossing. As I rode up the slipway I spotted Gavin. We rode together from Kilchoan, the route climbing over the Ardnamurchan Peninsula, topping out at somewhere between 550 and 600ft before swinging back to the shore once more. Gavin is a strong rider and, though not travelling light, he attacked the long hills with much enthusiasm. After about 15 km we were joined by Hackney Audax rider Jack. Clearly he was a strong rider too and keen to press on at pace. All was looking promising – I was in good company!

At the brow of a particularly long hill Gavin said he needed to shed a layer. Jack fiddled with his array of electronic gadgetry and then decided to go for a pee only when we were ready to head off. We waited a while and in that time saw another rider approach and on a bike with time trial bars. He stopped and removed a layer. “What time is the Mallaig ferry?” he enquired.“There's a 1:30, a 3 o'clock and one at 3:30” I replied. “ Has to be the 1:30”, was his conclusion! I turned this over in my mind as Gavin and I continued on our way. 

I'm juggling with the maths in my head. I've no gps or bike computer, just the AA road map and route sheet - and the route engrained in my head along with the stats for each “segment”. The one we are on is approximately 90 km and has 9700 ft of climb. If we are to make the 1:30 ferry our average speed has to be near 29 kph which, in this terrain, will be difficult. 

At Salen the route turns north with two quite challenging climbs before we eventually reach the gentler terrain along the Sound of Arisaig. We take in the scenery and the cycling becomes more relaxed. We are disturbed from our reverie by the sight of Jack coming past with the time trial chap on his wheel. I think we are both pleased by this sight but are immediately aware they are not slowing down as TT takes to the front. I get on Jacks wheel and look back for Gavin but he's slow to respond and it is some time before he is safe on my wheel. And then the miles start to tick by as TT grinds out the pace, with only a little help from Jack and myself. I look back at Gavin and give him the thumbs up to indicate that we're getting a free ride. I am used to this sort of riding and I'm happy to suck a wheel but I know that the elastic can break at any time and the punchy climbs start to have an effect. Not only is TT setting the pace but he's also attacking the climbs at a speed I know might cause problems later. Still, my main concern is making this very early ferry and I'm willing to suffer a bit for that. Gavin isn't prepared to and eventually drops off the back. As we make the steep incline to the junction with the A830 to Mallaig the road curves and Jack is no longer in sight. His elastic has broken!

TT doesn't pause other than to say we have about 21km to cover in 45 minutes, mutters something about boarding time and we're off. Or rather, he is off and I am on his wheel. I'm now left to my thoughts and an overiding impression that, like first thing this morning, we are travelling at an unecessary fast pace. I also want to explain to TT that if he eased backed on the climbs I could contribute on the flats but my lack of breath doesn't allow for conversation. And all this within the first few hours of a 1200 km audax!

Mallaig looms into view and I see that it still isn't 1:15! We already have tickets so are immediately waved onboard and we park our bikes. I'm glowing with satisfaction as I know the achievement has been immense and that after all those months of anxiously worrying whether I could get to my B&B before two in the morning I now realise I'm well ahead of schedule. 

We make our way to the cafe onboard and order coffee. I once more thank TT for his help in getting me to this ferry and by virtue of that, my B&B in Alness, at a reasonable time in the evening. What a great start. I'm not sure how TT will cope with the remainder of the days ride but hopefully he will knock back the pace a bit. I'm pretty confident I haven't done any lasting damage to myself, at least nothing a few pints and a good sleep couldn't put right! Glowing in our own smug achievement the ferry pulls away as we watch a group of riders gather at the ferry terminal. And then in walks Jack! By the skin of his teeth he'd made the 1:30!


Alone again, naturally
Dec 14, 2016, 5:43 pm

I was either early or late arriving at Union Corner this morning, and little chance of the former. I am sure there wasn’t sixty minutes in the hour after I got up. Something to do with the winter days being shorter, I assume. But the result was that I cycled over to the other place on my own. At least a merry crowd were waiting there to make up for the lack of the Falmouth contingent. Bryan arrived just as we were about to set off and the front half of the M&Ms appeared around the corner as we pushed our pedals around to the upright position. Fred needed to be back early so suggested Sainsbury’s at Helston, via Penboa. With rain forecast at about 10am there were was no dissent.

Nothing much you can say about Sainsbury’s café; the food is ok, and cheap, and there is plenty of room. We chose two tables to one side, catching a bit of what could have been mistaken for sun and the view towards Flambards. As usual the conversation was varied and of the highest intellectual content. I can’t remember any of it.

Although Fred left early, the others appeared to be in no rush. I did hear Martyn suggest going on to Penrose estate, in the other direction from home, but we all pretended that we hadn’t heard him and chose the main road through the town and continue out to Wendron, mainly to avoid seeing whether muddy lanes were living up to their name. But at Wendron we re-joined the usual route dropping back to Jim’s hidden lanes and out to Wendron cricket club. Bryan had turned off a Wendron school and Simon left us by Chez Jim’s. At crane garage Keith and Martyn continued straight down the main road whilst TD, Phil3 and myself took another look at Halvasso, but they both turned off at Mawnan Crossroads, leaving Billy no-mates to return to Union Corner. Only 28 miles but the rain had held off. 


Look behind you!
Dec 7, 2016, 9:01 pm

On what is most likely to be recorded as the warmest December day, ever, I was surprised that Bernie was the only Wheeler waiting at Union Corner this morning. I know that Phil1 was sulking over being left behind last week but where was Admiral? Had Sonjia and Kath taken the Government’s advice, to “keep all birds indoors”, too literally? The contingent at the other place made up for the lack of Falmouth support though. Mat turned up, but having been only let out for an hour he only stayed with us until Long Downs. We waited for a while to see whether the M&Ms were joining us, but they weren’t, and then we were off, Bryan arriving just in time to turn round and go back the way he had come. We were off to Penrose Kitchen, near Shortlanes End. Fred and Simon were in a relaxed mood about the route, accepting variations as we went; Greek Church, Burncoose, Gwennap, Twelveheads, Dangerous Crossing and Truro airport. Mr Garmin chortled contently as we traversed new lanes. I was less pleased as most of them were up hill. The “quiet lanes” around Tregavethan were not interrupted by the purring of the pre war open-topped Rolls Royce that gently made its way through the dappled sunlight. At around a £250K it was probably one of the hospital consultants taking a few minutes out from a busy morning at the Duchy.

The new owners of the Penrose Kitchen were as welcoming as on previous visits and deserve to succeed. Orders taken we settled down to enjoy the usual top rate OGIL banter. Ed’s Mince Pie ride, the opening night of the Panto and “what’s happened to such and such” were discussed at depth. As was the curious taste of the jug of “tap water” placed on the table. I thought it was TCP, others, just P. Perhaps it was especially for Fred to ensure that his voice lasted the evening performance.

There is a simple route back from the café; up to the village and then down the cycle track that follows the main road into Truro. As a change we continued down to the Law Courts, where Bryan left us, and then dropped down to the Piazza, walking under the underpass to join the cycle route via Newham. At one point a woman complained that we shouldn’t be cycling on the path, which is a change from motorists who tell us we should be, but I tended to agree with her; as part of the National Cycling Network it is woefully inadequate at this point. But after a more pleasant beat along the old railway we eventually re-joined the road at Calenick.

After Playing Place we dropped down to Quenchwell, where, rather than taking the more direct route, Keith turned back towards Devoran, whilst we tackled Grenna lane, though Simon avoided the hillier parts. At Perranwell TD and myself left Bernie and Fred to turn down to Perranarworthal and home via Hangman’s hill and Hill Head. A very pleasant 38 miles for me.

ps. For those that hadn’t twigged it, the photo is a “Dame on a bike”.

Tour of Britain
Dec 7, 2016, 8:19 pm

We have recieved an e-mail from Fred Mitchell concerning holding a stage of the Tour of Britain in Cornwall in 2019/20.  The organisers would want a stage to finish in Plymouth or Exeter, it would cost upwards of £200k to hold the event but this would be shared with the finishing city, the average financial benefit last year was around 4.1 million.  More details at next weeks meeting if anyone wishes to have input to the authorities looking at it. 

Eddie's ride. " Race to the cakes"
Dec 5, 2016, 12:02 pm
What a cracking day!
Photos of Wendy and her wonderful cakes and greedy Falmouth Wheelers (always first to arrive when mention of food!)

The Iceman cometh
Dec 1, 2016, 11:23 am

Well, even in Cornwall there has to be a few cooler days, and Mystic Meg was spot on by suggesting that it would be Sunny but Cold. But a reasonable turnout at Union Corner, considering the numbers who had already requested leave of absence, and three more at the other place, nine in total. As a special treat for TD, who was one of those at Halvasso turn, he was given a chance to suggest our destination, but his choice was, of course, ignored and we set off, generally, in the Porkellis direction. I followed, trusting that all would be revealed at some stage. There was a fair bit of frost about, and in the sun the roads glistened at times but all was well. There was a touch of déjà vu when we turned right at Treswithian and headed towards the Crematorium but by now I had realised we were heading to Tehidy.

The car park was full, but the café was empty, and it was soon clear that this was because it was warmer outside than in. But being Wheelers we stayed. Past enquiries had determined that although the will serve toast and also an egg bap, they will not serve eggs on toast, so I had to make do with cake, and chose the largest slice they had as consolation. Simon’s request for a sausage bap also fell upon deaf ears and he had to make do with soup, although this did get a thumbs up, once it arrived. I have made no notes about the conversation, as I couldn’t tell whether the others were talking or it was chattering of teeth.

The route back is straightforward; backtrack, turn left at the air memorial and through to Roskear, past Miss Molly’s, where no doubt there would have been a roaring wood burner to sit by, Brae village, and then turn on to the cycle path. So, just where Sonija led the three boys astray I know not, but suffice to say, after some of us had waited, and waited, in the cold, at Carnkie, message came through that they had already passed through Four lanes. As try as we might we could not catch them and, I am afraid, Raymondo, Phil1 and TD were left to their own fate. Simon turned off in Stithians, Keith a little while later and after escorting Bernie home Mike and I continued, once again through Halvasso and home. 41 miles for me. Dean

Farewell to Alan
Nov 27, 2016, 8:09 pm

Unusually, our destination last Wednesday had been agreed in advance.   Now that should have been a bonus as the day was raw and not one for hanging around for a chat.  But being creatures of habit and with a group of 13 of us coming together at the other place it was “business as usual”.  That was until we had to get moving to unblock the road.

The OGILs were riding over to Trewithen Downs to pay our last respects to Alan.   Thanks to Fred’s uncanny knack to be anywhere at a certain time by bike we arrived spot on time at the crematorium via Jim’s old house, Porkellis, Crowan, Barripper, and the Choughs.   Unfortunately Mike had to turn back early due to the cold but Ian joined us when we arrived. 

This was probably the first funeral any of us had attended in our lycra but we were warmly received by a good number of other more soberly attired Wheelers in a packed crematorium with many standing.   There were too many of us to name everyone here.   Alan was one of the original Wheelers.  His other sport was golf.  He loved music and many of us were taken back to the 60’s as Jimi Hendrix filled the chapel with “The wind cries Mary” before we filed out to Pink Floyd and “Shine on you crazy diamond”.

We spared the Golf Club the sight of too many Wheelers in lycra and nipped over to Miss Molly’s for some hot food and, in tribute to Alan, cake.  It wasn’t long before the usual bout of banter broke out, particularly since we had some new OGILs joining us, Robin and Ian. (They like to think they’re not old enough to join us but it comes to us all in the end.)  As wakes go I’m sure Alan would have approved.

The usual ride home below Carn Brea to Brea village was nearly marred by a very close call between Bernie and a very dozy Mercedes emerging without looking.  With an impressive piece of bike handling aided by his left leg in the air a nasty collision was avoided.  The group then started to split in Carnkie as some of the usual suspects deviated off to the pub at Piece to continue the wake.  A certain person then rode off to join the after dark ride to a further hostelry, but that be hearsay.  A memorable day and about 32 miles for myself.


Look Out St Ives FW’s  Are Coming.
Nov 24, 2016, 11:15 am

On the way to HQ I was a bit chilly but the weather was good.   Quite a number of Wheelers were out today and we split into three groups. I decided to go to St Ives with the boys and Amanda as they promised to look after Sylvia and me.  We set off at a steady pace towards Halvasso and soon reached Porkellis.  Sylvia and I always had a few following at the rear so we never got left behind and we even found we had enough breath left to chat.  The roads were surprisingly good with just one or two places where we came across some gravel.  Things were going along swimmingly until Ben had a puncture.  Robin, Ian and Dene stayed with him while Trevor led the rest of us on towards St Ives – we thought they would soon catch us up.   As we approached Lelant, Sylvia decided to head back home as her shoulder started to play up (she’s ok now).  It was a race down into St Ives with me now at the back of the pack but Phil Eagles kept me in his sights and made sure I was on the right track.   We went to the usual watering hole – the Balcony Bar – and then Robin & Co turned up.  There was lots of chatter whilst we ate our breakfasts and I was delighted to hear that Trevor was quite the little twinkle toe, as I’m looking for a dance partner.  We had a little twirl so watch this space!  We headed back through Lelant, Hayle and Connor Downs and passing Trevaskis Farm a sign said “Road Closed” but we carried on anyway only to find it truly was.  We went along a very muddy track, much to Amanda’s delight, but had to turn back and cycle along the main road for a short distance.  The group stayed together until we were approaching Carnmenellis where Trevor turned off, then, at Penmarth a few thirsty souls headed to the Star Inn while the rest of us headed home.  I can honestly say it was a brilliant ride and thanks to everyone for kindly slowing up their pace so I could tag along.  I thoroughly enjoyed myself, and hope to ride again with you sometime.  A very respectable 58 miles for me.


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