Last month, I cycled in the ETAPE Caledonia challenge for Marie Curie. The Marie Curie Cancer Care Charity provides free hands-on care to people with terminal illnesses in their own homes, and vital emotional support to their loved ones.
I wanted to give everyone who kindly sponsored me a flavour of the challenges that I faced on the day and to let you know that I successfully completed the course!
I arrived up at Pitlochry on the Friday before the event which took place on the Sunday morning. The town was as one would expect absolutely jam packed participant cyclists but also their family friends and the like as well as the usual tourists.
On the day of the event the weather forecast was abysmal and it had rained all throughout the night and into the morning. Our kick off time was 07.00 in the morning and we therefore were at the starting line for 6.45 although due to the volume of people were not able to leave until about 07.20 a.m. We set off on our journey and the initial first fifteen miles were mixed with cyclists competing for position. A bit hairy for those miles.
It seemed to be settling down when a cyclist came up from behind and knocked my companion Geoff off his bike in or around seventeen miles into the cycle. Geoff’s bike had incurred some minor damage and he had sustained a shoulder injury. In any event we had to wait for the motorbike support team to come along and repair his gearing on his bike, which they did. Unfortunately this lost us some 45 minutes getting his bike repaired enough for us to cycle to the next stop and then get it sorted properly. The very positive news was that Geoff’s injuries turned out to be more bruising on his shoulder and his leg along with the usual grazes.
We then carried on along Loch Tummel and Kinloch Rannoch and around Loch Rannoch. For anyone who fancies cycling this must be one of the most scenic routes to consider cycling on. Absolutely stunning albeit that the weather was heavy rain all the way around the circuit. Again we eventually got around Loch Rannoch some twenty five miles around its perimeter and then started to climb Schiehallion which is a fairly steep hill to climb on a bike. Anyhow we managed to do that and eventually started the descent on the other side.
We then established at about 76 miles that Geoff’s knee and shoulder were giving him some problems and he was in a lot of pain and he decided to call it a day and missed out approximately 6/7 miles of the tail-end of the circuit. Good on him for getting so far.
I carried on to the end and managed to successfully climb the last hills on the outskirts of Pitlochry. Eventually arrived in Pitlochry and got over the finish line, tired but absolutely delighted. My target time had been 5.5 hours but due to Geoff’s injury I managed it in 6 hours fifteen minutes. My consolation is that if there had been not bike incident we would have achieved our time.
I would like to thank all of the sponsors that have supported me and donating so much to Marie Curie – a very good cause. Thank you all very much for your kind donations. I had targeted to get £500 and in fact due to your kind donations the final figure exceeded £700 pounds!
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