2023Gazette ArticlesRides

Etape Caledonian – Pitlochry

This was my first cycle sportive event, which I rode on Sunday 14th May 2023. I had booked an entry to ride the shortest, 40 mile event over a year ago. At that time 40 miles would have been the furthest distance I had ever cycled. To prepare for what for me would have been a challenging ride, I subsequently joined up with Anerley BC. I soon smashed my longest distances, riding 45 to 60miles on rides with Des & Co. So when the big day arrived I was ready for my very first event challenge.

Staying at accommodation a few minutes away from the start meant that I could be there 15min before my 6.40am start time. The weather was slightly overcast but fine and along with a sea of 3000 other cyclists I was off on my 40mile ride in the Scottish Highlands.

I started steadily, and a good job I did, as not far in front of me there was already a 3-4 bike pile up from over enthusiastic starters. I found out at the end that no one was hurt seriously. After about 5miles it was nice and spread out, a few hills taking its toll on some of the riders already. The next 20 miles was good going with just a few challenging climbs but also some lovely countryside and lochs.

I was surprised at the number of cyclists that picked up punctures and were at the side of the road changing their inner tubes as I passed along the way. I wasn’t going at a blistering pace, but wanted to enjoy the scenery and also to enjoy the encouragement from friendly locals and farmers with their families, as all the cyclists whizzed past.

I stopped at only one of the feeding stations for refreshment and a quick chat with a few of the other cyclists that had stopped. Then back on the bike for the last 15 miles which were well signposted, and one more steep climb round a bend after I restarted. I managed to complete the 40mile route in 3hrs 11min. And this included my 15min stop to enjoy a drink and banana at the feed station, so my ride time was under 3 hours for my very first cycling event. I was well pleased!

This was a great experience to be cycling in a very scenic closed road event, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. If I were to do this again, I’d sign up for the 55 or 80 mile route which takes in a similar amount of climbs but is just longer in duration.

Any takers to join this popular Scottish event and do the 80mile route next year?

See https://limelightsports.club/event/etape-caledonia-2024

And a Postscript:

Whilst I am relatively new to cycling, I have been running since my school days, not seriously but just to keep fit. More recently, since moving to live in Purley, I have been out running 3-4 times a week on the Purley Way playing fields, including the Saturday morning Park Run on what was Croydon Airport. I have just this month completed my 100th Park Run.

When I signed up for the Etape at Pitlochry, which was organised by the LimeLight Sports Club, they sent me details of other events that they also organised. One of these was the Hackney Half Marathon. I had never run as far as 13.1 miles but being a London event, I also signed up to do that as well. This half marathon took place on Sunday 21st May, a week after the Pitlochry sportive. And on the following Sunday 28th May, after completing my first half marathon, I was off to the mountains of Snowdonia for the Anerley Away Days. A very fulfilling month!   

With Des and Tom tom at Swallow Falls, Betws Y Coed

Warren D’Souza